A lot of hunters feel uneasy about hunting backcountry public land because they’re worried about what to do when they get a deer or elk down on the ground a mile or more from their rig. Join Steven Rinella and seven sportsman-conservation organizations in a new instructional video, “Quartering & Packing Big Game” that demonstrates big-game field dressing and packing techniques for public land hunters.
In this video, Rinella offers tips and techniques to help public land hunters develop the skills and confidence necessary to hunt away from their vehicles – in places where their odds of success are generally higher.
Millions of American sportsmen depend on public lands, and these lands can receive a lot of hunting pressure. That pressure can push deer and elk deep into areas that are far from roads and vehicles, prompting many sportsmen to hunt on foot, quarter their kills and pack out the meat on their backs.
The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, the Wild Sheep Foundation, the Mule Deer Foundation, Orion the Hunters Institute, the Pope and Young Club and the Bull Moose Sportsmen’s Alliance teamed up with Rinella to produce and distribute the new video. All of these groups are committed to ensuring the responsible management of public lands and to safeguarding habitat for fish, wildlife and sportsmen.
By now you’ve probably noticed a common thread to avoiding public land crowds – walk the extra mile, identify over-looked lands and seek lands that seem inaccessible. All of these tips also hold true for hunting whitetails, but there’s plenty more to add to it…
Crossing a natural barrier is one tip suggested in this post from Cabela’s. In general, if there’s a river, cross it and if there’s a briar patch, go through it. If you want to avoid hunters consider what most other hunters do, then do the opposite. Most hunters aren’t willing to pack a pair of waters to cross a river or crawl through thick brush and the deer that have been around for a few years seem to know this.
In a related post from Bass Pro Shops, the author suggests hunting public islands only accessible by boat. I can personally attest to the effectiveness of this strategy to find large numbers of virtually un-hunted deer. Few are willing to load up a boat to access deer hunting grounds and so with a little extra effort you can escape competition. Minnesota BHA members have had similar success accessing lands with little hunting pressure by canoe – lands within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (see picture above).
The following is part of a series on avoiding crowds on public lands. Next up: Deer Hunting.
If you’ve spent any considerable time hunting ducks or geese on public lands, chances are good you’ve either been sprayed by the guy across the pond or had Johnny-Come-Lately set-up way too close for comfort. Let’s hope you haven’t experienced anything like this boat race in the “Duck Capital of World.” Doesn't that make you want to go duck hunting?
While crowding on public wetlands and waters can be common, there are many opportunities to avoid the crowds that waterfowl hunters often overlook. Many of the suggestions outlined in the related post on elk hunting hold true as well (see walking the extra mile).
In this blog-post from Ducks Unlimited, identifying less-traditional public waters is recommended. For example, most waterfowl hunters first think of Wildlife Areas and National Wildlife Refuges as duck and goose hunting areas. However, state and county lands, BLM/USFS lands and lakes or reservoirs with public access can also offer excellent, often-overlooked opportunities.
Whether you’re stalking a trophy bull, calling-in northern green-heads, or searching for a wily buck, one thing holds true for all – pressure matters. Sportsmen who hunt and fish public lands inherently understand this and for those crazy few of us interested in success, avoiding crowds is often strategy #1 for ensuring success
If you are looking for the next ‘secret spot’ on public lands, the following series of posts on how to avoid the crowds on public lands may be of interest to you. Each is broken down by species, and each includes links to other valuable external resources, with many more tips.
If you’ve hunted elk, you understand that elk avoid human disturbance perhaps more so than any other game species. Motorized disturbance has a greater impact on elk than foot or horse traffic; however, heavy human pressure of any kind can just as easily drive elk into more secluded areas. Finding these secluded areas often takes extra effort, research, and time. If you’re going to put the time and money into hunting elk, why not do it right?
Randy Newberg of On Your Own Adventures explains that he avoids human pressure by applying for less popular units with limited public access. He then looks for often overlooked access easements to otherwise “locked-up” public lands. While Randy has also gone to extreme of renting a helicopter (to prove a point) to access otherwise inaccessible lands, he explains that asking landowner permission can achieve the same results.
By Ben Long
Backcountry Hunters & Anglers exists so Americans can pass on our world-class outdoor heritage, including the freedom and challenge that comes with the backcountry, to our kids and grandkids.
If we want to succeed, hunting and fishing needs to remain affordable. We cannot build an outdoor culture that requires a big 4X4, a trailer full of ATVs and a motorhome as an entry fee.
Happily, the backcountry is a bargain, open to anyone willing to work for access. The fact is, most undeveloped backcountry (Forest Service “roadless areas”) are only a couple mile’s hike from a road, well within distance to haul a buck or bull by pack or game cart.
by Jim Posewitz
In the beginning, humans hunted to live. Today some still live to hunt. Originally it was a matter of survival to utilize what was killed. Today, using what is killed is essential to ethical hunting.
After you have taken possession of the animal you have killed and taken time to appreciate it, it is then time to care for your gift. The task at hand will vary. For some animals it is simply a matter of putting it into your game pouch and continuing. For big game there is field dressing and properly caring for all the useable parts
Under all circumstances, the ethical hunter cares for harvested game in a respectful manner, leaving no waste. Field dressing has several advantages. It reduces the risk of spoiling edible parts, and it returns parts of the animal to the earth where it found life.
Field dressing begins the natural recycling process that involves scavenging birds, insects, and decay as the unused parts return energy and nutrient cycles to the ecosystem. This is a marvelous process of renewal, and surplus parts of what you harvest should be thoughtfully returned to the earth.
Copyright and permission from:
Posewitz, Jim. Beyond Fair Chase: The Ethic and Tradition of Hunting. Falcon
Publishing: Helena, MT, 1994.