Difficulty of Animal-Private vs. Public
General Topic
Contributors to this thread:
Bowfreak 20-Oct-21
Brotsky 20-Oct-21
txhunter58 20-Oct-21
spike78 20-Oct-21
Bowfreak 20-Oct-21
Habitat 20-Oct-21
Old Reb 20-Oct-21
Bake 20-Oct-21
PoudreCanyon 20-Oct-21
TurboT 20-Oct-21
elkmtngear 20-Oct-21
Dale06 20-Oct-21
Rocky D 20-Oct-21
Rickm 20-Oct-21
Missouribreaks 20-Oct-21
APauls 20-Oct-21
IdyllwildArcher 20-Oct-21
Cazador 20-Oct-21
LBshooter 20-Oct-21
Jaquomo 20-Oct-21
Corax_latrans 21-Oct-21
cnelk 21-Oct-21
Bowfreak 21-Oct-21
bowhunt 21-Oct-21
Toonces 21-Oct-21
Pat Lefemine 21-Oct-21
badbull 21-Oct-21
Jaquomo 21-Oct-21
BC173 21-Oct-21
SteveD 21-Oct-21
Jaquomo 21-Oct-21
Shuteye 22-Oct-21
WV Mountaineer 22-Oct-21
From: Bowfreak
After watching an elk video where Taylor Drury has bulls crawling all over her it really pointed out the difference between public land elk and ranch bulls. I'm not crapping on ranch hunts. I'd LOVE to be able to do one, but after seeing this video and some of the Primos, Joe Rogan/John Dudley ranch hunts it made me think about this question. What animal is the biggest night and day difference when hunting them on pressured public ground or controlled private? Elk seem to be up there on the list as these rutting bulls on private ranch land seem to have death wishes compared to public land elk.

From: Brotsky
Turkeys come immediately to mind after elk for me. Private ranch turkeys are absolutely mentally challenged compared to pressured public birds.

From: txhunter58
I LOVE hunting FREE RANGE elk on private. Ability to find elk is always better and love that they are vocal, vs mostly silent on public. But it is still a challenge to get one, especially with a bow. I would hunt that way every year if I could.

That said, I could hunt and kill a 300+ bull next week with the weapon of my choice on a high fence operation and privately owned animals. I have NO desire to do that.

From: spike78
I can’t even stomach watching any Drury videos. Those guys may be good but cmon they ain’t 180” to 200” every single year good. Those deer are borderline pets.

From: Bowfreak

I wondered about turkeys. Easterns aren't a slam dunk on private land, but they are easier than public. I don't have enough experience with any of the other subspecies.

From: Habitat
I don't think they are pets,they live where they are and work the habitat

From: Old Reb
I'd have to agree on turkeys on public land. Especially when they're not gobbling after fly down. If your not intimate with the property they are hard to hunt when they go silent. Second toughest would be any whitetail buck older than 1.5 years old on public land. These are the only two huntable big game animals that we have in Ohio.

From: Bake
I don't think it's fair to compare different regions and areas, because so many factors come into play. Pressure is DEFINITELY a factor but it can vary so much even between public land pieces and even year to year.

A buddy and I have hunted a CO OTC unit several times. The first year the place was unpressured. We had elk acting like elk. We called in bulls like a Primos video.

It's steadily gotten more and more pressured, and this last year was terrible. Heard maybe 3 bugles. Nothing doing.

I've also hunted public that is draw, and had incredible hunts for elk.

Pressure is the key, and I think private ground could be pressured more heavily than some public. . . . .

From: PoudreCanyon
The difference between heavily pressured elk and elk that don’t get hunted is ridiculous - it’s almost like hunting different animals. When I drew 76 in 2016, my partner and I called in 30+ bulls in 5 days of hunting. Each killed great bulls and had multiple opportunities. In the OTC units around North Park, it’s rare nowadays to even hear a bugle during daylight, and killing a bull is a hell of a feat. Those of you who are better elk hunters I’m sure have a different story to tell, but it sure is a challenge for me…

From: TurboT
I agree with Bake. Pressure is the biggest factor.

From: elkmtngear
"Pressure is the key, and I think private ground could be pressured more heavily than some public". . . . .

Strongly agree. Public land on some LE units, can be way better than some Private land.

"Pressured vs Unpressured" is striking comparison, certainly when it comes to elk "acting like elk".

From: Dale06
I agree with those that identified pressure as the issue. Public land elk in many places hear multiple cow calls and bugles many days, starting opening day. Limited access land elk simply do not get that level of harassment and education.

From: Rocky D
I think that you would need more defined metrics to really assess this topic.

All public land is not created equal. There is huge difference in Colorado OTC vs limited entry. A lot OIL permits have phenomenal success rates.

Like I sat as an observer recently in Texas and it was virtual no brainer but all deer were not an option to shoot. So that too had some challenges.

On the other hand, there is lots of private land that I would opt not hunt in order to hunt better public ground.

I have killed some easy big public land whitetail. Finding them was the hardest part.

From: Rickm
Pressure makes the difference IMHO. Public or private. There are plenty of limited public tags I don't want because of early cow tags, landowner tags, early rifle etc.

Where practiced, the early cows tags do more to push elk into private comfort zones than any single event.

From: APauls
In the comparison of Public vs Private the insinuation was that hunting pressure is "obviously" heavier on public as opposed to private. Reality, as indicated above is not that simple.

Question reworded would be more like: A mature animal of which species has the propensity to become the most difficult to hunt as you add pressure to the equation?

I added the assumption of a mature animal, because young of the year anything have had zero pressure, and are therefore removed from the argument. Mature animals that have undergone several years of high pressure/low pressure are where the rubber meets the road. Of this, I have very little experience living in Canada. I have watched mature deer disappear from just a few people hunting private property, and have read a lot about whitetails, which would lead me to think they have to be high on the list.

Moose are basically a big "N/A", because in any high pressure area they are just all dead. Even at their prime they are simply too dumb and get killed.

I wish we could differentiate coyotes. I imagine a high pressure coyote being the #1 most difficult animal to kill - especially with a bow. A high pressure coyote COULD BE the only animal that would actually be difficult to kill even with a rifle.

Also, I've hunted public land on limited entry tags that were night and day when compared with OTC, so I don't think it's just public vs private. It's just how pressured they are.

Some people hunt their own land harder than some public land gets hunted.

From: Cazador
I will only comment on elk and what I've seen, but hunting elk on "true public OTC" not private OTC (like some well known writers like to keep hidden) is far beyond night and day. Why do you think they hide that fact? Even in good draw units, public is much different than private land elk hunt.

Thinking about NA animals, Elk are the only ones I can think of that actually will exit NF ground in herds in order to get on said ranches. That should tell you something. In saying that, public vs. private, I'd take the private every day of the week. Reading articles that are half baked truths is kind of annoying.

Like the great Capitan Fletcher once said. "Don't piss down my back and tell me it's raining"

From: LBshooter
Public land whitetails are very very tough, compared to private land rarely hunted whitetails. Public anything is a far greater trophy than a private land animal, hands down.

From: Jaquomo
With elk it is all about pressure, whether public or private. For many years I hunted a 2000 acre chunk of BLM in an OTC unit that went up between two ranches, with only a little sliver where it touched the road. Rarely ever saw another hunter and it was great hunting.

Then a land trade happened and the new adjacent owner allowed me and my partner to keep hunting, but also let so many other friends hunt that it was no better than the surrounding NF. Maybe worse. We kept killing elk because we had 20 years of figuring out what they do there before it became private, but it wasn't nearly as good as when it was public, and we had conflicts with other hunters (including three game wardens) on a regular basis. They blew elk out and onto other ranches where no hunting was allowed, or back onto NF.

In 2018 I paid a modest trespass fee to hunt a big ranch in an OTC unit for one more hunt with my longtime hunting partner, who could no longer negotiate deadfalls on the public land due to an injury. It had it all - huge elk population in the unit, hay meadows with aspen fingers trailing up into bedding timber ridges. We were the only two bowhunters.

After 18 days of hunting and only seeing elk on the ranch three times - once when a herd of 200+ went through and kept going, we left to hunt public where there were more elk. Didnt help that the rancher moved 300 cow-calf pairs off the National Forest and onto the ranch the week before our season started.

I have friends who kill multiple P&Y class public land whitetails every year, in different states, all DIY. I have other friends who hunt private farms and are lucky to kill something with antlers.

“ Where practiced, the early cows tags do more to push elk into private comfort zones than any single event.”

I would not dispute that. Maybe if you could only buy one of those AFTER punching your regular archery tag… but let’s be serious a minute. If the state really wants to reduce the size of the elk herd, then they need to issue those Cow permits for a rifle season. And find a way to keep those cows on public land until the rifle season opens.

I’ve never had the chance to hunt private property for Elk (not saying I wouldn’t jump at the chance!) but I do know that I have hunted areas with high Whitetail densities under high pressure and low, and on unpressured land, I can fill a tag in under an hour with a rifle. Usually takes a sit or two to get one in bow range. Not talking about “trophy“ animals, but mature does and bucks 2.5 years or older. I’m not picky.

On highly pressured land, even with deer sign everywhere….

It’s about like this: where they think they are safe, they are in extreme peril. Where they know they are not safe, they can seem almost untouchable. Even the dumb ones.

I used to hunt rifle season up in Minnesota, and if you didn’t fill your tag on opening day, your odds of success would absolutely plummet. Most of those deer were shot inside of easy bow range, but after opening day… They were just really hard to come by.

From: cnelk
"Where practiced, the early cows tags do more to push elk into private comfort zones than any single event."

In Colorado, these tags are PLO [Private Land Only] to do the exact opposite

From: Bowfreak
No doubt it is pressure. I stated that in the OP. I don't know what low pressure whitetails look like. I hunt low pressure whitetails compared to PA public land, but where I hunt you have a hodge podge of small tract landowners that typically have someone hunting them. Not a ton of bowhunters but KY has enough gun seasons to where someone is always monkeying around in the woods preparing for their hunt. I welcome the neighboring pressure because I think it makes my hunting better.

From: bowhunt
Human and predator pressure make a huge difference. Blacktail deer living on private land in the willamette valley act like a completely different animal than a blacktail deer from the north Oregon cascade mountains. The deer living in the mountains are on high alert at all times due to the large population of mountain lions. They are “pressured” 24 hours per day, 365 days of the year. The cascade deer typically will only keep there head down for a second or two when eating and then quickly look up and side to side. The mountain deer will also act like they are about to put their head down to feed, then quickly look up, trying to catch something moving in on them as they feed. It’s very interesting to watch the behavior of those mountain deer versus valley deer.

From: Toonces
Turkey gets my vote.

From: Pat Lefemine
With few exceptions there really is no comparison between pressured public land game and private land game.

That said, it all depends on the piece. I know private parcels that allow so much hunting that you are better off hunting public. But as a rule, private is always a better experience.

From: badbull
What Pat said and also what Rocky D and others have said in their posts pretty well sums up what I think. Sometimes it seems like getting a good tag is the hard part when it comes to elk on public.

From: Jaquomo
My favorites are people who hunt private land for some species, who complain about people who hunt private land for other species. With a few exceptions, most people would jump at the chance to hunt private land for whatever they are after if the opportunity were offered.

From: BC173
^^^^^^^ and that’s a fact. Where you hunt can make all the difference in the world. I’ve hunted private where permission was granted to anyone who asked, and the hunting was terrible, at best. On the other hand, I’ve hunted some small public, out of the way pieces, and the hunting was fantastic, with almost zero pressure. In a few instances, I double and triple checked to make sure it was public, because I never seen another hunter. And that’s saying something, living in Pa.

From: SteveD
Private easier especially"managed" for WT deer by far.

From: Jaquomo
LAtranny (need to understand your new handle...) in North Park CO they issue thousands of extra cow tags during rifle season. Half price for NRs. But the only way they will keep those elk on NF is to end bowhunting. The unbelievable archery pressure on those OTC units pushes the elk down onto the ranches in a hurry. Not conjecture - collared elk and the visible migrations prove it. We are doing this to ourselves

From: Shuteye
I have killed deer on private and public land many times. I always hunted deer with bow and arrow during the gun season on public land. I lived near the area and knew what the deer would do when pressured. I would get into the thickest part of the woods and climb a tree. No shooting lanes or openings. I would take my lunch and stay up the tree from dark till dark. Killed most of the deer after the public crowd of hunters started moving around. The deer would sneak into the thick part of the woods right to me. My cousin often hunted with me. One time at noon he said he saw a big doe coming through the woods and was leveling his muzzle loader on the deer to get a shot. Before he could shoot, the deer went down. He knew immediately what had happened. I had double lunged the doe with a jak hammer. He waited for me to come along blood trailing. Another time he was helping me blood trail and found a gut pile. I got the heart and liver and some one else got my deer. We went to the close butcher and he had the deer. The person that checked it in, during muzzle loading season told the butcher he shot it with a muzzle loader. The butcher knew something was wrong because it had a huge Jak Hammer hole on the exit side of the deer. I told the butcher to tell the guy to enjoy my deer. I let him have it because I had all I wanted. BTW we had heard no shot so he couldn't have been using a muzzle loader. My only mistake was waiting until dark to blood trail because I was waiting for my cousin to come out.

I think most any species gets smart when pressure is applied. Never saw as much as a squirrel who wanted to die. So, pressure is it. And, public land gets most of it in a heavily populated state.

WV on the other hand is different. No one hunts NF or State lands anymore. It’s all foot travel. And most guys would rather ride their atv a couple hundred yards to get off and walk a couple hundred more yards to their stands on private ground. Versus hoofing it several miles one way or, even a 1/2 mile on public ground around here.

It’s steep and rugged here. And people just don’t like the effort when they can put out a bucket of corn and shoot a deer.

That suits me fine. And, my success on public land is far greater then on the private I hunt. If I were hard up to kill a deer quick, I’d drive to several public land areas I hunt yearly. And, I’d have my opportunity much quicker then the private ground I hunt now.

It’s why I whitetail hunt these areas with a Kifaru pack. Many of these areas are two to four miles deep one way. But, I’m alone. I can get out of my saddle and cozy in for a nap in the sun or, do what ever I want and NEVER see a person in the woods. It’s awesome. And, the hunting is phenomenal as well. All on public land.

  • Sitka Gear