Public Land Pope & Young
I remember a few seasons ago when my good friend, Jarryd Moyer, texted me a picture of a buck he had just killed which most would describe as a buck of a lifetime. I’m not quite ready to go there, because I know Jarryd and I expect one of these days to get another text with a bigger deer laying next to that trusty Pearson bow of his. Anyway, Jarryd was hunting in Maryland on a public piece that had recently opened. It was a situation where you could not pre-scout the area prior to hunting it, so it warranted some cyber scouting using aerials in addition to a few “drive bys” to gather what information was available in regard to the surrounding private land and the deer using it. On October 8th around the middle of the day Jarryd and his father Doug went in blind to the new area with their climbers on their backs.
Jarryd takes what I consider to be a unique approach to scent control in the he does everything possible to avoid working up a sweat while walking in to his stand location, including traveling to his hunting spot in shorts and a tee shirt (even in late November) while at the same time being careful to make as little contact with the surrounding vegetation as possible. October 8th was no exception and wearing blue mesh shorts and a t-shirt he headed to the edge of what looked (from the aerial photos) to be a thick area with good bedding cover. Not too far from this location was private land and some crop fields. Jarryd’s location was set up in such a way that he would be able to intercept bucks heading to the food source in the evening hours. Since this was the first that the area was open to hunting for the year, there would be a decent chance that bucks would still be in a feed-bed-feed routine, and hopefully moving in daylight hours. The stand location for this hunt was situated off bedding cover, and the thick woods and the open timber provided a perfect transition line that served as a travel corridor for the deer on their way to feed in the evening.
As with any public land situation, other hunters can always change your best plan. Just because you are hunting the fringe of a bedding area to catch a buck at last shooting light doesn’t mean the next guy won’t walk right through the buck’s bedroom and bust him out of there for the foreseeable future.
As soon as he reached his hunting height and pulled his bow up a stick broke behind him. Forty yards away walked 2 mature doe, coming in his direction. Behind them was a mature buck. Presumably pushed off their beds by other hunters moving in to the area, the group was using the travel corridor to escape the pressure, although they were not pushed hard. As the does walked on through to the down wind side of the tree, the buck took his time and cautiously moved into a clear lane at less than 20 yards. After the shot, he ran 30 yards and dropped and Jarryd was standing in his climber still wearing his blue mesh shorts and a white t-shirt; not a great advertisement for camouflage. A main frame crab-claw ten point, the buck sported a 6 inch kicker off his left G-2 which helped him gross just under 140 inches; he would net over 130. The taxidermist estimated he was a 3 1/2 year old, proving the Eastern states do have genetic potential after all.
Jarryd and Doug Moyer pose with a Maryland Public Land P & Y
What are the take-a-ways from this story?
1. On Public land, use the pressure from other hunters to your advantage; if you can’t avoid them, hunt escape corridors. Otherwise, find thick cover, and/or areas overlooked by other people.
2. Always be prepared for the unexpected from the moment you get into the stand.
3. Use digital scouting tools to your advantage if you can’t put boots on the ground.
4. Finding areas of public ground which have restricted seasons or are less publically visible can yield more mature and possibly less pressured deer.