5 Types of Public-Land Hunters

5 Types of Public-Land Hunters

The 5 Types Of Hunters You're Likely To Encounter While Bowhunting Public-Land Whitetails

As we slide into the best time of year to be a bowhunter, everybody and their brother will decide it’s time to get into the woods. The rut, for all of it’s private-land glory, is a different experience on public dirt. Sure, you can definitely have an amazing hunt and arrow a cruiser, but you are also likely to encounter some hunting competition.

I do every year. And it doesn’t matter what state I’m in. It usually doesn’t matter how far I hike, either, because during the rut there is enough pressure where I’ll encounter someone eventually. A lot of the bowhunters I see — or meet — are hunting hard and seem to know what they are doing.

There are always a few, however, that surprise me with their behavior. They can be broken down into five categories, but I’ll start with the ones that drive me the most nuts — the wanderers.

Greener Grass Seekers

Whether I’m hunting a 40-acre woodlot or a vast expanse of National Forest, I almost always seem to run into the wanderer. This is the hunter who feels if he walks enough miles, he’ll blunder into a buck and arrow him. I know that ambush hunting isn’t for everyone, but the reality is that if you want to be a successful whitetail hunter you’d better figure out how to sit. Anyone who claims to consistently arrow deer while roaming around public land is probably not telling you their whole story.


Now, I get it. It’s public land and we’re free to do as we please. I also know that if you’re on a small property and know other hunters are in there, walking around at first or last light isn’t likely to earn you any new friends — or filled tags.

Spot Claimers

I’ve just spent quite a bit of time on public land in Northern Wisconsin and the amount of treestands I ran into was surprising considering the type of land I was on requires hunters to pull their stands every day. I can’t prove this, but I’d say the odds are pretty high that most of the ladder stands I saw were not going to be removed at dark.


I see this quite a bit throughout my travels, and it always irks me a little. Claiming a spot on public land is an ethical gray area at best, and illegal at worst. I know some hunters who just treat those stands as freebies and sit them, but that’s not my style. I don’t want to climb into someone else’s stand, so I tend to just look elsewhere for a spot to sit.

The Hunting Industry’s Favorite Sons

If you spend enough time on common ground you’ll run into the hunter who owns everything. He’s got a rattle bag, a grunt call, a can call, bottles of doe pee, a decoy and every other trick you can think of. He’ll be the hunter who will leave scent wicks hanging from every tree within bow range of his stand, and he will call like his life depends on it.


I’ve been close enough to a few of these dudes over the years to hear what they were saying to the deer herd and it was amazing. I’ve spent more time in the woods than a lot of people, and I very rarely see or hear bucks fight. These guys must think that full-out buck brawls happen all of the time, because they create them about every 10 minutes complete with grunts and snort-wheezes. Again, it’s public land and they are free to do what they want but sometimes it’s best to read the room and try to think about what sounds are likely to actually draw a buck in.

Put It In Drive

Although I don’t understand it, road hunters are my favorite stereotypical public-land hunters. The reason for that is if that’s your primary method of trying to arrow a buck, you’re probably not too likely to actually burn a few calories and get into the woods with me.

It doesn’t matter what state I’m in, or what type of public land I’m on, I see road hunters everywhere. I see them in pickup trucks, on four-wheelers and occasionally on dirt bikes. The common thread with all of them is that they are going to creep along gravel roads and two-tracks looking for any confused buck in the ditch that they can run across.

The BS Artist

This is the boisterous guy at the parking lot who immediately whips out his phone to show you trail camera photos or grainy kill shots from 1995. He’s on 200 inchers, and you don’t have to ask him to know that because he’ll tell you right away. He’ll talk about small 140 inchers and how he knows of a 2.5-year-old that has all of the makings of the next world record typical.

There’s nowhere he hasn’t hunted, and no buck that he doesn’t have inventoried and named. He's a talker of epic proportions and likely overcompensating for the fact that he couldn’t arrow a buck in a 10-acre pen if you spotted him a dozen arrows. The good news, for all of his malarkey, he’s usually pretty nice and relatively harmless.

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