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Thread: Hunting public land

  1. #1

    Default Hunting public land

    This is a question that I would like to throw out to everyone for their opinion. First a little about myself. I have been hunting the same hunt club in Colleton County for the last 24 years. Our club size has gone down( land size) and many people have changed. However I have always hunted some WMA's land every year during their archery season. Even though taking a deer, does not mean a good day to me, I've always had a "GOOD" day there. I have run into alot of people that used to hunt with clubs but because of the price increase, economy and attitudes about killing deer they have gone to public land. As an archery hunter, I feel that DNR has helped by having archery only hunts later in the season rather than stacked up front. My question is this directed to hunters that primarly hunt public land.

    Have you seen an increase of hunters on our WMA's ? If so do you think that it's due to the economy or change of attitudes towards deer hunting in general. If so is this change good for our public land?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by bubblehead View Post
    This is a question that I would like to throw out to everyone for their opinion. First a little about myself. I have been hunting the same hunt club in Colleton County for the last 24 years. Our club size has gone down( land size) and many people have changed. However I have always hunted some WMA's land every year during their archery season. Even though taking a deer, does not mean a good day to me, I've always had a "GOOD" day there. I have run into alot of people that used to hunt with clubs but because of the price increase, economy and attitudes about killing deer they have gone to public land. As an archery hunter, I feel that DNR has helped by having archery only hunts later in the season rather than stacked up front. My question is this directed to hunters that primarly hunt public land.

    Have you seen an increase of hunters on our WMA's ? If so do you think that it's due to the economy or change of attitudes towards deer hunting in general. If so is this change good for our public land?
    I think folks are always looking for two things: cheaper alternatives and the feeling of adventure/DIY. WMA fits both of those descriptions. Club hunting is more about drawing them in for the ambush (luring). WMA hunting is more about scouting and keeping mobile for a variety of ambush points OR just slipping along against the wind and catching an animal unaware. It's very exciting. I like club or WMA hunting and think both are important facets of what our state offers.
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  3. #3
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    Feb 2010
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    In my area we have two archery only WMA's.(Keowee WMA and Fants Grove WMA) It seems to me that there are a ton more people hunting those areas than there were a few years ago, when I took up bowhunting. I think it is more to do with the growing popularity of bowhunting than anything else. I don't know how it is on WMA's in other parts of the state, but around here more times than not if you see a turck parked somewhere on WMA the hunter will not be very far from it. If you are willing to put in the work(most people are not) there is some great hunting on WMA's in our state. The way I feel about it is if a hunter kills a deer on WMA land he has earned it.

  4. #4
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    Sep 2009
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    Rock Hill S.C.
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    i have hunted the parsons mountain area the last 3 years. and have gone as long as a week at a time without seeing anyone in the woods. thats not to say i havnt run into other hunters in the woods its just not as common as it used to be. and after thanksgiving theres hardly anyone hunting the areas i was hunting. during archery season same thing most times i have the area i hunt to myself. i believe the economy and gas prices have kept alot of hunters outta the woods
    pawpaw1967 " Aim Small, Miss Small "

  5. #5
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    Jan 2010
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    Upstate, SC
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    I'm sure the economy has changed some guys outlooks on club hunting. Personally, I don't hunt WMA. It's not something I'm real comfortable with because I never know who's in the woods (or at least who should be there), I never know if I take a day off to hunt if there is gonna be a truck waiting at my favorite spot, WMA doesn't allow for land management, etc, etc. Bottom line for me is that I trust the guys in my club, I can't say that about the public at large.

  6. #6
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    Aug 2010
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    Goose Creek
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    I have only hunted WMA land till this coming season I joined a club so I know who is around. WMA is getting crowded. I had people all over me on three different turkey hunts this year. This past deer season I was down in the swamp and missed a decent buck when I came out two gentlemen were waiting on me, they heard the shot and was wondering if I had got something. This was during the week. Another time on a Saturday I killed an eight point in the morning and was dragging it out to the road across a clearing and had three different trucks stop to look at me in the clearing. WMA does hold deer and I'll continue to hunt my favorite spots I just have to park the truck so far away to keep people thrown off the track.

  7. #7
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    Feb 2010
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    Oconee County
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    I have hunted the Keowee WMA and I never see anyone, but it is archery only for certain parts. I saw a good deal of coyote poo and very few turkeys this year.
    A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity. Sigmund Freud

  8. #8
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    Feb 2010
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    Walhalla, SC
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    I do plan to hunt mainly public land this season. I know of several very good spots that I scout every year before season opens, but get hung up hunting private land and never hunt it. I may regret it at the end of season, but this year I didnt lease the tract of land that I normally lease with my dad and brother in hopes of taking advantage of free public land. I like a good challange anyway. I still have a small piece of land that my inlaws own that I am the only person allowed to hunt if public land doesnt go as planned.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt81302 View Post
    I do plan to hunt mainly public land this season. I know of several very good spots that I scout every year before season opens, but get hung up hunting private land and never hunt it. I may regret it at the end of season, but this year I didnt lease the tract of land that I normally lease with my dad and brother in hopes of taking advantage of free public land. I like a good challange anyway. I still have a small piece of land that my inlaws own that I am the only person allowed to hunt if public land doesnt go as planned.
    Matt, you won't regret it. Any success you have will make you so proud that Teddy Roosevelt's vest wouldn't fit you.

    To the original poster: imo, the only "problem" with public land is you may be tempted to go here, go there, go everywhere on a certain WMA instead of being persistent in a place that shows all the sign of what you're looking for. Persistence is key imo. If you can only hunt one day a week like me oftentimes, go back there again and again and again to where you're seeing active sign, tracks, droppings. Not seeing anything there one Saturday may have more to do with circumstances beyond reading sign, such as the weather. Travel corridors between thick cover is worth an every Saturday attempt imo.

  10. #10

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    i see less personally. in the moutains people have all but disappeared. and for as to running into other hunters, the land up there keeps others from coming in on you from a different direction and if someone does you might need to give them a ride to there truck . they'll be looking pretty rough so it would be hard to be upset with especially if you'll ever suffered the same mistake. lower down the country if understand the lay of the land and how the roads run through it avoiding hunters isnt that hard. usually it ends up beind you that walk the long way to get where the other hunter was. i've hunted wma all my life and consider it safe. i also think its is the only true form of hunting it is no bait , no cameras. no food plots. and the deer knows whats up. and as far as quality management what is the use and bragging about a big buck if he got that big from people letting him walk. the whole attraction to a big buck is the fact that you earned it. it your worth your sand and have at least a day a week to hunt a you should have no trouble killing nice bucks if you know what your doing. plus some of us make a living off eating a deer meat and the fact that some of us think some of the little racks are unique and just as neat as the bigs ones . the main point is if you want to kill a deer wma is a option and it does offer a whole new experience.( i do hunt my own land so i know the difference wma and private . i go behind the house 1 day a year to shoot a deer for the fridge it seems almost like shooting livestock , completly different than game management

  11. #11

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    I hunt 90 percent of the time on WMA land here in SC and if you do your leg work; figuratively and literally, you will find deer. There are many great places especially in the larger tracts like that are in game zone 1 and 2. You have to adjust what you call a trophy but that is about it. Around $30 a year sure fits my budget a lot better than club dues.
    Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by hunterClint View Post
    I hunt 90 percent of the time on WMA land here in SC and if you do your leg work; figuratively and literally, you will find deer. There are many great places especially in the larger tracts like that are in game zone 1 and 2. You have to adjust what you call a trophy but that is about it. Around $30 a year sure fits my budget a lot better than club dues.
    i agree with all but adjusting to what you call a trophy. because i know that the pope and young buck in south carolina came of wma . i dont know if thats public information but i've ate lunch with man that killed it a time or two . leg work is key. throw away all the scents ,cover scents and the camofauge,treestand if want just keep your call and learn the deer they act and behave differntly evry place you go but as long as you pay attention to the area and whats going on in the area you'll be good shape

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt81302 View Post
    In my area we have two archery only WMA's.(Keowee WMA and Fants Grove WMA) It seems to me that there are a ton more people hunting those areas than there were a few years ago, when I took up bowhunting. I think it is more to do with the growing popularity of bowhunting than anything else. I don't know how it is on WMA's in other parts of the state, but around here more times than not if you see a turck parked somewhere on WMA the hunter will not be very far from it. If you are willing to put in the work(most people are not) there is some great hunting on WMA's in our state. The way I feel about it is if a hunter kills a deer on WMA land he has earned it.
    Excellent post Matt!

  14. #14
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    I have seen an increase of hunters on WMA in the past 8 years. Good to see people using property but has some negative also. Along with it comes more trash and that’s a HUGE pet peeve of mine. IF you can pack it in then pack it out. I seem to pack out more and more plastic bottles and Vienna cans each year.

    Another negative I have noticed is that smaller/younger deer are/have being/been killed. Now I know that it's legal and have nothing against it but I have ran into several grown men throughout the years dragging out small bucks. While helping or just having general conversation they (most) admit that they would have never shot the deer if they would have been on/in their club. That does chap my hide a little. Yes I understand that it is public and shoot what you like but why lower standards just because it's public?? To brag about numbers? To kill because you think someone else will/would?

    HAVE FUN and enjoy the Resource, shot what is legal but don't lower standards just because you think others would.
    Last edited by Greenhead; 10-17-2012 at 08:50 PM.
    I believe in Christianity as I believe the sun has risen; not because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.

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  15. #15
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    Oct 2012
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    West Columbia
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    I've hunted WMAs for the past 2 years, not seen alot of people but I also haven't seen much deer or deer signs, and I've made my way through alot of that land Turkey hunting, There are tons of turkeys! I hunt the WMA in Newberry County. There is one hotspot for deer I did find Turkey hunting this year I could hang a stand but the WMA is 1hr15min away in good traffic and now I just hunt Fort Jackson, which is 30 bucks/year. I dont go to the WMA because it is very expensive to travel that far even one day/week. I will be up there next spring though to kill me a couple turkeys hopefully.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    COlumbia SC
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    I love hunting public land, that being said, you have to be picky about what public land you want to hunt. Some is more hammered than others. Some smaller tracts are overlooked almost completely. Take SNF, theres a ton of land there that isnt hit much at all, probably due to no atv access. I think alot of people just dont want to do the walking and join a club or hunt private land where they can just ride in and out. The biggest reason I like public land is I like to see new land. I scout most weekends thru the year and get tired of walking the same land over and over. But I wont return to public land if it appears its just being hammered every weekend. If I get bumped from a spot I find a new one, I dont want to run into anyone any more than I want them running into me. And you have to hunt public land with the expectation of bumping into people, I always have backup spots nearby in case someone is in my spot and usually have a backup way into a really good spot. The only time I have ever felt unsafe or in danger on public land has been on public dove shoots with people shooting low birds.

    The areas I hunt I think the pressure comes and goes, some years I see more people then some years I see less.

    Oh wait, what am I thinking, public land is dangerous and over crowded, I really suggest everyone join clubs and stay away from the public land, its a bad place, really it is

  17. #17
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    Feb 2012
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    Pickens Co.
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    I hunted 3 days on SNF WMA and heard a total of 6 shots....I also only saw about 5 different trucks the 3 days as well......I couldn't believe there was no one hunting....
    "Heaven, and there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life"

    Rev. 21:27

  18. #18
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    Feb 2010
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    murrells inlet
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    One of the WMAs I hunt on occasionally has gotten alot more traffic. Francis Marion is still a place to get away from everyone else, you could drive around there during the week in some spots and never see another soul. I also hunt some NWR spots on the river, boat access only, ain't seen another person out there yet. I also got a spot on some Nature Conservancy land that's bow only, boat access only. I've ran into a couple of other guys out there but everyone has been cool about respecting each others territories.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
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    Six Mile,SC
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    The one thing that effected hunt on a large chunk of GMA I use to spend alot of time at was the closing of two camping grounds.We use to camp at Forks Key Bridge primative camp in McCormick county.Years ago it would be full of campers,full as a tick on the weekends,but it was shut down. So we moved a few miles up the road to CyperCreek campgound,which was shut down a few years later as well.I still go to that GMA area but there is very llittle hunting pressure ther anymore.The hunting is better than it ever was though.

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