So you’ve taken the leap to hunt DIY whitetails out of state, and done your research. Now what? Once on site, follow these tips to help close the deal.
Every fall, Minnesota’s Bernie Barringer becomes a whitetail-hunting road warrior. After months of research and preparation that includes liberal use of the HuntStand app, and diligent practice with his favorite compound bow, Barringer is ready to haunt a few select, mostly public tracts across two or three different Midwest states. And even better, over the years, he’s refined a do-it-yourself system for others to follow that offers up a solid path to success, even if you’ve never taken an out-of-state hunt.
Barringer, 60, a dedicated HuntStand user and longtime outdoor communicator, has made no less than 30 whitetail road trips over the last 20 years, in the process bagging some great public-land bucks, and learning a great many lessons along the way. In Part 1 of our 2-part series we looked at how to choose the right hunting locations and scouting from your home; in this Part 2, Barringer offers tips on closing the deal on a DIY whitetail trophy, once on site. Go Where Other Hunters Won’t. “The common wisdom for hunting public tracts is that you have to go deep into their core to get away from the crowd, but many times, the key is simply crossing a barrier that stops most people,” Barringer advised. “I’m always looking for these barriers, and one of the most obvious is water. You can pull on hip boots and cross a creek where few people ever go. Lots of these spots are in pockets fairly close to the road.”
Hunting Public-Land Whitetails (Part 1): Laying The Groundwork To Success
Using Ultra-Mobile Gear Helps. “I like to use relatively lightweight hang-on stands paired with climbing sticks; a good setup would be a stand and four sticks you can attach to the stand and carry the whole works easily into your chosen site, a package that’s easy to put up and take down. Why? Because you’ll be moving it a lot. After three or four days, I will typically settle down; at that point I will have determined at least two different spots where it’s probably going to happen. I pretty much always have two stands set to choose from. I usually carry four treestands with me on every out-of-state hunt; typically I’ll regularly use two of them. My ideal portable hang-on probably weighs up to about 20 pounds or less, a stand that balances size and comfort, typically with a mesh seat, so I can enjoy the sit even if it’s all day. There is a definite balance between light weight and comfort.”Watching The Weather & Planning Ahead. “The HuntStand app is a great tool for planning ahead, and you’ve always got to be planning one step ahead on an out-of-state hunt because using your time efficiently is so important. That’s why I bring several treestands, and typically, a ground blind, to give me options. Maybe early on during your scouting you find where deer have been feeding and you ‘hang and hunt’ what is obviously an evening pattern, and it’s the only treestand you have hung. You don’t ever want to find yourself, that night back at the motel, thinking, ‘Now where can I hunt in the morning?’ That’s why when it’s time to hunt I always try to set two stands immediately; it’s also when HuntStand will be a huge help, because you’ll know the upcoming wind directions and speeds, the possibility of cold fronts, precipitation, and more. When I started doing these hunts, we had no [detailed easy-access digital maps], or accurate, hour-by-hour wind and weather forecasts, but now with HuntStand, we have all that information—and much more—right in our hand, in our smartphone. So now, if I know the wind is going to switch midday, not only can I can make a move and get the heck out of there, you can set several stands for different wind and weather conditions you know you’ll be facing, and you’re efficiency and hunting effectiveness has doubled or tripled.”Hunting Aggressively Pays. “I like to compare hunting on public lands out of state, with private lands near your home; for example if you’ve got a piece of private property where you hunt regularly, over the years you have learned many things about the deer movement there and are likely very familiar with how and why the deer use that property, the favored bedding and feeding areas. When hunting a public tract out of state, you have to scout it, find the hot travel patterns, and you have a very short window to get the job done. So you must hunt and scout much more aggressively. A lot of times I’ll walk right into suspected bedding areas, maybe carrying a small hunting stool, and sit right on a trail where heavy deer sign shows those deer are traveling through right now.
“One time when scouting a suspected bedding area I bumped a large buck from its bed, and immediately hung a portable stand I was carrying on my back. Three hours later that buck came back. Hunting aggressively means you’ve got to be willing to move at a moment’s notice, sometimes the moment you notice a pattern is changing. Maybe you notice a crop on adjacent private land that is being harvested, and you know local deer will be moving in.
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“Public-land deer are somewhat different; people talk about the dangers of intrusion into a buck’s core area, but public deer are accustomed to intrusion and masters at patterning people. They know the tendencies of the humans intruding into their area, whether it’s recreational hikers, berry pickers, or coon hunters. Wherever those pockets might be, public deer find areas where they feel safe, and that’s why even if you bump them out of there, all is not lost. They might not come back the first day, but chances are they’ll be back soon.”Tap Into The HuntStand Hunting App Property Lines Feature. “Finding where the edges of public property connect to private lands is more important than most people realize, and the HuntStand Property Lines feature will show you those areas instantly; it’s a great investment. In many cases, across many different states, you’ll find the best deer bedding areas are in large tracts of public lands, but many of the local deer are traveling off those public properties to feed in private cropfields.
Tip: Use Property Lines Feature To Set Up A Big Game Ambush
“Another thing is, you can be hunting on the outer edges of public ground, and what if you shoot a deer and it runs onto the private ground? Lots of states have very strict guidelines regarding deer retrieval. With the HuntStand Property Lines feature, you will know who you can ask for permission to access that land. Or maybe you’re hunting public land and come upon an adjacent private parcel worth your while to investigate. Learning the landowner, in seconds, on your HuntStand Hunting app will help you knock on a door; gaining that access just might change the course of your hunt.”