Finding Public Hunting Grounds
It's one of the greatest challenges facing every hunter. No, it's not calling in that longbeard or figuring out how to get the tightest pattern out of your shotgun. It's finding a good place to hunt. While a small handful of hunters own their own land and even more are able to join hunt clubs and leases, many others search every year for that perfect spot. And for a lot of these hunters, it means finding good public land.
The first step in every hunter's search for good public hunting lands should begin with their state wildlife agency. These agencies are responsible for managing much of the land available for public hunting, such as wildlife management areas or state forests. Wildlife agencies can usually provide complete information on areas close to your home and those areas with the best opportunity for tagging a wild turkey or whatever game it is you seek.
To log on to a state agency Web site in any state, click here and then click on the state you are interested in hunting. Game departments can provide license requirements, costs and additional fees that may need to be paid to hunt these areas, along with maps and info on access roads, parking and even local camping or lodging. Some season dates or legal hunting hours may even differ from the rest of the state, so it is important to make sure you understand the rules of hunting each individual public hunting area.
But don't just figure your search is complete with a state agency. Other sources of finding public hunting opportunities lie with large timber companies such as International Paper or Mead/Westvaco. While more and more, these companies only lease land to hunt clubs or the state, some do still allow interested hunters to purchase passes that will let them hunt some tracts of company-owned land.
Another great place to check is with large military bases or federal government facilities, such as nuclear power plants. Many bases in rural areas take up thousands of acres used periodically by the military for training exercises or sit unused for future military needs. As such, many of them provide hunting to those willing to secure a permit. Realtree Pro Staffer and Wild Turkey Bourbon/NWTF Grand National champion Joe Drake is one experienced hunter who does the bulk of his turkey hunting on a military base in central Georgia. It is rare that he doesn't fill his limit for the season.
To find out if a military base or federal installation near you has hunting opportunities, contact the base's public information office, which will be able to provide you with the info you will need to obtain access and take part in some of the great hunting these areas can provide.
For these and more great hunting tips, join the NWTF and receive six great issues of Turkey Country magazine every year. It's the magazine serious turkey hunters read.