Maybe your hunting ground has been in your family for generations, or maybe you have enough money to buy or lease some private property. You might even have the good fortune to know a guy who knows a guy who’s willing to let you hunt on their private property.
But what if you’re new to hunting, or you just moved to a different state? Finding the right hunting ground is a crucial part of the hunt, and if you just can’t afford to buy or lease any private land, hunting on public land could be a better option for you.
There are thousands of acres of public hunting land at the federal, state, and local level in the United States. And technically federal hunting ground is maintained with our tax money, so why not use it?
Start with a Search Engine
It’s never been easier to search for the perfect hunting ground from the comfort of your own home. You can start by going to your search engine of choice and searching for “public hunting land near me” or “public hunting land in AL”. This usually produces a good list of county, state, and federal lands available. Your local land trust or state wildlife agency would be a good resource. Outdoor Alabama has a great list of all of the public land hunting opportunities for this state.
Make sure to check for accessibility and familiarize yourself with surrounding properties; some public properties might not be easily accessible and can be surrounded or hidden by private property. Once you’ve narrowed your list down to a few places worth checking out, it’s time for the next step: desktop scouting.
What to Look For
Desktop scouting is a wonderful tool for hunting. It’s a great way to narrow down your options without having to physically scout each site (although you’ll probably want to physically scout your final top choices). Google Earth Pro is a great tool to use for this purpose, and it’s free. There are plenty of features you can use to personalize and pinpoint specific areas of your map, such as the aerial and historic imagery to scout specific terrain, plant species, and trail patterns. The 3D imaging feature can be useful for determining the topography of the land.
Depending on the type of game your hunting, you should look for all the things you normally search for on a scouting trip, such as:
Tree stand locations
Once you’ve narrowed it down to your top choices, print off your customized maps and physically scout the location. Use the maps to compare it to your expectations. Make notes and take plenty of pictures to use for your comparison, this will help you in crossing off any areas that don’t meet expectations.
This Land is Our Land
It’s important to keep in mind that other hunters are using this public resource too, so it could be beneficial to determine where the most popular areas for hunting are, or learning about the local hunter’s spots so you can avoid hunting in someone else’s area.
We have pro staff and over 30 years worth of hunting experience, so if you have an questions about local public hunting areas, please contact us at 256-715-1221.