It’s Illegal to Prune on State Lands

I am a Michigan bow-hunter,  and I am familiar with John Eberhart’s tactics.  I have a couple of his books.  His primary focus is sharing his tactics for hunting Michigan public land whitetails. (particularly southern Michigan)
He frequently writes about the importance of "preparing" trees and trimming shooting lanes. That is where I have a problem with his writings. The southern Michigan public lands are state  lands. And on all Michigan state lands, trimming of trees, branches, or even grasses is against the law.
My guess is that, if you ask him about this point, he would insist that his "stand preparation" tree trimming doesn’t take place on Michigan state lands. But that is certainly not the impression you might get from reading his writings or web posts.


John Eberhart Responds:
You are certainly correct about my writings on proper tree preparation and cutting shooting lanes.

While a percentage of my hunts in Michigan take place on state land I also hunt private property in which I have received permission by knocking on doors (I have never owned or leased land, or paid to hunt).  When I write articles about hunting pressured areas I assume that the readers that hunt state land know that they can not cut anything on state or federal lands and therefore I do not mention it.

Whenever I mention cutting lanes or trimming trees, it is targeted to the hunters that hunt private property where it is allowed. With that being said, I believe you are correct and that I need to start adding a sentence or two to any preparation article article specifying that on state and federal lands that it is illegal to cut anything or use any steps or stands that in any way scar the tree.

The picture you are referring to on page 52 was taken in the early spring on private land and the obvious short stubs were cut by another hunter. The caption should have mentioned that these very visible stubs are why you should cut anything in a shooting lane tight to the ground so they are not so noticeable.

You know what? I just read the caption on that picture (pg. 52) and you are absolutely correct about the caption referring to public land. While I sent in the picture, I did not write the caption for Deer & Deer Hunting, and I seriously doubt they gave much thought to the public land reference in the caption prior to setting it to print. I have had some minor issues with some captions in magazines in the past as well but realize that they are targeted at a very large national audience and cannot always be right on for a particular reader.

Dan (D&DH editor) and I agree on many things in the deer hunting world concerning heavy hunting pressure, how it negatively affects mature buck numbers, deer movements, and how infrequently it is mentioned in the media. I feel very fortunate that D&DH allows me to write for them about my experiences in heavily pressured areas, and I need people like you that hunt under similar circumstances to keep me in-check and updated whenever a mistake is made.  Although this one was not made by me, I do take some things for granted and assume things I shouldn’t.

John Eberhart

Deer & Deer Hunting is the nation’s #1 whitetail hunting magazine! Every issue is loaded with deer behavior, biology and hunting strategies guaranteed to make you a better hunter. Subscribe Now!