I've been hunting a long time but have been pretty lucky over the years avoiding public hunting grounds and the hunters who hunt on public land until this year.
A friend of mine called me up and tells me he discovered some new public land to hunt in shot gun area so the day before the T Zone hunt we went and checked it out from a distance. It looked good, made a simple plan for the next day and left.
Opening day we were surprised that there weren't more hunters, we only had 1 old man on the land with us. Didn't hear any shots until I saw a doe, took 1 80 yard shot and dropped her in her tracks. I went to recover my deer and the 1 old man came over to take a look and say hi. Nice old guy, no problem. About an hour passed by then my friend walked up with about 1 hour of hunting left.
Just after my friend walked up, we hear the old guy shoot 2 shots less than 100 yards away. I started to drag my deer out, my buddy went to check on the other guy who says he hit a doe twice. We spent about 1/2 hour trying to find his deer but never even found a drop of blood or hair. With about 20 minutes of shooting time left, the old guy decides he's coming back in the am to look some more, we start the long hike and drag out. On the trail out, we jump a doe and her fawn, my buddy drops the small one from about 70 yards, dead in its tracks. AN AWSOME DAY of hunting for public land!
So we plan to come back on Friday.....What a difference a day makes!
I'm not sure how many acres this land is but at best, it has room to handle maybe 6 hunters. When we got there, the same old guy is now sitting in the spot I hunted from the day before, his son in the place the old man was the day before. They had searched the nieghbors property illegally but didn't find the doe. On my walk out I see the nieghbor putting up more no tresspassing signs along the fence line that they had crossed and searched. I walked around to find another spot and everywhere I went I was bumping into other hunters. 15 other hunters that I counted! About 5 pm, all heck breaks loose, shooting everywhere, slugs ripping over head, through the trees, shots coming from everywhere! Had to be at least 100 rounds fired with in ear shot in an hour! I spent most of that time hiding, afraid that I was going to get shot! What really bothered me was that I didn't hear any single shots. Always BABOOM BABOOM baboom, or boom boom boom. You could tell who was shooting semi auto's and who was emptying out pump shot guns much too fast to be shooting with any accuracy! Second shots too fast to know if the first shot hit anything! Isn't 1 shotgun hole in a deer enough? This is T Zone, they're only doe and they don't shoot back! This ain't no video game!
Now back in the parking lot I watched all 15 hunters walk out on the same path, not one deer! Hunters were bragging that "I shot 10 rounds" "I shot 6" "I took 4 shots" ......One kid says he took 6 shots, reloaded and took 4 more and he was one that put the last 4 shots right over my head by about 3 feet! I ripped into him! The deer he was shooting at was over 200 yards away from him, 50 yards beyond me. What ever happened to taking shots you can't miss? What happened to the rule of shooting 1 shot at a time? WHAT HAPPENED TO COMMON SENSE? At the parking lot I saw at least 5 guys emty there guns. It's like 1/2 hour after shooting time and they've just walked a 500 yard long access road that shooting isn't allowed on, it's private on both sides. What were they going to shoot at? the parking lot? Maybe the last guy on the road?
Sat. I wasn't going back until about 4 pm my buddy calls and says there isn't anyone out on the public land, let's go. Reluctantly I say yes and get there about 4:30, still no one. I went back to my spot and watch 3 hunters on private land set up way out in the middle of an alphalpha field surrounding a small woods. Each about 100 yards appart in a semi circle to cover 3 sides of this woods. I'm covering the 4th side on public land about 40 yards out. Each set up about 300 yards off the tree line! Over 300 yards to anything in any direction according to my rangefinder! They must have those new super long range slug guns???? About 5:30 the furthest away starts shooting a pump gun with about 5 rounds in 4 seconds. I see about 7 deer coming down the tree line. Hunter 2 open fires with 5 rounds from a semi auto, then #3 open fires with a pump, as the deer are still running my way. By this time, hunters 1&2 reload and are shooting again, even though the deer are now over 400 & 600 yards away and I'm seeing slugs hit the ground about half way to the deer! The deer are heading my way and I'm wondering if I should look for cover from slugs! Thang God I'm in shot gun only area! Just before the deer get to the public ground, they stop and turn into the woods where I can not shoot. Too thick, and off the public land, and the deer were moving FAST. About 5 minutes later, those deer must have made it to another property and way off in the distance I hear another 20 or so shots.
Back at the parking lot I see the 3 hunters coming off the private field. I asked,"What was all the shooting about? Did you get anything?"
"No, there were a bunch of deer but they must have been too far away."
I just bit my tongue and left. Stopped at the gas station/registration station on the way home. I see 2 doe in the back of a pick up, nice size, but I couldn't help but notice multiple gun shot wounds on both. 4 on 1, 5 on the other, not much meat left on either. They came from the property just south east of the hunting ground where the 7 deer I saw were met by about 20 shots. These kids also were laughing about all the shots and what lucky food pantry they were going to donate the 2 deer to. Why bother. Get more to recycle the lead and brass.
Now I remember hunting public land in the 80's and 90's and I remember a lot of hunters crowding but never anything like this. My friend says maybe we were the idiots back then? No, I've always hunted with a 1 shot, 1 kill attitude, even if it was just a squirrel on a slow deer hunting day. LOL OK, guilty there when I was young.....but someone chewed my butt about shooting squirrels during deer hunting and I never did it again. So what's going on today? It's like they're playing a video game shooting up the woods. Step away from the video games and go to the shooting range, sight in your guns and learn your guns range and capabuilities. While hunting, take only shots you can't miss, 1 shot at a time. Please? My life depends on it.
American by birth, hunter by choice.