Giant Buck from Public Land

Public Land- We love it because we don’t need permission, a club membership, have dues to pay, or need to take out a pay-day loan for access. Public land has its allures, yet those same attributes can make the deer woods seem like a big-box store on Black Friday. One of the best ways to have success on public land is to “go the extra mile,” almost literally which can mean using an usual access trick like a canoe or fording a stream to access a section of land that other hunters can’t or choose not to reach. I had that experience in Illinois where we arose extra early on opening day, slipped into a canoe and paddled a quarter mile down stream to an isolated bend of a small creek. The dawn of shotgun season became evident when slug-guns boomed in a perimeter and eventually brought a big 8-point right past my stand.

Finding big deer on public land is possible if you can read the signs.
Finding big deer on public land is possible if you can read the signs.

Paperwork and red-tape can also be a hunter’s friend, since most hunters, self included, don’t embrace the hassle of applying for permits, taking a shooting test, or going through an orientation to qualify for hunting access. Each of these requirements make sense for game management areas such as state parks, national wildlife refuges, and other public tracts, yet it’s not fun to do and we often have to enter a raffle and hunt only those days when our name is drawn.

This post from the Realtree website tells the story of Patrick Shemwell of Kentucky and how he used a multi-year strategy to locate and eventually harvest a monster buck on public land. Shemwell, did it the old fashioned way- he earned it- to use an old advertising slogan and his strategies can be an inspiration and playbook to us all. Truth is, there are many sections of public land that harbor great bucks and this post may give you the inspiration to find one of them.

Very few bucks make it to old age. Even fewer if they happen to live on public land. This is what makes the deer that Patrick Shemwell killed during the Kentucky archery season special. Well, that, and the fact that it grosses just over 205 inches and features 21 scorable points, including a 7-inch drop tine.

Patrick didn’t just luck up on the buck. The dedicated public land bowhunter first discovered the giant deer after the 2014 season while scouting a new spot. While working his way through a thicket, Shemwell jumped the monster buck from his bed. He knew immediately that the buck was special and quickly made the decision to hunt the area.