Strictly Public. Strictly from the Ground.

Category: article

 Aug 19th, 2014 by OutdoorsFIRST 

Modified Aug 19th, 2014 at 12:00 AM

Photo courtesy of Jared Scheffler

Jared Scheffler, pictured above, poises himself like a cat ready to pounce as he draws back his custom long bow before launching an arrow inside of 12-yards at a buck he had stalked for a couple hundred yards on public land. This image depicts actual video footage featured in full on the Whitetail Adrenaline DVD, Calm before the Storm.

A worn road atlas wedged between the seat and console is pulled out for another turn of its soft pages. The map has put on many of the miles its contents trace and smells faintly of highlighter ink and spilled coffee. There’s a shortcut to the highway out of town and that’s exactly where their headed, down roads less traveled and state lines between them and where they started.

A new day begins as dawn fast approaches. There’s a rattle developing at the tie-rods of the ’99 Sable and it accentuates after every bump, but a fix will have to wait. Having driven through the night to hunt first light, Jared Scheffler, of the Whitetail Adrenaline DVD series, nudges Shey Peterson as he slows to a stop. There’s a rusty sign off the road beside them and Shey reads it through the sliver between his eyelids, Public Hunting Area. Jared confirms the boundaries on the map and places a fingertip where they’re parked. Shey acknowledges as he rubs the sleep from his eyes.

It’s been a long drive, but this is what they came for and it’s time to hunt. Neither Jared nor Shey has set foot on this piece before but that’s the grander part of their adventure and most advantageous to their success.
Sound taboo?


These days, more and more of todays “pro” hunters are attributing much of their success to product sponsors and trail camera scouting over intensely managed acreages with abundant deer herds. While certain products may keep a hunter more comfortable in the elements, and trail cameras, if used properly, can be effective inventory sources and scouting tools, let’s face it – private acreages don’t come cheap and neither do the myriad product options available in today’s market, but most importantly, they don’t kill big bucks – you do.

Hunters like Jared and Shey attribute their proven whitetail success to their ability to remove themselves from any emotional attachment to any one specific buck or piece of land and staying mobile. This is where the freedom of targeting strictly public land becomes so effective. Public acres are seemingly endless, but you might have to put on some miles like Jared’s ’99 Sable to find the right ones to target.

According to Jared and Shey, the biggest obstacle with hunting strictly public land is eliminating the less than worthwhile areas, especially when the days to make something happen are limited. So how does one go about eliminating pieces of public land to find that diamond in the rough? Jared and Shey aren’t trying to figure out a piece right away. All they want to know is if it’s hot today – tomorrow doesn’t matter. The only way to find out is to get in after it.

Finding Great Public Land

Hunting areas can be inconsistent. What’s hot one day might be cold the next. A piece that produced significant sign or an encounter the day, week, month or year prior may be completely different the next time you visit it. “What happened last year, or yesterday even, isn’t that important to us. What’s happening today is.”  Jared explains.

When it comes to hunting public land, this concept becomes especially true. “We’ll find great buck sign one year, only to return the next fall, the next week, or even the next day and it’s completely gone cold or other hunters have moved in.” Jared explains. It’s a mental game, really. There are simply too many conditional changes to get hung up on one particular piece, because what’s there today may be gone tomorrow. Finding that out the hard way can be a waste of precious time. Jared adds, “It’s tough to move on because our imagination has pictured how it would all unfold.”

Hunting private acreages is a primary example of land that can burn out quickly because hunters often limit themselves within the boundaries of their privately owned parcel(s). Deer aren’t as easy to pattern as most hunters might think, but we as hunters certainly are.

Jared and Shey’s aggressive on-the-fly approach of staying mobile and never settling on any one particular piece contributes toward that element of surprise when their arrow hits the shoulder crease of a big mature whitetail – the deer never knew they existed before that very moment and by then it’s too late.

“The first thing we’ll typically do when we arrive to a new area or even an area we’ve been to in the past is we’ll conduct a drive-by. We drive by everything surrounding the immediate public hunting area. Is there hunting pressure, and if so, where are the unpressured pockets? Is there a food source the deer are utilizing?” Jared says.
A little more on the reserved side, Shey prefers to have a target buck spotted before exiting the vehicle. “The best way to find out if a spot is worthwhile is to see what you want to take home before you actually hunt it, that way there is no second guessing – no down time. At that point you already have the bomb wired; all that’s left to do is hit the detonator!” Shey says.

Jared adds to Shey’s input, “We’re trying to leverage our time. If we can make a decision whether a piece is worth walking into or not before exiting the vehicle, we can save time by driving to another public hunting area that may be more promising.”

Photo courtesy of Jared Scheffler

            Miles from home, Shey Peterson skins a buck he harvested on public land
            across state lines using the only thing in the prairie suitable for elevating
            the large bodied deer – an oil rig.

The Traveling Hunter

Jared and Shey, as well as the rest of the Whitetail Adrenaline crew, spend a lot of time pursuing whitetails all across the Midwest. Some of the states they visit include Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa to name a few, but they’ll spend the majority of time around their local state of Wisconsin.

Crossing state lines to hunt unfamiliar territory requires some research, but much of the decisions are made up as they go along and according to what they learn along the way. Jared and Shey’s approach to picking public hunting areas when they’re on the road means they’ll have to learn if bucks are regularly taken in an area that are of the caliber they’re after. They locate pockets, or areas, that have a proven track record of quality buck harvests and start mapping public land nearest to these pockets. If they skip this step of their research, they could spend hours, even days, planning and hunting, only to find the surrounding area doesn’t have a solid history of producing big bucks.
So how do hunters like Jared and Shey decide which direction to point their old Mercury Sable in pursuit of those public hunting areas capable of producing big bucks while they’re on the road? Shey explains, “Word-of-mouth; people like to talk; people LOVE to talk, especially about big bucks.”

Jared adds, “When we start getting close to a destination area after being on the road for a while, we’ll start paying closer attention to clues like buck kill photos pinned to gas station bulletin boards. Sometimes local bars in the given area will have a board with local buck kill pictures pinned up, as well. If we’re seeing a good trend of solid bucks on the wall, we’ll dig into it a little more. We spend a lot of time running internet searches, too, trying to locate areas.”

Finding the likely areas with the potential of holding good bucks is a contributing factor towards creating success on public land, but narrowing down the key pockets to best assert your time is the key, a concept Jared and Shey are all too familiar with.

Pressured Public

The most gratifying constituent of public hunting areas is that you, the hunter, are always welcome – no permission necessary. It’s that very rhetoric, however, that dissuades many from ever setting foot on public hunting land, instead maintaining their comfort zones within the confines of private land borders or not hunting at all. Private land does not come cheap, however, and gaining access through permission is a challenge to say the very least. Public hunting areas existing in areas well known for taking big bucks will feel hunter pressure, but if you’re willing to put in the work to find those pockets capable of producing then success isn’t out of your reach. Jared and Shey’s proven success hunting strictly public hunting areas is proof in the pudding if you’ve ever watched any of the Whitetail Adrenaline DVD’s.

Photo courtesy of Jared Scheffler

Shey Peterson, pictured above, is shown glassing a large prairie after a grueling stalk in search of a large buck on public land the duo spotted from the road.

“After we’ve located a good area with public lands nearby, we’ll weigh the potential pressure of other hunters. Are there any large cities within a half an hour or less? If there is a decent amount of pressure, we’ll evaluate whether the whole piece is pressured or just a portion of it. It may be tough to access and therefore could be very good on the backside. I’ve seen it many times where there’s a lot of hunting pressure on private land abutting those hard-to-reach backsides of the public. Those are the ‘pockets’ we want to focus on.” Jared explains.

Jared contends with strategies such as convincing a private landowner to let you access the land-locked backsides of public hunting areas that could save you several miles of hiking back to those hard to reach areas. Being turned down comes with the territory when it comes to asking private landowners for their permission to use their property to access public land. Often times private landowners bordering public hunting grounds find solitude in having access to vast acreage beyond their private boundaries where visitation from others is limited, so be careful in your approach if you start knocking on those doors.

Other instances may deal with other hunters that are in the private abutting the public. If the landowner hunts or allows someone to hunt on their private land, someone asking to hunt the immediate public border may not result in the outcome the one asking for permission was hoping for and for obvious reasons. I like to think on the brighter side of rejection when I ask to cross private to access public. Hearing “no” might mean there is something worth protecting back there and that only fuels the flame to investigate even more.

Jared and Shay will typically scratch a piece off the hit list if the pressure is overwhelming and they can’t find those pockets they look for, however, contending a hunter might be better off spending more time moving along to find a more productive piece than  trying to force something out of a particular area that isn’t as likely.

Over the years, trial and error has taught the duo some valuable lessons. It is way more productive to invest time into trying to find a hot spot, rather than waiting for one to get hot, especially when time is limited. Pre-scouting or any other effort put forth before taking to the woods can lock a hunter down quickly to that specific spot or area. For that reason, Jared no longer pre-invests that kind of time and energy, just the basic starting point and spots he wants to check out.

Jared and Shey see a lot of different scenery throughout the deer hunting season because they’re reluctant to restrict themselves to any specific chunk of land or individual buck – another fine point of hunting seemingly endless public land.

Jared explains, “We avoid becoming emotionally attached to any specific spots because emotions tend to distort reality. If we keep our strings detached from what drew us to an area in the first place, we can see things more clearly and as they truly are.” Jared contends, “Sometimes emotions convince us of a false perception, causing a person to cling to a specific spot or area. We call this being locked down. Spots will go cold and when they do it usually happens fast, so we have to react fast.”
Jared concludes, “Having no emotional attachment allows us to move on a lot quicker when a spot goes cold and allows us to get onto the next thing. We don’t want to spend too much time on any given place that may become over-run with hunters come fall and be disappointed because we were banking on that being the spot.”

Photo courtesy of Jared Scheffler

Jared, pictured above, stalks into bow range of a mature whitetail buck on public land. Just the tines can be seen protruding from the tall grass mere yards ahead of Jared.

The Approach | Getting Aggressive

Photo courtesy of Jared Scheffler

A mature buck reacts to the impact of an arrow from Jared’s bow on public land in Iowa. This scene was caught on video and shown in the Whitetail Adrenaline DVD, “Regroup”.

The idea of getting in close to big mature bucks from the ground certainly has it woes; no one said it’s easy, but you have to approach every scenario on the ground knowing very well that you may fail, because if you do, who cares? The trial and error of hunting is ultimately what teaches the best lessons in life, so dive in and have fun in the process. If you think you have what it takes to get almost uncomfortably close to an ornery rutted up buck like Jared and Shey do on film, you’ll need to know where to start.

“The sign we’re really looking for is a visual on a big buck,” says Jared. “Sometimes sign leads us to that visual, or we might spot him from the car. If we’re on-foot we’ll find a vantage point where we can see a long ways to get that visual. In timber, usually the visual comes from glassing and watching like a hawk.”

Jared goes on to say that gaining a visual on a target buck is a situational feat in itself and depends greatly on the terrain. Part of the hunt is acquiring the visual; the rest comes down to precision footsteps, a deep breath and steady aim. “Once we have it, there is no tomorrow. We treat that moment like we’ll never see him again and we’ll stalk in or get ahead of him – whatever we need to do. If we spook him trying, it’s not a big deal, we’ll move on until we find the next one.” Jared says with a grin that tells the story of just how many times he’s been down this road before.

While the pursuit on-foot is a challenge, capturing everything on film has its own set of challenges, but the results can be magnificent. If haven’t seen Jared’s footage in any of the Whitetail Adrenaline DVD’s, you really must to bring to life the intensity of these on-the-ground hunts and up close and personal encounters.

Photo courtesy of Jared Scheffler

Shey Peterson draws back on the big buck they were after that eventually closed the distance to within 15-yards after Shey’s split-decision maneuver on the ground using a self-made decoy. This action was all caught on tape and is featured in Round-1 of the latest Whitetail Adrenaline DVD, “The Reckoning.”

Photo courtesy of Jared Scheffler

A mature whitetail reacts after Jared Scheffler makes a great shot with his custom Longbow inside of 15-yards on public land. This footage can be seen in the 2014 volume of the Whitetail Adrenaline DVD, The Reckoning.

Disadvantages of Tree Stands

One of the biggest disadvantages of hunting out of a treestand is that more often than not, stands left in a tree overnight are all too easy to return to and over-sit. It took more than a couple years for me to really grasp that my first sit on stand would be my best opportunity to have an encounter with a mature buck. After that initial sit, I’ve soured the stand location by leaving remnants of my scent on the ground and all the leaves and branches that brushed against me on my walk to and from. Any deer that may have strolled by after my sit will certainly detect the lingering scent I’d left behind and it would be left up to the deer to decide how much they’re willing to tolerate before they begin traveling alternate routes.

There’s no way to fool a deer’s nose and I’ve come to accept that, despite what is commonly advertised. If a deer is dead down wind and sticks around, it’s simply tolerating you. A mature buck doesn’t grow old by tolerating unfamiliar scent, so he’ll likely alter his route that you’ve pinned your stand over, or else he’ll stay in bed later in the evening and return to bed earlier in the pre-dawn morning hours – anything to avoid another run-in with that foreign odor.

To avoid a deer’s nose means playing the wind as best you can, but giving up an evening in the stand because the wind is all wrong for it is an evening in the woods you can never get back. Hunting on foot has plenty of challenges, but it can give you the advantage of positioning yourself effectively to avoid those less than ideal wind conditions. Even on small private acreages, if you hunt on your feet and don’t repeat your steps every time you enter the woods, a hunter can maintain that element of surprise and avoid being patterned by the deer despite leaving traces of their scent on the ground.

Photo courtesy of Jared Scheffler

Jared Scheffler, pictured above, stalks into bow range of a large rutting buck in open prairie using the wind, tall grass and cover of the decoy to his advantage.

Shey explains his juxtaposition between treestands and being on-foot, “Whether still-hunting the timber, or spotting deer from the car in the open prairie, being on foot can give you a tremendous advantage. If you’ve spotted your target, you know what you have to do to avoid visual detection, and although it can take a lot of time, you can alter your route to avoid scent detection. Being in a tree puts you at the mercy of the wind, but on the ground you can plot the stalk. If done right, you just might surprise yourself at not only what you can pull off, but how much your encounter rate will increase, as well.”

Climbers and lightweight portable hang-on treestands combined with a set of climbing sticks are just the answer for some mobile hunters. Jared and Shey, however, approach mobility a little more aggressively. Strictly hunting from their feet allows them to make things happens as opposed to waiting them out. There are some limiting factors to elevating your view from a tree, such as stand setup and tear down time, noise made while setting up or tearing down your stand, and the risk of being skylined. Once you establish yourself in a tree, if you realize after the fact that the tree mere yardage one way or the other would have been the better option, moving means a production that could spoil your hunt; staying on the ground allows you to sneak to a better vantage point if you realize half-way into your hunt you’re not satisfied with your initial position.

Photo courtesy of Jared Scheffler

Shey Peterson, pictured above, with a mature buck he managed to put an arrow through within 9-yards hunting from the ground all while being filmed for a Whitetail Adrenaline production.

Dealing With Uncertainty

The first time in to a piece of land means uncertainty of what you’re going to find out. Jared explains in greater detail, “The ground approach allows us to get in and out of places quickly. A lot of the land we step foot on ends up not being worth our time, or at least not that particular day. We’re trying to find today’s hot spots, not tomorrows. We’ll start at a normal walking pace, and if we feel we need to slow down, we will. Our pace is set by the amount of fresh sign we find as we move along and our general feeling about the land. We could be in and out in a half-hour, or we could stay there for the remainder of the day. That’s entirely determined by what we find and how we feel about it. If nothing seems overly impressive, we’ll trust our gut and trek back to the car – we need to move on to the next place. There’s no sense in wasting any more time than necessary hunting a dead spot. Fresh deer sign will keep our attention longer but we know that could be nighttime activity, so it usually takes a visual on a good buck to hold us up.”

With most successes come challenges and obstacles, but that’s the name of the game hunting the way Jared and Shey approach the Whitetail woods. A deer that hears you before you see it is a deer that you may never see. You have to be quiet enough that you can see them before they hear you. Walk at an inconsistent pace to break up the steady cadence, it sounds less human. This can be especially effective in thicker ground cover or on a quiet morning. “If we spot a buck we’d like to get close to, we don’t think about hanging a stand right away and coming back tomorrow, we process that as ‘right now is my best time to get him and there is no tomorrow’. We have two strategies at this point; we can stalk in on him right then and there; we’ll try and get ahead of where we think he’s going and setup for his arrival. If he doesn’t show, we’ll slowly move towards our best guess towards his direction of travel.” Jared contends.

  Photo courtesy of Jared Scheffler

Jared Scheffler, pictured above, poses with a Wisconsin buck he killed only 12-hours after driving through the night across state lines in search of more promising public areas.

Here’s a classic case and point scenario right from Jared’s mouth, “We had crested this hill at sun-up and there was a big buck standing in some tall weeds guarding a doe. I looked away for a few seconds and when I looked back up he was gone – he must have bedded down. This was the perfect time to move in so we stalked to within 50-yards of where we thought he was laying and Shey says to me, ‘I think you should set that decoy up’. I elected to pass because I felt we were a little out of the range where he would come in to run me off. After a few minutes the doe busted me, they were within 20 yards the whole time!” Jared says excitedly.

“That taught me a lesson I had already the hard way – Don’t lose visual once you have it, and listen to Shey more often.” Jared continues half-heartedly. The duo ended up tagging a good buck the next morning after getting a visual on another good buck. After three foiled stalks they finally got the opportunity they were looking for, a lethal shot opportunity with the camera rolling.

Photo courtesy of Jared Scheffler

Shey Peterson, pictured above, is shown dragging out a heavy buck he successfully tagged after a long stalk on public prairie lands in Kansas.

Jared’s don’t give up or get hung up mentality is exactly what makes his DVD series as engaging, as they are entertaining, to watch. Trial and error teach impactful lessons and Jared and Shey have rejoiced and endured from both sides of the fence and don’t plan on slowing down any time soon. Failure is never an easy pill to swallow, but success is all the more rewarding when you’ve risked failure for the sake of adventure. Those are the lessons that eventually shape a hunter and cannot easily be taught – no pain, no gain is the motto.

Jared concedes had they not quickly ditched the spot that was hot the day prior to search for ‘today’s’ hotspot, they would have never found the opportunity they did. Their initial spot had gone cold overnight and it was time to move on in search of a new hotspot.
Hunting On-the-Fly

Hunting on-the-fly really only works from the ground. It allows hunters like Jared and Shey to adapt quickly to most scenarios, such as avoiding other hunters and changes in deer activity. Tomorrow is a different day and will bring different challenges and potential encounters.

The average American has limited free-time during the week. Work is a major obstacle when the fall and winter bring shorter photoperiods. Getting out of work in-time to hit the woods before nightfall can be a real challenge, which can hinder a mobile stand hunters plans of stalking quietly into a spot and setting up a hang-on stand and sticks with enough time to be ready for prime-time. More often than not, prime-time may have already begun before you’ve even exited your vehicle. Jared and Shey’s answer to that is simple – hunt from the ground.

 “In almost every instance I’ve found this to be the single biggest factor in my success while hunting. I may only have an hour to hunt if I think, ‘gosh, I have to hurry out with all this gear and hang this tree stand’, I may talk myself into cancelling all together.” Jared claims.
Jared goes on to say, “We may go back to the same spot that hasn’t been producing because everything is already setup and we are familiar with it. People easily develop habits. For instance, how many times do we find ourselves sitting at the same table in our favorite restaurant, or driving the same way to work? We often operate on a pattern all of our own, only to eventually change it up after time. It’s this repetitive nature that perhaps can turn the tables and allow the deer to pattern us instead of the other way around.”

By hunting from the ground Jared and Shey are able to adapt quickly. If they spot a buck, they’ll try to get ahead of him, or if conditions are right they’ll stalk in for the shot. Jared exclaims with certainty,  “It doesn’t always work, but it’s fun to try. Remember, no emotional attachments so even if you spook him, there are millions of acres of public land out there, move on to the next one!”

Photo courtesy of Jared Scheffler

Jared and Shey managed to get close to this buck on multiple occasions over a few days, but never did manage to get an arrow into him. Jared remembers those brow tines vividly, he wanted that buck on the ground in a bad way.

Hunting Public Land Out of State

It doesn’t take a traveling hunter long to realize the importance of a map. Jared has atlases for some states, but he also visits resources such as DNR or Game & Fish websites. “Some states produce free maps each year, which is really handy to have in the vehicle.” Jared mentions.

Jared goes further to remind hunters new to being on the road in pursuit of filling an out of state tag to keep an open mind to new places.
“It’s not uncommon for me to put on the miles driving to and from different areas. That’s how I am able to determine which pieces I should give a try and which I should scratch off the list. The drive-by helps me determine this in a short amount of time.” Jared adds before continuing on, “Shey always says, keeping it fast paced is what kills us big bucks. Time is always limited on out-of-state road trips. The sooner you can zone in onto those areas holding the quality of buck you’re after, the less likely you’ll eat tag soup. If you stop at the first place you come to it can become all too easy to hunker down and expend time. If the sign or the visuals aren’t there, it’s time to bail and don’t look back, at least not on this trip. A spot you bail on this time around may be good next year, but right now it’s cold.”
There’s no denying that hunting like Jared and Shey is a challenge – it’s not for everyone. I suppose if it were, this article wouldn’t sustain its significance. The more time I spend talking with Jared, the more I admire the freedom he feels even as he describes whole-hearted attempts to get close to big bucks that ended in failure. Jared’s stories are filled with highs and lows, but that’s Jared’s definition of the do-it-yourself hunter. He explains how mentally draining his hunting style can be at times, yet all the more gratifying when everything comes together.

“In my earlier years I made the mistake of thinking I needed to know an area where I’d be hunting and all of the finite details before walking in. It was that type of mentality that prevented me from hunting new places and out-of-state; I didn’t think I was prepared enough to make a successful trip. What I’ve learned over time is that I can have great success going in cold so long as I stay aggressive.” Jared tells me before recommending, you don’t need to know anything about yesterday, only today.

It’s easy to stick to a routine. You know the land you’re walking into and you know the trail to your stand so well you could walk in blindfolded. Sunrise and sunset from the same view seems like it could never get old from your stand, and that’s perfectly fine – if that’s what you’re out there for. If you’re out there to kill a mature buck, however, you may need to work a little harder and take some risks.

Risk – the word has a lot of meanings behind it, but in the context of hunting, it represents adventure. With every adventure a story can be told. The successes and failures make for a learning experience; lessons learned the hard way, the very lessons you value learning the most.

Jared offers some advice to anyone who’s ever toiled over the idea of hunting out-of-state, “Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb and try an out-of-state whitetail hunt. You don’t need to know too much beyond whether the quality of buck you’re after frequents the area(s) you’re planning to key in, and most importantly, that there is plenty of public hunting areas nearby.”

Jared goes on to suggest, “The ultimate advantage heading across stateliness and hunting unfamiliar areas cold because you can see everything more clearly. You’ll be on top of your game and ready to hunt free of the mind-altering dilemmas of having any emotional attachment to the land you’re hunting, which means you’ll set-up more precisely to the immediate sign around you from the start of your hunt.”

Jared’s input regarding the advantages of exploring unfamiliar areas resonates with me. I think the concept applies to just about any approach to hunting. If you’re not going out on a limb once in a while and trying something new, then your results will follow a similar pattern. Some hunters get tunnel vision and hone in on a single routine. They’ll act it out every time they visit the woods like a well scripted movie. The results are usually the same and they leave the woods scratching their heads why it didn’t work – again.

No Strings Attached

Certainly there is that sense of freedom from the competition of other hunters when you’re hunting private. The concern of another hunter marching in and ruining your hunt is far from our minds on private land, but so is the idea of potentially ruining your own hunt by limiting yourself to the confines of the borders surrounding you. Overhunting an area is extremely easy to do, especially on private land.

Jared and Shey weren’t always strictly public land hunters; they hunted private lands, too, but they didn’t like the emotional attachment they had developed within their limited boundaries – to them it wasn’t freedom.

With millions of acres of public hunting opportunities available across much of the country, there really are no limits to how many acres a whitetail hunter can visit in their lifetime. There is an overwhelming satisfaction of harvesting a mature white-tailed buck, on public or private, but doing it on public seems all the more rewarding.

It’s that No-Strings-Attached attitude that keeps Jared and Shey level-headed when they encounter inevitable obstacles while hunting public lands. I asked Jared and Shey about the realities of hunting public land and some of the challenges, as well as how they deal with them.
Jared explains, “There are other hunters out there, and they have just as much of a right to be out there as anyone else. It’s natural to feel a little upset at times or defeated when you encounter other hunters on public hunting lands, but try to work on that – you’ll be more successful in the end.” He continues, “Running into other hunters can sometimes be a sign you’ve given a particular area too much attention, which is why it pays to take advantage of the vast amount of public hunting areas available to you.”

Jared contends, “Big swampy public hunting areas are ideal for narrowing down where the deer should be and where the pressure likely is or isn’t.” As a lowland hunter, myself, I know just what he means. Swamps are tough to access – they’re loud to move through, their wet and uncomfortable to navigate and usually very thick and don’t offer the typical tall canopy tree that many timber hunters tend to gravitate to. The caveat is that the elements of swamps that deter most hunters are exactly what attract the deer.

Jared and Shey recommend using the internet to access updated aerial photography from any major search engines map tool. Jared offers an additional tip, “You should be able to pick out the walk-in trails of hunters by focusing on the parking areas, and trace them to the most heavily hunted areas.”

Photo courtesy of Jared Scheffler

A large Iowa buck stands just yards away from the only thing separating himself from Jared’s arrow, a barbed wire fence between private and public land. This scene can be seen in the Whitetail Adrenaline DVD, “Regroup”.

Contending With Pressure

“I don’t let myself become discouraged when I run into another hunter because I’ve planned for it, I have other options, and that’s why I hunt public land. If I run into another hunter where I planned on walking into, that spot isn’t where I want to be, anyways.” Jared explains with certainty, but goes on to say more. “During the gun season, pressure actually works in our favor. Most public land hunters are gone after opening weekend and hunters on private lands start pushing drives during the week. Those drives force deer back into the public hunting areas where the deer may came from originally before the opening weekend barrage.”

“Deer have a very keen sense of when pressure reduces in an area. I’ve seen it where it almost seems like a game for them. It’s not, of course, but it sure can leave you scratching your head.” Jared concludes.

Photo courtesy of Jared Scheffler

Jared Scheffler poses with a great buck he killed on heavily pressured public land in Wisconsin while hunting from the ground.

Learning Progression | Trial, Error, & Time

Being successful at this style of hunting doesn’t come right out of the box. Like anything, there will be lessons learned the hard way – that comes with the territory.

Jared explains, “Hunting public land and being successful in harvesting mature bucks requires a different approach than most private land hunters put forth, at least from what I’ve found.” Jared continues, “The more you get out there, try, and fail, the more experience you will notch on your belt. With experience comes enduring success. I’ve failed – a lot – and that’s how I learned much of what I know today.”

Being a do-it-yourself public land whitetail hunter requires giving credit to where credit is due – you deserve it, you owe it to yourself.

“In 2010, we tried something completely new to us – bow drives. I never thought this would work, but it actually can be quite effective and getting a couple people together during the lull when not much else was going on was really a blast.” Jared recalls. “Our first ever bow drive kicked an 18-point buck right passed us and if we hadn’t tried it, we may have never come back to that spot later in the year. We returned and ended up having two back-to-back encounters with him later that season.” continues Jared. “Bow drives may surprise you with their effectiveness. The deer aren’t fleeing for their life like gun season, and if nothing else, you’ll get an inventory of the deer that are there and have a good time with your buddies while doing it. Bumping deer once won’t bother them much early in the season, so return when it’s prime time to try and capitalize. Remember public land deer are used to being bumped and they’ve adapted to occasionally accept it.”

Photo courtesy of Jared Scheffler

Pictured above is the 18-point buck that escaped fate three times in a row. Jared’s cousin, Jim, was the first to encounter the massive buck after it was bumped during the Whitetail Adrenaline teams first-ever bow drive. Jared would be the next to encounter the buck the following day and would miss with the bow after his arrow deflected off of a tree. Whitetail Adrenaline team member, Scott Meska, was the third to encounter the buck the day after Jared missed and would aim high and let the buck slip. The neighboring private landowner of this particular MFLO (Private land made open to the public via the Managed Forest Law regulation agreed upon by both the landowner and the State) would eventually harvest this great specimen over the Wisconsin 9-day gun season.

Jared is no stranger to wrapping himself up in the details that he thinks matters. Don’t do this, don’t do that, these are the natural frames that come to mind when you’re striving for success in your approach to hunting. These are the same thoughts Jared exclaims as over-thinking, a hindrance to achieving success because a hunter can easily lose focus on the core basics, like spending time in worthwhile spots.

Jared exlaims affirmatively, “There’s an 80/20 rule that can be applied to just about anything. 80-percent of the details and what you do will bring you 20-percent of your actual success. 20 percent of what you do will bring you 80 percent success. If I’m not hunting a hotspot then it doesn’t matter what else I do, I’ll just be waiting – so I go and find it!”
Jared continues, “This is hunting and it’s supposed to be fun. That’s why I think we end up trying some of the seemingly crazy and unorthodox methods we try, because we’re just having a good time and we’ve learned to let go of any ill feelings if we end up missing out on a big deer.”

So if it’s less thinking and more doing that makes or breaks success in the whitetail woods, then maybe it’s time to get back into the rhythm of where it all started for you. Not too many hunters can say they’ve had success knocking down big bucks from the very beginning so there must have been some desire and a whole lot of fun in the adventure of getting out into the woods and pursuing the challenge. Allow some room for vulnerability when the season arrives and try something new, it may be one of the best decisions you ever made.

“Having fun gets a person through the down times or lull periods when the going gets tough in the whitetail woods. So that’s what we do – we have fun and try to kill big bucks in the process.” Jared concludes as he and Shey exchange nods.

 Check Out WhiteTail Adrenaline Here!                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                                       -Sam Ubl

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