In this video by Whitetail Habitat Solutions, you’ll learn valuable tips for still hunting deer in public land hardwoods. The video takes place on the second day of Pennsylvania’s gun season, showcasing a hill country situation similar to areas across the Midwest and East Coast. The narrator explains how using the terrain to your advantage and hunting strategically can help cover ground quickly. From utilizing ridgelines to scanning large areas and walking quietly between hunting spots, this video provides excellent insights for successful deer hunting in challenging public land environments. So, grab your gear and get ready to employ these effective techniques on your next hunting adventure.

Tips for Still Hunting Deer in Public Land Hardwoods

Tips for Still Hunting Deer in Public Land Hardwoods

Still hunting deer in public land hardwoods requires a strategic approach to increase your chances of success. By using the terrain to your advantage, covering ground quickly, timing your hunt effectively, scanning for does and fawns, and applying the strategy in different states, you can enhance your hunting experience.

Using the Terrain to Your Advantage

When hunting in public land hardwoods, it’s crucial to utilize the terrain to your advantage. By understanding the landscape, you can increase your chances of spotting deer. Here are a few tips for using the terrain effectively:

Utilizing Open Timber

Open timber provides deer with limited cover, making it easier for hunters to spot them. Look for areas with sparse vegetation or clearings where you can easily observe deer movement.

Using Elevation Changes

Take advantage of elevation changes to gain a better vantage point. Climbing to higher ground allows you to have a broader view of the area and increases the chances of spotting deer.

Blocking Your Access

Use the terrain to block your access and minimize your impact on the deer’s habitat. Walking along ridgelines or using natural barriers can prevent deer from detecting your presence.

Setting Up Viewing Areas

Identify areas where you can set up viewing spots with a clear line of sight. Look for high ground or areas with natural obstacles that provide cover while allowing you to observe deer movement effectively.

Covering Ground Quickly

Covering ground quickly is essential when still hunting in public land hardwoods. By employing specific techniques, you can maximize your time and increase your chances of encountering deer. Here are a few tips for covering ground efficiently:

Speed Hunting Approach

Rather than traditional still hunting, consider adopting a speed hunting approach. Move quickly from one potential hunting spot to another, stopping only when a high-probability area is identified.

Peeking Over Ridgelines

When approaching a ridgeline, peek over it to assess the situation on the other side before proceeding. This allows you to gather information about potential deer activity and determine your next move.

Scanning Ahead for Next Hunting Spots

Continuously scan ahead as you move to identify potential hunting spots. Look for flat areas on the side of ridges or finger edges that may attract deer. By planning your route in advance, you can avoid wasting time on unproductive ground.

Zigzagging to Avoid Wasting Ground

To maximize your coverage, utilize a zigzag pattern as you move through the area. This allows you to explore a wider range of ground without backtracking unnecessarily.

Timing Your Hunt

Timing your hunt is crucial, especially when hunting in public land hardwoods where other hunters may be present. By adapting your hunting schedule to avoid peak hunting times and taking advantage of specific circumstances, you can increase your chances of success. Here are a few tips for timing your hunt effectively:

Hunting Early or Late to Avoid Other Hunters

To avoid crowded hunting areas, consider heading out early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Many hunters prefer to hunt during the early morning hours, so by arriving before them or after they have left, you can have the area to yourself.

Taking Advantage of Pushed Back Deer

As other hunters move through the woods, deer may be pushed back into specific areas. By timing your hunt to coincide with this movement, you can increase your chances of encountering deer that have been disturbed by other hunters.

Maximizing Hunting Time

Make the most of your hunting time by staying in the field for extended periods. Rather than limiting yourself to a few hours, consider spending the entire day hunting. This allows you to observe deer movement patterns and increases the likelihood of encountering deer during less active periods.

Scanning for Does and Fawns

Observing deer behavior and identifying does and fawns can help you locate potential buck activity. By taking the time to scan open areas and observing visible deer, you can increase your chances of encountering a mature buck. Here are a few tips for scanning for does and fawns:

Taking Time to Observe Open Areas

Take the time to observe open areas thoroughly. Deer, especially does and fawns, often spend time in open spaces where they have better visibility. By patiently scanning these areas, you may spot a buck nearby.

Looking for Visible Does and Fawns

Does and fawns are often more visible than mature bucks. Look for their distinctive movements, coloration, or antler-less profiles to identify their presence. Where does and fawns are present, there is a higher chance of a mature buck.

Searching for Bucks Associated with Does

While does and fawns may be more visible, keep an eye out for any bucks associated with them. Bucks often trail behind does during the rut or may linger in the vicinity of doe groups. Spotting a buck in close proximity to does increases the likelihood of a successful hunt.

Applying the Strategy in Different States

The strategies discussed above can be applied to different states, especially those with similar terrain and hardwood forests. Here are a few tips for applying the still hunting strategy in different states:

Hunting in Hill Country

Hill country areas in states like Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan provide excellent opportunities for still hunting in hardwood forests. Pay attention to elevation changes, utilize the terrain to your advantage, and adapt your approach based on local deer behaviors and patterns.

Adapting to Different Types of Hardwoods

Different types of hardwood forests may require slight adjustments to your still hunting strategy. Familiarize yourself with the specific tree species and their impact on deer movement. Adjust your tactics accordingly to increase your chances of success.

Using the Techniques in Various States

The still hunting techniques discussed in this article can be adapted and applied in various states with public land hardwoods. Combine local knowledge, scouting, and the strategies outlined here to create a successful hunting approach specific to the state you are hunting in.


Still hunting deer in public land hardwoods requires a combination of skill, patience, and an understanding of the terrain. By using the terrain to your advantage, covering ground quickly, timing your hunt, scanning for does and fawns, and adapting the strategy to different states, you can enhance your chances of a successful hunt. Remember to always prioritize safety and respect the regulations and guidelines set out by the relevant hunting authorities. Good luck and happy hunting!

Tips for Still Hunting Deer in Public Land Hardwoods

By Editor

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