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Lessons Learned: A Decade of Public-Land Whitetails

After 10 years of grinding it out on public land, the experiences — and 20 filled buck tags — make it worth every second.

Lessons Learned: A Decade of Public-Land Whitetails

Traveling to bowhunt public-land whitetails, whether solo or with some buddies, has reminded me just how much I love the mystery of new deer ground.

With nothing to lose, I tucked myself next to the base of a huge cottonwood tree and ranged a sagging, barbed-wire gate. A pounded deer trail perfectly bisected the lowest droop in the gate’s top strand. Over the past few days, I’d watched several deer use this crossing during my morning and evening glassing sessions.

My hope was for a buck I thought might be about 120 inches. The tall eight-pointer had been the most consistent buck at the crossing, and I knew that he was likely to keep to his routine, given it was early September.

Long before the sun set on that opening night in North Dakota, the buck did cross the river with his nose pointed toward the gate. Not...

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