Ben Jaques recently broke the ice on Georgia public land, putting down a buck as his first ever public land deer.
Getting your first deer on public ground is a huge accomplishment, especially for those who didn't grow up hunting, as Ben describes himself in this listener success story. Thankfully like most things in life it gets a little easier after you get the first one, then a little easier after the second one and so on.
Ben mentions the "3 reasons rule" in his story - a tactic we discuss often on The Southern Outdoorsmen Podcast. Go listen to the podcast for an in depth explanation and application, but I'll do a quick overview here.
Basically, you should not hunt a spot unless you can think of 3 good reasons that a deer will come through that spot at the time you are hunting there.
Before we jump in to Ben's story I will leave you with an example of the rule put into practice. Imagine a creek bottom with thick pines on both sides. In the creek bottom you have big oaks trees dropping acorns, and the understory is made up of thick switch cane (a southern staple, switch cane is always great cover for deer). You walk up the creek bottom until you find where two very small draws come out of the pine thickets on ether side of you. You look at the mud in the bottom and see an abundance of tracks. You also see there are acorns on the ground, and green briar which has been browsed by deer. Sounds like a great spot! The three reasons to hunt this would be:
1. There is good cover both in the bottom and on ether side of it
2. There it a subtle terrain feature (the draws coming from the pine thickets) that will
encourage the deer to cross the bottom at this one spot
3. Food is present (acorns and browse)
4. There are fresh tracks indicating deer are using the area right now.
Yes, that is 4 reasons, and that makes the spot that much better. That is the exact scenario I killed a buck in on some Georgia public land in October of 2022, around the same time Ben had his success. This can be difficult at first, especially for beginners but success will come with continued effort and experience will teach you exactly what to look for.
For newer hunters one of the best ways to kick start your woodsmanship and start to understand where why and how to set up is to listen to The Southern Outdoorsmen Podcast. Each week guests form across the southeast, and US as a whole, are interviewed to discuss what makes them successful. Some of the very best deer hunters in the country who hunt the same public ground or private leases that you and I hunt are on the show every week. By tuning in ever week you gain access to a collective hundreds of years of deer hunting knowledge. Now lets jump into Ben's story:
Good morning gentlemen, just wanted to say thanks for all the great information y’all put out. I’ve been listening to the podcast for a few years and shot my first deer on some public land in GA in October. Man, did it get my heart pounding.
I’ve been scouting the last few years, and as a new hunter, it can be hard to narrow things down. I want to hunt everything all at once. The 3 reasons rule has really helped me change my approach. Anyways, I found a spot located between bedding, food, and a creek overlooking a fairly well used trail. Spent the first hour or two of daylight watching the squirrels chase each other and a few coons wandering around and then I heard it.
I immediately froze and slowly turned my head over my left shoulder just praying that it had antlers. The regs were buck only. Thankfully, it did, and after what seemed like an eternity, he presented a shot. Bullet went straight through the heart, and he crashed nearby. It was a small buck and nothing to write home about, but it’s really nice to have some meat in the freezer and have that first one out of the way. I didn’t grow up hunting, but have been doing my best to learn what I can. Hoping to learn enough to be able to teach my 3 year old a thing or two by the time he’s old enough to hunt. Thanks again for all y’all do.
- Ben Jaques