Finding a good place to hunt for big game can be difficult. Knocking on a farmer’s door and being greeted with a smile and a handshake is becoming a thing of the past. Small farmers are selling their land; big farmers are leasing their land. All of this makes finding a place for the average Joe to hunt very difficult.

Joel Maxfield works for Mathews Archery and has spent the last several decades traveling across North America in search of Big Game. He has hunted on private and public land. He has noticed that now, more than ever, that securing a place to hunt on private land is difficult.

“I live in the Midwest. Most of the farm ground around me is leased out. As a result, I find myself on public land more and more,” Maxfield said. 

To find good public land spots, Maxfield travels a great distance and says a bowhunter who wants to escape hunting pressure will need to do the same. “I travel west a lot to hunt elk, whitetails, and mule deer. I spent a lot of time searching for public land that isn’t over hunted. I recently put a ton of miles on my truck going to South Dakota.

I drove all over and finally found a landowner who allowed me to cross his property to access public land. “I was hunting mule deer in South Dakota. That’s an animal many hunters don’t consider when they think about hunting South Dakota, but it can be fun because South Dakota has lots of public land and hunters who are willing to work hard can get away from the pressure,” Maxfield explained.

After spending some time looking for bucks, Maxfield was able to locate a good buck and kill him. “I was a long way from the truck when I killed the buck. Packing him out was a ton of work and after I deboned the buck, the hike back was brutal but the hard work paid off,” Maxfield noted.

Maxfield has also killed several whitetails on public land as well. “There are two ways to kill bucks on public land. I either locate a buck on an overlooked piece of public land that others don’t know about or I try to hunt off the beaten path on large parcels of land and go where others are unwilling to hike to.”

Many hunters don’t want to pack an animal out for miles. Many hunters don’t want to drive hundreds of miles in a few days searching for a place to hunt on public land. Maxfield concentrates on the areas that others pass by for one reason or another. “I like using the OnX map to locate good hunting areas. Hunting the way I do requires hard work, but being successful on public land is possible if hunters are willing to work hard,” Maxfield stated.

There is no question that hunting on public land can be extremely difficult.

However, as you can see from the pictures in this article, you can be successful on public land if you are willing to go where others won’t go.