Is it the Hunter or the Land?

AJ Gall

NFL “experts” debate it every free agency period and even most Mondays – does a talented quarterback make the receiver look great or does a talented receiver make the quarterback look great?  It usually takes a separation of the two to figure out who was pulling more weight or who can survive without the other.  Believe it or not, the same concept can be applied to hunters and makes for a good barstool debate at deer camp.  Are they (fill in any name here) an average hunter on above average land? Or, are they an above average hunter on sub-par land?  I guess you could say it depends on the scenario…

We all know that person who’s sitting on a honey hole and shoots a whopper buck just about every season.  Some of you would probably argue that they are only shooting those big bucks because of the prime piece of land they are sitting on.  Undoubtedly, the property has a large role in their success, but before you write them off as a simple byproduct of the property they hunt and call them a “lucky” hunter, consider the following factors.

Good Hunters Know Good Property

The best hunters often times know what a good property looks like and how it should be hunted – it’s something you learn from experience.  They know which properties to buy or lease, what doors to knock on, and usually won’t waste their time on lackluster properties if they are in search of a big buck.  A large part of being a good hunter is putting in the work before hand to ensure you’re hunting a quality piece of property whether it’s public or private.

Then again, there’s plenty of average Joe-hunters who can continue to be big-buck-killing average Joe-hunters because of the land they hunt.  Some properties have tons of deer and it doesn’t really matter where you sit.  I’ve yet to find one of those properties, but I hear plenty of stories that would make any hunter jealous.  It really is about who you know in some cases.

Not All Property is Created Equal

As the popular real estate phrase goes – Location! Location! Location! Since hunting land is real estate, it makes sense that this phrase also applies to deer hunting land. In every state, there’s better counties to hunt bigger bucks, just the same, there’s usually a better state to hunt bigger bucks as well.

Many of us decide where we hunt and how often we hunt based on convenience. For most of us, the best whitetail hunting in the nation isn’t across the street, but rather across the country.

Public Land Makes a Better Hunter

Unfortunately, we don’t all have the tracking skills of the Benoit’s and not all public lands are created equal.  One attribute that I feel strongly indicates a good hunter is someone who has consistent success on public lands.  Anyone who’s able to accomplish this feat again and again is someone worth taking advice from. There’s so many more factors stacked against public land hunters, that it truly takes a skilled hunter to find and kill mature bucks on public land year after year.

Hunting Public Land in Iowa

Nonetheless, hunting public land isn’t the only way to prove yourself.  Heck, most of us wouldn’t hunt public land if we didn’t have to. While it’s a gratifying challenge, it sure would be nice to hunt unpressured deer and leave a treestand up overnight sometimes.

In the end, give credit where credit is due. Maybe it’s the land, or maybe it’s the hunter, but more than likely it’s a combination of the two.  Regardless, in order to come out of the woods with a deer dragging behind, someone had to be in the right spot and make a lethal shot.  It’s funny how the hardest working hunters often encounter the most luck.

Do you think the land has more to do with a hunter’s success or the hunter themselves?  Share your comments below.

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About The Author
From Woods to Table

AJ Gall

AJ Gall's prior hunting and wildlife experiences began long ago and make him the perfect contributing deer hunting guru.  As a habitat consultant under Dr. Grant Woods, AJ has worked on properties in 13 different states, amassing over 25,000 acres of quality deer management. He now uses that knowledge to help clients find their dream hunting properties as a licensed real estate agent in Wisconsin.  


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