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Unfortunately I am already starting to plan next years season with the hopes of putting in early work to give myself better opportunities in the stand. I hunted the Manistee national forest this year. It is relatively a short drive (from Grand Rapids) but the mature buck sign was limited. I am planning on putting in the work next season (shed hunting, turkey hunting, early stand placement, trail cams etc.) and wanted to know if anyone had advice on if public land archery hunting in Michigan versus putting in the work in Wisconsin or Ohio. Any county recommendations for Michigan, or any advice on Wisconsin or Ohio during archery season? I practice QDM and am looking for 3 or 4 year old bucks which can be tough to find in Michigan.

Thanks for the advice.
 

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If your willing to work at it I️ would go with Michigan. IMO you get way more time in the woods here. But if you want to drive and limit your time out of state. I️ would hunt Ohio. Long season with one tag for all weapons.
I’m not sure of Wisconsin as I’ve never hunted there. To me it’s a logistics thing. Hunt them all if you can.
 

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One of the best ways to scout public land in Michigan is after dark, just look at all the tacks....That will show you where you think no one ventures, people have and will.

I have no issues with tacks, just that I take them out with me at the end of the hunt/trip.
 

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It all takes lots and lots of work, and probably at least 2-3 years of figuring out an area. So many places to hunt and so little time to hunt it. Id like to go to KY, Southern In, again, Ilinois, iowa, Kanasas. Lots of opportunity fairly close to home in our neighboring states but it certainly does take dedication of time, money, and energy. Good luck in your quest.
 

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I started the quest this year to seriously hunt public land in SE Michigan. Put in many hours in the spring scouting and did a handful of sits on public this year before shooting my buck (on private) a couple of weeks ago.

I never found any sign that made me think it was made by anything older than a 2.5yr old buck, but I think my biggest mistake was scouting places that I could walk to upright. I did see deer almost every sit on public and could have shot a 1.5yr old buck and a doe (but she was with a fawn) so I passed on them. I'm encouraged but think I need to exclusively target places where people wont go.
 
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I started the quest this year to seriously hunt public land in SE Michigan. Put in many hours in the spring scouting and did a handful of sits on public this year before shooting my buck (on private) a couple of weeks ago.

I never found any sign that made me think it was made by anything older than a 2.5yr old buck, but I think my biggest mistake was scouting places that I could walk to upright. I did see deer almost every sit on public and could have shot a 1.5yr old buck and a doe (but she was with a fawn) so I passed on them. I'm encouraged but think I need to exclusively target places where people wont go.

Your right, the only downfall is the time thing. Those spots usually require some wind or enough time to approach them. Trying to do hang and hunts after work gets tough in these spots unless you can be there by 1-2 pm. I know the later in October it got I quit seeing deer in my spots just because I wasn't there early enough. Time to look for spots so easy everyone looks past them for that reason!
 

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I think the manistee national forest could be one of the most challenging areas to kill a mature buck on public ground in the entire country. In the last two decades of hunting mostly public and mostly manistee national forest I can count my encounters with legit mature bucks on one hand. I love the challenge public land has to offer but after getting my butt kicked in MI I am finally planning an out of state next year to Ohio or KY. I think I heard John Eberhard say MI 115" deer are the equivalent to 150" out of MI.
 

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I think I heard John Eberhard say MI 115" deer are the equivalent to 150" out of MI.
Yes I think he does say that, I will say that in about 9 trips out of state, 10 day trips, and running trail cams your options are better out of state. On the otherhand 150" bucks are not behind every tree on any public land, especially now. Even with trail cams we don't have that many legit 150" plus bucks on cams or visuals on Public. Private ground I would agree with that statement in states like Iowa, Kansas, etc.
 

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Your right, the only downfall is the time thing. Those spots usually require some wind or enough time to approach them. Trying to do hang and hunts after work gets tough in these spots unless you can be there by 1-2 pm. I know the later in October it got I quit seeing deer in my spots just because I wasn't there early enough. Time to look for spots so easy everyone looks past them for that reason!
I tried to pick spots that were 1/2mile in or more. But even one of my best looking spots I discovered an old hang on on my first hunt, though it was obvious it hadn't been used in a very long time.

I had one spot that looked so obvious and easy that I thought for sure everyone will walk right past it... ended up seeing the state land 1.5 yr old buck that I passed on.

It is amazing though, like someone else said, if you walk in at dark you will see tacks literally everywhere. Even in the spots you thought for sure no one could have been at.
 
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I️ agree. Killing a 4yo on Manistee National forest has to be one of the toughest hunting challenges you could take on.

You can scout all you want but the pressure and endless piles of bait change everything.

Your best bet would be out of state for sure.
 
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Yes I think he does say that, I will say that in about 9 trips out of state, 10 day trips, and running trail cams your options are better out of state. On the otherhand 150" bucks are not behind every tree on any public land, especially now. Even with trail cams we don't have that many legit 150" plus bucks on cams or visuals on Public. Private ground I would agree with that statement in states like Iowa, Kansas, etc.
The way I interpreted his statement was that for every 115" deer you encounter on MI public land, you would encounter a 150" on public land out of state. No one said either deer 115" MI or 150" out of state can be found behind every tree, that would be silly. Most people don't encounter 115" deer on MI public in a year. Today is my first day back in the office after hunting every day last week. I hunted public land in Allegan, Manistee national forest and a 75 acre lease I share with my brother. I saw zero bucks on public and 3 over 115" on our lease.
 

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The way I interpreted his statement was that for every 115" deer you encounter on MI public land, you would encounter a 150" on public land out of state. No one said either deer 115" MI or 150" out of state can be found behind every tree, that would be silly. Most people don't encounter 115" deer on MI public in a year. Today is my first day back in the office after hunting every day last week. I hunted public land in Allegan, Manistee national forest and a 75 acre lease I share with my brother. I saw zero bucks on public and 3 over 115" on our lease.
Gotcha lol, I would agree with that since I've never seen a 115" on public here!

He does mention in one of his last podcasts that he passes on 140" bucks almost every sit in Kansas....now that to me is not in any way possible on public there!!! I know he knows what 140" buck looks like, and also to my knowledge would say he's referring to private ground he's aquired there to hunt.
 
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I lease in Morgan County and the guy we lease from has an extra farm house that he rents out to other hunters. They do better than us and they hunt public land! SE ohio has some bruisers. One of our guys out of 5 knocked down a pope and young already. A guy down teh road a mile knocked down a 156! The guy next to out property shot a 140 we had on cam everyday...
 

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It all takes lots and lots of work, and probably at least 2-3 years of figuring out an area. So many places to hunt and so little time to hunt it. Id like to go to KY, Southern In, again, Ilinois, iowa, Kanasas. Lots of opportunity fairly close to home in our neighboring states but it certainly does take dedication of time, money, and energy. Good luck in your quest.
I agree with all of this. The only part I'd add to regards how long it takes to figure it out. You gotta find the haystack before you can find the needle. If you can figure it out once, every time thereafter will take less and less time.

We all need some luck, but to do this right you need to work so hard luck will determine not if it happens but when.
 
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Unfortunately I am already starting to plan next years season with the hopes of putting in early work to give myself better opportunities in the stand. I hunted the Manistee national forest this year. It is relatively a short drive (from Grand Rapids) but the mature buck sign was limited. I am planning on putting in the work next season (shed hunting, turkey hunting, early stand placement, trail cams etc.) and wanted to know if anyone had advice on if public land archery hunting in Michigan versus putting in the work in Wisconsin or Ohio. Any county recommendations for Michigan, or any advice on Wisconsin or Ohio during archery season? I practice QDM and am looking for 3 or 4 year old bucks which can be tough to find in Michigan.

Thanks for the advice.
In my opinion, every county in Ohio has world class deer, Michigan, not so much, satellite scout every area you can down there and pick 3 spots off the beaten path, google the area, if your search doesn't show up with a bunch of forums, your in decent shape, if you can get atleast 1 mile from a road the hunting will be better then anywhere on public land in Michigan without question, you can thank their dnr heard management practices for that
 

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In my opinion, every county in Ohio has world class deer, Michigan, not so much, satellite scout every area you can down there and pick 3 spots off the beaten path, google the area, if your search doesn't show up with a bunch of forums, your in decent shape, if you can get atleast 1 mile from a road the hunting will be better then anywhere on public land in Michigan without question, you can thank their dnr heard management practices for that
This is the same way I pick public land in S Central WI. Except I do a 'google' search of the wildlife area first e.g. 'XX Wildlife Area deer'. I actually target smaller wildlife areas, with a VERY limited number of trees, and lots of nasty swamp. I've done this for the past three years, and tagged 7 deer (5 does, two bucks...all before 5 Oct.) Mind you, the dragging can be a bit much, but I have found this formula successful.
 
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