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Tactics for Hunting Deer on Public Land in Alabama

Brandon Bobo | Mossy Oak ProStaff

Brandon Bobo, who works as a biologist for the National Wild Turkey Federation in the State of Alabama, is a member of Mossy Oak’s GameKeepers Pro Staff.

buck in a field

Like me, my Granddad also grew up here in Oxford, and he was a quail hunter who hunted quail for food, not just sport. That was back when bobwhites were abundant in Alabama. In our part of the state – north Alabama – there were hardly any deer or turkeys left after the Great Depression of the 1930s. As my Dad grew up, deer were re-introduced into our section of the state, and my dad started hunting deer. I deer hunted and duck hunted with my Dad. In my teenage years, the population of wild turkeys in north Alabama had grown to the point where we could start hunting them, too. 

When bow season arrives, I’m a dedicated bowhunter. I hunt Choccolocco WMA in the Talladega National Forest and I also have some private ground near Opelika, Alabama, I hunt. I start off bow season wearing Mossy Oak Obsession, like I do during turkey season, because there’s still a lot of foliage on the trees and bushes in Alabama in October. I wear my warm-weather Mossy Oak camo usually until late November. 

Most of the time when I’m deer hunting I’m using a climbing tree stand, especially on public lands. That way I don’t leave any sign of where I’m hunting. I also hunt with a favorable wind, and I wash my clothes in Scent-A-Way soap and bathe in Scent-A-Way body wash and shampoo. I spray Scent-A-Way on all my equipment each day before I hunt. I wear knee-high rubber boots also to keep my foot odor inside my boots. I generally set my stands up facing east, since the prevailing wind in our area comes out of the west or the northwest. 

bowhunter in a treestandOften I’m asked, “Brandon, how are you finding bucks to hunt on public lands?” 

Because of my position with the NWTF and the fact that I’m a wildlife biologist, I work quite a bit with Alabama’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the U.S. Forest Service. The Forest Service people and Alabama’s biologists have a better knowledge of Choccolocco WMA than anyone else in the area, due to their constantly monitoring where deer are, where the hunters hunt, and from where most of the deer come. The Forest Service conservation officer lives in my neighborhood. Last year he told me a couple of places where he had seen deer in the national forest. I started scouting those areas last September. I spotted a nice buck with main beams that went out in front of his nose. He was definitely a shooter for a public land bow buck. The two times I saw him, he was at 55 and 70 yards away from my stand. So, I wouldn’t take the shot with my bow. 

We have some extreme topography (high mountains and steep valleys) in Choccolocco, and I know I’ll usually walk a mile or more and cross several mountains to reach the place I want to hunt. I’ll walk in my Mossy Oak t-shirt, and I’ll have my outer camo in a backpack. Then when I reach my hunt site, I’ve generally sweated so much that my t-shirt is wet. I’ll take my t-shirt off, put it in my backpack, spray down my body with Scent-A-Way and then put on my camo before I go up a tree. I usually leave my truck two hours before daylight to go deep in the woods where most other hunters won’t hunt, and I want to be as scent-free as possible. 

Kevin Hutchings is another Mossy Oak ProStaffer that hunts primarily in Michigan. He has also offered additional public land hunting tips and secrets in the northern U.S. 

To learn more about deer hunting, check out John E. Phillips’ eBook and print book, “Bowhunting Deer: Mossy Oak Pros Know Bucks and Bows.” Go to www.amazon.com/Bowhunting-Deer-Mossy-Pros-Bucks-ebook/dp/B013F0T58O.

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