Young hunter seeking advice on managed hunts


New Member
I am 17 years old and I've been hunting since I was 13. I've always hunted in public lands but nothing too big. I put in for my first quota hunts and I won Catoosa muzzloader November 17th-20th. The place is so big I don't know where to start. I have an idea on what to look for but I need some advice from some more experienced hunters. A special thanks to wpbdeer for showing me this forum and I hope it helps me out a lot with my questions
Welcome to the forum. You have a fine mentor in wpbdeer. I'm sure there are those here who can help.
If you have a smart phone download the tap a talk app and then you can post pics to this forum directly from your phone through that app.
Thanks for the mention. All of you experienced hunters - this young man has the passion. He reminds me of myself back in the 1960s.

I promised him he would learn a great deal on this forum. He cuts yards to earn his money. A top-notch recruit.

Welcome TD&T. Enjoy the ride. You get a map on here of Catoosa and then Laurel Hill. He has a hunt on a second managed area too. The second one is a smaller area.

Let the fun begin.
Welcome to the forum bud, glad to see someone as young as myself with the same level of drive, I'll be glad to help you how i can.
From my experience hunting massive areas of land out west, unfortunately sometimes all you can do is make an educated guess on where to hunt and roll the dice. Aerial Images are a great resource but they only do so much, there is no substitute for scouting and experience, so spend a weekend or two scouting the area if possible and unfortunately it might take a year or two of hunting that area before you really begin to understand the deer movement within that particular area.
Boot makes a really good point, it can take a lot of observation on a particular piece of property to learn how deer use it. However, I think the most valuable skills that I have learned since I began hunting were during the 3 years of observation-centric hunting that I put in on my family farm, even though I didn't kill a single buck over the course of that time. Learning and applying as much about deer behavior in your area as you can: when they move, where they go, when they go there, and why; will allow you to then be able to read a piece new piece of land much more effectively and efficiently.
As most of the others have said, aerial photos are a great place to start, choke points can sometimes stand out readily, and others can often be found if you learn and know what to look for; which is something most individuals here will gladly help with.
Hope that at least helps a little bit, good luck!
I have, and still hunt a lot of public land. That draw of yours should be awesome. I happened to ride thru that area this past summer and really looked enticing to me.
As to hunting land you've not seen., Best bet to increase odds if boots on the ground is limited, is find areas with intersecting Edges. By that i mean it can be anything from conifer to hardwood, field to forest, types of hardwood against another mixture, topography variations creating edges,etc. Deer are lovers of edge, and I have more than once went in at barely daylight and picked a spot with a mixture of those mentioned and scored. The more intersections of various type of edges coming together in one place and taking the wind currents into consideration, and you will be very amazed at your success on such a limited access ground. I wish you the best of luck and there is no greater feeling than succeeding under such conditions. And remember, your success may not necessarily the taking of a deer, but the joy of the effort itself. Taking game is just the bonus. Good luck, I am envious.
Welcome to the group! Lots of super knowledgeable and helpful folks on here. Take advantage of all of their experience and it will save you lots of missteps. Enjoy!
Without the benefit of a topo or aerial for us to look at, I was going to post pretty much exactly what dogghr posted.
Thanks guys for the advice!! I can't find a areal map that's free unfortunately so I cant post it for y'all to see. The place is called Catoosa and it is located in crossville Tennessee. It's got 82,000 acres and has gravel roads with corn, soybean and sage grass fields. It's got lots of hard woods and a huge creek that runs through it. That's about all the info I know on it so far.
I would find one of those good food sources and work your way into the woods checking for sign. Look for some of the heaviest cover near the food sources. As you are walking looking for that heavy thick cover be looking for pinch points or bottlenecks, whether that is a creek crossing ridge saddles, fence crossings, etc. Anything that will narrow deer down to a smaller area. When you find that area start looking for potential stand locations keeping an eye on potential wind directions and how they will affect stand locations. After finding that good wind location I would work my way back out to the food sources and locate a good tree for your predominate wind directions and your evening stand location. I like to set up about 10 yards inside of the woods on good intersecting trails that lead into the field.

When you sit that food source stand you will then be able to do some observation and you can adjust accordingly. If you see a target deer entering or exiting a certain location on consecutive days you will know where you need to move your stand to. Pay close attention to landmarks of where the deer are coming from and travelling to and try to get yourself in between.

Good luck and keep us up to date on how your scouting works out for you.

I am assuming this is the place. Looks great!

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That really gave me a great idea on what to do I can't wait until November 17th they let you go in a day before the hunt and I'm really going to take advantage of that day!
A suggestion to you "Young Blood" get your hands on a hard copy map of the portion of the WMA you intend to hunt.

Identify four or five areas you want to hunt / scout. List the reasons why you want to hunt there.

Now for the human element. On your scouting day, hit the areas in the order in which your little voice says are best to worst.

Why four or five? Going to be a great deal of human intrusion in the various areas. There will be other hunters that make a good location a bad choice because you are crowded out - deer will relocate to safer areas (the thicker - the better).

We call it "patterning the other hunters." I don't want you to put all of your eggs in one basket on public ground with plenty of other hunters.

I hope this make senses to you. I have been there and done that - on public ground in Illinois and Ohio.

If I confused you - ask me a question if need be. ;)
I used to hunt the Hatchie River Refuge outside of Brownsville Tn when I was about your age. Same sort of set up. What I found to work best is to get away from the crowds. My first year my buddies and I set up within 300-400 yards of the gravel access roads. Big mistake. We were flooded with other hunters. We all found success by putting distance between us and the roads. If there are roads into certain areas that are blocked off for public use those are a great place to start. The roads are there so that farm machinery can access areas to plant crops yet the public has to walk in on foot. I brought a mountain bike and got 2 miles back easily. Not many guys on foot are going to go 2 miles to start hunting.
Best of luck to you and welcome to the forum.