Public land is intended to be used by everyone. Whether you are hunting, fishing, or just bird watching, you have the right to use land marked “Public”. There are several written laws that govern the use of public land, easily found on IowaDNR.gov. There are also unwritten laws, otherwise referred to as etiquette, that we all must follow to make sure we all get along.
Some of the biggest violations that I see are use of public areas in proximity to other. Don’t walk in and set up next to others! If they beat you to your favorite spot in the marsh, or your honey hole of a fishing spot, exercise good etiquette and go somewhere else. By law, private tree stands on public land are fair game, but if you didn’t lug it in and set it up, you damn well better not sit in it or near it. Somebody else put a lot of effort in to getting that stand there. Proper etiquette would be to go find another area and hang your own stand.
Yesterday I was helping a neighbor find an area on public land to hang a stand. He was kind enough to work with me since I already had a stand in the general area, and he didn’t want to get too close. While we were in the area, we found a mineral lick. It was pretty obvious that someone had dumped something to attract deer. An unidentified man, with an unidentified youth, had been observed sitting over this lick during youth season. Last night, I observed another unidentified man hunting over it as well. This is both against written and unwritten law! To make matters worse, it is very close to where my stand.
Don’t be an idiot! Yes, public land is for everyone, but you don’t have the right to ruin others’ enjoyment of it. A lot of people put a lot of time and effort in to doing things right. There is plenty of land out there. Spread out! It may mean you have to work a little harder, or put a little more effort into it than just showing up at shooting time, but its the right thing to do. In my opinion, if you can’t exercise good etiquette in the outdoors, you shouldn’t be out there.