As my username suggests, I am a rookie hunter, turned on to the sport by my father-in-law. He has plenty of well managed land for hunting, but lives an hour and a half away. There is public hunting land five minutes from my house on the Chickasaw national forest, but I don't want to go freeze my tail off to see an occaitional doe.
Is public hunting land worth hunting?
Will I see anything other than does and spikes?
Am I going to be shot at by morons that shoot at any movement?
Right now is the best time to get out there and see what is in the woods for next season. Nothing will replace wearing the soles off your boots scouting. Look for fresh droppings, trails, beds and so on. Get a map and compass take your lunch and spend all day searching out where the deer are now.
Make notes on cut overís, thickets, things that will channel the deer along a certain trail. Look for what the deer are eating or will eat when you go back hunting so note the favored foods like white oak, greenbrier, crab apple or whatever is in the area.
Cover and food will put you where you can harvest a deer. If you hunt thickets instead of open areas you will see more deer closer to you.
Just my 2cents