Public Land Hunter Request: Please Pack a Trash Bag

The author asks public land hunters to pack a trash bag so you can toss litter in it on your way out of the woods.

Public Land Hunter Request: Please Pack a Trash Bag

When hunting public land, the author regularly packs a trash bag in his daypack and then uses it when needed to clean up litter during his hike back to his vehicle. Every little bit helps.

The purpose of this short article isn’t to preach to the choir. I’ll assume you don’t litter, and if you do, well then I’ll refrain from typing something here that could cost me my job.

People who litter — and yes, I consider it littering to flick cigarette butts out a vehicle window — must have a different view of the world than mine. I don’t understand how people can litter, but then again my parents also raised me to not tailgate the vehicle ahead of me, say “please” and “thank you”, and not allow my Lab to pee on a neighbor’s lawn. 

As the title of this story says, I ask you to pack a trash bag when hunting or scouting on public land. Why? To pick up litter on your way out of the woods. 

I bowhunt public land in Wisconsin about half the time I’m in the field each fall, and I’ve made it a practice to place a trash bag in the bottom of my daypack. Hopefully I don’t have to use it. While the trash bag sometimes never leaves my pack on a public land trip, more often than not I find myself digging it out while I hike back to my vehicle. This is especially true when I hike along a road on my return to the parking area, and if the road is paved (meaning more cars and trucks), it’s always worse when it comes to trash.

This article’s lead photo shows a bag I filled on a recent public land crossbow hunt in Wisconsin. In returning to my parked car, I hiked a quarter-mile along a paved county road and had to stop often to pick up trash. During my clean-up mission (remember I’m carrying my bow), I made eye contact with several drivers as they passed. I felt some satisfaction knowing that I was leaving the public land better than I found it. In addition, I think it helps the non-hunting public, which likely includes most of the drivers I encountered on the paved road, to see a hunter cleaning up a ditch.

The photo below shows one item I couldn’t remove from the field on my initial cleanup hike because I already was hauling one full bag of trash, plus my crossbow and other hunting gear in the trunk of my small car. So I made a special trip after a morning deer hunt the following day with my dad's truck to pick up a microwave — yes, a microwave! — that some idiot tossed in a public land parking area.

The author picked up this discarded microwave from a public land parking area. Rather than see it weekend after weekend during the fall hunting season and be disgusted by its sight, he removed it.
The author picked up this discarded microwave from a public land parking area. Rather than see it weekend after weekend during the fall hunting season and be disgusted by its sight, he removed it.

I understand it isn’t your job to pick up someone else’s trash, but if more hunters pitch in here and there, then we can have slightly cleaner public lands. I know I feel better not having to stare at litter on my walk out of the woods.

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