I'm hunting public land for a trophy deer, and few people can appreciate that more than me. As a teenager, I started bowhunting on a state wildlife area where shots from duck hunters twice rained down on me, and as many people as deer walked under my stand. But my swamp spot, and many others like it, have convinced me that you can have a quality hunting experience and kill big deer consistently on public land. Finding such spots starts with research. If you're after trophy deer, look in state record books and the records of the Boone and Crockett Club (www.boone-crockett.org) or the Pope and Young Club (www.pope-young.org) to help narrow down productive regions. To get more specific, call a biologist at a state or federal game agency. Don't expect him to draw an X on your map and lead you to a deer. Instead, tell him you're after a quality experience in Public Area Q and you're willing to work hard to achieve it. Ask specific questions about rut timing, mast crop outlook, cover preferences, unique food sources, logging operations, recent fires. Most biologists eagerly respond to polite, intelligent questions.