You never know why the stuff was left, an emergency, health issue, laziness , who knows, but if the other hunter shows back up try to coordinate with 'em. Sounds like a spot more than one person could hunt.
Hunt it , it is public land so you can use it . Where I hunt I found a tree stand in a good area when I first started hunting, I did not hunt that spot for the first year. The tree the stand was in fell down and the stand is still laying on the ground many years latter. Sometimes people leave things , for different reasons.
Sounds like you've been more than patient. I agree that leaving your contact info by the camera would be a way to coordinate access, but I wouldn't feel at all bad about hunting there this year. It is public land and a hunters "claim" only lasts so long. Good Luck!!
Who the hell knows that happened to this guy. Theft ain't my style but if that stuff is still there come fall and certainly by the end of this season then I would probably take it and then leave a note in an airtight bag on the tree. I would simply tell them that you have their gear since no one had been back for it in two years. Leave your name and tell them to call you. If they do call and can describe what is there then give it back. The camera may be shot anyway. Or just use the guys tree stand until he does come back :hump:
But I would never avoid hunting this spot if this person has not been back in that length of time. Who knows what happened to them. Don't sound like they are around the area anymore or they were not in the area last year.
I would agree with MoGreen, not to mention since you put your cam out you will see if anyone comes in to check the other equipment. At this point if the other equipment is still good and no one claims it, either keep and use or sell it.
So what happens when you hike 2 miles and 1000' of elevation to set up 2hrs before daylight to watch a saddle or key ridge and then a couple "bumblers" come hiking in 30 min after light and set up 50 yds away to watch the same spot? 100% public land of course.
I spent 10 yrs in Cali primarily hunting public refuges for waterfows, mostly because they have no deer, and racing guys at 4am to set up in prime spots and all too oftern squatters would walk through our pond at first light and either set up take advantage of our decoy spread or set up slightly upwind to try and pull birds off of us.
Fact is there is no law to protect anyone, and in the end, it's all about personal ethics isn't it. I can yell, scream, ruin other's hunt, but the minute I physically do anything to make anyone move, leave, etc. then I am guilty of a crime, no them.
Of course, I think the idea that others think a tree stand and a trail cam make any spot there's, is almost as bad as a bumbler.