The thrill that you feel while tracking down your prey during a deer hunt is something you can only experience firsthand and anyone who has been on such an expedition, whether a veteran or a newbie will be able to identify with that feeling.
However, there is so much more to just an emotional experience while deer hunting. Everyone likes to be good at the things they do, and you may ask yourself these questions: “What don’t I know about deer hunting? What are the common mistakes that I could make? What are the best practices that I could follow?”
You will be surprised to know that many veterans still ask themselves these questions – every deer hunt brings in new challenges and there is learning in each one. We must always remember that we are dealing with wild animals which can be unpredictable at the best of times, so, expect the unexpected.
Despite the element of the unknown while hunting wild animals, in this case deer, we can make some generalizations. I have considered these generalizations as common ground to prepare some useful deer hunting tips and tricks. Here are 21 deer hunting tips and tricks that will make you an expert hunter.
Preparing for the Hunt
This activity is almost as important as actually going for the hunt. A good hunter will always have a well-planned stock of supplies and a plan of action that will make the actual expedition fun, adventurous and fruitful. You will be surprised at the most obvious things that you can overlook if you do not have a proper list in place. Here is a list of what you should be ready with:
- Stock up your Gear and Check it
Make a list of things you will need. Not only obvious things like weapons, ammo, food, and water but think about less obvious items that could come in handy like a first-aid box or a compass.
- Permits and licenses
Ensure that you have all the licenses at hand. Each state has varying local hunting licenses, so you need to be sure to have the right ones for the region that you are visiting. A friend of mine reports that once when he was out on a deer hunt with an office colleague, his partner happened to ask him about a particular permit which to his dismay he didn't have. He just needed to pay $25 at the local hunting authority's office but what a sad difference that would have made if forest department had stopped him!
- Local Laws and Regulations
Get familiar with the local laws and regulations because these also can vary from state to state. You need to know about the opening and closing dates as well because you wouldn't want to be caught unawares by starting a day early and paying the price, literally!
- Sighting your Weapons
If you want to make a good, clean shot during the hunt, your gun needs to be accurate. For that, you will have to sight it. Sighting a weapon is relatively straightforward, although maybe a mildly tedious job but believe me, it will make a world of difference in the way you shoot.
- Interact with the Locals
Getting information from locals is a good way of finding out about the movement of deer. The local farmers and inhabitants will have a good idea with regards to where the deer are and what they are doing. You can pay a few visits to the hunting sites a few weeks before, to plan out your strategy by inputs you get from the locals.
- Keep Fit
Hunting is a strenuous activity, whether you are wielding a bow or just traipsing through the woods for hours on end. During the off-season, it is possible to get out of shape. You need to sleep well, eat well and keep fit by working out regularly so that you are in prime form for the forthcoming hunting season.
Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the tips that will help you become a better hunter:
- Tip # 1: Deer have a surprisingly strong sense of smell and can detect a human a mile away. Before going on a hunt, bathe with an odor-free soap. Pack your hunting clothes in a sealed plastic bag along with a bit of dirt, leaves, and twigs and wear them only on reaching the site. This process should somewhat disguise the human scent.
- Tip # 2: Use doe estrous as bait for attracting the buck. Although you shouldn't rely on this alone, it is a great tool for attracting the big buck. You can try dragging along a rag soaked in doe estrous which works quite well. However, you should use estrous judiciously. Do not use it at a time that does are not likely to be in season.
- Tip # 3:Odor eliminator is also a useful thing to use. However, don’t just spray before you leave for the hunt. Take it with you and spray it on yourself once you reach the site, paying particular emphasis to your hat and hair.
- Tip # 4: Well before the season, make sure that your tree stand is well-set up. Practice assembling and dismantling it and a good tip is to set it up low in the tree to give you quick access to it when required, with the least possibility of making any noise.
- Tip # 5: Google Maps is a great tool to check out the terrain with an aerial view of the site. Make good use of Google Maps to plot your route, making notes as you go along.
- Tip # 6: While hunting in wet weather, tape the end of the muzzle of your gun with a bit of electrical insulation tape. The tape will keep the inside of the barrel dry, and you will be able to shoot through the covering when required.
- Tip # 7: If you need to remove your intended route of obstacles like branches and fallen logs, do so well before the hunting season starts. Deer will get the scent of freshly-cut timber and foliage and associate it with the movement of humans and get spooked.
- Tip # 8: Do not underestimate the advantage of tree stand blinds,however much a seasoned hunter you may be.Tree stand blinds serve the dual purpose of hiding you from your prey and protecting you from the elements during rain or extreme weather.
- Tip # 9: Keep a deer decoy handy and practice deer calls which can come in handy if you spot deer on adjacent land to which you do not have permission or access.
- Tip # 10: Carry a sufficient stock of insect repellant with you. Bugs can not only be irritating but can cause disease, and you don't want your hunting season to end abruptly due to sickness caused by insect bites.
- Tip # 11: When you get back home after your hunt, or even at the site if you are to wash any of your clothes, ensure to use non-scented detergent.
- Tip # 12: You may not be an excellent tracker but here's a good tracking tip: If there is snow on the ground, look out for leaves scattered around where deer may have pawed for mast. If you see traces of mast still in the field, there is a possibility of the deer returning to the spot.
- Tip # 13: You have made a hit. Your buck is down. What next? Check the blood pattern. Frothy blood will indicate a good shot to the lungs or heart, but watery blood mixed with stomach matter show a weak shot. Be wary in such a case because it is common for a partially-wounded buck to charge and the consequences can be fatal.
- Tip # 14: Maintain tree stand safety at all times. No matter how low your tree stand may be, you don't want a sprained ankle, broken leg or worse. Statistically, most falls from tree stands occur while climbing in or out of the tree stand. Use appropriate safety gear.
- Tip # 15: While moving on foot, you need to go slowly. Try using your watch to time the periods of standing still (up to even five minutes!). Use this time to listen hard for any movement in the foliage.
- Tip # 16: If you make the slightest of noise, even the snapping of a small twig, STOP! You may not think much of it, but that is likely to prick up the ears of your unseen quarry. Even the slightest noise again, and you will probably have to kiss your shot goodbye for the day.
- Tip # 17: This is a rare trick and totally off-the-track. Rather than walking naturally, try using light, quick steps in short bursts. You may feel dumb doing this, but to a buck, you will sound less like a human and more like just another wild animal scampering across the woods.
- Tip # 18: Game trail cameras are a good way to track down deer movements if you are willing to invest in a bit of time and money. Today, you can even get digital cameras which send a message to your mobile phone when movement is detected.
- Tip # 19: Keep all your stuff, especially your weapon at hand’s reach if you are going to have a snooze or even if you are just hiding, waiting and watching. Deer hunting is usually good on rainy days, so have enough waterproofing for yourself and your gear to last out the wet days.
- Tip # 20: While calling a buck, a snort wheeze is usually quite useful. However, avoid calling too frequently, as bucks do not sound so regularly. When a buck is heading towards you, avoid calling the buck – just let the deer move in your direction, and you can get a shot in when the time is right.
- Tip # 21: Above all, ensure that you follow all regular safety procedures as follows:
1. Be aware of the location of other hunters in the vicinity.
2. Make ample use of ‘hunter’s orange’ to mark your location.
3. Treat all weapons as if they are loaded at all times.
4. Familiarize yourself with the weapon that you are using.
5. Clean and maintain your weapon regularly and use it at least once on a practice range before the hunt.
6. Carry all possible first-aid gear and keep a stock of general medication as well.
7. Keep your family informed of your movements and location at all times.
8. Before you pull the trigger, be sure you are shooting at a deer and be sure of what is behind your target as well.
9. Keep track of the daily weather forecast.
10. Avoid hunting alone.
11. Check all your hunting equipment and accessories including tree stands if any, before hunting and after the hunt as well.
Expert Deer Hunting is Easier than you ever imagined!
The essence to successful deer hunting is being prepared, organized and using common sense which, unfortunately, is uncommon most of the time.
Because it is so easy to be led off-track and miss out on some standard best practices, I have gone into depth with some of the simplest things that we commonly overlook during a deer hunt. It is so easy to enthusiastically set out on a hunting expedition but fail miserably or worse, meet with an unfortunate accident that could have you could have avoided.
To ensure that your deer hunt is an enjoyable and fulfilling experience, follow these deer hunting tips and tricks that can make you an expert hunter. We hope you have enjoyed reading about these basic deer hunting tips which should make all the difference during your next hunt. If you have enjoyed reading this article, please communicate to us with your valuable comments and feedback. We will be happy to clarify any points that you may have. Do enjoy your next deer hunt!