Responsible hunting and game management, as well as wildlife conservation, are important aspects of any game hunting. But many find deer hunting to be the most rewarding. Here are some ideas and tips to make that hunting trip a success.
What makes a deer tick (and I don’t mean the biting kind either!)
Deer are known for being at their most active in the dusk and dawn hours, and often sleep during the middle of day and night. It makes sense since most predators are also less active during these times, giving the deer a chance to rest.
Finding that perfect location to set yourself up for the hunt can sometimes be a challenge. If you keep 3 factors in mind, however, it could improve your chances. A deer needs to eat, sleep, and mate…those are their main focuses in life. Simple right? Look for areas that contain rye, clover or other green edibles and see if you can’t find some evidence of deer paths around that area. This can also help you to figure out the frequency of use for that area by deer. Don’t try to set up camp in areas with thick, dense brush or that are swampy. While these are areas a deer prefers for sleeping areas, it also makes it an area that alerts them to predators as movement is more easily detected. Areas like that are also considerably harder to hunt in because of the lack of visibility. As an alternative, wait on the outskirts of these areas near game trails where deer will be more easily spotted exiting and entering. Now let’s consider the mating season. This is when the hunter has an advantage because a deer’s senses aren’t as sharp when it is ready to mate, especially where bucks are concerned.
If you are hunting on private land, it may be a good idea to ask them about key locations for finding deer, or where they tend to travel. Deer tend to work their way towards edges of fields or wood clearings. And if you are lucky enough to be blessed with snow covered ground, you will be able to track those deer movements much better.
What’s that smell?
A deer’s main source of protection is it’s sense of smell and can be the one thing that gives you away. For a start, you don’t want to be using any perfumed products, shampoo, skin cream, soaps, or deodorants before you go hunting. It’s challenging enough to try and cover up our scent. many hunters will use a scent remover which works fairly well for sitting in a stand, or if your hunting for a short period of time. They don’t do a good job however if you have been doing some hefty hiking, running, and..sweating! They can improve your chances though so it may not be a bad idea to try them out for your particular hunting situation. And most important, always try to put yourself in a position where you are upwind from the deer.
Next to a deer’s sense of smell, it’s eyes and ears are a good defense. Slight movements, rustling in the brush, they hear and see it all and are wound tighter than spring. If you see a deer heading your way, remain motionless and soundless. The minute a deer feels it’s in danger it will bolt.
Getting in gear
From camouflage to weapons, the right gear makes a world of difference. Let’s look at camouflage first. camouflage should be able to break up a human silhouette, not just make you look like a tree or bush. A good camouflage needs to break up a silhouette in more open areas as well. Camo with less solid blends are ideal so keep it simple.
Let’s look at hunting rifles. There is such a huge variety of hunting rifles nowadays that it can be hard to know which are the best for those who are new to the sport. The main categories are the automatic, pump, and bolt action. With automatics and pump, you have a faster reload and shots. Bolt guns, however, due to their double lock design, are great on accuracy. So if accuracy is not your top skill, this is the gun for you. If you can hit a fly square in the eyes from a mile off, go for the faster loading rifles.
Of course, you may prefer to hunt with a bow. Crossbows are normally used for deer hunting but take an incredible amount of skill. it’s helpful to get your bow, and yourself, tuned by practicing through the summer, otherwise you just end up getting rusty and can lose chances to bag a deer those first few times you are out hunting again.
The main thing to remember is to use gear that you know will work every time and that you have real confidence in.
A word on safety
- Seasoned hunters know the importance of firearm safety and tree stand safety. Those who are a bit newer to hunting deer, however, should follow these pointers:
- Never blindly shoot into the brush if you hear a sound or detect movement. You never know if it’s another hunter or someone’s dog. And make sure no one is near the animal you are aiming for. A high-powered rifle’s ammo can travel up to a mile and if you miss, well that bullet has to go somewhere. Make sure it’s not in another human being.
- Don’t climb into a tree, down a tree, or over a fence with a loaded gun. Hand your gun to a buddy and let them hand it back once you are over. Sounds simple but a number of rifle accidents I have seen from seasoned and green hunters alike doing just this is unbelievable.
- It’s always best to hunt with a buddy. If you can’t do that, then make sure someone knows where you are, and when you are supposed to be expected back.
- Make sure you always wear a harness when you are in a tree stand.
- Orange – make sure you wear it and wear it so that it is visible and lets other hunters know you are not a deer. Don’t worry, a deer is colorblind and won’t be able to tell the difference.
- Be sure the deer is dead before you try moving it. Nothing hurts worse than a kick from a struggling deer.
- Never take any mind-altering medications, and stay sober when you are actively hunting.
- Make sure you have tested out any new hunting equipment before you go hunting just to be sure everything is in working order. And make sure you know how to properly work the equipment you are using.