Becoming a seasoned deer hunter takes time, patience and a lot of knowledge and learning that is picked up along the way. You can’t expect to become a successful deer hunter just by luck, but you can become one of the best by just taking time to listen and learn from others. No matter what age you are, or how long you have been a deer hunter, there is always room for improvement and there is always room for tweaking your style in order to become more successful.
Whether its talking to seasoned veterans who have been hunting deer for 50 years or more, or whether its making a slight change to your hunting style, you will be surprised at just how much one little tip can do in your hunt for deer.
In our guide today, we wanted to highlight the top 10 tips that you can take away with you, which will help you improve next time you pick up your muzzleloader or crossbow and head out for a new open season.
We will start with one of the biggest, yet forgotten about tips that in itself could completely transform your success rate, and that is your own body odor.
It may seem like a simple tip to miss, but this can literally be the difference in you being a great hunter and a poor hunter. The first thing that any pro deer hunter will tell you is that any scent from your body will alert deer, and you will lose them.
The best thing you can do is to make yourself smell as much as possible like the environment you are going to be hunting in, so to start us off with tip number one, we suggest sealing your hunting clothes in a bag with dirt, leaves, plants and anything else that you are going to find on the floor.
Once you are ready to hunt take your clothes out of the bag and put them on. At the end of the day we cannot help our natural odor, or stop it, so doing this with your hunting clothes will just add an element on top to disguise it and prevent the deer you are hunting getting spooked out.
Deer have to eat, so anywhere that you find thick cover means there is a heightened chance that deer maybe lurking in there. More so if that cover happens to be next to some kind of food or water source.
One ideal tip is to visit the area you are going to be hunting in prior to your actual hunt, this way you can monitor the times of the day where deer tend to come out of hiding in order to eat. One massive plus to becoming a successful hunter is to be patient and to pre-plan as much as you can.
It may seem like a lot of wasted time in order to get one deer but knowing the movements, and any additional patterns in the animal’s behavior could be a key factor when it comes to the big day.
One big problem with beginners is they forget that not every season is gun season, or that not every season is archery season. Its best to check what dates certain seasons open, in the State that you are going to be hunting in.
For example, most States start with Archery season where you are only allowed to hunt using a crossbow or a bow; guns are strictly prohibited during this season. Usually the gun season is later on in the year, or earlier the following year so make sure you know when to go.
Also, each State has specific bag limits to how many deer you can take, and how many bucks you are allowed to bag, check up on your local bag limits to avoid any unnecessary issues.
Lastly, you are required by law to have a hunting license but also take note of any special hunting permits that you may require. For example, to hunt in Florida you are required to pay an additional $5 permit.
Gaining as much knowledge of the area and the deer you are looking to catch is a fundamental part to a successful deer hunter. That is why you should study the kind of calls each type of deer makes, this way you have a better chance of attracting them or bringing them in for the trophy winning shot.
A Buck Roar: These will usually be heard when one buck is challenging another buck, and you can expect to hear this during pre-rut
Doe Bleating: Using this kind of call will get curiosity levels to a high, and if you are using a crossbow, you stand a much better chance of getting in a good shot.
Grunting: Another good call during pre-rut when bucks are known to challenge each other.
Fawn Bleating: Similar to the Doe Bleating, a distressed fawn bleat can get the pack moving and also attracts doe’s.
This tip will definitely catch some of you by surprise as you probably don’t even notice the moon on your evening hunting sessions, but the moon can play a key role in the behavior of any type of deer so it’s one to look out for.
Generally speaking the most intense ruts will take place when the moon is at its first-quarter, which usually takes place in early November time which gives you a prime time to hunt throughout the entire day. As that moon starts to advance into a full moon your time is limited and your best period is a three hour window between 9am in the morning until noon.
Many different hunters have their own style of hunting, whether they do it from a ground position, a standing/walking position or whether they build stands that are set into the tree tops for a prime overlooking position.
It all depends on personal preference here, but it’s worth sticking out a stand because if you have the conditions right then that prize buck may come along even it takes the best part of two weeks.
One good tip for tree top positions is to make sure you use a harness in case the stand you are using breaks, always remember that health and safety is a key part in keeping you and other hunters in the area safe.
Also, if you are going to be hunting from a ground position then you want to make sure that you wear orange, this will allow other hunters to identify you but it won’t alert you to any deer.
If you thought the breeding season was the best time to catch big trophy bucks then think again, as its usually the winding-down period that comes just after the peak breeding season when you can get your sights on the big prizes.
You see, the older bucks generally sit out the first two rut phases so you won’t generally see these out in the open. Instead, they will be hidden away in the shadows of the forest while the younger bucks do what they have got to do.
Once the field is open for the old bucks to start mating then they will increase their daytime activities knowing that most of the younger bucks have disappeared. So if you are hoping for a trophy like this, then wait until the main rutting and breeding has passed and keep your eye out for the older bucks to step into the light.
They say the best things are learned by talking to other hunters and locals from the area, and that’s absolutely right. You can read all the books and literature you want when it comes to hunting but there are no better tips than from the mouth of a seasoned deer hunter who can share their experiences with you.
They will be able to tell you everything from the best places to stand, the ideal locations where you will find the biggest bucks, the movement and patterns, and even the type of clothing you need to wear in order to blend in with the environment around you.
Not only will you be able to learn from their positive experiences but they will also be able to share negative experiences that they have had in order for you to improve you own capabilities when out hunting for deer.
There really is no better knowledge than this.
One point we haven’t addressed yet is deer tracks, which is another fundamental part in stalking and getting yourself a prize catch. Tracks can say a lot of different things, and some hunters will even build tree-stands in that area because they know it’s a trail that deer’s will tend to use (either on the way for water, or for food).
Look for fresh marks in the soil and see if you can work out just how many deer are using the track, this could give you an idea on how hot or cold on the trail you actually are and it will help prepare you better.
It’s not just the ground you need to pay close attention to either, look at the trees because deer’s will usually graze the base of trees with their antlers, and these marking will be prevalent to the human eye. They will stand out in the bark of almost any tree, and whilst you can’t tell when they were made you will now know that deer use that route for something.
Also, look at honeysuckle and other food sources that are located in the area to see if you can see nibbles or chew marks, pick up fallen leaves if you have to and just keep a keen eye on the habitat around you to see if you can find any signs that deer have been in the area.
Think of yourself has a detective, and keep on high alert at all times so you don’t miss any clues that could put you hot on the trail of a prize trophy.
Finally we come to the last point in our guide on the top 10 things you need to remember when hunting deer, and this happens to be the biggest thing you need to do. It’s all good having the right equipment on you, knowing the area like the back of your hands, knowing the dates you need to go out on the hunt, and all the experience you have picked up from other hunters and locals, but at the end of the day everything comes down to one thing. Patience.
You either have it or you don’t. If you don’t then hunting for deer really isn’t for you because you will be out on the hunt for hours on end, day after day, and you may get to the two week mark and still be empty handed.
Just remember the saying: “Only fools rush in”.
Don’t be that fool because all that patience will work out for you, and you will get the prize trophy.
Hunting can vary in different States so you may need to adapt your skills and the way you hunt. Some hunting locations may contain mountainous terrain where you will need to clamber of rocks and hide behind boulders to stalk your deer. Obviously carrying heavy equipment in these kinds of locations can jeopardize your efforts so it’s always key to plan before you go.
Just make sure that you respect other hunters in the area, and stay safe!