Top 25 Deer Hunting Tips For Beginners
Are you new to hunting and unsure where to start? Maybe you have been hunting your whole life and you keep getting outsmarted by that prized trophy? These top 25 Deer hunting tips for experts and beginners will get you closer, so you see more and be a more successful hunter.
Deer Hunting Tip .1
Hunt With The Wind In Your Favor
There’s really no nice way to say this but you stink. It won’t matter how many showers you have or the scent blocking soaps you use. If a deer catches incy wincy sniff of human it will be all over before you knew you had a chance.
I’m not for one minute suggesting that using scent free soap or attempting to mask the odor of your clothes by storing them in a bag full of leaves and dirt from around your favorite stand won’t help. Because it may.
What I am saying, however, is that in order to give yourself the best possible chance of getting close to an animal you need to ensure that you always have the wind in your face and in your favor.
Any seasoned hunter will tell you that this can be incredibly difficult at times especially in swirling wind conditions. When I’m faced with this situation I combat this by doing one of two things. The first trick is tying a small string of cotton to the tip of my rifle barrel.
This will shift with the wind so you can pick your lines and stalk into the breeze.
My other tip and probably the one I prefer to use. I always carry a small cigarette lighter. This works just like cotton. I’ll stop and use the flame from the lighter to ensure I’m still working the wind in my favor.
- Note: A whitetail deer has an immense capability of sensing the scent. It has 200 million scent receptors!!
Deer Hunting Tip .2
Scout Your Hunting Block.
If you’re lucky enough to be able to access your block ahead of time there is no better way to discover those little hot spots where animals cross or feed belts and vantage’s over clearings. The downside to this is it does require an investment of time. In doing this I have definitely ended up in some hairy spots, being bluffed out or chest deep in swamps.
But the payoff is worth it.
There’s no better feeling than leaving the truck in the dark heading into a block your familiar with knowing where your heading and the areas to avoid and most importantly where you’re likely to encounter animals. It’s hard-earned but well worth the investment.
Deer Hunting Tip .3
Hunt Deer When They Are Most Active.
There are two times of the day that deer are most active so if you’re wanting to put the odds in your favor you need to be in your hunting blind, tree stand or hot spot before they begin to move at dawn. When the light is changing you will find deer beginning to feed their way off clearings and river flats and moving towards the safety of their sleeping pads where they can tuck out of the wind or escape the heat of the day.
By putting yourself in an area known to hold deer you are giving yourself a great chance of picking up an animal. For my morning hunts, I’ll generally hike into my hunting spots the evening before and set up camp. This reduces the travel time for the hunt in the morning and allows you to get a good sleep instead of setting off at 3 am to be where you need to be for first light.
Deer Hunting Tip .4
Hunt The Golden Hour Right Up To Last Light.
Early on in my deer hunting career, I struggled with this one the most, because I’d always like to be at the truck before it got too dark. This is largely why I’d often go home empty-handed and without seeing an animal. As I have grown in confidence I’m happy trekking in the dark and the thought of heading home by headlight is now made all the easier with a pack full of venison.
The hour before dark has been most productive for me as deer often they feel safer to be out in the open. Concentrate your efforts on bush edges and scrubby basins where deer can come out of thick cover to feed.
Deer Hunting Tip .5
Use Katabatic And Anabatic Winds To Your Advantage. (Thermals)
is the generic term for downslope winds flowing from high elevations of mountains, plateaus, and hills down their slopes to the valleys or planes below. As the sun sets and goes down the ground begins to cool the air. As the air cools it drops and begins to flow in downhill motion. The below picture shows the cold air dropping into a valley where it finds the lowest point and continues to flow downhill.
So why is this important? Well if your planning on hunting river flats or up ridges it would be a good idea to do this early morning while the air is still flowing downhill. Or in the rut, if a Buck is holding high in a basin you want to sneak in while the air is still flowing downhill.
Is the generic term for upward slope winds flowing from the valleys or planes below up the slopes and hills, plateaus, and high elevations of the mountains.
As the sun rises the ground begins to warm the air. As the air warms it rises and begins to flow in uphill motion. The below picture shows the warm air rising to the highest point.
Deer Hunting Tip .6
Arrive At Your Hunting Area Before The Animals Are Active.
Right, now you know when the animals are most active now you just need to make sure that you are where you need to be before they move.
If I’m planning an evening hunt I will typically leave the roadend about lunchtime. This will obviously depend on the travel time to your spot X.
I like to be set up well ahead of time so I can use my binoculars to do some glassing and maybe even check out some new country along the way.
What you will also find when using Binoculars is you tend to cover a lot more ground.
Deer Hunting Tip .7
Wear Hunting Clothes That Blend Into The Environment Your Hunting.
You may not know this but deer are red color blind so this is less important than contrast or how your hunting apparel blends into the habitat. So before you head out for the day or weekend give it a little bit of thought.
News stories of hunters shooting another hunter always seem to coincide with the rut when the big bucks are up for grabs. Try and incorporate this into the apparel your wearing. It doesn’t need to be much and could be as simple as using an orange camo beany.
Anything that makes someone holding their sights on you to think twice about pulling the trigger is a good thing for you and your loved ones.
Deer Hunting Tip .8
Use Google Earth To Your Advantage.
Check out the area your hunting with Google Earth before you go. You will be surprised how many clearing there are that hunters walk past that could produce an easy animal.
A good example of this is side creaks that have slips on them and clearings on river flats that you would ordinarily walk by as you head up the main river. The other thing you can do on google earth view the lay of the land and identify any hazards you might like to avoid.
Deer Hunting Tip .9
Wear The Right Clothing.
Some of the guys I hunt with run hot and don’t need much to stay warm. But for me on the other hand, I get cold easily and I have to pack more layers which adds weight. When you choose your hunting clothes, ensure these are appropriate for the conditions that your hunting in and they allow you to move unrestricted.
There’s nothing worse than not having the freedom of movement you need to climb over a log or stalk quietly up and down hills. Choose clothing that will wick moisture away from the body and where practical use merino wool products that still maintain its ability to help keep you warm even once its wet.
Deer Hunting Tip .10
Become Confident With Your Rifle.
This sounds simple, but you would be surprised by how many people only get their rifle out once a year. Sometimes that trophy buck will only present you with a small opportunity and you will only have seconds to get off a shot.
By making yourself familiar with your rifle when it comes time to use it, you won’t be standing there bumble around looking down to release the safety or adjust their scopes. Practice shooting at the range and learn how to work the action slowly and quietly.
Know where your safety is and know how it works.
Deer Hunting Tip .11
Know Your Calibers Limitations
Select the right rifle for the terrain your hunting Deer. While all have their purpose, not all are created equal when distance is a factor. Most centerfire rifles depending on bullet placement should drop a deer at 100 – 200 yards.
Kill shots at distances of 400 to 800 yards require calibers that can produce high velocities and energy to produce enough damage to kill a deer.
Deer Hunting Tip .12
Use A Headlight
If your hunting the prime deer hunting times then you will need a headlight to get you there and home. There are literarily thousands to choose from and they will all vary so make sure you get one that won’t chew through the batteries.
My last headlight would flicker to let me know my battery was getting low which was a handy feature. The only problem was, this warning would occur seconds not minutes before I would be left standing in the dark scrambling to find the spare batteries.
Deer Hunting Tip .13
Hunt A Small Area
Studies have shown that deer live in a fairly contained range. For example in the winter months when food is harder to come by they travel less to conserve energy and stay in close proximity to their feeding zones. Roughly a 2-mile radius.
By concentrating your deer hunting effort to smaller areas you not only increase your chances of picking up an animal but you are also able to quickly understand the hunting area.
Deer Hunting Tip .14
Check Your Rifle/Bow Is Sighted In.
There are not many feelings that compare to a hunt going perfectly to plan, only for the shot go wide or over the top of the deer your shooting at. You don’t want to be left to watch it bound off into the distance when you have put in all the hard work to be in the position to pull the trigger.
Before the season starts, or anytime you think you may have dropped or bumped your scope. You owe it to yourself to make time to sight in your bow/ rifle so that the next time you pull the trigger its done with the confidence that it’s going to be shooting true.
Deer Hunting Tip .15
Find The Sun
This is more a winter tip, but as those shorter days roll around and the mercury starts to fall the pockets of sun become more attractive to deer. For species like Fellow, Rusa, and Sika which don’t enjoy the cold it is especially true. The thing to remember with this is you will need to pack warm gear as this will often mean you are on the cold side of the valley glassing over to the warm side.
Deer Hunting Tip .16
Even if your just hunting mornings or evenings, having some home comforts out in the field adds to the enjoyment of the hunt by keeping your energy levels up and your body hydrated.
I love to take salami and cheese on my hunting trips as they are high in fat and taste good too. Just avoid anything with garlic as these will haunt you if you start climbing hills.
On colder days I will take along my Jetboil and make a coffee or a cup of soup especially when I’m spending a bit of time sitting down glassing slip faces and clearings. When I’m lucky enough to secure an animal late in the piece. It’s also nice to have a quick hot drink before the slog out with a heavy pack.
Deer Hunting Tip .17
I was a slow convert to Binoculars as they were incredibly expensive for an average pair. Now I don’t leave home without them as they are part of my essential kit.
They have saved me countless hours of walking and they have found me animals that I simply would never have seen. Buy the best you can afford and slowly upgrade them as you have the funds to do so. Its true you can’t put a price on good optics as you simply see more.
Deer Hunting Tip .18
Never Forget Insect Repellent
In parts of the country, this is worse than others. By having this on had it will mean that you’re not going to be getting nailed by sandflies everytime you stop or take a break. Just as it is for us hunters movement can give the game away. So if you’re sitting there swatting flys or brushing sandflies from your face you increase your chances of a deer noticing something is not quite right.
Deer Hunting Tip .19
Minimize and Time your Movements
As you become familiar with the areas you hunt, you learn to quickly move between them at times when the deer are less active or the wind is in your favor. This will increase your chances of going home with that prized buck trophy and a pack full of venison.
When you know you’re in close and your heart is racing, timing your movements is even more important. Slow right down and I mean slow.
Plan each step and its placement and manage your breathing. If the deer is feeding away and unaware of your presence, plan your steps as it lowers its head to feed or faces away from you.
Be prepared though as I have lost count of the times when a buck has lowered its head to feed and I have gone to move only for it to quickly raise its head as if it senses something not quite right. Pausing for a few moments to then go back to feeding.
Deer Hunting Tip .20
Clear Shooting Paths
In the month leading up to opening day, make some time to head out to your hunting block to prepare it by cut back shoots that have spread out over the spring and summer to ensure your shooting lanes are clear from your tree stands and blinds.
Your probably best to do this with a buddy so one of you can direct the other as to which branches to clear. Like all our hunting its the preparation that will determine the outcome.
Deer Hunting Tip .21
Deer have immense ability to recognize any suspicious smells or odors. So, make sure when you are about to leave for your hunting trip, you are as closes as you can be to odorless.
There are a number of precautions that should be taken and it’s best that you avoid the use of products that are scented for about 48 hours before the hunt. There are plenty of companies that make odorless products to help with this, however, there are a few things that you can do too, for example:
- Fill your truck up with gasoline the day before your hunt so that you don’t pick up the odor of gasoline on the way to your block.
- Avoid spicy foods
- No alcohol intake
- Don’t smoke
Deer Hunting Tip .22
Utilize Scent Attractors
Our Favorite attractant is Tarsal glands as they are one of, if not the best attractors (for deer and buck hunting). The smell of tarsal has a strong effect on the animals around, arousing curiosity about this new animal in the area.
These glands are easily found in a preserved form, both online and in stores. Once you are on your tree chair, spray the doe tarsal around and wait for the target. It really works
Deer Hunting Tip .23
Work on you Fitness
This is one of the most overlooked aspects of hunting and as you get older I have noticed that having a good level of fitness allows you to enjoy your hunting much more. When I was 21 I could just grab my rifle and just go, but as I have agreed I have been caught out by not maintaining a good level of cardio fitness when I was hunting in the mountains.
I remember blowing hard climbing to the tops, hitting the main ridge where I knew there are animals, but instead of being amped for the hunt, my first and only thoughts were on making it back to the truck in one piece as I was exhausted.
Even if you are aiming to be in a tree stand for the Rut I recommend working on your core strength and hamstrings as you will be on your feet or sitting still for long periods of time.
You don’t want is to give your position away because you have needed to move in order to ease the aching in your back.