Hunting deer is not for the faint of heart nor the inexperienced hunter. There is a lot of preparation needed to execute a good hunt. Do you think you've got what it takes? Do you know what kinds of equipment or tools are the most effective? And most important of all, do you really know what animal you're actually hunting? Yes, that can get quite confusing, especially for beginners!
A good hunter knows how to estimate the animal that he or she will be hunting for. So part of that estimation is knowing just how the behavior of the animal changes from time to time. Get to know your target, first and foremost. Do you know how they behave when alone? Do you know how they move when stimulated? Can you sense if they can sense you? What do you think they will do if they sensed you? Can they actually throw you off their paths so that they can get away from you? Harsh and tough questions of life, for sure, but if you really want to be serious about pursuing hunting, especially deer hunting, then it's best to get ready and deal with such questions beforehand -- and prepare for the answers before going to the field.
So, do you think you already have what it takes to be a good deer hunter? Let's see about that with this quick quiz, shall we? Fire away!
Deer blinds are designed so you can do a stakeout on a spot you’ve figured is perfect for deer to go through. Blinds can be anything from a camouflaged tent, to a full-on “natural-looking” bunker-like depression.
Yes, it’s true that elk and moose are also part of the deer family, but your clue will be in the size of the animal. Around 300 pounds is about right for a deer, but once you hit 500, that’s an elk! And let’s not get to the moose, since they can weigh in as much as 1,200 pounds!
Listening for deer is important on two levels. First, if you hear deer going through a path or bleating, you know you’ve hit a good path or foraging area. Another is that you can identify what the deer is doing, or even identify individuals, by the sounds they make.
If your hunting area has some cellphone coverage, or if you have GPS functions, you can load your smartphone with map apps. These can tell you the boundaries of the hunting area, and you can also find out what’s ahead. Just remember to put it on silent mode.
Deer usually prefer to do many of their activities around the time when the sun rises or sets. This is helpful if you want to camp out and not waste a whole day in the same place with nothing happening. This fact also makes them somewhat predictable, which is good for hunters.
Many hunters use small devices that are known as deer calls. These are either specialized whistles or specialized recorders, and they can imitate the sounds that deer make. If a deer becomes curious and comes closer, the deer call has done its job.
This technology is controversial for now, but some hunters have taken to using standalone, powered wi-fi cameras. This allows them to have a better view of their hunting grounds, with the help of a second person at basecamp armed with a laptop. Alternatively, they can also use these cameras to observe the hunting areas off-season, so they know what to hunt for beforehand.
Mapping the hunting area you’re going to use is important since it will make you familiar with all the details of the place. It’s also a good time to check on where you can set up camp without disturbing the hunt.
Most people think that deer bedding areas are usually well-protected and out-of-the-way. That depends on the general area, and what the experiences of the deer are. However, they are usually near food and water, or are near deer trails leading to food and water.
Bows are the usual weapons for deer hunting aside from rifles. In some areas, they may be the only allowed weapons aside from rifles. The relative silence of a bow is the main advantage when using it.
Deer have a very sensitive sense of smell, and this is the reason why many experienced hunters have come up with ways to mask their own sense of smell. And, yes, that includes not taking a bath with soap and other chemicals that have an “artificial” aroma.
Tick repellent is probably the most important kind of insect repellent you need, since this makes sure that you won’t get sick for the rest of the season. This is particularly true if you are checking a hunting area out or hunting in the summer or fall.
If anything will get a buck angry, it’s seeing a strange buck enter their territory. Thus, hunters use deer mannequins to anger bucks and make them come closer for this very reason.
Hunting season is primarily to control the deer population, one way or the other. It keeps them in stable, controlled numbers that keep the environmental balance. It’s no surprise that the length of the hunting season changes in some places.
Some hunters have used pheromones, or scents, taken from female dear in heat. It’s usually used during mating season, primarily to attract bucks. One should check, though, if it’s legal to use in the state where you plan to hunt since regulations vary,
Deer cast off their antlers every season, and this process is usually termed shedding. Areas where deer cast off their antlers are sometimes known as shed areas or shed spots.
Deer can be very picky about their food sources, so this could be a useful fact for hunters. The animals will sometimes even choose the longer path to a distant food source than go for a nearer one.
If you have property that has potential as deer territory, you should first provide areas where they have adequate cover or safety. That way, you can establish their patterns of where they rest and where they forage. Do take note that sometimes this doesn’t work, so your shifting of details on your property should always follow the habits of the deer who go through it.
Deer love warm weather so it’s no surprise that winter is probably the worst time for them. With the lowered temperatures, they are more likely to hole up in a warm and well-hidden bedding area than go outside. It may even extend to having as little foraging time as possible, which lessens the chances of hunters finding them.
Even if a hunter has already prepared the hunting area beforehand, and has a great hiding place, it’s still up to the deer to walk into the kill area. That can take a really long time, so hunters should be prepared with some food, and trail mix is the best kind of food to bring – easy to munch on, and requires no immediate preparation.
Deer that have been shot sometimes go into shock, and from the hunter’s point of view, this can look like they already dropped dead. A hunter who approaches the “carcass” too readily might be surprised, as the deer could suddenly jump up and still run away.
Being upwind or downwind are hunting terms that have become part of normal language in many places. Simply put, if you’re upwind, that means that the wind is going towards you, so you’re safe to go near the deer. But if you’re downwind, that means the wind is coming from your back, going towards the deer, so just hope that the deer won't smell you.
Deer, like all living things, do need certain minerals if they are to stay healthy. To that end, their natural impulse is to lick anything that can provide them with the necessary minerals. Do remember, though, that in some places, salt blocks left out for the purpose of hunting are not allowed.
Deer are very cautious creatures, and they seem to know when they are being watched. The truth, however, is that they are very fidgety because it’s in their best interests. Many hunters practically stay still and silent for hours.
If you see heart-shaped tracks in the woods, then you may have stumbled onto the tracks of a deer. If you see many tracks around a watering hole, it’s a good idea to camp out for a day or so, to see if it’s an active watering hole.
Hunters usually remove “tree junk” like branches and deadwood pieces from hunting areas because these can interfere with hunting. A balance has to be struck, however, since if an area looks too clean, deer may not use the place at all.
Once you’ve trained enough to use a bow effectively, you can reuse the arrows that were used to take down deer. It’s important to remember, though, that one must be careful with taking them out. Theoretically, a hunter with good archery skills won’t need more than a quiver of arrows.
Since deer vision is optimized for seeing movement, experienced hunters train themselves not to move for very long periods of time after making unnecessary noise. For some, they can freeze in place for minutes before deciding it’s okay to move again.
When you set up for hunting, it’s a given that your base camp should be far away from your actual hunting area. This way, you won’t scare away deer by making noises or even having food smells come from your cooking area.
Hunters are now required to wear gear with loud colors, such as orange. It’s too easy to be mistaken for a deer when everybody’s camouflaged to make sure that deer won’t see hunters, so it's best to wear something visually obvious.
Some hunters believe that it’s not only the scent particles that are important, but all the urine itself, when it comes to female deer urine. It’s even more attractive if the female deer the urine comes from was in heat, as it will attract similarly "heated" counterparts.
Male deer leave antler marks on trees, leaving behind peeled bark and scratch patterns to mark their respective territories. If a hunter sees these bark marks, it’s a good sign that there’s deer in the area.
Watering holes can easily be tainted by nearby carcasses, even if they aren’t near the pool’s edge. Once the water becomes undrinkable, deer will stay away and there goes a fine hunting ground.
Dogs can be used for hunting deer, but not all U.S. states approve of this move, so it's best to check regulations per state before hunting. There have been controversies about stopping the use of dogs in hunting deer since it is seen as a longtime tradition in some states.
Hiking in your chosen hunting area can help you familiarize yourself not only with the lay of the land, but also with the deer. Just like people, deer have individual preferences and habits. If you can figure out the preferences of the deer that are in the area, your next step is to just find the right spot to wait for them come hunting season.