New to Deer Hunting? Expert Advice to Get You Started

New to Deer Hunting? Expert Advice to Get You Started

As deer hunters, we ensure the hunting tradition is passed down to future generations. One of the best ways to do this is by encouraging and supporting beginners in their hunting journey. To assist in this endeavor, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide to deer hunting for beginners. 

This guide will give you essential tips and strategies to help you get started and increase your chances of successfully taking down your first deer. Whether new to hunting or looking to improve your skills, this guide is the perfect resource for all aspiring deer hunters.

Deer Hunting Secrets for Success

Deer Hunting Secrets for Success

Certain secrets can increase your chances of success. From understanding the behavior and habits of deer to selecting the right equipment and setting up your hunting blind, every aspect of your hunt can impact your chances of taking down a trophy. 

With these insider tips and tricks, you will be well on your way to becoming a successful deer hunter and enjoying the thrill of the hunt. So, gear up and get ready to discover the secrets to success in deer hunting.

Also Read:
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Get to Know Your Prey

Get to Know Your Prey

As a beginner deer hunter, your first step towards success is to educate yourself on the species you’ll be pursuing. Understanding deer behavior, habits, and patterns will give you a significant advantage on your hunt. 

By studying your prey, you’ll be better equipped to predict their movements, anticipate their behavior, and increase your chances of taking down a trophy. So, let’s dive into the world of deer hunting and get to know your quarry.

Related: Elk Vs Moose: A Guide to 5 Key Differences

Uncovering Deer’s Ideal Living Spaces

Uncovering Deer's Ideal Living Spaces

Deer are incredibly adaptable animals and can thrive in many habitats, from dense forests to small urban wooded areas. However, there is one key aspect that deer consistently seek out in their preferred habitat.

Edges refer to any transitional area where two habitats or terrains meet, such as the junction of a field and forest, a steep hillside, and a flat bench. These areas provide a rich diversity of food, cover, and security for deer, making them ideal spots to search for your quarry. So, to increase your chances of a successful hunt, get to know the edges of your hunting area and be on the lookout for big game.

Learn When Deer are Most Active

Learn When Deer are Most Active

Deer are known for their crepuscular behavior, meaning they are most active during dawn and dusk. However, this activity level can fluctuate based on various factors, such as weather and seasonal changes, which will be covered in detail later in this article.

Contrary to popular belief, deer are not typically nocturnal animals. However, mature deer may temporarily adopt a nocturnal pattern due to increased hunting pressure. As the hunting season subsides and pressure decreases, mature deer return to their typical crepuscular behavior. Keep this in mind as you plan your hunts and aim to capitalize on the times when deer are most active.

Discover Where They Sleep

Discover Where They Sleep

Deer do not sleep for extended periods. Instead, they take short naps and bed down during the day and night in designated areas referred to as bedding areas. These areas are typically used frequently by deer as they offer a good field of view, allowing them to spot predators from a distance and provide adequate security cover nearby.

When selecting a bedding area, deer will also consider the prevailing winds, allowing them to monitor their surroundings in one direction while using their heightened sense of smell to detect danger in the other direction. Identifying the bedding areas of deer is the first step in understanding their habits and behavior, so be on the lookout for these key areas.

Discovering Their Feeding Grounds

Discovering Their Feeding Grounds

Deer are known for their diverse culinary preferences, indulging in crops like corn and soybeans and masting crops like acorns and succulent browse.

“Browse” refers to leaves, twigs, and tender buds on woody plants, which deer nibble on as they move slowly.

Identifying the favored food source in your hunting area is important, as this varies depending on the time of year. For many hunters, it’s usually white oak acorns that deer can’t resist, especially when falling. Apples can also be a delightful treat for deer, and having apple trees in the hunting area is a lucky break for hunters.

Experienced hunters even go the extra mile by planting food plots to attract deer and know where they’ll feed.

Select Your Hunting Equipment

Select Your Hunting Equipment

With your newfound understanding of deer, their behaviors, and your hunting strategy, it’s time to select your hunting weapon.

Deer hunting is typically divided into two seasons – bow hunting season and firearms season – based on the type of weapon used.

Now, let’s examine the options available to you as a hunter.

Bow Hunting Season and Weapon Choice

Bow Hunting Season and Weapon Choice

In some states, hunting for deer typically takes place during a long season, from September to February. This has made hunting with archery gear increasingly popular.

However, getting a deer within the bow range can be difficult for a beginner. Hunting with a bow demands stealth and quietness, so ensuring your gear and clothing make as little noise as possible is important.

A bowstring silencer is necessary to prevent deer from jumping the bowstring. While in the past, only recurve bows and compound bows were allowed during bow hunting season, now most states permit crossbows.

Before obtaining a license, it’s important to check with your state’s regulations regarding the minimum required bow draw weight for hunting. Your state may also require you to take a bowhunter education course.

Compound Bow

A compound bow is a modern bow designed to make drawing and holding the bowstring easier. It consists of cables, pulleys, and cams that create “let off.” This feature allows the bowhunter to hold the draw for a longer period.

With some practice, a compound bow can lead to quick, clean kills with the right broadhead. It can also enable the bowhunter to take longer shots than traditional archery.

Compound bows are typically shot using a bow release device that triggers the bowstring’s release. For optimal results, it is recommended to use a drop-away arrow rest that falls away after the shot, reducing friction and allowing for a faster and more accurate shot.

Curved Bow

In the past, the recurve bow or longbow was the only option for bowhunting deer, and many hunters still prefer the challenge of using a recurve bow.

Shooting a recurve bow requires using your fingers to draw and release the bowstring, which can be challenging to maintain consistency with each shot.

Additionally, hunting with a recurve bow is typically done instinctively, without the aid of a bow sight or advanced arrow rests.

Hunting with a recurve bow is not typically recommended for beginners, as it requires significant practice and experience to be successful.

Archery Crossbow

A crossbow blends a bow and a gun, making shooting easier. You load the crossbow bolt, aim through the scope and pull the trigger. This eliminates the need for a silent draw, making it a popular choice for bowhunting.

Crossbows are the most accurate weapon for hunting and can shoot farther than any other bow, although there are limitations. A safe maximum for shooting large game animals is around 40 yards, though some hunters take it to 50 yards or beyond.

However, crossbows are heavier than other bows and require regular maintenance for safe and accurate use. Additionally, you must uncock the crossbow after each hunt, which can be challenging. Brands such as Barnett are great options for novice crossbow hunters.

Shotgun Hunting

Firearms hunting season is usually shorter than bow hunting season and lasts for a week or two in most states. For safety reasons, all hunters in the woods or fields should wear brightly colored orange clothing.

However, this resulted in a large concentration of firearms hunters in the woods simultaneously, earning them the nickname “The Orange Army.” This can cause the deer to retreat to the thickest, tight areas, leading to lower chances of hunting success for some hunters. Despite this, many states still have a high success rate of whitetail hunting during the firearms season.

Essential Safety Measures for Deer Hunting

Regarding hunting, ensuring safety should always be your top priority. It is always recommended to take a hunter safety course, even if it is not required by your state to obtain a hunting license. Here are some essential safety tips: always treat your weapon as if it is loaded. Only load your weapon.

When you are actively hunting, never point your weapon at something you don’t plan to shoot, keep the safety on until you’re ready to shoot, positively identify your target, be aware of what lies beyond your target, and avoid using your scope to scan your hunting area – that’s what binoculars are for.

Final Thoughts 

We observed some essential deer hunting tips that could help you transform from a beginner to an expert hunter. There is no difficulty in hunting a deer if you follow the safety measures. Deer hunting is a passion; every hunter transfers this passion from one generation to another. So, never underestimate your skills and find the right weapon to find your deer. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Are the Basic Essentials for Deer Hunting?

Key essentials for deer hunting include appropriate clothing for weather conditions, a hunting license, deer tags, a hunting weapon (rifle, bow, etc.), ammunition or arrows, binoculars, a compass or GPS, and a first-aid kit. Scent control products and a deer call can also be beneficial.

How Do I Choose the Right Firearm or Bow for Deer Hunting?

The choice of firearm or bow depends on personal preference, hunting regulations in your area, and the hunting environment. A .243 caliber rifle or larger is generally recommended for deer hunting. Compound bows, recurve bows, or crossbows can be used for bow hunting. It’s important to try different options and choose what feels comfortable and suits your hunting style.

What is the Best Time to Hunt Deer?

Deer are most active during dawn and dusk, so early morning and late evening are usually the best times to hunt. However, during the rut (mating season), deer might be active throughout the day.

Where Should I Position Myself When Hunting Deer?

Deer have an excellent sense of smell, so position yourself downwind of the deer’s expected location. Elevated positions, such as tree stands or hills, can provide a better view and help mask your scent.

What Type of Clothing Should I Wear?

Wear layers to adjust to changing weather conditions. The outer layer should be camouflaged or blaze orange depending on local hunting regulations. Opt for scent-free clothing to minimize your scent.

How Can I Attract Deer to My Location?

Deer can be attracted using calls, decoys, and scents. However, their effectiveness can depend on the situation and time of year. Food plots and feeders can also attract deer, but their legality varies by location.

How Can I Improve My Shooting Skills?

Regular practice is key to improving shooting skills. Consider joining a local shooting range or archery club. Safety should always be your priority—understand your weapon, and never take a shot unless you’re sure it’s safe and ethical.

How Do I Field Dress a Deer?

Field dressing involves removing the internal organs of the deer to preserve the meat and make transportation easier. Many guides and videos are available to learn how to field dress a deer safely and effectively. It’s important to learn this skill before going hunting.

What Should I Do if I Wound a Deer but Don’t Kill It?

If you wound a deer but don’t kill it, it’s your responsibility as an ethical hunter to do everything you can to find the animal and end its suffering. Follow the blood trail as far as possible. If you can’t find the deer, consider enlisting help or using a trained tracking dog, where legal.

Please note that the rules and regulations for deer hunting vary greatly, so always check with your local wildlife agency for guidance before hunting.

Jamie Leavy

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