These tips will probably not help you shoot more or bigger deer this season - at least not directly. They’re not tips for hanging a tree stand, finding food sources, etc., but they will hopefully make your experience in the woods a little more comfortable and less frustrating, which might indirectly lead to more deer sightings. If nothing else, perhaps you will enjoy the hunt a little more.
1. Wear A Flashlight
Consider wearing one of those thin LED keychain flashlights you find on the counter of gas stations around your neck. Hook it to a lanyard and put in under the outermost layer of clothing so it won’t interfere with the bowstring. It’s great to have whenever you need a shot of light, like when you are attaching the cables of your climber around the base of a tree in the darkness right before the dawn.
2. Invest in Good Boots
If your feet ain’t happy, you ain’t happy. Seriously take the time to research boots that meet your style of hunting. When it comes time to buy a pair, look for sales or pony up the cash. Boots are one piece of gear you don’t want to skimp on, and a good pair will bring so much more enjoyment to your hunts.
3. Keep the Bugs at Bay
During the early season, nothing spoils a good time like a swarm of mosquitos or the creepy-crawly feeling of ticks and chiggers attacking your clothes. For the mosquitos, get a Thermacell. To battle the ticks and chiggers, spray clothing with permethrin before the hunt. Both methods are scent-free and work very well at their respective jobs of keeping pests away.
4. Put Scent in a Spray Bottle
When I buy a bottle of doe pee, I’ll pour into one of those small travel spray bottles you find in drug stores. Less gets on my hands on other gear, I don’t waste as much and it doesn’t leak. Plus, I can spritz it a few times up in the stand to freshen the area if needed.
5. Fish from your Treestand
You ever climb up a tree, settle in the stand and drop something like a glove, release or grunt call? Sure you have. Instead of jockeying out of my safety harness and climbing down, I carry a fishing spoon tied to 20’ of baling twine and use it to snag dropped items. Choose a spoon that has a barbless treble hook, or file down the barbs on an old one in your tackle box. Store the contraption in a pill bottle.
6. Carry a Spare Release
Speaking of releases, CARRY AN EXTRA ONE!
7. Rattle with a Rope
I learned this tip from Ralph Cianciarulo of Archer’s Choice. Instead of hauling my rattling antlers up the tree, finding a place to hang them when not in use and quickly stashing them if a buck does come in and it’s time to grab my bow, I’ll tie them to a rope hanging from my stand. When it’s time to tickle the tines, grab the rope and pull it up and down. This way, the sound is coming from ground level and you can drop the antlers into the leaves and brush below the stand to sell the act of two deer thrashing even more. Not only is it more realistic sounding, but you can do this with one hand while you hold your bow in the other.
8. Set Up at Least One Ground Blind
There are Fridays when I slip out of work at 3:00 p.m. and head to my deer lease that is 1.5 hours away. I get there with a little daylight to burn. Instead of going through the routine of climbing into an harness, thoroughly spraying everything down with scent killer and scaling a tree, I head to a ground blind. It helps hold in my scent, it’s quick to access and great for spending the last 45 minutes of light. Blinds are also a good option to hunt from and stay dry all day when the rain is more than a mist. I've grounded a few buck using this method.
9. Ditch the Plastic Water Bottles
The bottled water that you buy at gas stations or the supermarket have a thin plastic bottle that crinkles whenever you handle it after the first sip. I bought the Platypus collapsible water bottle that holds two liters and love it. It’s quiet, the water doesn’t slosh around in my pack on the way in or out and when empty, you can roll it up.
10. Love your Facemask
I always wore those $5 mesh facemask with the wire nose bridge and big hole for my eyes. On one hunt last season, I wore a high-quality liner mask and I will never look back. My breath doesn’t condense on the mask, it’s easy to breath through, doesn’t itch and stays in place.
Do you have any deer hunting tips, hacks or tricks to share? Post them below!