Pros and Experts Share Their Deer Hunting Tips for Beginners
Originally posted on archerytopic.com.
If you are interested in learning how to get involved in deer hunting, you might deal with many obstacles as a beginner.
So, I decided to gather and ask from the pros and deer hunter experts one same question: “For a new deer hunter, what are the top 3 keys to success?”
And I received tons of responses that might blow your mind. Some of them are unseen or little-known.
But first, here’s my recap:
- 9% of pros agree that scouting is the #1 key to whitetail hunting success
- 1% experts recommend you should prepare and practice with your gear before opening day
- 3% advice relates to patience
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When asked to participate in this discussion I pondered the question of “deer hunter success” for several days and finally came to the conclusion that whether you are new to deer hunting or a seasoned veteran, the same general concepts kept entering my mind.
I have had the honor and privilege of having hunted deer and many other big game animals all over the United States, Canada, Mexico, Africa and even once in Greenland.
I’m sure there are multiple answers that could be given to the new deer hunter and all of them are probably right. For what it’s worth, here is my contribution:
Your hunting experience, perhaps your very life, depends on practicing safety in every aspect of your hunt.
Obviously weapon safety comes first but other considerations include tree stand safety, vehicle safety, proper clothing for the conditions, letting someone know where you plan to be and when you will be back, even walking around the woodlands or prairie’s with a safety mindset and not taking any unnecessary chances all come in to play.
It may seem obvious to some but know your equipment. This includes ALL of your equipment from weapon to clothing, boots, stands, backpack, and what to carry in it, etc.
Plenty of practice with your weapon, knowing the terrain you plan to hunt, research where deer are likely to be and scouting the area will all boost your confidence and increase your chances for success.
Even choosing the right mentor or hunting partner will not only increase your odds but will make your days afield much more enjoyable.
Not every hunt is going to end with a dead deer at the end of a blood trail. Nor should it. In fact, a vast majority of your days in the field will find you nearly frozen while watching the sun go down and having your tag still intact.
Expect, respect and learn to appreciate everything around you while you are hunting.
Open your eyes and absorb everything you encounter. I don’t think I have ever spent a day in the woods that I didn’t see or learn something new.
We are hunters. We are keepers of the land and a very minor part of all that surrounds us. Enjoy every minute of your hunting experience and when you least expect it, success will come your way.
(Bowhunting Pressured Whitetails)
John Eberhart is a self-taught hunter. He has been bowhunting for 53 years and in that time, he’s learned many tricks of the trade. John is an outdoorsman with a long resume including podcasts for Wired-to-Hunt and Avery’s Outdoor Magazine Radio Show, as well as interviewed for articles in Outdoor Life, Fur Fish Game, North American Whitetail, Archery Business, Bowhunting World, and other magazines.
You don’t have to know much to kill mature bucks on the properties TV actors/entertainers that hunt 100% micro managed properties with tons of mature bucks. So I personally wouldn’t consider their thoughts if hunting public property because they are TOTALLY different.
My keys for success are targeted at hunters hunting heavily pressured public lands, not managed for big bucks properties where many mistakes can be made and opportunities will still occur due to the amount of mature bucks on the property that have been allowed to pass by hunters for several seasons while growing to maturity without consequence.
1. Scent Control
A whitetails nose is their main line of defense and when you can take that away from them, it’s a MAJOR game changer.
Hunters have had success for eons by hunting downwind of where they expect an opportunity, but it is an undisputed fact that deer often come in from downwind and or pass by and go downwind.
There is only one technology that can eliminate 96 to 99+ % of your human odor during a hunt and that is a properly cared for activated carbon lined exterior jacket, pants, gloves, and head cover worn in conjunction with scent free rubber boots and a frequently washed fanny or backpack.
During my first 34 seasons (1964-1998) I exclusively hunted the wind and there were certain types of terrains I quit hunting due to constantly changing wind thermals and swirling winds and occasionally my best rut locations would not get hunted because the wind direction required for them, never occurred on my days off work.
In the 21 years (1999-2020) using a strict scent control regiment, no place is off limits and wind direction is a non-factor. For anyone wanting my scent control regimen, email a request to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Since well over half of the Pope & Young entries from all states are taken during the rut phases, most scouting should be done during post-season (once the snow is gone) while you can still identify the sign left from the previous rut such as scrape areas, licking branches, rub-lines or clusters, converging runways, etc.
The surrounding area and trees during the rut phases will also look similar to what you are looking at during post season (with all the foliage down), indicating how much security cover your locations will offer for mature buck daytime visits.
When scouting for locations on pressured properties, for any chance of consistent success, any location you pick must have adequate security cover surrounding the kill zone as well as adequate transition security cover to a known bedding area, otherwise the possibility of a daytime visit by a mature buck is slim at best as this is not TV fantasy land hunting.
3. Daily and Seasonal Timing
If your hunting time is limited, take it during the rut phases when there is a higher chance of an opportunity.
Mature bucks in pressured areas just don’t move much or very far during daylight prior to the rut phases, so take advantage of their testosterone driven rut phase daytime movements.
Natural isolated destination feeding locations such as mast and fruit trees that are bearing food should not be hunted in the mornings as you will likely spook deer feeding at them with your before daylight entry.
On all morning rut phase hunts you should be in your location and settled in at least an hour and a half prior to the crack of dawn so as not to spook mature bucks moving back into more secure cover before dawn.
Since all buck traffic during the rut phases revolves around doe traffic, rut phase locations should be left totally alone until then, so the doe traffic at them is left unaltered.
(Heartland Bowhunter Show)
Michael Hunsucker has been hunting for more than 25 years. He is the co-host of Heartland Bowhunters, a popular show that follows Mike and his friends as they hunt big whitetail deer across North America.
1. Improve habitat through prescribed fire and timber stand improvement
These methods not only improve habitat, but also provide more food for the deer to browse on than any food plot will provide.
2. Scouting is something that you simply cannot do enough of
Between running trail cameras and glassing from a distance, any information that you can acquire about deer and their behavior will only help you be more successful come season.
3. Improve or create water sources to help keep your herd healthy and on your property
Especially during dry moths, deer rely heavily on a good clean water source. If you can’t create one where you need it most, you can pick up water troughs from your local farm and home store that work great!
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