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Welcome New Deer Hunters!
If you are reading this, then you are probably a recent convert on hunting. Congratulations, and welcome to the club! I have been an avid hunter since my youth, and I found my business through this sport.
- In some states, the deer population has gotten out of hand that deer have become road hazards. They jump out of nowhere and cause harm on themselves, the vehicle and even the occupants.
- In states with this problem, the government spearheads deer hunting events. Deer usually leave the woods to find food, so in regulating their population, we also ensure the sustainability of the food source of the remaining animals.
So, man up, and let’s hunt those deer. And since I am a food hunter, I would suggest going for the animal with a lot of flesh, the bigger ones. Don’t be swayed when we see one with beautiful antlers that you can envision on top of your fireplace.
First up, since hunting is a social activity, find a club or friends to go deer-hunting with. Especially for a newbie, it will be safe for you and you can actually learn a lot of tips from these seasoned hunters.
12 Must-Know Tips For New Deer Hunters To Succeed
I- BEFORE THE TRIP
Preparation contributes to our success, so take note of these items we need to prepare before the hunting trip:
I.1- Research on rules and regulations
Before we can hunt, we need to be certified and licensed. It may vary from one state to another, but in general, we need to pass safety certification classes and get licensed. We can do this research on the website of the Department of Natural Resources of our locality.
If we are hunting out-of-state, check that state’s rules and regulations, especially about limits. In some states, we need to be very specific about the area we will be hunting in.
If unsure and need further clarification, there are many blogs about hunting by seasoned hunters or associations. We can start a discussion and get the information we need.
I.2- Practice with your equipment
Many use guns, but there are some who prefer knives or bow and arrow. Before we buy our own equipment, ask around. Go to a hunting store, look, touch and get instructions before purchase.
We have to be comfortable with our weapon, and it would need constant practice. We can do this in our backyard using cans if we have ample space and no neighbors, but the safest place would be firing range.
Practice using the scope, keeping still and focusing on a target, and most importantly, on pressing the trigger correctly without jerking. And get used to the trigger pull, too. For deer’s, aim for the chest. You want to get to the heart and lungs.
Over time, vary the distance where you’re shooting from. Go up to 100 yards.
I.3- List and pack
Make a list of the necessities we need to bring. This will be our guide before going, and after the hunt, we can check it off to make sure we don’t leave anything behind.
- Hunting license
- Gun, bow or weapon of choice
- Ammunition, with lots of extra
- Rangefinder to help you gauge the distance of the deer, to avoid taking unnecessary shots
- Extra clothes, considering rain and cold weather
- Scent blockers, with lots of extra
- Water, or sports drinks
- Food, protein bars and sweets to keep adrenaline up, pre-packaged foods that can be heated up
- First aid kit
- Light sources like flashlight or headlamp
- Firestarter and lighter
- Baby wipes
- Game call
- Field dressing kit includes a gutting knife, skinning knife, boning knife, butcher knife, etc.
- Hunting knife sharpener
I.4- Pack for success
Pack like we will get the deer, and pack to bring it home. States have different laws on animal parts you can carry, so check beforehand.
- Knife with a sharp, durable blade, made specifically for the outdoors
- Zip ties to tag your deer
- Rope to hang the deer while cleaning it
- Tarp, as small as 5×8 feet, for when you need to drag the deer to your truck
- Rubber gloves to clean the deer, to avoid any transfer of possible bacteria or parasite. Bring extra gloves to be sure.
- Game bags to pack the deer home. These bags are reusable.
I.5- Bring your phone
A phone would be for more than just emergency calls. It can also be our navigation tool.
If you are more comfortable with it, a map would always come in handy. However, if you are a hunter of the new age, you can use an app instead.
We can use it online, or we can download offline maps for use. Look through the different apps before downloading.
There are so many other data available like weather and, sunrise or sunset schedules. Try it out and choose which ones you prefer.
Here are some apps you can check out for your phone:
- Deer Hunter Classic
- Google Maps
- iSolunar Hunting and Fishing Times
- onX Hunt
- SAS Survival Guide
II- DURING THE TRIP
When we are out in the woods, here are tips we need to know for a successful hunting trip:
II.1- Dress for the occasion
- Top: Dress considering the weather. If it’s summertime, wear a light shirt that can absorb sweat. But make sure to bring a hoodie all the time. Deer have a strong sense of smell so buy clothing that has activated charcoal to camouflage any odor or sweat. Wear this even if you use an odor eliminator.
- Bottom: I like light-weight pants with many pockets, in dark color or camouflage. I prefer to wear pants than shorts for protection.
- Shoes: Think about the amount of walking, sitting and waiting we will be doing. Don’t wear newly-bought hunting shoes; break them in before your trip. The boots may be one of your most significant investment, so take the effort to buy the right one. Get the right size, and to do that, bring with you the socks you will wear with it. Try on the size with the socks on so you can be sure you get the perfect one.
II.2- Stay in the field
There may be a lot of time spent walking or waiting. Don’t give up; persist in staying in the field, even as the weather changes. If you have a cabin, don’t spend useless hours there. Go out and hunt.
When it’s time to rest at night, rest, don’t think we would be sleeping when waiting, because we would need to be alert, so it’s just a downtime, but it doesn’t count as proper rest.
II.3- Scout at the right time
Deer are a different game from other animals; we have to scout from afar because of their keen sense of presence, thus the need for binoculars and rangefinders.
Using technology, we can even scout using satellite images. We don’t have to be out in the woods to do that, so the deer remain unaware of the danger.
We may not find the deer, but we can spot evidence of their presence in certain places like bedding areas which are usually dense and with close water or food source. We can observe their patterns, and use it as a guide.
Timing is also essential when scouting. Deer are more active in the early mornings and late evenings like an hour before sundown up to about 30 minutes after sundown.
II.4- Learn how to work with the wind
Deer have a very keen sense of smell that is why we wear activated charcoal-lined clothing and carry odor eliminators. Also try to stay downwind from the prey, or from the area we are scouting. Even if the deer can’t see us, if it smells us, it will run away.
It may be a funny tip, but we seriously suggest that you bath properly before the hunt. Use shampoo, soap or body wash. Don’t re-use clothing as it may already have the scent of sweat or dirt. If without choice, spray re-used clothing with scent blockers.
II.5- Take that shot
It’s your first hunting trip, you have been walking and waiting for so long and finally, the beautiful beast is in front of you. It’s now time to take the shot.
- If the deer is walking, you can make a sound like a grunt or a whistle, to get its attention to stopping walking.
- Keep your eyes on the body of the deer; don’t be distracted by its antlers, or even its surroundings.
- The chest has to be clear, not covered by a branch or a rock.
- You want the bullet to pierce through just above the front shoulder.
- After you have pulled the trigger and you are sure you got it, but it doesn’t immediately fall, wait. Stay quiet, but keep your eyes on it.
- If it remains to feel unthreatened and continues to walk at its pace, it will fall within 150 yards. If it falls but stays alive, give it an hour or two.
- If the shot fell on a non-lethal area, meaning not the chest, pull the trigger again for a second shot.
- If it doesn’t still fall, then perhaps you missed. The deer deserves to live. Once it starts running, you have lesser chances of getting it.
- Remember, if you don’t get it, don’t be discouraged. Keep practicing, and keep hunting.
III- AFTER THE TRIP
Every trip – successful or not – should always be a learning experience.
III.1- Post-game evaluation
After the hunt, there is nothing better than to sit with our buddies drinking beer and just talking about the raid, especially about that deer that got away.
We like to evaluate if we did enough preparation, review problems that came up and how we handled it. We even talk about the food, the vehicle, and just about everything.
It may be much ado for some, but it helps us decide whether we go back to that location or not.
Whether we get a bigger or better truck, or we need to rent a cabin in a different location. Perhaps the phone app did not work so well.
We don’t go around blaming anyone, but just take the experience – good or bad – and learn from it.
III.2- Respect the game
Once that bullet hits the deer in the heart, it is food. And the food should not be wasted. It is part of respecting the essence of hunting – honoring the animal. It means we use all its parts, not losing anything by butchering it correctly.
For our group, we share the game equally, no matter who killed it. To preserve it for a more extended period, when I get home, I cut up the meat to portion sizes, vacuum-seal it, then into the freezer where it can stay up to years. Although, most times, I finish it within months.
When it is appropriately vacuum-sealed, there is no freezer burn, and it stays as fresh as the day it was butchered. Again, full respect for the game.
Hunting is meant to be enjoyed. Do not pressure yourself to get that deer.
Keep on practicing, keep on hunting. And always learn successful deer hunting tips from longtime hunters for more experience.
Wait patiently. Good things come to those who wait!