Deer hunting is a challenging way of life. It isn’t easy, especially for those just trying to get into the sport. But for those who have the will, patience and grit to do it, it’s well within reach.
I recently was reminded that deer hunting can be difficult whether you’re pursuing a buck or doe. Does aren’t a pushover. And any deer is a trophy.
I recently took a doe with the new Winchester Deer Season Slug on a hunt that exhibited that. Not that the product performed poorly, because it worked really well (just look at that entry hole). But hunting is hunting. And making one small mistake can blow the whole hunt.
I almost did just that by moving when I shouldn’t have, and one of the does with the one I harvested picked me out. Luckily, I was able to take the shot before the wily doe ended the party. And the one I tagged ran a mere 75 yards and tipped over within seconds.
All said, deer hunting can be tough. You have to prepare. You have to be on guard. And you have to make calculated moves.
Here are 10 things you can do that will improve your odds of killing a deer this season.
1. Read Everything You Can: Knowledge is power. That’s no different in the world of deer hunting than the rest of the universe. Reading everything you can about deer hunting will certainly make you more prepared for the woods.
2. Learn Whitetail Behavior: Studying how deer behave is crucial. Being able to read deer body language helps you know when (and when not) to move, call, shoot and much more.
3. Learn the Ins and Outs of the Wind: The wind is the most important factor when hunting whitetails. Understanding how the wind plays into a hunt is key. And don’t just study normal wind patterns, remember thermals, wind tunnels and other more complex wind aspects, too. Following a strict scent regimen and wearing scent-reducing clothing, like ScentLok, will help, too.
4. Get the Best Gear You Can Afford: Gear is important. For example, a deer hunter with trail cameras and a rangefinder has a big advantage over someone who doesn’t have them. It’s that simple. Buy the best you can.
5. Improve Your Weaponry Skills: Becoming proficient with your weapon is not only important to filling your tags but also part of being an ethical deer hunter. You owe it to the animals you pursue to make a quick, clean, ethical kill. Be ready for that moment of truth.
6. Research Local Food Sources: Food is king in the world of whitetails. No food means no deer. Find the best food sources where you hunt and find better success.
7. Understand How Deer Use the Property: Learning how deer move about a property is key. Find bedding areas, feeding destinations, water sources and how deer move from one to the next. Set up where you have the best odds of seeing deer during daylight hours.
8. Learn How to Scout Efficiently: Becoming a good scouter is another important aspect. You can’t kill deer if you can’t find them. That’s where scouting comes into play. Learn how to conduct scouting efforts effectively.
9. Practice Real-Life Scenarios: The real thing can be difficult to mimic, but it’s important to do so. The adrenaline rush and challenges you face during a real hunt can be too much for inexperienced hunters to overcome. It takes time for a lot of people to master their emotions. Practicing real-life scenarios helps with that.
10. Hunt the Hot Sign: Once you find the hot sign, hunt it. It’s really that simple. Don’t wait. Don’t go somewhere else. Hot sign means recent deer activity. Take advantage of it before their patterns change.
Whitetails make the hunting world go round. Josh Honeycutt, deer hunting editor and "Brow Tines and Backstrap" blogger, knows a fair bit about killing mature deer. He was raised up hunting the river bottoms of Kentucky. And he still hunts there—among other places—to this day.
Follow along as he shares his adventures, experiences and knowledge of the white-tailed deer.