Tips for first time deer hunters - DEER HUNTING 101

Discussion in 'Deer Hunting' started by Jeff H, Oct 12, 2017 at 10:03 AM.

  1. Jeff H

    Jeff H Active Member

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    Having read through one of our newest members (Randonguy) 's post I started to wonder how many people new to our sport have found our forum and are reading through our threads trying to piece these things together. Maybe some will join but I'm guessing a lot will just watch from outside trying to learn what they can. Most of us learned the ways of hunting as children but obviously there are adults and quite possibly teens out there that are curious about deer hunting as well. We as deer hunters need to grow the sport and be supportive of ALL that are interested in deer hunting. Most members of this forum are veterans and I can imagine that it would be a bit intimidating to enter into a discussion with a bunch of veterans as a newcomer to the sport. So let's welcome in some new guys!
    Having said that I would like to start a thread for the newcomers that gives basic info on how to deer hunt.
    "Deer hunting 101" if you will. I would also ask that anyone posting list how many years that have been hunting. At the end it'll be interesting to see the number of years of experience we have here.

    I'll start it off. I'll have to admit it took some thinking to get back to the basics. A lot of the info I thought of I've taken for granted for many years.
     
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  2. Jeff H

    Jeff H Active Member

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    Jeff - 43 years
    1. Learn to shoot well. Bow or gun and know your limitations. Everyone has limits. Find them.

    2. Play the wind. Before you hunt have some idea of how the wind will affect the way you enter your hunting area and where you will be hunting. If the wind is from the East and your access is from the East you have a problem. Also, as your hunting do your best to hunt a crosswind or keep the wind in your face. If they smell you you’ll never see them.

    3. Be still. Be patient.

    4. Pick a spot. When you have an opportunity to shoot don’t look at the whole deer. Definitely don’t look at antlers. Pick a spot of hair behind the shoulder. Kill that spot. Aim small, miss small.

    5. Wait. If you are fortunate enough to shoot a deer, wait 30 mins minimum after the shot (unless you see the deer fall).

    6. Track slowly. If the blood trail is sparse mark each spot with napkins, toilet paper, etc. Don’t assume you know which way the deer went. Let the blood show you. They can do surprising things when shot.

    7. Pay homage. Take a moment and think about the life you’ve just taken and the reason you’ve done it. Pay homage to the animal in whatever way you please, but it needs to be done. This is a biggie for those that hunt with me.

    8. Gut, tag and drag. Actually you should tag it first, then gut the animal by starting around the penis and slicing up to the rib cage. Be very careful not to puncture the stomach. A good stout knife will go through the cartilage just off the center of the rib cage. Slice the wall that separates the heart lung area from the stomach and intestine area. Reach inside and find the windpipe. Cut it and pull toward the rear of the animal cutting the connective tissue as you go. Everything should pull out together. Drag it head first to a point you can get your vehicle to. Load it up and take it to a processor. Don’t forget to check it in with the DNR before it goes to the processor.
     

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  3. Chainsaw

    Chainsaw Well-Known Member

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    Chainsaw-57 years
    This is an excellent idea for a thread Jeff. The most important thing I think a new guy can do is to train himself how to shoot deer. Practice so much that your body and mind become programmed to pick your shots wisely and shoot precisely on the chosen spot whether that is behind the shoulder with an arrow or behind the shoulder or the point of the shoulder with a rifle. Shooting at targets is helpful but shooting at deer pictures or prints as large as available like those sold in bow shops without circles printed on them is as close to the real thing as most of us can get for rifle shooting deer practice. Practice some with the deer rifle but practice more using BB guns and 22's. For bow practice in addition to shooting at the life size deer prints mentioned, shooting at 3-d targets and regular shooting at video screens of full size deer provide excellent practice. Practice at a variety of distances from 10 yards on out to whatever distance your cover, terrain and equipment allow. Keep in mind that all practice will not make one a better deer shooter; only PERFECT practice will do that.

    Take shots in the real world at distances where your practicing has shown to produce nearly 100% perfect shots and that are within the effective limits of your equipment. Less than near perfect shooting is not acceptable. Wounding deer is something that can be avoided better than 99% of the time if one is fully practiced and chooses to take only shots they KNOW are easily achievable for them.
     
  4. j-bird

    j-bird Well-Known Member

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    J-bird ~ 20years
    I'm not a seasoned as the others so far.....but I have learned a few simple things along the way:

    Have fun - it's about fun, don't let others define your standards
    Be safe - no deer is worth dying for or being injured over
    Success comes from preparation - prep that weapon, that stand, that access route, those shooting lanes.....because it takes many thing to go right for a shot.....don't let one little thing screw that up.
    Deer can't read - deer don't read labels or brands or the books we do.....they don't care what brand gun you have and they have not read that they are supposed to do "X" when "Y" conditions exist.
    Dress in layers - dress light to and from stand and add layers as your body needs them
    Learn from your mistakes - you will make mistakes, learn from them and try to never repeat them
    Hunt comfortable - a comfortable hunter will hunt longer and harder...
    Learn, learn and learn some more....................
     
  5. KDdid

    KDdid Active Member

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    Become super aware of the events that occur immediately after the shot- I know, it’s easy to say, and hard to do, especially on your first few deer, but Watch, Listen, and calmly burn into your mind what you see and hear. This can make all the difference in the outcome. After nearly 40 years of doing this stuff, I still pull out a compass and take a bearing on the last place I hear the deer, and mentally record any landmarks the deer run past on their last trip. This often helps finding blood, which doesn’t always start immediately. Also learn how to analyze sign/hair at the site of the shot. This was the best tip I learned from the National Bowhunting Education program.


    Sent from my iPhone using Deer Hunter Forum
     
  6. Mennoniteman

    Mennoniteman Well-Known Member

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    Allen 40 yrs.
    Good stuff. One of the biggest problems new guys have is finding a good place to hunt. Scouting in the off season, hiking further into public land than the average hunter, putting in a small food plot, doing off season work for the landowner are all tips to getting yourself a good spot. I've got dozens of people asking for a place to hunt, but very few want to help with habitat in the summer. Paying an outfitter to learn how also works well, I've employed this trick to learn how to fish new areas. The experience of hunting the same area year after year ups your success rate. Once you find a spot, selecting a stand location is a critical decision based on wind direction and concealment, a comfortable shot distance from where you expect the deer to be. I take lots of youngsters out for the first time, and the first thing I have to teach them; don't slam the truck doors. Don't talk in the woods, human voices travel twice as far as crunching leaves. Never hunt if the wind is wrong. Be totally quiet in setting up. Stop fidgeting, DON'T MOVE. New hunters fresh out of safety course almost always point their gun or crossbow at me, which really ruins the guides day. I usually like to take first time hunters in an enclosed blind and have them shoot a doe on their first day hunting, it really breaks the ice and let's them get the hang of it right off the bat, then they're ready to hunt a ladder or hang on and do some real hunting. Study your game, get in shape, get out in the woods and practice some woodcraft. Get in tune with nature. For myself, I approach hunting a good spot with the surgical precision of a doctor, and the stealth of an Indian. Rarely go there before the hunt, and only with rubber boots. Wait on a weather front with the right wind, shower first, pull on your clean camo, slip in quietly and sit still. You don't have to look in every direction, if deer come you'll see them eventually, and they can't see you if you don't move. And when deer come, move at the same speed they are moving, but only if they're not looking at you. If they don't move, you don't move, if they move fast you move fast. Also, don't forget to enjoy the peace and quiet of nature even if you don't see any deer. I hope you have a successful hunt, but even if you don't you'll have a great time if you pay attention to detail.
    P.S. I've saved the best and most important (after safety) for last; Don't go it alone, by all means cultivate some relationships till you find at least one good hunting buddy.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2017 at 11:14 PM
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  7. Familytradition

    Familytradition Active Member

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    25 years

    I always start with telling everyone that the best way to learn to kill a deer; is to kill a deer. Watching the animal before the shot will make you better with the next one. These encounters are the basis of your mental hunting encyclopedia. I became a much better hunter when my county dropped doe tags for most of season for a few years. This provided me with longer viewing opportunities because I couldn't shoot them. Shoot what makes you happy. If you expect to kill a giant mature buck every year, you better be good. I get 1-3 opportunities a year on mature bucks; you have to learn to make them count. Be great with your weapon, truly great. Be honest with yourself if you aren't great with that weapon. Deer aren't targets at a range. Learn to track, learn woodsmanship, learn to enjoy your surroundings, and Have Fun!


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  8. tlh2865

    tlh2865 Member

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    Well don't I feel silly typing my years of experience, compared to the previous posters but 8 years.
    In 8 years I have put in a lot of stand time, and I have tried to learn all the Good Lord has seen fit to teach me.

    The best bait for deer is other deer.
    When looking for hunting ground, take in no preconceived notions. See what is there and recognize it, don't be blind to opportunities that you did not go out looking for.
    When you have found a piece of ground to hunt on, maximize your use of its advantages, and augment them if possible, but don't try to make it something it is not.
    Always try your best to make sure that your comings and goings are not noticed, leave no evidence of your presence.
    Sitting all day can pay big, but only if you have the patience.
    Anyone who says that deer hunting is nothing but luck isn't doing it right. Know the land, know the deer on the land, scout, prepare, take notes. The more work you put in, the better your odds will be.
    For the smaller statured and young hunters, there is no shame in admitting that a weapon is too much for you to handle. If you can't shoot it, go smaller. Believe me it will save you from missed opportunities or worse.
    Don't hunt just to kill, learn to love nature and time spent in it, regardless of a hunt's outcome.
     
  9. DocHolladay

    DocHolladay Active Member

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    Sam- 33 years

    • If on someone else's land, offer to help fix something or ask if they want some of the meat you just harvested. Also, report anything you find broken, messed up or possible trespassing.
    • Pick up trash, whether you brought it in or not. A little bit each trip, will add up to alot by the end of the season.
    • Just because "if I don't shoot it, the neighbors will", doesn't mean you have to shoot it. Let it walk, you might just see the deer next year. It's amazing how many times the neighbors don't shoot it.
    • Learn deer anatomy. If you know where everything is at, you will know where to put your bullet or broadhead and get a good clean kill.
    • All deer react different to being shot. Some have more will to live than others. You can shoot one deer and it will drop on the spot and others will run 300yds with a hole in their vitals.
    • Give the deer time to die. Don't jump up immediately and go look for them. Give them 30 minutes or more before starting your track job.
    • The two best times to scout are while you're walking to your stand and right after season is over.
    • The hunting stuff most people go cheap on, is usually the most important. i.e.: safety harnesses, ammunition, broadheads, arrows, scopes, binoculars, insulated clothing....
    • Learn something every trip out. You may not catch on the first few times, but you will pick up on it quickly.
     
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  10. Chainsaw

    Chainsaw Well-Known Member

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    You demonstrated a good point with your excellent advice post tlh, in that years of experience do not give anyone a monopoly on all things deer. Learnings came hard in the first twenty-five years; deer were scarce and secrets were held tightly. Today there are many times the deer numbers than there was then and information today is shared and accessible so learning speed is multiplied many times compared to the past. Years of experience in the past is valuable but does not equate evenly with the years of today. Still you have certainly learned a lot in eight short years.
     
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  11. Brow_Tine

    Brow_Tine Member

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    Adam – 17 Years

    Great information from the other guys and a GREAT idea for posts

    - Use what you have - You don’t always have to have the latest and greatest gadget or bow. Just because a golfer buys a 400.00 driver doesn’t mean he knows how to use it.

    - Always hunt the wind

    - Practice how you will hunt, dress in your heavy cloths and make sure you can still draw and move if needed.

    - Be a scent free freak - I am

    - Be still, be quiet and be patient.

    - Share your hunting experiences with others so they may benefit from it (Just like we are doing here)

    - Be respectful of landowners and other hunters. Never ever steal another hunter’s equipment. If found try and locate the owner by any means.

    - When you do harvest a deer. Thank the Creator for the hunt and bounty that you have received as a gift.

    - Share your bounty with others

    - Teach the next generation of hunters the ethics that you have been taught

    - and….Have fun…Be safe and wear a harness
     
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  12. Tap

    Tap Active Member

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    Tom - 47 years

    Scout and prep in late winter/early spring when pounding every acre won't effect your hunt. Sign and movement patterns are much easier to see and analyze during that time of the year and patterns generally remain the same from year to year. September is for low impact scouting.
    It sounds obvious, but when you look for stand trees, look for trees that offer the greatest concealment. Our deer walk around looking up in trees almost as much as they look at ground level. Multi-trunk trees are good and also tree species that hold leaves well into the season. In my area, oak and beech are 2 species that hold leaves all the way into spring. If, while scouting in March, I see a prospective spot, and I see one stand tree possibility and it's a maple (drops leaves early) standing alone, and I see an adjacent maple that has a little oak or beech growing beside it, I'll choose that 2nd tree. Those species that hold their leaves will continue to offer essential cover well into the season.
    Picking stand sites in August for a November hunt is often a losing cause. That tree that looked so concealing before the leaf drop can stick out like a sore thumb 2 months later.

    Don't over hunt a stand or area. Too many hunters are so anxious to hit it hard and early. By the phase of the season when older bucks are finally starting to have consistent daylight movement, a lot of guys have educated the bucks and burned out the stands they worked so hard to develop. I hardly hunt at all until Halloween. I leave my stands and property fresh and undisturbed while all the neighbors have just about ruined their spots by mid-October. Half the reason guys experience an "October lull" is because they spent the last 2 weeks educating deer that are still in a nocturnal pattern.

    Try to never touch anything as much as possible anywhere near your stands. I cringe when I see guys walk through the woods and needlessly touch brush, rubs, or anything that they don't have to. I once had a doe smell where I placed my freshly washed thumb.I was walking down a fallen log for quiet access to my stand when I started to lose my balance. I put my thumb against a sapling to steady myself. A half hour later, I watched an adult doe smell that thumbprint. The same skin oil that leaves a fingerprint also leaves human odor...and that odor remains for days.

    Always carry pruners and clip stuff thats in your way as you walk. Never push is aside with your hands.
    I also always carry a Judo-tipped arrow that I can use to push stuff out of my way so I don't have to touch it or prune it. That Judo arrow will also allow me to gently rake-out a spot to place my foot. The worst sound we make while walking is to snap twigs and branches, but sometimes there's just no place to step where there isn't a noisemaker under foot. A judo will allow me to sound more like a squirrel or turkey than a 180 pound predator.

    Carry a dried milkweed pod for a wind indicator. Toss those stupid puff bottles in the trash. NOTHING, will show air movements as good as milkweed. Mother nature designed that stuff to float on air current for long distances. It's perfect and it's free. And it comes with it's own container. There's no need to stuff milkweed into little pill bottles. In fact, the more you handle a floater (like stuffing it into a bottle) you damage it and the less perfectly it will float. Take a green milkweed pod, wrap a rubber band around it so it stays closed while it dries. Keep the rubber band around it until it's used up. I poke a little piece of old bowstring thru a pod with a needle and attach a clip to it so it's always handy. If it's in your pocket, it'll cling to a glove and you'll eventually accidentally pull it out of your pocket and drop it from the tree...been there done that. Put a clip on that pod and keep it instantly handy with minimal movement. Keeping wind indicators in a pack in definately a no-no. you want to be able to use it quickly and easily without much movement.
    I just picked a couple dozen mature pods. That'll last me 5 years. I easily get more than a week out of one.
    Here's the way mine are...
    20160104_112657.jpg

    Understanding wind patterns is essential and floaters are such a great tool for learning wind patterns. It's not as simple as "Prevailing west wind at my parking spot means a west wind at my stand". Air flow is so complex and dynamic. It changes throughout the day. Something as simple as clouds coming and going will change thermal flows. And terrain, cover and foliage effect air flow. Remember this----> Air flow in one area will effect the airflow in adjacent areas. As the sun moves across the sky the sunny and shaded slopes change and then so does the thermal flow. A shady slope will have a different flow pattern that the sunny slope that's right beside it and as the sun moves those patterns change and effect each other. It's not as simple as some guys make it when they say warm air rises in the morning and cools and drops in the evening. WAY more complicated than that!
    Go on Google Earth and experiment with the function that allows shading as the sun moves across the sky. There will be a slider button that allows you to simulate how the sun shades and exposes slopes and terrain. You'll see just how complicated shade vs sunny spots are during the course of the day and how they change. It's really obvious in hilly terrain. Those differences in sun exposure mean differences in temps means differences in airflows. And they draw to, and from, each other. Just try to learn those patterns with a puff bottle. It's hard enough to learn with a floater that can be seen for 70 yards...it's impossible with a powder bottle.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2017 at 10:13 AM
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  13. KDdid

    KDdid Active Member

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    Outstanding post! I think the average hunter has NO idea of the complex interrelationships between airflow, terrain, and physical objects in nature. I heard Uncle Barry Wensel on the Wired To Hunt podcast Friday, and his quote was "Think of air as invisible water, complete with currents, eddies, whirlpools, etc.."


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  14. Tap

    Tap Active Member

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    Thanks.
    Air flow is very similar to water flow and water currents is something we can easily observe visually.
    I've learned a wealth from the Wensels, but air flow wasn't one of them.
    I whitewater paddle and the club I used to belong to had some truly gifted paddlers. One of them could solo paddle his canoe UPSTREAM in class 3 rapids. He could see micro eddies in the current and would paddle thru these current lines. The point is, water flow is not uniform and neither is air flow. Even in a lake, temp differences make water move. And when water moves from one spot, it draws water from another spot. Nature hates a vacuum and whether it's water or air, it'll draw from surrounding atea.
    I learned a ton about air flow from paddling and from milkweed.

    Remember that in early morning or later afternoon when the sun shines on a slope while an adjacent side valley is still in the shade. The air in the sunny spot is rising and in the shade it's falling.
    Cracks me up when guys say "I just hunt the wind".


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    Last edited: Oct 15, 2017 at 11:50 AM
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  15. Charlieyca

    Charlieyca Active Member

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    For new hunters, shoot the first legal deer you are comfortable with in range. Buck fever is not limited to bucks and the rush of shooting your first deer can be tough to deal with. The confidence of knowing you can do it is priceless. Wouldn't jump into the ring with Ali your first time boxing.

    *same goes for experienced hunters after a miss. Shooting a doe or coyote makes good practice and confidence builder, or show you want caused your miss!
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2017 at 1:10 PM

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