Everything You Need to Know About How to Hunt Deer
Human beings have hunted deer for centuries as evidenced by cave art paintings that depict humans hunting these elusive creatures. Today, the methods of how to hunt deer have changed drastically, but the respect for these magnificent creatures remains. In the United States, deer hunting is highly regulated leading to successful hunter-driven conservation of local deer population. That means hunting is beneficial to the overall life and health of these species. The following is a guide on how to hunt deer successfully.
Required Gears for Hunting Deer :
While hunting, safety should always come first and one of the best ways to ensure your safety is by having the right gear. Here is a list of the required deer hunting gear and materials.
Deer Rifle/Hunting Guns and Ammunition
Choose the appropriate caliber and remember to observe gun safety measures whenever you are handling a weapon.
Appropriate Clothing for Cold and Hot Weather
For cold weather, layering your clothes will keep you warm. In hot weather, go for lightweight clothing with scent control. It should also stretch effortlessly for easy movement.
Hunting BootsHunting Boots
Choose boots that are well-fitting, comfortable, and weather appropriate.
You can read our Best Hunting Boots Reviews to choose the right one for deer hunting.
This gear is critical and in most states, it is mandatory when hunting because it reduces the risk of accidental shootings significantly.
Your pack size should be at least 1,200 cubic inches so that it can fit your food supply, gear, and clothing.
They should have the right magnification and brightness. Remember, binoculars are essential for hunting activities.
You can read our Best Hunting Binoculars Reviews to choose the right one for deer hunting.
They are ideal when hunting in the open countryside and across large fields.
They will help you when it comes to hitting your target accurately and often, they minimize wounding shots on the animal.
They will come in handy when you want to assess how much game is in an area and the type and size of the game.
They offer a great vantage point from where you can easily spot deer.
They offer a great ground view and they can provide shelter especially in cold and rainy weather.
Steps to Hunt Deer
1. Getting a Hunting License
Before you go deer hunting, you need to purchase all the required licenses. Licenses may change from season to season and it is important to get the right permits for hunting as well as deer permits before you go deer hunting.
2. Identify the Best Time to Hunt
Hunting season for deer is usually in the late summer and early fall. Start early in the season because during this period the deer population will not be under intense pressure from hunters. That means they are at their most vulnerable making them easy targets.
Another thing to consider is that, in the early season, the deer will most likely have just one thing on their mind and that is food. Food sources during this period will be changing and the deer movements will be easy to predict as the deer feed selectively from their preferred food sources.
You will easily find deer by simply going to these food sources, and if you are lucky, you may just get yourself a buck. Remember, bucks gather in groups consisting of one or two mature bucks and three or four younger ones.
You can also hunt deer in late fall which is called the rut. This is when bucks are considerably less cautious as they run around looking to mate with female deer. This is not to say that you are limited to these two periods only. Rather, you can also hunt successfully during the pre-rut and post-rut season if you employ the right tactics.
3. Find a Spot to Hunt
The first step in deer hunting is to identify a suitable spot to hunt and this can be on private or public land. Often, public land is easily accessible to hunters and although hunting on public land is much tougher than on private land, it can be very rewarding. Armed with a good plan and the right information you should be up for the task and with a simple search on the internet, you should find areas that allow hunting of deer.
Most state agencies have relevant information that is of great use to hunters as they seek public spaces where they can hunt in peace. Typically, public land will be owned by these three entities namely the Federal government, the state government, and the local government. They will all have their own rules and regulations as well as guidelines on deer hunting. You can also find private spaces that have entered into public hunting agreements with local and state authorities.
You can then use a map to study the hunting area once you identify a suitable location. Detailed maps, topographical maps, and GPS systems from Federal Agencies are available. They will assist you in your mapping effort. The maps will often contain information on land demarcations including hunting areas and areas exempted from any hunting practices. These maps will also indicate information on property lines.
However, private lands with public hunting agreements are usually not included on the maps. To find them, you need to consult the local government authorities in the area. If you are looking to hunt whitetails, the maps should be of great help and experts strongly suggest that you target remote areas if you are aiming for a big or old buck.
The best time to scout is before the hunting season begins but this may not be possible for traveling hunters. This is where aerial and topographical maps come in handy. By studying the layout of the land, you can identify the four best places to hunt for the deer.
- Travel Corridors: These would typically be low points between to hills and is where deer and especially bucks will traverse as they such for food and mates.
- Creeks and Rivers: Traveling deer will often be found in these places.
- Thickets: Deer will often seek shelter and security in thickets.
- Fields: Here is where the deer will go to find food.
5. Beginning the Hunt
It is now time to put boots on the ground and begin hunting. Having studied the area, you should be able to target specific areas depending on the season you picked to hunt. Ensure that you carry only the necessary gear so as not to weigh yourself down with unnecessary gear. Additionally, keep in mind that most public hunting grounds do not allow motorized vehicles beyond the parking areas and trailheads. That means you will be on foot.
Begin the hunt in the areas that you suspect deer can be found easily. Set up downwind from where you think the deer are. Always look for a comfortable position as you hide and when you get a clear shot, aim for the deer’s chest cavity if you want to deliver the killing shot. After a successful hunt, it wise for you to get some help when it comes to hauling the deer out of the woods. Deer can weigh up to 200 pounds and with a little help from your hunting friends, you should be able to carry off your prize quite easily.
Here are some of the signs that will help you to track a deer successfully:
- Droppings: The size and amount of the droppings can hint to you the size of the deer as well as the number of deer that might have been in the area. Fresh droppings indicate that the deer is far off.
- Tracks: Dry tracks would suggest that the deer had been in the area a few days or weeks past while fresh tracks indicate the deer was around quite recently.
- Trails: They will give you an idea of the direction in which the deer are moving.
- Beds: Ideally these should be located as you scout the area.
My advice to any deer hunter is to outsmart the deer, which is no easy task because deer are intelligent animals especially when they are in their territory. Here are a few tips to help you do this.
- Hunt downwind, deer have a very sensitive sense of smell and if they should catch your scent, they will take flight.
- Be persistent and be ready to deliver the kill shot at all times.
- Hunting is a waiting game. You will be required to hide and stay still if you want to get the deer.
- Employ strategies like deer calling and decoys to get the deer to come to you.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q. Can I hunt deer with a just a hunting license?
A. No, to hunt deer you need to purchase a deer-hunting license. The hunting license is usually for small game species such as foxes and rabbits.
Q. Can I use a firearm license to hunt for antlerless deer?
A. No, the firearm license can only be used to hunt antlered deer and only during the firearm season.
Q. Can I be accompanied by an unlicensed person or a minor when hunting?
A. This is permitted but the unlicensed person or minor is not allowed to participate in any aspect of the hunt e.g. shooting or driving deer.
Wrapping It Up
For a successful hunt, you have to plan your activities well. You also have to take note of the appropriate signs so that you can act on them when it is necessary to do so. Moreover, you have to work with your surroundings. In other words, understand the terrain and use it to your advantage. However, the most important aspect of a good hunt is strategic patience. Let the deer come to you even if you have to wait for a long time to get it. Try this sport sometime soon now that you know how to hunt deer.