Deer hunting is a challenging and intensely rewarding activity. Little compares to the primal feel of being alone or with a few friends in the woods, stalking your quarry. There are many things you can do to give yourself a better chance of a successful hunt, some of them well before deer season even starts.
The first step is deciding where to hunt. If you or a friend owns land, this will be an easy decision. If you’re not so lucky, however, there are still several options. If you find likely hunting grounds, you can contact the owner and ask permission to use the land. They may charge a fee or request part of the meat in exchange for use of the grounds. If you do hunt on private property, always be respectful, leave the area clean, and be sure to stay away from buildings or livestock. There are also public hunting grounds available in many areas. There will be more competition for game in these areas, but the number of hunters in the area means the deer will also be more likely to be on the move.
If you can, visit the area you intend to hunt beforehand. Look for areas that deer will most likely frequent, like streams and natural salt licks. You can also look for signs that game has been there, including tracks, droppings, and scrape marks from antlers on the trees. Deer funnels, areas where the land naturally forces game to travel through a narrow area, are another good option. Having an idea of where the deer will be beforehand will give you a better chance of finding them when hunting season comes around.
Most deer hunting is done with either a bow or a rifle. If you have a hunting bow, it should have no less than a 45 lb pull. Rifles for deer hunting should have at least a .243 caliber. Make sure to spend some time getting familiar with the weapon you intend to use and practice with it in various positions. If you intend to get a sight or a scope, practice using it so you can get a feel for it’s accuracy.
Deer usually feed and get water in the early morning and occasionally throughout the day. They often feed at dusk as well, but since night hunting is usually prohibited, it is usually not possible to take advantage of this time. Many hunters judge what the deer are most likely doing throughout the day by watching cattle. Often their feeding times will coincide, meaning you can guess when the deer will be active with fairly good accuracy.
The easiest method of deer hunting is to simply set yourself up in a deer stand and wait. If you’ve picked a good spot, deer will wander past you location and give you a chance to shoot. There are several products available that are designed to mask your scent to keep deer from becoming spooked. Some of these may be more effective than others, but your best bet is to thoroughly clean your clothes and avoid any strong smelling foods before hunting.
There are several different kinds of shots you may be presented with. The rear, front, and straight above shots are difficult and probably should not be taken. There is a very narrow target for these angles, and you are more likely to wound the deer than you are to take it down. A deer that is quartering away, angled facing away from the hunter, offers one of the best targets. If you aim on an angle towards the foreleg on the opposite side of the animal, the bullet or arrow should pass through several vital organs in it’s trajectory. Quartering towards, angling toward the hunter, on the other hand, is a very poor shot. The foreleg is blocking the vital organs in this position. A broadside shot is ideal. In this position, the hunter should aim just behind the foreleg and under the shoulder. Always know what is behind your deer before taking a shot, since a bullet can pass through the deer and damage whatever happens to be behind it. If a deer is on the run, you are better off making a loud noise to try and get it to stop than firing at a running animal. If you do wound a deer, you are obligated to track it and kill it humanely if at all possible.
Responsible deer hunting is very gratifying. Being aware of the best plans of action ahead of time will help you make the right choices in the field while your adrenaline is pumping, giving you a better chance of getting your deer.