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If there is one thing that I have learned over the many years I’ve spent hunting whitetails its that the second you think you have everything figured out, that big buck will serve you a slice of humble pie. To become a successful deer hunter, you should be in a constant state of learning and trying new things while in the woods. In this blog post, I will share with you seven of the biggest deer hunting tips that I have picked up on over the years.
Play the Wind
Probably the most important factor in deer hunting is making sure you go undetected while entering, hunting, and exiting your stand location. A deer, especially a mature buck, relies on his nose as much or more than any of his other senses. This means that the wind can either work for you or against you when trying to avoid the nose of a whitetail deer.
To use the wind to your advantage, it’s important to consider factors such as access routes and exit routes from stand locations and where and how the deer travel through a particular area. Strategically plan how you are going to enter and exit your tree stand location so that the wind is always blowing your scent away from where the deer are and where they could end up. Tree stands should also be strategically positioned so that while hunting your scent is being carried away from where you expect the deer to be and their travel routes.
I understand that over the last several years countless scent control products have hit the market. While these products can aid in keeping you undetected by a whitetails nose, they are not 100% effective. The only sure fire way to stay undetected is to make sure that the deer is never on your downwind side.
Proper Scouting: Recon Like a Pro
You can all of the best gear and gadgets on the market for deer hunting but if you are not hunting where the deer are it makes no difference. This is where scouting comes into play. Offseason scouting can be a great way to look for deer sign, trails, and bedding areas without having to worry about spooking the deer. While scouting in the offseason take notes and use apps like OnX maps to drop pins on potential areas of interest for the next season.
During the season, I prefer to scout from a distance so that I am less likely to alert deer to my presence. Glassing fields or food sources from your truck or an observation stand can be a great way to see what deer are using the property and how they are using the area. I will use the information that I gather from this type of scouting trip to determine where and when I will hunt a particular spot.
Trail cameras are also a great scouting tool. I like to place my regular cameras in areas that are easily accessible and where the deer are used to some human presence. I know that the majority of the buck picture that I get in these areas will be at night but I am using them to just see if a good buck is using the area or on the property. For the more sensitive spots that I plan to hunt I like to use cellular trial cameras. Because this type of camera sends the pictures directly to my phone I can stay out of the area until I plan to hunt.
Be Strategic with Stand Locations
Having your tree stand or blind in the right location can make or break your hunt. Have your stands set up with the intent of hunting them on specific wind directions while making sure that you are able to enter and exit the location undetected.
Its also important to note that if your tree stand isn’t within bow or gun range of where the deer will be you may as well leave your shooting equipment at home. This is where the information that you gather through scouting comes into play. Use this information to select the optimal tree stand location that will put you within range of that mature buck.
As the saying goes, “An ounce of patience will gain you a pound of success”, and this couldn’t be further from the truth when it comes to deer hunting. Just because you have put in all the work and strategizing doesn’t mean that you are going to harvest a nice buck on the very first sit. Hunting a mature buck is like a game of chess. Be patient and strategically make your moves throughout the season until you check mate that mature buck.
Wait Until You Have the Right Weather: Mother Nature’s Cues
Weather can also have an impact on how much or how little deer move during daylight hours. Use this to your advantage, especially if you have limited days that you can hunt. Time your hunts with the optimal weather conditions for deer movement.
For example, lets say you are seeing or getting trail camera pictures of a buck you want to harvest just after shooting hours. I would keep an eye on the weather and look for a cold front or weather front that is likely to have the deer on their feet and moving earlier in the day before I went in to hunt.
While patience is very important, being able to adjust and stay mobile throughout the season it crucial. By staying mobile, you can adjust your hunting locations as the deer shift from one food source to another or patterns change. This allows you to stay on the freshest sign and stay in the action, ultimately increasing your chances of success.
I personally use Lone Wolf tree stands for this. These stands are some of the lightest I have used in the many years of hunting while also being incredibly easy to put up and take down. When I find a mature buck that is doing the same thing on a consistent basis and I have the wind/weather in my favor, I will pack my stand in with me when I go to hunt. I have had great success catching mature bucks off guard employing this tactic.
Have Fun: The Ultimate Reward
Listen, at the end of the day, we’re out here because we love it—the crisp air, the quiet, the camaraderie, and yes, the challenge. Don’t get wrapped up in the pursuit that you forget to enjoy the moment. Whether you’re a meat or trophy hunter, remember why you started hunting in the first place.
There you go, seven tips that are more like commandments for serious deer hunters. This isn’t a hobby; it’s a lifestyle. And like any lifestyle, you get out of it what you put in. So gear up, get out there, and make this season one for the books. Until next time, shoot straight and hunt safe.