5 Essential Tips For Beginner Deer Hunters

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Young female hunter poses with harvested White-tailed deer taken during the Minnesota firearms deer season.
Young female hunter poses with harvested White-tailed deer taken during the Minnesota firearms deer season.

If you are just getting started out with deer hunting, you are entering hallowed ground. Humans have been hunting deer for a very long time and it can be an amazing experience.

 

Like anything when you are a beginner, it can seem a bit overwhelming at times to try to figure everything out. It takes time to learn everything. I wanted to help get you there a little faster by sharing 5 major tips that are crucial to your deer hunting experience.

 

Hunting Gear

Before you head out into the woods, you need to consider what you should be wearing and what to carry on you.

 

It turns out that deer are red-green color blind. That means they can see green about the same as humans, and they can’t see a difference in red. However, they can see blue even better than humans can.

 

Deer can also see outside of the visible spectrum and into the UV spectrum. This means that they can see better at dusk and dawn than humans can. It also means that if you use certain fabric cleaners, you might be reflecting a lot of UV light and a deer will see you like a lit-up sign.

 

While wearing camouflage is typically recommended, there are studies that show it may not be required. Deer have noses that are many times better than humans, so scent is the easiest way a deer can detect you.

 

Therefore, scent control is the primary issue. Movement is the second factor, so you must be still. The third issue is wearing camo to break up your outline.

 

Using this info, you can choose what you will wear wisely. The biggest factor is dressing warm enough and in layers so that you don’t risk hypothermia in colder areas. You should also consider putting an emergency blanket in your pocket, just in case you get stuck out in nature.

 

You also need to research the hunting laws in your area to see if there is a hunting orange requirement. If so, make sure you get the proper clothes to not only obey the law, but also be safe from other hunters by letting them clearly see you.

 

You’ll most likely be walking around a lot, so bring boots that are comfortable and wear some wool socks to keep your feet dry and free of blistering.

 

Gun Choice

While some deer hunters prefer a bow over a gun, it’s a lot easier for new hunters to hunt with a rifle.

 

The reason is that rifles take much less time to get proficient in using, and typically have a longer range. More range means that you don’t have to be as good at being stealthy early on, which makes it easier to get your first kill.

 

Some gun owners prefer using a shotgun with slug shells. However, with modern manufacturing, you can get a accurate rifle these days for a fairly cheap price tag. That means that most people can afford to buy a rifle for deer hunting instead of re-purposing their handy shotgun.

 

In fact, in many cases, a rifle setup will probably cost half as much as a bow setup. Add to this fact that it takes a lot more practice with a bow, and you can easily see why a rifle is one of the popular choices.

 

If you already have a rifle, then it might be perfect for deer. It turns out that a hunter has many options on what type of rifle works well. Several of the popular cartridges bought today all work well for deer hunting.

 

For example, the standard rule of thumb is that you need 1,000 foot pounds (ft-lbs) of energy on your bullet projectile to kill a typical deer with good shot placement. Also, most deer are shot within a 200-yard range.

 

I rounded up some ballistics data for common cartridges below to show you how well they work for deer hunting. We can see from the chart that all of these cartridges are perfectly capable of taking down a deer with reasonable shot accuracy within 200 yards since all of their energies are above 1,000. The cartridges are Federal Fusion ammo.

If you have a rifle that is fairly accurate in one of these cartridges, then all you need is a decent scope and some proficiency in shooting it. Assuming you don’t already have a rifle, then consider getting one of the popular ones that people often buy for deer.

 

Deer Behavior

Deer behavior is a big factor for a successful hunt, because when you understand it well, you have much better chances of spotting deer.

 

The main thing you want to know is that there are four phases in deer season: early season, pre-rut, rut, and post-rut. Understanding when these phases occur, what to look for, and what to do about it will give you a huge leg up on being at the right place at the right time when you’re ready to get your deer.

 

It turns out that there is a lot that happens in these four phases which effects how deer move around and when they feed.

 

In early season, deer are starting to feed more and are gearing up for the upcoming mating season. Pre-rut is where the bucks will start claiming territory and sorting out the pecking order to see which one is dominant. Rut is the actual mating time where the bucks will move around in search for doe to mate with. Post-rut is where things might start calming down, unless there are some doe that haven’t mated yet.

 

That gets us to our main point of when is the best time to hunt deer? I wish I could give you a specific time and day to make things easy. However, nature just doesn’t play that way. Usually what happens is the weather in your area will be a bit different, and the deer will be reacting to it.

 

What you need to do is simply get your head wrapped around the four phases so that you understand what the deer are doing. The next thing you must do is get your boots on the ground near your hunting site and start observing their patterns.

 

It is quite fun to hike through your hunting grounds and start tracking the local deer patterns. Then, when you piece together what phase the deer are in, you can start to predict what is going to happen next.

 

That way, you can plan your hunt and be very confident in knowing that you will get some great shots setup from all your hard work. Once you do, you’ll find out that the journey of the hunt is where most of the fun is and the buildup to the kill is the most enjoyable.

 

Attractants

Another tool in your arsenal is the use of attractants. Now you will want to research the law in your area to make sure you know what is legal and what is not.

 

Knowing deer behavior as discussed earlier, you can effectively use attractants to help sway deer to certain areas of your choosing in the landscape.

 

Deer have a great sense of smell. One thing you want to be aware of is that you need to be able to mask your own scent. Otherwise, deer will smell you and be scared away.

 

With this in mind, there are products out there that you can put on yourself to help cover your human smell. Obviously, you shouldn’t be using super smelly products when you are out on your hunt, so leave your cologne alone that day.

 

There are also great options out there that you can put in the environment to help entice deer to come around. These usually involve doe urine or a favorite deer food type. You can also consider making some homemade recipes that have proven to work well.

 

The key take away here is that you want to cover up your own scent. You can also get attractants to help pull in the deer as well. Make sure and do your homework as there are a lot of products out there that claim to work well, but don’t.

 

Butchering

After the kill, there is some work involved in getting meat into the freezer. Depending on where you are hunting, there are many folks that will process the animal for you and take care of the hard work.

 

Results in your area of paying someone to process your deer may vary, so you will want to check out some reviews or ask people who have used the service if you decide to go this route. Starting out, it might take some of the burden off of everything you need to learn for your first-time out deer hunting.

 

You should also ask the processor if you get the meat from your deer back if that’s important to you. Some places give you back the same meat, while other places simply process everyone’s deer and divvy up the meat to everyone.

 

If you want to go all the way, then consider getting a family member or someone in the community that has a lot of experience to walk you through the process step by step. There are some key things that you can mess up and end up getting hair, urine, or feces in the meat, which you don’t want.

 

Typically, in a more traditional upbringing, you get exposure to these things by being raised up into becoming a young man or woman.

 

However, today’s world looks different in many ways, so you may not have gotten this opportunity depending on your situation. There’s no reason to let that stop you from enjoying the fruits of hunting though. Grab someone with experience and learn how if that’s the route you want to go.

 

There are also some great videos online, but they are usually a great way to expose yourself to how it’s done. When you get in the real situation, there’s a lot more complexities involved, and its best to have someone there to teach you.

 

You will also need a good quality knife that is sharp. There are plenty of options out there that aren’t too expensive.

 

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