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Whether you are an experienced hunter or a beginner, using some of the best whitetail deer hunting tips will not only improve your hunting but help you take home a trophy deer or just good meat for your family.
1. Beware Human Odor
Deer are very good at smelling and human odor alerts deer. Always use a scent-free soap before you go hunting. Make sure to keep your clothes from getting contaminated on your way out. It is best to keep them stored in a bag with the soil, leaves, and other debris from the hunting area.
2. Bully Bucks
You should target the bully bucks. They will bully other bucks, move during daylight, and won’t give up major feeding spots. You can find them using a trail camera or just by observation. When you have found them, set them up on the edge of the thick cover that an aggressive buck uses.
Using a grunt call that mimics a young buck tending a doe, the aggressive buck will come charging to the grunt call handing you a good target.
3. Move Very Slowly
Develop the skill to move very slowly or stand still for a long time. Settle on a time to stand still and stick to it. Use your watch as a guide.
4. Noise Stop
Deer has amazing senses. Deer sense of hearing is very very good. When you make a loud noise, stop and remain there for as long as you can. Deer will look in your direction and try to detect human or other scents. If they don’t see or smell you, they will continue what it was doing.
5. Harvest Time
When it’s corn harvest time, bucks that have been using the cornfields as living grounds will have to find other coverage. This will present them as targets.
6. Quick Stepper
Learn to squirrel sprint. Practice taking quick steps in short bursts for 10 to 20 yards. Then stop and repeat it. To the deer, it will sound like a squirrel in the leaves and your identity won’t be blown.
7. Perform a Double Drag
Take one of your hunting buddies out in an ATV and as your get closer to your stand, run a double drag rag on each side of the machine. One rag should be doused with doe-in-heat urine while the other doused with buck urine. The scent trail is a perfect ruse of a buck in pursuit of an estrous doe and it pulls in shooters.
8. Drive Design
When you are setting up your drive, if you have enough people in your party, always put a stander in the rear where the drive began. Don’t only put standers in the front and the sides of the area being driven. Deer are smart; they usually wait for the hunting party to pass and then they move to the back and go off in the opposite direction.
9. Whole Plot Monitoring
As bucks go after does, their entry points are not as easy to predict. Set up your cameras to monitor the whole field and not just specific trails.
10. Anticipate Quarry’s Pace
Always try to judge where the deer will be located when you complete stalking them. Before you start, watch them for a lengthy period of time to determine the direction and speed.
11. Follow Like a Cat
Don’t forget that the quarry will be alert to the back trail. You will need to follow with care. Be like a cat on the hunt and sit still for a period of time and then take short steps without almost on sound.
12. Shooting Lanes All Clear
Make sure you clear all of your shooting lanes as much as possible when taking up shooting positions. Practice shooting positions and make sure the lanes are cleared as much as possible. Verify that your safety strap is secure and you can move freely.
13. Ground Stand Cleaning
Clean the area you are standing or sitting in if there is any clutter like leaves, tree limbs, and brushes. These can give you away by making noise when you make a move when your target approaches.
14. Glass & Re-Glass
Move to your vantage point in the dark when you are glassing with a binocular in the early hours of the morning. Develop the habit of glassing spots you have glassed minutes before.
Chances are you will locate games that have moved out into the clear or the brighter daylight might reveal a target you didn’t see when it was darker.
15. Blood Trail Follow
Be extra careful and quiet as you follow a blood trail as the quarry might be just a few yards ahead. Communicate with hand signals if you are not alone. Use toilet tissue or flagging to mark every spot of blood.
16. Never Give Up
Most times a blood trail will come to nothing. Don’t think all is lost, continue by looking carefully for tiny blood spots.
17. Call The Spot
If you drop a target in a brushy area, make a note of where it was before it was shot. That spot helps you to pick up the blood trail.
18. Instant Drop
There is the likelihood that a deer that drops when hit will more likely run off than one which doesn’t drop but runs for a while and then eventually falls.
The deer drops immediately after being hit, it most likely dropped due to the impact of the hit, then recover from the shock and run. Be aware of this possibility and remain in position for a quick follow-up shot.
19. Don’t Poke Eyes
When you have shot a target and it has fallen, when you get to it, don’t poke the eyes to determine if it is dead. It might leap up at you with all of its strength and you may be too close to take action. Rather, toss a branch or stone and look for signs of life.
20. Blood Look Up
We are accustomed to looking for blood on the ground when we are tracking a wounded animal. Discipline yourself to also look for blood higher up the sides of trees, heads of grass, and stems of the brush.
21. Early Bird
Get to hunting grounds at midnight and park. It’s a good idea to carry a sleeping bag and find a logged area, usually at the end of the road. Position yourself at an elevated spot and when other hunters start to push deer your way, you will be well-positioned for your targets.
22. Big Game Treasure Spots
Keep your eyes out for deep, heavily timbered canyons with no outlets or major trails. Many hunters don’t want to go into those spots and have to haul the game out. That makes it a rich spot for the game.
If you know of drive-by other hunters, position yourself far away from the group in heavy cover where deer might run into. Don’t interfere with the drive.
24. Be Leaderless
If you are on the trail of a deer in snow and realize that another hunter is on to its tracks and ahead of you, don’t follow the leader. Circle about a mile and try to ambush the deer. The other hunter tracking might just send the deer ahead and closer to you.
25. Comfort Sleep
Ensure a comfortable sleep with a pad in your sleeping bag. If you don’t have a pad for your sleeping bag, use clothing to keep you warm from the cold air.
26. Good Horsemanship
If you intend to ride a horse in the cold, walking the horse downhill will not only get your blood moving but also gives the horse a break and that is good horsemanship.
27. Ringnecks Spooking
Do park your vehicle as far as possible from the area you would be hunting as the sounds of vehicles, human voices, and dogs. Most birds will fly away at the sight of humans and wild pheasants get spooked at the sounds of vehicles, dogs, and human voices.
28. Avoid Sweating
Sweating is not your best ally on a frigid day. Try not to sweat and do everything to keep dry.
29. Gear Storing
Store your gear in zip-top bags. Moisture will eventually get in your day pack on wet days.
30. Shoulders Up
Drag a deer with its shoulders high off the ground. Use a harness to pull it over your torso and move it over short distances.
31. Close Range Bow Practice
You can improve your shooting skills by starting your practice sessions at short distances between 10 and 15 yards. Then increase it to 20 yards as your shooting form improves. Continue moving out as your skill level improves.
32. Weight Loss
Before you move a moose or elk, remove the bones. Bones are heavier than flesh and this will eliminate a lot of the weight.
33. High Hanging
Always hang your catch higher than 3 feet off the ground. Hanging your game is anything lower than 3 feet and it is in reach of other animals to consume it.
34. Grizzly Game
Many grizzly bouts with hunters center around meat that was left overnight in the field. If you are in bear territory and it’s late to carry your game, place it in a visible area which you can with binoculars to verify it was not seen by bears. Grizzlies will be possessive of it and you will be in trouble if you approach the meat.
35. Pole Transportation
One way to carry a deer or quarters of elk or moose is to put them onto a pole and carry the pole across your shoulders. Some padding for your shoulders will be good for you and use orange flagging around the game for safety.
36. Wheeling & Dealing
One of the best ways to transport your game is to use a one-wheel cart; not a two-wheel cart.
37. Shotgun Please
Take also a shotgun with you. It is a very good choice for a second firearm. Sometimes bobcats run right into the caller as they are mesmerized by the predator call.
38. Call Switching
If the area you are hunting is heavily concentrated with hunters, opt to try different calls.
39. Insecure Bucks
Learn to spot an insecure buck. Mastering this will usually get you the dominant buck. Look closely at a buck. If its tail is between the legs, a hunched back and stiff legs. Most likely a dominant buck is not far behind. Don’t shoot the insecure one, wait for the dominant buck.
40. One-man Drive
If you are alone, try a solo drive. Walk into the hunting area with the wind behind you. This usually gets the deer alerted and they will start moving. Make a circle and repeat the drive-through when you have passed through. Some will be unsure of your position and start creeping up to locate you.
Alternatively, take a position on the flank of the area you passed through and wait for an hour or two. You might see some deer sneaking back in, believing the danger was averted.
41. Small Bucks & Big Scrapes
Young bucks frequent big scrapes. If you just need a buck and are not size specific, be on the lookup for large scrapes that show a lot of wear and tear. Most likely, you will find a young buck there.
42. Find Landmarks
Find a landmark that you can recognize from the back to help as your guide back to your spot as you stalk a deer by circling it and coming up behind it.
43. Big Bucks Spot
If you learned that a whitetail buck was taken at a spot, don’t count that spot off. Usually, if it was a dominant buck, other suitors will be vying for the territory and increase your chances of getting one.
44. Mobile Technology
During the late rut, the nighttime bucks will become more active during the day with their movements. To monitor them, set up cellular trail cameras on active scrapes and when you get daytime pictures of the activities and locations, you go after them in those areas.
45. Scan Area Twice
When you stop at a vantage point, slowly scan the area with your eyes. Relax your eyes and slowly scan the area back and forth for deer, movement, antlers, etc. If you don’t see any of that, focus tightly and scan once again.
46. Scrape Targeting
Locate primary scrapes near buck bedding areas. Identify a standing tree and then leave the area. Return on a day when the wind is good. Sneak in, hang your stand and wait for the buck to come by. When you spot one within your range, take him down.
47. Stand Giveaway
Don’t let your gear give away your stand. Keep equipment you are not bringing up the stand on the opposite side of the tree where you are climbing.
48. Licking Areas
You can often find licking branches in food-plot edges. Walk the field edge thereby cutting off competing licking branches. This will force a shooter to work the licking branches closest to your tree stand.
49. Too Much Freshly Collected Scent
Don’t use too much freshly collected scent. It would be stronger than the one in the bottle; hence use less of it.
50. Tree Planting
Bucks are attracted to small food plots as they check for does. To lure them in, plant a small cedar tree within 20 yards of your stand and mock scrape underneath it. Every buck approaching that food plot will go to the scraping, giving you a shot.
51. Deer Stand Readiness
When you are on your deer stand, don’t mistake the sound of deer to be that of another hunter. Loud noises like leaves being shuffled and breaking of sticks may not be of another hunter but of a buck.
52. Make Some Noise
During the last days of the pre-rut, bucks will be on the lookout for a doe. Use this period and buck behavior to make noise by rattling, calling, and using decoys. Position yourself in a high spot to enable the sound to travel farther and then remain alert for that buck to respond and come by.
53. Still-Hunting in Three Steps
Still-hunting can be divided into three steps. Step one is to stand without any motion behind an object which will break up your outline while you search for deer. Step two is to motionlessly use your eyes to pick out a way to move forward as quietly as possible. Step three is to scan for deer once more while you slowly navigate the route you pick out.
54. Buck’s Body Language
Always read a buck’s body language. Bucks move with intent and seems to be unaware of his surroundings when he is seeking a doe. If he is moving slowly, he isn’t your target. But if he is moving with intent with laid-back ears and erect hair, he is aggressive and will come to the first calls he hears.
55. Off Guard Bucks
Mature bucks will change their patterns to evade hunters during the rut. Some will become nocturnal but quite a number will search for the doe in the middle of the day when hunting activity has subsided. You will catch off-guard bucks by sitting your stand during those middle-of-the-day hours.
56. Target Lone Tree
Look out for a lone tree or brush pile when you hunt open or broken cover. When bucks are crossing patches of cover, they are often attracted to a lone tree. They use it to monitor their surroundings then they move on. These areas are good target spots as they cover ground in search of does.
57. Deer Stand Different Routs
Don’t go to your stand set up in the morning through a crop field as deer are most likely feeding in that field under the cover of darkness and likewise in the afternoon or evening, deer are likely lying in the cover you used to hide your approach in the morning. Use the field at this time of the day.
58. Bucks Seeking Does
Bucks keep to thick cover most of the year but that changes during the period they are seeking does. They are on the lookout for does and search open areas. Set up your stand in areas with a good aerial view, especially on an afternoon hunt.
59. Wounded Deer Chase
If you couldn’t find a deer you shot, go back to the area where you shot it. They often return to the area where they were first hit.
60. Doe Pictures
Pictures of does will give you information of where the bucks will be. Study the pictures for doe activity because close by will buck looking for the does. Set up a spot in that area to target the bucks.
61. Dew Hunt
Deer, especially when there has been a drought, will not only drink water, they will also lick dew off vegetation. Hence the edge of a meadow where there is a lot of bright green grass is a good place to hunt during dry, hot early-season weather.
62. Doe Bleats
When a buck is seeking a doe, you need to resort to doe bleats instead of grunting and rattling. He might just respond to the bleats as he is desperate to find a doe.
63. Windy Days Standing Corn
Whitetails love fields of standing corn but it will prove difficult to hunt them alone. The deer will be alerted to the noise you make as you approach them. The solution is to still-hunt upwind during a windy day as the sound of the wind makes the noise of your passage.
64. Frost Hunt
During the first hard frost of the year, the early morning cold keeps deer away from their food plots before daylight. However, when they come up and warm up the area, they come to the field for some time. Get set up in your stand before the sun comes up and catch bucks coming out to feed by mid-morning.
65. Opening Day Deer Drives
The best time for deer drives is on the opening day when you are aware of their location. Waiting until later in the season, their patterns may have been disrupted by other hunters.
66. Hedge Apples
Get some hedge apples when you go to your stand. Put doe-in-heat scent gel around the apple and toss it so it goes across the game trail and into a shooting lane. A buck will stop and sniff the scent trail when he comes through the trail that leads away from your tree stand. This will give you a good shot at the buck that is looking away from you.
67. Multiple Deer Decoy Setup
Bucks are clever and view single decoys with caution. If you use deer decoys, consider using more than one. Bucks will not approach them quickly, but if you use two or more, they are less likely to be suspicious.
68. Bowhunter’s Time
The seeking phase is the best time for bowhunters. You need bucks to walk into bow range and stop or move slowly to get a good shot.
69. Startled Bucks Call
Rattling your antlers can startle bucks. Clacking your antlers together for a few seconds can arouse their curiosity and they could return to investigate as they would think the motion was by another deer if it did not smell or recognize you.
70. Go All In
During the chasing phase, you want to go after the buck. It is time to make the calls with your mouth. When you see a buck in this phase, use a snort-wheeze instead of grunts, bleats, or antlers. More often than not, the buck will respond to the snort-wheeze and come to that sound.
71. Deer Sex
Does step with precision while bucks sway from side to side. As a result, you can tell the sex from the tracks in the snow. Drag marks in powder are often a rolling gait and longer drag marks mean the trail of an older or heavier buck.
72. Acorns On A Windy Day
Acorns will litter the ground after the wind and does will be there to eat. Use bleat calls to lure bucks as he will respond to the calls looking for a doe.
73. Doe’s Ear Signal
When you are still hunting and you see a single doe during the rut, pay close attention to her ears. If she is walking, unalarmed with one ear cupped backward and the other pointing forward, there are good chances that she is monitoring a buck that is following her.
74. Double Deke Setup
Set up a buck-and-doe decoy combo on the edge of a big field during the chase phase. Put estrous scent in a 360-degree circle around the dekes. When you are back in your stand, send out grunts and bleats every 20 to 30 minutes and call to any buck you spot.
75. Deer Carcass in Plastic
Don’t ever wrap your deer in plastic when transporting it to the butcher. Plastic prevents heat and moisture from escaping and this could result in poor flavor or even spoiled meat.
76. Game of Interception
During the chasing phase, bucks try to intercept does as they go back into the bedding areas in the morning. Look for an area of a good food source that connects multiple doe bedding areas and get there before daylight. Buck will come there early to catch does coming off the feed.
77. A Buck’s Rack
You can tell if you are on the trail of a big buck by seeing how much snow is knocked off by the buck’s antlers when he walks under tree branches or low brush. It can clear off a two-foot or wider space if he is a big buck.
78. Water Source
Set up near a water source during the chasing phase. Hard-running bucks will need to drink so any water source in the area will be an attractive spot for bucks. Creeks and rivers are even better because they provide a water source and a traveled area.
79. Hunt Near Food Sources
White-tailed deer tend to feed heavily when the temperature drops. Monitor your barometer and move to the edges of crop fields, alfafa meadows, or mature oak trees when the temperature starts to drop.
80. Decoy Head Modifications
Modify your plastic decoy by removing the head and mounting a piece of plywood with a hook attached. This allows you to use a variety of your mounts to make your decoy very appealing to bucks.
81. Downed Trees & Big Bucks
During hot weather, search for large fallen trees. These trees provide one of the best covers and big bucks will make it their abode to get relief from the heat. They usually feel secure in this cover and will not flush.
82. Funnel Finding
Bucks start looking for does outside of their core areas during the chase phase. This means they start covering more ground. This is an opportunity for you to find natural funnels that connect your properties to others that a buck might use. Once you find these funnels, set up in the funnel and wait for that doe-chasing buck.
83. Overhead Branches & Active Scrapes
Don’t bother hunting scrapes that don’t have branches hanging overhead if you want to tag a buck. They leave their scent behind by rubbing their foreheads on those branches.
84. Buck Core Areas
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that bucks abandon their core areas during the chase phase; they don’t. They leave those areas on a doe-chase but do return to get some rest before their next doe-chase. If you know of an area bucks feel safe and has everything he needs, don’t abandon it. The buck will come back to that area.
85. Quick & Quiet Stand Hang
Practice quickly and quietly setting up your tree stand before hunting season.
86. Lockdown Ambush
Buck usually tends to does during the lockdown in small covers. Get as close as possible without detection to a cover and rattle or call to lure a buck. If a buck comes out responding to the rattle, you will have a good shot.
87. Balloon Bore Cover
Use a leftover birthday party balloon to make a good bore cover if you are hunting in the snow or rain.
88. Doe-Following Bucks
Does tend to look for thick cover to avoid bucks. Brushy habitat that is also warmed by the sun is the perfect combination for the doe. You will find mature bucks following the does in these areas. This will make this a great ambush area for bucks.
89. Warm Day Rattling
Bucks will be bedded down and might not respond to your calling. Don’t rattle on warm, sunny days.
90. Couple Stroll
During the lockdown, breeding pairs of deer can be together for some hours. But one will want to roam a bit and the other will follow. Take this opportunity to move your stand closer to their lockdown area to get a good shot and lie in wait for them.
91. Gusty Wind Rattling
It is not a good idea to rattle in gusty winds. Bucks might just not hear your call due to the heavy wind.
92. Creeping Spots
You will find a buck in a doe breeding area that has pinned down the doe. Create creeping spots on the ground by scraping 12-inch spots down to the bare dirt along the last 75 yards to your entry path. Creep and slip into your stand without being detected and wait for a sound.
93. Deer Hunting Heart Attack
Hunting is a lot of exercises. It involves carrying a lot of gear, climbing and descending trees, hills, rough terrain, etc. If you are not physically fit, it might be a tall order for you and it’s a good idea to see your doctor before you embark on this. You don’t want to have a heart attack in the deep woods.
94. Lockdown Sit-In
All-day sit ins are perfect for lockdowns. Set up near a thick doe bedding area since once a buck has tended one doe, he will look for another regardless of what time of the day.
95. Too Hot In Cold Weather
You want to avoid sweating so when you don’t want to layer up with all of your clothes to stay warm. This will cause you to sweat heavily going in and the sweat will cool quickly once you stop moving to result in you being too cold to remain quiet for too long.
Don’t overdress and carry other clothing in a backpack. Wear warmer clothing once you are in your stand and your heart rate has slowed down.
96. Spot-And-Stalk Style
You might spot a buck tending a doe in the open during the lockdown. If you don’t want to wait out for peak-rut bucks, you can hunt the bucks with your hunting spotting scopes or binoculars. Take a picture and you might be allowed to stalk on a farmer’s land if you show him the picture.
97. Cartridges & Jammed Action
Clean your cartridges regularly with a well-oiled cloth to prevent them from jamming.
Set up along a travel lane so that the wind is great for the buck but not the best for you. There will be times the buck will travel without the wind in his face and others when the wind will quarter his face. The buck may think he is ok, but this gives you just enough angle to take advantage of the situation.
99. Muzzleloader Misfires
Clean your rifle’s nipple by firing off a blank cap before you load your muzzleloader.
100. Midday Runs
Older bucks seek out the last does during the pickup breeding phase near the best doe feeding areas. Leve those areas in the morning and check your trail cameras at midday to see the location most of the does are feeding. Hunt the hottest spots in the afternoon.
101. Learn To Read Rub Lines
You can learn where a buck travels, at what time of the day he travels, and also in which direction he normally travels by reading rub lines. Upon finding a rub, go on your knees to align your field of vision with that of the buck. Look for more rubs in the area. You just might find others thirty to fifty yards away. Do this process until you identify a rub line.
Rub lines mark the routes buck use to travel to and from feeding and bedding areas. Rub lines are usually made on the same side of the tree which indicates the direction the buck travels using the route.
102. Lone-Doe Decoy
Most of the bucks are tired of fighting during the pickup breeding phase. This is the time to change to a lone-doe decoy setup. Target fields and food plots in the afternoon and use estrous scent and a can call.
103. Hunt All Three Phases of the Rut
There are three ruts. The first is called the pre-rut which is early October when mature four and five-year-old does first come into estrus. The second is the peak or primary rut from late October to the last week of November. The third rut is called post-rut or late rut happens twenty-eight days after the primary rut.
104. Food Source Back Off
Locate a food plot that is being frequented by does and set up 100 to 200 yards off this food source. Bucks will linger in the safe zone waiting for the does that are in the field to find food. You will encounter bucks in the safe zone that are rubbing and scraping as they await the does.
105. Hitch A Ride
If you hunt on farmland or other property where the owners use motorized vehicles, you can avoid spooking deer on your way to your stand by hitching a ride. The deer in this area are accustomed to the sounds of engines and will not run.
106. Good Rattling View
Go to field edges or other spots where you have a clear view at different angles. Then rattle antlers and when you see a buck, you can call him in. He will be attempted to find the doe and the rattling will get his attention, if he doesn’t come in with the rattling, you can resort to grunts and bleats to call him in.
107. Fill Doe Tags Early
Prepare early and fill your doe tag early in the season. This will prevent you from shooting a small buck.
108. Lazy Old Buck Hunt
Some older bucks have been inactive for most of the year and they are the only ones left with energy for does at this time. Hunt them at midday during a full moon. Big bucks seeking does will be active at midday.
109. Baby Steps R Quiet Steps
Don’t use regular walking stride when you are still-hunting as this will cause you to fall off balance. Instead, each step forward should not be longer than the length of your boot.
110. Tarsal Ruse
Using a tarsal during the pickup breeding phase is the best time to use to lure in bucks. After using rub urination for some time, tarsals work well. Skeptical bucks are more likely to be convinced of some new scent.
111. Early Season Scouting
Scout two or three weeks before the season. Scouting earlier could result in changes in foods, stage of the rut, and deer movement before opening the day.
112. Decorate Tree Stand
Leaves have all but fallen away by late fall and it is easy to get silhouetted in the stand. Use discarded fake Christmas trees, pine-oak, cedar or juniper works to decorate your tree stand to hide you.
113. Sled Hauling
Use a plastic sled to haul your buck out of the woods in snowy conditions.
114. Snow Tracking
When peak breeding is over, bucks want to feed and rest for the winter. If you locate a buck track during the peak rut, track him down for a trophy buck.
115. Baiting Squirrels & Birds
Stay focused on your stand by feeding birds and squirrels. Take along some birdseed and scatter it on a log nearby. Birds, chipmunks, and squirrels will feed on it and this will keep you focused and help pass the time.
116. Fawns Time
Fawns tend to form a group that frequents a food source almost daily. If you can find these areas where there has been heavy doe harvest, your chances of getting a buck will increase significantly.
117. Gain Extra Seconds
When you are rattling antlers to call bucks in, don’t be afraid to put it down and pick up your rifle when you spot a buck. In one smooth and unhurried motion get your rifle and fire. Just don’t move too quickly or jerk your arms, the rifle, or your body. Deer can pick up the sudden movements and alarm them.
118. Horn Them In
During this phase, don’t forget to take your horn with you. Bucks will be on the lookout for does and you can rattle the antlers to lure bucks in.
119. Tree Stand & Scent
Don’t place a scent too close to your tree stand. It may prove counter-productive and get the deer to pay attention to the area where you are hiding thereby increasing the likelihood that your cover may be blown.
120. Go Green
At this stage of the rut, green food will pull big bucks in. Use clover, rye, wheat, and winter bulbs and sugar beets to pull big bucks and does.
121. Scout Hunting Land Early
During spring before foliage starts is the best time to scout and map out an area. At this time, trails, bedding areas, scrapes, and rubs are visible.
122. Silent Killer
If you have a piece of scrap carpet, take it along and place it on your stand floor. It will silence your steps and keep your feet warm.
123. Tie Branches
When you are setting up your tree stand, it is better to tie back any branches which may obstruct your view rather than clipping branches.
124. Cat Steps
At this time, you have to step without making almost any noise. With leaves down and bucks bedding close to the food, you have to tread carefully. Work the safest, outside edges and only move in if you are sure it can be done undetected.
125. Open-Country Stalks
Stalking open spaces is difficult. One strategy which works is to move in a meandering pattern like you were grazing an animal on all fours from downwind.
126. Welcome The Blur
If you see blurry images on your trail cameras, don’t get frustrated. It could either mean a doe on the run or a buck in hot pursuit. When you have a blurry picture, set up near that trail the next day.
127. Wounded Buck & Blood Color
The blood color of a wounded buck can give you valuable information like where on the buck’s body it got hit, and how quickly you should follow it. If the buck is hit in the lungs, the blood color will be a bright red color full of oxygen. Deer hit in the lungs won’t go far and you should follow quickly.
A gutshot will display dark red or purple blood color. If you find this blood with bits of intestinal fat, give it some time to bed down and stiffen before you send a follow-up shot.
128. Scrape Redo
One of the best times to go back to hunting a primary scrape is during the second breeding period. Any secondary rut action will occur right there.
129. Good Scope For Hunting
Buy a good quality hunting riflescope that will not only give you more confidence and improve your accuracy at longer distances, but they collect light in the early morning and late evening hours to give you an extra thirty minutes of shooting time.
130. Light Blinding
If you want to get out of a food-source evening stand without spooking a late-season deer, wait until it is fully dark and then shine a powerful flashlight into the eyes of the nearby deer. The bright light won’t spook it but will confuse and blind them to your escape.
131. Big Bucks & Thrashed-Up Brush
If you are looking for a big buck, look for a thrashed-up brush. Big bucks will destroy a brush. They demonstrate their power and leave their scent behind by thrashing a brush.
132. Snow Trails
When traveling becomes difficult for bucks due to ice-crusted snow, go to a food source and use heavy boots to make a trail from the grub into the woods. Deer will be so hungry that they will forget about your intrusion and begin to use your trail for moving. Create a trail to your stand to quietly set up.
133. High Tech Gadgets
Before deer season begins, practice with all of your high-tech gadgets like laser rangefinders, GPS units, etc.
134. Grub Hunting Done Right
During the secondary breeding phase, some bucks will be breeding and they will find the does in the hottest food sources. You should set up near these hot food sources. How do you pick the right food source to target? When it’s warm hunt green food sources like brassicas or alfalfa sprouting above the snow. If it is cold, go for grains, corn, and beans.
135. Downwind Hunting
Approach a thick cover from downwind although you may have to circle down, around, and back up steep slopes and ledges. Move very slowly to avoid getting winded.
136. Wind Awareness
In hunting, you have to be aware of the direction the wind blows and how you should position yourself with respect to its direction to avoid being detected by the deer. You don’t want the wind blowing your human scent to the nostrils of the deer.
To know how to move to avoid your scent being blown to the deer, you have to know the hunting ground. You need to be aware of their bedding and feeding areas, travel routes, and food sources. Additionally, you must be aware of how the wind is blowing when you enter and exit the hunting location.
137. Don’t Be Trigger Happy
Make sure of your target before you ever pull the trigger. This is the most important decision in whitetail hunting. Be very sure of what you are aiming at. Is it a deer? A buck? If there is any doubt, don’t touch the trigger. Countless tragedies have occurred because someone wasn’t sure what he saw and pulled the trigger.
138. Tail Erect Doe
If you spot a doe with her tail erect, it indicates that she is ready to breed or almost ready. Be ready because a buck will close by.
139. Treetops & Feeding Your Herd
Don’t haul the crowns of trees out of the lot when you are felling trees and gathering logs for winter firewood. The tender branch tips will be browsed by deer during the cold winter months.
140. Hunt Tuesday and Thursday after Thanksgiving
You might just have the woods all to yourself for most days.
141. Use Binoculars
Always carry a good pair of hunting binoculars and even use them in close terrain where you normally think it is not needed. Binocular magnification power and the ability to pick up extra light will help you see through thick cover and spot animals that you couldn’t spot with your naked eye.
142. Shots Fired
When hunting whitetail deer, a single shot followed by silence is a good signal.
143. Transition Zones
Deer switch from grazing in fields to browsing on branches, twigs, and buds from the end of October and early November. Such foods are found in transition zones of thick growth. It is a good idea to set up your tree stand close to deer trails adjacent to rubs or scrapes in the transition zones.
144. Muzzleloader Cleaning
Clean the muzzleloader after every shot. The accuracy of your weapon will be affected if you don’t clean it right away.
145. Still-Hunt Uphill Early Morning
Air flows downhill as it cools in the evening and uphill when it heats up during the day. Deer keep track of their surroundings by using these wind movements; therefore, in the late evening and early morning, hunt uphill and down the rest of the day.
146. Buck Hair & Meat Taste
When dressing the deer meat, be careful to keep the buck’s hair off the meat if it was shot during any phase of the rut. If the meat makes contact with the hair, it will influence the taste.
147. Store Emergency Equipment
Keep essential survival gear in a pocket of one of your inner layers.
148. Root Banging To Call Deer
One trick to call deer out is by tapping a tree root with a metal object. If deer hear the tapping, they might get curious and come out of cover to find out what is making the strange sound.
149. Hunt In Three Places
Locate a field corner that is bounded by timber on one side and a swamp, slough, or bottomland on the other. After locating this spot, set up your tree stand with a good view of any trails which lead from one to another.
150. Buck’s Age & Droppings
You can guess the age of a buck by taking a look at its droppings. The droppings of older bucks are thicker, longer, and more clumped together.
151. Don’t Hang Your Stand Too High
On level terrain, hanging your stand high will hide your presence, but when the terrain is steep and hilly that may put you at eye level with deer moving the ridges. Lower your tree stand to camouflage your silhouette. Deer will have a difficult time locating it when they are looking downhill.
152. Early Morning Fresh Tracks
When still-hunting, the best time to follow fresh deer tracks in the snow is early morning.
153. Hunting Pressure On Public Land
If you hunt on public land, there is a good chance you will run into other hunters. Use them to your advantage by setting up your tree stand on trails leading to thick cover near routes the other hunters are using. When deer are spooked, they will flee to these areas and you will be in a good position to get them when they sneak through.
154. Deer Tail Décor
If you have the tail of a deer from one of your hunting trips, you can use it to make a decoy to draw curious deer closer to you. Attach a string to the tail and sprinkle it with scent. Dangle it from where you sit and any deer that sees the tail shifting in the air will come to find out.
155. Decoy Antler Size
Your decoy’s antlers should not be too large or too small for the area you are hunting in. Dominant animals may not consider the decoy of significance if it is too small. If they are too large, it may intimidate the animals.
156. Still-Hunting in Bad Weather
Elevated terrain is the best place to still-hunt during bad weather.
157. Guess a Deer’s Sex
If tracks meander through the woods, they are most likely those of does. Bucks tracks often move from point A to point B. Bucks move with purpose.
158. Bedding Areas
You can identify bedding areas of bucks if there are a lot of rubs within a small area of 50 yards or less. You can then set up in that vicinity and wait for bucks to come by.
159. A Good Extra
When you go on high-country bow hunts, do take along a blunt or judo point in your quiver. They can be used for getting a grouse or two for dinner.
160. Stick Tracking Wounded Target
You can use a stick to track a wounded deer. If it is difficult to track it because of the type of soil, you can use a stick that is the size of the target’s stride to track it by placing the stick on the last clear track and pointing it in the direction you think it went and look for other tracks or drops of blood.
161. Hunting On Small Woodlots
Deer will pattern you as much as try to pattern them when you are hunting on small woodlots. The best thing to do in this situation is to change your stand locations and where you park.
162. Deer Response Time
When you rattle for bucks, be patient and wait for some time for bucks to respond. Usually, they don’t respond to the rattling immediately. They don’t instantly move into an area where they think other bucks are fighting over their territory.
163. When To Move & When To Sit Still
You should sit still in your stand and wait for the deer to come your way when you know that the deer are moving in the morning and evening hours. Only when they stop moving that you should go find them.
164. Step Like Deer
Learn to walk like deer. This will allow you to get closer to your target without spooking them. Learning to step like deer is a skill that pays dividends in hunting bucks.
165. Still-Hunt on Windy Days
Windy days are good for stalking. Deer lie in heavy cover and don’t move when the wind is blowing. This presents an opportunity for you to stalk brushy draws and other tangles and get close to them.
166. Five-Second Rule
Deer usually keep their heads down in the grass for about five seconds when they eat before raising their heads to look around. You can use this knowledge to crawl closer to your target before becoming motionless.
167. Diner Eating On Opening Morning
Don’t meet your hunting friends in a diner. Odors from tobacco and food are very strong in restaurants and it will contaminate your clothing and deer will pick up your scent very easily.
158. Still-Hunting on New Property
If you are hunting in unfamiliar territory that you haven’t had time to scout, still-hunting is the best tactic to use.
169. Quiet Stride For Still-Hunting
Develop the skill of taking smaller steps and placing your feet heel or to first. This will ensure you reduce the noise you make when you walk on the forest floor. Learn to shift your weight slowly onto your forward leg while you roll your foot from heel to toe.
170. Quality of the Shot
Don’t assume you missed your target if you can’t locate any amount of hair at the site of the shot. Hard-hit deer tend to not lose a lot of hair. On the other hand, don’t assume you got a good shot on the target if there’s a good amount of hair scattered about.
171. Analyze Stomach Contents
Always examine the stomach contents of a deer you got. Well-digested food was eaten earlier in the day and less-digested food was what it ate last before it was killed. This is valuable information to determine where the deer were feeding just before you shot it and then use the findings toward filling any open tags you may still have.
172. Five Minutes Stand Still
Whitetail deer have a short-term memory of about three minutes. If you snap a branch or make any noise similar to snapping a branch while you were closing in on a deer, stop at once and stand still for about five minutes. When you start moving again after the five minutes span, the animals in your vicinity will have forgotten about the noise you made.
173. Beat The Wind With Multiple Stands
Setup multiple stands on a single site to accommodate changing wind directions.
174. Opening Day Stand Time
Get in your stand early on an opening day. Get to your hunting location about an hour before daylight before other hunters start stirring up the woods.
175. Walk Quietly
You can walk more quietly on an established footpath than to walk through the loose litter on the forest floor. Therefore it is always best to stay on game trails and roads.
176. Multiple Stands
Have a number of stands for every direction the wind can blow in. Don’t decide which stand you will use on opening day until you check the wind direction before leaving camp in the morning.
177. Moon & Whitetails
Whitetails start moving with an early rising moon in late afternoons. They don’t wait for the dark to begin foraging.
178. Crowded Hunting Lands
You can use crowded hunting lands to your advantage by setting up near heavily-used access early to avoid disturbing deer and beating other hunters who will come at the break of daylight. This will hand you a good chance of spotting bucks that were pushed by hunters who came late.
179. Biting Flies & Buck Hideouts
In the early season when the weather is hot, bucks will reside deep in cool well-shaded swamps and bottomlands. This area is usually infested with biting flies and when you stalk slowly through the cover, you will often see the buck motioning with its head or flicking his ears in attempts to dislodge the flies.
180. Missed Shot
Don’t give up if you missed a buck on your shot, especially on opening day. If you locate a good spot, other bucks will come your way after encountering other hunters.
181. Startled Herd & Raised Tails
When a group of deer is spooked, does signal danger by raising their tails more often than bucks. So if you spot a running deer with its tail down, most likely you have spotted a buck.
182. All Day Hunting Dress
Dress like you will spend the day sitting in wait for the buck. The longer you can stay in the field on opening day, the better your chances of getting a buck.
183. Follow Tracks in Low Light
In certain light conditions, it is difficult to find tracks of deer. To solve this dilemma, an old Indian trick is employed. Move from side to side to position the light in the best position. At the right angle, the light will show the hoof marks or ruffled leaves due to the shadows they show.
184. Donate Hides
Deer body hair insulates animals in the winter. Donate the hides to fly tiers who use them to catch trout, bass, and other fish.
185. Easily Check Wind
Use a light feather to be your wind indicator. Hang it from a bow limb with a piece of dental floss. Feathers of grouse, doves, pheasants, or quail can do the job.
186. Down Low Buck Spotting
When you are still hunting through thick brush, one of the things to look for is the horizontal line of a whitetail’s back. You will have a better chance of finding a hidden deer this way than by looking for the whole animal.
187. Scaring Big Bucks
There is the possibility that you may come across a good buck before the season starts. Don’t go after him in his bedding site. This will just drive away from the whole group. The travel zones between the bedding site and the feeding spot should be your hunting target.
188. How Far Deer Travel
After finding deer trails, look for tracks in the trails. If the tracks are headed in one direction, follow the trail to determine where it goes. There is a good chance that you have found the main trail heading to the food source.
189. Climbing Stand & Noise
Climbing stands can be noisy. Use bungee cords to modify it by securing the two pieces of the stand so they don’t collide when you walk. Plastic nuts should be used instead of wingnuts.
190. Stand Facing the Sun
Don’t place your stand in a position that it faces a rising or falling sun. The light rays beaming into your eyes will make it difficult for you to see into shadows during critical low-light hours. Moreover, the light will reflect off gun barrels, glasses, and other objects to spook the deer.
191. Pullover Cap
Pullover caps capture more body heat than any garment. Take one with you.
192. Hunting in Unfavorable Wind
Don’t hunt from a stand in which you will be upwind to where you think the buck will be. If you are in place and the wind changes direction, leave the area.
193. Big Bucks & Big Rubs
If you see a rub that was made on a tree of a large diameter, the chances are it was made of a big buck.
194. Small Shooting Lanes
If you find it difficult to a clear shooting lane when hunting deer in deep cover, grunt or whistle at a buck when he enters a gap in the brush. Upon hearing the sound, he will stop to identify the source of the sound. That will be your chance to take a good shot.
195. Hidden Stand
An ingenious way of determining if your stand or ground blind is well hidden is to take a picture of yourself sitting when you are hunting. Convert this photograph to a black-and-white photograph.
If the black-and-white picture easily indicates your position, then it means the buck can also easily recognize you as it is color blind. Work on reconfiguring the position.
196. Fresh Antlers
You can keep your antlers fresh by applying linseed oil to them. When rattled, antlers clicks, and clacks should be sharp, not dull clunks when rattled.
197. Rattling Partner
Hunting with a partner is a good practice if you plan on rattling for bucks. Bucks will circle downwind as they approach the sound. The rattler should be set up in heavy cover with open ground downwind and the shooter with clear shooting lanes into the open ground. Being focused on the rattling sound, the buck will pass the shooter’s downwind stand and may not detect the threat.
198. Bow Practice
Practice shooting with your bow in real-life hunting situations. Wear the hunting clothes you usually wear during hunting, have the gear on you which you usually carry on you, and simulate your hunting scenes with bow practice.
199. Fresh Tarsal Glands at Check Stations
You can use tarsal glands as a scent to attract big bucks during the rut. If you need fresh glands to use, go to the closest check station and ask hunters who brought in their catch if you can remove the tarsal glands from their bucks.
200. Sleepy Bucks & A Full Moon
White-tail deer tend to feed heavily in the evening hours when there is a full moon and clear skies. They are less mobile during the daytime than when the sky is dark all night. This presents a good opportunity to run drives through heavy cover or still-hunt after a well-lit night.
201. Wear Orange During Deer Drives
If you intend on participating in a drive, you and every other hunter on the drive should wear a good amount of hunter orange.
202. Where Not To Hang Stand
Don’t be tempted to hang your stand in an area where there are lots of signs of deer activity. Chances are they are pretty familiar with this terrain and will pick up unusual smells, sounds, and objects. Camouflaging your identity in such conditions will be difficult.
203. Scope on Low Power
Always leave your variable hunting scope on the lowest power. When you spot a buck at a distance, you will have the time to change the hunting scope to a high-power setting. At close range, you won’t have the time to quickly adjust.
204. Where Deer Drink
Find secluded watering areas which could possibly be in the normal travel routes of deer and you will have increased your chances of sighting them.
205. A Shooter or Not
The timeframe to determine if a buck is a shooter or not is usually a very short time and you will have to determine that quickly as it crosses an opening.
206. Late Clearings
Don’t clear shooting lanes too late when you are setting up your stand. If you do, the deer might be spooked by the freshly cut brush.
207. Scout The Area
Scouting is a very important part of hunting especially when bowhunting. Setting up where you will have a shot that is 30-yards or closer is key.
208. Clippers & Shooting Lanes
Clippers come in handy when you are still hunting. You can use pruning shears to clip branches and brambles which are blocking your path with very little noise.
209. Spare Gun
Always take a spare gun that you have used along when hunting. It serves as a backup just in case your main gun has an issue.
210. Hot Weather Hunting & Mornings
Hunt deer during the hot weather in the morning during the first two hours of the shooting light. This is when the air is the coolest the quarry will be moving from their feed site to the bedding site.
211. Roll a Rock
If hunting is slow in canyon country, roll one or two rocks down a steep slope to startle a buck into revealing himself from his cover. This will give you a good view of the surrounding area and will be able to take a shot at him when he stops running to assess the situation.
212. Acorn Hunting
Big bucks are too smart to go into open fields before dark. They will feed off acorns from big oak trees where there is more cover and lower light. This is an ideal place to hunt bucks.
213. Shooting the First Buck
When a herd of deer comes into a feeding area, the biggest bucks will be the last to show up. Don’t shoot until the last minutes of the shooting light before choosing one to take down if you are hunting late afternoons.
214. Bow Practice For A Month
Practice hunting with your bow for a month before bow season. Bows shoot differently if it has been hung up for the off-season. You will identify and become familiar with any quirks from long storage.
215. Odd Corner Hunt
If you find small fields or clearings that are just large enough to allow sunlight in for crops to grow, set up a stand there. Deer like these areas because they can feed there without being exposed.
216. A Feeding Deer’s Tail
Watching a feeding deer’s tail will alert you to when it will raise its head to look around. They always twitch their tails before raising their heads to look around. If you freeze when you see this routine, chances are you will not alert it to your presence. Then continue stalking when it drops its head back down to feed.
217. Dealing with Buck Fever
If you come across a trophy buck and realize that you are tensing up too much to make an accurate shot, look away for a minute, take deep breaths, look back and find the spot you want to hit. Don’t look at the antlers again until you have put him down.
218. Late Season Deer Hunt
Most white-tailed deer will change their feeding pattern when the weather starts to get colder. They will search for branches and twigs during the warmest hours of the day. You should also change your hunting schedule and sit in your stand when the sun is high to get them when they move.
219. When to Draw
Knowing how and when to draw your bow without the quarry noticing the movement is one of the challenging aspects of bowhunting. If you draw too soon, you will have to hold the weight too long. If you draw too late, you might never get a shot.
If you have a good idea of the route the deer you want to take down is taking, wait until its eyes are covered by stump, tree trunk, or rock. Then go for it.
220. Make Less Noise on Your Trail
Improve your ability to walk quietly by practicing your technique for fifteen minutes walking through noisy terrain. Do take note of the places where you think you did well and where you made mistakes. Then reverse course and analyze your trail. You will glean valuable information about the best ways to place your feet.
221. Blood Trail & Body
When tracking a wounded deer, and the blood trail suddenly disappears, don’t lose hope. Animals usually stop bleeding just before they drop dead. Do a thorough search and chances are you will find it nearby.
222. Shooting From a Blind
Practice getting a solid rest for your elbow and rifle when hunting from a box blind. When it’s time to make the shot, you will know how to make the shot.
223. Deer & Late Winds
Deer are usually active if there is bad weather ahead. Keep watch and move downwind of where you think they will move through your stand site.
224. Measuring Draw Length
Choose a compound bow with the right draw length. To gauge the draw length, pull a light-draw-weight bow to full draw with a long arrow on the bowstring and anchor it using the same anchor point you will use when shooting.
Let someone mark the shaft at the back of the bow handle. Then measure the shaft from that mark to the string groove on the arrow’s nock. The resulting length is your draw length.
225. Lunchtime Buck
Many hunters go back to their camp or vehicles for a snack or chat with their buddies after they have been at their stands from the first light. This movement by the hunters inadvertently spooks the deer and the hunters who remain at their stands benefit from this.
Becoming a great hunter is a lifetime journey. There will always be things you learn as you hunt your entire lifetime. However, these are tips, when applied, will make you a better hunter and get you the buck you desire.
226. Bowhunting Draw Weight
You can determine the draw weight to use on your bow with three tests. Standing flat-footed, hold the bow at arm’s length and pull it back. If you have to “cheat” by lifting the bow up above your head to achieve a full draw, then it’s too heavy.
Then repeat this while seated and lastly in a kneeling position. It is important to have the ability to draw your bow with a minimum of movement, even at weird angles.
227. Shooting a Bow
You will shoot a bow better when you are relaxed. Don’t be tense and taut. If you notice that, try to relax your mind and muscles when you shoot.
228. Beware of Other Animals
Don’t just be concerned about not spooking the whitetail deer. You must be aware that other animals may be around and you don’t want to spook them. They also have their warning sounds that they may produce if they get spooked and that may alert the deer.
229. Overtraining With Bow
Practice with your bow regularly during the off-season, but don’t overdo it. If you get tired during practice, take a break. Your accuracy will reduce if you shoot while your muscles are sore.
230. Shot Concentration
If you are using a muzzleloader, you will need to concentrate to remain on target until the powder ignites.
The Bottom Line
Whether you are an experienced whitetail deer hunter or a beginner, these whitetail deer hunting tips will improve your hunting skills and help you take more deer home after the hunting season.