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Have you always wanted to hunt sika deer in the state of Maryland? Would you like to learn how to hunt sika deer? Sika are nocturnal and called “marsh ghosts” as they will disappear like a puff of smoke when it sense danger. In this article, we discuss strategies to help you succeed with sika deer hunts.

How To Hunt Sika Deer
How To Hunt Sika Deer

Sika Deer History

Sika deer is native to East Asia, particularly to southern Japan. They were introduced in Maryland in 1916 when Clement Henry put them on James Island. Today, they are found on the lower Eastern Shore continues. Sikas were once introduced either for hunting purposes or as ornamental animals in the USA, the British Isles, New Zealand, the Czech Republic, and other European countries.

The history of sika deer in the United States traces back to the late 19th century when they were introduced to the country. The initial importation of sika deer to the United States occurred in the late 1800s, primarily for ornamental purposes in private estates and game parks.

The first documented introduction of sika deer took place in Maryland around 1900, where a few individuals were released on James Island. Over time, additional introductions occurred in various states, including Texas, Virginia, and other parts of the East Coast. Sika deer quickly established breeding populations in these areas due to their adaptability to diverse habitats and reproductive capabilities.

Today, sika deer are found in scattered populations across several states, particularly along the East Coast and in coastal marshes and wetlands. While they are not native to the United States, sika deer have become an established and valued game species, providing recreational hunting opportunities and contributing to the ecological diversity of their habitats.

How To Hunt Sika Deer In Maryland

1. Scouting Sika Deer

When scouting for sika bucks, look around field edges, marshes, wetlands, oak flats, and thick stands of phragmites. Sika stags use phragmites as cover when they move from bedding to feeding areas. Poison ivy, catbrier, marsh grass, and mast are foods sikas eat. When you sika hunt, if you find these in the area, that could mean that there is a sika deer population there.

Moreover, keep an eye out for wallows. They create wallows and urinate in them to mark their territory, especially during the rut. If you discover wallows in the area as you scout for signs of sika, that will be a good sign that sikas are active in that area.

2. Predator Calls

Using predator calls when hunting mature bucks can be an effective tactic to elicit curiosity or alarm responses from these elusive animals. Hunters often use predator calls mimicking distress or territorial sounds of small mammals, birds, or other predators to pique the curiosity of a mature sika buck and draw it closer.

Additionally, predator calls can create a sense of danger or urgency, prompting deer to move from cover or bedding areas, presenting hunters with potential shooting opportunities. However, hunters need to exercise caution and use predator calls sparingly and judiciously to avoid overcalling, which may spook wary sika bucks or educate them about the presence of hunters.

Moreover, hunters should complement the use of predator calls with other hunting techniques such as still hunting or glassing to increase their chances of success on a hunting trip. When used strategically and in combination with other methods, predator calls can be a valuable tool in a hunter’s arsenal for pursuing wild sika deer.

Tricks For Hunting Sika Deer
Tricks For Hunting Sika Deer

3. Bait

Using bait when hunting for sika deer can be an effective strategy to attract these elusive animals to a specific location, increasing the likelihood of a successful hunt. Hunters typically set up bait stations in areas known to be frequented by sika deer, such as feeding or bedding areas, using a variety of natural food sources such as corn, apples, or other grains.

The bait is strategically placed to entice deer while allowing hunters to maintain a safe shooting distance and position. Baiting can help concentrate deer activity, providing hunters with a predictable opportunity to observe and select a target.

However, baiting regulations vary by location, and hunters must ensure compliance with local laws and regulations regarding the use of bait. Additionally, baiting requires careful consideration of ethical hunting practices to ensure the fair chase of game animals. Overall, when used responsibly and by regulations, baiting can be a valuable tool for hunters targeting sika deer.

4. Drives

Using drives when hunting for sika deer involves a collaborative effort among a group of hunters to strategically move deer toward waiting shooters. Hunters typically position themselves along likely escape routes or known deer trails while others drive the deer towards them by slowly and methodically moving through the designated area.

This method relies on careful coordination, communication, and an understanding of deer behavior to ensure a successful hunt. Drives can be particularly effective in dense cover or thick vegetation where deer are more likely to bed down and seek refuge.

However, it’s essential to conduct drives safely and ethically, ensuring that all hunters maintain a clear line of sight and proper shooting lanes to avoid accidents and ensure a humane harvest. Additionally, hunters must adhere to local regulations regarding the use of drives, including restrictions on the number of participants, designated hunting areas, and safety protocols. When executed correctly, using drives can be an exciting and productive method for hunting sika deer.

Tips For Hunting Sika Deer
Tips For Hunting Sika Deer

5. Spot & Stalk

Spot and stalk hunting for sika deer involves a strategic approach that requires patience, keen observation skills, and careful movement in their natural habitat. Hunters typically begin by scouting areas known to be frequented by sika deer, such as dense forests, marshlands, or coastal habitats.

Once a suitable location is identified, hunters use binoculars or spotting scopes to scan the landscape for signs of sika deer activity, including tracks, trails, and feeding areas. Once a deer is spotted, hunters carefully stalk closer while utilizing available cover to conceal their movements and avoid detection. This may involve moving slowly and quietly through the terrain, taking advantage of natural features like trees, bushes, and terrain contours to remain hidden.

As hunters close the distance, they must constantly reassess the deer’s location, wind direction, and any obstacles that may impede their approach. Spot and stalk hunting for sika deer requires a combination of stealth, patience, and sharpshooting skills, making it a challenging but rewarding pursuit for dedicated hunters.

6. Glassing

Glassing the hunting area is a crucial strategy when hunting for sika deer, involving the use of optics such as binoculars or spotting scopes to scan the landscape for signs of deer activity. Hunters typically position themselves in elevated vantage points such as hillsides, ridges, or high ground, allowing for a broader field of view and better visibility into the surrounding terrain.

By meticulously scanning the area, hunters can identify potential deer trails, feeding areas, bedding sites, and other signs of deer presence, such as tracks or antler rubs. Glassing allows hunters to observe deer behavior from a safe distance without alerting the animals to their presence, enabling them to plan their approach and make informed decisions about their hunting strategy.

Additionally, glassing helps hunters assess the quality of deer in the area, allowing them to target specific individuals or trophy specimens. Overall, glassing is a fundamental technique for effective sika deer hunting, providing hunters with valuable insights into the deer’s habits and movements while maximizing their chances of a successful hunt.

Sika Deer Hunting
Sika Deer Hunting

7. Still Hunting

The still hunting method is a patient and stealthy approach used by hunters to pursue sika deer in their natural habitat. Unlike other hunting methods that involve waiting in a fixed location or driving deer towards waiting shooters, Still hunting requires hunters to move slowly and quietly through the terrain while constantly scanning for signs of deer activity.

Hunters often employ this method in dense forests, marshlands, or coastal habitats where sika deer are known to frequent. By moving cautiously and silently, hunters can minimize their presence and increase their chances of catching deer unaware. Still hunting allows hunters to cover a lot of ground while remaining undetected, allowing them to spot deer before they are spotted themselves.

This method requires patience, keen observation skills, and a deep understanding of deer behavior to anticipate their movements and react accordingly. Still hunting can be a challenging but rewarding pursuit, offering hunters a close connection with nature and the opportunity for a memorable hunting experience.

8. Hire an Outfitter

Hiring an outfitter can greatly enhance the hunting experience for those seeking to pursue sika deer. Outfitters specialize in providing guided hunting trips tailored to the needs and preferences of their clients, offering a range of hunting services including lodging, meals, transportation, and expert guidance in locating and harvesting sika deer.

For hunters unfamiliar with the terrain or local regulations, hiring an outfitter can provide invaluable local knowledge and expertise, increasing the chances of a successful hunt. Outfitters often have exclusive access to prime hunting areas with an abundant population of sika deer, ensuring hunters have optimal opportunities to encounter and harvest this species of deer.

Additionally, outfitters typically handle logistics such as obtaining hunting licenses and permits, and processing game meat, allowing hunters to focus solely on the hunting experience. While hiring an outfitter may entail additional costs, the convenience, expertise, and quality of the hunting experience they provide can make it a worthwhile investment for those seeking a memorable and successful sika deer hunting adventure.

Sika Deer Hunting Tricks
Sika Deer Hunting Tricks

Sika Deer Hunting Tips

1. Sika deer are nocturnal and are most active at dusk and dawn.

2. When it becomes pressured, sika will disappear like a ghost.

3. Baiting is legal on private property in Maryland.

Sika Deer Hunting Tips
Sika Deer Hunting Tips

4. Sika are curious animals and you can use that to your advantage when hunting sika by calling them in.

5. Sika deer prefer thick, impenetrable cover and marshes.

6. Sika are difficult to pattern.

Sika Deer Hunting Ideas
Sika Deer Hunting Ideas

7. Sika likes marshes, oak flats, wetlands, field edges, and thick cover.

8. Male sika, called stags, weigh about 90 pounds, while females, called hinds, weigh about 70 pounds.

9. One of the most popular methods of hunting sikas is the spot and stalk method.

Ideas For Hunting Sika Deer
Ideas For Hunting Sika Deer

10. You can run drives with your hunting partners for Sikas.

11. Your best chance of getting an adult stag is during the rut which occurs in mid-October.

12. During the rut, the males become very vocal by “bugling”.

Hunting Sika Deer
Hunting Sika Deer

13. During the rut, the males define their territory by making wallows and urinating in it.

14. The males are very active during the rut with a lot of movements and this presents the best chances of seeing during the legal hours of hunting.

15. The males and females use vocalizations to communicate.

Hunting Sika Deer Tricks

16. Sikas emit a “bark” when they are alarmed.

17. You can hire an outfitter to hunt Sikas.

18. Drives can be used to hunt Sikas.

19. By learning to bugle, you can call in an aggressive stag looking for a fight with the other stag that is bugling.

Hunting Sika Deer Tips
Hunting Sika Deer Tips
Are sika deer hard to hunt?
Hunting sika deer is challenging as they are small, cover a lot of ground, are usually found in wet and swampy areas, and live in thick and impenetrable cover.
Is there public land to hunt sika deer in Maryland?
You can hunt sika in large areas within the Fishing Bay Wildlife Management Area and the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge.
What does the sika deer eat?
Sika eats green grass, mast, soybeans, corn, poison ivy, catbrier, marsh grass, ferns, etc.
Which deer is hardest to hunt?
The mature mule deer buck is one of the most challenging deer to hunt.
Do sika deer taste good?
Many who have eaten sika deer meat claim it is one of the tasty meat of big game animals and it tastes great because of the deer’s diet.
What do I need to hunt sika deer in Maryland?
A Maryland driver’s license is what you need to hunt sika deer in Maryland.

The Bottom Line

Sikas are challenging to hunt as they are small, cover a lot of ground, and use thick and impenetrable cover to protect themselves. Sika is a unique deer that can be challenging to hunt. It is an exotic species that is normally found in its native habitat; sika deer can also be hunted from tree stands. Trail cameras can also be used in the hunting zone to provide information for hunters.In this article, we discuss the information and strategies you can use to successfully hunt sikas.

If you are also interested in hunting fallow deer, you can read how to hunt fallow deer. You can also read how to hunt blacktail deer, how to hunt axis deer, and how to hunt red deer.