Deer hunting is an excellent pastime that requires knowledge, skill, and a little luck. It also takes more than a little patience to be a successful deer hunter which is why this sport can lead to frustration in some cases. If you’re like me, you don’t let frustration get you down and instead work harder to improve your chances of bagging the perfect deer.
This being the case, let’s go over five tips that will improve your chances when hunting deer.
1. Use a Deer Feeder
While salt licks have been a thing for decades, deer feeders have really taken baiting to the next level. Unlike their predecessors, deer feeders can be programmed to feed deer at specific times of the day. This means that with proper timing, you can literally train the deer in an area to feed during the day and make daytime hunting much more effective.
There are several things to keep in mind when using a deer feeder. First is what model you want. As previously mentioned, there are automated deer feeders that give deer access to food at certain times of the day. There are also more basic models that just let the deer come get the food whenever they want. This isn’t much different than a salt lick though.
Regardless of what kind of feeder you get, you’ll need to put some thought into how to get it to your hunting location. In most cases, securely strapping it to the back of an ATV is your best bet. Also, you should make sure that your feeding location is far enough away from human-trafficked areas that the deer won’t be spooked, but not so far that transporting your feeder and the feed is a huge hassle.
2. Change Locations
Like fishing, sometimes a change of location can make all the difference in the world when it comes to hunting. There can be many reasons to change locations, such as the deer taking different paths through the woods, too many competing hunters, and when the deer’s natural food source begins to run low. In any case, keep track of these factors and if your location simply isn’t producing results, be prepared to move.
Changing locations when hunting can be as simple as moving to a different part of the forest or as complicated as going hunting in a completely different state. If you choose the latter, there are a few things to keep in mind. First of all, you’ll need to study the gun and hunting laws in the state you plan on traveling to. The last thing you want is to accidentally break a law and end up receiving a massive fine or having your guns confiscated.
You’ll also need transportation but driving isn’t always practical and flying can be expensive. This makes finding a company that will ship your car a good option for long-distance hunting trips. This way you get the comfort of your own vehicle and don’t have to deal with rental car paperwork or the price tag that comes with flying.
3. Maintain Strict Scent Control
Deer follow their nose and if they smell you, they’ll be heading in the opposite direction. While you can’t always compensate for the direction of the wind, you can control your own body odor. While there are extreme tactics that some hunters use such as masking their scent with skunk spray and/or deer droppings, I realize that you probably want a strategy that is a little more practical and less stinky.
One of the most common methods of scent control is using an odorless soap to wash up with and cleaning your hunting gear with odorless detergent. This is because not only can deer recognize the scent of a human, but they also recognize unnatural scents such as soap, cologne, and detergent. Eliminating all unnatural scents is a major part of smart scent control.
You will also want to make sure that you keep your hunting gear scent-free as well. This means you should avoid putting on your gear or even touching it until you get to your hunting location. Using this strategy will make sure that it doesn’t pick up scents from your home, the gas station, or any other stops you make along the way.
4. Avoid Predictability
Deer aren’t stupid and have better pattern-recognition skills than you may think. Also, while not all deer are herd animals, most move in herd-like patterns. This means if one deer catches on to your location, its movement will change and may influence the movement of the rest of the deer in the area. Basically what I’m trying to say is that if you’re predictable in your hunting patterns, the deer in the area will figure it out and avoid you.
Think of it this way, the less predictable you are to the deer, the more predictable they are. This is especially true if you’re using a feeder as previously mentioned. The best way to achieve this is to understand the land you’re hunting on and the movement of both the deer and other humans in the area.
This will allow you to choose a variety of locations in an area to set up your tree stand so that you can alternate between them while still frequenting areas known for high deer populations and movement.
5. Follow the Does
Whether you’re hunting for trophies or just meat, it pays to follow the does. This is because bucks follow them, especially in rutting season, making doe a primary target. In a way, this could be compared to chumming which is when you catch a little fish and then use it as bait for a larger fish.
Only you’re not going to be killing the does if you’re looking to take down a big buck, you’ll just keep track of their movement and let them lead you to your prize. Also, consider that during the rutting season, bucks will become much more careless in pursuit of a doe. This means that your chances of bagging a big buck increase as well.
Developing Smart Deer Hunting Habits
While planning and preparation are important when it comes to deer hunting, it is through repetition that good habits form and your hunting becomes more successful in the long run. Don’t let yourself get discouraged if you have a run of bad luck. As long as you keep at it and keep practicing good deer hunting habits, your luck will eventually improve.
Also, don’t be afraid to change your strategy if you’re having a particularly rough time with it. A change in location, time frame, or deer feed can make all the difference in the world.
Also read: Shoebill Stork: The Meat-eating Modern-day Dinosaur