Becoming a better deer hunter requires thinking outside of the box as well as adhering to tried and true methods that cannot be overstated in their importance. Hunting is not as simple as grabbing a firearm and heading out to aimlessly find a buck to hunt.
Deer hunting requires thoughtful preparation, scouting, the right gear, patience, and adhering to some basics. Whether you want to freshen up on your deer hunting skills and theory, or you are a novice looking for some advice on where to start, the following paragraphs will offer you 9 important tips to make you a better and more successful deer hunter.
As a hunter, one of your goals is to be as scent free as possible to avoid your prey smelling you before you get your shot off. Cover scents are a helpful tool, but they only work as well as a hunter’s elimination of their own scent. Eliminating human odors as best as possible is one of the most important pre-hunting actions you can take because scent covers can only do so much. Scent covers work best when applied on hunters who have taken care to rid themselves of human contaminates.
You can start by eliminating human odors on your clothing, gear, and your body. Hunting supply shops sell scent eliminating soaps, laundry detergent, and even clothing bags that mask any scent with a potent earth smell.
Packing your gear in earth-scent bags is a pre-hunting ritual you should always do, as is bathing using scent eliminating soaps. You will never truly become impossible to smell in the wilderness, as sweat, wind, human contamination, and wildlife’s incredible sense of smell will always be a factor. However, you can do a lot with excellent and cheap scent control products that last a long time and are worth the preparation.
Scout Out Before the Hunt
Hunting is not always about heading out into the woods and stalking or finding your prey as it passes. You can become a better deer hunter by understanding where deer gather and doing your homework by scouting out your hunting area before the actual hunt.
Deer tend to frequent certain areas for food, mating, and safety. Anyone who has had a garden in an area where deer frequent, know how they love to come back and eat your flowers and food. Using this same premise, even in the wild, deer will frequent certain areas that they know are safe and create trails for themselves (deer runs).
To be a good hunter, you do not have to go out blind and nab yourself a deer if one happens by. Knowing where to find your prey is half the battle. Taking the time to scout your intended hunting area before your hunt is important. You can get an idea of how skittish the deer are, what time of day they frequent the area, how many there are, you can get familiar with the terrain, and most importantly, you can pre-plan how you will set up your blind/stand and gear.
Practice Setting up Tree Stand Blind and Gear Pre-Season
One of the most important things to master as a hunter is your own impact onto the environment. This can extend to your human scent, how you utilize your gear (such as your hunting backpack), and how much noise you make as you travel.
In order to master your goal of quietly acquiescing through the environment, you must be well-practiced and familiar with your gear, your pre- and peri-hunt scent control, your coverage (tree stand blinds), and your own movements.
Special Forces and Police Officers are good at what they do because they practice, practice, practice. They know exactly what gear they have, where it is on their person, and how to move quietly to retain the element of surprise and avoid detection.
As a hunter, you can do the same in the wild. Deer have sensitive hearing, can feel vibrations of foot stomping, and they have a great sense of smell. By practicing the packing of your gear, extracting it from your pack, knowing your weapon forwards and backwards, and setting up your tree stand blind during the pre-season, you can create a well-oiled plan that will help you become a better hunter.
When you scout out the environment of your planned hunt, you can become familiar with the area, become familiar with carrying your gear quietly, and practice setting up your tree stand blind so that the first time you do it, isn’t when you have that perfect deer in front of you that you will likely end up scaring away.
Practice makes perfect, and you will thank yourself for the foresight when you have yourself a trophy buck.
Scent covers and scent eliminators are ways of taking control of a deer’s sense of smell and turning it to your advantage.
For your next successful hunt, try out the concept of “territorial infringement” on the bucks in your hunting area. The idea of this concept is when a buck enters the territory of another (this buck will be you, via buck urine, buck grunt calls, and tarsal glands), the other buck will take notice—but not to run away. Instead of simply avoiding detection, you can entice a buck to stay in the area.
To practice territorial infringement, you can pour buck urine and gel of tarsal gland at your preferred hunting spot. You can use the urine on a drag system as well. Remember that the bucks that will stay in the area are going to be the dominant males—they are larger and when they smell another buck in their territory, they will be looking for him and getting ready for battle.
This can be used in your favor. By taking this backward route of bringing the deer to you rather than quietly finding them in passing, you increase your chances of a successful hunt of a large buck.