Your First Hunt: A Guide to Deer Hunting for Beginners

Depending on where you are, deer hunting season may be well on its way or it has already started. You want to join the hunting party and it’s your first time deer hunting. What do you need to know? 

A whopping 11.5 million Americans go hunting. It’s 2 million less than before and hunting expenditure dropped 29%. Despite that, new hunters are still coming up to learn the hobby and connect with nature. 

Below, we have a quick guide on deer hunting for beginners. Keep reading, especially if it’s your first time hunting. After all, preparation and knowledge are your most important tools for deer hunting.

Deer Hunting for Beginners

Deer Hunting 101: What You Need to Know 

Before you go on the hunt, it’s good to read a little on the things you need to know when hunting. 

Educate yourself about your prey. You don’t need to memorize books on deer behavior and mating rituals. What you need to learn is how to work around a deer’s senses and how to kill a deer with efficiency.

Of course, another one of the first things you need to know is how to handle your hunting equipment. Many hunting basics classes will help you choose and practice your hunting weaponry. Better yet, before the hunt, drive by the shooting range and get warmed up.

Many deer hunting laws and regulations exist in the United States. Read about and understand your local deer hunting laws. It’s also important that you get all the needed paperwork like your hunting license.

Deer Hunting Equipment

There are many types of deer hunting equipment to choose from in the market. Find out what kind of weapon you work well with and practice with it. Are you a bow-and-arrow kind of hunter or a rifle user?

Practice your weapon in the range first before you use it in the field. Get used to the feel of the weapon, to the trigger pull, and looking through the scope. Your hunting weapon must feel like it’s become an extension of you.

Work with the equipment and get good at using it. If you feel that it doesn’t work out, you can always switch and try a different one before you make your final decision. If you’re taking your child with you, make sure they know their weapons as well.

You’re not restricted from using more than one weapon. However, you should focus on mastering one rather than switching between many. It’s also good to look into any hunting accessories that improve the hunting experience. 

Other simple tools of the trade include a knife, some rope, and a piece of tarp. The knife and rope will be useful in the field and for when you gut the deer. Use the tarp to drag the deer back to your truck or cabin.

Attire and Gear

Like many hobbies and sports, you‘ll need specific attire for deer hunting. In the field, you’ll be doing a lot of walking, sitting, and waiting. Make sure you have clothes that allow you to adapt to changes in the weather. 

It will often be cold in the morning and evening while the day will be hot. Make sure you have all the layers you need and then some. The attire you’ll need also depends on the climate conditions of the area or state.

Make it a habit to keep a coat and a cap in your backpack. For cold weather, make sure you keep your head and neck warm. Quality, waterproof boots are also a great investment and they will last longer than cheap hunting boots. 

Note that you need to have enough orange if you are gun hunting. If you are hunting with a bow, you can do away with camouflage. To be sure, check your local laws about the hunter orange regulation.

Also, a good hunter keeps his backpack well-stocked. Pack extra ammo, binoculars, scent blockers, water, and some food. Bring extra clothes sealed in a bag in case of sudden weather changes.

How to Hunt Deer

At last, let us delve into the procedure of deer hunting for beginners. One of the first things you need to do is to read your surroundings. Scout for deer and do it from a distance.

One very important skill is to know which way the wind is blowing. Deer have a sensitive sense of smell and when they get wind of you, you’ll lose them. Don’t let them move downwind of you or use scent-blocking products.

If you’re hunting on public land, look for prospective places to hunt. If you have access to game cameras, use them to spy on deer. Early mornings and late evenings are the best times to look for deer.

When you find a good place to hunt for deer, sit tight. Deer hunting is a waiting game most of the time. You’ll need a ton of patience and/or something to keep yourself busy as you wait.

When a deer makes its way to your hunting area, check the deer if it’s a legal deer. Your state may have antler restrictions, buck only regulations, or other requirements. Make sure to check with the local laws before you shoot any deer.

When shooting a deer, target its vitals, which is the area behind or above the deer’s front shoulder. Make sure there is no vegetation blocking the shot. If you want the deer to stop walking, whistle or grunt before you take the shot. 

Deer Hunting for Beginners

Since they have experience with deer hunting, listen to your mentor. If you don’t have one and you’re a first-time hunter, get one. Your chances of success are much larger with a mentor to guide and correct you.

If the deer you shot doesn’t fall to the ground right away, give it 1-2 hours to lie down. If you hit it in a nonlethal area, give it a second shot. If the shot misses clean, it’s better to wait for another deer to come to you. 

It’s not enough to spray yourself with odor eliminator before you trek out. Bring an odor eliminator with you to your tree stand. When spraying, give a lot of attention to your hat and hair.

Trailcam Hanging Tips

Once you narrow it down to that perfect area, the next challenge is to mount the trail camera to the tree.  This is not too difficult to manage, but there are definitely a few things you should keep in mind.

I have wasted a lot of time out there and learned a lot along the way, so hopefully you can benefit from some of that experience.

The first tip I have mentioned before, so I’ll be brief.  In all of your dealings with trail cameras remember this:  quicker is better!  You should aim to be “in and out”.  Spraying yourself with some scent eliminator can never hurt either, and it wouldn’t be a terrible idea to hit the camera with a couple of shots on your way out.

With all that in mind, here are a couple of my best trail camera hanging tips:

  • Face your camera to the North.  (Or South).   A lot of folks will face them either due east or west.  You are essentially staring them straight at either the rising or setting sun.  Neither of which is a very good idea.  You will always have a period of the day where you end up with useless pictures.  South would be OK, but I say north because you also avoid exposures blowout from strong backlight.  Bring a compass.  It’s worth the little extra effort in saving you from false positives and empty or ruined photos.
  • Make sure there is a clear view.  Whenever possible, I try to hide my trail cams in some brush.  Helps to keep it out of the face of the animals as well as deterring thieves.  Be sure you have some way to test the location.  An LCD viewing screen or small digital camera works well.  Bring clippers with you just in case.  Never set up a camera without testing, as you will go back and find a bunch of useless pictures.
  • Hang about 3 feet off the ground.  Whenever possible.  You get the best results from 3 feet.  Security needs may dictate otherwise, which is fine. Hanging higher and angling downward is going to result in more trial and error.  Again though, if you test in the field you should be fine anyway.
  • Angle towards the trail.  So simple it is often overlooked.  Hanging at a 45 degree angle to the trail will increase the trigger time of your device and give you a better quality of the entire animal.  Just increased chances of the money shot!

You will certainly pick up more along the way, this is just a couple to get you going in the right direction!  If you don’t have one yet, you can check out the best value trail camera here.

Follow These Tips and Go Hunting Today

Many beginners might get frustrated when they come home empty-handed. The key is to practice your shots and to master your concealment strategy.

Did you enjoy our post on deer hunting for beginners? If you did, you may enjoy our other guides. Don’t hesitate to read our other lists now to discover more tips and tricks.

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