There are many tactics that can be used throughout the deer hunting season. The foundation of these tactics revolve around deer movement. To be successful, the hunter should strive to understand reasons why deer move.
The number one and must consistent reason for deer movement is food. Deer need to replenish their food throughout the day.
This requires the deer to search out the available food sources. These food sources will change as the season progresses resulting in changing deer movement patterns.
As long as the food is plentiful, deer will travel relatively short distances. However, during periods with less available food, deer will travel longer distances.
The breeding period also brings deer movement. For the does, they will be on the move avoiding the bucks until they are ready to be bred.
For the bucks, they will be actively searching for the first doe to come into estrus.
Depending upon the doe to buck population, the bucks may expand their normal home range.
Regardless, the bucks will generally spend more time on the move than any other time of the year.
The pressure that deer have to endure also affects how deer move. Generally, the more pressure, the less the deer will move.
There are predator animals that hinder deer movement. However, human pressure normally has a higher impact on deer.
Deer will often keep daylight activities to a minimum in heavily pressured areas. They will spend more time moving after dark.
The weather can also play a factor in how and when deer move. Extreme temperatures, whether high or low, can reduce movement.
Heavy rain or snow storms normally result in the deer not moving.
Strong winds make deer skittish. Winds mixed with low temperatures can be hard on deer. Under severe conditions, deer will move less frequently awaiting a break in the weather.
These are just a few factors as to why deer do or do not move. Although there are others, these are primary reasons. By understanding these factors, the hunter can prepare accordingly, resulting in better success.
To be successful at deer hunting, one must become proficient with the weapon of choice. There are many reasons that one can make a poor shot. However there are a few tips that can be used to improve skills.
The serious hunter knows that before entering any deer hunting situation, one must be willing to practice shooting. Those that do not, should not be in the woods.
The hunter owes it to the deer and to other hunters that do what it takes to be proficient. Practicing is common sense, ethical, and improves safety. One should not take a weapon out without knowing how to properly use.
Use A Good Stand
Although hunters prefer stands that are less bulky and light weight, don’t compromise space to accomplish this. A stand should be large enough to move around in with ease.
There are plenty of stands on the market that are roomy enough and are made of lighter materials. The hunter shouldn’t bang his knees or be afraid to move.
Having more space will allow the hunter room to adjust better for cleaner shot placement. This will also provide more comfort.
Use A Rest
The use of a shooting rest with firearms will allow the hunter to be more stable with the shot. There are rest made for ground use and stand use. There are also bi-pod rest that attach directly to the firearm.
In a bind, the use of the side of a tree or placing firearms across limbs will also help improve on accuracy.
Stretch A Leg
When sitting for extended periods of time in stands or grounds, it is easy for the hunter to have muscle fatigue. This could cause problems while attempting shots.
To combat this, hunters can stand up periodically to stretch out their muscles. Also raise the weapon up to shooting position and hold for 10-20 seconds to keep the upper body loose.
Deer Hunting: Preparing For Tree Stands
Preparing areas for a tree stand to be used for deer hunting takes time. In most cases, whenever possible, this should be done several months prior to the season.
Entry And Exit Routes
It is important to have simple and clearly marked entry and exit routes to the stand area. These routes should be cleared of anything that may cause noise or create problems when walking through.
The path should be marked with easy to follow tacks, tape, or ties that reflect light during darkness. Doing so even on easy access areas will prevent locating problems.
When encountering a turn, place more than one marker. This will remind the hunter to adjust accordingly.
Place markers close enough to be easily found all the way to, and including the actual stand tree. This will reduce searching in the dark.
The first step in preparing shooting lanes is distance. After determining most likely deer travel routes, make notes of the distances by walking them off or by using a range finder.
Begin at the point of impact and clear away any limbs, saplings, thick grass, or other objects that may deflect a shot. At the very least, allow enough open space that is the size of one whole deer in length.
Saplings that need to be completely removed should be cut to ground level. Saplings that can be adjusted can be cut partial way through and allowed to lean over.
Work your way back to the stand tree. Make sure to climb the tree for a better visual and remove anything remaining on the ground that may cause issues.
In preparing the actual stand tree, clear away any debris at ground level that may hang on equipment.
If using steps, make sure to place them short distances apart to allow for easy climbing.
While climbing the tree, remove any limbs, vines, or bark that may cause problems.
After hanging the stand, climb on, sit and stand up to make sure there is not anything else that needs attention.
Remember to use good scent control tactics and always use proper safety equipment.
Deer Hunting: Scent Control
Scent elimination sprays have become big business in the deer hunting field. And for good reason. These products provide the hunter with an excellent tool for fighting the nose of whitetails.
How They Work
The scent elimination sprays work by masking or removing human odors. By spraying the products on clothing and equipment, the hunter can enter the deer hunting woods scent free. Since smell is the whitetails number one defense, scent elimination becomes the hunters primary concern.
In order for the scent elimination sprays to work, hunters must be willing to use them properly and thoroughly. This requires the hunter to follow a few steps each and every time the hunter plans to hunt.
Starting with the first layer of clothing, and each additional layer, the scent elimination spray should be sprayed liberally covering the entire garment. This will also include any gloves, hat, face mask, and boots.
The scent elimination spray should also be used on any and all deer hunting gear to be used in the field. These include tree stands and or steps.
Once the hunter is in the stand, the scent elimination spray should be reapplied to all outer layers of clothing. When sitting for extended periods, reapply every few hours for best results.
For scent elimination sprays to work properly, the hunter must stick to using the product every time in the field. The hunter can and should also use a total scent free regimen for masking human odors. This includes the use of soaps, detergents, and other products prior to hunting.
Deer Hunting Tips: Late Season Bucks: As the deer hunting season winds down, there will still be opportunities for harvesting a buck. Here are a few late season tactics.
Late Rut Activity
Towards the end of the deer hunting season, most of the does have been bred. However, there may be a few that missed the primary breeding period.
Bucks will still be alert to the smells of estrus. Some will continue to roam seeking out these last remaining does.
Hunters should pay attention to these signs and spend time near breeding zones or doe bedding areas.
Deer hunting will also put pressure on bucks. By late season, the bucks will often be located in isolated thick cover areas.
These areas will generally be near a deer food source. Bucks return to being conservative about spending too much energy.
They will mainly stay in the thick cover moving only occasionally. Hunting near such locations can catch a buck slipping through the thickets.
Land Not Hunted
Deer will also take advantage of terrain that has not been used by hunters. This is only a natural progression as the season goes on.
Many hunters wisely leave part of their hunting land as a so called safety zone for deer. These areas often offer excellent opportunities for the hunter during the last few weeks.
At the end of the season, the bucks will again be focusing on food. These food source areas will be primary deer hunting locations.
The hunter should try and locate as many feeding areas as possible. In many cases, the bucks will bed in thick cover not far from food.
Search for remaining farm crops, especially those in isolated out of the way areas. There also may be a few acorns or apples left.
In any event, finding the available food in the area will produce the best chances at harvesting a late season buck.
Finding breeding areas, thick cover, and food sources are keys to end of season bucks.
Deer Hunting Tips: After the deer hunting season has passed and before the spring growth has arrived, the hunter should get out for some post season scouting. This is an excellent time of the year to learn about deer activity. Here are some suggestions to get the scouting started.
Go Wide And Deep
For the most part, hunters usually have a pretty good idea of the deer activity that occurred right around their stands. Now is the chance to expand the area. Go deeper into the hunting property to discover signs previously unknown.
Cover every foot of the property and document any tracks, trails, rubs, scrapes, beds, etc. that indicate deer movement. Don’t worry about spooking the deer, they will have forgotten by next fall.
Get Away Areas
Many times deer will change their roaming habits as the hunting season progresses. They will find secluded areas not used by hunters. These get away areas will provide some form of security.
Post season scouting can unveil these secret hiding spots. By finding and keeping records, the hunter can be better prepared for the following hunting season.
The off season can be valuable when scouting for deer trails. But its not just finding them that is key. It is following them that will provide helpful information for the future.
See where they come from and where they lead to. Back track in each direction. They will lead to bedding, watering, breeding, and feeding areas. Often this will provide the hunter with knowledge that was previously unknown.
Although an occasional rub here and there may be helpful, it is the rub lines that will be more valuable. Again, follow them to see where they go. Remember that rub lines often appear in the same general areas from one year to the next.
Deer Bedding Areas
This is the perfect time to walk right down through the middle of the deer bedding areas. And the hunter should do just that. This will provide information on where the beds are as well as how the area is being used.
Look for and follow any trails near these areas. Also pay attention to any buck signs that indicate a buck is or has been using the bedding area.
When searching for bedding areas, look for tall grass, thickets, tall vines, swamps, or any other location that may provide adequate cover. This does not always result in the thickest type of terrain. It may just be an isolated area.
Learn The Terrain
It is also helpful to learn as much about the terrain as possible. Pay attention to any areas that hold water. Look for tracks that may indicate a primary watering hole.
Also look for any current or early food source areas. This may be oak trees, fields used for crops, fruit orchids, etc. In most cases there won’t be anything planted in the fields at this time but there may be next hunting season.
Scouting can also make the hunter aware of funnels, edges, or corners that are used by the deer. Anywhere that the terrain changes abruptly from one type of terrain to another should be noted. This could be something like a pine thicket joining an oak grove for example.
Post season scouting does not have to be done all in one day. So spend a few weekends before the thick spring time and get to know your hunting area better. Make sure to keep good records including field notes, photos, and maps.
Other Helpful Deer Hunting Tips.
Still hunting for deer is an excellent way to spend time in the woods. The hunter can learn much about terrain and deer habitat by spending time on the ground. Here are a few pointers for success.
The weather will dictate what clothing to wear. Wet weather will rquire rain gear. Warm weather will require a lighter amount of clothing. Colder weather will require warmer clothing but not too much to limit movement.
By being on the ground and moving, the hunter needs to be careful with scent control. One key issue is sweating. This creates odor. Take your time while easing through the woods. If you begin to sweat, you are moving too fast.
Get In Shape
Exercising before the season should be considered if not in good physical shape. This will improve on endurance to make it easier to cover a lot of terrain. Of course it also helps improve on overall health.
Take Your Time
The key to successful still hunting for deer is slow movement. Take your time when out in the woods. Move short distances and stop to listen and watch for deer activity. By spending more time observing and less time moving, deer sightings will improve.
Know Your Terrain
An understanding of the terrain is very important. This will allow the hunter to move into the most realistic areas that may hold deer. It will also prevent moving through areas that will alert the deer of hunter presence.
Take your time, be observant, control odors, and deer sightings will occur more often.
The use of rattling antlers while deer hunting can be an effective way to improve on success. There are certain variables that come into play.
At the top of the list is the ratios between bucks and does. If there are considerably more does than there are bucks, rattling can be less effective. The bucks do not have to be very aggressive in seeking out does. Rarely in these over populated doe areas do buck fights even occur. Since rattling is the hunters attempt at mock fighting, it will be less productive in these areas. That’s not to say it won’t work, just with fewer results. The closer the buck to doe ratio, the better the results.
The next variable has to do with timing. The rutting periods (pre rut, peak rut, post rut) are considered the most productive times of the deer hunting season for using rattling techniques. Hunters should spend as much time in the woods during these primary periods. A set of antlers to rattle will only improve deer sightings.
The final variable has to do with location. Obviously the hunter must be in an area that holds a fair amount of bucks. But the set up location is key here. Hunters need to be in an area that provides enough cover for bucks to feel secure enough to respond. The area should also be open enough for the hunter to be able to see a buck that is slipping in.
Other Helpful Articles:
There has been much written over the years as to when is the best time to rattle while deer hunting. The reality is that deer will respond to rattling throughout the season. There are however three primary periods that will generally produce the most action. These are the pre rut, peak rut, and post rut periods.
Pre Rut Rattling
During the pre rut period, bucks are switching from a feeding mind set to breeding mind set. Rattling during the pre rut can draw a variety of aged bucks. Young and middle aged deer will be drawn by curiosity. The older and mature bucks will respond out of an aggressive or more dominant behavior.
Peak Rut Rattling
Rattling during the peak rut period will often draw in the middle aged bucks. These bucks are simply trying to take advantage of nature. Mature bucks are already with and tending to receptive does. They are less likely to respond unless challenged. A less dominant buck will respond in an attempt to steal the doe from the fighting mature buck.
Post Rut Rattling
Rattling during the post rut period can produce quality middle aged bucks. But it can also draw in a mature buck that is searching for the last remaining receptive does to breed. This time period is often over looked by hunters. However, it can be one of the most effective times of the season for harvesting a mature buck.
Time Of Day
Rattling from an hour after sunrise up to about 11:00 am is probably going to be the best time of day. Late evening hours will be second. Midday hours will usually be least productive.
The key to successful rattling is focusing on these three primary periods of deer hunting.
Other Helpful Articles: Deer Hunting Tips
An aggressive approach to deer hunting can at times improve sightings. Rattling for deer is one such method. There is no big secret here. Rattling while deer hunting is a form of calling. It can be done throughout the season.
How To Rattle
There are several different methods to rattling that can be used. Soft rattle techniques will work but are considered less aggressive. To really reach out for distance, give hard knocks rattling a try.
This method requires larger, thicker, and louder style antlers. Simply smack the antlers together with force and rotate the tines together to produce a lot of volume. Use the following sequences.
- Rattle for one minute, then wait for ten minutes.
- Rattle for two minutes, then wait for ten minutes.
- Rattle for three minutes, then wait for ten minutes.
Make sure to sit still and be very quiet during the waiting periods. Also be alert for any deer movements. After 30-60 minutes of sequences with no response, it is probably best to relocate.
Best Times To Rattle
Rattling works all season. Sure there will be times that are better than others. But deer will respond to rattling from September through January. Now normally October, November, and December will provide a higher rate of success. These are considered the more productive times. The month of October is a pre rut period. November is a peak rut period. December is a post rut period. Obviously this will fluctuate from state to state.
The key here is use rattling tactics during these primary deer hunting periods. Be more aggressive and increase the sightings of deer.
More Helpful Articles: Deer Hunting Tips