Since the hunting season of the year is approaching, we certainly feel that it’s appropriate for us to share some great and simple deer hunting tips with you guys. Today, we are fortunate enough to invite Ganon Hingst, an avid, experienced deer hunter, to share some great tips on deer hunting.
Being a graduate in environmental studies from University of Richmond, he is pretty well-versed with the way nature works.
Over to Ganon…
#1 Scent Control
A big mistake most young and beginner hunters make is not using or having a method for scent control. One of the whitetails strongest senses is their sense of smell to avoid predators. They actually have more scent receptors than dogs! To be specific deers have up to 297 million scent receptors compared to dogs that have up to 220 million.
So it’s crucial to use scent control while hunting to avoid easy detection. Whitetail rely on their sense of smell to avoid anything that could put them in harms way due to it being one of their strongest senses.
Sure scent control doesn’t eliminate 100% of human odor, but it helps mask the odor to be less recognizable. It’s the same concept of wearing camouflage, it doesn’t make you invisible, but it reduces your visibility and helps you blend in.
A simple method to scent control is going out to an outdoor shop and picking up a scent away spray that you spray on your clothes and body before going out into the field. Washing your clothes with odorless detergent or even baking soda before your hunt is very beneficial as well in eliminating odors from your clothes. Washing your hunting clothes with regular scented detergent can put odors into the air that the whitetails aren’t accustom to.
These odd odors will spook the deer and they will smell and avoid you before you even get to see them. This leaves you with a long day of sitting and waiting for a deer that has already flagged you without you knowing it.
#2 Hunting the Wind
Hunting the wind goes hand and hand with scent control. When I say, “hunt the wind” I simply mean hunt with the wind blowing in your face. Hunting with the wind blowing in your face means the wind is taking your human scent and blowing it behind you and away from where you are looking.
This allows your scent to remain undetected from the whitetails that are upwind from you because your odor is being blown in the opposite direction. Wind can carry your scent further than you are able to see, so if you hunting with the wind blowing at your back the wind is taking your odor and carrying it off in front of you which can be detrimental to a hunt.
#3 Avoid Bumping Your Deer
Let’s say you have just shot your deer, but you didn’t drop it with the shot. It runs off and out of sight. Your adrenaline is pumping and the excitement is running through your veins. You want to get out of your tree stand or out of your blind and start tracking your deer and harvest your kill. DON’T! This mistake could cost you your deer.
If you try to track your deer immediately after it runs off you’ll run upon your deer and bump it. When a deer is shot, but not immediately killed, it’ll go off and run for a while and find a spot to lie down and die. However, if something comes upon this deer, potentially you, before it’s dead, it will jump up and run away even further.
This makes the tracking process even more of a pain in the butt and sometimes results in a lost deer. The blood could be clotted already which would result in a cold blood trail (blood trail that suddenly ends) leaving you with no idea where your deer is.
After you shoot your deer and it runs off you should generally wait at least an hour, or even more, to be safe and be sure that the deer has laid down undisturbed and died. This makes the tracking process and finding your deer a whole lot easier.
I once had an experience of bumping a deer that I had shot and resulted in me loosing a solid size 8 point. I had shot the deer from a tree stand overlooking a field from about 250 yards. He ran off into the nearby woods and foolishly I got out of my stand a little too early and tried tracking it.
I found the blood trail and right when I was about to step into the woods where the blood trail had led me, the deer jolted up and ran off. I tracked the buck for another 4 hours after bumping it to only find a cold blood trail and a8 point that got away.
Loosing a deer you shot and tracked is far from fun. So avoid at all costs bumping your recently shot deer and just be patient and give it time to die so you can end your hunt successfully and a freezer full of meat and potentially a nice mount to impress all your friends with.
#4 Proper Scouting
Actively scouting is a good way to increase your success when deer season comes along. If you are lucky enough to have your own piece of private hunting land, or even hunt on public hunting grounds, it is essential to get outside and scout!
Ideally you will want to be out scouting all year round, not just the few weeks or days that lead up to opening day. What you will want to look for is deer trails and deer highways where you see clear deer paths with lots of activity. Scout these paths and try to find the main deer bedding area where you see a lot of bedding areas all in a close proximity. This will be key for learning your deer patterns and activity.
Knowing their bedding area will be critical for hunting the pre rut (short time before the rut takes place). Bucks will be staying around and near these bedding areas to get the does attention. Also, knowing the bedding area will allow you to set up on the paths that enter and leave the bedding area which will always get a lot of activity throughout the day.
It is also a good idea to try to find and scout out deer funnels. For those who do not know what a funnel is, think of it this way. If a giant boulder were in your way, or any obstacle, you would choose to walk around it instead of climbing over it because it’s the easiest way to go.
A deer funnel could be any sort of obstacle in the deer’s way that causes them to go around or change their direction to get back to their path. These are the money spots to set up at because they always get a lot of activity no matter the time of year.
If you are fortunate enough to have your own private land, set up trail cams at the food sources, whether it be a food plot, edge of a field with a wooded area nearby or where a lot of acorns drop to the ground (these are not the only food sources just some examples). This will give you an idea if the deer visit this feeding spot and at what times. This allows you to learn their feeding patterns and what direction they come in from. Even if you are on public land, ask around to see if it would be appropriate for you to set up some trail cams because these can be very beneficial tools.
Remember, it is always good to be scouting year round, whether it is just walking around in the woods looking for a sign or setting up and checking trail cams. This will help for you to have a better idea for deer movement and patterns throughout the year, and also gives you a good chance to see some of those monster bucks that will have you even more excited for deer season!
Make sure before you go into the woods that you have had plenty of practice with the weapon you choose to hunt with. Whether it is a rifle, shotgun or bow. Make sure you are comfortable with the weapon and have the scope and sights sighted in to reduce the risk of missing a shot or just wounding a deer.
Also, if you will be hunting in a tree stand, it’s always a good idea to practice your shooting from high up so you can learn how to aim and see the drop of your bullets or arrows when you are up in a tree. This is especially true with a bow. If you are getting out early before firearm season to do some bow hunting, make sure you practice at elevation.
For bow hunters it is also important to practice with your broad head arrows too, because they could have a different flight pattern than your practice arrows causing you to adjust your aim or sights slightly. You can never practice too much and it’ll help ensure you’ll hit the deer in the kill shot area and reduce your risk of missing.
#6 Best Times to Hunt
Everybody knows the craze of the rut. When the bucks disregard their sense of safety and go out in the open more often to breed with the does. This is always the hunter’s best time to hunt and every hunter knows this. However, there are some key times and conditions to get out into the stand.
If you have been having a warm or semi warm fall with little deer movement, it is key to get out the day you see the temperature drop a significant amount. The bigger the drop in weather the better. Warm weather causes deer to bed down in thick wooded areas to avoid the heat and results in little deer movement.
Once the temperature drops, get out as soon as possible. The deer will be moving a whole lot more, especially if it drops while in the rut. This can be a hunter’s paradise.
Another misconception some people have is deer do not move during the day and bed down after feeding in the morning. This is actually not true. Deer will be moving all day especially during the rut and on the colder days. These are the days and time periods you will want to commit to an all day hunt sunrise to sunset. Bucks will be moving because of their need to locate and breed with the does.
Get a nice book or maybe some games on your phone (on silent of course) up in the stand with you or in the blind and enjoy a nice day of hunting. The more time you commit and put in will obviously increase your odds of having a good hunt.
Finally, one of the most active times for deer movement and feeding is a couple minutes before dark. I always like to stay in the stand or blind until shooting visibility is totally gone. Leaving the stand too early is a mistake that could potentially hurt you and keep you from getting a nice deer.
So make sure you get out before sunrise, maybe take a few lunch breaks throughout the day, and stay until shooting visibility is gone and this will help your chances for a good day’s hunt.
I hope y’all find these tips beneficial and help you to have a great hunting season. For any questions or topics you want to learn more about, feel free to contact me on social media or by email.
Thanks Ganon for sharing these great tips with us. We will certainly invite Ganon for another great guest post in the future!
Now, what other tips that you guys have to share?