Whether you are a beginning hunter or an old veteran, there are tips that all of us need to be reminded of every once in awhile. Here are 15 deer hunting hacks that will help you achieve a successful season this year:
1. Change into your hunting clothing after you reach the field: Don’t drive an hour to your favorite hunting spot while wearing all of your hunting clothing. Not only will your clothes pick up the scents of your car, they will collect sweat and other human scents over the course of the drive, and deer will pick up on those smells.
2. Play the wind: This is arguably the most important scent control tip, and no hunter can be consistently successful without taking stock of wind directions each day. The wind should impact everything from how you approach your stand to how you work the territory throughout the day.
3. Watch for wind changes: While the wind may be blowing in one direction when you approach your treestand, it could change completely in an hour. Check the wind direction regularly so that you can update your day’s plans accordingly.
4. Silence is a virtue: Put your cell phone on silent, don’t converse loudly with buddies, and take the day off if you can’t stop coughing. Loud human sounds will spook deer and alert them to steer clear of your position.
5. Play food plots and bedding areas to your advantage: Many hunters are against hunting bedding areas or food plots because they represent a risk of scaring deer away or turning them on to nocturnal habits. Setting up your hunting ambush between the bedding spot and the food plot, however, is just good sense.
6. Use bad weather to your advantage, too: It’s too easy to go back to sleep on a cold and rainy fall morning, but if you fight that instinct and get yourself out of bed, the hunting field may reward you. With fewer hunters out and about, deer will be feeling less pressure.
7. Exercise proper camouflage strategies: From your clothing to your face paint to your gun, make sure you blend in as much as possible to the wooded scenery around you. Deer will bolt if they catch glare off your rifle or see your face, so don’t give them a reason.
8. Don’t let your guard down: After hours in the treestand with no deer sightings, it’s all too easy to set your gun down or let your bow hang from the pull rope for a moment. Chances are, that moment is precisely when a trophy buck will wander by, so make sure you can still grab your weapon without sending the beast running for his life.
9. A good hunter uses binoculars AND a scope: Simply gazing through your rifle scope is an ineffective method to find deer. Use binoculars to peruse the cover near your stand, then zero in with your scope when you see a target.
10. Don’t overdo it with the deer calls: Sparing use of deer calls can help you to attract deer and catch them unawares. Using a deer call too often puts the joke firmly on you.
11. Hunt the does: Every hunter wants to get the big bucks, but in order for deer hunting population control, you have to take one for the team and harvest a few females as well. Do so early in the season so that there is more food for the other deer.
12. Use the does: Even if you aren’t interested in hunting female deer, you can use them as a means for finding the bucks in the area. If you’ve had an unsuccessful day, why not try tracking a doe? She may lead you to the biggest buck in the forest.
13. Know when to take the shot: If a buck is in your sightline, don’t use a deer call in an effort to attain a better shot. Be patient and let him wander closer and don’t do anything that might spook him. If you think you can get a fatal hit, pull the trigger.
14. Sight your rifle: Before you go out for your first trip of the season, spend some time at the shooting range to get comfortable. You don’t want to shoot at a big buck only to realize your sight is way off.
15. Judge the hit: A good deer hunter knows how to judge blood or hair color to determine hit location after a shot. If a deer bolts after a hit, judging what they leave behind can give you an idea of whether or not your hit will end up a fatal one.