Everybody looks for ways to learn how to become a better deer hunter, so we broke it down with some simple steps.
No matter how good we are, whether we are beginners who just marked down our first deer season on the books, or 40-year veterans who may very well be able to hold our own as professional hunters, there is always room for improvement. If you are looking to better yourself as a hunter before next season, here are a few things you can do to take your skills to the next level of success.
Get into the mind of the deer
When most of us got started with deer hunting, we probably figured that the single most important step to success was to become a stellar marksman. But while shooting accuracy is undoubtedly important, it plays second fiddle in whitetail hunting essentials to understanding deer behavior.
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From calling deer to reading scrapes, from following tracks to setting up a treestand, from predicting deer movements to knowing when the rut is in play, successful deer hunting is really just a series of accurate behavioral readings. In order to be a great deer hunter, you have to be able to know how deer think and behave, so sit down with your reading list, grab a few instructional DVDs, and start educating yourself on the finer details you may have missed until now.
Know the meal of choice
If you thought you could plant a single food plot on your property and hunt it all season long, you thought wrong. Deer appetites and food preferences will change throughout the fall, driven by the rut and by the looming onslaught of winter.
Know which foods deer generally go for in which months (e.g. clover in August, apples in September, acorns in October, corn in November), then try to figure out a way to get each food source on your property. In an ideal world, you will be able to move from one food plot to the next, filling your tag along the way.
Understand the wind
It’s been said thousands of times and will be said 1,000 more, but that’s because it bears repeating: you will not be a successful deer hunter if you don’t understand how the wind, coupled with your scent, can alert whitetails to your presence before you even get close to them.
Watch wind patterns before you hunt, then change your approach methods or your stand/blind location so that you are downwind of most of the deer on the property rather than vice versa.
Don’t get lost in the gear
Buying new guns and gear can be a lot of fun, but in the vast majority of cases, your money would be better spent on honing your skills. Make visits to the shooting range with your current rifle rather than buying a new one, or buy a simple bow that you can master easily rather than a high-tech luxury item that doesn’t mesh with the way you’ve been shooting for years.
Your buddies might have the newer, shinier gear, but if you put your efforts into actually becoming a better hunter – by shooting more often, by learning everything you can, etc. – you will still beat them to killing the big bucks and filling a tag every year.