I thought that I knew how to go deer hunting, but apparently I was wrong.
While deer hunting is a lifestyle, and takes a lifetime of learning, there are some deer hunters out there that are in over their heads.
After a lot of years, trials and errors, successes and failures, I finally sucked it up and started watching the people around me to see how it's really done.
And? It's not pretty.
Whether it's because of dumb luck, ineptitude, or stubbornness, they seem to think they know it all. And those are usually the ones who like to tell you how it's done.
They'll scoff at wildlife agencies who make decisions based on science and data. If there are deer hunting tips to share on quality deer management, they are the only ones who have the inside scoop.
When it comes to antlerless deer management, they've got strong opinions, and they aren't afraid to make them known.
They would say that we've all been doing it wrong all this time, and based on what I've been seeing, the "real" way to hunt deer isn't based on seasonal shifts, having the proper hunting gear, or dealing with hunting pressure.
In fact, hunting opportunities are more based on the easiest ways you ever thought to try, but failed to ever attempt (because you knew better).
Hunting seasons and deer population aside, hunting never takes on such a personality of its own as when some folks use their own tried and true methods. The things that you and I would think mad or absurd. But if I watch so many people do it, that means it works, right?
Here is a tongue-in-cheek list of the preposterous, laughable, and illogical things that some folks do, thinking that whitetail deer will simply comply. Whether you're hunting on public land or private land, there are methods to hunting deer that apparently we've misjudged.
In actuality, reading this list and doing the opposite of what these numbskull hunters think is right will give you far better odds. Take these suggestions with a healthy dose of salt grains, and use them to your advantage by seeing through the sarcasm.
And of course, be sure you're following all hunting regulations, and remembering what you learned in your hunter's safety course.
1. Make noise.
They'll just move out of your way and come back later, right?
2. Stand out visually. A lot.
So what if those big bucks know that you're there, they're just dumb deer.
3. Smell? What smell?
Obviously your human smell doesn't matter, because you've gotten deer in the past without worrying about your scent. Granted, that was 20 years ago, but why should it matter now?
4. Drive around endlessly.
Deer understand that you're just visiting your stand, or putting out a camera, or trimming trees. You don't intend on shooting them. No worries.
5. Keep the radio loud.
The deer can't tell what song is playing anyway, so forget about turning it down as you pull up.
6. Use your phone... a lot.
That's why you have it. Why stick it inside of your pocket and forget about it? It's not doing you any good in there.
7. Don't waste your time sighting in.
Your firearm was right on this time of year last season, so why waste ammo? The deer usually walk within 50 yards anyway.
8. Unload your gun on every deer.
It holds five shots, so shoot five shots. Every single time. That's why they're in there, right?
9. Don't waste time tracking, there are always more deer.
So you hit one that got away. Again. It's a pain to contact a landowner for permission to continue following a blood trail.
10. Smooth bore barrels and open sites are awesome.
Scopes are expensive, and you don't need one anyway. You've taken good shot at lots of deer over the years with that same gun, so what's the problem?
Now go back and read numbers seven through nine again.
11. Do you use glasses? Leave 'em home.
All they do is fog up and get in your way. Now read number 10 again.
12. No need to place trail cameras more than a few days before the season begins.
Why bother to put out cameras before the season begins when you really only want to see what's out there right now? Just do it every day in the week before the season starts. The deer won't mind.
13. Wear the same unwashed hunting clothes, day after day after day.
After you read number three again, remember that it's a waste of good laundry soap to keep you "hunting clothes" scent free. Everybody should know that by now (except all of the rest of us).
14. Shoot two minutes before sunset.
Why not? It's still legal shooting time, and you can always track it in the morning. Since you walk in during the daylight and never carry a flashlight, you wouldn't be familiar with the surrounding woods anyway.
15. Moving deer? Your bullets are faster.
They can run, but they can't hide. Rifles, shotguns, and even arrows are faster than a running deer, so what's the big deal about shooting at one? You shouldn't have to wait for a nice, still, broadside shot. Number nine comes into play again.
16. Don't waste time getting up early.
Certainly most deer hunters have hunted the afternoon, but did you know some think it's so much better that they never wake up early? By the way, you don't have to drag deer before you're wide awake if you do it this way.
17. Camo is useless, so save your money.
If a red plaid coat and pants are good enough for your great-grandfather, they're good enough for you. Don't waste resources at the sporting goods store.
18. Safety colors scare the deer.
So what if 42 of the 50 United States require it (including most of the Canadian Provinces)? If you don't want to wear safety colors--that the deer can't see--you shouldn't have to. Go read number 15 again, speedy.
19. Don't waste time preparing in the off season.
We've been pruning shooting lanes since late summer, checking stands for safety, pulling cards from the trail cams, and searching the area for deer-sign. But we haven't seen you since opening day last year. What's your secret?
20. All you have to do is get in a tree and the deer will walk right by.
After all of the prepping and scouting, all we ever had to do was find the nearest tree and climb it. Apparently, all of the advance work planting food plots in your hunting area was a waste since you've been doing it that way all along. What were we thinking?
All kidding aside, there are hunters out there whose deer season depends only on the devices that they call their own. There is no secret stand location, latest deer hunting information, or breaking news that will change the way that they hunt. Sadly, this "mythology of the hunter's ego" is the way that they choose to hunt based on their own idea of what works.
When it comes to field dressing a good buck or filling a deer tag, the answer is the same: "I don't need your help." If it's during archery season or firearms season, the story's always the same.
These faux hunters stick to their ways and the rest of the deer hunting world be damned.
I've seen it time and time again, and there's no use sharing any advice or trying to lead them towards what you know works, even if it's based on a lifetime of experience.
The good deer hunting stories always have a little luck involved, but big deer with impressive antlers don't just fall at your feet. Wake up and smell the venison, because they're smart animals and they certainly don't want to be shot.
Which is probably why hunters who think this way never shoot one...