Improving Your Deer Hunting


By Ron Childs

Deer season is winding down, and the season will soon be closed for another year.  As one talks to different hunters, one soon finds out that some hunters do very well while others do not.  What makes the difference?
Several very good hunters were asked to give their secrets to successful deer hunting, and the following narrative will give the reader great insight into what makes for a successful deer season.   Read on for ten tips from good whitetail deer hunters.
Number One.  Good deer hunters are committed to the sport year round in many ways.   The season does not begin a week before opening day.  Successful hunters practice shooting their guns year round.    The good hunters shoot each month.   Practice makes perfect.   They use the same brand and grain of bullet in practice that they use in the field.   The same goes for sighting in a rifle.   One hunter commented that he needs three bullets dead on at 50 yards in a 2 inch square and three bullets dead on at l00 yards in a 2 inch square to be ready for the field.   Practice at the distance that you will be hunting.
Deer-track     Number Two.  Put in a lot of time year round scouting your hunting property.   You have to walk the land to know where the deer are located.  Look for scrapes, rubs, tracks, bedding imprints where the deer have laid down, and food sources.   One hunter commented that some land just does not have many deer.   You may not want to lease it.    One hunter said look for oak trees.  Acorns are a deer’s first choice for food.   Deer will usually work toward oak trees for food then back to thick cover for bedding.
Use trail cameras.  Look for hair on barbed wire they are crossing.  Know where the deer are walking, bedding, watering,  and eating long before the season begins.   Deer are creatures of habit.  Learn their habits.
Number Three.  Make sure your gun and scope are ready to go.  This means checking your equipment.   Some hunters miss a deer because the scope is moving around on the rifle.  The screws may be lose.  Dropping, banging, and just shooting can damage or misalign your scope.  Don’t put over a thousand dollars into a good gun and then put on a 50 dollar scope.  One hunter said he put as much money into his scope as his gun.   If your gun is having to be re-sighted each month, something is wrong.
Number Four.  Food plots are managed on a yearly basis and take time and money to get right.  Food plots are planted in the Spring and then again in the Fall.   Some plants are for the Spring, some are for the Fall.  This takes soil preparation with correct lime for ph balance,  and good fertilizer as well.  One can experiment with segments in plots to see what the deer are eating or not eating.  Location of plots is important too.  Put plots close to trails, creek bottoms, and on edges of timber or brush.   Deer like to step out of something thick on to a food plot.
Number Five.  Be an active learner who is constantly reading, listening, looking at informative shows like those on the Outdoor Channel,  reading magazines like Georgia Outdoor News, and learning from the Internet where one can find thousands of good articles on deer hunting.  Read about the Solunar Calendar and the effect of the sun and moon.  Read about the effects of the wind and rain, droughts,  and hot and cold temperatures.   Gain information each and every month.
Number Six.  Shot selection is very important.  This has to do with what shots you take and what you pass up.   A clean shot with no limbs or bushes to get in the way is great.   A broadside is good.   This also means that where you place your stand is critical.   You cannot shoot what you cannot see, and limbs, bushes, and brush can make your bullet go way off course if nicked on the way to the target.  One hunter commented that he took neck shots because they get an instant kill, and the deer will not run 60-100 yards and have to be looked for in deep, heavy cover.
Number Seven.  Your deer stand can help you and hurt you.   Deer have very good eyes.  They often see you before you see them.  A lean to stand 6 or 7 feet tall with a hunter in it is easily seen.   These good hunters said they used either a climber that can be backpacked in and set up wherever you have a tree,  or they use a hang on or lock on stand up in a tree with a stick ladder or screw in steps.   These types of stands are portable and can be placed around good deer signs.    These hunters also talked about not being right on top of the hot spot, but getting around 50-75 yards or so away as not to spook the deer walking to the hot area.  Big box stands built on telephone stands are nice and safe, but don’t allow for much freedom of movement to a hot area.
Number Eight.   Be still and be quiet.   Deer have very good eyes and ears.   If you are moving, they will see you and move around you.   They can hear well also.  Guns banging against metal stands scare deer away.  Clanging and banging around while climbing a tree also scares deer away.  Most of these good hunters parked at least 2,000 yards from the hunting area and walked.  Some walk even further.   None of them rode a 4-wheeler to the stand.  All sounds should be off on a cell phone.   Talking on it in the stand guarantees no deer.
Number Nine.  Deer use the sense of smell as their primary warning system.  They will usually smell you before they see or hear you.   Study the wind.   Choose where you hunt based on the direction of the wind.  Approach your stand based on the wind direction.
Wash your hunting clothes in baking soda or other special soap to kill scent.  Spray down good with scent protector or cover before heading into the woods.  One hunter bathed using a special soap.   One man had fresh pine needles on the floor mats of his truck to help keep his boots smelling like the woods, and he did not bring his hunting clothes in the house.   Don’t smoke, chew tobacco, or urinate around your hunting area.   Always have a pee bottle for relief.  Big bucks avoid areas where there is an unnatural, unusual smell in the air.
Number Ten.  You need to spend time in the woods during hunting season, but pick and choose your days so you don’t burn out.   These good hunters did not even hunt in the early days of the season.   They all waited until rut began.  They all talked about not even taking out their guns until after Thanksgiving.  One man said he began hunting hard around December l5 in south Georgia when rut is in full swing.  Bucks chase does in rut and are moving all the time.  They plain and simply lose their minds in rut.
No two hunters are alike.   The successful ones are different.

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