The hunt is one of the most primal experiences a person can have, and even though we now live in an age with social media, and food delivered to our doorstep, there’s still nothing quite like pitting your skills as a hunter against challenging prey like a deer. Unlike so many other things in life, when you’ve successfully taken down a deer, that’s 100% an accomplishment you’ve earned by honing your skills as a hunter.
But hunting deer, or any other animal, isn’t something that you can do on a whim, not if you’re serious about success. While it’s true that hunting, especially with friends and family, can be a rewarding, bonding experience, true success only comes from serious discipline, and a willingness to improve your hunting skills. To do that, we suggest you follow some of these essential tips.
Work With The Wind
In hunting, understanding the sensory world is everything. And while the accuracy of human smell isn’t that precise, the same can’t be said for much of the prey humans track, including deer. If you’ve ever caught the scent of someone’s barbecue meal coming into your yard from the wind, amplify that ability by several orders of magnitude for deer, and imagine that it’s you being smelled.
While it’s true that you can’t control the weather or the way the wind blows, you can always be mindful of your position in relation to the wind, and any deer you may be tracking. Always try to adjust your position, so your scent isn’t blown towards your target. Otherwise, you may lose your opportunity before you even had a chance to take advantage of it.
- Read also: Details To Look For While Deer Hunting In The Wind
Mask Your Scent
In the same way that the wind can carry your scent, modern hunting techniques now give hunters a window of opportunity for a few moments, and in some cases, this is all the difference between a clean kill and a complete miss. You’re not going to be able to stay downwind of a target all of the time. But being careless and wearing strong aftershave, or deodorant, for example, are ways to instantly alert deer to flee the moment they have your scent.
But what if you leave them uncertain? Wash with scent free soap. If you’re returning to a favorite location you’ve been before, consider storing your hunting clothes in a bag that also has leaves and dirt from the area to mask the scent of the clothing. Give yourself every opportunity to mask just how foreign your odor is so that deer don’t instantly react and flee when they have your scent.
Use A Bow Or Crossbow
If you’re thinking strictly range and ease of use, the hunting rifle is going to win every time. It is, comparatively speaking, the cheapest hunting weapon, the easiest to use, and has the greatest range. So for hunters that are looking for maximum convenience, and ease, the rifle is it.
However, that doesn’t mean that the rifle is a runaway winner. For some, there’s more to the hunt than the quickest and easiest kill. Weapons like the bow and crossbow require a greater amount of skill and stealth as a result of needing to get closer to increase the chances of success. Many hunters claim the adrenaline rush from a traditional bow-based kill has no equal.
However, a practical reason for using a bow or a crossbow is that the weapon is quieter. The discharge from a rifle can, under the right circumstances, be heard for miles. It is loud and disruptive enough that it puts deer on edge, and they flee in “high alert.” If you miss your target, this means that every target, potentially for miles, is now running away from the source of the noise. With a bow or crossbow, there is no recoil, and no loud discharge, meaning that normal deer routine is not widely disrupted, affording you more chances to hunt in the area.
Silence Is Golden
Another tip that emphasizes the sensory world that deer live in. Hunting is all about tracking deer and getting into the ideal range to make the kill. While keeping your scent from being too conspicuous is important, being quiet is just as important. Someone laughing and telling dirty jokes to your friends, snapping twigs and branches, opening up beer cans and throwing them against trees, or randomly firing a gun into the air is going to have a great walk in the woods, but is unlikely to see any deer.
Deer are prey. They are constantly on the alert for anything that is out of the ordinary, and that includes strange noises as well as strange smells. Navigate the area with caution and awareness. If you make enough noise, you alert everything in the area that something foreign is present, and they’ll avoid the source of the disturbance since you’ve announced your location.
Use The Right Tools
One of the greatest adaptations that humans have is that we are tool makers that put those tools to use in ways that extend our abilities far beyond that of other animals. This is especially true in hunting, where the right tool can mean the difference between a successful hunt and coming back empty handed. When you’re out in the field, you need to make sure you have the tools, like a good knife, that does what you need.
It’s also important to make sure that everything is easily accessible. It would help if you weren't going into the field with your hunting essentials tossed into a plastic bag from a convenience store. A good backpack, for example, gives you easy access to your things, while protecting them from the environment.
Study The Environment
Finally, while hunting is not the same as going to war, or entering a combat situation, one thing remains true. Those that know the land have an advantage. Study the landscape and become familiar with it. Hunt in the same territories so that you know the best feeding spots, the best ambush sites, where the water is that animals will use.
An unwillingness to familiarize yourself with a hunting ground dramatically decreases the likelihood of success.