Outdoor Guide: Deer Hunting For Beginners
Deer Hunting for Beginners
Whether you are striving to get your first buck this fall hunting season or are an avid hunter who is looking to freshen up their knowledge before hitting the woods, you're in the right spot. Deer hunting is a wonderful way to experience nature uniquely. In the Northland, hunting is a traditional form of sport and conservation that brings people together during the fall. There are several different categories of deer hunting in the U.S. White-tailed are the most common deer in the United States. From the late autumn leaves to early season snowfall, the rut is in full swing, meaning bucks are on the chase for estrous does with motivation for breeding; this is your chance. The basis for beginning deer hunting: understand and respect your safety, the woods, and the deer.
Before the Woods
Hunting the species of deer is most commonly accomplished by using a bow or rifle. Before setting out for the woods, all hunters should have a clear understanding of the weapon they are handling and the measures that are necessary to ensure safety for all in the woods. Many states require a hunter's safety course or education of some kind. More information regarding safety requirements by state can be found here.
A tree stand or ground blind can provide you with a way to set up a designated spot to hunt. These are useful for sitting and watching over deer-dense areas. Aside from that, it is recommended that hunters know how to maneuver in the woods that they will be hunting in and have survival kits readily available: including a compass, headlamp, matches and fire starter, a knife, and some rope for the deer you'll (fingers crossed) be dragging.
Before the Hunt
Before entering the woods on opening morning, do fieldwork. It can be as simple as taking hikes through the woods you plan on hunting. As you walk, pay attention to your surroundings and different signs that mean deer have been in the area. This includes tracks, trails, scat (deer poop), as well as rubs on trees and scrapes that are made on the ground by territorial bucks. Often, deer move in patterns, so you may be able to identify areas that are heavily trafficked by deer in the area. Take note of water and food sources that deer can access around there (hint: deer love corn and acorns). Have a tree stand? You can set it up on a ridge that allows ample sight and shooting lanes for traveling deer. If you understand your woods in addition to the location of deer sign and geography of the area, it's time to hunt.
Opening morning: wake up, make some classic cowboy coffee, then your rifle, headlamp, and hunting pack. Deer are most active at dawn and dusk, so you'll want to be in the woods before the sun rises, and even while it is setting. A crucial aspect of deer hunting is to stay silent. The woods are a no-talk zone, enjoy the sounds of nature and the peace that it breathes. "Be the deer," this could not be a more accurate way to describe this scenario. If only it were that simple. Pick your boots up off the ground when you step and walk at a slow speed. If you have done the proper preparation, you should have your route or hunting area mapped out, and if you have a stand set-up, that's where you want to be for the first and last hours of the day.
Arguably the most important aspect of the hunt. Preparation means nothing without execution of the kill shot. This is the most captivating moment, a story to tell the family at Thanksgiving, or the rest of your camp later that night. Many people will sight deer while hunting and much fewer will successfully secure one. Remaining confident and calm is almost impossible, but very important to control the adrenaline of scoping in on a deer. The movement of the deer will determine how quickly the shot must take place, but if there is enough time, it should be smooth and relaxed. After you've made aim and taken your shot, wait and watch for a few moments, wounded deer may travel up to 100 yards before death and can even survive a wound from a bullet or arrow. Take a moment to draw a line from where the deer was when shot and where you were. The most successful deer hunts end with a shot that travels through both lungs and cuts the blood vessels at the top of the heart. A successful shot will bring the life of the deer to an end in a matter of seconds and will not spoil any meat from bullet shrapnel.
After completion of a hunt, it is necessary to properly field dress the deer, removing the internal organs and preparing to drag the deer back to camp. This is where your rope will come in handy, as you can fashion it around a stick to be used as a handle, while the other end is tied around the deer.
We hope this guide excites you for the upcoming season, please reach out with your number one tip for deer hunting!
Duluth Pack is a proud licensee of Mossy Oak. Check out our Duluth Pack x Mossy Oak Bottomland Collection for several different camouflage packs, gun cases, and accessories for this upcoming hunting season.
Happy hunting, friends!