Are you thinking about how to improve your game before the next hunting season? Looking for deer hunting tips that can help you find more deer or lure larger bucks into your hunting area? With countless books, magazines and podcasts offering you hunting advice, it might be difficult to know where to start.
To get you started, we have compiled a list of deer hunting tips that will help you improve your odds for the upcoming season.
These tips can be useful to you if you are just beginning starting out or if you are a seasoned hunter.
Adding a few new tips to your pre-season preparation might make a significant difference in the outcome of your hunting season.
10 Deer Hunting Tips for Becoming a Better Hunter
1. Mask Your Scent
This is one of the most important tip on this deer hunting tips list.
Simply put, deer will not frequent your hunting area if they can smell you.
There are several steps that you can take to minimize your scent while you’re hunting.
Shower with scent-free soap and spray yourself with an odor eliminator before heading out to hunt. You can also bring along your can of odor elimination spray and reapply it when you arrive at your desired location.
You should also avoid wearing your hunting clothes inside your car or in your house. This also includes smoking in or near your hunting clothes. My Grandfather would leave his clothes in the back of the pickup as we drove the the draw and would put them on after we arrived.
After each use, wash them in a scent-free detergent before storing them in bag with some dirt, leaves, and other natural smelling natural elements. This will embed your hunting clothes with scents that are familiar to the deer.
You should also be aware of which direction the wind is blowing. Make sure to choose a location or tree stand downwind to prevent your scent from being carried toward approaching deer.
2. Get Accustomed to Your Gear and Hunting Grounds
You’ll want to be familiar enough with your hunting area so you are able to move through your hunting grounds silently and without leaving a trail behind.
Set up your tree stand before the hunting season begins, if you have a fixed location. If you have to change each day, practice setting up your stand quickly. Once you become accustomed to setting up and adjusting your stand, you’ll be able to maneuver it to your hunting location and set it up as silently as possible.
It is beneficial to get an aerial view of your hunting grounds. To do this, you can utilize apps like All Trails or digital aerial maps from OnX Maps to scan your area for good locations to set up your tree stand.
An aerial map of the area also allows you to figure out a path to your desired hunting area. You can walk along access roads, gullies, creeks and rivers in the area to cover your tracks and prevent deer from sniffing your scent.
3. Preserve Your Hunting Area
Although it may be difficult to reach your hunting ground due to thick buck brush, don’t attempt to prune it or trim branches during hunting season.
Deer learn to associate the smell of freshly cut timber with the presence of humans. If you cut back or trim foliage during your hunting season, you might be warning the deer of a human presence in the area.
You should only trim back areas during the middle to late summer season if you want to avoid spooking deer away.
4. Attract Deer to Your Location
Another important deer hunting tip is to use their smell sense to bring them to you. Even if you’re quiet, you may be sitting in the same spot all morning without spotting a single deer if you do not use deer attractants.
You can buy specialized scents that can be administered to scent drag lines or tree hangers that will bring deer to your area. Scents like doe-in-rut or doe estrus work to lure bucks to your location. Especially during pre rut or rut season.
Decoys are another option. You can set up a life-like doe decoy to draw in bucks by sight. Some models even feature moving tails or upper torso to catch the buck’s eye.
Calls can also work to lure in bucks. You should be careful to use calls sparingly. Once you have the attention of the deer, don’t continue to call. Let them become curious and come toward you.
The key to using attractants is to draw deer into your line of sight, not toward your hideout location.
Most importantly when using a decoy, make sure you leave your scent trail or decoy in a place where you can get a clean shot of from your location.
One final but some would consider controversial, is using a feeding station to attract the deer. If you are looking to use this method, make sure to read the article Deer Feeders 101 by Muddy
5. Stay Still and Silent
You should invest in gear that is quiet. Buy boots that allow you to cover various types of terrains and minimize the sound of your foot steps. Make sure your hunting pants or jacket fit well and do not swish or rub together as you walk to your tree stand.
To prevent your gear from making too much noise, you can wrap the metal parts with hockey tape or other strong but silencing tape options. This will prevent the metal on metal clinking while you are moving and setting up your hunting equipment.
Another small trick to minimize the noise level is to grease or put in a bit of WD-40 any metal joints or swivels. Make sure to tighten or loosen straps to prevent squeaking and creaking .
Pay attention to the movement of your gear as you walk toward your hunting area and adjust your equipment so you are as quiet as possible.
Finally, make sure to turn off your mobile phone or radios. I missed a beautiful, large 8 point buck last year because my mobile phone receive a Facebook alert.
6. Ideal Location Equals Effective Concealment
When you find the perfect location for hunting, you’ll still need to blend into the terrain.
If you pick a highly trafficked area but remain out in the open, the deer will steer clear and find a new path to use. You don’t want to risk compromising an ideal location, but you also can’t utilize the location if you scare off all the deer.
If your do find a spot that lacks proper coverage, you might consider creating your own camouflage or using a camouflaged blind.
In the past, my grandfather I have used old Christmas tree branches or dead tree branches we cut from the garden to make a curtain around our tree stand. We used zip-ties or twine to attach the branches to our tree stand. This technique allows you to set up shop at an ideal location despite limited natural concealment options.
7. Arrive Early – Leave Late
The cover of darkness will not completely hide you from deer but will help you stay as inconspicuous as possible.
You should try to arrive at your desired location before the deer begin to migrate to your hunting ground to avoid spooking them away. Deer tend to do most of their roaming near dawn and dusk.
You should head out to your hunting grounds an hour or so before dawn to ensure you arrive at your desired location before any deer pass through the area. Consider using hunting binoculars for the early hours, so you can better scope the game.
You don’t want to be roaming around in your hunting grounds at the same time your prey is. So get to your spot early and quietly.
Not surprisingly, the moon is actually has a major effect as well. During the full moon, deer are more likely to be out at midday. This extra movement seems to move later and later as the moon waxes and wanes. During the last quarter, deer may move later in the afternoon while during the new moon, they may move later into the morning than normal.
Finally , a big factor is other human movement in the area. When other hunters are getting too cold, too bored and too hungry to stay in the blind or stand? If you wait them out just a bit, you can catch that deer they scare up on their way out. Outlasting your fellow hunters can pay off big.
At dusk, make sure to follow the local laws in your area.
8. Track Local Deer Movements
Keep a log of the locations and times you encounter deer. Over time, you will see a larger pattern of deer behaviors in your hunting area.
It is beneficial to track deer from well before the hunting season begins. This allows you to spot patterns of behavior, common bedding areas and watering holes that you can mark on map. You can then use this information to plot out potential hunting locations before the season begins.
Once you discover the typical patterns the deer in your area follow, you’ll be able to track and hunt the big bucks more effectively.
You’ll also be more aware of how your actions and movements affect their movements. You should be able to determine if you are effectively luring them to your locations, or if you are deterring them by leaving a trail behind.
9. Search for Hard to Reach Locations
If you expect to encounter other hunters on the same parcel of land, you’ll want to locate in an area they are unlikely to use and outside of their shot zone.
Find places that may are difficult to reach or are deep within the hunting area perimeter. Consider using a ground blind or a tree stand to shape the location to your hunting needs.
Many studies indicate that deer change their patterns a short time before hunting season begins because this is the time that most hunters start to explore the area and map out their hunting strategies. To avoid your pre-season plotting efforts going to waste, choose at least a few locations that are out of the way.
Choose locations that offer cover for fleeing deer or for areas that have food or water resources that might entice them to come to your more secluded location that has little human scent and traffic.
10. Use the Weather to Your Advantage
It helps to change your hunting plans based on the weather. Different temperatures and types of precipitation or snow will change deer movement patterns.
High pressure system days are the most ideal for hunting. Why? There is little wind and that prevents your scent from being carried. A clear sky enables you to see well. This type of weather is optimal for choosing a location to sit and wait for the deer to come to your blind.
Heavy winds pose problems to your hunting strategy as it carries your scent over longer distances and different directions. In most cases, if there are strong and unpredictable winds, it is best to pack up and try again on a day with less wind.
Rainy or misty days make for excellent hunting days if you don’t mind getting a bit wet. Most rain gear is quieter and more scent proof than regular hunting gear. The wetness also dampens your scent and makes it harder for your prey to smell you.
Snowing or snow covered days are best for tracking and finding deer. Even a few centimeters of snow allows you to track your prey’s path easily as you can see their fresh hoof prints in the snow. Also, if you should hit your deer, the fresh snow makes it easy to track the blood spots of your deer.
Hot weather makes hunting difficult. Depending on your area, it should be avoided if at all possible. With this weather pattern, you should try to hunt in the early morning or late evening to avoid the brunt of the heat.
If you cannot avoid the hot weather, setup your hunting spot near a water source. Deer will seek a reprieve from the heat and will be instinctively be drawn toward fresh water sources.
Conclusion – Deer Hunting Tips
Hunting deer can be a difficult and time-consuming task if not executed properly. You should make sure to begin planning out your hunting locations and prepare your gear several months before the season starts and review these deer hunting tips.
Using these deer hunting tips in your regular pre-season preparation will give you a leg-up on other hunters in your area. You should keep a careful watch over the patterns of the deer in your area and use the information to plot locations and place attractants accordingly.
The most important part of upping your hunting game this coming season is learning how to pre-plan for the hunting season. The pre-season is all about learning and gaining new skills to put into practice. Beginning your preparations with these deer hunting tips now will help to ensure that this coming season will get you that monster buck!