Like other sports, the more you stay on top of deer hunting and the more you practice, the better chance you’ll have of success.
If you’re as obsessed as we are, you probably read everything you can get your hands on when it comes to chasing big bucks. The problem is that because we overload our brains with information, we end up forgetting more than we realize. It helps to have a list of deer hunting tips that you can read through quickly just to keep yourself in check.
Sharpen Your Skills
1. Practice shooting all year. You’ll be a step ahead of most hunters if you shoot on a regular basis.
2. Learn to judge the age of a deer. Age should be a determining factor in your harvest decisions.
3. Try squirrel hunting – it will help to sharpen your hunting skills overall.
4. Hunt coyotes. Studies have shown that coyotes can decimate a fawn population.
5. Use perfect practice techniques to improve your skills.
6. Know and learn your hunting equipment, especially your weapon. You do this by practicing often.
7. With a bow, practice shooting at longer ranges like 40 yards. This will make the shorter distances seem easy.
8. Stay in shape during the off season. Use exercises that mimic pulling back a bow. Cables, row machines, exercise bands, and pull-ups are all good bowhunter exercises.
9. Use tactical breathing techniques. This is a military technique used by snipers to slow their breathing during a shot.
10. Get your broadheads flying straight and practice with them. Also, don’t ever trust that any broadhead will hit where your field tips do no matter what they claim on the package.
11. Watch hunting videos, read magazine articles, and follow your favorite hunting websites to stay up to date on tips, techniques, and products.
12. Come to full draw on deer for practice even if you don’t plan on harvesting them.
Off Season Strategies
13. Set your tree stands and hunting blinds at least 2 months prior to hunting season.
14. Do some early season scouting for deer travel routes, food sources, and bedding areas.
15. Planting a spring or late summer food plot to attract deer can be a huge advantage.
16. Bucks need good nutrition all year to grow a full potential set of antlers. During antler growth, nutrition is pulled from the skeletal system which has been developing and storing nutrients all season.
Shed Hunting Tips
17. Get good at shed hunting – it’s a great way to see what bucks you have on your property and it will give you an idea of their core area.
18. Check south facing ridges for sheds. Deer like to lay here in early spring to soak up radiant heat.
19. Look for sheds around the thicker cover of ditches, river bottoms, and creek banks. The overgrowth can knock a loose antler off a buck’s head.
20. Check fence and ditch crossings. Anywhere a buck has to jump is a good place to find a shed that was jolted loose.
Trail Camera Tips
22. Where legal, use an attractant during the off season to bring deer into trail camera range.
23. Don’t over-check your cameras and risk pressuring a good buck.
24. Set your trail cameras facing north to prevent the glaring sun from ruining a good shot.
25. Don’t forget to bring an extra memory card and batteries when checking a camera.
26. Place your tree stands to play the prevailing wind.
27. Use hinge cutting to manipulate deer travel routes. If deer are using several trails to move into an area, block a few of them off by cutting a pulling small trees down to force them to come by your stand.
28. Set multiple stand sites for all different directions of wind.
29. Locate your stand in a tree that is big enough to break up your silhouette. Remember that all the leaves and cover that are there now won’t be come fall.
30. Get to your stand early. Being in your stand before most hunters can really tip the scales in your favor. Many times other hunters walking in late have spooked deer my way.
31. Never over-hunt your stand or blind no matter how great it is. Pressure is the number one reason a mature buck will leave an area.
32. Never sit in a stand when the wind isn’t right and leave a stand if the wind changes to your disadvantage.
33. On an evening hunt, stay late if deer are around you and sneak out under the cover of darkness.
34. Be sure you face your stand away from the sun relevant to it being an A.M. or P.M. stand. There is nothing worse than accidentally setting a stand facing east and then sitting there all morning with the sun in your face.
35. Before setting a treestand, be sure you plan a good travel route to and from the stand taking the wind into consideration.
36. While sitting on stand, visualize putting a good shot on a buck. Most professional athletes will tell you that visualizing the outcome they want is a key to their success.
37. Be sure to trim all the branches and twigs out of the way to create a clear shooting window using a good tree saw.
38. Be safe and always wear a safety harness.
39. Hunt funnels, pinch points, and hubs where trails come together like spokes on a hub of a tire.
40. Don’t rely solely on scent control clothing or scent eliminator spray – in addition, always play the wind.
41. Don’t make sudden movements while on stand. Deer can catch movement easily and you’ll be busted. Move in slow motion.
42. Keep un-natural sounds and noises to a minimum. Banging equipment against a metal step or stand, coughing, or a cell phone ringing will get you busted.
43. Always carry a grunt call. A grunt tube is one of our must haves for deer hunting.
44. Check the wind direction often using a wind indicator like bottled powder or a piece of thread tied to your weapon or stand. Never assume the wind is blowing the direction the weatherman said it was. Winds can shift and swirl depending on your terrain.
45. Don’t over call to deer, it’s un-natural. Deer do not really call that often and calling too much can spook them. Only call when you see a shooter and he isn’t come to you.
46. Scan the area around you often using a good pair of binoculars. Look for a twitch of an ear or the sun glaring off an antler. I’ve spotted many deer in thick cover just scanning.
47. Keep your rangefinders handy if you need to range a deer prior to shooting.
48. Use your rangefinders to mark yardages around your stand. Use landmarks like a field edge, a tall weed, or a rock to take a mental note of certain yardages.
49. Be sure to tell a friend or family member where you are going to be sitting in case something was to happen to you.
50. Hunt the edges of food sources and the travel routes between feeding and bedding areas during the early season.
51. Have your gun or bow in good position and ready to shoot. I like to hold my bow or have it on my lap in case a deer sneaks up on me. Have an arrow knocked and your release hand ready at all times. Don’t get lazy!
52. Stalking deer takes skill but it can be easier to do on windy or rainy days when deer can’t hear or catch movement as well.
53. Deer know the shape of a human face. Always wear a facemask or apply face paint properly to hide the familiar contours of your face.
54. Be sure to use camouflage tape on any shiny equipment that might reflect the sun and look un-natural.
55. Don’t be a fair weather hunter. Deer move around in all types of climate changes. Get out there while other hunters are sleeping in and it could pay off.
56. Use sharp broadheads. Never hunt with broadheads that have been shot into a target and may be dull. Keep practice heads and sharp heads separate.
57. Use different routes to your stand if possible so deer don’t pattern you.
58. Eat before you leave. You aren’t as awake or alert on an empty stomach.
59. Bring a pee bottle. I enjoy coffee or an energy drink before hunting. A pee bottle can come in handy if you’ve got to go. On longer hunts, I’ll also pack some toilet paper just in case.
Big Buck Strategies
60. You have to let smaller bucks walk if you want to see bigger bucks.
61. It’s a fact that most mature trophy bucks are killed during the pre-rut and rut between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
62. When calling or rattling, watch for mature bucks to circle downwind of you.
63. Have an area of your hunting property designated as a sanctuary where deer can feel safe.
64. Stay out of safe zones and sanctuaries. Hunt the edges and travel routes leading to them instead.
65. Be cautious using lures and scents. Many big bucks have made the connection between human pressure and scent overuse.
66. During breeding season, follow the does to locate the bucks.
67. Rattling horns are most effective during pre-rut before the bucks lock down with a doe.
68. Don’t be afraid to hunt the thick stuff even if you can’t see a far distance. Big bucks love heavy cover.
69. If moving a stand or blind is too risky, ambush a buck by building and natural blind. I’ve gotten super close to deer by moving into a good area and making a natural blind in heavy cover.
70. Try snort wheezing a buck that is out of range and not heading your way.
71. Never call to a buck that is already heading towards you.
Scent Eliminating Tips
72. Wash your hunting clothes or activate scent control clothing several times during a hunting season.
73. Shower with scent free products before every hunt.
74. Use field spray just prior to walking to your stand to eliminate human scent.
75. Dress on site or just outside your vehicle. Riding in a car or truck with your hunting clothes on can be a huge mistake.
76. Store your hunting clothes in a scent free bag or container.
77. Many deer hunters use scent eliminating products but not many use scent free breath spray. In my opinion, a buck can smell what you had for breakfast on your breath. Using breath spray is one of our favorite scent control tips.
78. Wear rubber boots. Rubber doesn’t hold scent like other materials do.
79. Be sure to check the weather forecast and dress accordingly. Layers are the key to staying warm.
80. Only use cover scents that are natural to your geographic area.
Shooting and Recovery
81. Aim a little lower on a nervous buck. Many times an alert buck will react to the bow noise and will duck down just before taking off – this can cause you to hit high.
82. From an elevated stand, come to full draw while standing straight up then bend at the waist to bring the pin down onto the target. Never bend down and then draw as this can throw off your form and cause a bad shot.
83. Be patient and wait for the right shot. Broadside or slightly quartering away is ideal.
84. It’s better to let a mature buck walk than to take a bad shot.
85. Know your comfortable shooting distance and stick to it. Never shoot beyond your abilities.
86. Watch a deer’s reaction after shooting it to determine shot placement.
87. Pay close attention to the direction and area a deer runs after being shot. Take a mental note of landmarks so you don’t get confused once you start searching.
88. Listen for a deer to crash after it runs out of sight.
89. If a deer doesn’t go down in sight and you are unsure of the shot, wait it out. The worst thing you can do is kick up a buck that has bedded down to die. Remember, when in doubt – back out!
90. Inspect your arrow for evidence of where you hit the deer. Color of hair and blood on the arrow can indicate shot placement. A putrid smell may indicate a gut shot.
91. Harvest does to keep the buck to doe ratio in check.
92. A trophy deer is any deer you are proud of – not necessarily the antler score or age.
Be a Responsible Deer Hunter
93. Once you harvest a nice buck or any deer that you are proud of, be sure to take plenty of pictures.
94. Use a taxidermist that you trust and that you know does good work. It isn’t worth being cheap when it comes to mounting a trophy.
95. DVR your favorite hunting shows so you can get your juices flowing before heading out.
96. Have respect for the animal you are hunting, the land you are hunting on, and other hunters in the area.
97. Enjoy life and be grateful we are allowed to participate in such a wonderful sport.
98. Practice gun safety and never shoot in an unsafe direction.
99. Always take a cell phone with you in case of an emergency.
100. Take the opportunity to take a child deer hunting whenever you can.
101. Be sure to LIKE our Facebook page for up to date industry news, product reviews, and free giveaways!