Deer hunting is fun, but only if you know how to do it well.
It doesn’t have to be complicated, though. You only need to follow a few fundamentals.
Whether a commercial or trophy hunter, sticking to the ten tried and tested strategies below will make your whitetail deer hunting season a huge success.
1. Get the Right Hunting Gear
Even though equipment varies from hunt to hunt, picking the right gear can make you an even more effective hunter.
Still, you shouldn’t head out without crucial pieces of hunting gear.
Having the correct equipment can mean the difference between a difficult situation and a successful hunt.
Some must-have essentials for whitetail hunting include:
- A compass
- Hunting clothes
- Communication device
- First aid kit
- Equipment to help you make deer calls
- Black pepper to repel insects
- Hand towels
- Emergency high-energy food
- Gun case
- Backpack to hold your gear
Speaking of deer hunting essentials, check out our in-depth guide on what you need to carry.
2. Control the Scent
You must know how to read the wind direction when hunting deer.
Why? ... because it allows you to control the scent, which is crucial when on a whitetail hunt.
The thing is,
A deer’s best defense system is its nose, so you must determine how you’ll stay out of its way. Their noses are about 1,000 times more sensitive than a human’s.
The best strategy is to get products that can allow you to block human scent.
Still, you must pay close attention to the wind before moving positions. The deer will walk away from you or turn around after smelling you from behind.
A better tactic would be hunting whitetail deer in a crosswind direction, allowing the wind to blow from the side.
3. Ensure Your Deer Stand Isn’t Giving You Away
Most deer hunters need to pay more attention to how their deer placement will look during the day.
You find an excellent location to hunt deer. You pick a tree stand placement, but there’s no foliage around it. And let’s assume you’ll use the deer stand during the daytime when the sun is behind you.
The deer can see your body silhouette against the sunlight with no surrounding cover.
While a big buck may hang around to see what happens, they’ll be more careful next time.
You can prevent this by;
- Placing your stand in an area with enough vegetation
- Mounting the climbing stand higher up in a tree so that you can hunt from above
- Leveraging multiple stand locations
4. Sight Your Rifle
It would help to sight your rifle before heading out to hunt a trophy buck. That way, you can be confident in your rifle’s accuracy and shooting ability.
The idea is to zero your rifle for accurate shots before you pull the trigger. You can, for instance, sight your rifle to hit the center of a point of aim at 500 yards if that is your hunting distance.
Again, we’ve done an in-depth guide on how to sight a rifle.
5. Be Quiet!
This one goes without saying.
Still, it is essential to remember you’re a deer’s predator. A mature buck won’t wait for you if you announce your arrival.
When walking on the forest floor, you want to be as quiet as possible. Walk on the heels of your boots to keep the noise down. Remember, deer can tell the difference between how humans and wild animals move through the woods.
When stand hunting, you want to ensure your gear doesn’t hit the tree stand, gun, or bow.
6. Know the Best Time to Hunt
The best time to go for a deer hunt is early in the morning or late in the afternoon.
Familiarize yourself with the legal hours in your state when you can invade whitetail habitat.
Be aware of deer movement during mid-day, especially later in the season when mature bucks adjust their habits.
Also, it’d be best to hunt early in the deer season, during the rut or breeding time. Deer will not be used to the hunting pressure at the season's onset, making it easy to kill a trophy buck.
7. Know the Best Shooting Position
When whitetail hunting, there’ll be situations when you won’t have rifle rest. You’ll need to assume the appropriate shooting position to take a perfect shot during such times.
In most cases, the deer’s visibility will determine the shooting position a deer hunter will take.
Read our shooting positions guide to learn how you can leverage different styles to increase your chance of success on the hunting ground.
8. Know Where to Hunt
Familiarize yourself with your designated hunting land or property. If you’re hunting on public land, scout the area before the hunt.
The idea is to look out for any deer sign on the hunting property. What are the feeding areas? Are there any water sources? Is there a deer trail? How many deer is the land likely to accommodate?
It is critical to determine deer movement on the hunting land for success.
As a rule of thumb, read the wind direction as you survey the property. Ensure you can access the hunting spot without the wind blowing in the deer’s direction.
9. Safety First
Safety should be a priority when handling guns. Most states require deer hunters to take a safety course.
Treat your hunting rifle as though it is loaded. Be aware of where the muzzle is pointing. Never point your rifle at a target if you don’t intend to shoot.
The assumption is that most hunters are familiar with their guns and can comfortably load, unload and shoot.
If you’re an amateur deer hunter, practice gun safety before hunting.
10. Be Ethical
A responsible hunter takes a shot to kill the animal as soon as possible.
Whether gun or bow hunting, taking a deer biology class on how your shot will impact the animal is crucial.
The last thing you want to see is a blood trail from a wounded deer. You can learn from fellow hunters how to take an ethical shot if you’re a new hunter.
The Bottom Line
Deer are the most popular game animal in many states. While the hunting technique may differ from one hunter to another, the basics remain the same.
If you follow the deer hunting tips in this post, you’ll be on your way to killing a deer. Maybe a couple of deer …ethically.