Deer is one of the hardest game animals to hunt, which is why bagging a white-tailed deer is even more rewarding. In order to build your deer hunting skill set, you need patience, practice, and technique.
It can be challenging to become a deer hunter, but it is also a fun and resourceful way to harvest organic venison while spending quality time outdoors with family and friends.
In this article, we will mention some whitetail deer hunting tips that can help you to increase your chances of bagging a trophy whitetail buck in the next season.
Types Of Whitetail Deer Hunting
There are basically two kinds of deer hunting: still hunting and stand hunting. Also, there is spot and stalking deer, but we will not cover this one here as it is used more for mule deer.
1. Stand Hunting
When you hunt whitetail deer from a stationary position, this is called stand hunting. Deer hunters usually do this from ground blinds or tree stands. Choose an area where you expect the deer to come in. Stay quiet and be patient until the deer show up.
2. Still Hunting
Although the term still hunting may indicate you are being still, you are not. Hunters using this method will move very slowly through the woods, and they will often stop at each step to search for deer.
Their goal is to spot the deer before the deer spot them. But deer are very good at movement detection, making this hunting method very difficult.
Whitetail Deer Hunting Tips
1. Preferred Deer Habitat
Those big game animals are incredibly adaptable. They can live in almost any habitat, from small city woodlots to dense forests and everything in between. Deer love edges, this is the only constant thing in their preferred habitat.
Edges can be less obvious, like where a steep hillside meets a bench or flat spot, but they can also be very obvious, like where a field meets a forest. Any change in flora or terrain can be an edge, and that is where deer and other big game animals will be found.
2. Look Out For Signs Of Whitetail Deer
Once you know where your hunting area is, it is time to start scouting. Look for deer signs such as trails, tracks, rubs, beds, scrapes, deer sightings and any other clues that the deer left behind.
The post-season is the best time to scout your hunting area. You can still see all of the deer signs from the former deer season, and you can easily see and record your findings.
3. Choose Your Weapon
There are basically two deer hunting seasons which are firearms season and bowhunting season. Every season is defined by the weapon used. Choose which weapon you want to use.
4. Learn To Use Your Hunting Weapon
This is one of the most important tips for beginner hunters. Whether you prefer archery hunting or gun hunting, you have to make sure you are proficient with your weapon. Bow hunters will need lots more time and daily practice to be proficient with their weapons than rifle hunters.
5. Cover Your Scent
Deer have a keen nose. So shower with scentless soap or body wash in order to mask your body odour. And wash your hunting clothes with scentless detergent. Also, there are scent-nullifying sprays that you can buy from most outdoors and sporting outlets.
6. Be Quiet
Whitetail deer can hear at ultra-high frequencies that humans cannot. These animals should not be underestimated, they have excellent senses. So to have a successful hunting experience, try to be as quiet as you can. To do this, you should park a good distance from your stand and tread lightly.
While hiking, if you accidentally make a loud noise, stand still in your place for several minutes. This way, any deer who heard your noise and are now on high alert will have the needed time to calm down again.
7. Put the Tree Stand up Early in the Season
Deer, especially the mature, wiser ones, can notice changes in the woods. Hang the tree stand up early in the hunting season so that deer get used to its presence. If they do, they will not think anything of it, making them more likely to cross its path.
8. Practice Getting into Your Stand
After putting your tree stand, practice how to get in and out of it quietly without being detected. So you can easily slip in and get in your stand when the time comes. Also, you will be less likely to fall out of it when descending and ascending the tree in the dark.
9. Hunt The Wind
Deer hunters must know the wind direction so they can stay downwind of the deer. This does not only mean to stay downwind of the deer when seeing it, but you have to stay downwind of the deer on your way to the tree stand as well. Hunters must try to reach their tree stands without being detected by deer.
Also, pay attention to constantly changing wind thermals. It tends to rise in the morning, and take your scent with them. But it tends to drop in the evening, and the same thing with your scent. Keeping your scent away from the deer is an imperative thing if you want to be a successful deer hunter.
10. Do not Use Deer Calls Too Often
If you are going to use deer calls during your hunting trip, do not overuse them. The deer that heard your call will need time to come to you. If you call too much, this could spook any nearby deer or at least tip it off that something is wrong.
11. Target Bedding-To-Feeding Routes
Deer tend to use the same trails when transferring between the bedding area and the feeding area. Those tracks are where you can hunt white-tailed deer. Discover the deer pattern to know when they will use these trails. You can catch these animals on their way from the food source to the bedding area or vice versa.
12. Hunt The Rut If You Can
The rutting season is a great time to be in the woods if you want to harvest a trophy whitetail buck. Big bucks will be roaming around the woods looking for potential mates. So the best hunting technique during this time of the hunting season is to look for does. Once you find them, you are more likely to find a mature buck nearby.
13. Make Sure You Have a Clear Shot
When you have your stand up, ensure that you can get a comfortable and accurate shot. Look around and find any lane you may need, not just where you think the animal will come in.
14. Bad Shot? Now What?
Deer hunters hate making a bad shot on their prey. You know what it is meant here, the dreaded gut shot. Lots of hunters who make a gut shot track their prey within hours of taking it, but this is a thing you should not do.
After taking a bad shot, waiting is the best thing to do. Go home, try to have some sleep, and hope that the coyotes do not find your prey.
The wounded deer will lay down in a certain place until it dies. If you track a deer right after a bad shot, it will likely jump from this place and run far away. Also, the blood will start clotting, which can result in losing a blood trail and losing the deer.
Then search for it the next day or for several days. If you did not find the deer, the odds are either you did not see it, or the deer might have survived. These animals are incredibly tough, and what they can live through would really surprise you.
Deer Calling Tips
Deer use many various sounds to communicate with each other. They are surprisingly vocal creatures. You can use those calls to attract deer to your hunting area. Here are 4 main deer calling strategies that you can use for whitetail deer hunting
1. Buck Grunts
Bucks normally make a grunting sound to find other deer, but this sound is also used when trailing or tending a female deer in heat.
When using a tending grunt sound, any nearby buck will believe that there is another buck trailing a female deer in heat. A simple grunt sound will make any nearby buck curious about the other buck’s location. And it will come to investigate in order to satisfy their curiosity.
Rattling is when two deer antlers are banging and meshing together. This happens when two bucks are fighting or sparring. Bucks will be curious about who is fighting in their area and will come to check.
Using this sound around the rut will be a great strategy, when mature bucks are looking to steal the doe from two bucks fighting over her or to defend their territory.
Using a deer decoy can be really effective when using this technique. This will help you to sell the illusion that you are trying to create.
3. Doe Bleats
Does normally make a bleating sound when communicating with fawns. But when they are in heat, they will make a longer, louder bleat that looks more like a bawl. The doe-in-heat sound is usually used by experienced hunters to draw in bucks.
4. Fawn in Distress Call
When does hear that sound, they will come running and search for the fawn in distress. This call plays on the instinct of a mother to protect her fawns, and it will only work during the late summer and very early fall. Although it rarely works on bucks, it can do a great job for beginners who want to harvest a doe.