Whitetail deer hunting season is just around the corner, so we’ve compiled a list of the best whitetail deer hunting tips from experts around the United States to give you the best shot at bagging a trophy buck this season. Each of the following five categories contain a slew of proven tips, tricks and advice that experienced hunters use to increase the likelihood of whitetail deer hunting success.
1. Scout Locations Well in Advance
- Find out where deer populations are most plentiful and use Google Maps to scout camera and stand locations before you even leave home.
- Know where other hunters prefer to set up and put some distance between yourself and others, if possible.
- Set up cameras and tree stands out of season to avoid scaring targets away.
- Practice moving your tree stand as quickly and quietly as possible.
- Use yardage markers to help you identify the distances of specific points from your stand.
- Trim your shooting lanes out of season because deer have grown adept at associating freshly-cut timber with predators.
2. Prepare for the Hunt
- Make sure your gun, bow, etc. is clean and functioning properly. Take plenty of ammunition.
- Use the images and data gleaned from your trail cameras to help you pick targets.
- Wash using non-scented soap, and keep your clothing sealed until it’s time to hunt.
- Scent eliminator should not only be used when you get dressed; take it with you to the stand.
- Use a non-scented breath spray, face paint or a mask, and rubber boots to eliminate any traces of yourself that could be detected.
- Have supplies like an emergency medical kit, binoculars, a cell phone, and a tree stand harness on hand at all times. DON’T FORGET TO MUTE THE CELL PHONE!
- To avoid needlessly pausing your hunt, keep a plastic bottle at the ready for when nature calls.
3. Know Your Enemy
- A deer’s sense of smell is about 20 times greater than that of a human. They can literally smell us from a mile away, and know to the hour how long ago you passed through the area. This means it is essential to bathe with non-scented soap, dry off with a towel that was washed using non-scented detergent, wear clothes that were washed with the same detergent, and apply scent eliminator generously. You’ll even want to spray deer urine or scent remover on the bottom of your hunting boots (rubber boots work best because the material doesn’t retain human smells).
- Despite what many people believe, hunters wear orange only for safety, not because whitetail deer can’t see that color. Deer have a 310-degree field of vision, so you should try to sit in a position that’s surrounded by bushes or branches to break up the outline of your body. Deer also have good night vision, but since it is illegal to hunt at night, you’ll want to arrive as close as possible to dawn and leave as late as you can before the sun sets.
- Deer have an astute sense of hearing and can move their ears in different directions without even turning their head. They can also detect higher frequency sounds than can humans. On a day with no wind, deer can hear things up to a quarter of a mile away, and it can take them hours to return to a spot if a noise spooks them. If you’re walking and happen to snap a twig, pause in order to convince any deer within earshot that it was just another animal. Continue cautiously because attempting to get to your spot faster without regard for noise will only scare potential targets away for good.
- If you shot a deer, you can determine what kind of damage was done by observing the blood and hair left behind. Pay attention to the following indicators:
– Brown hair and pink/red blood with bubbles indicates a heart or lung hit.
– Brown hair and thick, dark-red blood is evidence of a hit too far back in the body.
– White hair and watery blood and/or stomach matter most likely means your shot connected in a non-fatal area.
4. Draw the Deer to You
- Deer calls and snort wheezes can be valuable tools in the field, but don’t make the rookie mistake of overusing calls because deer can sense the lack of authenticity.
- Create mock scrapes near trails and in your shooting lanes to attract deer.
- Use (but don’t overuse) buck scent and urine to draw deer to your location.
- Know when to relocate from one stand to another, but don’t be afraid to wait it out if you know (based on experience and trail camera footage) that there are targets to be had by staying in place.
5. Use the Weather to Your Advantage
- If there is snow on the ground, look for areas with loose leaves that seem freshly scattered about. This is an indication that whitetail deer were in the area looking for mast. If there is still mast on the ground, you can set up nearby and wait for the deer to return.
- Be aware of wind patterns and know which way the wind is blowing. You want to walk upwind (keep the wind in your face) to avoid potential targets catching a human scent and becoming spooked.
- Rain is a natural odor eliminator and sound neutralizer. If you have to change locations, try to do so when it’s raining. Some hunters aren’t willing to sit in the rain for hours, so you could have a sizeable advantage if you’re willing to tough it out and get a little wet. If you do this, make sure you have the proper clothing to stay warm.
- Timing is everything when it comes to whitetail deer hunting. Research has shown that the largest percentage of mature trophy bucks are killed between 10am and 2pm during the peak breeding season. Weather permitting, truly dedicated hunters start early each day, they stay in the stands as long as possible, and they continue to hunt until the last minute of the hunting season to gain an extra advantage
Whether you are preparing to go on your first hunting expedition or consider a tree stand your second home, we are confident that this list of the best whitetail deer hunting tips will provide you with valuable insight. If you have any additional information that has made you a better tracker and hunter, we’d love to hear from you.