I still remember the first time I went deer hunting with my grandpa and dad. I was 18 years old and hunting for whitetail deer. It was thrilling and one of the best times of my life! No, I did not bag a large buck or come home with any antlers to hang on the wall that day, but I did come home with a new passion, deer hunting!
Since that very first trip, I have read a lot of tips and techniques, bought the right hunting apparel, shopped endlessly for hunting gear and tried to learn from the more experienced and successful deer hunters. Throughout the years, people have asked me for hunting tips from beginning hunters and have come up with a few guidelines that I usually follow and give out as advice.
The first thing worth mentioning is to know a little about the kind of deer you are hunting before you set out. One of the most popular hunting sports in the United States is whitetail deer hunting and a good species to start with. The whitetail deer is one of the most common species of deer in the United States and you can easily recognize them by their small, short ears and long white tail that sticks up. Bucks in this species have antlers with all major points coming off the main beam and weigh on average about 60-160 lbs. It is easy to distinguish the females apart from the males because they are smaller and do not have antlers.
You will find this species in southern hardwood states and in large quantities in Texas. You might also find that you enjoy hunting the whitetail more than other species because they tend to only roam a small range, making it possible for you to have a great hunt in a concentrated area.
Another very common species that I enjoy hunting is the mule deer. You can find these deer in western Canada and in the western United States as far East as Texas and Wisconsin. This species is bigger than the whitetail and will give you more meat per catch. When hunting the mule deer, you will have better success in the high mountains and at the forests edge because they are not deep forest dwellers. You can also easily distinguish between the mule deer species from the whitetail because of the long mule-like ears and gray color of the mule deer.
If you are looking for a challenging hunt, this is your species. Unlike the whitetail, which tends to stick close to one area making them easier targets, the mule deer tend to roam over wider areas and blend in more with their surroundings due to their gray colored hides.
When deer hunting, you should also remember and practice the basics of good hunting, have the right hunting equipment and make sure you are not missing any vital pieces in your hunting gear before getting into position. Be prepared to start early in the morning and be up and in your position or deer stand before sunrise. Some of the best times to bag a deer are as the sun comes up or in the evening when it is setting.
Avoid any strong scents such as cologne, or strong deodorants as the deer have very heightened senses of smell and are easily spooked by human scents. Lastly, and maybe the most important tip I can give you and one that has unfortunately cost me a great buck or two, is to keep silent. Silence is very important and I have found that even a faint whisper can scare a deer off.
By knowing your species characteristics and habitat and by following good hunting basics, your hunting trips will begin on the right foot and might possibly even bag you that great catch all of us are looking for when deer hunting!