Always be attentive. Listen closely for crunching noises and breaking twigs. Watch for even the slightest movement. Also look for deer parts, sometimes you won't see the whole deer. Look for a head, a horn, an ear, a leg or a patch of brown or white.
It is very important to wear a watch while deer hunting. You need to know when legal shooting light starts and stops. Your watch is also important when your are coordinating with your hunting partners. Deer have very good hearing, so don't forget to turn off your hourly chime and the alarm on your wristwatch.
Hate cold feet when your sitting in your blind or stand ? Don't we all. Try putting on a thin cotton liner sock, tube socks also work well, then put a bread sack over these, and then a thicker over-sock. ( If your feet get damp or wet, you should avoid cotton. Try using wool or polypropylene.) This works by acting as a vapor barrier. We've all been trained that keeping your feet dry by wicking sweat away will keep your feet warmer. However, your feet need a certain level of humidity to prevent your skin from drying out. So your feet keep sweating to replace what your socks are wicking away. The vapor barrier keeps in enough moisture, so your feet won't sweat as much, and it also helps trap heat for warmth. My feet have stayed warm all day after trying this. I also keep my feet off the ground to avoid contact heat loss.
Always try to stay comfortable while hunting. If you are cold, wet, sweaty, hungry, tired, or in need of a bathroom, etc., you probably aren't going to hunt for very long. Here are some tips to help you stay more comfortable. (1) Food is very important. Always have a warm breakfast if you are hunting in the morning. Eat foods with lots of carbohydrates and some fat. Always have some food with you, too. Take something along in your pack like a granola bar or other small, quiet snacks, and something to drink. (2) Keep the weather in mind. Layer up on cold days and take along some charcoal activated hand warmers. Stay hydrated and dress lightly on warm days. In rainy weather, take ponchos and other things to keep you dry. If you are going to be crossing any water or swampy ground, wear rubber boots (this will eliminate a lot of odors, too).
What can you do if you are walking toward your deer stand or blind and a deer spots you? Just break up your pattern by putting your gun or bow up in front of you face so the deer can't tell that you are a person. Trust me on this, this has worked many of times for me. I shot my first deer doing this. It was a small doe that was curious of what I was and it walked 20 yards from me and I drilled her.
Whenever hunting early or late season, take your time through the woods while making a drive. Not very often, but sometime you can see a deer bedded down before it gets up. A smart buck will sometimes stay bedded down until the drivers have gone past. I have seen many hunters, including myself, just about step on the buck that doubles back on you. If you don't have someone, bringing up the rear, behind the drivers you are missing a chance to down a good buck. My hunting party has taken a lot of deer that back track on the drive. Most have been good bucks. Take your time, remember you aren't getting paid by the mile!
Try carrying your water in a Camel Pak. You can find these at many Army/Navy hunting and surplus stores. The Camel Pak is a way to carry your water on your back in a backpack. There is a long hose that comes out so you can take little sips of water whenever you need it.
Cold weather hunters must remember to eat enough carbohydrates to help stay warm while on stand. This is particularly important for treestand hunters since they are more exposed to the wind. I always pack 2 peanut butter & jam sandwiches, along with cookies to stoke the metabolic furnace. Insulation only reduces heat loss, carbs cause your body to generate heat. Don't forget to wear warm boots and a hat that insulates your feet & head well. You will lose a large amount of your body heat through your head and your feet if you don't. Keeping your feet off the ground and sitting on an insulated pad will help by reducing contact heat loss.
It is very important to keep yourself hydrated while you hunt. Canteens and water bottles are bulky and they are noise. Try the foil juice pouches, they are quit, convenient and they have their own straw. When they are empty just crumple them up and put them in your pack until you get back to camp.
Don't be a fair weather hunter, when you wake up early in the morning to make a deer hunt and its raining don't go back to bed. Especially if it's just a light drizzle go ahead and get in your deer stand. Deer will move in a light drizzle. But if it's pouring down rain and it's been like that for a while wait till it slacks off a little. Deer won't move in a hard rain, but after the hard rain has stopped they move like crazy. This words especially well if the hard rain caused the deer to miss their regular feeding cycle during the night.
Always leave your gun or bow on the ground when climbing into your hunting stand. If you are using a gun, always make sure the gun is unloaded before you start your climb. Now you can secure one end of a 20 to 30 foot rope to your weapon and the other end to you. Climb up and get situated in your hunting stand. Now you will be able to safely pull your weapon up into your hunting stand.
If you hunt from a tree stand carry an empty plastic bottle with a good sealing type lid. When nature calls, just use the plastic bottle. It will save you a trip down the tree. You shouldn't leave your scent around your stand area, because the deer will smell it and they won't come anywhere near your stand.
When you're in your stand, any little sound may trick you and get your heart beating fast. I know it's a tempting instinct to raise your gun up, but be sure, it could be just a squirrel, bird, or most importantly, a fellow hunter. So if you hear a suspicious sound, raise your binoculars up and check it out first, don't raise your gun right away. You must make sure that you have a clear visual of the deer before you raise your gun up and make a good clean shot. Never shoot at movements or sounds. Always make sure that you have a clear visual of the deer.
You might not want to shoot the first deer that you see. Watch the deer for a minute. Is the deer looking back? If the deer is a doe, there might be a buck following her. If the deer is a buck and looking back, there might be a larger buck following him.
When placing a tree stand in a cedar tree, do not use the branches as steps. They are weak and can easily break. I know this from personal experience. Falling out of a tree is not fun and can be life threatening.
Don't wear or carry anything white, you could be mistaken for a deer. If you use a map in the field, more than likely it has a white back on it. This can be potentially dangerous since a deer with its white tail up and you holding up a map, with a white back, may look very similar to another hunter. You might consider sewing or gluing a piece of camouflage fabric to the map back. If your map is made out of paper, you might consider adding plastic laminating sheets on the front and back before the fabric is sewn on to strengthen the stitches. This also makes your map waterproof.
When I've forgotten my camelback (hydro-pack), I'll stop on my way to the woods and buy some bottled water. But, when walking through the woods, the bottled water makes a lot of noise sloshing back and forth. All you have to do is break the seal and squeeze all of the air out of the bottle and tighten the lid back up and this problem is eliminated.
A good way to eat well on your hunt as well as attract deer is to take things like apples or another fruit that is native to your hunting area and peanut butter sandwiches on your hunt. Deer like fruit and peanut butter. This won't smell like sausage, beef jerky, pepperoni, candy bars or anything else you might want to bring on your hunt that deer don't like. Also try drinking apple juice/cider instead of soft drinks or coffee. You never know, that's all you might need to bring in that big buck.
It is never a good idea to smoke while hunting. Try chewing bandits or skoal. Cherry or wintergreen flavor have a woody kind of smell that might not alert the deer. Better yet, while hunting, use a nicotine patch to reduce the craving.
If you want trophy bucks manage your deer population carefully. If you have high doe to buck numbers, harvest does if possible. No trophy bucks in the population, harvest inferior antlered bucks, leave the high point count yearlings. Learn to identify age from physical characteristics not just antlers.
It is important to keep an eye out behind you every so often. Deer can move very quietly even when walking on dry leaves, and more so when traveling through snow. I have gotten up from my hunting position twice and spooked two big bucks that were standing less than thirty yards from me. It's also important to move slowly and quietly when checking the area behind you, and try not to move your entire body.
Never wear leather boots or shoes. Leather holds the scent of anything that it touches. A buck followed the same trail that I came in on, but only for about one second. He caught the scent from the ground and he was gone in a flash. Now, I will only wear rubber boots on my feet!
If you are like me, you've read dozens of articles recommending taking big, healthy mature does to help reduce deer populations. Some biologists are taking a new approach to thinning herds, however, and are recommending taking the very youngest deer instead. Their reasoning is that it is much better for the habitat to harvest a yearling because it requires more food and nutrients to grow to maturity. And mature does are valuable because they are much more likely to produce healthy twin fawns and almost always breed in the normal rut window -- both good things for the health of the herd. The risk in taking young deer, of course, is that you will inevitably take some button bucks. Both schools of thought have their merits, so, which is right for you? To answer that, ask yourself another question: What is the bigger concern for your herd: buck/doe ratios or overpopulation/poor nutrition.
While you are out in the woods and have an urge to smoke consider nicotine lollipops. A compounding pharmacist can make these lollipops. There are several flavors to choose from, such as spearmint, peppermint, green apple, etc.
This is for all of you mule deer hunters. If you spook a mule deer and it is running towards a ridge or hill top, you should get ready for a long shot. Mule deer will quite often stop and look back, to see if danger is following them, just before they go out of sight. This could be your best and last chance for a shot, so be ready.
When bucks, or deer for that matter, bed down, they almost always enter their bedding area from downwind. This habit will let them scent check their bedding area before they enter. You can outsmart these old brutes by setting up a deer hunting stand cross wind on the downwind side of their bedding area.
If you are hunting during cold temperatures, loosen you bootlaces after you get to you stand. Loosen your bootlaces until you feel it relieve the pressure. This will make your feet a little more comfortable plus the added blood circulation will help warm up your feet. Make sure that you re-tie your bootlaces before you exit your stand. If it is really cold you can place foot warmers in your boots. These can be purchased at the sporting goods section at Wall-Mart and they last up to 10 hours.
I definitely see the biggest bucks between 10:00 am and 2:00 in the afternoon. So take your lunch with you and stay at your stand and eat your lunch. Eat things that will smell good to the deer and they might just come in to join you.
Before hunting season try shooting your rifle with the gloves you will be using during deer season. Check to make sure that your trigger finger fits safely between the trigger and the trigger guard. Practice using the safety with your gloves on. Make sure that you can maintain a firm grip on your rifle as you shoot. This will insure that there are no problems when you get ready to shoot your deer. This could make the difference between a missed or wounded deer or a trophy on the wall when making that shot.
When I'm hunting deer, from a stand, I always look for rabbits, squirrels and birds etc. Squirrels will usually start chattering whenever an intruder comes close to their area. These small animals might give you advanced notice of an approaching deer. But also keep in mind that if there are small animals near your stand to be very careful not to frighten them. These small frightened animals may alert the deer to danger in the area.
During deer season, especially archery , I always keep a diaphram turkey call handy. When I move, I do so slowly, quietly and occasionally give a couple quick "clucks, or purrs" on my turkey call. In most areas turkeys are known to deer, so why not try to sound like a turkey. Make yourself sound like part of the forest.
When I head to the woods, I carry at least one strip of tire inner tube (approx. 2" by 6") along with a couple of disposable lighters. This rubber will ignite with a minimum of flame and will burn hot and long enough to start even damp twigs. You could also use a candle as a fire starter or there are several commercial fire starters available that work well. The commercial fire starters are usually a combination of paraffin and wood chips. We always think and/or hope that we won't have the need to spend a long night in the woods, but being able to start a fire might save your life.
With a GPS you don't have to worry about getting lost in fog, in bad weather or even in the dark. Just mark your location when you leave your camp or truck and you can always find your way back with your GPS. Use it for preplanning your hunting trips so that you can quickly get to your stand locations, spots where you suspect are good places to find game or where you recorded sighting game before. Use your GPS to mark and avoid poor hunting areas, no hunting areas or dangerous territory. If you have to leave your fallen game for any reason, just mark its location and you can always find your way back to it. The GPS is much easier than hanging trail marking tape. If you get into trouble use your GPS unit and a two-way radio or cell phone to communicate your exact position to rescue teams.
Are you building or buying a new deer stand? If you are, build or buy the safety rails. The safety rails will keep you from falling out of your stand and they also make for a great rifle rest.
The most important safety precaution is always wear at least one piece of hunter orange clothing. Check with your local Fish and Game for required specifications for hunter orange. Always use a flashlight, when you're moving through the woods or getting in and out of your stand, in low light conditions. Most hunters know that deer don't use flashlights. One other thing I suggest is you and your hunting partners carry 2 way radios. It is best if you only talk on the radio if there's something terribly wrong or if of course, you've just shot that trophy buck. But stay off the radio as much as possible. Hunt smart and you will stay safe.