TEN TIPS FOR DEER HUNTING
The time to think about shooting a deer isn’t right before you pull the trigger. The time is now, before the season starts. Here are 10 tips I have learned over the years:
Images and other materials contained on this web site are the property of retiredlures.com
and may not be reproduced or used on other web sites or for personal use without our written permission.
1)Have Confidence. Confidence in yourself, your gun, and your aim. Have the confidence to think to yourself “I got him” as you pull up your gun to shoot. Whether you use a 7mm rifle or a .410 gauge shotgun, know how your gun shoots. Target practice, and know your aim. When you take the shot, you want it to be second nature. 2)Keep calm. Yes, it is a rush to see that deer...especially if it is running or a large deer. But, you must maintain control. 3)Hunt with your ears as well as your eyes. In the woods, I have shot more deer for I located them with my ears long before I saw them. If a deer is walking, he will make a steady “swish swish” sound and will stop briefly at times. Listen for twigs snapping from a large animal. People confuse squirrels in the woods with deer, but their pace and sound are typically quite different once you learn their stride pattern. 4)Sit still! I have to admit, I have missed taking a shot at deer for I was impatient and turned my head or moved to see what was making that sound and I scared the deer away. Deer have excellent sight and smell, but many people think deer can’t see well for they are color-blind. Deer see movement better than us, by far! Have you heard the saying that deer don’t look up? FALSE! Deer will watch the ground more than the trees, but they can and will see you in your deerstand if you move. A stand helps hide your movement and scent slightly, but the main advantage is that YOU can see your surroundings better, not that the deer will not notice you. Many hunters like to brag about how far away a deer was when they shot it with their hi-powered scope. Big deal. I like to brag about how close I let the deer come without them noticing me and shooting it with an open site. Personally, I think that takes much more skill. 5)Know the area where you hunt and sit. Know where the deer will typically walk and which direction they will typically come from. If I know the area well, I like to SIT in my deerstand. Why? You are less likely to move, it is more comfortable, and it takes less movement to site the deer in. If I suspect the deer will be walking to me, I sit. If they will be running…like posting on a drive…I will stand. Of course, there are exceptions.
If you can see the deer’s head, he can see you. Use brush and trees to your advantage when raising your gun to aim. And, above all, know where the other hunters are in your area!
6)Don’t let the deer get too close. What? Did you hear that right? Yes, you did. 20 – 50 yards is a great shot. Right under your stand is NOT. You are more likely to shoot high if the deer is right under your stand and the size of your target can actually be smaller because of the angle. My favorite shot is to let the deer walk under my stand (while I am sitting) and shoot them walking away from me when they get about 20-30 yards away. Typically, they are no longer looking at you for you are behind them, and you can catch them off guard and have an easy shot. 7)Know where to aim on the deer. The spot I pick can vary depending on the situation, but most of the time I aim for the area I call the “dead zone”. Contrary to what most hunters think, the heart is not the best place to shoot a deer. Yes, if you hit the heart the deer is down, but it can be a tricky spot to hit. Instead, I draw an imaginary line directly up from the back of the front leg, between one-third and one-half of the way up the deer’s body. Hit the deer here and they will drop dead or collapse midstride after a few seconds. The best thing about selecting this for your target is that few people place the bullet precisely every time, but you can miss this prime spot and still drop the deer. Shoot too much forward, you hit the shoulder breaking legs and blowing bone into the animal’s organs. Shoot too far back, you hit the most critical part of the deer’s lungs. Shoot a little low, you hit the heart. Shoot high, you hit the deer’s spine and drop it instantly. And, if you do hit right on, this area contains many vital organs and several major blood vessels. Trust me; they will drop if you hit them here.
Note: A bonus to hitting a deer in the “dead zone” is that the deer will bleed quickly into the chest cavity and not stay in the best cuts of meat. Meat with high blood content tends to be “sour” and a properly bled-out venison results in “sweeter” and tender steaks.
If a deer is running fast, aim way in front of the deer? Actually, not really. Yes, the deer is moving and you may have to aim a little forward…but your bullet can travel at 400 mph. Keep this in mind. Many people say you should never shoot at a moving deer, but with practice you can shoot a running deer nearly as well as one standing still.
8)Watch where your shot goes and the deer’s reaction when you shoot. Many times, you will see where you hit the deer (hair flies in the air, a hole appears in the deer, blood spray). Also, did the deer buckle or stumble? Did he lower his head or tail? If running, did he speed up or slow down? Did he zig zag, or run straight? Typically, if you shoot high, the deer won’t run as fast or may stop and try to locate you. If it bolts fast, you may have shot low and he heard the slug/bullet hit the ground. If you shoot more than once, make each shot a good one. Don’t just fling lead at it and hope to get lucky. Take your time, but be quick! 9) After you shoot at a deer, stay where you are at! Many times people get out of their stand and immediately go look for blood or where it went. Don’t! The deer still might not know where you are; just that it was fired at. I have even had the deer circle and come back to me after I fired at it and gave me another chance! Also, a deer that is hit but doesn’t know what happened is much more likely to go a short distance and lay down, whereas a deer that is hit and knows there is a predator (you) nearby is much more likely to run and run, thus making him harder to track and find. It’s hard to do, but contain your excitement and study the reaction after the shot to know how you should proceed and when you should proceed.
And, always look carefully to see if you hit the deer. Wait, but then go and look. Keep in mind that everyone misses…but just as many times as you think you hit a deer and missed, you think you missed a deer and hit it.
10)Learn how to track a wounded deer. First of all, treat the area the deer was when you shot like a crime scene. You will be looking for subtle clues and you don’t want to disturb the evidence. This means walking to the sides of everything, which can be hard in thick brush. Search for blood (which can be small specs), hair, tracks, and maybe even where your bullet hit the ground. Mark the spot where the deer was when you shot and mark any blood you see. Your gloves and your hat are good for this. Track with one or two guys maximum. Too many can disturb the area more. Badly wounded deer can travel the “easy” path or be looking for a place to lie down. Give him time if needed to pass away. Mark the blood trail, and be patience. Don’t rush.
If you find evidence, try to read it. For example, blood color. If frothy with bubbles, you hit the lungs. If very dark blood, you hit a vital organ. If it has particles of vegetation in it, it was hit in the intestines or stomach. Also, hair from the middle of the deer can be straighter and shorter (1 – 2 inches) than hair from the top or bottom of the deer (2 – 4 inches). Hair from the belly can look white in color. Don’t forget to look for tracks or disturbed leaves. Many times they can tell you if the deer is limping and which way he is going. And, lastly, don’t just look at the ground. Blood and hair can be left off the ground on brush and trees that the deer rubs against.
11)I know, I said ten tips, but this one needed to be added. And that is…Be safe!! Use common sense when hunting and keep in mind that you are carrying a dangerous weapon!! No deer is worth taking safety for granted!!