Whitetail Deer For Beginners
Let me first start of by saying that there are no Whitetail Deer Hunting tips and tricks I can give you that will replace the experience you will gain out in the field. Spending time up close and personal with whitetail deer will help you gain an appreciation for North Americas’ most popular big game animal and will give you an appreciation for the environment they live in. Once you try whitetail deer hunting you are probably going to be hooked on what some would consider North America’s Favorite Past Time.
Whitetail Deer hunting at the best of times can be an exciting, strenuous, and emotional experience. And at its worst whitetail deer hunting can be cold, solitary, and defeating. But as most experienced whitetail deer hunters will tell you most hunts are usually somewhere between those two extremes. Over time you will find the experiences you have in the woods far out way any trophy you could put on the wall or any meat you can put in the freezer.
Personally I love whitetail deer hunting. I have had seasons where I struggled up till the last minute of the season and had nothing to show for it but a freezer full unfulfilled dreams and I have also tagged out in the first few hours of opening day of whitetail deer hunting season. After every season I have been left somewhat conflicted at the end of the hunt but also looking forward to the next hunting season. Many on non-hunters may think that killing a deer tagging out is the ultimate goal of whitetail deer hunting. It isn’t. It’ s not about the kill, It is not about the Antlers, and it is not about the freezer full of meat. Whitetail Deer Hunting to me is about challenging myself in an environment that is very far removed from what I am use to in my day to day life. Another thing that draws me to Whitetail Deer Hunting year after year is the traditional values that hunters share and the sense of community you gain when you are a hunter. I consider myself to be very lucky that my Dad was a hunter and he taught me what it was to be a hunter and a good neighbor in our community. Every year we had a successful harvest it was tradition that it was shared with friends and family. To this day that sense of community is part of what gets me through those solitary long hard days is to know that you are also doing it for the people you care about.
My 2014 whitetail deer hunting season was very successful. I was able to tag out in the opening days of the season but the excitement of the successful hunt was quickly replaced by sadness knowing my season was over for another year. I was also struck by envy. For the remainder of the fall I would continue to wake up early enough to hunt and knowing I could be out there in time for sunrise but I was stuck without a tag to fill.
In contrast to my 2014 season, the 2013 I hunted hard the entire whitetail deer hunting season and failed. No venison that winter, no antlers for the mantle, and nothing to share with my family and friends. That season drove me to learn everything I could about whitetail deer hunting and to even make this website. To this day I look back as the 2013 Whitetail Deer Hunting Season as being my best yet.
What that hard hunting season taught me was in my 30 years of hunting I didn’t know it all and that it was time to make some changes. It also taught me was that I was stuck in an ideology I created around the fundamentals I was taught. The fundamentals I learned are correct but my unwillingness to change my habits was the ultimate reason I failed during that whitetail deer hunting season. If whitetail deer hunting is good for one thing it is self reflection.
Now enough of the sentimental talk let’s get into some of those Whitetail Deer Hunting Tips and Tactics.
Whitetail Deer Hunting Tips For Beginners
I get asked a lot by people interested in hunting if they should start with whitetail deer hunting. My answer usually is “it depends”. For someone completely new to hunting I usually recommend that they start with hunting small game hunting or upland game birds. Most if not all hunters start small and work their way up over the years. Killing a big game animal especially if you are hunting alone if going to be mentally, physically, and emotionally challenging for most people. It is much better to start small, gain some experience in the wilderness, and work your way up to Whitetail Deer Hunting.
Before you step out and spend a lot of time and money into becoming a hunter you will really want to ask yourself if this is something you want to do. I look back to when I was a young boy before I started hunting my Dad told me that once you pull that trigger you can never take that shot back. It is something I remember putting a lot of thought into and even when I did kill an animal for the first time it left me questioning if what I did was the right thing to do. To this day I appreciate that question he left me to ask myself. It has given me a profound appreciation for the animals I hunt and also the meat I buy from the grocery store. I have seen an animal hunted, processed, and hit the table. I have taken somethings life and I am fully aware that it is not just a piece of meat. It was a living animal deserves the ultimate respect I can give it.
Things To Ask Yourself Before Going Out Whitetail Deer Hunting
Below are a few things we think are important for new hunters to ask themselves before the step foot in the woods to go hunting.
- Is Whitetail Deer Hunting Really For Me?
- Will I Be Able To Pull The Trigger on A Whitetail Deer?
- Are my Shooting And Archery Skills Good Enough To Ethically Kill A Big Game Animal?
- Could I Really Field Dress A Big Game Animal?
- How Will I Transport The Deer From The Field To My Home?
- How will I process the meat? Is there a Wild Game Butcher In My Area?
Still interested in Whitetail Deer Hunting? Great let’s keep moving! If you are still a bit unsure here is a bit more information about whitetail deer hunting for beginners.
Articles On Whitetail Deer Hunting For Beginners
Before you step foot in the field or the woods for the first time set a goal to understand everything you can about whitetail deer hunting.
Whitetail Deer Basics – New to Whitetail Hunting? Start here! Learn about C.W.D in this informative video.
Whitetail Deer Hunting For Beginners – Another great starting point for any novice. Understand shot placement at long range.
Whitetail Deer Hunting Basics – A brief overview on some basic deer hunting tips. Learn some of the basics of shot placement and recovery.
31 Facts About Whitetail Deer – The quick and dirty low down on Whitetails. Learn to do your own European Skull Mount.
A Very Popular Sport – See what this buck fever is all about. Learn to hang your tree stand in 5 minutes.
Ready For Hunting Whitetail Deer – 15 Tips To Have You Ready For The 2015 Whitetail Hunt
Finding A Whitetail Deer Hunting Mentor
One of the best ways to get into whitetail deer hunting is to find someone who can mentor you. Your mentor could be a friend, neighbor, or relative that you know is an experienced hunter. You have a lot to learn if you are new to hunting but with a little guidance you will pick it up with a little bit of work. I can’t tell you specific statistics but I would say most new hunters are probably unsuccessful for their first few hunting season. A good hunting guide or mentor will help you over come the odds.
Characteristics of A Great Whitetail Deer Hunting Mentor
When looking for a whitetail deer hunting mentor you need to look for someone you trust and are 100% comfortable with as a person. Here are a few things you should look for in your Mentor.
- Experienced – You won’t regret finding an experienced hunter to help guide you through your first few hunts or first hunting season. They will not only be experienced in whitetail deer hunting but also the land you will be hunting, hunters in your area, and fish and game laws for your management unit.
- Safe – Nothing is more important than being safe in the woods during hunting season. Remember when you pull that trigger you can’t take that shot back. You are 100% responsible for that bullet, arrow, slug, or shot for the entire distance it travels. Aside from just firearms safety you could be facing issues of getting lost in the wilderness, trespassing on other peoples land, accidental injuries, or running into other predators. Make sure you find someone who is responsible and respectful.
- Patient –You are going to want to find a whitetail deer hunting mentor that is patient and going to take the time to help you learn and make mistakes.
As you move on throughout your own life as a hunter you will eventually find yourself helping a new hunter. So when you are choosing your mentor find someone you aspire to be in the future.
Taking A Hunters Safety Course
You are going to find that most States and Provinces require that you have successfully passed a hunter’s safety course before you can obtain a hunting license. These courses typically cover the tradition of hunting, hunting ethics, game identification, local laws, and also safety.
In the past you would have to sit through a week or two week course and at the end take a test. These courses are still available to you in most communities if you are more of a hands on learner. Another option is also to take your hunters safety course online. For the most part the same material will be covered but you can take it from the comfort of your own home and computer.
4 Things That Make Up a Great Hunters Safety Course
A good hunter’s safety course is worth its weight in gold. Here are a few things we think are important.
- Experienced Instructors – A good instructor is going to be a long time hunter that is passionate about hunting. They are usually volunteers and are just as excited to teach you as you are to be in their classes.
- A Strong Focus On Hunter Ethics and the Legalities of Hunting – You want to find someone who in plain language can explain the laws to you. In some cases unless you are a lawyer you will have a hard time fully understanding the regulations you are bound by.
- Local Knowledge – Comes right back to the Instructors. A good instructor will be able to tell you about local hunting, where to buy gear, and hunting organizations in your area.
- Safety – Can’t say it enough. Everyone wants to go home safe and sound after a hunting trip.
Getting To Know The Whitetail Deer Family
The Whitetail deer family is made up by three main players. the bucks, the does, and the fawns. As a new hunter we recommend that spend as much time as you can learning how to tell the difference between a male whitetail deer, a female whitetail deer, and the fawns. It is also a good idea to learn as much as you can about the animals you are hunting and also the environment you are hunting in.
- Bucks – During the whitetail deer hunting season adult male deer or bucks are very easy to identify. They typically have antlers and appear to have a more muscular appearance.
- Does – A Doe is the name for adult female deer. In most cases they are slightly smaller than the bucks, they do not have antlers, and have a softer more feminine appearance.
- Fawns – Resemble your favorite cartoon character Bambi. They are small immature deer that are usually travelling with their mothers.
During hunting season the older bucks seem to travel and live a solitary lifestyle in more remote areas that are harder to access. Younger bucks can be seen in bachelor groups or travelling closely with the Does. From my experience when a Doe is with their fawns they typically travel in their own groups.
One of the reasons that a whitetail deer special is the fact that it uses its white tail for communication with other deer in the area they live. The whitetail deer’s tail signals no verbal gestures to the other whitetail deer in the area similar to what we may do with our hands when verbal communication isn’t possible.
To learn even more on whitetail deer family please click on one of the reference links below.
Learn about Whitetail Deer Senses – Understand how finely tuned this amazing animal is. Watch this buck in an epic battle with a 12 gauge shotgun.
Firearms Safety for Whitetail Deer Hunting Success
If you are planning to hunt whitetail deer with a firearm no matter rifle, shotgun, or muzzle-loader you are more than likely going to have to take a firearms safety course. Although it may not a requirement in your State we cannot stress enough how important these courses are when it comes to hunters safety. Typically these courses will include instruction safe firearms handling, ammunition, storage, transporting your firearm, and the legalities of owning a firearm. In some cases if your course is being hosted at a local shooting range they may even let you shoot a variety of firearms.
After you become comfortable with owning a firearm it is now time to practice, practice, and even practice. A lot of first time hunters will get “buck fever” the first time they take aim at a deer. The more you practice the less likely you are to miss or even worse injure the animal and have them run off. Every time I hear about a shot being missed or animal being wounded I cringe because poor decisions made by one hunter make us all look bad. Especially if it just comes down to the hunter not properly sighting in his or her rifle or not practicing their marksmanship enough.
It’s like anything in life. The more work you put into your shooting in the off-season the easier your work will be after you have pulled the trigger. If you are out whitetail deer hunting and shoot a deer only to injure it and it runs 400 yards are more you going to suffer by having to track the deer down and also pack it out the distance. As far as shooting and hunting goes you can never practice shooting your rifle, shotgun, or muzzle-loader too much. The goal of an ethical hunter is kill an animal as quickly and humanely as possible.
Every hunter should strive to be a functional shooter not only with a firearm but also with which ever weapon he chooses to hunt with. Functional meaning that you can shoot from different angles, from different positions, and under different conditions. Challenge yourself to fully understand your firearm or bow. Over the years that you are whitetail deer hunting you are going to find that getting that perfect shot is more an exception. Usually you have a split second to choose your shot and pull the trigger.
Shooting Positions to Practice For Whitetail Deer Hunting
Again when it comes to whitetail deer hunting or just hunting in general you are going to notice that very rarely are you ever going to get to take what most would consider a perfect shot. Hunting opportunities usually present themselves to you when you are least ready. That is why it is so important to learn to shoot from different positions and also from different elevations.
The Three Positions to Practice for Functional Shooting Are:
Standing – About three quarters of your rifle and bow shooting practice should take place from a standing position. A lot of times when you are out whitetail deer hunting you are going to see them while you are standing or walking. Practicing shooting from a standing position should also include some focus of just shouldering your firearm or drawing your bow quickly and finding your target in your scope or sights. When it comes to acquiring a target and pulling the trigger while whitetail deer hunting you are only working with seconds. I have spooked a lot of whitetail throughout my life and they typically will jump and run. A well timed whistle or noise will stop them if you are lucky it will turn them perfectly broadside to you. If can quickly and efficiently find that kill zone on the deer you will go home not only with the deer but also an amazing story to tell. The best defense a whitetail deer has is the ability to make a quick getaway when it feels threatened. Focus on the fundamentals of your shooting and finding your target quickly.
Sitting and Kneeling – No matter if you are glassing a ridge or taking a load of up against a tree, hunting opportunities will usually present themselves to you when you least expect it. Being in a sitting or kneeling position gives you more stability than the standing position and should improve the shots you are taking. A firearm can be propped on a nearby branch for support when in the kneeling position. For extra support while sitting you can place your elbow on your knee to help you settle the firearm.
Prone (Rifle) – Good luck to you trying to shoot your bow while laying down. Actually don’t even try it. But for a rifle hunter the prone position is one of the best positions you can take for a steady shot. A bi-pod comes in handy for prone position shots but does add extra weight to the front of your gun and may cause new challenges while trying to shoot standing or sitting. If the extra weight of the bi-pod gives you some issues you can use your backpack, a stump, or downed log to give you the extra stability you might need to take a long distance shot.
Extra Shooting Position Tips For Archers
Part of being a proficient shot is to understand that when you are shooting from different elevations you have to make slight adjustments on your sights or scopes. This holds very true for archery since so much emphasis is put on hitting a consistant anchor point and the mechanics of the shot. The below is focused on archery but can be applied to the iron sights or scope of your firearms.
Shooting From An Incline To A Decline
This is a very common shot for an archer to take. Most archers bring the death from above so taking the time to practice shooting from a tree stand is very important. I use my bow on occasion to hunt small game or some upland game birds. When practicing these shots it requires a slight adjustment on how I line up my bow sight and pin than when I am practicing hitting the kill zone on whitetail deer that is more parallel to my usual draw.
Shooting From A Decline To An Incline
Again just practice your angles. You are going to find you need to make minor adjustments if you are shooting your bow uphill similar to when you are shooting it downhill or from a tree stand. By challenging yourself in different ways and environments you are going to become a much better bow hunter.
Rifle and archery ranges are good don’t get me wrong. But there is no better place to learn functional shooting and hunting than the outdoors.
Whitetail Deer Hunting Tips & Tactics
Pre-Season Whitetail Deer Hunting Scouting
You hear it all too often guys and gals will say they don’t see enough deer when they are our Whitetail Deer Hunting. Another common complaint is that they see enough mature bucks when they are out during hunting season. This is because a lot of hunters do not do pre-season whitetail deer scouting. I will agree that you can luck yourself into a once and a life time monster buck but the odds are drastically against it. There are very good reasons why these deer grow to full maturity. They are smarter than the average hunter, they are faster than a pro-athlete, and they are more elusive than your kids on a day when there is work to be done. The only way to catch a monster is to get out there and find it.
The best time to start your Pre-Season Whitetail Deer Hunting Scouting is within the first week that hunting season has ended. For those of you who live in the northern United States and Canada you should have a healthy amount of fresh snow will help you find a track, trail, or pile of scat. No matter what you find in the fresh white snow it is sure to stick out like a sore thumb. As soon as you find promising sign mark your map or set a way point on your GPS. Whitetail Deer for the most part have a very limited home range of a couple square miles. This can change when they are under stress or heavily hunted but for the most part when you see that sign in the snow it is worth some further investigation.
For those of you in the southern States or areas of Canada that lack snow your best bet is to get out after a bit of rain and go in search of tracks in areas with sand or mud. The bank of a dirt road is a good place to watch as the deer will leave a defined print on the soft sides of the road.
A bit of gear you you may want to consider to assist with scouting your next deer hunt is a trail camera and a good set of optics. The trail cam will be your eyes on the whitetail deer trails when you can’t be out on in the field. It will help you pattern the deer by showing you what deer are there and when they are moving.. Optics wither binoculars or a spotting scope on the other hand will help you cover large areas of open land. You can watch the deer in a natural state while not creating and stress that would cause them to behave uncharacteristically.
Public and Private Land Access You Will Need For Whitetail Deer Hunting
Some of your pre-season scouting for your next season of whitetail deer hunting is going to include finding land to hunt on. As hunters we look at the land as mainly being public land that under the best circumstances your are able to freely hunt and also private land that you will have to obtain permission to hunt on.
Accessing Public Lands For Whitetail Deer Hunting
Finding public land suitable for whitetail deer hunting can be a challenge. Undeveloped and land that is not owned by a group or individual is hard to come by these days. With suburban developments, forestry operations, and increased populations their is more and more competition for the use of this public land. Adding to the challenge of finding a good piece of land that is suitable for whitetail deer hunting that is not full hunters competing for the same deer. As a general rule of thumb when hunting on public land the further you go from your vehicle the less competition you will have from other hunters and the bigger deer you will see. It pays off huge to be in good shape during whitetail deer hunting season as you will be able to go further and leave the crowds of hunters fighting over all the small deer.
Another factor you should take into consideration when you are on public lands is that the land is not just for hunters in the fall. I have run into campers, hikers, and families with young children just out for a nice walk in the woods. Remember choose your shot wisely and look for a back stop to catch your bullet, arrow, slug, or shot. When you pull the trigger you are 100% responsible for everyone’s safety whether you see them or not.
In the past finding good public land for hunting either meant someone had to show you their hunting spot or else you would have to spend countless hours reading and interpreting maps. With the internet today we now have access to websites that list public land for hunting and also apps for your smart phone that will lead you right to a piece of public land when someone is at your spot.
Find Out Why You Should Be Involved In Protecting Public Land
Learn just why public land are so important to us all.
Access to Private Land for Whitetail Deer Hunting
Accessing private land for whitetail deer hunting will present it’s on set of challenges. Consider yourself lucky if you have a connection to a landowner who is willing to let you on their property. The whitetail deer on private land typically aren’t as skittish as public land deer. These deer aren’t pressured as heavily as during the hunting season so they maybe more forgiving when it comes to stepping on a twig or when you let out the odd burp.
Not knowing the landowner does not mean you are out of luck it just means you have some work to do knocking on doors, shaking hands, and kissing babies. Most of my experience with private landowners has been positive. Even when you encounter a “no” thank them for their time and move on to the next location. A good way to gain access is to do your visits in the summer and well before the fall hunting season. When you ask for permission to hunt on their land offer to volunteer some of your time to help them around their property. A couple hours here or a day of free labor for the landowner is a fair trade to access their land. When you are given access during whitetail deer hunting season mind your manners and act as a guest. If you open a gate close it behind you, pick up all your spent shells, and if you harvest an animal try to offer some to your host. It will go a long way for you to get access again the next season.
Most of us in our lifetime have seen a whitetail deer in a field or road side. If you do not have permission or do not know if that land is public or private don’t shoot. Trespassing makes all hunters look bad and this behavior will sway a supportive landowner into a non-supportive landowner.
Common Terrains for Whitetail Deer Hunting
To put it lightly North America has a very vast and diverse range of landscapes. For any hunter looking to do some whitetail deer hunting well you are in luck. The whitetail deer and its many subtypes can be found from fields, to the mountains, and the forests across this great continent.
Common North American Topography For Whitetail Deer Hunting
Whitetail Deer Hunting in Farming Lands and Prairies – One of the most common landscapes throughout the heartlands of both the United States and Canada is a prairie or farming type of landscape. These fields not only grow our grains and vegetables but they are also responsible for some truly amazing whitetail deer hunting. You only need to look at the reputations that States and Provinces like Illinois, Wisconsin, Kansas, Saskatchewan, and Alberta have earned to see how amazing the whitetail deer hunting can be in this type of topography.
Whitetail Deer Hunting In Mountainous Regions – A lot of hunters from around the world dream of heading out West to the Rocky Mountains to experience some of North America’s finest big game hunting. From Elk, to Mule Deer, and even Bighorn Sheep the West is famous for adventure and amazing hunts. The whitetail deer hunting is also pretty incredible to put it lightly.
Hunting the mountains is something you will want to prepare for physically. Climbing the challenging terrain, carrying a day or week pack, and not being use to altitude is very taxing even to people in great physical shape. You would hate to save a lot of money for a once and a lifetime hunt out West to only find out you weren’t ready for the challenge.
Whitetail Deer Hunting in Deciduous and Coniferous Forests –
The last of the most common types of hunting terrain most North American hunters will encounter when whitetail deer hunting is the deciduous and coniferous forests. Hunting dense forest can be a challenge for most hunters due to lack of visibility and noise you will make while stalking your prey. Stepping on and breaking a twig, letting your gear touch a branch on a tree, or crossing a downed tree can all create enough noise for the deer in your area to throw up their whitetails and run off to a safer place.
Clear cutting forestry cuts, hydro power lines, and natural gas pipe lines create man made openings in the terrain that allow the deer to travel quickly from tree line to tree line. A good position for a hunter to take is on high ground at any one of these locations. A properly placed tree stand or ground blind will allow you a good vantage point to see the deer move at first light in the morning and last light in the evening. Along with the man made breaks you should also seek out the natural breaks in the dense forest. A meadow, field, or river bed creates an opening that will allow you to see a greater distance of the area you are hunting and the whitetail deer travelling. A well placed trail camera at any one of these breaks either man made or natural will help you pattern the deer in the area you are hunting.
As you become more and more familiar with the areas you are hunting you should be in search of what most hunters call funnels. To hunt a funnel the hunter must find is an opening in the landscape that allows animals to travel easily. Either side of the opening is usually impassible or very difficult to navigate. The opening will funnel the whitetail deer right to you if you set up correctly. Like most people animals of all types when travelling will choose the path of least resistance.
Obtaining Whitetail Deer Hunting Tags
After you have passed your hunter’s safety, become proficient with your weapon of choice, and scouted for your fall whitetail deer hunting spot you will want to buy your whitetail deer tag. This tag essentially gives the hunter permission to hunt deer in a specific area or areas within their State or Province. To obtain a big game hunting tag it may be as easy as walking into a local store or it may be as involved as applying to your State or Provinces department of natural resources and putting your name in for a lottery to earn the right to hunt deer in that area. Sometimes it may take years of applying to earn the right to hunt deer in a given area if there is a lot of demand by other hunters.
As a general rule of thumb in areas with a lot of deer you will be able to buy your tags over the counter. In the contrary though where deer numbers are lower you may have to enter a lottery to draw for that tag. The department of fish and game will survey the number of deer in the management units of your State and Province and will set a maximum number of animals that can be harvested for each unit. This is the way they maintain healthy populations of deer for any given area in your State or Province. We recommend that contact your department of fish and game either online or in person and obtain a copy of your fish and game regulations. It is a good idea to read over your hunting regulations a few times so that you fully understand the legalities of hunting in your State or Province.
Everyone Wants To Win The Lottery!
In areas where deer hunts are limited, the hunter will have to put into a lottery or draw to earn the right to do hunt whitetail deer. Basically how the draw works is hunters will throw their name into a hat for the right to hunt a desired animal. The hunting regulatory body of your State or Province host these draws and if your name is drawn you will earn the right to hunt the animal you applied for. You will want to familiarize yourself with when the draw or lottery opens closes in your area and the rules you need to follow to apply. Some States and Provinces work on a point system for their big game draws. Meaning that every year you are unsuccessful in the draw you are given an extra point of priority towards the next draw. After a certain number of years applying for the draw you hit a point where you are guaranteed to draw that tag. The higher the completion for that area the longer you will have to wait.
As a hunter you are going to want to mix your hunting between over the counter tags and also putting in for the tags that need to be drawn. Those annual and bi-annual hunting trips that you can purchase over the counter will prepare you for those once in a lifetime hunts you can only get with a tag earned on the lottery.
Wait A Second There Is A Third Way To Get A Whitetail Deer Hunting Tag?
The third option may be the most expensive but it is also the best odds of obtaining a whitetail deer hunting tag. The third option is to hire a hunting guide or outfitter. Guides and Outfitters typically issued a set number of hunting tags by their States and Provinces for each of the types hunts they host. When you hire a guide or outfitters services they guide you on your hunt and assist you in finding that elusive or trophy animal you are after. Not only do most guides help you find the game you are after but they also help you with field dressing it, transporting it, and butchering it. Typically when you hire the services or a guide or outfitter they usually also put you up in a hunting camp for anywhere between a couple days to a week. Some do offer day hunts as well. The cost of hiring a guide could be a few hundred dollars all the way to the tens of thousands depending upon the game you are after. Hiring a guide or outfitter can improve your whitetail deer hunting success but there is no guarantee you will have a successful hunt or harvest a world record.
Buying Gear for Whitetail Deer Hunting
Most new hunters don’t jump in with both their feet and bank account first when it comes to buying whitetail deer hunting gear. We don’t blame most hunters either. Buying quality hunting gear is something that you will want to build up over time. A lot of the gear you buy for whitetail deer hunting can also be used on hunting other animals.
Although you do not have to break the bank when it comes to whitetail deer hunting gear there are some items you will want to spend a little more time researching and spend a little bit more money on. The first time you are let down by a piece of gear while hunting and it brings an end to your hunt you will know exactly why good hunting equipment is well worth the money.
The Basic Gear You Will Need For Whitetail Deer Hunting
You don’t need to spend a fortune to get started in whitetail deer hunting but there are some necessities you will need for your first hunt. Below are three items that we think are necessities for hunting whitetail deer.
- A Rifle, Bow, Muzzle-loader, or Shotgun – These can be a once in a lifetime purchase if you do your homework. Overtime you are not going to regret spending a little bit more on your choice whitetail deer hunting weapon.
- A Knife or Knives – A knife is something you can spend a little on or a lot on. As long as you keep it sharp and clean it should be something your family can pass down generation after generation.
- A Backpack – Being able to keep all of your gear clean, dry, and in one place is priceless. A good pack will keep the weight of your gear off your arms and supported by your body. Also your pack will come in handy as a steady rest to shoot a firearm off of.
Optional Gear For Whitetail Deer Hunting You Won’t Regret Buying In The Future
Below is a list of items you won’t need for your first whitetail deer hunting trip but would make a good investment to your collection of hunting gear in the future.
- A Rifle Scope – As you become a more proficient shooter you will want to start making further and further shots. A good scope will not only help you close the distance on deer far off but they can also magnify the amount of light your eye will see. Allowing you to see more animals at first and last light of the day.
- A Range Finder – The further you desire to shoot the more important it is to understand the distances you are trying to shooting. A good range finder is a necessity for any bow hunter.
- A Handheld GPS – Getting home or to your camp at night is important. A simple GPS that you can mark your camp or truck can usually be found for under $100.
- A Set Of Get Binoculars – A good set of binoculars is a priceless investment for your pre-season scouting and for any hunter that is into spot and stalk hunting.
- A Pair Of Quality Hunting Boots – Will keep you in the field longer by keeping your feet comfortable, warm, and dry. A good set of boots will also help you travel difficult terrain and reduce the risk of injuries.
- Trail Cameras – Will help you scout your hunting spot 24/7 everyday of the year. See what your whitetail deer are up to and at all hours of the day and night. You can also see what other types of predators are in the area competing with you for that dream buck.
- Whitetail Deer Hunting Calls – Learn to grunt, snort, bleep, and wheeze those whitetail deer right to you. A set of antlers for rattling will also bring the bucks in aggressively during the rut.
- Whitetail Deer Hunting Lures – Includes decoys, feed supplements, or scents that are designed to bring the deer into you or cover your scent. These can either be store bought or man made.
Buying a Rifle for Whitetail Deer Hunting
Below are some considerations you need to make before buying your first rifle for whitetail deer hunting. Further down in this article you will find some of our recommendations on calibers and manufacturers for whitetail deer hunting success.
- The Manufacturer – Is the maker of the gun. Depending upon the company you plan to purchase your rifle from could mean you are looking at spending hundreds of dollars all the way up to tens of thousands of dollars.
- The Model – Each rifle manufacturer will have several different models of rifles for sale. Each model will have its own individual characteristics and features that make it unique to the brand and competitive to the market place.
- Caliber – Refers to the size of the bullet that the rifle can shoot. When it comes to whitetail deer hunting you can have too much of a good thing. Too large of a bullet and you will waste good edible meat and to little of a bullet and you will only injure the animal.
- Type of Action – The action of a rifle refers to how the bullets are fed and ejected from the rifle.
Types Of Rifle Actions
- Bolt Action Rifles – When partnered with a decent scope this action of rifle becomes a lethal whitetail deer hunting machine. A bolt on the barrel is lifted up and pulled backwards to eject the spent bullet casing. When the bolt is pushed forward and the new bullet is fed from the magazine to the chamber.
- Lever Action Rifles – A quick action rifle where the lever is worked from back to front. Moving the action forward opens the action and ejects the spent bullet casing. When the action is moved backwards it pulls the fresh bullet from the magazine and closes the action.
- Semi –Automatic Rifles – Works by using the gases produced by the bullet being fired to open the action and eject the spent casing. As the action closes another bullet is pulled from the magazine into the chamber allowing the rifle to be ready to fire again.
- Pump Action Rifles – Not just an action for shotguns. A fore-end (pump) is mounted under the barrel of the rifle. Pushing the fore-end forward closes the action and chambers a round. Pulling it backwards will open the action and ejects the spent casing.
- Single Shot Rifles – Brake that barrel, pull the spent bullet casing out, drop the new bullet in, and close the barrel. Very straight forward and easy to use. Can be a problem if you require more than one shot.
Aside From The Action You Should Think About These Parts Also
- Type of Barrel – From the classic looking blued steel barrel to the more modern looking stainless steel. Each has its benefits and each looks great.
- Type of Stock – Either you can keep it original or upgrade your rifles stock to something aftermarket. Either way you need to find a stock with a comfortable weight, appropriate material make up, and a look that suits you and your style of hunting.
The Good Type Of Stock Options
- Wood Stocks – For a lot of us when we dream of a new hunting rifle we dream of a traditional wood stock. A well-made wood stock will turn heads and empty wallets.
- Synthetic Stocks – These stocks are usually modern, lightweight, and sleek. Great for hunting harsh terrains and all weather conditions.
Rifle Shooting Positions You Can Use While Hunting Whitetails
A great overview from The National Shooting Sports Foundation covering rifle shooting positions that you can use to prepare for whitetail deer hunting.
Finding the Perfect Bow for Whitetail Deer Hunting Success
For whitetail deer hunting an archer should use a bow with a draw of no less than 45 lbs. This is considered enough force to ethically take down most big game animals in North America. Most bow hunters I know have their draws set between 55 lbs and 80 lbs. For a new archer it is recommended that you purchase a bow with a lower or adjustable draw weight. Pulling too much weight on a bow will lead to shoulder injuries and poor practice of the technical mechanics need to be a good archer.
Recommended Manufacturers of Quality Bows
Below are some of the more popular Bow Manufacturers and a quick reference of what they are known for in the industry.
- Hoyt – Known as one of the best manufacturers in the world. If you want to pay for top quality Hoyt is definitely your bow.
- Mathews – Gives you a good mix of quality, design, and technology.
- Bowtech – A brand known for making bows that push arrows to achieve very high speeds in feet per seconds.
- Bear – A bow maker that honors the tradition of a great man and hunter Fred Bear.
- PSE – An economical bow that is not lacking in quality. PSE has a great line up of affordable bows.
Styles of Bows You Can Use For Whitetail Deer Hunting
There are various types of bows that you could use for whitetail deer hunting. Some are very primitive in nature and others are packed with technology.
- Long Bows – Also known as a stick bow these traditional primitive weapons are still relevant and deadly when it comes to whitetail deer hunting.
- Re-curve Bows – The evolution of the long bow. Re-curves are easily identifiable by the curved tips on the top and bottom of the bow. The curves on the top and bottom of the bow face away from the archer and allow the bow to generate more force than a straight bow.
- Compound Bows – A system of cams and cables that allow the archer to draw and hold greater weights and achieve greater speeds and force.
- Crossbows – Always a hot topic in archery communities. Traditional archers refuse to speak the word crossbow let alone accept it as a form of archery. In general they are not accepted in most whitetail deer hunting seasons unless under special circumstances. Some States and Provinces in North America do allow disable hunters to hunt with a crossbow during archery only deer seasons.
Additional Articles For Whitetail Deer Hunting With A Bow
Below Is Some Additional Information If You Plan To Use A Bow For Whitetail Deer Hunting.
A Well Placed Tree Stand – Know exactly where your tree stand should be placed. See how to use your rangefinder to judge distance.
Bow Hunting Whitetails From A Pop Up Blind – Learn the fundamentals for hunting from a blind. See how to score a Boone and Crockett Deer.
Deer Blind Endurance – Comfort is king out in the blind. Learn to sit for days on end. Watch and learn how to make your ground blind experience more successful.
Bowhunting Whitetail Late Season – Battle the cold for the chance at a trophy. See how some of the most popular broad heads compare.
The Best Pair Of Boots For Whitetail Deer Hunting
After a couple seasons of whitetail deer hunting you are probably going to start to realize you need a good pair of hunting boots. Although boots probably aren’t at the top of your list of gear to buy they should be.
A good pair of hunting boots will keep you out hunting longer, harder, and further than you could go with regular work boots or sneakers. A good pair of hunting boots will also prevent injury. Nothing is worse than a hunting trip or season cut short due to a rolled ankle.
Things To Consider When Buying Boots For Whitetail Deer Hunting
- Weather – Look at the type of weather conditions that you will be hunting in. Do you need a boot that is suitable for the cold or do you need a boot that is designed for hot weather?
- The Terrain You Will Be Hunting – Understand what type of terrain will you be hunting? Are you going to be climbing mountains or will you just be stepping outside the backdoor of your farmhouse?
- What You Have To Spend – Set a price that you can reasonably spend on your hunting boots. Know your budget and stick to it.
- Ankle Support – Again look at the terrain that you will be hunting. You can never go wrong with a supportive boot.
- Fill – Comes back into the weather conditions you will be hunting. Are you hunting in the cold or the extreme cold? This can make a huge difference. Having boots that are too hot for the area you hunt in be just as big of a problem as the boot being too cold.
- Type Of Hunting You Will Be Doing – Finally you should consider the types of hunting you do and find the best boot. If you’re planning on only hunting a tree stand or blind a 100 yds from your truck save some money. If you travel mile after mile of unforgiving terrain then plan on emptying that wallet or purse of yours.
Hunting Boot Manufacturers We Recommend
There are a lot of great hunting boot manufacturers out there. We have list a few below to help you narrow down your search.
- Under Armour Hunt – They might have a high price point but you can be sure that a pair of Under Armour boots won’t let you down while you are out whitetail deer hunting.
- Irish Setter – They have a great line up of hunting boots for all types of hunters and all hunting situations.
- Cabelas – A company that has it all. A good example that shows buying generic doesn’t always mean you are buying crap.
How To Buy A Backpack For Whitetail Deer Hunting
One thing we feel every hunter needs is a good quality hunting backpack. Even if you are only transporting a role of toilet paper (which you will need) with you a backpack for hunting is a good investment.
Things To Consider When Buying A Whitetail Deer Hunting Pack
- Material – When buying a hunting pack you need to find a material that is not only durable but also something that is waterproof or dries quickly. A well planned hunting trip can turn into a disaster if your gear is soaked by rain or snow.
- The Time You Will Spend In The Field – The amount of time you’re planning on being out whitetail deer hunting should be factored into your pack decision. The longer you will be out in the field the more gear you will need to take and the more volume you will need in your pack.
- How Much You Want To Spend – Unfortunately cost is probably the number one decision maker most of us have when we buy our hunting gear but if you shop around you are sure to find some deals out there.
The Ultimate Knife For Whitetail Deer Hunting
The one thing that every whitetail deer hunting enthusiast needs is a great knife or a great set of knives. One good knife should cover you not only for dressing, skinning and some of the butchering of deer. I recommend for most first time hunters to buy themselves a good bowie knife. It is my personal preference for when I am out whitetail deer hunting. They are strong, dependable, and super easy to clean up afterwards.
Knife Manufacturers We Recommend For Whitetail Deer Hunting
- Buck – A classic knife builder that continues building great knives almost exclusively for hunters and outdoorsmen.
- Havalon – The Piranta is an excellent folding pocket knife perfect for field dressing and skinning wild game. Blades are scalpel sharp and disposable so you will always have a sharp knife with you.
- SOG – Makers of reasonably priced high quality tactical, survival, and hunting knives.
Whitetail Deer Hunting Tips and Tricks – Opening Day
The opening day of whitetail deer hunting season comes with a bit of excitement and also a bit of jitters for both new and experienced hunters. Plenty of nice deer have been taken on the season opener. The whitetail deer who have lived through a season or two are all to familiar that hunters pose a threat to them. Most hunters will tell you that deer on the opener may be less suspicious of you on that day but after the first shot is fired they are well aware that the season is on and a new predator is in their home range. Whether that is true or not we will never know. From my experience I know that as the season goes on prior to the rut the more and more elusive the deer will become.
Before you head out on opening day of whitetail deer hunting season check out our article on how to Prepare For Hunting Season. As you all know preparation is the key to whitetail deer hunting. We will give you some tips on how to scout for those elusive whitetails.
Whitetail Deer Hunting Tips and Tricks – Pre-Rut Hunting
The pre-rut of whitetail deer hunting usually take place mid to late October and can extend into the early part of November. Although some may consider this time frame part of the October “lull” a lot of great hunting can be done especially if you are after a Buck.
If I was to only have one week for whitetail deer hunting it would be within the 5 – 8 days following the October full moon or what Native Americans would call The Hunter’s Moon. Traditionally the October full moon would signify to Native Hunters that the time to acquire their meat for winter was upon them. As a side note I tend to avoid this period on the weekends unless I am hunting the first light of the morning. The increased hunting pressure that is put on the deer may cause them to act slightly more skittish than if I went into the woods on a Tuesday or Wednesday without the heavy weekend public land hunting pressure.
What makes this time period so great for whitetail deer hunting is some the does are beginning to come into estrous. Not only are the does showing signs of the oncoming rut but so are the bucks. The whitetail bucks are at their peak of activity during this time period frantically in search of these ready, willing, and able early cycling does.
From your pre-season scouting you should be keeping an eye out for the does especially if you are looking for a nice buck in the pre-rut portion of your hunting season. During this period of the whitetail deer hunting season you are going to see the scrapes in your hunting area increase drastically. Bucks are going to be travelling near the doe trails leaving their calling cards everywhere.
The pre-rut hunting portion of the whitetail deer season is a great time to break out your hunting calls as the bucks are going to be more aggressive and also less alert to the dangers in the woods. Rattling, bleats, snorts, wheezes, and grunts can and will bring the whitetail deer into shooting range. The rule to calling deer is less is always more. Hit your call and wait at least 12-15 minutes. That 15 minutes is going to feel like an eternity but the bucks may be travelling a considerable distance to get to your call or they may also waiting off in the distance trying to pinpoint your location and see if you are really a deer or not.
Not only is it a good time to begin using calls but it is also a good time to break out lures or scents. A bit of well-placed buck urine or doe estrous scent may push the bucks further into a more frenzied state. This time of the hunting season is also a good time to create a drag to help cover your scent. The more time you spend in a Deer’s territory the more likely they are to pick up on your scent and realize that there is problem in their home territory. Dragging a piece of cloth tied to your boot with twine and a hint of doe estrous scent may be enough to throw off the younger bucks in your hunting lease. It may also be enough to trick that big old buck in your area as well.
There is no such thing as a lull in whitetail deer hunting if you know how the deer are behaving in your area. One of the best ways to improve your hunting success is to get out and hunt as much as you can without bringing any bias to how you have hunted past. What separates a great hunter from and average hunter is a willingness to learn and adapt to new situations.
Additional Tactics To Improve Your Pre-Rut Whitetail Deer Hunting Success
Turn that October lull into the best whitetail deer hunting of your life.
In The Field Hunting – Learn the daily patterns of whitetail deer. Watch how you can use an aerial photograph to scout for monster whitetails.
What Every Hunter In The World Is Looking For – Various Techniques For Hunting Deer. See how to spot rubs and scrapes in the field.
Ethical Whitetail Hunting – Know your prey before you stalk. Another great video for scoring deer.
Go After A Whitetail Deer – You know you want to! Learn the rattle that will make the bucks come a running.
Whitetail Deer Tactics – Improve your odds this fall. Learn how to call deer right to you.
Whitetail Deer Hunting Tips For Hunting During The Rut
Hunting during the rut will give you the best odds at whitetail deer hunting success. The majority if not all the whitetail deer in your hunting lease will be frantically searching for a mate and their defensive guards will be downs. Bucks will be travelling great distances to find receptive does. This is the best time to hunt your funnels. As the deer will be travelling great distances in the name of love find the areas that they are most prone to travel by or through. It is a good time to watch those riverbeds, valleys, and hydro lines. Both your tree stands and your ground blinds should have been set up well in advance of this opportune moment to allow the deer in your area to get use to them.
Learning how exactly to Hunt A Funnel will improve your whitetail deer hunting success and also push those big bucks right to you.
During the peak rut is the best time to set your own mock scrape. Find a tree with a branch at least 3 to 6 feet off the ground within range of your blind or tree stand. Deer use these as licking branches. Take a fallen branch or stick and begin scraping the ground to mimic an actual scrape. Dig down until you hit dirt. A drop of buck urine placed on the scrape will create an additional distraction to the deer you lure into range of your stand or blind.
The rut is also a great time to call. Some hunters call aggressively during the peak rut but I still think that the less is more approach is always better. Call or rattle then wait 15 minutes or longer before calling again. The deer may be completely blinded by love but you can still spook them. Take your time!
Although most hunters feel the lull of deer hunting falls right before the rut you can experience a bit of lull in the woods near the end of the rut. This is the period of time that the deer have paired off and getting to know each other a little better. It is a party for two and you are definitely not welcome.
Additional Tips and Tactics For Whitetail Deer Hunting During The Rut
Out perform your hunting buddies this fall by knowing as much as you can about whitetail deer hunting.
How To Hunt Whitetails During The Rut – Nail that trophy buck when he is off his game. Learn to see the world through a whitetails eyes.
Seeing A Big Buck – Trust me they are everywhere. Watch this guy take a monster buck.
What Scent Should I Use – Never let them smell you coming. Learn to field dress a whitetail deer.
Whitetail Deer Hunting Can Be Difficult – It ain’t easy being delicious. Learn to choose the perfect rifle for your whitetail hunts.
More Of A Science Than A Sport – You could argue more of and art then a science also. Learn to skin and de-bone a whitetail deer.
Whitetail Deer Hunting Tips For Hunting After The Rut
Though the party is over for the deer it doesn’t mean that your whitetail deer hunting season is over. The post rut still presents very good opportunities to fill those unused tags if you know how to hunt the deer during this time of the fall hunting season.
After any great party ends we all look for two things:
2) A Comfortable Bed
Whitetail deer are no different. Post rut the bucks and does will return to their home ranges in search of food and a few days of rest. You will notice the deer post rut are still moving but have returned to a more normal pace and schedule.
Our recommendation for hunting the post rut is to hunt the feeding ranges the deer have in your area. Aside from resting the deer post rut will be looking to feed. During your pre-season scouting you should take note on where the deer in your hunting area are feeding. This is where you will want to focus all of your attention post rut in a last ditch effort to fill your freezer.
Ethical Kill Zones for Whitetail Deer Hunting
The ultimate goal for anyone out whitetail deer hunting should be to take the most ethical shot possible no matter the weapon you are hunting with. Firearms will give you a few more options when it comes to ethical whitetail deer’s kill zones. Bow Hunters and crossbow hunters are mostly limited to shooting only the vitals on most game.
Below are three of the most ethical and efficient shots you can take when whitetail deer hunting
- Shooting The Vitals – If a deer is standing broadside to you this is the area behind the front shoulder and pretty much centered on the deer. This vital area includes the heart and lungs. A shot to the vitals is extremely efficient and ethical kill zone. The deer may run a short distance after the shot but it is pretty much game over when you hit them in vitals. A well placed lung shot will help you keep as much meat as possible on the animal. A deer slightly quartered to you or a heart shot will usually cause damage to the front shoulder on the other side of the deer.
- Neck Shots – A shot to the neck can be an extremely lethal shot on a deer. Trauma to the spinal cord and wind pipe can drop a deer in its tracks. A neck shot opens you up to a lethal shot regardless of how the deer is facing you although the lethal area is considerably smaller than a shot to the vitals.
- Head Shots – Not a shot we recommended a hunter take. A well placed head shot can be extremely lethal and it is one of the least damaging to the edible meat on the deer. The down fall of this shot is a deer with their bottom jaw blown off that runs off to suffer.
Field Dressing Whitetail Deer For The First Time
A successful whitetail deer hunting trip is going to lead to you getting your hands a little bit dirty so to speak. Actually a bit bloody. Field dressing a whitetail deer for the first time can make any new or experienced hunter squeamish. For a lot of us hunters it is the first time we are going to be up close and personal with another large animal that is similar in size to ourselves. It is also going to be the first time that you are going to have to process an animal into edible meat. The thing to remember is if you have touched raw meat before everything in that whitetail deer will feel exactly the same. It might be a bit warmer and the nerves may twitch from time to time but you are not going to touch anything that you haven’t already touched in the past.
In most States and Provinces you will find in your hunting regulations an outline of what parts of the whitetail deer you are required to retain. It typically includes all edible flesh and some of the deer’s edible organs like the heart and liver. Ensure you are compliant with the legal requirements of your State or Provinces regulations.
Also when it comes to field dressing you will want to respect the legal requirements of leaving evidence of sex attached to the deer while transporting it to either the wild game butcher or else your home. Every State and Province have different requirements.
Field dressing deer or any animal for that fact is probably something you want to watch someone else do several times. Below is a great Youtube video that was put out by Steven Rinella and The Meat Eater Program on how to do it. Make sure you watch it several times before your next hunt.
Things You Will Need To Field Dress A Whitetail Deer In The Field
After a successful Whitetail Deer Hunting Trip the most important piece of equipment that you can carry in your pack is sharp Knife. Although you can get by with just a knife we recommend that you also pack a good pair of rubber gloves.
Equipment You Will Need To Field Dress A Whitetail Deer
- A Sharp Knife or Knives – If I can only have one knife for field dressing a whitetail deer it would be a razor sharp bowie knife. It can be used to split the rib cage on a deer and it will make quick work of taking the hide off of a deer. My personal preference is a fixed blade knife. It is just a lot easier to clean after a long day in the field.
- Rubber Gloves – The odds are you are not going to catch a disease from the deer you are field dressing but it is a good idea to wear rubber gloves. Keep an eye on your knife work though. You will find that you will work your knife in different directions and angles while field dressing a deer. It is very easy to nick or cut yourself if you are not careful.
Optional Items You Can Bring To Dress A Deer
- A Meat Saw Or Small Bone Saw – Great to carry with you if you have a smaller knife and you need to split the rib cage or detach the knee joints. Also handy to remove the antlers if you get a buck.
- Twine or String – Some guys and girls like to have a small piece or string in their bag to tie off the deer’s urethra so that they decrease the chance of getting urine on the meat.
- Fresh Water – It’s a good idea to keep a couple liters of fresh water with you while you are whitetail deer hunting. It is not only good for drinking but it is also good for cleaning you hand and also rinsing out the deer’s body cavity.
- Game Bags – I have recently begun carrying game bags with me while hunting. They are great for keeping the meat from the deer clean, keeping the bugs off it, and also allowing the meat to cool and breathe during transport.
- Ice and Coolers – Any hunters hunting in the southern states or in higher temperatures should consider bringing some ice and coolers with them. Allowing the meat of the deer you harvested to spoil is unnecessary.
For more different techniques on how to field dress whitetail deer check out our preparing wild game page. It also includes wild skinning techniques, info about butchering wild game, and recipes.
Reading the Wind for Whitetail Deer Hunting Success
Learning to play the wind is one of the most important aspects in whitetail deer hunting. Long before a whitetail deer will see you they will smell you and hear you. To be successful at whitetail deer hunting you have to learn to work with the wind. If the deer are smart enough to use the wind to their advantage you should be smarter and use it against them. That wind that they are using to protect them can be used against them to trick both their nose and their ears.
The first rule of managing the wind is keeping it blowing in direction behind you so that you are not giving up your scent to the animals in front of you. It sounds easy but it can be challenging especially if you are travelling to a specific spot such as a tree stand or a ground blind. During the off season after you have found your whitetail deer hunting spot for the year take some time to understand which way the wind predominantly blows in your area. It may be west to east or north to south. This will help you plan the best approach to get into your hunting spot undetected. Even better than having one approach is having several approaches into your hunting spot accounting for the variances in the directions of the blowing winds. Another technique is setting up multiple blinds or tree stands that factor in the different wind directions. You can never be too prepared for anything in life.
The topic of scent management in hunting is enough is enough to drive any person crazy. You will hear all kinds of stories about guys or girls out there that keep their hunting clothes in a box with apples. Or keeping your clothes in a zip lock bag with charcoal. Some people spend tonnes of money on scent blocking agents to mask their scent. I get asked a lot if any of these work and I always answer yes they will and they will work great for you. If a scent masker no matter the cost gives you the awareness and mindset that you have to be mindful of your scent and also conscious of the way the wind blows in the woods it is well worth the money and it will improve your whitetail deer hunting experiences. But if you can keep a conscious effort on managing your movements in the wind save your money.
Under Standing Weather Patterns while whitetail deer hunting will not only improve your hunting experiences but it will also help you to manage your scent no matter what kind of day mother nature throws at you.
Tools To Help You Manage Your Scent While Whitetail Deer Hunting
- Smart Phone – Almost all of us are tied to some type of smart phone. I always check my weather app before I leave the house. I want to know that days weather and also the wind direction and speed. I also like to check that app again once I get to my hunting spot as I may travel through several regions and different weather patterns.
- Powder Bottles – These are little bottles that fit perfectly in any pocket or hunting pack. A quick squeeze of the bottle will force a white odorless powder into the air. As the powder drops down it will travel with the wind. Allowing you to see the direction and force at which the wind is travelling.
- Scent Blocking Sprays – A quick spritz will have you smelling like absolutely nothing. Be mindful though that a large portion of your scent is coming out of your mouth from your breath. These sprays can work but it is very unlikely that you will block 100% of those odors you give off.
- Scent Blocking Camo – Advancements with hunting clothing have now given us hunting clothes that help us reduce the amount of odor we produce. Again they can work but do not rely on them 100% to eliminate the natural scents you produce.
Things Not To Do Before Whitetail Deer Hunting
Below are a few things we recommend you don’t do before you go whitetail deer hunting that will give you a strong unnatural scent the deer will pick up on.
- Smoke Cigarettes. Cigars, or Chew Tobacco
- Wear Deodorant, Aftershave, or use a Fragrant Soap.
- Handle Gasoline or Strong Chemicals
Whitetail Deer Hunting Tips FAQ
What are the best times for Whitetail Deer Hunting?
The best times to hunt whitetail deer are at first light in the morning and at last light in the evening. That is just a general rule though the deer in your area are on no particular schedule. The 2014 whitetail deer hunting season I took both a whitetail deer and a mule deer between 9:30 am and 2:00 pm. I also helped a hunting buddy harvest his deer around 10:00 am. The area we hunt is public land with a lot of heavy pressure from other hunters. I noticed during the last season that there was heavy traffic coming into the area for first light and would leave around 9:00 am. I left late one day and noticed that the forest came alive later when the traffic died down.
Is Whitetail Deer Hunting better alone or in a group?
Personally I enjoy both for different reasons.
When Whitetail deer hunting alone you are given a lot of time for self-reflection and personal thoughts. Being out in nature especially when you are alone will force you to face yourself and your insecurities.
When whitetail deer hunting alone you will want to in some cases stick closer to your vehicle or chose to hunt easier flatter terrain. You have to remember that all the work involved in hunting, field dressing, and the packing out your harvest will fall solely on your shoulders. Also remember that you have to take extra precautions toward your own personal safety. A sprained ankle, buckled knee, or muscle pulled in your back is going to be magnified by the harsh and unforgiving terrain.
Whitetail deer hunting with a partner or group on the other hand is a great way build friendships. The bond formed between hunters while hunting is very hard to explain. You develop a level of trust with the people you are hunting with almost instantly.
The advantage of hunting whitetail deer with a partner or a group is that all the work is split. If successful you are only going to have to carry out a portion of your deer not the entire thing. You will have more eyes in search of a deer or downed deer then you would alone. And you will also have the opportunities to hunt. More hunters equal more whitetail deer hunting tags.
What Is Perfect Rifle for Whitetail Deer Hunting?
The answer to that is the one you are most comfortable with over a .243 caliber. You could ask 100 different hunters which is the best rifle for hunting deer and each of them will give you a different answer. I myself use a .308. The ammunition isn’t overly expensive, the recoil doesn’t bother me at all, and I know that I can ethically harvest a deer with this gun.
Some Calibers Of Rifles We Recommend For Whitetail Deer Hunting
- .243 – A Fast bullet that won’t let you down if you pick and place your shots.
- 30-30 – A classic cowboy gun that usually comes in lever action. They are durable, reliable, and a great deer gun.
- .308 – A perfect gun for the bush. Very easy to find ammo for it.
- 30-06 – Might be your one and done rifle. A lot of options for ammo that will have you hunting most of North America’s big game animals.
- .270 – Another all-around great caliber of gun that can be used for most big game animals in North America.
The reason we like these calibers are ammunition is usually easy to find anywhere, The cartridge will easily take down a whitetail deer with good shot placement, and you are not going to break the bank buying a box of ammunition.
Manufacturers We Would Recommend
- Browning – A bit pricey but if you are looking for a classic wood stock and a great gun look no further.
- Ruger – A quality rifle that won’t break your bank.
- Savage – I own a couple of these guns from both the past and present and have never been let down.
- Winchester – A classic in the rifle business. Every hunter should own one.
- Weatherby – A great way to spend $2000 on a rifle that a lot of famous hunters have owned.
- Sako – A very good quality rifle. A bit pricey for some budgets but you can’t put a price on a reliable gun.
- Tikka – A Sub-moa rifle out of the box for usually under $1000. Hard to beat that.
- Remington – A dependable gun that will fit most hunter’s budgets.
I have shot and/or own a rifle from each of these manufacturers and have never felt the rifle has failed me. Before you buy a specific model of rifle it is always good to do a little homework. A rifle is an investment and if taken care of can be passed on to generation after generation of hunters to come.
Rifle-scopes We Recommend For Whitetail Deer Hunting
- Leupold – Overall very good clarity in all types of light.
- Vortex – Great value and an even better warranty.
Although you can spend a lot more on optics for your whitetail deer hunting rifle the two optics manufacturers above are more than enough for most North American hunting you can get into.
Ammunition Manufacturers We Recommend For Whitetail Deer Hunting
- Nosler – Expensive but you will know what you are paying for when you pull the trigger.
- Hornady – Another of the more expensive brands that perform in tough situations.
- Federal – Good bullets made at a good price.
You will always want to try out a few different boxes of ammunition to see what works best with you and your rifle. Once you find your brand and sight in your scope its best to stick to that ammo for as long as you can.
Should You Wear Camouflage While Whitetail Deer Hunting?
We get this one a lot of whether a guy or girl should drop their money on camouflage for whitetail deer hunting. The answer is sure if you have money to spend on expensive hunting clothing. I don’t know that it will help or hurt your whitetail deer hunting success. The reason I am saying this is when you look at States and Provinces in North America that require hunters to wear hunter orange while hunting. I have seen photo after photo of hunters wearing blue jeans and t shirts under their orange vests and the are pictured with successful harvests. Whitetail deer are more known for seeing movement then they are for being able to read your t-shirts or pick apart your fall hunting attire. Ducks and Coyotes I can see the benefit. But I don’t know that I would buy camouflage clothing specifically for whitetail deer hunting.
Although where I do see the benefit of wearing Camouflage clothing while whitetail deer hunting is that the person wearing it is dressed for hunting in a way that I think would consciously make them more aware of being seen, heard, and smelt by the deer. Someone in camouflage may be more in tune with their movements so as not to alert deer.
To confuse this argument even more I wear a camouflage jacket while hunting. The jacket was bought for duck hunting and it has carried over and worn to all the hunting I do in the late fall and early winter. The pre-rut portion of whitetail deer hunting season I dress for the weather and will wear almost anything I own.
I Want To Try Whitetail Deer Hunting But I don’t Like Eating Gamey Meat. Is Whitetail Deer Meat Gamey?
Overall I find whitetail deer to be one the best tasting big game species in North America. The age of the deer, diet, sex, and how hard they are rutting all comes into play on the taste of the deer. Although they are on average the least gamey of all the big game animals I have eaten they have a particular taste and some of them can be stronger than others.
An old hunter once told me that if you want a good eating deer you need to shoot a doe or a yearling buck. If you want a trophy for the wall get ready for a winter of bad dinners. Two investments I would suggest any hunter make to combat gamey meat are a meat tenderizer and also a smoker. Wild game including whitetail deer can be a bit tough especially if it is not allowed to hang after it is harvested. A lot of hunters will hang their deer for between 3 – 7 days in a temperature controlled environment to allow excess blood to drain, to allow for rigor mortis to leave the body, and for the flesh to break down and become tenderer. Some hunters myself included process, butcher, wrap, and freeze their venison the day it is harvested. If this is your plan grab yourself a meat tenderizer from a dollar store or discount store. Within a minute of hammering away you should be almost able to cut that venison with a fork. Another trick I have found to help with the gamey taste is to double the time it takes for you to do your prep work. If you usually allow frozen meat to thaw one day let it sit for two days. A lot of the blood from the meat will come out between the first and second day. Also if you marinate factory farmed meat for 24 hours. Leave your venison to marinate for 48 hours. Like any dinner the more prep work you do usually the better it turns out.
A smoker is a great addition to any hunter’s bag of cooking tricks. I have never had something from the smoker that tastes bad. A tough old buck with a bit of spice and 12 hours in the smoker easily becomes some of the best jerky you have ever had.
I haven hunted and eaten whitetail bucks both in a farm and forest type of environment. I have found that the deer I have hunted on farms have more of a taste of grain right in them. Even when you smell the flesh you can almost smell what they were eating. The deer I have harvested in the forest on the other hand seem to have a much stronger taste. So you will notice that the deer’s diet will affect the taste of the meat but there is exceptions both good and bad to every rule.
A good way to mitigate the wild game taste in whitetail deer meat is to choose the spices, sauces, and marinades wisely. For the most gamey meat I like to use a hot spice. The hotness of the spice will trump the gamey taste almost 90% of the time. Spicy sausage or hot jerky is a great remedy for a gamey old buck.
Sauces using fruits as the primary ingredient are a great addition to venison. Apple, Cranberry, and even sauces made with cherries go very well with venison in the late fall and winter. One of easiest and best methods to cook venison is to throw a roast in your slow cooker with a bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce. After 8-10 hours of slow cooking you will have a pulled venison sandwich that will have your guests asking you daily “what’s for dinner?”.
The prep work you do on the deer will drastically improve the taste of the deer. I like to debone the deer as I am doing my initial butcher work in the field. I find when I cook wild game with the bone in the stronger the taste of the meat will be near the bone. Removing all the fat, lymph nodes, nerves, and connective tissue will also improve the taste and texture of the venison.
Take your time processing and you are sure to be eating well for the winter and months to come.
Additional Whitetail Deer Hunting Tips
Below we have put together a list of some Whitetail Deer Hunting Tips and Tricks. It does’nt matter if it is your first time or you are a seasoned whitetail hunter we are sure you can learn a thing or two. Included on each page is a video providing additional information, tips, and tricks to improve your experiences out whitetail deer hunting.
Harvest Whitetail Deer – Gear for any successful hunt. Learn how to tan a deer hide at home.
Stalk Hunting Whitetail Deer – The art of stealth. Learn what is a Whitetail Deer with this great short.
Harvest That Elusive Buck – One of the hardest things to find are the monsters. Learn how to preserve your trophy.
Deer Hunting Tips & Tricks – Add something new to your bag this fall. See how important wind direction is to your hunting success.
Your Whitetail Deer Career – Its not a hobby it is a lifestyle. Learn the fundamentals of deer calling
Trophy Whitetail Deer Hunting Tips – Nothing beats hard work and mindset when hunting monster bucks.
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