Deer hunting is often considered more than a hobby, it's something that takes a lot of skill and commitment. For those just getting into the sport, it can seem intimidating with all the things that you need to learn. We're going to save you from years of mistakes and fill you in on some of the tips that all beginner deer hunters need to know.
Getting a License
Even in the most rural areas, you can't just grab a rifle and go out into the woods on a hunt. All states require some form of licensing or certification for legal hunting, with each state having different requirements. The best way to find out what the requirements of the state are is to visit the state's website for game and wildlife. There you can find exactly what you need to know so that you don't get caught hunting illegally.Most states require a hunter safety course or a license be purchased. Additionally, some game animals require a tag that is won on a lottery. Some types of deer require tags, and this will depend entirely on the regulations of the state.
Know Your Weapon
You shouldn't wait until you get out in the woods to get comfortable with your weapon. Whether you're a bow hunter or a firearm hunter, competence is necessary. Not only is this crucial in making a kill, it also helps prevent potentially fatal accidents.
Take the time to practice heavily with your weapon of choice before going out into the woods. This may involve going to a professional range, or doing some target shooting on your property. Whatever the case, you want to be proficient with your weapon and be able to use it safely.
You'll also want to invest in any accessories that will make your skill with the weapon more advanced. This includes a scope for rifle hunters or an aim for bow hunters. Rifle hunters will want to pay particular attention to the kind of scope they choose. Constant eye relief is only available from some scopes and can greatly improve the experience of using a scope for hunting.
Dress for the Weather
There are few things worse than getting all the way out to the tree stand only to realize that you're cold and don't have a coat.
Because deer hunting typically means getting in the stand early in the morning, hunters need to be prepared for multiple temperatures. The early morning is typically colder than midday, so bringing a jacket is crucial. When it starts to heat up, you can shed your jacket in favor of a comfortable shirt that is suitable for the weather. Consider bringing a raincoat and other clothing in the event that it rains or snows while you're in the stand.
Remember that while you will be wearing primarily camouflage, you need to wear an item in blaze orange as well. Doing so could save you from being mistaken for a deer by a fellow hunter and may even save your life. Not to mention, they’re typically required by state law.
Meet Hunting Buddies
Now, of course, you can learn to deer hunt by yourself, but this is far from the most efficient way to go about it. There are hunters who have been doing it for decades and have a literal lifetime of information to share. Meeting fellow hunters is a great way to learn tips for tracking, shooting, and other skills that are needed for deer hunting.
Not only can you learn a lot, making hunting buddies is a great way to find a sense of community. You may even find yourself getting invited to join a hunt club. Becoming a member of a hunt club is one of the best ways to find land to hunt, so it's worth seeking these connections out. With so much to learn and a chance to make lifelong friends, meeting fellow hunters is a good idea for all beginners.
Learn About Field Dressing
Most guides for new hunters focus on the certifications and gear that need to be acquired before a hunt. This is all very important, but it doesn't touch on what happens after the deer has been shot. Once it all comes together and there's a kill laying in front of you, you'll need to be prepared to field dress it and get it back to your truck.
There are loads of videos and guides on the internet that explain the process of field dressing deer of all types. You should spend ample time learning this skill, as you will be required to perform it well when the time comes. Doing research ahead of time will also help get you better acquainted with deer anatomy, which is crucial for making a well placed shot in the first place.
Pack the Right Gear
Every hunter has their own list of the gear that they bring on every hunt. While the list will vary from person to person, there are a few necessities that you'll find in the backpack of every hunter.
You'll want to bring extra ammo and a rangefinder to help you through the actual hunting process. A solid knife and zip ties will be necessary for dressing a kill, so you should pack those as well. Food and water are also important, as you may be out in the stand for the entire day. You don't want to be miserable out in the woods because you're hungry or dehydrated.
Entertainment is another important piece to consider. You don't want anything that'll distract you, like music through headphones. However, sitting in a tree stand can be incredibly boring so it's important to have something to keep yourself occupied. A good book or something similar is a great choice.
While deer hunting can take a lifetime to master, that doesn't mean you need to spend years making rookie mistakes. With the tips on this list, you'll be further ahead than you were, and closer than ever to becoming the hunter you've always dreamed of being.