Deer Hunting 101: Essential Tips And Tactics For Beginners  

Jonathan H. Kantor
30 votes 11 voters 10 items

While the history of deer hunting can be traced back tens of thousands of years, these days hunting deer is more of a sport than a necessity. If you're new to hunting and don't have a pal around who can teach you the basics, this list highlights some of the best tips beginners should follow to ensure their first hunting trip concludes with something tasty to mount on the wall.

Even if it's not hunting season just yet, it doesn't hurt to go over the basics, and this list is all about the very ins and outs you need to know, from what kind of rifle to use to knowing the right times and limits in your area and more.

Check out these basic deer-hunting tips below, and if you're already an expert, make sure you vote up the tips you think every hunter should follow to ensure their first hunting trip is one of many.

Understand Your Scent is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Deer Hunting 101: Essential Tips And Tactics For Beginners
Photo:  Sharp Photography/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0
Understand Your Scent

We hate to say it, but you stink! At least, you stink to a deer, which is why you need to know and understand your scent when it comes to deer hunting. Because deer have a much better sense of smell than we do, our natural odor will likely spook them and cause them to run away.

To ensure you don't spook your quarry with your aftershave, make sure you use a scent-free soap before each hunting trip. You also want to make sure you don't contaminate your clothing with your odor when you head out to the field. In fact, it's better to simply keep your hunting clothes in a sealed plastic bag until you need it. It also helps to throw a little dirt and ground debris from your stand before you settle in for the hunt.

Your goal is to make your clothes smell like the surrounding woods or forest, which the deer are accustomed to. If you smell like the rest of the environment, you won't tip off any deer that you're nearby.

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Safety First is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Deer Hunting 101: Essential Tips And Tactics For Beginners
Photo:  USFWSmidwest/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0
Safety First

Hunting is a sport, but like many sports, it comes with some risk. Unlike most other sports, your equipment is designed to kill, and the last thing any hunter wants to do is hurt another hunter. This is why most hunters practice a great deal of "safety first" principles.

No matter where you're hunting, or what you're going after, you need to wear a bright orange safety vest and hat. The reason for this is simple: deer cannot distinguish this loud color from their surroundings, but your friends can.

Hunting accidents occur, and while they are rare due to the use of these brightly colored vests, occasionally, a hunter mistakes someone for a deer. This can lead to severe injury and death, so it's vital that new and experienced hunters ensure they practice safe hunting no matter what.

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Know The Best Time To Hunt is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Deer Hunting 101: Essential Tips And Tactics For Beginners
Photo: Commons/CC BY 2.0
Know The Best Time To Hunt

Not only do you need to make sure you are hunting during an announced hunting season, but you also need to know what time of day is best suited for hunting deer. Deer are crepuscular, which means they are most active during dawn and dusk. You're probably not going to have much success waiting around for them during the bulk of the day, but that doesn't mean you can't hunt them during that time.

The time of year is also important, and you will most likely see deer activity increase between July and September. This is due to the abundance of food the deer will need to survive the winter.

Hunting during the rut (deer mating season) is also the best time to head out and find whitetail deer, though this is one of those issues that is hotly debated among hunters.

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Make Sure You're Permitted To ... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Deer Hunting 101: Essential Tips And Tactics For Beginners
Photo:  MarkBuckawicki/Wikimedia Commons/CC0 1.0
Make Sure You're Permitted To Hunt

Believe it or not, you can't just grab a rifle, head out into the woods, and shoot the first deer that crosses your path. Hunting, like pretty much everything else in life, is regulated by the U.S. Department of Fish & Wildlife Service.

To hunt in the United States, you're going to need a hunting license. This rule doesn't always apply if you're hunting on your own land, but that doesn't mean you can kill a deer that wanders into your yard in the suburbs either. Each state has its own rules regarding the hunting and licensing laws, so check for your local rules and regulations before you hunt, or you could end up being fined or charged with poaching if you wander on government land!

Additionally, many areas have limits on what you can and cannot hunt. In terms of deer, you may not be able to hunt as much as you would like. Deer hunting and bag limits may be in place to regulate the population, so you need to check that as well. Some limits may include only allowing for one antlerless or antlered deer. Some locations are overpopulated, which leads to suspension of these limits, but breaking these rules will not only land you a fine, but it will also result in the confiscation of your kill.

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