Oh Deer: Three Mistakes That Could Be Preventing A Successful Hunt

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As a hunter, you know that every time you go out in the woods you'll have a different experience. On some trips you may bag your fair share of game, but others might leave you scratching your head and wondering where all the deer have gone. While there's no way to ensure a successful deer hunt every time, you could be making a few mistakes when you hunt that are costing you the results you're aiming for. Take a look at some of the most common mistakes and learn what you can do to avoid them.

1. Spooking the Deer with Your Scent

Deer are extremely sensitive to different scents, so much so that they have the ability to detect and react to the scent of a human from as far away as 100 yards, possibly even farther under ideal conditions. This means you'll want to mask your scent as effectively as possible. If you can, grab some dirt and leaves during a hunting trip and place them in a plastic container. Then place your hunting clothes in the container after the hunt. This way, the next time you hunt in that area your hunting clothes will have natural scents that won't make deer suspicious. It's also a good idea to bathe just before your hunting trips, but be sure not to use any strong-smelling soap or shampoo. 

It's important not to underestimate a deer's sense of smell, but don't forget about their other senses either. It may be wise to hunt when light is bright, as deer can see much better in low light than humans can. And remember that even if a deer spots you, remaining motionless may keep it from bolting. As far as hearing goes, it's practically impossible to prevent a deer from hearing your approach, so still-hunting is the name of the game.

2. Preparing Inadequately

A few hunters might think that going in blind will make the hunt more exciting or spontaneous, but experienced hunters know that proper preparation is key to a productive hunt. This includes not only having the right kind of gear and supplies (and enough of them), but also knowing what to expect in the area where you're hunting. What are the chances you'll run into foul weather? What is the terrain like? How big is the local deer population? Could other animals, like bears, possibly be a danger or hindrance during the hunt? The best ways to get answers to these questions are to ask locals like forest rangers and other frequent hunters. You could even take the technology route and search for aerial views of your hunting location online. 

As far as hunting supplies go, consider bringing the following:

  • Doe estrous to attract bucks
  • Tick repellent when hunting during the summer
  • A full body safety harness if you're hunting from a tree stand
  • A durable rifle scope with high resolving power

If you hunt with muzzleloaders, bring some electrical tape to place over the barrel in the case of wet weather. This prevents moisture from getting inside the barrel, and you can actually shoot through the tape.

3. Not Understanding What You're Hunting

How much do you know about whitetail deer? Do you know what their preferred food sources are throughout each season? Do you know how they'll react to specific sights, sounds, and smells? If you don't know much about what you're hunting, your chances for success will stay low. This means not only learning about the habits and nature of deer through books and asking other hunters, but also spending a great deal of time carefully observing them yourself. You may want to spend a good portion of your next hunt simply learning more about your targets. The more you know, the easier they'll be to hit.