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Where is the best place for someone to begin with hunting deer?

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  • Where is the best place for someone to begin with hunting deer?

    I am curious as to how I should begin learning the skills required to hunt deer. I have never hunted before, however am very comfortable with firearms, I've shot for essentially my whole life. Would it be best (after completing the hunters education course) to find a guide or someone who can teach me about what to look for when hunting, how to hunt properly, etc? I am not interested in sitting in a stand, I would prefer to hunt on foot. I'm sure it all comes with time, but I have absolutely no idea where to begin, since the world of hunting is brand new to me. Thanks in advance for all replies! Jarrett

  • #2
    A mentor will teach you far faster and more efficiently than any online video. I would say the first skill to aquire would be learning to identify deer sign so you can figure out where they are. Then, if you want to hunt on foot, comes the art of identifying fresh track, and then following those tracks.

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    • #3
      I agree with Tmike, a mentor will get you on the right track far faster than anything online, or even a guide. A guide will cost you money, a mentor is free. A lot of states have a mentor program of some sort. What state are you in? I'm in WI, and have mentored a few hunters, I would be willing to help you if you're close.
      Otherwise, basics are simple. Think how animals protect themselves. Smelling danger, hearing danger, and seeing danger. Keep the wind in your face as best you can, or a crosswind. Move slowly and quietly. Look for body parts, not the whole animal. The best time to start is now. Get out and scout, practice moving slow and quiet, use snow cover to your advantage. Find tracks, trails, beds, and learn how and where they move. The more time you spend in the woods, the more mistakes you'll make, and the more you'll learn. Welcome to the wonderful world of deer hunting!

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      • #4
        Whitetail deer are pretty simple to hunt as long as you are in a location that has deer. During hunting season they sleep in thick weedy or thicket covered bedding areas. They return to these early in the morning. During the night, they eat grass and grain. They may travel as much as several miles between bedding and eating area but it is usually much less than that in most areas. If hunting pressure is light, they will dawdle along the way grazing on anything green. In most areas, their travel is so predictable that they actually form disceranable paths. During the rut, bucks will also make scrapes and rubs along these paths to attract does to their route.

        Sitting quietly along these routes is the best way to see deer in most cases. With a rifle, you don't need a tree stand or even camo because you can usually shoot them before they get close enough to see or smell you. Just pick an area where you have maximum visibility for a rifle shot. Often, that could be as little as a three foot view where you can see through the timber for a hundred yards or more. If baiting is legal in your area, good farm corn (not the chemically induced Walmart stuff that says you can't feed it to livestock) certainly draws deer and is almost as reliable as buying your deer at the grocery store.

        Obviously having a mentor show you what to do is the best but I'd always recommend that you get out in the forest. Once there, look around for feeding and bedding areas and for deer sign between them. Find a trail if possible and set up. Get out as much as you can so you can get a feel for deer movement. You can walk through timbers and jump deer off bedding grounds but in many locations, idiot hunters may shoot you as you do that. Be away that stealth is much more important in archery hunting than in rifle hunting. With a rifle, ambush is a more important tactic and that only requires a rifle and a bullet. I carry a drink of water too and a knife for field dressing and a flashlight if I am hunting til dark but that is just me. I try to keep rifle deer hunting simple and fun. Listening and observing wild life in the timber is the secret to deer hunting.
        For rifle season, just pay attention to your safety instruction and assume there are idiots all around you who will shoot you if you aren't covered in fluorescent orange.

        There is much more to deer hunting but this should get you started. Oh, by the way, if you are in a big wilderness area, take a GPS or at least a compass/map so you don't get lost.

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        • #5
          With firearms I only hunt from the ground. Essentially just stay downwind of where you think deer would be, stay quiet, and be ready for a quick shot. A mentor is a great help that can give a new Hunter years worth of experience, but if one isn't available, getting in the woods making your own mistakes will teach you quickly.

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          • #6
            I just went thru all of what you are looking to do man. I just started in 2014. I live in SoCal, so it's not easy, not at all. I started at 45yo and now 50yo. I go in Solo with a BackPack. If you're starting later in life, it may be likely how it will happen for you as well because people who didn't grow up with it seem to not pursue it, or just give up too soon and don't stick it out.

            Assuming you might be similar to my situation and don't have the means or access to guides or friends that have experience in this pursuit... then you'll need to do like I did and check out hunting forums. You'd probably want to find out one that's more focused around doing it in your area.

            But long story shorter... nothing is going to replace you just getting out there and putting in the work. Hiking around... exploring/pioneering off-trail sometimes as well. You'll need to get out there BEFORE the suns comes up and stay until AFTER the sun goes down if you want to have ANY chance of seeing a buck. At least.. that's the way it is where I go.

            It's very possible you will see a lot of Does before you ever see your first Buck. I must have seen like 25 Does in 3 different zones before I finally saw my first buck in 2015 (and you best-believe I brought that mofo home with me Jack!)

            Get Binoculars with good high quality glass and a decent lightweight Tripod. If your terrain is more dense and thick... 8x's will do and probably be preferred... if the terrain type is more open and allows glassing longer distances like it is often here out west... you'll want 10's or maybe even 15's! 10x is about top of what you can hold reasonably still with handholding them. 8x's are a notch more stable when hand-holding. Most everybody is gonna tell ya 10x is the best magnification level to start at. But if your areas is thicker, don't overlook 8x's! They make it easy to get on target quickly when you're trying to verify what that is you're seeing over there in the thick.

            If I think I'm going to be able to glass across distances with the Tripod.. I bring just the 15's. If I'm not bringing a Tripod (due to knowing the destinations terrain/habitat type will not allow it) I bring 8's or 10's on the bino harness on my chest.

            If you're thinking about getting a spotting scope... I would highly suggest that you first try instead going for a high-quality set of 15x Binoculars instead. I recently upgraded to Vortex 15x56 Vultures HD and I am Loving them! Especially with my recent degradation in vision lately... looking thru them is like Crack Cocaine for your Brain! They were directly responsible for me watching a buck in velvet at 300yds for 2 hrs recently while I was out on a miserable rainy day. That was uber cool!

            Find yourself some boots that you consider "amazing". I'm Loving this brand of socks called "Darn Tough" sock. And when I pair them with FoxRiver liner sock... it DOUBLES the amount of distance I can hike before my feet, which have a hereditary propensity for getting cracked heels... start barking.

            And remember... in the beginning you ARE going to be coughing up the loot a bit like child-support while you're gearing up initially. You will hear folsk mention "buy-once cry-once" regarding pieces of gear. This means save yourself the hassle of buying low quality stuff just because it's "affordable"... because you'll end up just buying that good quality stuff anyway at some point down the line if you stick with it. Especially with things of comfort like boots and the hunting pack.

            Biggest thing I learned? When you're actually hunting? (Kinda depends on the type of hunting strategy you're trying to do, but). Well... first of all .. the wind and your scent is everything. But the other thing I was thinking of... the more important paradigm shift in thinking that I learned from asking others is... hunting is NOT what you initially think it is. Initially you think it's like you just keep moving around and doing that will eventually make you and some animal cross paths.

            That's not it AT ALL. That strategy (in my situation) won't work at all. The terrain is too noisy dry and crunchy. Everything and it's Mama will hear you and leave.

            Using evidence...especially evidence you collect from putting on TrailCameras... you find a spot where the evidence looks promising, and then... You sit down, shut-up, and you don't... freaking...move. Don't cough, don't sniff, don't clear your throat. If you have to turn your head to look more in one direction... to turn your head, it should take you about 7 seconds or more to turn 90 degrees. As long as you move unbearably slow... together with your concealment gear.... deer at a distance won't spot you.

            There's a whole bunch of other subtle nuance type of details you'll need to learn and compare notes with others. So you'll have to goto the forums and read threads or post new questions.

            NOBODY is going to tell you where to go. THEY have all spent the time and put in the work to FIND their spots. YOU will have to find your own. Only one way to do that. Scouting during the rest of the year.

            IF...by chance... you get lucky and somebody is willing to take you under their wing. You need to learn the etiquette rules about that. You don't tell another soul about where they took you. If you want to go back there without them... you call them and you ASK them if that's cool. You do NOT take somebody else into that spot unless THEY have met that other person and give you their blessing to bring them there.

            When you take pictures or videos... you make sure to pay careful attention to the background in those shots so that no one would be able to guess where that shot was taken at. This usually means the camera angle is more down towards the ground... or if VLogging about your adventure it's pointed from below your face up toward the Sky so they can't see the area around you in the shot. You CAREFULLY guard your spots in terms of making sure NOT to divulge any information about them to others.

            And you need to think of each trip that you make out there... before the season begins... as kinda like each day is 1 move on a very slow game of chess. Each time you're noticing new things and making new observations and learning new things.

            And always begin each of those days by telling yourself... at the very least? I got to spend the day out in nature, so that by itself makes it a good day.

            You WILL have A LOT of days of Hunting where you DO NOT see ANY game. (This is me talking public lands in one of thee lowest success rate zones in my state).

            You WILL Question yourself... you WILL feel like giving up. DON'T GIVE UP!!! REPEAT... DON'T GIVE UP!

            The moment you finally make it happen? Will be SOOOOOOOOOO worth it! You'll see.
            Last edited by TheGDog; 07-17-2019, 06:54 PM.

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            • #7
              With firearms I only hunt from the ground. Essentially just stay downwind of where you think deer would be, stay quiet, and be ready for a quick shot. A mentor is a great help that can give a new Hunter years worth of experience, but if one isn't available, getting in the woods making your own mistakes will teach you quickly.
              that it for me

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              • #8
                A mentor will teach you far faster and more efficiently than any online video. I would say the first skill to aquire would be learning to identify deer sign so you can figure out where they are. Then, if you want to hunt on foot, comes the art of identifying fresh track, and then following those tracks.
                well said exactly !!

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