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4 Tips for Successful Whitetail Deer Hunting

There are endless lists of whitetail deer hunting tips compiled by experts in the field of big game hunting, but in the end it all boils down to four foundational principles.

 

1. Timing

Timing is everything when it comes to harvesting a whitetail deer. Much of your whitetail deer hunting success comes from being in the right place at the right time. Sitting around the breakfast table with your hunting buddies at 4:00 a.m. to plan out the day’s hunt is a necessity, but spending too much time in the planning phase and not enough time in the wild can cause many missed opportunities. Make your plans and be sure to tell someone where you’ll be hunting, and then hoof it to your deer stand or ground blind before daylight. You seldom harvest game while relaxing in the comfort of the cabin.

When is the best time to enjoy a little whitetail deer hunting action? There are three basic periods of time during the hunting season: early season, rut, and late season. Every part of the season offers opportunities for a trophy harvest, so make use of the time by being in the woods every chance you get.
 

  • Early season is often a low-pressure hunt. There are few hunters in the woods, so the deer don’t experience high levels of stress. The whitetails tend to stick to their regular patterns of movement through the day, making it easy for you to predict their locations and habits.
  • Hunting the rut is an entirely different experience than the early season hunt. Bucks are actively tending their scrapes and pursuing females in estrous. Whitetail deer hunting can be very unpredictable during the weeks of the rut, resulting in unexpected opportunities for the hunter.
  • The late season hunt is often the most challenging when it comes to making a harvest. The deer are coming down from their mating season high, hormones are waning, and bucks become more elusive. Late season whitetail deer hunting strategies involve patience and persistence on the part of the hunter. You may opt to hunt a single location all day or relocate to different stands by morning and afternoon to give yourself the best chances of spotting a winter buck.

 

2. Dress for Success

As mentioned earlier, you probably won’t have many chances to harvest a whitetail from the comfort of your cabin. Spending the daylight hours hunting requires the right clothing to keep you comfortable, so you won’t be tempted to call it a day early, just so you can go back to camp and thaw out by the fire. Before the hunt, talk with your guide, locals, or research the climate of the region to get an idea of the proper clothing. More often than not, comfortable hunting requires layers of clothing that can be removed as temperatures warm throughout the day.

 

3. Gear Up!

Selecting proper gear can make or break your hunt. From the most basic of items to high-tech equipment, here is a brief checklist that will go a long way to elevating your deer hunting comfort levels.

Seven Simple Selections:

  • Food – Beverages, snacks, and a light lunch go a long way when it comes to being comfortable on the stand. Make sure your daypack is well supplied.
  • Comfortable seating – Prevent discomfort and unnecessary movement by adding a thick seat cushion to your chair.
  • Gun sling – If you plan on doing a little spot and stalk, be sure your gun or bow is outfitted with a comfortable sling.
  • Binoculars – Binoculars are a must, because ground-checks often lead to disappointment.
  • Range finder – Toss a range finder in your possibles bag to get an accurate distance measurement before squeezing the trigger or releasing the bow string.
  • Spotting scope – For long distance assessments, a good quality spotting scope comes in handy. Remember to bring the scope’s tripod to keep it steady.
  • Heat source – A source of heat keeps your fingers nimble and toes warm. Try disposable warmers, refillable or rechargeable handheld heaters, and if the temperatures are especially frigid, tote a portable hunting heater to the deer stand.

 

Here is a sample checklist that you can download. (Source: www.allcanada.com.)

4. Location, Location, Location

Choosing a hunting hot spot requires some footwork and observation. Cover, food, and water are essentials for whitetail deer. If you’re in a forested area, the deer will obviously have plenty of cover. But what if you’re hunting open land? Look for the occasional bush or grassy area. These sections of vegetation may offer ample cover to keep the whitetails feeling safe and protected. Stand at the ready to make your harvest as the deer move across the open spaces between areas of cover.

Is there plenty of food available to support the whitetail deer population? Deer enjoy a wide food range, eating everything from saw briers to sweet, savory huckleberries. The food source doesn’t have to be perfect, just available. And if you’re hunting in a region that allows baiting, you can always sweeten the situation by adding a salt block, mineral lick, or deer feed.

Water is a must, and it’s often present in unexpected locations. Some types of soil hold water for several weeks after a rain, ensuring the deer and other wild game have access to water through puddles. Take this into consideration when choosing your deer hunting honey hole. It’s not always necessary to hunt within walking distance of a pond or stream.

Whitetail deer hunting strategies range from simple to complicated, and everyone has their own opinion when it comes to the best whitetail deer hunting tips for success. But every list of whitetail hunting tips is based on the same foundation – timing your hunt, dressing for the weather, packing in the appropriate gear, and choosing an active hunting location. Prepare for success, and then get out there and enjoy the hunt!

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