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How to Hunt Whitetail Deer for Beginners?

Hunting the white tailed deer is a deeply rooted tradition in North America. While the whitetail deer is the most common undulate in North America, offering an abundant quarry as compared to other game animals, the exceptional wariness and agility of the animal make hunting white tailed deer a formidable challenge for new hunters.

This article provides the guides for beginners to hunt whitetail deer aiming to enhance your hunting success.

Beginner's Guide: How to Successfully Hunt Whitetail Deer

1. Scent Control

Whitetail deer have a very sensitive sense of smell, and it is critical to master scent control. Hunters can use unscented body products and wash hunting clothes with special detergent to minimize human odors. You can also consider using odor-eliminating sprays. Remember to store your gear in containers with natural things like leaves, twigs, or soil from the hunting area as this can also help mask your presence and improve your stealth.

2. Thorough Scouting

Understanding the behavior and movement patterns of the whitetail deer in your area plays a key role in a successful hunt. This involves a thorough pre-season scouting to locate their feeding areas, water sources, and bedding sites, etc. An effective solution in this process is using a trail camera, which can provide insights into the patterns of deer activities so that you can make well-informed hunting strategies and decisions.

3. Effective Use of Calls And Scents

Taking advantage of the deer calls and scents can be a great hunting strategy, particularly during the hunt. Sounds such as grunt calls, bleats, and snort wheezes can attract bucks looking for does or rivals. Scents like doe estrus can lure in bucks during the mating season. Effective use of these techniques can turn an uneventful hunt into a successful one.

4. Understand The Signs And Potential Spots

Signs like scrapes, rubs, and chewed limbs can signal the areas where the bucks frequently visit, particularly during rut. Bucks also tend to move to and cover a lot of ground during the rut. Their quick move may create narrow strips between woodlots or habitat edges. So searching for these strips the deer use as paths to move can boost your opportunity of spotting a buck.

5. Optimal Hunting Time

Gaining knowledge of the timing of your hunt can have a great influence on your success rate. Whitetail deer is most active in the early morning and late evening so these periods are prime times for hunting. Deer are also more active in their search for mates, so planning a hunt during rut may increase your chance of spotting a buck on the move.

6. Weather Considerations

Weather plays a vital role in behavior of whitetail deer. For example, rainy and snow conditions can mask your noise and movements, which provides an ideal condition for still hunting. In contrast, deer are more likely to detect your presence during clear and calm days, so it might require more cautious tactics under these weather conditions.

7. Physical And Mental Preparations

If you are doing still hunting, it requires lots of physical and mental effort. You need physical readiness to navigate slowly, quietly and cautiously through an extensive range of terrains and landscapes. You may also need 100% mental focus or you may miss a shooting opportunity otherwise. It is essential to prepare to be mentally engaged and patient as you need to stay alert for a long period of time, particularly in challenging conditions. This approach is all about deeply immersing yourself into the environment and anticipating the deer movements before they detect you.

8. Get Proper Hunting Gear

When preparing for the whitetail deer hunting, paying attention to your gear can make a difference between success and disappointment.

  • Clothing: opt for clothing that combines functionality with comfort and stealth. The camouflage attire appropriate for the season and terrain helps you well blend into your surroundings.
  • Hunting boots: Invest in high-quality hunting boots equipped with features like Gore-Tex for waterproofing, 800-Gram Thinsulate Ultra Insulation for warmth, and Cordura Nylon for durability.
  • Optical tools: choose a thermal or night vision monocular or binocular to allow you to clearly see your game in the night. Models like the Mileseey TNV30 thermal monocular and NV30 night vision monocular are advanced best-value outdoor optics tools that help you outsmart the darkness and hunt with ease.
  • Essential pack content: A bum bag containing essentials like bug repellent, a flashlight, a knife, a small first-aid kit, a compass, and a butane lighter can well prepare you for any situation.
  • Weapon And Ammunition: Ensure you select a firearm that is well-suited to your hunting environment, like a brush gun for wooded areas or a long-range rifle for open fields. Safety should always be your top priority, and treat all guns as if they are loaded at all times.

9. Weapon Proficiency and Regular Practice

Whether it is a firearm or bow hunting, it is essential to master your weapon for successful whitetail deer hunting. Make frequent practice until weapon handling and shooting become your instinct. Firearm hunters should focus on aiming and firing under various conditions to simulate real hunting scenarios, while bow hunters can practice to perfect the stance, draw, release.  

10. Positioning And Stability

Whether you are hunting in the woods or an open field, a solid stand and stable platform is key for accurate shooting. You can take advantage of what the nature provides, like leaning against a tree limb, or using the rails of a truck bed. In a more controlled environment, you can use a well-structured sandbag or a specialized gun rest to support your rifle. The steadiness is very important as it minimizes your scope shakes and helps maintain accuracy, especially over long distances.

11. Sighting and Scope Adjustment

Start by ensuring your sight is properly aligned with your rifle, the bore-sighting, which can be done in a sporting gun store. But understand this may not give you the perfect accuracy in a specific scenario, and finer adjustments are needed according to the shooting distance, bullet impact, and environmental factors like slope, wind, and barometric pressure, etc.

Many advanced hunting rangefinders can tell you the right shooting distance and the holdover information for your scope. Most scope allows adjustment in minute of angle (MOA), which translates to quarter or eighth-inch adjustments at 100 yards per click. After getting the needed data from the rangefinder, use the increments to dial in your scope and adjust the positioning of crosshairs accurately before shooting.

12. Fire The Gun

The technique of pulling the trigger involves more finesse than force. Position your head properly to ensure your scope’s full view field is clear, and the gun is 100% aligned with your target. Hold the gun firmly yet avoid too much muscle tension that can affect your shot.

Aim at the right spot of the whitetail deer to enable a clean shot. The vital zone of a buck is usually located just behind the leg, about 6” from the chest. This placement ensures the bullet will pass through the heart and lungs, providing a quick and humane kill. Alternative target areas include the neck and brain, which, if accurately hit, can also result in an immediate takedown

Hold your breath when you pull the trigger to ensure the best steadiness. After firing, maintain your position briefly to observe the shot’s impact through the scope.

Beginner's Guide: What to Do After Whitetail Deer Hunting

Tracking And Confirming The Kill

After taking the shot, track and determine exactly where the killed deer is. It is advisable to wait for about 15 to 30 minutes before tracking, as this gives the deer time to lie down. As you follow the blood trail, use tools like hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle, which can help highlight the blood spots by causing them to foam. A fluorescent light is also helpful, especially during dusk or dawn, to keep the blood trail visible.

Ensuring The Deer Is Deceased

When you find the deer, confirm that the deer is indeed dead. This is for both safety  and to ensure a humane hunting practice. If needed, ask a friend to help you with what comes next, as dragging a deer out of a wood can be demanding.

Field Dressing And Transporting

Field dressing should be done as soon as possible to prevent the meat from deterioration by removing the internal organs, as this helps cool the carcass rapidly. If the deer is particularly large, field dressing can significantly lighten the load, making it easier to transport.