In this post I’ll be sharing some deer hunting mistakes to avoid that I’ve learned from my own hunting trips and hunting buddies sharing their experiences.
Deer Hunting Mistakes to Avoid:
Being successful in hunting a buck requires a lot of experience and countless failures. While incurring failures is normal, it is paramount to the growth of a hunter to learn from these mistakes.
Not Using a Light Source
My first deer hunting mistake, was not bringing a light source for my first hunt. While it is true that there are hunters who are literally afraid of hunting in the dark for a number of reasons, bucks are crepuscular meaning that they are primarily active during twilight. And the best way to hunt them is during the time before the dawn or around dusk.
Using a flashlight or any reliable source of light should help you on your hunt during such hours in case you are uncomfortable hunting in the dark. Inviting a hunting partner should also make you feel more confident while hunting during twilight. On the other hand, you may want to start working on building up your courage in hunting bucks during dawn or dusk. Keep in mind that successful hunters brave the woods regardless if it is dusk or dawn.
Still Hunting For The Wrong Reasons
“Still hunting” is a method misunderstood by most amateur hunters as waiting on a tree stand or ground blind for a buck to wander into the vicinity and hunt them on the spot. The fact is that “still hunting” refers to the method of seasoned hunters wherein they carefully track down bucks while making a conscious effort of limiting the noises they create as to lessen the chances of their prey detecting their presence.
In addition to this, “still hunting” should be done because you want to be successful with your hunt and not because you are bored, exhausted or hungry. “Still hunting” may be effective but it requires a hunter his or her full concentration and attention to every action he or she takes. Anything less can easily lead to failure.
Do Not Scout During Or Before The Rut
You are bound to fail in hunting if you do not scout the area where your prey would probably be in. However, it is a mistake to scout during or before the rut because bucks are always on the move and only stay in their bedding territory for at least a day or two before moving to another location. Not to mention it can be challenging for amateur hunters to identify signs that lead to buck mating areas.
By scouting the hunting area before the hunting season, you get to become familiar with the environment which can help you traverse the hunting ground.
Do Not Hunt In The Same Area All Over Again
Set up your tree stand in areas that are reputed to be consistently reliable hunting grounds for the past few years. However, do not be complacent to one location because there will be times wherein a once-reliable hunting ground will no longer be reliable due to various factors. It does mean that if seasoned hunters back then were successful hunting bucks in certain area is that you can be successful being in that position in the following seasons. Bucks may be animals but they are accustomed to hunters and also know how to adjust accordingly so should you.
Do Not Repair Things at The Last Minute
If cramming back in school served you well, then do not expect the same behavior to help you become successful when it comes to hunting. The last thing that you want to do is to change your dead batteries or wander where you put your face mask while your prey timely arrives in your designated hunting perimeter. Ensure that everything is functioning just right before you start hunting and even if you are taking short breaks while tracking down your game, make sure to examine your hunting tools and see if they are in optimal condition.
Better yet, before hunting season begins, make sure that you examine your bow, your rifle and every accessory and make sure that they do not have any dents. If there are any, find ways to remedy it and purchase new equipment when necessary.
Do Not Be Overconfident With Your Aim
A lot of seasoned veterans tend to become overconfident of their aim and this can lead to failure and then blame their lack of accuracy to anything they can put the blame on. If you know that you are good when it comes to your aim, try not to let it get into your head. Always ensure that your aim is as precise and accurate as ever rather than being too overconfident about it. Remember that being careless when it comes to aiming can ultimately lead to you failing to hit your prey and you only get one chance to take down a buck.
Putting On Too Much Scent
Keep in mind that most animals are sensitive when it comes to scent hence when spraying doe estrous, try not to spray too much because too much of it can smell unnaturally for a buck which may drive it off than lure it in. Though knowing the right amount of doe estrous to spray may take a while, it is more efficient to spray less doe estrous. Remember that you can always use more of it if you feel that the amount you sprayed was not enough as oppose to spraying too much doe estrous which leaves you no chance of reducing it at a later time.
Lack of Practice
It cannot be stressed enough how important practice shooting is when it comes to hunting. Of course nothing compares to actual hunting experience but not spending ample time to practice your aim is inviting failure. Practice helps you improve your aim and it is highly recommended that you practice outdoors, in the actual hunting ground where various environmental factors can hinder you from having an accurate aim. Doing so should help improve your aim and eventually contribute to your hunting skills when hunting season finally starts.
Not Setting Up Your Tree Stand Concealed
The main point of setting a tree stand is to be able to effectively utilize a higher ground position while being able to conceal your presence. Setting up your tree stand or ground blind in an open area will likely drive off your prey as oppose to setting up your tree stand close to a cluster of trees and off the skyline. By doing the latter, it will make it difficult for even the smartest bucks to detect or spot you. Also make sure to set up your tree stand as high as you can to decrease the chances of being spotted by bucks wandering in the perimeter of your hunting grounds.
Not Heeding an Outfitter or Hunting Guide’s Advise
A lot of seasoned veterans think that their hunting practices and senses will still be effective when they decide to hunt in new hunting grounds and this is a mistake. Let alone, not heeding the advice of outfitters and or guides. Remember, the reason why guides or outfitters’ services are employed is because they are intimately familiar with the environment and their knowledge about it is invaluable.
If you are a seasoned veteran, be humble enough to listen to an outfitter’s advice of how to best hunt bucks in the new area where you are hunting regardless if you have been successful in the past 10 years in your hunting career. If you are an amateur then the more reason that you should heed the advice of your hunting guides.
Not Hunting Funnels
A lot of hunters, both seasoned and amateur tend to neglect hunting funnels during the peak of the rut when the fact is that hunting funnels increases your chances as a hunter to find your prey. Funnels are places in between a known doe mating area and a known doe feeding area. While tracking down scrapes, field edges or rub lines is not bad, it can be too time-consuming since bucks during the peak of the rut tends to move a lot and will only stay in one place for a day or two.
Not Taking Note Of The Wind’s Direction
It does not mean that when bucks are close to naturally populated areas like farms is that they are already used to the smell of humans. There may be some instances that they are but that are one out of a ten and they will still run away as soon as they smell the scent of humans within their territory.
With this in mind, it is still best to take the wind’s direction into account because the wind will carry your scent in the direction where it is blowing and this makes it easier for your prey to detect your presence if you are not careful hence it is better to conceal your scent by using methods that hide human scent.
Not Using Scent Eliminators
Scent eliminator products were invented for a reason and this is to conceal your scent from your prey because once a buck gets your scent, it will never enter your hunting perimeter and you did not even have to miss your aim to fail. Scent eliminators work and putting an ample amount on yourself will decrease the chances of bucks smelling your presence.
Make sure that you use scent eliminator before you travel on route and after you reach your destination. Make sure to regularly launder your hunting clothing using unscented detergent, shower before each tree stand shift using unscented soap and shampoo, spray yourself and your gear with scent eliminating products is always a good practice.
Refrain From Checking Your Hunting Partners Every Now And Then
Hunters tend to carry two-way radios while they are hunting and are often used to check how the others are faring and if there was already a successful hunt. However, refrain from using these two-way radios just to say something unnecessary or unrelated to what you and your hunting partners are doing. Act like a professional and reserve those witty remarks when you and the others are already sitting by the campfire before retiring for the day. The last thing that you want to do is to spoil someone’s hunt because you called them at the wrong time. Be mindful of your timing and try to make those radio calls as short as possible.
Not Hunting Doe Pockets
Remember that during the peak of the rut, bucks tend to wander around chasing receptive does that are in estrous. With this idea in mind, you should not ignore doe pockets; areas close to green fields or other crops during the afternoons, or acorn ridges or near bedding ridges in the morning because where there are does, there will always be bucks. This is also where scouting prior the hunting season will pay off since you will be able to determine which areas will likely be bedding areas for does and bucks alike.
Not Being Alert Enough
The sound of squirrels can be confusing at times but this should not keep you from being alert and being able to identify if the sound you are hearing is just a couple of squirrels skittering about or if it is a sound of bucks or does running around your hunting perimeter. Make sure that you make an effort in familiarizing yourself between the difference of squirrels and bucks.
Not Using Calls or Scents
As mentioned prior, stores that sell bow hunting supplies do not sell calls or scents just so they can rip off hunters and earn a profit. Calls and scents are primarily manufactured to help both amateur and seasoned hunters be successful in their hunt and not utilizing these tools is already putting you at a disadvantage. When you are in the field hunting, make sure that you utilize all the resources that you could possibly use to get your prey. Set up ground blinds, set up tree stands, use scent removers, use calls and doe estrous scents to lure in your prey.
Not Checking Weather Reports
Do not take weather reports for granted because the weather will always be a factor when it comes to the success of your hunt. Always keep in mind that changes in the wind direction, air temperature, approaching storm fronts will affect how and where you hunt in a given day. It will also affect how your prey behaves and with this in mind, it is always a good habit to be always updated when it comes to the weather.
Not Bringing Any Food or Drinks
Not bringing anything to stave off your hunger or thirst will reduce your efficiency in hunting. This is crucial especially during the peak of the rut wherein bucks and does are always on the move and the best time for you to move and track your prey is during 10 in the morning until 2 in the afternoon.
Also note that when it comes to drinking water, put it inside a container that has a slide as oppose to drinking from mineral waters that are sealed in plastic bottles because these bottles are noisy and that is the last thing that you want. Also make sure that you eat before you start tracking your prey because the food’s scent can still be detected by bucks which can give your position away.
Settling In One Hunting Area
Seasoned hunters tend to settle in one hunting ground especially if they are already familiar with it like the back of their hands. But smart seasoned hunters know better and continuously and proactively search for new hunting grounds in case unforeseeable events happen that may negatively affect their current hunting ground such as farmers changing crop rotations, bucks in the area succumbing to disease, and many more. There is nothing wrong in being content with one hunting ground but it is far better to have alternatives in case the worst case scenario happens.
Not Wearing Thick Jackets and Heavy Boots
It is always a nice thing to be hunting on a beautiful sunny day especially during the late season but there will always be times wherein temperature may get colder and if you are not wearing heavy boots or any big jacket, you will likely succumb to the cold temperature and retreat to your ground hive or staging ground spoiling your hunting plans. Always bring enough clothing, boots, a big hat, and gloves for a late season hunt especially in a cold country. Having disposable chemical hand warmers is also efficient.
Every seasoned/veteran hunter has experienced and committed their fair share of mistakes but what makes them good in their craft is by learning from their mistakes. It does not end with simply purchasing bow hunting equipment. You have to make mistakes and learn from them or if you’re the one guy that doesn’t make mistakes, learn from the mistakes of others.
Hopefully you’ve learned something from this post and you’ll avoid to make the same deer hunting mistakes I or others have made.