Remember, experience can never substitute for any list of hunting tips, so always seek out others who have deer hunted or landowners whose land you may be hunting. Seek mentors. They are invaluable when it comes to learning to enjoy the sport safely and successfully.
Keep these tips in mind
- Safety is always the most important aspect to keep in mind. Nothing matters more than firearm and tree-stand safety. And ALWAYS identify your target as a legal deer before putting your finger on the trigger. Never consider shooting at sounds in the brush.
- Talk to landowner about deer patterns and locations. He probably knows where the deer travel and gather.
- Always wear a safety belt or harness while in a tree stand, and never climb into a tree with a loaded gun.
- During the breeding season or the rut (generally between late October through November), deer can be seen most anytime of the day. Other times, morning and evening are the most likely time when you will see their activity.
- Deer are edge creatures. They are often found at the edge of a field or clearing in the woods.
- A deer’s nose is its best defense. Try to position yourself along a deer trail up from the prevailing wind.
- Next are its ears and eyes. Try to remain motionless, especially if you spot an approaching deer.
- Patience is mandatory.
- Snow-covered ground is a deer hunter’s dream because it reveals a deer’s tracks and makes moving deer more visible.
- Aim broadside. It’s best to shoot a deer when it turns broadside to you. You are more likely to inflict a quick, fatal shot, thus ensuring your harvest and causing less trauma to the deer with a clean kill. The heart is located about 4 to 6 inches behind the left “elbow” of the front leg and where a hunter should aim. This is called the “kill zone.”
Try archery hunting
Bowhunting is one of he fastest-growing hunting sports because of the advances in technology, most notably the compound bow. Interestingly, the compound bow was developed right here in Missouri. In 1946, less than 100 participated in Missouri's first archery hunt, while today the number is more than 100,000, with hunters using either compound bows, longbows or recurve bows. Hunters with a medical exemption may use crossbows.
Why deer hunters like bowhunting
- It's more challenging.
- The season is longer. Archery deer season is divided into two sections, and it is considerably longer (96 days) than the various firearm seasons.
- There's less competition. The season begins earlier, and there are fewer hunters in the woods.
Archery hunting tips
- Adjust your range. A bowhunter’s range is generally between 10 and 60 yards. As a result, a bowhunter must be especially skilled in knowing deer patterns and tendencies, then set his stand accordingly. Most deer kills are within 30 yards.
- Hide your scent and read the wind direction before you begin hunting.
- Strengthen your arms. A bowhunter must be able to pull back on a deer while it is relatively close but without straining or making undue motion or sound. Most hunting bows are adjusted to 50 to 70 pounds of pull, meaning the amount (in pounds) to pull the string back 28 inches. Less than a 50-pound pull is not recommended.
- Sharpen your accuracy. A shot to the kill zone is much more critical with bowhunting than with firearms hunting.
- Practice, practice, practice. There are various kinds of archery targets on the market that allow arrows, with both field tips and hunting broadheads, to be retrieved and used over. Use practice arrows with the same weight and length as your hunting arrows. Practice with targets set at varying distances until you can place several arrows to within 6 inches of one another in a bull’s eye.
- Wear good camouflage. Missouri bowhunters are not required to wear hunter orange. Because you must get close enough to your target to hit the kill zone, it is essential to wear clothing (camouflage) that allows you to blend into the natural landscape.
- Practice tree-stand safety. You should never climb a tree into a stand with an arrow in the ready or nocked position, nor should you travel to a hunting spot with your arrow ready to shoot. There have been incidents when a bowhunter has fallen and been severely injured or bled to death as a result of landing on a broadhead.
- Consult. Seek out experienced bowhunters for their input and encouragement.