Beginner’s Guide to Deer Hunting

Deer hunting is an age-old tradition passed down from generation to generation. It’s a sport that can be enjoyed by both men and women, as well as children of all ages. This article is intended for beginners who are looking to learn the basics about deer hunting with minimal expense or hassle, so you can hit the ground running!
You’ll find out how to get started in your first day on the hunt, which equipment you need when setting up camp during each season, where it’s best practice to pursue game across North America and more.

The “hunting tips for beginners” is a guide that teaches the basics of hunting, from how to choose your weapon to what the different seasons are.

Note from the editor: Josh Cantrell and Kevin King contributed this guest article.

For many years, shooting different types of wild deer has been a national passion and custom. Whitetail deer hunting and gathering are prevalent in many Native American myths and chronicles. In addition to abundant birds and turkeys, the Pilgrims of Plymouth Plantation hunted deer or “venison,” as William Bradford wrote in his writings. Whitetail and mule deer were plentiful and vital food sources for many early Western explorers and their families. Unfortunately, overhunting and a declining number of whitetail deer in the United States resulted in a steep fall in deer harvesting in the twentieth century. Many states now have close to 200,000 or more killed deer each year, thanks to the dedicated work of state conservation offices and conscientious hunters. Deer are overpopulated in many states, posing a hazard to forest growth and agriculture, as well as increasing the risk of lyme disease in people in locations where their numbers are very high. Deer herds are managed by responsible hunters, who ensure that the herds do not pose a threat to ecosystems.

You may have considered deer hunting at some point but were unsure where to begin. There are various benefits to deer hunting:

  • Meat that is fresh, organic, and lean
  • Spending time in nature
  • Survival/outdoorsman talents that have been honed
  • Personal development as a supplier
  • Creating a character
  • Marksmanship
  • Tradition

With this primer on deer hunting and some practice and coaching from experienced hunters, you should be ready to confidently go into the woods in search of your first of many deer.

Make a Weapon Selection

Vintage hunters talking in forest.

The first step in deer hunting is to settle on a strategy. Do you wish to be a rifle hunter or a hunter who uses other techniques (bow, atlatl, pistol, etc.)? Many of us started our hunting careers with rifles because they are the most accessible. Because this is a beginner’s guide to deer hunting, we suggest beginning with a rifle and expanding as your interests demand.

When selecting a deer rifle, budget and fit must be considered. When I met with Ken Jorgensen of Ruger Firearms recently, he suggested that a hunter look for a rifle that:

  1. Effectively completes the mission (in this case, kill a deer quickly)
  2. It is appropriate for the shooter.
  3. Can be well-shot

Going to a gun shop and “trying out” possible weapons is well worth your time and effort. Pick up the weapons, put them on your shoulders, play with the actions, sight-in an item on the floor or ceiling, and see how you like them. The following are a few gun models to consider as a budget-friendly starting point:

  • Model 70 Winchester rifle
  • XP Trophy Hunter Savage
  • Vanguard Weatherby
  • Model 700 Remington rifle
  • Ruger American Rifle is a rifle made by Ruger in the United States.

In deer hunting, a cartridge with a little punch is required to fulfill the work properly. If you’re not knowledgeable with gun calibers, picking the appropriate caliber for you is like to picking a random battery off the shelf and praying it works in your TV remote. You’ll need the right amount of power, as well as the ability to control recoil. The following are some typical calibers for deer hunting:

 

  • Winchester.270
  • Winchester 308
  • Winchester 30-30
  • Springfield.30-06
  • Remington Magnum 7mm

All of these calibers are popular among deer hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts. If you have the opportunity, try shooting these calibers before purchasing one to determine which one you like; each cartridge seems to have its own characteristics. If you can’t shoot before buying a rifle, read and watch as many reviews as you can to have a better understanding of how they work. You’ve already won 2/3 of the fight if you pick an appropriate caliber and the pistol suits you properly. All that’s left for you to do now is practice.

Shooting from a bench towards a fixed target at 25 yards is a wonderful place to start while training. You should practice forming groupings on the target that all strike around the same spot. Then, when you gain confidence in the rifle, move your target out to 100 yards and repeat the process. As a beginner hunter, a 100-yard shot is a wonderful place to start. You’ll be able to work your way up to longer shot locations as you get more experienced with the pistol. However, 100 yards is a reasonable distance for your first.

Hunter’s Safety Training

Once you’ve got the rifle and the abilities you’ll need to hunt effectively, the last step is to become certified and licensed by your state’s conservation agency. The requirements for obtaining a license differ from state to state. A hunter’s safety course is required in most places for anybody who intends to lawfully hunt with a weapon. The course requirements, including the minimum age to be licensed, differ from state to state. Your state’s conservation agency website or a local conservation office are the best places to look for this information.

A 4-hour lecture and a written test are usually included in most hunter safety courses. You may prepare for the test by studying online or using the instruction booklet given by your conservation department. After that, just register for your 4-hour certification course online or in person, depending on how prepared you are for the program. The majority of these courses are free. You may now buy your hunting licences after you have completed your exam and gained certification.

Whether you’re not sure if deer hunting is right for you, you may want to choose a short-term option for obtaining your hunter licenses. There are hunter apprentice programs in several states that enable you to go hunting with another qualified hunter who has finished their hunter’s safety course. This enables you to purchase permits to hunt for a limited period before enrolling in a hunter’s safety course. You’ll be able to see whether it’s a good match for you that way.

Each year you go hunting, it’s important to understand your state’s hunting rules properly before heading out into the field. Due to management demands, these rules may change on a yearly basis.

Getting Ready for the Field

The next step is to purchase hunting equipment. The invasion of smells, camos, and several other things that apparently guarantee infinite success is where a hunter may truly become lost. When you go on a hunt in the woods, you’ll need the following items:

 

  • Your gun
  • Wear your blaze orange cap and vest all the time — it might save your life.
  • ammo in a box (unless you shoot and miss a lot, this should suffice)
  • A nice, sharp knife is essential (for field dressing your deer)
  • Rubber gloves that are tall (for field dressing your deer)
  • a light source (for tracking your deer)
  • Warm gloves, a hat, and a jacket are all recommended (for those cold November hunts)
  • Your permissions (the most essential item)
  • A pen, a ziplock bag, and a zip tie (depending on your state laws for tagging your game)

Locating a Hunting Location

Vintage hunters in boat illustration.

After you’ve gathered all of your necessities and become a skilled marksman, the following stage is to choose a suitable hunting location. You’re in luck if you own property with ample space to hunt. If not, you’ll need to either discover some nearby public hunting ground or make friends with some local farmers and landowners. Never hunt in an area where you haven’t been granted permission to do so. Develop a positive connection with people who allow you to hunt and, if you are fortunate enough to have a successful harvest, share a piece of it with your host.

When you locate land, pick either a place in a forested region where deer and other animals may pass by, or a spot on the border of an open field. This is where scouting in the offseason is crucial. When hunting for the first time, we suggest hunting from the ground, but if you insist on using a stand, make sure it’s secure and simple to get into with a rifle and gear. Tripod stands are the name for these sorts of stands, and they may be obtained at your local outdoor shop. These stands significantly increase the expense of your hunt, so consider if you really need one before investing. The benefit of hunting from a stand is that you are not at eye level with the deer, making it more difficult for them to see you.

You should place your stand or ground site along a deer-traveled trail. Another factor to consider while choosing a stand or hunting location is your degree of comfort. An open field is not the place for you if you can’t regularly make long shots. You could try setting up in some hardwoods where your only option is a close shot. To keep your presence to a minimum, come at your hunting spot before dawn or a few hours before nightfall. Then, patiently await the arrival of your game.

Putting out a salt lick, a food plot, or other attractants near your hunting site before the season begins is one method to improve your chances. These attract deer and other animals, making your hunting site a frequent stop for them. One thing to consider is whether or not you’ll need to stop using your attractants before the season starts (normally 10 days prior). Otherwise, you risk being charged with baiting and facing a hefty fine. If you want to go this route, be sure you understand all of your duties and take the required procedures to guarantee an ethical and legal hunt. Because each state’s rules on food plots and baiting varies, double-check yours. Consider your hunting circumstances and degree of dedication when deciding what would be ideal for you. Planting and maintaining a plot requires time, space, and discipline. Make sure you’re prepared to make that time and financial commitment.

 

Attempting the Shot

When taking a shot, you must always wait for a deer to stand broadside, which means that they are parallel to your rifle barrel. Bring your sights to the deer slightly beyond the front shoulder when you can see from nose to tail, since you want to hit the lungs and/or heart. Take the gun off the safety, take a deep breath and exhale slowly, then pull the trigger evenly until the pistol fires. Rack the bolt and chamber a live shell right away.

If you’ve struck your target, keep an eye on where the deer flees. Before tracking and chasing, wait anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. The deer will have plenty of time to lay down and die as a result of this. If you attempt to pursue the deer down as soon as it is shot, you will put the animal under unnecessary stress. This will also enable the deer to create more adrenaline, allowing it to move farther. Your venison may acquire a pronounced “gamey” or disagreeable taste as a consequence of the added hormones and chemicals. Before chasing a deer that has crossed a property border, be sure you have permission to be on that land. Even if you’re pursuing a wounded animal, it’s still deemed trespassing. Make sure you know who owns all of the property in your immediate vicinity and how to contact them. You must make every attempt to retrieve any deer that you have shot.

Tracking the Trail

Go to the place where you believe your shot connected with the buck to track it down. When you get there, search for the telltale symptoms of a wounded animal, such as earth split up by hooves, tufts of fur, bone pieces, and, most importantly, blood. Many hunters may place an item, such as a hat, adjacent to the first sign of a trail at this stage. Make every effort to identify a trail of any of these items on the ground and follow it to locate your deer. You’re on the correct road if the blood gets more copious. If you lose the trail at any point, go return to the last spot where it was clear and trace it again. Having a hunting partner or a group of hunters to assist you in tracking a tough trail might be the difference between an animal being taken and an animal being squandered. (You may also want to try hunting with a dog.)

When you find your deer, approach it with a loaded rifle, ready to kill it if it has not yet expired. Take a minute to pat yourself on the back and breathe a sigh of relief after you’ve confirmed that your animal is down. Then it’s time to get down to business.

Following the Shot

Vintage hunters carrying deer in forest.

Make sure you tag your deer before dressing your meat. Follow the techniques for tagging your wildlife that your conservation agency requires to the letter. Some jurisdictions require you to clip the permit to an antler, while others want you to put it in a plastic bag around the animal’s leg, and still others require you to use your smartphone to tag the animal. Before you go out into the field, make sure you’re acquainted with and ready for the tagging procedures.

 

Field dressing a deer may be done in a variety of ways, and everyone believes that their method is the best. While there are a few “essentials” when dressing a deer, I suggest watching videos online or reading material distributed by state conservation agencies for a more detailed how-to.

A lengthy incision (blade facing up) between the pelvis and the sternum is used to field dress a deer, being careful not to nick the internal organs. Before cutting in a circular motion around the anus, remove the outer genitalia and discard it. Tie the lower intestines and bladder within the body cavity with a short piece of twine before turning the deer over on its side to empty the contents. To get the organs out of the rear, some cutting will be required. Then, as high as you can reach, cut through the diaphragm (some people also break the rib cage here), and remove the lungs, heart, and windpipe. Then flip your deer over again to remove any residual blood from the cavity.

You may now take your deer to a meat processor, who will work it up for you for a price. If you want to work up the deer yourself, find it somewhere where it can be hung upside down and drained for a few hours before quartering and butchering it like a cow. We also suggest purchasing a grinder, a bunch of people to assist, and a lot of food-saver vacuum bags if you’re performing the self-butchering approach. Finally, make sure you clear a large space in your freezer for all of the delicious meat you’ll be eating for months to come.

In the Woods, Ethics

A hunter posing with deer in forest.

When out in the woods looking for deer, it’s critical to maintain a high ethical standard of conduct. Practicing with your weapon of choice is one of the finest ways to achieve this. The more at ease you are with your firearm, the more compassionate you will be toward the deer.

Respect the land in its entirety. If you bring anything in, be sure you take it out. Unfortunately, there are some hunters who do not care about cleaning up after themselves. If you come across garbage (shell casings, food wrappers, leftover odors, and so on), pack it out as well, even if it is not yours. The more we all fight to protect our natural resources, the longer they will be available for us to enjoy. Even if you are hunting alone, be sure that safety is always in the forefront of your mind. When you’re alone, accidents might happen, so be extra careful and obey all safety guidelines.

Finally, don’t become too engrossed in the technical parts of the quest that you forget to enjoy the experience. Deer hunting is a fun, demanding, thrilling, and character-building method for you to feed your family while continuing a tradition that dates back well beyond the nation’s and its people’s history.

 

Finally, don’t become too engrossed in the technical parts of the quest that you forget to enjoy the experience. Deer hunting is a fun, demanding, thrilling, and character-building method for you to feed your family while continuing a tradition that dates back well beyond the nation’s and its people’s history.

In southwest Missouri, Josh Cantrell and Kevin King are ardent outdoorsmen, fisherman, hunters, and instructors.

 

 

The “beginner deer hunting rifle” is a weapon that is used to shoot deer. The rifle can be mounted on a stand and it has a telescopic sight.

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