If white-tailed deer hunting season has come around and you’ve had no time to read a book on the topic, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered with all the white-tailed deer hunting tips and strategies right here.
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of stalking deer through the woods like our ancestors did for thousands of years. It’s a sport with the most challenges at one end, and the most gratification at the other end after a successful kill (not to mention a full freezer).
Here’s our complete guide on how and when to hunt white-tailed deer.
Just don’t forget to make sure you have the most essential equipment needed for your hunting kit. If you’re looking for tents or lanterns to light up the environment, feel free to check out Camp4.
Hunting for Trophies or Meat?
You can hunt for antler trophies or meat, or both. Each hunting approach will be different:
1. Outfitters – Pay to Play Hunting
There are two ways pay to play hunting establishments work. One is where you will pay to be on the person’s land for the day. The other is when you pay per animal you target. The land is managed by the owner and you find your target within a certain area of that land. This gives you a much higher chance of success.
The outfitter can help you to locate the specific animal you seek (sex, size, number of prongs), and this is handy if you are wanting a certain trophy to mount back at home. During off-season, the pay to play areas are carefully maintained and controlled so that the outfitter knows exactly how many white-tailed deer they have, what gender, and where they are located.
In states such as Texas, professional outfitters have high-fence areas that make your chance of locating a target even higher. If you are tempted to book a hunting trip to bag your first white-tail deer, be sure to check what is included in the price and what isn’t. You might need to pay separately for extra targets, dressing/butchering, accommodation, travel, and trophy mounting, and that can get expensive really fast.
2. BLM Public Hunts (Bureau of Land Management)
Hunting for white-tailed deer on public land in the United States in one of the easiest and most affordable ways to do your first hunting trip. It is recommended for experienced hunters, as land is wild and uncultivated; the closest you can get to the conditions our ancestors contended with.
The best states where you can hunt for free on what is essentially your land, are Alaska, Idaho, Nevada, and Utah.
3. Private Land
Have you ever been driving in your car and thought to yourself, “This looks like the perfect place to hunt for white-tails. I wonder who owns it?” Well, there are plenty of ranch owners who are more than happy to have hunters target deer on their land. It is similar to an outfitter setup, but because the land is not curated with deer hunting in mind, the landscape will be more challenging.
Check with the owner to find out if they allow hunting on their property. Pop a letter into their mailbox or reach out to them through the community. It’s also a great way to create a hunting friendship. And be sure to equip yourself with survival basics before voyaging to your hunting expeditions.
White-Tail Deer Hunting for Beginners
Even if you are going hunting with more experienced people, it doesn’t hurt to know the basics yourself. The chances are, if you are hunting anywhere in North America, your target will be whitetails. They are found everywhere and can be a real nuisance to farmers and a danger to motorists.
Private or public land might seem like accessible places to look for targets, but there is a bit of a rigmarole to go through before you can head off to the nearest location every deer hunting season.
Keep Your Deer Hunting Legal
Don’t start loading your hunting gear into your truck until you’ve checked with the local fish and wildlife agency. Each location is distinct and hunting season begins and ends on different dates every year. It all has to do with the state’s herd health and population count.
Another thing to keep in mind, is the firearm or bow you use will affect your hunting season times. There are regulations according to the type of ammunition you plan on using too. You will need the correct hunting license issued for the proper wildlife agency in your state.
Hunting Strategies for White-Tail Deer
There are so many hunting strategies you can use for catching a whitetail in your sights. Some are more challenging than others, so as a beginner you must decide for yourself which one is the best for you. Some things to consider are:
- Are you hunting for meat or trophies? Or are you just wanting to get a feel for how things work?
- If shooting a target is important for you (meat for the freezer)
- Are you paying per hit, miss, or injury? Some outfitters and game farms charge you the same price whether you hit the target, or miss it. This is because you scare away the target from other hunters if you are in a group. If you injure a target, many outfitters will charge you an additional fee, as they have to locate the animal themselves afterward.
When you have a basic idea of what you what to achieve out of your trip, it is time to choose a strategy.
Using a tower or a tree as a vantage point from which to target deer is a popular method of hunting. The deer come to you and are attracted by foodstuffs that have been planted or spread out for them in a food plot. If you are hunting during breeding season, a female scent can be used as an enticement as well. You need to be patient and quiet for this type of hunting method.
This method of hunting involves following and tracking deer on foot, moving slowly through the trees. You will take your time walking from one position to the next; stopping frequently to read track signs and listening. If you are keen to learn tracking skills and knowing what sounds to listen for, this is the type of hunting trip for you.
Spot and stalk hunting is similar to still hunting. You locate the deer from a distance, and move closer to the target using stealth.
Yet another way to hunt using strategic cover in the woods is to flush the deer out from their location. This is known as a deer drive. It requires the coordinated efforts of a group of hunters to flush out the deer and cover the exit routes.
Best Hunting Times for White-Tail Deer
Here is a day in the life of a whitetail. It can be possible to make a fair assumption of where the herd will be from this knowledge.
- Pre-dawn: After a balmy night, deer will be more passive at this time.
- Mid-morning: On colder days, mid-morning will find herds on the move and alert.
- Noon: Between the hours of 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. there’s an exodus of hunters from the woods. If you stay in your spot very quietly, there’s a higher chance of you getting a shot. The exodus will have acted as a flushing out.
- Afternoon: The herd are bedded down between now and sunset.
- Late afternoon: Just before sunset, the colder temperatures and damp will push the deer out. Bucks will become more active and move around the woods.
- Dusk: Expect lots of activity except in bad weather. Don’t make a noise or leave a scent when walking away from your stand. Keep your eye on the trail and be sure to observe which way the deer are traveling to get food.
Choose Your Tools Carefully
Every weapon with which you use to hunt has its pros and cons. Give each careful consideration before making your choice.
- Traditional bow
Some weapons offer you better early-season opportunities. Some firepower will provide you with more accuracy. Give thought to your budget, and reasons why you are hunting, before you decide on one.
Remember to stock up on the correct footwear and camouflage clothing before heading out to your treestand or blind. It can get chilly standing still for long periods, and walking in and out of the trail is hard work on the feet. Add a deer call to your gear, and you’re all set.
Always check to make sure with the local wildlife agency for the proper seasonal hunting regulations and rules for where you are.