We look for deer trail intersections, but another thought is that success is at the intersection of opportunity and preparation. If you follow the basics of deer hunting 101, good things will happen. If you follow these methods to the letter even better things will happen. Today, let’s dwell on the letter “S”.
We can never overlook SAFETY. This is about your SAFETY, and the SAFETY of others. Your weapon has a SAFETY – use it. Never point your weapon at anything or anyone that you don’t intend to SHOOT. Be SURE of your target. Never take a “SOUND SHOT”. Be SELECTIVE in your SHOTS. This will also make you SAFER.
When you hunt deer, you might SIT, STAND, STALK or STILL hunt. They all have their advantages and disadvantages. A combination of these tactics will probably allow you to see more, rest, and be more SUCCESSFUL.
Never underestimate three other “S” words when deer hunting- SIGHT, SOUND, and SMELL. No matter how you hunt, you will make SOME movement, SOUND, and SMELL. Your SUCCESS will be determined by how you minimize and mask them.
There is debate as to the deer’s ability to SEE orange, but no debate on their ability to SEE movement. You can conceal movement by moving slowly from tree to tree, and by STAYING on your toes and don’t drag your feet. When leaves are dry and noisy, don’t move. Of course while on STAND, have a view, without being seen. Use a fallen tree top or brush to conceal you and your minimal movement.
As you move, you will make SOUND. If you only take a few SLOW STEPS at a time, STEP deliberately, choose you’re STEPS, and pick your boots up-you will minimize noise. If you SNAP a twig, STOP, wait, look around and listen. Don’t SOUND like a “human the woods.” Don’t let them pattern you. Don’t get hung up in SCRATCHY, noisy green briars.
Try to move as SILENTLY as a deer. Their SHARP little hooves don’t make much noise, partly because they’re SMALL, and partly, because they pick them up and don’t drag them. Listen for SOUND in the woods. Deer make mistakes occasionally, and you definitely want to SEE them first. When you call deer, be patient, because for every deer that comes charging in, 10 will circle SLOWLY and cautiously to locate the SOUND. This brings up the most unforgiving “S” word. When a deer is circling a SOUND he will have to be down wind at SOME point and SMELL what the SOUND really is.
As they respond to call, travel, feed, or bed down they’re thinking SMELL. When you hunt them, consider the best coon dog, beagle, or blood hound you’ve had or heard of and know that the deer is better. Think about the length of the snout, and the number of olfactory never there and you START to get the picture. This is why they wont move much on a windy day. It disrupts their senses of hearing and smell too much, and they don’t feel SAFE.
As you hunt, hunt into the wind.- You’ve already been “busted” in the down wind direction. Your dumb luck or your best laid plans are subject to their sense of SMELL. Two good things are that you can lure them with SCENT, and you can partially cover your SCENT. When deciding where to STAND or which way to move, check the wind. It may be strong enough to blow leaves or you need dust or powder to check a SUBTLE breeze. Keep in mind that wind is fickle, Predictable things with deer would be their travel and bedding habits.
They will usually not travel along a ridge line. That’s too much of a SILHOUETTE view for them to give you. They prefer to travel 20-40 yards. Down from the ridge, usually along a “bench” on the hill side. This affords them cover, gradual incline and view. Their bedding choice may be in some brush with a view, and their bed is often on this bench in the morning. This elevated bed allows them view of the ridge and hollow, but it is also about SMELL.
As the SUN comes up and the day gets warmer, the thermals will rise up the hollow and up the SLOPE. This will bring your SCENT to them and they will usually be napping and looking downhill in the bed. On a rainy or wet day, a good plan is to SLIP quietly over the wet leaves along the ridge from tree to tree and peek over the ridge, down to the bench. This plan works, because it outsmarts them. This was taught to me by a wise old Indian, 30 yrs ago. They’re looking downhill, maybe half asleep and Another good plan is to drop the hammer on them, when their head is down.
By this point, you’ve already SELECTED the deer as a SHOOTER, and you don’t want him to SEE you. When his head is down, or he’s looking away from you, you can raise the gun and take the SAFETY off. This will cause movement and a “click”. Be ready to SHOOT, because now he’s focused on you. Take that broadsided SHOT into his ribcage to hit the vitals of heart and lungs.
To SHOOT him too far behind the ribs is a gut SHOT. This is just wounding him, and a long trailing issue. STEADY your SHOT with a rest, if you can. Your body or weapon propped against at tree or you on one knee is a good way to STEADY your SHOT. SQUEEZE the trigger SLOWLY. If you pull it too abruptly, you will usually “pull” the aim off also. The next article will be about “after the SHOT.”