Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” You may be surprised that in addition to this referencing Roosevelt’s perspective on foreign policy and handling crisis, it can also be applied in the sport of hunting. The soft, tiptoed footsteps through the woods paired with a tight grip on your choice of weapon epitomizes the phrase above. Just as Roosevelt preferred to avoid violence unless necessary, but continued to “carry a big stick” in order to intimidate and take action if needed, a hunter carries a “big stick” so they’re ready at the sight of a deer. Being stealthy isn’t the only necessity to hunting, but it’s the first step. A few basic deer hunting techniques (along with being quiet) will you have you wrangling home a prize in no time.
Hunting isn’t a recently discovered sport; it’s been around for longer than we can even imagine. Though it’s not a pastime for everyone, it can be addictive to some. Something about the silence and serenity of the woods lures people back for more. Perhaps you’re a rookie hunter and are looking for a few quick tips before you go out.
Let’s start with finding a place to hunt. Before hunting season begins, you may want to check out hunting spots near you. It’s important to make sure you won’t be hunting on someone else’s property, or if you are, ask their permission. Our advice: take some time to walk through the area in which you’ll be hunting to scope out any tracks or droppings. Wooded environments with apple, oak, or beech trees in the fall and brush and trees that are next to crop fields in the summer are sure to attract deer.
If you’re looking for advice from professionals in your area, try calling the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in your state or the Wildlife Resources Commission. Let them know that you’re a first time hunter and they’ll give you advice on hunting areas near you. Once you officially set out, don’t forget to take a compass and map. The last thing you want to do is get lost.
Next step: choose the desired weapon. You don’t have a ton of options to choose from, but the two most common are a rifle and a bow. Check to see if your state has certain requirements on which weapons are permitted. Once you know which rifle or bow that you’ll be using, become proficient. The most essential, but probably the most neglected, requirements for safe hunting are proficiency and familiarity with your weapon. If you’re a first-timer, figure out which weapon you plan to use a few months ahead of time so that you have an opportunity to get comfortable.
Typically, rifles should be .243 caliber or larger and bows should be no less than 45-pound-pull. Practice shooting from a variety of positions – kneeling, standing, sitting, etc. Also, it’s good to practice shooting from different ranges. Don’t overestimate your shooting range. You should be able to hit the heart-lung area of a deer (about a 6-inch-diameter circle) several times in a row. It’s important to be confident in your skills before aiming at live meat.
Before you go into the woods, make you’re properly dressed. Yes, camouflage is incredibly helpful, but you don’t want to be mistaken for an animal. Make sure to wear some type of orange on you. You can also increase your stealth by washing your clothes in baking powder and storing them in a bag with the foliage of a local evergreen.
Now you’re ready to enter the woods. You’ve located hunting grounds and honed in on your sharpshooting skills, and you’re ready to set up a tree stand. Once you’ve parked yourself, be patient and silent. Now is when you speak (or step) softly and carry a big stick (or weapon). Take your time-good things come to those who wait. If you don’t immediately find a prize, keep trying. If you don’t already, you may just come to love the beautiful sport of hunting.
When preparing to go hunting, you can also give us a call here at Nine Bar Ranch and we can help you with all of your hunting needs!