Nine Bar Ranch Blog

Top 5 Common Deer Hunting Mistakes: Nine Bar Ranch Weighs In

common deer hunting mistakes

You’ve been anxiously anticipating the first day of deer hunting season; the time of year when the bucks let their guards down and the hunters pick up their rifles. Knocking down a trophy is challenging, and making rookie errors will only make it that much harder to hit your target. If you’re a hunting newbie, you’ve probably landed on this page to learn how to avoid some of the most common deer hunting mistakes. Only experienced hunters can pass on their years of wisdom, which is why Nine Bar Ranch is here to help you.


1.      Being Rowdy and Rambunctious

One of the top secrets to a successful hunting escapade is stealth. Many hunters scare away any deer by moving around too much. Even if you can’t visibly see a deer, it doesn’t mean that it’s safe to wiggle around or fidget in your tree stand. Here’s the thing: deer will almost always spot you before you will spot them. Too many hunters lose their focus, make noise, and lose a target before it’s even in their sights.

NOTE: Banging a rifle against a tree or clanking an accessory against the tree stand is a warning alarm for any deer.



2.      Making Too Many Wrong Calls

Many hunters are “call happy” which will quickly drive deer out of the area. Our tip is to only call if you physically see a buck, but he’s not moving in your direction. You’re not going to lose anything by doing this; making an appropriate call at a time like this can lure a buck closer to you. Calling blind doesn’t always work. Your hunting experience won’t look the same as what you may have seen on popular hunting shows on tv. On the other hand, if a deer is coming towards you, don’t make a single sound. If he changes directions and begins to walk away from you – try calling him. Your best bet is to err on the side of less calling.


3.        Hunting at the Wrong Time of Day

It’s easy to get out in the tree stand at the wrong time of day. In general, a majority of deer movements are made during their feeding periods – just before and right at dawn as well as around sunset. Deer are nocturnal creatures, meaning they are most active between sunset and sunrise. They spend daylight hours sleeping.

There is a lot of information online regarding deer movements and feeding habits relating to lunar phases. While the moon can have some effect on deer feeding patterns, it is our opinion that you’ll get better results relying on weather conditions over phases of the moon. Research shows that deer prefer cooler weather – even in Texas – so anytime a cold front is predicted, get your gear ready and head out to your tree stand.


4.        Failing to Neutralize Your Scent 

Some hunters don’t realize the impact of even subtle human (and artificial) scents out in the wilderness. Chances are, after last year’s hunting season, you hung your hunting gear in your garage and that’s where it stayed for the next several months. You can’t go out in the woods with smelly overalls and flannels. A mature buck has an incredible nose. One sniff of your human scent and he will be evacuating the area ASAP. Wash your clothes with unscented detergent and store them in an air-tight, scent free bag. Shower with unscented soap just prior to a hunt, and use field spray. It’s even helpful to get dressed out in the field, if possible. Scent control could double your advantage.


5.        Lacking persistence

It’s been shown that most deer follow a three-day cycle. Hunters who move their tree stand after one or two days of not seeing any deer will go home empty-handed and frustrated. Just like most things in life, hunting requires some time and patience to be successful. You obviously don’t want to continue going back to a “dead” area if you never see anything, but don’t make the mistake of ditching a spot too early. Give it at least three days before you move to a new spot.


Basic Deer Hunting Techniques

basic deer hunting techniques

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!