View Full Version : New Deer Hunter...

February 6, 2009, 08:46 PM
Hi there all,

I am getting ready for next season to go deer hunting for the first time. I will be on my girlfriend's uncle's property(eastern PA). I have recently purchased a .243 savage LH with accutrigger. I know this will be a fairly broad question but what will be the essentials to making my first hunt a good one... ie. clothing and other gear.

Thank for all your advice and help.

February 6, 2009, 09:46 PM
The most skilled hunter can hunt without the advantages of equipment. The best chance you have of having a successful hunt comes with skill and planning.

- Pick Your Spot Wisely. Look for tell tale signs of game movement. Follow along game trails, but try as much as possible not to disturb them.

+Things to look for:Droppings - Whitetail droppings are small and spherical; usually in small mounds.
Hoof Prints - Whitetail hooves are cleft shape and point forward. Wide spread between the toes indicates heavy weight distribution on that stride. Also a good indication of direction on game trails.
Rubs & Scrapes - During the rut, bucks will mark their territory by rubbing their antlers on trees (usually cedars and other evergreens). These are rubs. This leaves scent behind and is a good visual territorial marking. Bucks will also paw at the ground with their front hooves (scrapes) leaving behind scent as well. Both will be refreshed frequently in commonly traveled areas. Fresh rubs will expose green wood beneath the bark. Look for layers in peeled bark with varying dryness. The more layers, the more often the rub is checked and refreshed. Fresh scrapes will have fresh soil and be mostly devoid of leaves and pine needles.
Broken Twigs - Along game trails, look for broken branches; this will help you in determining the general direction of the animals walking along the path.
Food & Water Sources - During the late fall, whitetail will be packing on weight for the cold winter months ahead. Honey suckle and acorns will be your best bet.
Musky Odor - One way bucks will mark their territory is by urinating down their hind legs. On the inside of their knees is a scent gland, and when moist (especially with urine) gives off a particularly pungent odor. It's hard to describe, but you never forget it.

+Set Up Your Spot: Once you've determined a spot where you are most likely to see deer (based on the quantity and quality of the above mentioned things), it's time to set up a good hunting position. You want a position anywhere from 25 yards to 100 yards depending on the visibility and your skill as a marksman. You want a spot that provides good cover for you and breaks up your silhouette, but you want a spot that has little growth interference between you and your predicted shot. Look for downed trees, or even trees with large trunks for you to sit up against. You want your spot to be downwind of of the general direction of the game trail as well. Your scent could be your ultimate downfall if you don't pick your spot wisely.

- Don't Overdo It. Extra equipment such as calls and scents can be overused, and can be more of a burden than an aid. Practice is essential to maximizing the effect of these items. If you insist on using a call or scent, READ THE ENCLOSED INSTRUCTIONS. These instructions were written by the people who developed the product; while they may not know best, they've got a damn good idea. Look for instructional videos and discussions online. Places like these forums are great for that kind of info.

-Dress In Layers. The more layers the better. Airspace between your clothing is the best insulator against cold air, and if you get too warm, you can always take layers off.

-Create As Little Noise As Possible. Deer have exceptional hearing, and are easily spooked. Some of the biggest deer you will ever see, you will only see from the tail end. When walking, use a soft heel to toe step; being mindful of fallen twigs and leaves. Try to muffle coughing, and use subtle and slow hand motions instead of whispering when at all possible.

I'm sure there is so much more that will come to mind. Researching your environment is key. Keep at it and experience will be the best piece of equipment that you will have.

February 6, 2009, 09:49 PM
Get all the information you can from your state wild life dept. Take a hunters safety course and practice with your rifle a lot.

Know where yu are going to hunt and spend time there getting the lay of the land. Make your own map of the area paying attention to those areas deer might be or have been. A compass is a must as you'll learn while mapping your hunting spot and a GPS can also be very helpful. The compass at the least should be carried while hunting.

Get good water proof, temperature appropriate boots break them in.

Blaze orange has to be worn over a certain percent of your body. Check with your state for regs. That can either be the clothing itself or vests or other outer wear. The clothing should of course be weather appropriate for an extended stay out side. I always carry a small folded orange poncho in case it rains.
Wear a hat and gloves, carry extra socks.

Although it is rare, hunters should be prepared for survival situations. So even if it's one of those tiny kits or something you make yourself, carry equipment for first aid, shelter, fire starting, signaling, and some quick energy food.
A cell phone that has a connection where you hunt is a very good idea.

Skinning a deer can be done with just a knife. There are other tools you might want to look into such as bone saws, hatchets, and gut hooks. Some people take rope to hang the deer while field dressing it some don't. There are also blaze orange plastic bags so other hunters don't mistake the deer you're carrying out with one that's walking on its own. If you drag the deer out it's a good idea to have something to drag it on.
I use a Gerber folding knife and I take latex gloves with me.

A thermos with something hot to drink and some sandwiches.

I'm sure other folks will add stuff but that's the basics that I use.

February 6, 2009, 09:56 PM
Of course I neglected the essentials (i.e. blaze orange and take a knife...):p

I've found some pictures of some of the things I was talking about to help you get a better idea.





February 6, 2009, 10:12 PM
If you can't bait, find a well traveled water source. Find a spot downwind from that water source. Get in and settled at least half a hour before twilight. Move VERY LITTLE and VERY SLOWLY. Use your binoculars to pick apart the woods. Shoot at a specific spot on the deer, don't just shoot AT a deer. Get someone who knows what they are doing to field dress (gut) or come prepared with some printed internet explainations in plastic sheet protectors. Bring water, paper towels and several sizes of plastic bags.

Spend the next half a year reading and putting together a plan.

Sorry for the brevity, working tonight.

February 6, 2009, 10:48 PM
There are several threads on here that deal with shot placement and multiple more discussions on the pros and cons of said shot placements.
We got into some decent in-depth discussion in this thread: http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=327108

February 6, 2009, 11:55 PM
look for wind protection, (stand of pines with limb on the ground but open inside, south facing gully that the wind pass over, not thru)

Bucks will have dropped antlers by now.

Look for food area with water, deer need to conserve energy by minimizing walking, fallow corn field with running brook, open water)

BE PATIENT, listen, turn slowly and ID the the source.
let the deer teach you of how they act, be a Hunter, not a shooter.
If you're NOT sure of a shot, then don't shoot.

February 7, 2009, 05:41 AM
Perhaps this is more appropriate to the west where I live, but the number one peice of equipment after your firearm is the best quality binoculars you can afford. They needn't be expensive, just quality. Out here, they are mandatory. Even more than that. If you are stand hunting in thick trees, I'd still suggest a quality pair of small binoculars for glassing.

February 7, 2009, 07:55 AM
If you are hunting by yourself, always make sure someone knows where you are at and take a cell phone with you.

I know one hunter who fell out of his tree stand, knocked himself out cold for several hours, broke his finger and ribs. Very lucky he didn't kill himself.

I met a second hunter who accidentally shot himself in the stomach (muzzle loader + tree stand). He had friends close by and was airlifted to a hospital.

I met a Hunter Ed instructor who torn up his knee badly and pretty much had to crawl back out of the woods.

Accidents happen. Having people who know where you are and who can reach make a difference. Always take a cell.

Another piece of advice is less is more. There is all kind of gear you can take with you, and I have. Lately I've whitled my pack down to one call, one rattle, extra hat, extra gloves, water, food, two way radio and cell, multi-tool, rope and a first aid kit.

February 7, 2009, 08:05 AM
get to your huntin spot that you have picked out at least a half hour before sunrise..... a friend a mine just got his first deer this year when i took him... he had been going for 4 years and never seen a deer close enough to shoot... he hunts the same woods that i have hunted for the same four years.... when i asked him what time he goes to the woods..he said around 9:00... point being... one cant wait until daylight and tramp thru the woods to sneak up on a deer with much success....usually all the deer you will see that way, if any, is the pretty white flag on the back(which by far does NOT stand for "i surrender".)

February 8, 2009, 03:09 AM
Scout early in the season. If at all possible I usually make it a point to have at minimum a couple(3-4 if possible) stand sites picked out approx. 3-4 wks. prior to opening day. After I`ve chosen stand sites I don`t go back in woods till opening day. Watch your weather station for forecasted wind direction and choose stand to hunt out of according. As previously stated you want to be downwind of where you expect to see deer. Be as scent free as possible. When scouting and you see allready mentioned rubs and scrapes, don`t touch tree or ground where they`re at. You`ll leave your scent behind. Alot of info can be detected from scrapes and rubs and it would be wise to research and learn about them. The number one thing to remember when picking your stand sights is make sure you have a backstop where you`ll be shooting into. Nothing ruins a good day of hunting more than whistling lead over-top another hunters head. As with clothing mentioned if your hands and feet get cold easily get some chemical handwarmers. They work well and take up very little space in your bag. If your hunting far from house,TAKE TOILET PAPER. If you don`t use it for obvious reason`s and you shoot a deer and have to track it small pieces will help to mark your bloodtrail. You`ll get a lot of good tips from the guys here. You may want to right some stuff down as you get more input.

February 8, 2009, 11:28 AM
Be prepared for the unexpected. Whitetail have a habit of popping up where you least expect them to, I think they borrow under ground and then pop up within 40 yds. just to startle you. On my first hunt, I stood like a statue holding my bow for almost 2 hours watching the trail in front of me and when I finally relaxed and turned around, there stood a 8 pointer 10 yrds. behind me, I never heard a thing until he bolted off. If you are going to hunt from some kind of stand or blind try to get it in place as long before the hunt as possible so the deer can get use to in, they aren't real smart but they do notice when something is different in their home turf.

February 8, 2009, 12:05 PM
I am not going to fill you up with tactics on deer hunting, there for to many people out far more knowlegable than me on the subject. I just want to say it is refrenshing to get some new hunting blood to come into our sport. We are losing more hunter going out than coming in. As far as new deer hunter check out Dr Ken Nordberg from Minnesota he has the best no nonsense deer hunting books i have ever read Deer Hunting Vol1-8 highly recommend. He has a web sight be not sure of the address.

February 9, 2009, 11:01 AM
Remember the Hunt is the treasure here, not the kill. I love to hunt and do not put all that much into filling the tag, as that is just a bonus.
I remember a good friend, a meat cutter, drew a moose permit in an area that had 100% success. He had the moose cut and wrapped before he left home. The success ratio for that area isn't 100% anymore. There was a long face with many excuses that turned that once in a lifetime hunt into a bad memory for him.
Put in your time an a bonus may be awaiting you:)

As far as new deer hunter check out Dr Ken Nordberg from Minnesota he has the best no nonsense deer hunting books i have ever read Deer Hunting Vol1-8 highly recommend. He has a web sight be not sure of the address.

This is the site here, http://www.drnordbergondeerhunting.com/

Big Bill
February 9, 2009, 02:35 PM
Look up some vids on YouTube about field dressing your deer. And, take a really good fixed blade knife like the Buck Vanguard and a small saw to help with the bloody work. And, don't puncture the intestines or bladder if you can help it.

February 10, 2009, 01:26 PM
Some great answers here. But my 2 cents would be - if you are serious about hunting, spend as much time in the woods as possible . Get to know the rhythm of deer movement ( feeding,bedding, territorial etc.,) and just become a better woodsman. You will learn alot and oppurtunities will follow. in my state the only way to do this is archery season - and I'm in the woods at least two times a week. I respect a little guy with a little 10 acre plot of woods who's out 3 times a week much more than some big shot who hunts once/twice a year on a guided hunt! You will make mistakes but that is part of the learning curve, Anyway, good luck!;)

February 10, 2009, 03:00 PM
my dads been hunting with the same stuf for over 35 years, Wool overalls, workboots, wool socks, an orange coat he bought in the 70's, and an Ithaca model 37 Deerslayer he got in the 70's. He hasnt come home empty handed on opening morning (he doesnt shoot does untill the last 2 days of the season) for as long as ive been alive and can remember. 2 things ive found hes incredibly practiced at.. Patience and persitence. He can sit forever and a day, and he never stops. So my advice is get out there, get lookin, sit patiently and remember no matter what there might be one on its way right now. allways be ready.

James R. Burke
February 21, 2009, 03:40 PM
You got some of the best advice I can think of. Thats what makes this a great site. Even pictures great! The only thing I can add is use a good bullet with that .243 like a 100 grain nosler partition or something as equal. Practice alot on your shooting. Shot placement is key with that .243. It will work fine as long as you do your part.

February 21, 2009, 05:08 PM
James brings up another good point. I hunt a little bit with a 243. I use 100 grain remington core lokt and ive never had a problem with them, but you do have to keep in mind that you need to put that 100 grains where it needs to be. I use my 243 more for varmints and stick to my 12 gauge for deer season because i bust alot of heavy brush and 100 grains wont allways cut it. A shotgun is just more practical for most of my usage. So know what your limits are and make sure you can deliver a deadly shot the first time every time.

Electron Don
February 22, 2009, 02:31 AM
Hope for the best. Plan for the worst. The survival gear mentioned before is a good idea. Hopefully, you will never need it. Polypropene or similar underwear is essental in cold weather. You will sweat through it getting to your stand but it will retain its thermal properties. Remember, you will be sitting still. I was always told not to move from your stand after you were set. However, if you are exposed to the wind, you won't see any deer. Move to where you can overview sheltered valleys. Something to sit on is vital. A seat cushion will enable you to sit quietly as well as keeping you dry when you sit. Good luck.