View RSS Feed


Whitetail Fever

Rating: 7 votes, 4.71 average.
While some on here are not Big Buck Hunters or Trophy Hunters, if a Large Doe and Big Buck came into range when hunting, 95% would take the big buck. Here's my take on deer hunting either sex.
I have been hunting big game, mostly deer, for over twenty years and I am still surprised by the lack of preparation most hunters take before the season starts. Most of my buddies simply throw some gear in the back of a truck on opening day and head for the woods. By the way, most of my friends are not very successful hunters either, because they don't do their homework or fieldwork. See, some serious planning is needed to insure your hunting efforts pay off and you get that big buck you've been after. Well, I suggest we prepare for our big game hunt both at home and in the field, and perhaps months in advance. For me, the time before the hunt at home is as important as the time in the field, and maybe even more so. Now, keep in mind, not all the time before the hunt is spent at home, because some fieldwork is required if you want to be successful. I have discovered, mostly through trial and error, ten steps that usually make my hunt productive and safe.
Determine where you will be hunting and who you will be hunting with. Both of these considerations are important and we will look at them individually. Where you hunt, has a lot to do with the gear you take along for the trip, because a short afternoon hunting trip close to home will require less gear than extended treks into remote backpacking sites.
Additionally, for those hunting for two or three day trips near the house you may be able to load up your car or truck with gear and not be worried about weight or what to take. On the other hand, if you have to walk to your hunting site, select your gear with a critical eye, because unused gear is just additional weight you don't need to pack on your back.
Now, who you hunt with is important because, as most of us know, not all hunters are created equal. I have found experienced hunters will usually require less gear than a hunter with limited awareness of the sport, so it is important for you to plan your whole hunting trip around the weakest member of your hunting party. By weak, I am speaking of outdoor experience and overall knowledge of hunting, not necessarily a physical condition, but that should be a consideration as well.
Make sure you always tell someone where you'll be hunting, who is going with you, how long you will be gone, when to expect you back, and what to do if you do not return on time. Carry a cellular phone if you have one, but for emergency use only. In addition, I suggest you never ever hunt alone because it is simply unsafe to do so.
Decide if special permission is required where you will be hunting. If the area is on private property or posted you should get permission before you hunt. Many good hunting trips have gone sour because folks were hunting on land clearly posted "no hunting". Besides being illegal, it is plain common courtesy to ask permission before you enter someone else's property. Keep in mind, some special state hunts may require you to submit a request form (for controlled hunting areas) prior to the season starting, so check on your states regulations early in the year. Some selected spots are hard to get into because they are quality-hunting areas and the competition to gain access is high. Additionally, check with your state and determine if any special permits are needed for your trip.
Home preparation is the easiest task to accomplish, but often done incorrectly. Besides checking your guns and ammo (bow and arrows), also check all of your gear. I check each piece of equipment closely to make sure it is still in good condition and works as it should. Nothing is more frustrating than getting in the field and finding you have a piece of gear that no longer works. It means you have to do without the gear or perhaps find an alternated method of doing something. Remember to check out your new gear, so you understand how it is used and are capable of using it safely and properly. I once went on a hunting trip with a man that brought along an unopened (new) tent, only to discover it was a pink child's play tent. Some other considerations are:
Foods can be a real problem, depending on how you travel to your hunting site. If you take a vehicle then the transportation of heavy foods may not be much of a problem, and you can even bring an ice chest. However, if you're backpacking weight is always a serious consideration. If you will be carrying your meals on your back, take most of the foods out of boxes and place them in zip-locked bags (label the contents with a permanent marker). Carry dehydrated foods as much as possible, though fresh foods can be used for a few days if they are kept cool. I do not recommend canned goods (heavy and hard) or rigid containers (hard) because they both have the tendency to dig into your back if packed for very long. I suggest military Meals Ready to Eat (MRE's) which are military surplus and available at most surplus stores or they can be ordered online. Then again, there are many commercial dehydrated foods on the market that are available in most sporting goods stores. The food you take is an individual preference, but remember weight if you will be backpacking.
If you are under a doctor's care and taking prescription medication make sure you bring them along with you. It is very important that you stay on any prescription medication, even when in the field. Additionally, it would be a good idea to discuss your hunting trip with your medical professional to see if you are in sound enough condition to do the outing. I once had to cut a caribou trip short because my hunting partner had left his medication at home, so ask your friends before the trip about their medication.
Make sure you have a survival kit and first aid kit along with you at all times. You can buy commercial survival and first aid kits in most large sporting goods stores, but I would suggest you avoid military surplus kits, unless you know what you're looking for. Often these surplus kits may have outdated components in them and may even have items you don't need. I once bought a surplus survival kit that had outdated water purification tablets in it and a first aid kit that had a snakebite kit. Neither one of those items would have done me any good (cutting and sucking a snakebite as part of treatment is no longer a suggested procedure). Item four is very important, though often forgotten, and it is getting your hands on a map of the area you'll be hunting in. Your local Geological Survey should have maps of any areas you'll need, if not contact your fish and game department for suggested locations to purchase topographical maps. A good map is needed not only for navigation, but also for you to take a long look at to determine where the deer or other game may be. Large game will need food, water, shelter, and a good detailed topographical map will should you where all three areas may be located. The map should be used only as a guide to let you learn about the area without ever leaving your kitchen table. I once discovered a prime hunting spot by studying a detailed map that indicated a small river, a heavy wooded area, and a farm (which I discovered later was planted with alfalfa) in the area. After scouting the area, I simply moved in, put up a tree stand between the water and food source (above a heavily used deer trail), and had my buck by midmorning. I did have to scout the area first to determine what trails were being used most frequently, but animals will usually move between food, water, and shelter, so know where they're moving.
Another important consideration is thoroughly knowing the area you'll be hunting. If there are homes, domestic animals, or roads nearby you need to know this prior to shooting at your big game for safety reasons. I have seen arrows go right through a deer and of course, bullets will do the same, so make sure the area behind your target is clear and not endangering property or life. Also, spend as much time as possible scouting your hunting area prior to the actual hunt. I often start months before season starts looking for sign of deer movement, both coming and going. I will regularly track the movement to see where the animal was coming from or going to. Deer don't usually travel very far from their home turf, so this is not as time consuming as you might think. They will bed down in good cover and then leave to drink or eat. At the same time, remember to take your map and mark it with trails, water and food sources, as well as any building or other obstacles not on the map. Once you've looked the area over, spend a few early morning and late evenings in a tree stand checking for time of movement. Many times, I've spent an exciting dawn watching a big buck moving down a tail toward food and once the season started I had this valuable information available to me and it greatly increased my success rate.

Submit "Whitetail Fever" to Digg Submit "Whitetail Fever" to Submit "Whitetail Fever" to StumbleUpon Submit "Whitetail Fever" to Google



  1. edr730's Avatar
    Nice article on being prepared for the deer hunt Beowulf. Good point about preparing for the weakest member, farm crops, maps of unknown areas and making the area known to yourself long before the hunt.

    I've gotten up many mornings of a hunt with such questions as "is my knock set right"?, "should I put these silencers on"?, "I'm not sure if my arrows are all straight, can you check them for me" ?, "I think my broadheads need to be sharpened", "where should I sit this morning with this wind?" the mean time, I'm still looking at their clothes to see if they'll be warm, I have no idea which way the wind is blowing yet, and I'd like to sharpen my own heads. But, I am patient with these usually younger hunters and I do what they ask of me....the hunt is a very special time for a boy or young man. Others will snap at them for not being prepared and I'll agree that they need to learn this. This is how a young man acts if he is not constantly told to prepare ahead of time.
    Other hunters may have all their gear in meticulous order. They may be wearing the new sweat wicking underwear, using lightning fast compound bows with overdraws, carbon arrows and razor heads. They may be wearing the latest fashions of hunting gear and camouflage (which is usually to noisy), they may have read all the latest articles in all the magazines....and they may even quote them...yet they still will not know what crops were planted in the fields they passed... was the corn still up or was it cut?...are there any acorns this year and if they saw them did they bite them to see if there are empty with worms or full and plump? Have there been tracks crossing the road where they want them to be? What trail from their blind will the wind and their scent cross today? This is how an adult acts when he is unprepared....he buys the tools, he's read the language, but he is still unprepared.
    Then there is the prepared hunter. He may be shooting the newest high tech equipment or the most doesn't matter. He may be dim-witted or doesn't matter. He may move easily and instinctively to calculate the wind, the tracks and the food the game eats.....or he may need to force himself to consciously study each detail which he learned from people who held the earth close to their breast for a doesn't matter. He is the prepared one. He is the hunter.