If you’re new to hunting (or researching for a child or other person in your life), these must-know deer hunting tips will speed up the learning curve. Deer hunting tip #1: you DO NOT have to rush out and buy a deer hunting rifle. I recommend renting or borrowing for your first few hunts. Ok, I’ll get off the tree stand. 🙂 Here’s what else you need to know to take your deer hunting to the next level.
Here are the best deer hunting tips for kids and beginners:
- Be prepared
- Know your tags
- Practice trigger control
- Deer anatomy: know where to shoot to kill
That’s just a bulleted list overview, so keep reading for in-depth deer hunting tips…
Deer Hunting Tip #1: Be Over Prepared
You do not want to be caught in the woods with your pants down. It is important to be prepared for your deer hunting trip.
Most people know the basics, even for their first time, of what to take with them (weapon, ammunition, snacks, first aid, etc.). It is equally important to be prepared in other ways by knowing what you are walking into as best as possible. Here are some things to consider when preparing for the environment:
- What is the weather like?
- What will the weather be like by the time you expect to be done?
- Are there any hazardous areas, like mud from recent rain or an especially high river?
- What other hunters are out there? And not just the human ones!
- What poisonous animals or plants should you know and look out for?
By being familiar with your environment, you can keep calm and know what to expect when you arrive. Informing the younger members of what to expect in the environment also prepares them and fosters responsibility to be aware of their surroundings. And in the case of a severe emergency, you can remain calm and face it because you planned for it.
Know Your Tags
Nothing kills a hunting trip like getting into trouble with a game warden. To avoid this, it is important that you know or relay to the youngest recruit what tags you have.
Also, know how to tag your animals is vital too. Tags cannot be damaged, lost, or defaced while the harvest is being moved or handled. And tags have to remain on until the harvest has been quartered in its final resting place, aka your final landing spot (home, cabin, farm, etc.).
A note on tags: Getting tags can be a huge process—applying for them or having to find a last-minute over-the-counter option can be a pain sometimes. It can be tempting just to want to just skip it all.
What the law does not know, won’t hurt right? Well, here is why you should care:
- Hunting without tags results in more of a legal hassle than it takes to get tags. And costs significantly more money. Game wardens take their jobs very seriously, and they can (and will) hunt you down if they suspect something is amiss.
- It helps everyone! Tags keep the deer population at a healthy rate. When you hunt without tags, you are messing up numbers for the next season and the availability for others (and your future self) to get tags.
- It is the law. Liking it is not the point. It is your duty as a hunter to obey every regulation, despite any opinions you have otherwise. And it is important that every little hunter understands that as well.
- It is also equally important to know the local laws regarding your tags—especially if you are traveling over state lines for your hunting trip. Tag laws can vary by state, so it is important to know the fine print before you go.
As my father always says when training any new-to-guns person:
Never put your finger on the trigger until you are ready to kill.
And whether your hunting party is taking a new hunter (or you are the new hunter) or a young hunter along, it is important to remember to always keep the safety of the gun on and finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot. This can prevent shooting yourself in the foot—literally—and more serious hunting accidents and misfires.
The Kill Shot (And How to Take it)
The very last thing any hunter, especially a beginning or young hunter, wants to see is a kill in pain. It is important to ethically kill your game, as it can be hard to witness the after effects of a bad shot. There is a reason the term ‘doe eyes’ exists, and it can be hard to see an animal in such a state.
Here are the best places to strike for an effective and quick kill—tender hearted hunters and little ones are especially to take note:
- Head: right behind the ear is the fastest way to the brain and results in a fast and sure death. However—this is one of the trickiest shots to make given the small area. And it is really hard to preserve the head using this method if you or a young hunter wants to keep it as a trophy.
- Neck: this is just as effective as the head shot but significantly easier. A shot taken right under the jawline will go through the deer’s spine. However, you will have to be prepared to take a second shot or slit the throat, as a first shot might not be an instant kill.
- Behind Front Leg: by far the widest area to hit, it is the most preferred method of rifle and bow hunters. Between five to six inches behind the front leg will put a round or arrow into the heart and/or lungs. However, the deer may survive and actually continue to stand or run away. You have to be comfortable to take the second shot.
Remember to breathe in as you aim and exhale when you pull the trigger. You should never shoot without a clear visual or until you are ready to take the shot.