T Nation

Rookie Hunter Needs Advice (Long)

This season I have decided to go hunting for the first time. The reasons are twofold:

1-I want some meat!
2-Spiritual: I think that as a meat eater, I should have to hunt, kill, gut, and butcher my own animal at least once in my life. I used to avoid hunting because it didn’t seem sporting, but I figure it’s a hell of a lot more sporting than getting your meat from a butcher.

So, last weekend I went whitetail hunting. I was out for 12 hours and didn’t see a single deer, just a bunch of deer shit. So basically I’m trying to get some advice. I read a book on it, but the info seems too advanced. None of my friends are hunters so I have to figure this out on my own. So here are my questions:

  1. How do you find the bastards? I went out in the national forest and patrolled around like I was back in the Corps. I made a few stops at what seemed like good places and set in what I guess would be an ambush for a few hours at a couple places. I cannot afford to do the tree stand thing.

  2. Camo? I threw on my digis I had in the Corps as well as facepaint and all that stuff. Is it really necessary to cami up? I see some guys rocking ghillie suits and others in all orange. What gives?

  3. Weapon choice. I’m using my Savage 99 .300. Some people have said to use my AR-15 because I’m a better shot with it, but I’m concerned that .223 is too small a round. With the Savage I’m shooting about 3 MOA. Is .223 too small a round for whitetail?

  4. Scent. It sounds like this is kind of important. I washed my cammies in baking soda the night before and didn’t eat while I was out there. I also showered without using soap beforehand. Is scent THAT important and how do you mask it?

  5. Where to hunt? I’m stuck on public land. It doesn’t sound too bad though as they say that we have a ton of whitetail out there. It seems as if the deer would be in the thick stuff, but I don’t see how I would be able to shoot a deer when there isn’t a clear line of fire for 10 yards, much less 100-200. I also tried some spots where I found warm deer shit and where the thick stuff opened up a little at about 100 yards diameter.

  6. Shot placement. I’ve heard the head, neck, and shoulder. Which one? Secondly, they say to aim low when shooting either uphill or downhill. Firing semi-auto at bad guys with an M16 is different than only having one-shot with a hunting rifle. I cannot afford to miss. Do you aim low or just square up your sights?

Any other advice would be appreciated. I’ve got my tags and I’m set to go out again this weekend. We also have a serious doe problem here so I’m not above spending my tag on one of them. Meat is meat. If it is of any value, I’m hunting in Northern Idaho.

mike

know the woods and where the deer are before you go hunting.

I didnt read the whole thing but how is hunting with an AR spirtial? I dont hunt anymore but when I did I still hunted with an orginal 50’s remington 30-06 carbine that was dead on.

I’m not a hunter, but I shoot for recreation and I’m friends with hunters who gave me a few pointers along the way.

  1. Camo. Check local laws and take a hunter safety course. A lot of places require you to wear some orange, so you don’t get shot by another hunter.

  2. For the love of God, don’t use an AR-15. If you’re a good shot with one of those, you’ll be a surgeon with a 30-30, .270, or that .300. The .223 might work if you hit them in the eye or ear, but that’s about it. Otherwise they’ll still get away and it’ll take you forever to find them if they do die.

  3. Sporting goods stores sell deer scent. And apparently weed works well in attracting deer too.

  4. Aim dead on when shooting low, and aim high when shooting uphill. Shoot down whenever possible because it’s easier. And all I know is wherever you hit them, it should be as quick and painless a kill a possible. The animal shouldn’t suffer, because it’s not cool for the animal or you. Reason I say that is because the longer the animal suffers, it secretes more chemicals (like cortisol I think) that will make the meat taste bad. And on that note, learn how to field dress the deer.

Been a long time since I hunted, but you need to spend more time in the woods. Most deer seem to be taken near dusk or dawn.

Find a good spot where it looks like they move through to feed and sit still.

At midday unless there are a lot of people moving in the woods to push them around you usually won’t have much luck no matter what you do.

Use your Savage, not the AR. No idea what the camo laws in your area are. Here it is orange for everyone during rifle season.

I won’t even go in the woods without orange even if I am hiking, not hunting during rifle season.

You’re best bet to find them is to look for a pasture that’s near the thick brush. Like it’s already been mentioned that’s where they will feed, at close to dusk and dawn. Wait there and be still.
the .300 for sure. The .223 doesn’t have the knock down power you need for larger game like a whitetail.
Camo for sure, and definitely some hunter orange. you don’t want to get shot at.

hope that helps some, good luck. Let us know when you shoot one.

look for trails where some of the trees bordering them have scratch marks, like a pocket knife scraped the bark off.

See where the trails go, if there is a body of water or patch of food, set up a tree stand near it.

If not, set up somewhere on the trail. be ready for dawn and dusk, meaning get to your spot early, set up and wait.

Yes cammo is important. So is scent. Block it the best you can. It sounds gross but buy some buck piss from a hunting store and spray yourself with it to really take advantage of scent.

Be patient, wait for the deer and if you don’t see any in your spot consistently, find another spot.

[quote]Mikeyali wrote:
This season I have decided to go hunting for the first time. The reasons are twofold:

1-I want some meat!
2-Spiritual: I think that as a meat eater, I should have to hunt, kill, gut, and butcher my own animal at least once in my life. I used to avoid hunting because it didn’t seem sporting, but I figure it’s a hell of a lot more sporting than getting your meat from a butcher.

So, last weekend I went whitetail hunting. I was out for 12 hours and didn’t see a single deer, just a bunch of deer shit. So basically I’m trying to get some advice. I read a book on it, but the info seems too advanced. None of my friends are hunters so I have to figure this out on my own. So here are my questions:

  1. How do you find the bastards? I went out in the national forest and patrolled around like I was back in the Corps. I made a few stops at what seemed like good places and set in what I guess would be an ambush for a few hours at a couple places. I cannot afford to do the tree stand thing.
    [/quote]

A tree stand is probably the best, have you considered building one? If it is not feasible, find a place with a good vantage point overlooking some deer trails, a pond, or an obvious food source.

First, check your local regulations, you most likely have to have on a certain amount of blaze orange. In Kansas, I believe it is 100 sq. inches on your front and back, plus a blaze orange hat. After that, camo is a little overrated. Deer don’t have real good eyesight and the colors you are wearing don’t make much difference. What they do see, is big blocks of colors that aren’t broken up though, so camo is still helpful. The biggest thing is to sit still. They see movement better than anything.

The .223 is too small, and probably illegal. .243 is the minimum you should use, and probably the minimum you can legally use.

If you are upwind of the deer and on the ground, scent is very important. Basically if you are not masking your scent and you are upwind of them, you won’t see them. There are a number of masking agents out there that can take care of this for you, doe estrus is also good. I would recommend trying to make sure you are downwind of where you expect the deer to come out.

My suggestion would have been to scout for a good location BEFORE the season, but it’s a little late for that now. You are correct in that you will never shoot a deer if you don’t have a clear shot. One tiny leaf or twig will completely change the bullets directory. You simply need to find a place with alot of deer traffic where you can position yourself so that you will have a shot. Preferably in a place where you have multiple shooting angles, because they really have a knack for showing up where you least expect to see them.

Draw a line down the back of the deers neck, and straight up its front leg. Where this line meets is where you want to shoot him. This will place the bullet right in the middle of his ribcage, through both lungs and possibly the heart, without damaging any of the meat in the shoulder. Head and neck shots are risky and very likely to lead to a wounded animal.

[quote]
Any other advice would be appreciated. I’ve got my tags and I’m set to go out again this weekend. We also have a serious doe problem here so I’m not above spending my tag on one of them. Meat is meat. If it is of any value, I’m hunting in Northern Idaho.

mike[/quote]

I like that attitude, you can’t eat the antlers anyways. I have no idea what the regulations are in Idaho, but make sure that you know them forwards and backwards. You don’t want a game warden to show up and write you a ticket because you didn’t have on enough orange, were using too small a caliper, or doing something else that you never even would have considered could be illegal.

Get out as early as possible, if you don’t see anything within a couple hours after the sun has risen go back in and come out a few hours before sunset. Dawn and dusk are the most likely times to see deer. Check the regulations for how early and late you can shoot. In Kansas, it is one half hour before sunrise until one half hour after sunset.

My best advice is to just be patient. It’s called hunting for a reason. If you were guarunteed a deer, they would just call it shooting.

I’ll question the use of an AR-15 in a hunt being Spirtual. A rush of adrenalin most definatly but not Spritual.

Do some scouting. Look for the ruts. Remeber the bull, is always in hiding behind the cow. :wink: To me, it is extremly peacefull in the hunt. Although, I haven’t been since I was 21.

Your looking for the release of stress, through the hunt? The Spritual, the closeness w/ones self, nature and G-d. Use a Compound Bow. Pulling back a bow w/a deer insight, is the Spritual. Trust me! I’d love to know how it goes and good hunting.

Jesus, I hate when the finger’s get’s ahead of the mind.

in·sight (nst)
n.

Understanding, especially an understanding of the motives and reasons behind one’s actions.

Let me, try this instead of me being a pendejos. “Pulling back a Compound bow ready to release. When a deer appears. Is truly Spirtual. Trust me!”

Good hunting.

Spend as much time in the woods as you can. Eventually, you will find trails, thickets, food plots and places that deer like to hang out. My best success has been hunting trails that lead between food and bedding areas. If you feel the need to shoot a buck, find out where the does are. I will warn you, that a big old stinky rutting buck will not taste nearly as good as a nice fat 2.5 year old doe. If really want to be spiritual, forget shooting a buck and focus on the old 4.5+ year old does. Those are the true trophies. Bucks can be stupid. Old does never are.

Tens of thousands of deer have fallen to the .300 Savage. As mentioned above, if your AR-15 is a .223, it is probably illegal. If it is a .308, shoot whichever gun you are more comfortable with. Your state will surely have a blaze orange requirement for firearm hunting. Do yourself a favor and get a copy of the Idaho hunting digest and read all the rules and regs regarding deer hunting. There will surely be regulations concerning shooting times, caliber minimums, tagging/reporting your kill and clothing that you will have to follow. Don’t be a jag and disregard these laws. Not only do you run the risk of getting a fat fine from a conservation officer, you run the risk of portraying hunters as scofflaws. Sadly, in this day and age, you need to watch the image that you portray.

With regards to building your own treestand, I would not waste my time. They are typically unsafe and not portable like a commercial model. Plus, you have yet to even find deer. Your time and effort is better spent on finding deer and getting to know the lay of the land, than picking one tree out of a million and hoping a deer walks by. Try still hunting instead. In short, you find an area that looks like it will have deer and you slowly walk through the area, stopping and looking - upwards of 15 to 20 minutes at a time, before moving again. You spend more time watching and listening than you do walking. If you find that you have traveled over a mile in one day, you are moving too much. This is how I kill the majority of my deer with a firearm.

I think many cover scents and camo are a scam. Keep your clothes in a trash bag with some baking soda and change into them prior to heading into the woods. Try not to sweat and be aware of the wind (keep it in your face). You also need to understand the role that thermals play too. No need for camo. If anything, motion is what gets you busted. Move slowly and deliberately and you will be fine. Even with a bow, basic BDUs and a flannel shirt will get the job done. When you are throwing lead from 200 yards you could hunt in a pink bunny suit and be successful. You can get away with a lot more movement too. They make you think that you need a camo wallet, toothbrush and banana hammock to be a successful deer hunter. I call bullshit. How did our parents and grandparents ever kill deer without Realtree or Mossy Oak? My father hunted in a red wool jacket and killed a truckload of deer. That crap is geared to take your money.

I could write on this topic for hours. In short, you need to get out in the woods and start learning by doing. In this case, experience is by far the best teacher. Find a mentor, read books on deer hunting and keep asking questions. Understand that you will make lots of mistakes, but that is expected. Just keep at it and learn from your screw-ups. Once you get your first deer, the next one will be easier.

Hope this helps.

Keep Safe-

As others have said Whitetails prefer river bottom country and if you are in an area holding deer the best thing to do is pattern them. They will bed during the day in the thick stuff and come out to the pasture lands in the late evening and feed through the night and return to thick bedding cover by around 9:00 a.m. at the latest. Things only get worse if there has been a hunting season or two and the deer get spookier and rarely come out in the day.

Look for sign track and droppings indicating where they are moving in and out of cover and set up an ambush early morning or late evening time. You can also get in the thick stuff during the day and slowly, very slowly, hunt the timber, but you run the risk of scaring them out of the area by moving into their bedrooms.

Being in Idaho you have a healthy population of Mule Deer as well and can hunt also hunt them. Mule Deer hunting is usually slightly different being that they can be down in the low stuff through the foothill country and up into the high mountains if the weather hasn’t pushed them down.

When hunting Mule Deer the most important pieces of equipment are a good rifle you can be accurate with out to 300+ yards if needed and a quality pair of binoculars. Camo isn’t as important in this situation as it would be to a bowhunter. When rifle hunting you have to wear blaze orange which defeats the purpose of camo. When you are hunting the more open foothill and high country your biggest tool are the binoculars. You glass and glass some more sometimes spotting game a mile or more away and then make a stalk to get into rifle range. To me that is the most exciting.

Good luck,

D

Just thought I would add I am taking my girlfriends son on his first deer hunt this Saturday and then I have a Buck tag as well as a first time bear tag for the Nov. 3rd through the 9th Colo. season. I am hunting hard for a big Mulie Buck but will settle for anything legal on the last day. Got my Bull Elk during the Sep. muzzleloader season here. Gosh damn I love to hunt!

D

Sometimes you need to watch their movement patterns and time them.
Heres a hint- They are largely nocturnal. They bed down for most of the day and get up around afternoon to start forraging. They run a rout that is usualy several miles round based on food. By mid morning they are ready to bed down again. They usualy like to bed down in or behind woods edge brambles where they have good cover, and forrage through field/woods edge vegetation, where the foods that they prefer are most easily available.

What most people around here do is head out before the sun rises to a place that they are prety sure deer are going to pass. Come sun-up, a herd will come by and you shoot one.

If you were on a path where the scat was still fresh, then it would be good to get there a few hours earlier. Listen up for hoofing and snorting so that you aren’t surprised when they come up on you. They are quiet, butt they do make some noises.

Damn, couple more things. Forget about Gillie suits and dressing up like Tom Berenger in Sniper. A bow hunter needs that when calling in Elk to point blank range or a deer hunter when he needs one to pass within twenty yards. As the other guy said when most of your shots are going to be in the hundred yard range a pink bunny suite will suffice (though you wouldn’t catch me dead in one:).

As far as where to aim don’t go for head or neck shots. The Boiler room is the ticket (heart and lung area). Make sure you are using a quality well constructed bullet. You can be the deadliest shot in the woods, but if you are using a cheap bullet you can wound more game then a poor shot.

Being your new I would recommend Remington Corelokts. You can buy em cheap at Wal-Mart and they will easily do the job on deer in your .300. With this bullet you can aim for just behind the scapula into heart and lungs or right on the scapula/shoulder and your bullet will penetrate into the heart and lung area within 200 yards or less.

A crap bullet might blow up on impact or not mushroom and pass through without causing much damage and leaving you tracking an animal for miles or losing it. There are diagrams showing this boiler room heart lung area find one and study it.

D

Mike

Hunting is a great pastime. I have been doing it since I was 12.

I also use a Savage 99 in .300 Savage. I have taken a dozen deer with that rifle. My gradfather who gave it to me probably took even more with it. It will knock down a whitetail. With a decent scope it will shoot tighter then 3moa but 3 moa is probably OK for whitetail.

Here is some simple advice. Get into the woods well before sunrise and get into position. Deer move at dawn and dusk so that is prime time. A tree stand is good but not required. Break up your silhoute against a tree or rocks. Deer can’t see color so cammies are fine, the orange ones are safer on public property. They will see movement and they will smell you so keep away from deodarant etc. The ambush is a good analogy. If you ave a spot where you saw droppings that is as good a spot as any.

The ambush is a good analogy. You will not be sucessful stalking and driving deer requires a lot of people.

A word about shot placement. Know your limitations. Deer are fast and don’t run so much as bound. Hitting a moving deer, in cover, with a lethal shot, with a Model 99 is possible but not probable. Pass on shots you don’t think you can make. You don’t want to hit the animal you want to kill it, as humanely as possible. I always go for chest or shoulder shots. The .300 will drop them quickly. I wouldn’t use a .223. You could shoot the .77gr hollow points but they are at the low end of an effective hunting load. However, if you are just shooting for meat and take head shots, on standing deer, it will do the job. My granddad used a .22 hornet to hunt for meat back in the depression. Head shots so as not to spoil the meat.

All of these tips will increase your chances but I can tell you stories of old timers at our hunting camp who never shot from a stand, smoked pipes while hunting and probably didn’t wash their hunting clothes for years at a time and still got at least
one deer every year.

Post pics after your hunt. Nothing beats eating your own venison.

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Step-by-step:

  1. Buy knife.
  2. Sharpen said knife.
  3. Find hunting ground.
  4. Obtain permit.
  5. Set a tree stand.
  6. Wait.
  7. Wait.
  8. Lure animal directly beneath you.
  9. Jump on top of animal.
  10. Swing violently in any/every direction.
  11. Check yourself for mortal wounds.
  12. Bask in a manly nirvana over your victory.

In all seriousness, I live in the South sorrounded by all kinds of great hunting grounds (season’s almost here!).

Hedo’s advice is what I go by.

Damn, thanks for the quick replies gents. I should make a few things clear:

Spiritual may have been the wrong word. What I’m trying to say is that I think I have a duty as a meat eater to actually do the killing and gutting at least once in my life. I figure it also gives you a little more appreciation for the meat you’re eating. If I take to it I could see myself harvesting deer every year.

As far as regs go for Idaho. I don’t think we have laws for wearing orange and I know that I can legally hunt with .223. The only reason I considered it is because I’m much more accurate with it than with the Savage, but 3MOA at 100 yards should get the job done. I have just gone out in cammies but I am somewhat concerned that some idiot is going to shoot me so I have a neon green shirt from my wife’s work that I wear when I’m moving.

mike

“I did not know” will not get you out of a ticket in Illinois. Odss are pretty good it won’t in Idaho either I would suggest that you go here and download the rules and regs for hunting big game in Idaho.

I will be very surprised if there is no orange requirement for rifle hunting. Even if there wasn’t, I would wear some orange anyway. You can get a $3 orange vest from Wal-mart that you can slip over your jacket and be more visible than anything you can dig out of your closet. I am a hunting safety instructor and Illinois sends me an incident report every year.

The majority of accidents where people are mistaken for game occur during low-light hours. Blaze orange is the only color that will really be visible in low light. Deer are pretty much colorblind anyway. On a side note, do not carry a deer carcass over your shoulder. Seems pretty obvious, but it is very tempting after dragging a buck for 200 yards.

With regards to shot placement, I was taught to envision a basketball in the middle of the deer’s ribcage and to put my shot through the middle of the basketball. Helps with the odd angles.

Keep Safe-