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Deer Hunting 101: 6 Things to Know Before Hunting

Looking for deer hunting 101 tips for beginners? Here we cover six hunting basics to help first time hunters prepare and get ready for deer season.

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Are you new to deer hunting or a returning hunter needing to brush up on your hunting basics? You're in the right place! Preparing for your first (or umpteenth) hunt is exciting. The thrill never gets old. There are, however, some timely tasks that need to be completed before hunting season arrives. So, let's cover deer hunting 101—the essentials for beginners and returning hunters who need a refresher on how to get prepared.

How to Prepare for Deer Hunting Season

It’s easy to focus on the thrill of the chase and picking your fall target when you're getting ready for deer season. But these checklist items are are also critical and shouldn’t be overlooked. Let’s review how to prepare for a deer hunt and get you ready to go. Here are six things an ethical hunter should do ahead of time to hunt smart, stay safe, and have success before hitting the woods.first time deer hunting tips

1.  Know Local Deer Hunting Laws 

The laws on the hunt go round and round, and every year regulations change. So, first things first: check local laws where you plan to hunt, know the area’s baiting and feeding restrictions, and don’t assume one area’s rules are the same as the next. Also, make sure you have a proper license and tags. Click here for a link to your state’s wildlife management website to check regulations and purchase licenses and permits. 

2.  Learn Your Weapon & Hunting Equipment  

Getting to know your hunting gear comes next. That could include a lot of things depending on personal preference and how and where you hunt. Here are two important equipment items for people in the eastern half of the country. 

Weapon

Is your weapon of choice new to you or has it been sitting in storage for a few months? Before you grab it and head out to hunt, a few steps need to happen for your safety and success: 

  • Get to know your weapon, how it operates, its mechanisms and safety features before firing.
  • Whether it’s a bow or rifle, your weapon needs a good tune-up before you take it out. Click here for basic firearm cleaning or tips on tuning your crossbow.  
  • This one shouldn’t be a drudgery: get in some target practice! Go out and fire some lead or release a few arrows. Besides being enjoyable, you’ll see how your weapon is shooting, what your aim is, and can adjust accordingly before you sight in on that big buck. 
  • Are you planning to hunting aloft? For safety reasons, you need to haul your firearm or weapon into a tree stand using a haul line. And speaking of tree stands...

Treestand

Did you know tree stands accidents are the most common hunting mishaps in many statesHere are four recommendations from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to help you stay safe in your stand: 

  1. Understand manufacturer’s instructions and warnings before using your tree stand and full-body harness (FBH). 
  2. Check straps and chains every season and before each use. Look for signs of wear, fatigue, cracks, and loose or missing nuts or bolts. 
  3. Practice at ground level with your tree stand and FBH with another person present before you hunt. 
  4. Learn how to properly use your FBH with a suspension release device.   

3.  Ask for Permission to Hunt

If you’re hunting your own land, you probably know it well. But do you know your neighbor’s land—or even who they are? If the deer you’re tracking runs onto a bordering property, you’ll need permission to gain access and hunt private land.

Hunters have an ethical requirement to contact a landowner for permission to hunt on their property—and written permission if it’s postedMake sure you get it before your hunt. Also, know access, limitations, and layout of any new property or farm you’re allowed to hunt on. Get helpful tips here for how to ask for hunting permission from landowners.

first time deer hunter

4.  Have a Hunting Strategy  

Up to two months before your hunt is the time to sort out your deer hunting strategies—or how you’re going to find deer or draw them to you for a quick kill shot. Since most whitetail hunters elect to draw deer in, here are three key things to consider as you plan your hunt:  

  • If you're hunting your own property, what is your deer inventory and how many are you going to harvest? Setting up a mineral site and running a trail cam survey can help you determine deer ratios, and pattern bucks. 
  • Are you targeting a specific shooter buck? That affects how and where you hunt or set up your tree stand. 
  • Do you plan to use attractants? Choosing the right product can make the difference in bagging a deer or not. Redmond products like Apple or Cherry Bomb attractant and Bomb field spray are effective at pulling deer in. 

5.  Leave a Hunting Plan

This is a trap even experienced hunters fall into: heading out to hunt without leaving a hunting plan or climbing a tree stand without telling anyone. Guard against this kind of “I’ll be fine” mentality. Fill out a printable hunting plan before every outing and leave it with a reliable person you know well. Your hunting plan should include the following information:

  • Where and with whom you are hunting.
  • When you expect to return.
  • Specific directions or map of the route to your destination.
  • An alternate destination if bad weather changes your plans.
  • Your cell phone number and cell phone carrier to help law enforcement find you. 

These additional deer hunting safety tips will also help you enjoy your hunt more and get home safely:

  • Always hunt with a partner. 
  • If using a tree stand, communicate with your contact before and after climbing or ascending. Text when you’re headed into your stand, once you’re in your seat and harnessed in, and again when you’re safely back on the ground and unhooked. 

6. Plan for Your Harvest

Let’s say you tag a buck this season. Do you know what to do with a deer after you kill it? Harvesting is an important part of responsible deer management and taking care of your animal—and for that you need to plan ahead of time. Become educated about these questions before you harvest a deer:  

  • Do you know how to properly field dress a deer? 
  • Will you butcher the deer yourself or have it professionally done? 
  • Are you going to stock your own freezer, make jerky, or donate the meat?  
  • Do you plan to mount your deer, and do you have a taxidermist in place? 

Following these six deer hunting basics will help you hunt safely and have a better experience. Make every step a fun part of getting ready, and good luck!

Need help attracting deer to your hunting site? Click below to pick up natural Redmond deer mineral supplements! They'll help you draw deer in and improve your chances of tagging a big buck.

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