Author Topic: Lessons from a first-time deer hunter  (Read 6312 times)

Offline Call

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Lessons from a first-time deer hunter
« on: November 30, 2011, 01:08:07 PM »
I finished my first season of deer hunting in October (shotgun, southern Ontario). The following are a few points I learned as a novice hunter, including a couple of things I wish I had known before going.

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Don't think of hunting shows as "hunting shows"...think of them as reality television. Like other examples of the genre, the content is edited for time and for it's most dramatic effect. Watch enough of these shows  and you'll believe there is going to be am 8-point buck coming by every 10 minutes. Try to recognize this truth and you'll save yourself some disappointment when the deer don't walk by your stand in a conga line.

Trust your weapon. I only got to run a few shells through my deer gun before the season started...I bought it at an auction the week before and had little chance to practice with it. As a result, I lacked the confidence for a longer shot at a buck that I might have taken if I was more sure about my (and my firearm's) ability. Use the off-season to build your experience with your tool (gun, bow, etc) and you'll know what is and isn't within your capabilities.

Listen to your elders. A couple of the guys in my group have literally been hunting for 50 or 60 years, ever since they were young kids, and they know every inch of our area. Listen to these people and don't rehash something you read on a hunting blog trying to prove you know what you are talking about. At this stage of your hunting career you probably shouldn't be talking at all.

Everyone has an opinion when it comes to hunting, guns, bows, and deer. Acknowledge this and listen to all of them before trying to come up with one of your own. If you can't defend it or support it with experience, don't share it.

Don't invest too much up front if you are a new hunter. I managed to get by just fine with jeans, a Carhartt jacket, and a pair of rubber boots. Your mileage may differ based on the season and your environment, but going with what you already have might save you a lot of money. I'll be upgrading some of my gear and clothing for next year, but it will now be based on experience, not theory.

Sitting in one place for hours on end is boring. Maybe it's our recent adoption of electronic toys that have conditioned us to constant stimulation, maybe it's not. Either way, you'll learn a lot about your tolerance for sitting still. Just remember that the 10 seconds you spend reading a text message from your buddy back in the office might be the shot on a buck that you never knew even presented itself.

Offline joeinwv

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Re: Lessons from a first-time deer hunter
« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2011, 01:51:10 PM »
Dress appropriately - being warm and comfortable will allow you to stay in the woods.
Have a place to sit - I have a pack with a small folding stool - makes sitting still much, much easier.
Listen - you will hear a deer before you see it most times.
Respect the deer's senses - they can see hear and smell very well.
It is much easier to hunt from a tree than the ground.

Practice with your weapon is a given - nothing worse than having something break or missing a shot.

Offline bdhutier

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Re: Lessons from a first-time deer hunter
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2011, 02:23:50 PM »
Sitting in one place for hours on end is boring. Maybe it's our recent adoption of electronic toys that have conditioned us to constant stimulation, maybe it's not. Either way, you'll learn a lot about your tolerance for sitting still. Just remember that the 10 seconds you spend reading a text message from your buddy back in the office might be the shot on a buck that you never knew even presented itself.

Personally, this is the part of hunting I enjoy the most.  Being out in the still of nature, watching birds and butterflies, hearing squirrels, feeling the breeze unladen by traffic drone.  I always felt that if you're frustrated leaving the field empty-handed, you were out there for the wrong reason.  Enjoy nature, go back to our roots as hunter-gatherers, and any harvest is a welcome bonus.

I certainly agree with your gear assessment.  The $120 camo is an idiotic marketing driven scam.  Indians successfully hunted the full range of game in loin-cloths and beads, European settlers put up meat all year in woolen pants and muslin shirts.  The perceived need for super-camo, state-of-the-art de-scenter, a doe-piss bath, and $1200 in rifle and gucci-gear is perpetuated by the hunting industry.  Evidence the constant stream of infomercials masquerading as hunting shows on outdoor networks.  It makes me sick.

Offline joeinwv

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Re: Lessons from a first-time deer hunter
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2011, 02:30:01 PM »
All true BD - I got a full set of camo bibs/jacket at Dicks end of Jan last year for under $50 - same stuff week before Thanksgiving would have been $125+.

No amount of cover scent will make up for you being upwind.

Boots and wool socks may be the most important items - if you are not comfortable or have cold feet, you won't have a good time.

Good hunting clothes are not vital - but opening day I was sitting in a steady 40*F drizzle. Modern fabrics made that a much more tolerable experience.

Offline bdhutier

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Re: Lessons from a first-time deer hunter
« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2011, 02:39:22 PM »
Yes Sir!  Gotta love gortex, but I can't seem to let go of my wool.  Silent, and warm even when wet.  Can't beat that!!  On the other hand, the micro-fleece gloves Uncle Sugar gave me in North Dakota are the best gloves I've ever worn. 

Ack!!   ;D

Offline Call

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Re: Lessons from a first-time deer hunter
« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2011, 03:03:18 PM »
I should have added that I do love being alone in the woods...it was great to see the sun rise and set each day. All that sitting just takes some getting used to after 51 weeks of urban living.

Offline bdhutier

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Re: Lessons from a first-time deer hunter
« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2011, 03:12:18 PM »
I should have added that I do love being alone in the woods...it was great to see the sun rise and set each day. All that sitting just takes some getting used to after 51 weeks of urban living.

I'm trackin'.  Wasn't meant as a poke at you, hope you didn't take it that way.

Offline Perfesser

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Re: Lessons from a first-time deer hunter
« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2011, 07:55:18 PM »
Thanks for the post Call.
I too am in S. Ont. and next year I'll have my first chance at a deer. Just finished getting all legal n stuff but it's too late in the season to spend the money on a temp license for this year and buy a deer tag, even for bow.
I do have a good bit of land to hunt and have been scouting a bit this fall, finding trails, tree stand locations etc. I've done a couple of short stakeouts on what looks like a deer highway but no sightings yet.
I used to hunt small game with my father but then life got in the way, wife, kids and all that. It's great to get back out in the bush and just hike.
I did join a gun club near home and have been shooting (.22 and .308) in a league every week or so for the last year. I'm very confident I can hit whatever presents itself. I'll content myself with finding a good spot for next year and take some small game over the winter. Buy and get proficient with a crossbow next spring so I'm all ready to go by next October.
Not to get too specific about location but would you mind telling me what WMU you're hunting?
My main location to hunt is WMU 82a but I live in 79d and just happened to be talking to a local farmer who has a bit of  a deer problem, might be another chance there.

Offline Hilly

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Re: Lessons from a first-time deer hunter
« Reply #8 on: April 24, 2012, 05:21:20 PM »
What I have learned:
 Sitting in a fully enclosed, elevated, heated blind is way nicer than all the years I spent sitting on the ground, freezing, getting rained on, snowed on, blown away, and have to expose my backside to the country side every time nature called!  :-[

 Always stick more than 3 inches of your rifle out of the window when you shoot, or you wont hear anything but ringing for hours after, and the percussion from the shot blows the burner out on your propane heater, and the window slams down on the end of your rifle barrel.

 Always expect your phone to ring when your on the "porta potty", and always lock the door if your porta potty is out of arms reach of the door. Always expect the person who called you to tell you there's a deer standing right under your blind.

 Never eat kraut the night before hunting.  :P