Hunting can be a rewarding sport, providing billions of pounds of organic, free-range deer meat to outdoorsmen each year. By following certain guidelines when hunting deer, elk or any other animal, you can ensure a more successful hunt and fill your freezer.
“Deer can be some of the craftiest, smartest big-game animals. Matching wits with one requires skill, experience and a few tricks,” says Scott Bestul, Field Editor for “Field & Stream” magazine and Co-Author of the new book, “Total Deer Hunter Manual: 301 Essential Skills.”
Whether you spend all year plotting and preparing for your ultimate deer season, or just enjoy a few trips yearly with your buddies, Bestul, along with co-author Dave Hurteau, deputy editor of “Field & Stream,” are offering hunting advice for a safe, successful season.
The best policy in hunting is to be overly cautious. So assume every gun is loaded, even when you know it isn’t. “Extra caution guards against human error and over-confidence,” says Hurteau.
Triple-check your target and keep your safety on until the moment before shooting. When you’re not using your gun, unload it.
Tree Stand Safety
Treestands provide hunters with a birds-eye view of the land and animals below, but being high above ground comes with inherent risks, the most common of which is falling.
“One of the very dumbest things a deer hunter can do is hunt from a treestand without using a safety harness,” says Bestul.
How to Dress
Because deer can spot colors in the ultraviolet spectrum, if your hunting garments contain UV brighteners or are blue, you’ll actually appear to glow in low light to deer.
Opt for camouflage, which makes it harder for deer to spot you from a distance. But don’t neglect to wear at least the required amount of hunter-orange clothing, to be visible to other hunters.
When it comes to managing body odor during a hunt, it’s not just a matter of politeness toward fellow hunters. The human nose has about five million olfactory receptors, the neurons responsible for the detection of odor. Deer have an estimated 297 million. The way you smell can scare off a deer.
“The goal is to delay the inevitable — to fool a buck’s nose long enough to make a shot.”
Use pine, acorn, earth, and, if you’re up for it, skunk scents to cover your smell. And you could even draw a buck to you by using deer urine scent.
Follow the Rules
Whether they’re for safety or deer population management, be sure to follow the rules of the park or grounds on which you are hunting. Clean up after yourself and never trespass.
Safety tips and deer hunting advice for all skill levels can be found in “The Total Deer Hunter Manual.” For more information, visit Bestul and Hurteau’s blog at
Before heading out for your hunting excursion, brush up on new skills and old hunting basics. Sometimes the best knowledge comes from those who have been hunting for decades, know the lay of the land, and might even give up one of their “favorite spots” to bring in a deer.
Oh Deer! Where did you find that photo?