Mistakes to Avoid when Deer Hunting

Planning on going deer hunting anytime soon? The sport of deer hunting can often seem simplistic in nature, just go out, track your game and wait for results. But even the most seasoned hunters make mistakes. Below are a few of the most important ones to watch out for.

  1. Not Taking Care of Yourself

This is at the top of the list because it is often overlooked and, is one of the most important factors to consider. Deer are well-built creatures who travel and eat clean food sources. They have the ability and stamina to move long distances over long periods of time.

If you plan on hunting a creature who is in good shape, you had better be in decent shape yourself. Make sure you get a good amount of sleep, eat a clean and beneficial meal and keep any of your bad habits to a minimum before a hunt. These simple rules of thumb can help you tremendously in your search for a wall-hanger. With the right hunting regimen, you’ll be able to keep up, stay awake and stay sharp and aware always while you’re out in the field.

  1. Failure to Learn New Tactics

Hunting is like any sport or competitive hobby; those who fail to keep up with the times often get left behind. But in hunting, this is even more so because not only do you have to keep up with your fellow hunters, but also with the deer themselves. Deer are incredibly smart and crafty creatures. They can sense changes in their environment and they adapt astonishingly well to those changes. Every time you go out on a hunt, things will be slightly different from the last time.

What this means for the successful hunter are new tactics. Bringing new tactics into your hunting portfolio can do wonders for your success rates. Failure to adapt to the changes in deer behavior and the changes in modern technique could leave you driving home empty-handed. Keep this in mind the next time someone tries to give you a pointer on your technique.

  1. Not Paying Attention to the Weather

The weather can affect a hunt in many ways. Not only is it important to be aware of current weather conditions, it’s imperative to be prepared for future conditions as well, especially on a long hunt. Knowing what the weather will be like can easily save you from ending up in a situation you did not want to be in. Pay attention to the signs, and keep yourself informed.

Another reason weather is so crucial to a successful hunt is the fact that weather affects the behavior of animals. Deer can be seen changing the ways they interact with each other and their environment during especially cold days. Knowing what the weather will be, and more importantly, how the deer will react to that weather, is necessary if you plan on coming home with something you can be proud of.

  1. Not Expecting the Unexpected

You can research, read up and get all the experience you possibly can, and still be surprised by a deer’s behavior in the field. It is crucial to remember that deer are wild animals and will act accordingly, wild. So, do not think that just because you have experience or knowledge that you suddenly know exactly what every deer will do at any given moment. You must keep this in mind if you expect to be able to catch the game you are after.

Being able to react to unexpected situations is the mark of a truly seasoned hunter. Out in the field, things change abruptly and rapidly, and being able to keep up with these changes is what makes or breaks us. The only thing that can truly prepare you for dealing with these types of scenarios is an experience. Going out and seeing how quickly things surprise you will help you to understand how to be less surprised in the future. Being in shock or awe at something that just occurred will not help you in your hunt, so expect the unexpected and move on when it happens.

  1. Losing Track of Does

Keeping your eyes on the antlers makes sense when you’re out for a wall-hanger. But think about what those bucks are looking at… does! So, pay attention to where the does are, what they are doing and how they are moving. Follow the does and you will find the bucks. Follow a single buck and your chances of losing it increase with every turn.

Keeping your eyes on the does will help you to learn the behaviors that matter most. The does are the ones who set the tone in the wild. Where they go the bucks will follow. Watch the does while you keep an eye on the bucks at the same time. This will ensure you have all your bases covered and that you have the best chance of catching the deer that you are after.

  1. Not Using Rattles or Calls

Whitetails are extremely social creatures. They communicate with each other through a series of noises that are simple to emulate. When hunting for deer, and especially while hunting during the rut, using calls and rattles will increase your chances tenfold of catching the deer you want. So many hunters buy the gear to rattle or call, then get out in the field and somehow forget to use it as often as they should. This is a big mistake, as it means you are most likely missing out on nearby opportunities you may or may not be able to see.

Not calling or rattling means that you are relying solely on the vision to catch a deer. The deer within your line of sight might not be the one you want, or you might not be seeing any at all. Calling or rattling for a deer can encourage it to move through all kinds of obstacles to get to you. This saves you the hassle of having to go after it. Rattle and call, and bring that prize deer to you!

  1. Relying Too Heavily On Gear

Hunting gear has come a long way in recent years, so it is easy to get caught up in relying too heavily on your gear for success. This is a guaranteed failure move, as basic hunting and traveling techniques are far superior to reliance on things we have built to help us. Remember, the gear you have is simply there to assist you, not to do everything for you.

Keep your wits about you when hunting, and don’t let the gear you have to get in the way of your actual skills as a hunter. Experience, knowledge, and intuition far outweigh the advances in technology which help us along in our everyday hunting. A true hunter relies on his wits and his intuition more heavily than his gear, and it keeps him from being in trouble if something should break or malfunction on a hunt. However, once experienced, the right gear can make a good hunter great.

  1. Equipment Failure

Speaking of having gear break down on a hunt, equipment failure is one of the fastest ways to end any hunter’s trip. This is usually something you can’t really control once you are out and about, but it is usually something you can prevent.

Regular maintenance, like cleaning and calibrating, is essential to the productivity and usefulness of your hunting tools. If you are not taking care of your gear, don’t expect it to take care of you! The best hunters understand that their gear is their source for success and they treat it as such. Successful professional and hobbyist hunters take extremely good care of their equipment, never letting it sit too long without a little bit of maintenance or a quick calibration. Treat your gear with respect, and it will respect you right back!

  1. Being Too Timid or Too Aggressive

If you plan on hunting deer successfully, you need to position yourself in the best possible spot for visuals of the deer. Hunting too timidly will mean you are positioned too far back from the action, or you are too slow to react to situations as they arise. On the flip side, hunting too aggressively means you think you can go right in the middle of the herd without the whitetails catching wind of your location.

Find that sweet spot, right in the middle, and set up there. Keep your wits about you when deciding this factor, and trust your intuition, the same way the deer are trusting of their own. Any hunter worth his weight has seen enough varying situations to teach him what is appropriate and what is not, giving him a good understanding of where and when he should be setting up shop.

  1. Missing Shots

The simple unfortunate fact is that we all miss shots every occasionally. This is something that just cannot be avoided entirely. Even the best of the best hunters miss the occasional shot in the wild. We are human and make mistakes, and when aiming for a clever and aware moving target, things can get a little tricky.

One way to combat this issue is by practicing as often as possible. In the offseason and during the season itself, it is important to stay sharp with your shooting skills if you want to be successful. So, hit the range as often as you can.


So, there you have it. The most common mistakes people make when deer hunting. Take care of yourself, be open to new tactics and techniques, pay close attention to the weather, expect the unexpected, watch the does… these and more are crucial to the success of your hunt. Don’t be too timid or too aggressive. Make sure you have your gear in order before you go hunting. Keep your shooting skills sharp. But most importantly, remember to have a good time. Hunting is about getting out in the open air and relaxing for a while. So, enjoy!