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  • Writer's pictureChristie Bolster

What Are The 10 Biggest Deer Hunting Mistakes To Avoid?

Deer hunting is a learning experience, and there are plenty of mistakes to be made. Follow my tips to eliminate errors from your routine and become a more successful hunter.

Deer hunting, while simple on the surface, is an incredibly complex sport. There are a lot of things that you need to know in order to be successful. Being a good shot is just a portion of it.

Eliminating common mistakes should be one of your main goals whether you are a beginner or an experienced veteran. If you can simply recognize and stop making these ten errors, you will instantly become a better hunter.

It’s not nearly as difficult as it sounds. Let’s take a quick look at the most common deer hunting mistakes that you might be making, and show you how to correct them without a ton of effort.

Never Practicing… or Practicing the Wrong Way

Hunting deer with a rifle is tough to do. It requires a lot of accuracy and precision, and the only real way to build that muscle memory is to just do it over and over.

Many hunters go out once in a blue moon and expect their skills to build off of that minimal practice schedule. Sadly, it doesn’t really work like that. If you want to get better, you need to actually get out into the field and practice all of your skills as often as possible.

Make a point of getting out and hunting to make sure that you don’t get rusty. And no, practicing your shot ONLY at the shooting range isn't enough. You need to practice correctly, and that means actually going out and hunting.

Using the Same Tactics Over and Over

As we’ve said, you can’t just think of your aim when hunting deer. They are smart animals, and they will start to catch on if you are routinely hunting in the same spot with the same tactics.

If you want to have more success, you need to be one step ahead of the animal that you’re hunting. If you regularly hunt on one side of a plot of land, try switching things up and going to the other side. The deer aren’t going to be expecting you to be there, so you might have a much easier time actually lining up a shot and taking home a deer.

This will also help you become a more well-rounded hunter in general by exposing you to new terrain and strategies.

Guessing the Range You’re At

Being able to properly aim your weapon at a target that is near you is one thing; being able to properly aim at a target that is far away is another game entirely.

As a hunter, you should be able to adjust your shot depending on the range you’re at from your target. But many people make the mistake of thinking that they can accurately gauge this distance with their eyes. While it can be done, this often results in losing a shot.

Rather than just relying on your guesswork, invest in a rangefinder to make it a much more certain game. Rangefinders aren’t too expensive and they make a massive difference. They are definitely worth it.

Improper Layering During Winter

This is a general tip that should be followed by any enthusiast of the outdoors, but it’s especially true for hunters. If you are going to be out and about during the winter, you are going to want to make sure that your layering system can efficiently keep you warm without making you sweaty.

You generally need to switch between movement and patience at a dime when out hunting, and that means you can start sweating instantly. Sweat can turn a winter day from chilly fun to frigid pain.

Dress in multiple layers so that you can easily adjust, and try to stick to synthetic materials rather than cotton. Synthetics and wool wick sweat far better than cotton which just retains moisture.

Not Staying on Top of Your Scent Control

Scent control is one major portion of hunting that tends to be overlooked. If an animal can smell you, it’s unlikely that they are just going to waltz out in front of your rifle. And if there is any scent on you whatsoever, they are going to smell you.

To deal with this, you certainly need to eliminate your scent before you leave your house. But there’s more to it than that. You also need to make sure that you are staying on top of your scent control while out in the field.

Bringing along a product from a company like Code Blue can help you make sure that your scent doesn’t give away your location.

Rushed Shot Placement

We all know that feeling when adrenaline fills your body as soon as a beautiful animal is in your range. It’s a really exciting moment, and that excitement has caused many hunters to fire before they got a chance to line up their shot well.

This means that you will hit the animal, injure it, and it will get away. You’ll also have to deal with the fact that you’ve caused pain when a quick, painless kill was possible.

To deal with this, make a concerted effort to not fire immediately. You might miss your chance a few times, but those are animals you probably wouldn’t have gotten anyway due to a rushed shot.

Following the Crowds

It’s safe to say that many hunters enjoy solitude. So why is it that most of us tend to stick to the tried-and-true plots of land that everyone else goes to? That’s because we don’t want to risk going somewhere small and devoid of animals.

But it’s those smaller and more obscure plots of land that tend to yield the most successful hunting days. If you follow the crowd, you are going to be competing for spots and the animals are likely going to have an abundance of caution.

Going somewhere different means that you will have the entire place to yourself, and the deer won’t have any idea that you’re there. Ditch those popular spots and go somewhere new!

Focusing on the End Result

Hunting is a very results-based sport. If you hear that your friend got a trophy buck the other day, you’re going to feel a lot of pressure to compete with them and get one of your own the next time that you go hunting. But this kind of approach ignores the actual point of hunting.

We’re talking about the fun of it!

Lots of hunters become so focused on actually scoring a nice deer that they completely forget that the sport is supposed to be a good time. The best hunter is the one who is having the most fun, so try to balance your ambitions with your actual love of the sport. Even if you leave the field empty handed, you’ll be much happier.

Relying on Trail Cameras Too Much

Trail cameras are an absolutely amazing invention that have allowed hunters to keep an eye on animal populations without being there 24/7. We love them, but we also know that checking them all the time can completely negate the intended effect.

Think of it this way: a trail camera is supposed to give you some clues to help you successfully hunt. If you constantly check on them, animals are going to catch on and become wary. All of the sudden, the information provided to you by the trail camera is completely useless!

Try to check your trail cams only a few times a month… or, if possible, even less. You’ll find that your success rate goes way up when you limit your time at your trail cams.

Not Rattling Loudly Enough

Rattling is a hunting technique that, like checking trail cameras, can be incredibly useful when done correctly. If you don’t do it correctly, you will see pretty much no benefit.

Many hunters bring antlers along with them and perform a rattle to bring bucks closer, yet they do it very quietly. When bucks fight, it’s very loud. Louder than you might think, actually. That means you need to try to match that intensity to bring in bucks when rattling.

So don’t be shy! Do it as loud as you possibly can. The odds of a buck hearing you and coming close when you do this are much higher than if you do it quietly.


By the way, if you're in the market for a new/used shotgun, there are some things you can't go wrong with. Check out our review of the classic Browning Citori 725.


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