Deer Season is in full swing across the country. It is an exciting time to be in the woods. You never know what new bucks may appear, or which of your hit-lister-bucks may disappear. It is perfectly common for deer to travel several miles during the rut, so it’s good to continuously scout your hunting area and keep tabs on trail cams you may have installed.
So far, this season has been a tough one for me. I had my target buck come in after dark during bow season. The last time I saw him was a month ago… that is until the other night when he showed up on someone else trail camera six miles away!
Although no one can control what animals do, we can control how we prepare and how we react in the moment. If you can avoid making these three common hunting mistakes you will be well on your way to enjoying a successful hunting season.
Mistake #1: not sighting in your gun with the ammunition you plan to hunt with
I typically try to shoot all summer long. However, I always make it a point to shoot a few days before the season opens with the exact ammo and equipment that I will use while in the woods. Nothing gives me more confidence then knowing those last shots are hitting their target before heading to the woods. For the past several years I have been using Deer Season XP which is made specifically for deer hunting. It has a large diameter polymer tip for rapid expansion and faster knockdown. This has been deadly for me over the past five years, so I like to stick with what is working.
Mistake #2: focusing on taking the shot, rather than focusing on MAKING THE SHOT
Being in the right place at the right time is essential to getting a shot on a deer. If you can’t MAKE the shot, being in the right place at the right time doesn’t matter.
I have been guilty of this. A buck walks in and the conditions are perfect. He’s not far, but instead of taking my time I rush the entire shot and the results are not as I desired.
The truth is, most of us have been there. We take a shot on a nice buck and get down from the tree to track him. We either find no blood, or we find blood and are able to track him for a bit until the blood-trail disappears and there is no deer to be found. In order to avoid this from happening, I like to remind myself often to breathe and slow down as I frequently have more time than I think.
Mistake #3: sticking to the same tactics day in and day out
Throughout the course of the season, deer switch up their tactics. So, why wouldn’t we? When I was younger all of my hunting setups always looked the same; I’d have a ladder stand on the edge of a field. This was my comfort zone. I always stuck to it until recent years. I’ve now made it a point to step out of my comfort zone and explore new areas. This has definitely paid off with the percentage of deer I harvest.
Today, I typically hunt from the ground (without a blind) or from a climber stand. I like being able to walk into the woods and setup where I see deer sign. Being mobile and exploring new areas has taught me a lot about the deer and have made me grow as a hunter.
There are many more hunting mistakes that are often made, but working to avoid these three is a great starting point. While it is easy to identify these mistakes (and others) it is sometimes hard to get out of the “rut” (pun intended) of hunting the same type of areas or to find the time to sight in your gun with the appropriate ammunition. But hear me loud & clear: it is your responsibility and duty as a hunter to be safe and know where you are shooting.
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