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Newbie deer hunter book?


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4 hours ago, lee sykes said:

A button buck is not a yearling.  It was born in the spring of that year and is a fawn.    I agree that a yearling buck, which may be a spike on up, weighing over 100 lbs dressed around here, makes great eating and will yield twice the meat of a fawn.  Another plus is, no one will laugh at you behind your back when you pull into the tagging station with a real deer. 

I was going to call it a skipper but I think that's a regional term for us here in the northeast and didn't think everyone would know what we're talking about.  We call them fawns until they are out of spots, then we call them skippers.   

 

I don't worry too much what guys laugh at.  I chuckle myself thinking about them missing out on natures veal.   When a doe and two skippers comes cruising by I typically go for the skipper if I can.  I figure the doe's a proven breeder and I'd rather eat the skipper.

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It can get very real. Which is awesome.                    

A .308 Win bolt gun topped with a Leupold VX3 2.5-8 pretty much checks all the boxes.

You could get everything you need as far as advice and experience right here. Just ask away.

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40 minutes ago, MAArcher said:

I was going to call it a skipper but I think that's a regional term for us here in the northeast and didn't think everyone would know what we're talking about.  We call them fawns until they are out of spots, then we call them skippers.   

 

I don't worry too much what guys laugh at.  I chuckle myself thinking about them missing out on natures veil.   When a doe and two skippers comes cruising by I typically go for the skipper if I can.  I figure the doe's a proven breeder and I'd rather eat the skipper.

No law against it. Here we're only allowed one a year unless we do the special archery urban zone hunt so I like to hold out for a good one.

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6 hours ago, MAArcher said:

Deer hunting can definitely be a tag along sport.  Its true most guys due to competitive nature don't want to hunt close even with friends, but my little brother and I used to scout deer and figure out the best spot to kill them and we always seemed to disagree which direction the deer would actually come from, so I just let him pick first and if they came from that direction, he'd take the shot, an if they came from the other I'd take the shot.  We'd use our climbers and went up trees right next to each other.  At age 59 it would be a good idea to have someone else along to help drag.  You could try and do what I've done, that's try and befriend any of the younger guys you meet in the woods.  If you make a plan to hunt the deer together you'll be there to help each other and it can work out well, and you could sort of trade him, take him bird hunting over your dog and he gives you hand with deer hunting.  Its worked out that way for me a few times.  

 

You can read books but the basic equation for most scenarios is to find where they bed and where they feed and then set up on the downwind side of the trail between the two, closer to the bedding area for morning hunt, closer to the feeding area for an evening hunt.   Feeding and bedding areas can change as the season progresses.  Scouting right now will help you identify late season hunting spots for the upcoming season, which you'll be glad to know when the deer vanish from the yearly season hot spots you'll identify during bird hunting.  Do as much pre-season scouting as you can to stack the odds in your favor.  In season scouting just cuts down on your actual hunting time.  Don't put all your eggs in one basket, have several spots scouted out so you have options based on wind, weather and hunting pressure.  

 

Butchering is gratifying work.  If you have a place to hang it and a big table to work on you're in good shape.  There's you tube videos you can watch and pause as you work along with them step by step.  Even before you butcher your own, I'd try out a local butcher or two so that you have one you like on speed dial in case you find yourself in a position where you can't or don't want to do it yourself.  If I shoot a deer on Sunday I bring it to a butcher because I have to work the next day.  Saturday deer get butchered by me on Sunday.  

 

If you surf around forums looking for deer hunting info, don't shy away from the bow forums just because you plan on using a gun, bow hunters are often the best hunters because they have to get closer and almost all the info they have to offer is applicable to getting one with a gun too. 

 

Bird hunting can also serve double duty as scouting.  Keep your eyes open for deer sign, rubs and scrapes, place and time of day you kick them up, etc.  That's all deer hunting is really, finding out where they spend their daylight hours and then trying to be there before they show up. 

 

Don't get wrapped up on scent control nonsense.  All you need to do for scent control is before you go hunting make sure your clothes are all washed without detergent, or with scent free detergent if they were really dirty, and to brush your teeth before you go.  And try and hunt with the wind in your favor if you can.  You never hear the brush your teeth advice but the truth is that all scent particles have weight, and the lightest ones travel the furthest on the air currents, and respiration is perfect for pumping light atomized scent molecules into the air.  All the scent control spray products do is add sent onto you.  ScentLoc lost a big chunk of money for making false and unsubstantiated claims.   Scent control clothing is a marketing scam and a big waste of money.  I have spent hours within  spitting distance of deer and I've never used scent killer sprays or expensive scent containment clothing.  Doesn't mean I've never been busted, but I've definitively been busted more due to movement than getting winded.  I've even read that most of the scent that our dogs pick up on is the birds breath rather than body scent and the absence of breath scent could be in part how they know if they are hunting dead or need to point or flush a living bird.  

 

I assume if you're hunting a gun season you'll have to wear orange?  If that's the case then it doesn't make any sense to me to buy special clothing just for hunting.  I'm not sure why so many guys by expensive camo and then put on a bunch of orange over it?  I'd just where whats comfortable/temperature appropriate and thrown a cheap orange vest on over it.  

 

As for guns, do you already have something?  Virtually any center file rifle larger than the small predator hunting calibers (.17 remington, 204 ruger, etc.) is going to be fine for deer.  Oddly enough, I've killed deer every year for 20 or so years with bows, muzzleloaders and shotguns, but never a rifle so there's others more qualified to opine on caliber.  I think bullet construction is almost as important as caliber based on my experience with muzzleloaders.    

 

What are you referring to when you say "sighting"?  Are you asking about sighting in a rifle?  Ammo is expensive so I like to make sighting in a rifle as efficient as possible.  I do this by bore sighting first (the store might do this if you buy the gun and scope from them).  Then I figure out what my scope movements are at 50 yards.  For example, if your scope says each click is 1/4 inch at 100 yards, then at 50 yards it is 8 clicks to move it an inch.  I shoot at 1" grid targets that I print off from here:  http://www.mytargets.com/target102 grid square center.pdf   I also use online ballistic calculators (actually an app I have on my phone) to then calculate how much over/under my point of aim (the bullseye) my groups should be hitting at 50 yards to give me my desired point of impact at 100 yards.  With a good rest and a good job of bore sighting, you can have the gun sighted in in just a couple rounds, and then I shoot a five shot group at 100 yards to verify.  

 

Are you going to hunt from the ground or a tree?  If you're going to be mobile (probably will have to be in pressured public land) then an important piece of equipment will be something to sit on.  This seat is hard to beat: https://thermaseat.com/product/self-support-series-the-wedge/  The side straps make it somewhat self supporting so you don't have to lean up against a tree.  If I didn't have one of these, I'd splurge and get a Tenzing predator backpack/seat.   The idea is that if you can are comfortable, you'll sit longer and increase your chances of getting a deer. 

 

If you're up to lugging around a climbing tree stand, then in my opinion there isn't one that is as easy to use and as safe as the Summit Viper SD.  The sling seat makes it super comfortable and some of the best naps of my life have been swaying in a tree top with that stand.  The sit and climb is simply the best there is.  And the aluminum version is only 20 or so pounds.  I've been hunting from the ground much more in the last few years, but I've probably shot over 30 deer from that tree stand.  The only complaints I've heard about this stand comes from people who didn't figure out how to nest the top and bottom correctly and didn't position the shoulder straps correctly when they put it together.  Done properly, it should be silent to carry and not hit the back of your legs while you're walking.

Wow thanks you for your thorough post; a primer in and of itself.

 

I should add I’m interested in a minimalist approach.  No bait. No blind of any sort. I wish to approach the hunt in utter silence and minimal movement, not unlike turkey hunting. Lean against a tree ideally, if that’s plausible. Don’t know if stalking is realistic but I imagine that would be fun but maybe dangerous on public land.

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4 minutes ago, Dogwood said:

Wow thanks you for your thorough post; a primer in and of itself.

 

I should add I’m interested in a minimalist approach.  No bait. No blind of any sort. I wish to approach the hunt in utter silence and minimal movement, not unlike turkey hunting. Lean against a tree ideally, if that’s plausible. Don’t know if stalking is realistic but I imagine that would be fun but maybe dangerous on public land.

I'd recommend getting a comfortable cushion seat and depending on where your setting up, if you need more height because of low brush they make seats that strap to a tree that get you higher and are lighter than a lot of the folding camp chairs.  https://www.menards.com/main/outdoors/outdoor-recreation/hunting-equipment/tree-stands-hunting-blinds/hawk-reg-hangout-tree-seat/3000/p-1486711144053.htm  I would think standing in one place for any length of time, even leaning up against a tree, would get uncomfortable.  Certainly wouldn't be something I'd do for three hours which is the average amount of time I sit on stand.  There are some small camp chairs that are good too but they don't work good on a hillside and if I'm on the ground being still, that's where I like to be, up high looking over as much ground as I can with my back against a tree for safety.  Sometimes you only need to keep an eye an a small piece of trail but I go a little batty if my vision is limited to a little patch of ground for too long so I like to get high up.  I can't recommend enough the Thermaseat D Wedge seat enough, there's no exposed metal so you don't have to worry about it clanking on your gun like you do with the folding camp chairs, in only weighs a pound or two and its comfortable.  And the position it puts you in sitting on the ground like that you get to use your knees as a rest.  If you use a folding chair, you'll be shooting unsupported.  Full disclosure, I know the owner of thermaseat, but I'd use the product even if I didn't, no one makes anything like it that I've found.  

 

I never use blinds.  They are heavy and you can't see and hear 360.  The only time I'd consider one is to keep out of the rain.  

 

Stocking (where you see the deer and then sneak up on it) or still hunting (just moving slowing though the woods trying to spot the deer before they spot you) is fun but the conditions have to be right.  The day after rain, or good snow cover, or high wind to cover your noise are the best days for it.  No wind and dry ground make it virtually impossible to sneak up on a deer around here, the woods are all mature and the ground is covered in dry brittle twigs.  Imagine trying to walk across a floor with every square inch covered in potato chips.  A few years ago I shot my first deer from the ground (other than deer drives) where I was still hunting.  Take a step or two, look around for a couple minutes, take a few more steps and look around for a few minutes.  It takes even more patience than sitting in a tree in my opinion.  Most times I just like taking my tree top naps though.  

 

I met a guy a long time ago on business in western Mass., his office was covered in pictures of big bucks he'd killed and I asked him how he did it.  He said they were all taken with a recurve bow and most were shot in their beds.  He said that he used binoculars and Walkers Game ears (and this was almost 20 years ago) and he'd go to known bedding areas and when he got close he'd slow to only taking two steps and then glass for 5 minutes or more.  After he spotted one, he'd stock into bow range.  To me that's the ultimate and I can't imagine doing it once, but that guy did it every year.  I've tried to find him again so I could go back and talk to him but I can't remember the name of the company, just that he was the CFO at a building supply place in Western Mass.    

 

I'm excited to have you post this fall that you got your first deer.  Its fun to see people who haven't been doing it since they were a kid get into it.

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Spend more time thinking about wind and approaches to your stand than cover scents, scent blocker clothes etc.  Deer cannot see well, sometimes confuse on sound but are never mistaken by smell. I don’t believe there is anything you can buy to overcome that.  Location and wind can.   

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I don't have a lot of experience with scents, but I think I might be becoming a convert.  My brother has them on film all the time coming to mock scrapes and another friend has arrowed a number of deer while they were sniffing a scent wick.  They use Tinks 69 or Code Blue.  I also have heard stories of guys still hunting through through the woods with a scent pad on their boot and when they turn around and start hunting back the way they came, they get the buck that had picked up their trail.  I've been spraying Tinks 69 around my stand the last few years without confirmed results.  I did shoot a nice buck the year before last and he was sniffing right where I was sitting the day before, but I don't know if was just a coincidence or not.  

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Explain in as much detail as possible where you will be hunting. Public land, private land, types of woods, fields, etc.,etc.

 

In Maine deer get up, yawn, stretch, and browse all day. This isn't an agricultural state so determining actual bedding and feeding areas and hunting accordingly isn't always an option...like it is on other states.

 

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You’re getting lots of good advice on the big stuff, but just starting out, you’ll need to buy a lot of little stuff, and that could get expensive.  I’ll share some of what I’ve been happy with both cost and performance.  

 

The Remington 3 knife set is great for processing deer, that and a good fillet knife is all I use.  With the pinkie holes you can work a deer with both hands and never put the knife down. They hold an edge but still sharpen well with a basic pull through sharpener.  I see they are $38 on Amazon now, I paid $20 at Walmart maybe 10 years ago.  Shop around.  Mine are plain stainless, but the orange looks like a nice feature if using in the field.  The set will also do for field dressing, but you’ll carry more weight than you need for that.  When I started, I thought that since deer are relatively big animals, you need a big knife to field dress.  In reality, all you need is any very sharp 3-4 inch drop point.  A folder is OK and compact, as long as you clean it well when done.  If you want to get fancy you can get something with a gut blade, like an Outdoor Edge Swingblade. Some people carry a bone saw for the pelvis, but I leave it intact, cutting around the arsehole and pulling the large intestine out through the interior. Outdoor Edge has some nice videos on field dressing and processing.  They may even be on YouTube.  

 

You’ll need a good spotlight for finding wounded deer after dark, and you can’t beat the Rayovac below.  Again, I paid $20 at Walmart years ago, but see they are about $50 on Amazon now.  Shop around.  They are super bright, in fact I usually blood trail on low setting, and the high setting will reach hundreds of yards across an open field.  The original 4 C batteries lasted 8 seasons and tracked dozens of deer before I decided to change them for fear of their age, but is was bright as ever with 8 year old batteries.  There is no bulb to break and I’ve dropped it out of a treestand, more than once. The light color is natural and much better for following blood than the bright blue of many strong lights.  None of the “blood trailing” lights I’ve tried work better.  You’ll want to wear a cap light for walking in before dawn, and field dressing after dark, as both hands will be busy. I like the camo hats with them built in.

 

You’ll need a dependable backpack to carry your stuff in.  I bought a camo one at, where else, Walmart for $15 and have used it for 10 years.

 

Good luck and happy hunting.  

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Since you are a grouse hunter (I think) you probably already have a good idea of some decent spots for deer.  Get in there and set up on a rise overlooking some of the areas you have identified, wear orange, take lunch (mines usually gone by 9am), and wait.  When you are tired of waiting slowly and quietly walk along the ridge.  Use your eyes and ears more than you think you can.  And have fun. 

What Ive found is that no amount of reading will make sense until you have experienced some of it. 

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5 hours ago, Brad Eden said:

Explain in as much detail as possible where you will be hunting. Public land, private land, types of woods, fields, etc.,etc.

 

In Maine deer get up, yawn, stretch, and browse all day. This isn't an agricultural state so determining actual bedding and feeding areas and hunting accordingly isn't always an option...like it is on other states.

 

Good point.  The deer I hunt are nocturnal and sleep in someones back yard most of the day with very little daylight movement.  Like a lot of things, location is paramount.  Tactics can differ between hunting a 50 acre woodlot and thousands of acres of northern Maine woods.   

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I've missed many opportunities on shooting at a grouse or Woodcock because I wasn't paying attention in general or to the dog, because I was looking at rubs and scrapes and deer trails and any surrounding trees suitable for a treestand.

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5 minutes ago, Brad Eden said:

I've missed many opportunities on shooting at a grouse or Woodcock because I wasn't paying attention in general or to the dog, because I was looking at rubs and scrapes and deer trails and any surrounding trees suitable for a treestand.

 

Never fails.  No matter what I AM hunting my mind wanders to what I COULD be hunting. 

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Whatever books you read, pay particular attention to what to do after the shot: how to read a blood trail and when and how long to wait before attempting to find a deer that you shot but didn't see go down. Exercise patience, don't bump and loose a wounded deer because you don't want to be late for bed.  In the excitement of the moment, hurrying things is tempting, but you owe the deer, and yourself, better than that. 

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2 hours ago, topdog1961 said:

Whatever books you read, pay particular attention to what to do after the shot: how to read a blood trail and when and how long to wait before attempting to find a deer that you shot but didn't see go down. Exercise patience, don't bump and loose a wounded deer because you don't want to be late for bed.  In the excitement of the moment, hurrying things is tempting, but you owe the deer, and yourself, better than that. 

 

Just to play devils advocate, John Jeanneney in his book "Tracking Dogs for Finding Wounded Deer", states that "letting them bed down to die" isn't normally the best policy.  He says that deer have an incredible ability to clot and heal and it often makes more sense to push them to bleed out rather than letting them rest and recover (or stop leaking and leave no trail when they are next bumped but die of the wound later).  If I recall I think one of the only times he says to let them lay is if you're worried about the deer going to some place you can't access like posted property.  ......Thinking on it now I'll have to go back and look.... I can't remember if he says to let a gut shot deer bed or not as an exception.  He also might have said something about evaluating your own tracking ability too, and if you have access to a tracking dog; the idea being that if you can't track a hard trail yourself or have a dog that can, then let it lay so that it can recover or die rather than push it to death but not have the skill or dog to follow the trail to the end.   Pushing them to increase chance of recovery might be contrary to the traditional school of thought, but that guy has more deer recovery experience than most of us would experience in several life times.  NY state paid him to conduct studies using dogs to recover deer and bear and his work was used to implement their leashed dog tracking laws.

 

In my area, letting a deer sit over night is a very low probability proposition, we have a wicked coyote problem, these were both full grown 100lb +/- does shot at last light and found just about fully consumed early the next morning:

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From now on I'll be pushing my deer as far as I can because there is no next day recovery option.

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Pushing makes sense if you have a dog to track it. But in my experience whether and how far to track comes from just that, experience. With that comes the ability to interpret the color and volume of blood flow, and other signs and evidence including if and where you saw a hit, to make the best judgment as to when to follow a wounded deer. They do have a great ability to clot and stop external bleeding. Typically they will run a ways while leaving a blood trail and if mortally wounded, seek heavy cover to lay down in. Bump them to soon and off they go leaving no blood trail and you're screwed. You'll find what's left of them dead on another hunt days later. But given time to lay there and bleed out internally, the blood will take you to them. I'm not talking risking overnight due to yotes and heat, but a few hours in some case when flow is light, or dark like a liver wound. You have to weigh all the risk factors. The best preventative is good shot placement and ethical shots, but unfortunately chit happens even to those with the best intentions and ability. 

 

Its also been my experience that new deer hunters, including myself back when, err on the side of pushing wounded deer to hard. 

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