Mar 11, 2001
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There are special tips to the art of deer hunting.

By Tim Renken, St. Louis Post Dispatch.


People often bag deer via sheer luck. Hunters who are consistently successful, though, do the little things. Here are some tips that might help you bring home venison this season.

* In your hunting, move around as little as possible. It's hard to sit on a stand all day, but stand hunters kill more deer than hunters who move around a lot.

A stand doesn't have to be anything fancy or necessarily up in a tree. It's just a place from which to watch likely hangouts or travel routes. Get comfortable at a good spot and stay put.

* Use binoculars to check out distant movement and scrutinize thickets. Don't use your telescopic sight for that purpose. You'll be pointing your gun at things you shouldn't.

Deer spend lots of time during the day lollygagging around in or near fence rows and thickets. Look for the flick of a tail, the movement of feet or the turning of a head. Get down low so you can see beneath foliage.

* Pay attention to the wind all of the time. Deer avoid people most of the time just by slipping away when they see or scent someone coming their way. They won't use a trail or a daytime hangout if you fill it with your scent. Usually, you'll never see them, never know they were there.

So-called scent masks are of dubious value. The only sure way to keep a deer from scenting you is to keep your scent from reaching the deer.

* Scout before and during the hunt. Look for rubs, scrapes, feces, beds, tracks, trails and food. If you are buck hunting, be aware that most scrapes aren't visited regularly and some are never re-visited. Ditto rubs.

A fresh scrape stinks of musk and urine. A primary scrape will have overhanging shrubery for the buck to leave scent on.

* Take advantage of any disturbances. If a combine is working in a nearby bean field, watch for deer avoiding the machine. If another hunter walks through, watch for deer moving ahead of or behind that hunter. Such disturbances won't cause deer to leave their territory. If a drive is in progress nearby, sit tight and watch for deer being stirred around.

* Never risk a shot at a deer moving faster than a slow walk. Even when spooked, deer usually run only a short way, then stop to look back. If the deer keeps going, assume it won't go far. Try to figure out its destination and then plan your strategy.

* Avoid shooting through heavy cover. Even a big bullet can be deflected by a branch. Wait for the proverbial clear shot.

* Don't shoot at a deer, shoot at a place on the deer, preferably the head, neck or lower chest. Never shoot at a deer moving directly away from you; never take a shot at a haunch. Never just bang away at out-of-range deer. Often, if you'll wait for the ideal shot, you'll get it.

* Whenever possible, shoot from some kind of rest such as your knees, log, tree or tree-stand rail. At the very least, lean against something as you shoot.

* Keep hunting. Deer don't go home when the weather is bad. If you always believe you are just about to see a deer, you will be ready when you do.
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