Five Mistakes to Avoid When Hunting Deer

News & Tips: Five Mistakes to Avoid When Hunting Deer...

Whitetail DeerThese mistakes can be unsafe, unproductive and unenjoyable. Whether you're not wearing hunter orange or hunting without a license, you're doing it wrong. Here are the five biggest mistakes and how to correct them.

1. You're not wearing hunter orange.

Camo has its place. But hunter orange—or blaze or fluorescent orange, as it's sometimes called—is a safe option for hunters in many instances. Check your requirements according to your state and hunting activity; for example, in some states during archery season, orange is not required.

Not sure what your state's hunter orange regulations are? Check your DNR's website, take a look at this link to U.S. Hunter Orange requirements or view this handy table.

Note, as well: One study found that hunters wearing the trademark orange are seven times less likely to be shot. A six-year study of New York state hunting incidents found that 94 percent of hunters involved in accidents were not wearing hunter's orange.

Concerned that you'll be more visible to deer? Not so, and here's why: Deer's eyes lack the red cones necessary to see colors such as red and orange.

2. You're not scouting for deer sign.

The fact is the "luckiest" hunters are usually the ones who spend the most time in the woods and fields scouting for sign, learning deer movement patterns and becoming intimately familiar with the quarry's habitat.

3. Your treestand is too high.

The time-honored tradition of hunting from a treestand has obvious benefits. First, it gives you a better vantage point. Second, nearby deer are less likely to pick up your scent—and less likely to see you.

But when your stand is perched higher than 12 feet to 20 feet, experts say, there are diminishing returns: Deer are more likely to see you from a distance without looking up; you give yourself a more difficult shot; and you create safety risks for yourself. Falls from tree stands injure or kill hunters each year. One in three hunters will fall from a tree stand.

Follow these essential safety directions:

Always remember: Safety first!

Always wear a TMA-approved harness when above ground level.

Always read and follow manufacturer's directions.

Always use a rope to raise and lower your weapon and equipment.

Always have your weapon unloaded until you and your treestand are securely in place and you are ready to hunt.

Always check for loose, worn or deteriorating parts before using your stand. Use only manufacturer replacement parts.

Always try your treestand at ground level before you risk a higher position.

Always use extra caution under wet/icy or dark/low-light conditions.

Never hunt from a treestand if sick or using medications.

Never drink alcohol before or during use.

4. You're not using scents, decoys and calls.

The rut—deer mating season—is the time when scents and calls prove most effective.

Note, during the post-rut cycle, does that weren't bred come back into estrous. This time is a smaller, less active rut; however, using the same tools and tactics during peak rut can help you bag you a buck during the later post rut.

5. You're violating state hunting regulations.

Taking shortcuts won't benefit you in the long run. Each year, hunters looking for shortcuts—failing to get a license, flouting local and state regulations—face tens of thousands of dollars in fees and penalties. In some cases, they can even face jail time.

In a state such as Texas, for instance, getting caught without a $25 hunting license can set you back $500, plus restitution penalties, which can add hundreds or even thousands of dollars more to your bill.

Follow your state's regulations. Here is a handy link to find your state's posted rules and regulations to better enjoy your hunting experience.