Whitetail Hunting Tips, Understand Deer Behavior

The aim of this post is to understand whitetail deer and how they function in their natural habitat. When we understand their behavior then we can plan accordingly to over come their super senses.

By now, you are exited to go hunting and we assumes all the equipment needed has been acquired that you are confident that your arrows fly exactly where you point them to go. Welcome to some good whitetail hunting tips.

Know Their Habits Relevant To Hunting Them

Deer feed mostly during the night but is most active at dusk and dawn, when temperatures fall to single digits they will be up during the day too. They like to bed down during the day near a water source. I would not bother them too much in this area as to give them an area where they can feel safe to keep them on my hunting land.

Their home range is roughly one square mile and they travel on known trails which can be followed to find a spot where multiple trails join up a good place for an ambush

They eat a large verity of plants thus on most crops too, in the fall they like to stock up on alfa alfa, soy beans and corn for high energy and proteins these can be used for deer feeders if your state allow it

The colors green, orange, and red appear to a deer as shades of gray, which explains why hunters are able to wear bright orange safety clothing but don’t let this color blindness fool you they will see the slightest movement their hearing and smell senses is very good too, that’s what keeps them alive.

Whitetails will get up in the afternoon and start moving towards their grazing fields. At dawn all should be active and during the night and at dusk they start to move again back to their bedding area.

The Rut and The Buck

In short the rut is mating season and the buck’s behavior changes a lot. Bucks can be pretty elusive until the rut when their focus is on the does and mating and their survival instinct moves on the back ground a bit

Bucks start growing antlers from two years of age and grow a new pair every year after, as they get older their antlers grow bigger. At around 6 to 8 years they are in their prime time.

Before the rut whitetail deer form same sex herds the does with their fawn in small family groups. The bucks in their own groups but will separate in the fall when their testosterone levels begin to sky-rocket and the fight and testing for dominance and mating rights begin.

From your stand make doe bleats for a while to lure them closer and then make a sound of a buck tending a doe, an aggressive buck will come charging in to challenge this rival. The same will happen when after long silences make the sound of bucks fighting.

When To Go Out

In the morning I go out to be in my hunting stand 30 minutes before sun rise under the cover of total darkness I just walk in they will hear you as long as you quiet down, it is impossible to sneak in with snow on the ground that give me 30 minutes to settle in and get comfortable for the long wait.

Some states only allow hunting from sun rise to sun set be sure of your state laws it is in any case difficult to use a compound bow’s sights in the dark.

With an afternoon hunt I want to be in my stand by 2:30 at the latest and I apply the same strategy to get in if there is any deer in that area they will see and hear you nothing you can do about it but you need enough time for them to relax again, focusing on dawn and dusk their most active times.

I don’t make a day sit for the reason that you need food and drinks and Whitetails can smell that I do take some black coffee with me but I don’t use an open cup.

Make Yourself Invisible

Whitetail deer is very wary of human odors and can smell body odor, food, a cigarette or a toothpaste breath from a long distance and great care must be taken to limit and cloak your own odors. Hunting outfitters got some nice stuff to cloak your odors

Wash your camouflage suit with sent free detergents, available from the hunting section at any hunting supply store, after every second or third trip out. Store your hunting clothes boots and all in their own air tight tote.

Shower before every trip yes two times a day if you make a separate morning and afternoon hunt and do not brush your teeth the mint smell can be very strong.

Make sure that the camouflage coloring closely resemble the color of your surroundings the pattern does not matter that much, for example it won’t help if your surroundings is winter gray leave less trees and grass maybe some snow and your camouflage is bright green and brown branches for Summer.

Limit sounds and movements to the absolute minimum while in the stand. Put your phone on silent the vibrator too and as with text and driving don’t text and hunt as your trophy buck will walk right underneath you and you won’t see him the light from the phone will reveal your presence.

When you need to walk to your stand in total darkness do not use a white light it would be like a gun shot going off revealing your position, use a red light get a head light with separate on off switches and know which one to use.

Final Say

This is some of my experiences hunting whitetail and I hope that these tips can help you to get up and close to that elusive whitetail trophy buck.

Happy hunting and many safe returns.

10 thoughts on “Whitetail Hunting Tips, Understand Deer Behavior”

  1. I am afraid I am not a fan of hunting but I totally accept that this is legal within your state. Excuse my ignorance but do the deer actually get hurt in the process? I am afraid I struggle with it morally but as a meat eating Individual I do understand some may call me a total hypocrite! You clearly know your stuff from what to wear and the behaviors and I sense a deeper compassion there for the animals. Do I have that right? 

    It’s a good debate to have and clearly if this is your thing then you are very knowledgeable. I just could not go there!

    • Thanks Phil I appreciate you here 

      I understand you 100% my mom is the same but would still enjoy the meat and biltong although she would help with processing she don’t want see the hunt.

      Hunter’s etiquette is what it’s called, the hunter should always take only a clean clear shot at the vitals to minimize the trauma. This is a topic on its own.

      Yes I do have a love and compassion for animals I can sit in the off season in my tree stand just to look at them.

  2. Wow, that is good to know about the need to cover all scents, including the detergents for clothes, coffee and toothpaste. We use to have deer come into and through our backyard when we lived in the mountains, and I use to try to “hunt” them with a camera. Boy were they alert to me. If I had known about your tips I might have been more successful. Although they tended to make a mess of some aspects of the garden, it was an amazing experience to see them and watch! I just don’t know how they could always sense me as I went for my camera… even when I was inside and just looking through the window.

    • Yes even if you want to hunt them with a camera you still going to need the same skills, I use a trail camera that sent the photos straight to my cellphone and I enjoy my photos this way I also can manage the herd, see if a buck’s antlers is not good you don’t want that to breed in.

  3. Nice read there. To be honest I have never gone hunting but a relative of mine is a regular hunter and have suggested me to go with him a few times. I think I will give it a try at least once to see what this is all about. I know that the experience can be very unique and from reading your post did make me want to try it even more.

  4. Hi, 

    This is a very interesting post on hunting whitetail. You mention you hunting stand, but is that at ground level, or is it in a tree or a type of platform that has been built?

    I never realised that their home range is only about a square mile, I somehow thought they would be roaming much further.

    • Hi thanks for the comment. 

      My stand is a platform in a tree with the sides covered so that I can sit and look over it.

      Deer would roam outside their home range but generally stick to the square mile, they will go where the food is.

  5. Great tips for us new hunters and for those of us just getting into bow hunting. I especially like the parts about trekking in early to allow your disturbance to be forgotten and the deer to relax again. My dad and uncle were both prolific bow hunters for both deer and rabbit. I have the experience on my bucket list and your site looks very user friendly.


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