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New Hunter: How do I Actually Get a Deer?

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New Hunter: How do I Actually Get a Deer?

Old 09-09-2019, 10:35 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2019
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Default New Hunter: How do I Actually Get a Deer?

I am a 23yo male living in SW Michigan. I am a college student and live with my parents on a ~20 acre mostly wooded property. I have done plenty of squirrel/chipmunk hunting with an airgun, but never successfully got a deer. I did my hunter education course back when I was in Colorado, and it went over things like the local laws, safety, and where to shoot the deer. I know the really basic things like this, but not any of the techniques to actually get a deer. Nobody in my family hunts, so I have to turn here to figure out what to do.

Where I live currently, I have to use a shotgun or large caliber rifle. I have a Remington 870 shotgun, so this is what I will use. When I practiced with it last year, I was able to consistently hit a piece of standard printer paper with slugs from 30 yards. The area I live is heavily wooded, so I can't imagine I would be taking a shot from much farther than that. I will still practice more this year. I just can't do too much because I'm a pretty thin guy and my shoulder gets bruised after several shots.

Last year when I tried deer hunting, I had no idea what I was doing, so I just walked around the woods looking for deer. By the time I spotted any, they were already aware of my presence and ran off. In my property, there is really thick underbrush with lots of thorns, so it's really slow to move around and almost impossible to do so silently. I tried to change my tactics to hide in some bushes near a clearing where I saw them hanging out once. I dumped some leftover veggies in the clearing and just waited there silently. The deer didn't seem interested in the leftovers, because when I came back a day later they hadn't been touched. The closest I got to them was when I was hiding in the bushes, I shifted my position slightly, and several jumped out from behind me, ran through the clearing and got away. I wasn't able to take a shot because they were running. I think if they were in front of me rather than behind, I would have been able to get one.

This year I want to build a blind somewhere along one of the paths they take. I don't want to buy anything, so I'm thinking to just pile up some branches so that I'm mostly hidden from the deer trail. Does this sound like a good idea? If I do this, how far should my blind be from the trail? Is there any kind of leftovers that might attract deer that I can put in front of the blind? Any other tips on what tactics I can use?
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Old 09-09-2019, 11:00 AM
Nontypical Buck
Join Date: Nov 2014
Posts: 2,565

well welcome to the site
first off, there is NO sure way to kill a deer, there wild animals and can move and have there own set of survival skills and tools to get away from those trying to hunt/hunt/kill them

so you need to use the skills you have to try and out with there, thus why its called hunting and NOT shooting!

NEXT< before you go and place any food, leftovers or BAIT as its called by the law, you need to make sure its legal
or you can be breaking some laws and asking to get a fine and loose your hunting licence as well!

every yr you HAVE to buy a lic and have proper tags per animal/season you wish to hunt in also
so, making your your legal is a BIG part of hunting

as for your shotgun, a rem 870, they can be drilled and tapped to add a scope, to help you be even more accurate
shooting 2-3/4 inch slugs over 3 inch one's will also, help tame some of the recoil on your shoulder too!
make sure when your shooting slugs you NOT shooting them thru a choke any tighter than a modified choke(the type of choke that screws into the barrel, your gun should have removable one's if of modern era, and if NOT, on the barrel it should state the FIXED Choke size it in, too tight a choke can be dangerous when shooting slugs!
they actually sell, SCREW in chokes that are rifled to help make slugs fly better out of smooth bore shotguns!
they also sell rifled barrels that fit your gun and are very easy to add to make it a much more accurate gun(but yes there is costs to this, not a LOT but some)

when hunting deer, the name of the game in most places is finding where they sleep/eat and drink
and then setting up sopme where in between them, waiting ,
be it waiting between a bedding area(what its called where they sleep) and a food source, this is maybe the most common method for evening hunts and morning hunts
evenings your waiting for them to pass GOING to food, and mornings, your waiting for them to go from food to bedding area!

some folks like to STALK There game, but this is a lot harder and takes slow goings and some skills to be more alert than the game your after
as spotting them before they spot you can very VERY hard as they tend to have better ears, nose and eyes than most humans!
yes some folks get good at this form of hunting, but many don't
and tend to rely on luck, that a deer will many times STOP and look back after running a short distance and allowing for a shot!

but by far IMO< sitting between food and bedding area's are the most common ways of whitetail deer hunters
be it setting up a treestand , or a deer blind, be it man made commercial like type, or made of things in the area
being where DEER want to be,m before they get there is the name of the game

ADDING< BAIT, again when legal can help lure deer into places and allow for you to get a deer, BUT many times adding bait, teaches deer that food is there at NIGHT also, and most bait sites in any place that has hunting pressure, many deer will ONLY use at night

spending time in the woods is a great way to learn how to find deer, where they are, where they go, what they eat, where they sleep
following deer SIGN< be it tracks, droppings, rubs on tree's scrapes, main worn in ground trails and so on

hunting is a SKILL< the more time you spend in the outdoors paying attention to things, the more time you TRY to learn things, the better you can get
there is no magic pill or words, that make up for experience and time learning
I grew up ina NON hunting family, and am 100% self taught, I read books and magazines and all I could to learn, but to be honest, I learned more from being outdoors and TRYING, failing and trying again and again, to get good at it
I have hunted all over the place since my early yrs and been very successful, but I spent the time learning, doing and again, even made a lot of mistakes that taught me a lot in the process

keep in mind only about 30% of deer hunters GET a deer, forums and watching TV shows will make you think other wise, but its HUNTING< and NOT shooting!
the only limit in learning how to be a good hunter is YOU< and how much effort you wish to put into it!
more effort,m better you will get!
its how life works
no short cuts really get you much!
enjoy your time out too, don't feel bad if you DON"T get a deer, it should be about fun, not just kills!
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Old 09-09-2019, 11:30 AM
Nontypical Buck
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Marriottsville, Maryland
Posts: 1,058

"You have to be in the right place and the right time."

20 acres??? It might be more advantageous for you to invite a few more hunters to hunt the place besides yourself; in order to help move the deer around more.

In order for you to stop from getting a bruised shoulder:Try to keep the shotgun buttstock deep in your shoulder pocket. Mount the shotgun by bringing it to your head, and not by bringing your head to the shotgun. Also mount the shotgun...by bringing the buttstock slightly forward of the shoulder pocket and then bring the shotgun straight back, along with a good cheek weld and your shooting eye aligned with the sights. Wear a heavy hunting shirt, or a recoil shoulder pad when practicing with your shotgun. Sometimes I stuff rags in front of my shoulder pocket, under my shirt.

I don't like to stand hunt in the bottom lands too much...because of the tendency for the wind to swirl around in different directions.

If you pick-up a flinch...work it out by going back to a 22 rimfire.

Last edited by Erno86; 09-09-2019 at 11:56 AM. Reason: added a sentence
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Old 09-09-2019, 11:36 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: fla
Posts: 1,021

all good basic advice (above)
Id add that Ive taught at least a couple guys to hunt big game
Id suggest learning to shoot skeet with that shot gun,and having a barrel designed for slug use with iron sights,
practice, and scout the area take notes and find the best vantage points, tree stand compatible trees, game trails, water sources


unless you see deer frequently, already its unlikely your going to be in the correct location at the correct time very often.
as previously stated read all you can, watch videos and get the local hunt regs and study them carefully,
Id suggest you find and learn to use a quality climbing tree stand
as properly used the increased height advantage allows you to see and control game passing through,
6-10 times the area you can see at normal eye level from the ground.
learn all you can, learn what deer eat, and keep the wind in your face,

read the links, and yeah you have to register (its free and easy to do)


Last edited by hardcastonly; 09-09-2019 at 11:41 AM.
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Old 09-09-2019, 11:49 AM
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Location: Trumbull County, Ohio
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Find A trail that they are using, sit close enough for A shot, and hold really still. The deer will show up.

Then you and your 870 do the rest.

Don't over complicate it, don't put unneeded pressure on yourself. Look for the first legal deer that presents you a good shot, and take it.

20 acres isn't big. One walk through there could run everything out. Because of that I'd be careful where you set up and how you get to your spot.

Good luck. Let us know when you get one!

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Old 09-09-2019, 12:48 PM
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Location: south eastern PA
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This above is good advice. Scout your property, you should know it pretty well, find deer trails and especially where more than one trail comes together and turn in to one trail. I would not put another hunter on 20 acres, more people are likely to run the deer onto other properties than help you. Learn the areas that the deer are using and not what they are eating and hat time of the year they are eating it. Once you learn that then either puck a spot to put up a tree stand or put up a blind and do it about a month before you will hunt so the deer get used to it. If you are recoil shy you may want to think about getting a rifle, .270 caliber or .243, neither has much recoil and they are plenty of medicine for deer. Shoot them about half way up the body in the crease behind the shoulder. Lastly, hunting is a learning process, it is more than walking around and hoping you can shoot a deer, you need to learn their habits and then hunt accordingly and use their habits against them and most of all, don't be disappointed if you fail in the beginning. You actually learn more from the failures than you do from the successes. Of course it would help if you joined a sportsman's club where you have access to lots of experience and may find a mentor, which would be a best case scenario. Good luck and continue to persevere as perseverance has its rewards.

Last edited by Oldtimr; 09-09-2019 at 03:36 PM.
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Old 09-09-2019, 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Oldtimr View Post
and most of all, don't be disappointed if you fail in the beginning. You actually learn more from the failures than you do from the successes.
Ain't that the truth!
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Old 09-10-2019, 05:27 AM
Fork Horn
Join Date: Oct 2018
Posts: 177

Find a Mentor !!! will help you immensely
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Old 09-10-2019, 09:00 AM
Nontypical Buck
Join Date: Nov 2014
Posts: 2,565

yes a mentor is a great idea, many times again if you contact your state game dept they can even help you find one, as some hunter ed teachers know of folks that do it, and or themselves

just remember if you find a mentor, keep an open mind, not all hunters hunt the same way, and how they like to hunt, might NOT be your way of wanting too, just be polite and speak up, as most experienced hunters know a LOT of ways to hunt, and at some point just find they prefer ONE way over another, but most can sure still help you learn how to do it what ever way you want to!
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Old 09-10-2019, 09:58 AM
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Location: Northern California
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Welcome to deer hunting. You are already off to a great start. You live on 20 wooded acres that has a deer population with food, cover and possibly even bedding areas. You don't need to feed them (illegal in most states) and they obviously have some source of water. Now you just have to figure out how to hunt it successfully.

Read through all of the above advice and consider what would work for you on your property. Since you don't want to spend any money, you'll have to develop your hunting methods accordingly. If you haven't already, learn your property and the surrounding areas (neighbors' property). Figure out where you can shoot safely and where you can't. Are the deer bedding on your property or a neighbor's? They obviously can get food on your property but do they also get food on the neighbors' properties? Water? Bedding? Do they neighbors have houses, barn, sheds or other buildings on your shared property lines? Are there any trails between your property and the adjoining neighbors property? Is the neighbors property also brushy with acorns or do they have more clearings, etc.? Learning more about the terrain on your property and the neighbors will allow you to figure out better locations to hang a tree-stand or even set up a ground blind.

If you do end up building a tree-stand, you are shooting at a downward angle that is less likely to have a slug travel onto a neighbor's property. If you search this website, Hardcastonly wrote some very informative topics about beginning deer hunting, specifically in brushy areas with a tree-stand. His topics were about hunting thick brush in Florida but could obviously have some application on your property.

You mentioned a clearing where you saw deer "once." That's a good start. Do you have trails or shooting lanes you can observe? Will your parents let you clear some brush if needed? Will they let you build wooden tree-stands that are attached to the trees? You said it's hard to walk around without making a lot of noise due to acorns, etc. If you're sitting in a tree-stand and not fidgeting or making noise, you have a better chance of seeing deer in clearings, shooting lanes, etc. Since you live on the property, that gives you a lot of opportunity to simply find different vantage points and observe the deer. The best times are early morning and in the evening around dusk. If you own a pair of binoculars, use them to slowly scan through as much of the property as you can see from different vantage points. If you don't already own a pair of binoculars and still don't want to spend a lot of money, consider looking at a thrift store for an older pair. A buddy of mine bought an old porro prism pair of binos at a thrift store for $5. They are going to compete with binos costing lots more $ but they worked and you could see a lot more through the brush, etc. with them than without. Look for maybe a 7x or 8x set with at least 40-50mm objective and you should get some use out of them.

If you can, just sit out in your yard where you can see a lot of the property during the evening and watch patiently. I once turned an old and rotting piece of plywood on its side at a buddy's ranch and sat behind it in a chair so it blocked a lot of my movements from sight of the critters. A coyote showed up about 80 yards from me by a wild fig tree and stood staring at his kenneled dogs. That was a fun shot. I don't know that I would get a similar shot opportunity again but it was fun and, as always, I learned from it.

Now down the road, if you decide to spend a little money, consider getting a game camera or 2 so that you can get an idea of what deer show up on your property, where and when. Instead of building a wooden tree-stand attached to a tree, consider buying either a climbing tree-stand or even a ladder tree-stand (both can be moved around). A fair warning though. If you find most of the deer come out in the evening just after dusk, it can get a little expensive trying to buy binoculars that see better in low light. You don't have to spend money to deer hunt but most of us end up spending a lot of money, often just trying something out to see how well it does work or if it works better than what we already have. Enjoy the hunting and the learning curve.
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