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 Home > Shop > How To/Pro-Tips
How To/Pro-Tips

Crossing Points

One thing you should note during pre-season scouting is where deer cross fences, gullies, streams and other obstacles. Deer are athletic and graceful but even they occasionally misjudge and leave a tuft of hair on a fence or fence post. This gives away a preferred crossing.
Large gullies and streams with steep banks will have preferred crossing points that are very obvious all year round. Often deer, particularly bucks, will use a gully or stream as part of the trail if the banks are tall enough to provide good cover.
Steep slopes also often show well-defined deer trails and these trails are chosen not just for ease of travel but for cover considerations, using the steepness of the slope itself as cover. Usually, they prefer the cover to be on the uphill side and they keep watchful eyes on the downslope.
Deer movement areas and patterns are chosen on the basis of both comfort and cover but as the hunting season progresses, cover becomes the more crucial consideration.

Get A Map

Getting a map of the hunting area is a basic step for elk hunters on their own and for the occupants of a drop camp. However, even a guided hunter needs a map to enhance success and safety.
On many guided operations, the standard deal is two hunters per guide. In this situation, the guide will alternately put one hunter on stand and ride with the other. Sometimes the lone hunter will be asked to meet somewhere else later, or he may see a better opportunity in another place. In a worst case scenario, your guide might be incapacitated and you have to get out alone.
Well before your hunt, ask your outfitter for the map quadrangle names that cover his hunting territory. You can order these maps from the U.S. Geological Service by calling 1-888-ASK-USGS or online at www.usgs.gov.
These maps, along with knowing how to read them, a compass and perhaps a GPS unit can be worth their weight in gold if you happen to need them.

Pellet Percentages

When steel shot, which is actually made of soft iron, was required for waterfowling, hunters quickly learned that the harder, and often rounder, steel pellets patterned more tightly than lead. Also, when fired through some extra-tight full chokes the steel would slightly bulge the gun barrel. Never shoot steel in a "turkey-tight" choke.
Extremely tight patterns are hard to hit with and too-tight chokes can "blow" the pattern, scattering pellets wildly. Most hunters went to a modified choke and began to hit more birds. This also solved the barrel bulging problem. Some goose hunters shooting very big pellets found they might need an improved cylinder for a good pattern.

Now we have alternative materials for non-toxic pellets, some of which are very much like lead. Federal's tungsten-iron is close to steel and chokes appropriate for steel shot work fine. However, Bismuth, Federal's tungsten-polymer and the new matrix pellets are soft, like lead. They won't damage older barrels and may require a return to full choke for long-range results.

Know Where Deer Have Dinner

Food is important to deer all season long. During the early archery seasons, most deer patterns are food-based. They tend to focus on late summer and early fall succulent plants and soft mast such as fruits and berries. Later, they will switch to hard mast such as acorns and you should be not only aware of this transition but where the preferred acorns will be found.

During the rut, the bucks will not be that interested in food but will be very interested in does. Does are very interested in food because their nutrition is key to the estrous cycle and bearing fawns. The bucks will be hanging around doe feeding areas.

After the rut and into late season all deer will be feeding heavily. The bucks, after the rigors of the rut, will be trying to regain good condition to go into the winter. At this time both remaining natural foods and agricultural crops, including winter cover crops, are highly preferred.

Rainy Day Deer Hunting

Rain can be good or bad for deer hunting. It depends on the amount. Cloudy, drizzly days are excellent for hunting. The clouds prolong the period of low light that deer prefer. They are then apt to move more during the day. The moist air is excellent for scenting so the deer feel more secure. Such periods are seldom windy, so deer are also comfortable with their ability to hear well.

For the hunter, damp days offer quiet movement on wet leaves and the lack of wind makes it less likely his scent will be carried to the deer. However, any scent trail the hunter leaves will remain strong for a longer period. Be careful where you walk and what you touch.

Heavy rain depresses deer movement. They seek whatever shelter they can find, hole up and wait it out. Right after the heavy rain, deer are usually very active and hunters should be ready to hit the woods when the rain lets up.





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