Deer hunting is arguably the most common kind of hunting Americans partake in and is enjoyed by millions of people across the United States.
However, when deciding on how to hunt deer there are about as many ways to do so as there are deer hunters. When deciding what is the best way you want to bag your next deer, you need to consider a few of the following:
- State and local regulations
- The area where you will be hunting
- Personal preferences
All of these factors and more can influence not only what you use to kill a deer but how you do it. The first part of this article will address the what of how to kill a deer and the second part will touch upon the how. Please note that this is not meant to be an in-depth guide but rather a cursory overview that will weigh the pros and cons of each choice that will be left up to you to decide.
Undoubtedly, the most common method of deer hunting on this list has got to be rifle hunting. Since our nation’s founding, this has been the go-to method for countless generations of hunters and for good reasons. Rifles offer the best accuracy, the greatest options in the number of calibers, different scopes and optics, and other add-ons that can make your hunting experience unique to you. Though the bolt-action rifle has been the standard rifle of choice for years, thanks to modern technology, semi-automatic rifles are also being taken up by a growing number of people as an effective way to hunt.
Bolt-action and semi-automatic rifles can be customized with a wide range of scopes, attachments, and ammunition types that in the hands of a practiced shooter can reach out to four to five hundred yards or more. These long-distance shots are great for areas where you are in open grasslands or mountains where long-distance shooting is a must. Rifles also offer the highest degree of accuracy whereby a slightly off shot could mean a spooked deer and ruined morning or, worse, a wounded deer that will unnecessarily suffer.
Rifles, however, do have a downside. For people that live in heavily wooded areas shots beyond a hundred yards are pretty rare. Additionally, rifles are not as well-suited for people who want to stalk deer in the woods since the short ranges where you would encounter deer would nullify the long-distance benefits of a rifle. Lastly, some rifles can be unyielding and heavy which would make snapping up for quick shots difficult and inaccurate.
If you are live in an area of the US that allows all kinds of methods for deer hunting then you are one of the lucky ones. Unfortunately, many parts of the US are shotguns-only for hunting. But do not worry, because even with these regulations in place a shotgun can still make for a great and versatile deer hunting tool.
One of the best parts about shotguns is their versatility. Shotguns can fire a wide range of shells to include buckshot and slugs. It would be these two types that you would use for deer hunting. Even better, shotguns come to fit a wide range of chokes to alter the pattern of the rounds you fire thereby increasing accuracy over longer ranges.
Shotguns are also great for tight, enclosed spaces of the deep woods or deer stands. You can also get a rifled shotgun with rifled slugs nowadays making the same shotgun you would use for say duck or turkey hunting in your deer gun as well. Shotguns also tend to have a higher magazine capacity than a bolt action rifle and are much more affordable.
The main problem with shotguns, however, is their limited range and accuracy. Though most jurisdictions that mandate shotguns do so because there are a lot of people in the area, and this is good logic, that does not help for making long shots. Additionally, the small bead on the shotgun is not ideal for longer shots as well so for those people that live in open areas where a scope would be helpful but is not an option.
Using a bow to kill a deer is the one that takes the most skill and patience to master. However, of all the three options, bows provide great opportunities to send a second or third shot off at a deer without disturbing the other deer in the area. Bows are also great since if they hit in the same area as a bullet they will cause the same damage. Additionally, bows come in a wide variety of bows and the kinds of arrows you can use are nearly limitless which enables you as a hunter to build a truly personalized set up to meet your needs.
The main problems with bows are their limited range and accuracy. You will not be getting anywhere close to the distances you would be with a rifle or shotgun. Your arrow will unlikely kill a deer if you do not hit it in the center of mass which would cause unnecessary suffering.
Using a bow also takes a lot more skill than it does by using a rifle and you would have to dedicate the practice to this skill. However, the plus side to this practice is that you can easily practice using a bow in a backyard or near other people, unlike firearms where you would have to travel to a more remote location if you lived in a suburban area.
There are two main styles when it comes to hunting deer: ambush and stalking. Both have their pros and cons with both being viable options depending on your area and your personal preference. For ambush-style hunting, you would be sitting in a tree stand or on the ground waiting. You may or may not use some kind of bait or food plot to attract deer to your location.
Ambush hunting is a tried and true method of thought is put into where deer will travel, what time of year it is, and what kind of food and water sources are in the area.
If you are just picking a random spot in the woods, chances are you will not ever see a deer. Being smart and picking an area you know they will cross to get to water or a bedding area in a deep bottom part of the woods is the best place to wait in ambush. Additionally, using bait or food plots can bring more deer to an area, but science has proven time and again that deer are more often than not to eat that food at night so the chances of you seeing deer when you want to are still roughly the same.
For those people that want more adventure and activity in their hunt, stalking is the way to go. This method sounds exactly as it is and involves you using a pair of binoculars, tracks, scat, and other methods to track deer on foot. This method works best for wide, open areas, and it provides a challenge that ambush hunting lacks. However, stalking is not as beneficial for smaller, more confined areas such as the deep woods. Additionally, stalking may not fit your personality or body condition (it’s tiring) and that is fine too. It would all depend on your personal preference combined with the conditions in your local area. Good luck!