Top 10 Ways To Not Fill Your Deer Tag

You’ve read about all the “secret techniques” needed to kill a good buck, but rarely do you read about mistakes guaranteed to screw up even the best stand.
Top 10 Ways To Not Fill Your Deer Tag

10. "I’m bored, so maybe I’ll 'still hunt' a while."

Nothing will screw up a prime area for standers than recklessly ‘still-hunting’ when you’re bored, tired, or cold. Still-hunting does work, but it demands all your attention and abilities, and besides, it is usually best when the deer are up and moving — also the best time to be on stand. Pick a method and stick with it, but don’t go sneaking around the woods when you know others are on stand nearby.

9. Don’t Scout

Simply stated, you can’t shoot a mature buck if you don’t know where one is living. That takes scouting, which takes time, which none of us has enough of — so you have to make time. Now that the season is on, scouting on-the-go, then hunting over hot sign that day, can be a great way to get a shot at a big deer. If you insist on hunting the same old stand, you could end up eating nothing but tag soup.

8. "I think I’ll hunt the 'Monster Stand' again this fall."

Yeah, I know your uncle Eddie killed a book buck off that old stand down in the oak hollow back when Bush (the Elder) was president. “It should still be good,” you say. Except that is hasn’t been any good for years. Set your stands based on recent scouting, and only in areas that have either produced well within the past couple of years, but no more, or in areas where the sign is red-hot, or you risk getting in lots of reading and bird watching, but little shooting or field dressing practice.

7. Don’t set your stand in a concealed area

The leaves may be off the trees, but that’s all the more reason to take care not to be sticking out like a sore thumb when on stand. Whenever possible, set up in small clusters of trees, off the skyline, so that it will be tough for a sharp-eyed doe to pick you off. If I think I know which way the bucks might be traveling from, I set my stand up behind the trunk so that it will give me additional cover.

6. "My (bow, rifle, muzzleloader, handgun) is always dead-on."

Go ahead, don’t sight in before the season. When Big Toby comes cruising by and you can’t believe you missed, blame it on buck fever. It can’t be the weapon. Until you check it later and find it is off by a foot

5. More is always better

If a little of this magic scent stuff is good, the whole bottle should really draw ’em in from miles around. Fact is, a deer’s nose is so sensitive it can smell a drop or two of scent plenty far off. Too much scent will spook it, as sure as the sun rises in the east.

4. Don’t practice shooting

Well before the hunting season is the time to try out new firearm, and carefully sight it in with the exact ammo you’ll be hunting with. When Mr. Stud comes strolling past and the jitters take over, you don’t want to have to even think about whether or not the gun works.

3. Don’t hunt funnels

Bucks are tough to pattern during the rut, simply because they are constantly on the move in search of estrous does. The best place to find them during the day is in a funnel located between a known doe bedding area and known doe feeding area, or between two known doe bedding areas. It’s really as simple as that. Too many hunters insist on hunting scrapes or field edges or rub lines — all good choices at times — at the cost of hunting funnels. Big mistake.

2. Don’t worry about scent control

I used to think that all those scent-eliminating and controlling products were a joke. Until I seriously tested them, both in the field and under strict laboratory conditions. Trust me, when used as advertised most work quite well. Never compromise your scent-control system, which should include regularly laundering outwear in unscented detergent and showering before each stand shift with unscented soap and shampoo. Wearing a scent-adsorbing garment doesn’t hurt your chances, either. (But nothing beats having the wind right, just sayin’ …)

1. "I’m hungry and thirsty."

Bring food to snack on and plenty of liquids, and plan on staying in the woods all day. This is especially crucial during the rut, when bucks are moving all day long — and sometimes moving best from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. It’s a numbers game — the more hours you put in on stand, the better your chances of seeing the buck you want.


Got any ideas on what we should not do this season? Please share them with me at!


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