Learn to Hunt Deer

​​​Let's Get Started!

Welcome to the world of deer hunting! You are about to join the ranks of thousands of like-minded hunters - some of the best conservationists on earth. Each of them started right where you are today... as a beginner.

White-tailed deer find all their life needs closely associated with the forest. ​As with many animals, they are known as creatures of the “edge” with a love for green plants, waste grain and tender shoots that they often find on the edge of cultivated fields. Therefore, in the early season, the knowing hunter looks for heavily used trails within 50 yards or so of the edge. However, it is late in the season that the forested land provides their hiding cover, much of their food and space for movement. Now you may want to move your stand to more secluded areas.

If you choose to hunt on the side of a ridgeline within the forest, look for trails that lead to the lowest point on the ridge. This low point in the ridge is referred to as a “saddle”. Deer moving over a ridge will typically look for that path that costs them the least amount of energy to get from one side to the other.

Deer also prefer a forest undergoing secondary succession to a mature one. Shrubs, bushes and plants provide both food sources and hiding cover. This regenerating forest is usually very thick, making it difficult for other animals to find the deer; however, the deer travel through it with ease. If hunting in such an area, a tree stands near a small clearing or on a powerline right-of-way might be productive.

Waterways offer another place to ambush deer. One person relates that deer use streams and valley floors like humans use interstates—to get somewhere fast! The biological need for water can be satisfied in many ways. Early in the season, daily trips to ponds or streams may be expected, but late in the season, a small hidden spring will give a big buck all the water he will need.

Deer usually stay within a home range of approximately one square mile or 640 acres. However, during the rut, all bets are off. During this breeding season, bucks can travel great distances to find does that are ready to breed, and may be found several miles from where they were seen yesterday. It is the time of year when they don’t care if hunters or cars are in the vicinity, they are only intent on breeding.

Prepare and Scout​

Hunters should plan several days of scouting before the season starts. This is the time to discover the numbers and quality of the deer in your hunting area. Heavily used trails will indicate deer numbers while the rubs show where bucks are active.

Several Stands, Early as Possible

While scouting in the woods, it is an excellent time to set up new stands or inspect and repair any permanent ones needing attention. Depending upon the property, setting at least two stand sites to account for opposing wind directions can increase your chances of success. Additionally, setting your stands well in advance of the season will allow the deer time to get used to them being there.


Tips for Hunting from a Ground Blind​

For more information, check out U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Tree Stand Safety Guidance.

Kentucky Afield Episodes on Tree Stand Safety​​


How to Setup a Lock-On Stand Safely


How to Use a Climbing Deer Stand


How To Use a Tree Saddle for Hunting

Sight-In and Practice for an Ethical Shot

Taking the time to sight in your bow, crossbow, shotgun, rifle or muzzleloader—and making the commitment to practice is what every ethical hunter should do. It will give you not only confidence in your equipment, but also a firm knowledge of your own capabilities when a shot opportunity presents itself.


Sighting in Your Bow


Sighting in a Rifle in One Shot


Target Area of Shot Placement

When shooting at deer, the hunter should plan for a quick and effective kill. A vital area shot (heart/lung) will cause massive bleeding and air loss and efficiently kill the animal rather quickly.

Nose to Ground, Kentucky Volunteer Bloodtrailing Service

This is a Kentucky-based Facebook group that can assist you in bloodtrailing a deer. Please go to the Nose to the Ground's Facebook Page and follow the directions for getting a dog and handler sent to your location.

Looking for more Guidance? Check out these Articles by Realtree©:


Shot Placement Rifle vs. Archery

Looking for a Firing Range? Check out National Shooting Sports Foundation's (NSSF)'s Application WhereToShoot.

Plan for an All-Day Hunt

Certain portions of the whitetail season lend themselves to ​all day hunting, so plan accordingly. During peak hunting periods (rifle season when more hunters are moving in the woods, a public land hunt, or the rut) deer can move at any time. Therefore, bring plenty of water and enough food to be comfortable. Again, remember how keen the deer’s senses are as you plan your food and beverage choices—strong smells or the sound of a crinkling snack wrapper may alert the deer and ruin your hunt!

Processing Your Deer

Learn how to process a deer from field dressing the deer to packaging from a professional butcher with years of experience. This simple method can be done by anyone, with only a few simple hand tools. NO experience is required.

Feed the Hungry!​​

KENTUCKY HUNTER’S FOR THE HUNGRY is a statewide, charitable, volunteer, hunger relief program dedicated to alleviating hunger and malnutrition in Kentucky by paying for the processing and distribution of donated venison to those in need. 

Hunters for the Hungry logo

Playlist for Deer Processing​


How To Easily Field-Dress a Whitetail Deer
Using the Coring Method


How To Process or Debone a
Whitetail Deer in the Field


How To Cape a Whitetail Deer for Taxidermy​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​