An Official Website of the Commonwealth of Kentucky
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 in the edge of cultivated fields. Therefore,
in early season, the knowing hunter looks for heavily used
trails within 50 yards or so of the edge. Late in the season,, however,
it is the forested land that 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. 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 that is undergoing secondary succession
to a forest that is mature. Shrubs, bushes and plants such as
poison ivy 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 stand near a small clearing or on
power line 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 normally stay within a home range of approximately 1
square mile or 640 acres. However, during the rut, all bets are off.
During this breeding season, bucks 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
simply 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 season
starts. This is the time to discover numbers and quality of the deer
in your hunting area. Heavily used trails will indicate deer numbers
while the rubs show where big bucks are active. While small bucks
will rub on shrubs and small trees, big bucks use larger woody material.
The rub of a big buck will also be higher in the tree.
Several Stands, Early as Possible
While you are in the woods scouting, it is a good time to set
up several stands or repair those from last year. You need plenty as
daily conditions change and a simple wind change may make one
stand unproductive. If boards need to be replaced, doing it early
will not disturb the deer as much as a day or two before season.
One hunter related that he attracted a nice buck to his stand during
season by sawing branches to improve his field of shooting. Unfortunately,
he couldn’t get an arrow loaded onto his saw.
Sight-in and Practice
Every year and several times a year, hunters will first adjust
the sights on their bow or fi rearm then continue to practice. Sights
sometimes get bumped during transport. If you miss what you thought was an easy shot, a trip back to the target range is preferable
to more misses.
Target Area of Shot Placement
When shooting at deer, the hunter should plan for a quick
and effective kill. He or she should look for openings through the
vegetation where they can place a shot into heart-lung area. The
heart-lung area of a deer is reasonably large (10 inch circle). A shot
here will cause massive bleeding, and the shock of the bullet will
normally drop the animal within a few feet. There are other vital areas
on deer, but patience will normally give you a shot at the larger
area. If a killing shot is not available, enjoy watching the deer escape
Scent Control, Wind, Entrance Path
Deer have a very sensitive sense of smell and deer hunters
practice three methods of scent control in the woods. First, bathing
and laundry soap is available that does not have a scent identified
with humans. Many hunters are careful about deodorant and some
brands may repel deer. Finally, there are bottles of scent from animals
that will mask the human smells, and in some cases attract
Plan all day Hunt,
Bring Food and Water
Deer hunters report
seeing deer throughout
the day. Especially in peak
hunting periods, other
hunters may move the
deer anytime. Therefore,
bring plenty of water and
enough food to be comfortable.
the senses of deer as
you plan for your food,
as smells or the sound of
tearing a container may
alert the deer.
Know Tagging and Reporting Procedures.
As in all hunting, the hunter is responsible for knowing the appropriate
rules and regulations. All information is available on-line
or in a hunting guide that will be sent to you for asking. Reporting
all kills provides the most accurate information for the Department.
With this information, biologists can continue to provide a quality
deer hunting experience for all hunters.
There are many books, videos and websites on how to field
dress a deer. One example is the Missouri website is at this link http:
Rather than repeating those procedures, a few additional hints are