I got up early this morning and something got me to thinking of my first deer season. This was not exactly a memory to be proud of. While I sat with my first cup of coffee, I got to thinking how goofy things were those first few seasons. Despite honestly trying to learn all that I could and devoting an incredible amount of effort, I could never quite get the hang of it all. Those hunts are now treasured failures.
Besides getting a laugh out it, I resolved that I would try and spend some effort in trying to pass on what I have learned. There are blessed few of us deer hunters out there, and we are getting older. Maybe I can do something to ease the way for someone else and give an aspiring hunter a better chance. I will therefore devote a sizeable part of this forum to passing on the few shreds of wisdom I have gained in twenty-some years of deer hunting.
Who are you?
I am going to make some guesses. I am going to guess that you grew up in the suburbs, you are a young adult with a little time on your hands, and you have very little hunting experience. You got the idea for deer hunting from either a magazine, or a TV show, or one of your buddies has invited you on a trip to go deer hunting and you located this site find out what it was all about. You have a longing for the outdoors, but taking a walk in the county park has ceased to do it for you. You are looking for something more. From the looks of things, whitetail deer hunting appeals to you because it is cheaper than hunting elk. Whitetail deer are plentiful and accessible in your area. This is a great way to get into hunting.
I am also going to tell you up fron that I am an Eastern Whitetail hunter who come from Ohio and has hunted all of the surrounding states. My current main concentration is Zone 1 of Kentucky. However, what I have to say goes for all of the greater Ohio Valley and most of the rest of the world east of the Mississippi. This is not about hunting Western whitetails, mulies, etc. However, there is a lot here that will apply to the Northeast, the Southeast, and the Northern tier.
Let me give you some basic facts: First off, you have a 1 in 4 chances of bagging a deer in the next year. Second, the average deer hunter tries for 3 seasons and quits. Third, this is all just averages of state-compiled statistics, and includes a lot of successful deer hunters who have been at it a long time and normally harvest one or more deer per year. Your actual chance of bagging a deer through fair chase in the next year without spending $3000 for a fully-guided hunt like you saw on TV is about squat, with or without my advice.
Still reading? Thanks. Not many people do. I don’t think it is because I am a bad writer; I make that part of my daily affirmations. I think it is because no one likes to be told they are trying the impossible. Actually, you are not. Killing a deer is very easy. What makes this sport so hard is:
1) Finding the right place to hunt.
2) Making a commitment to hunt until you are successful
3) The overall long-term hardships of deer hunting.
Your chances are going to improve if you have friends or family that are willing to fulfill the role of the guide for you. If this is the case, treasure this relationship. If you are like me, you had encouragement from friends, but you found their enthusiasm flagging about the time you actually decided to go for it. Sooner or later, you decided to go out on your own, and at this point you realized there was a lot more to this sport than what you originally thought.
They know something you don’t: deer hunting is hard. Deer hunting is demanding. Deer hunting requires a commitment. Deer hunting is not like golf. You cannot just go shoot a round of deer. It takes the whole year to prepare properly, and you will find that it will swallow up a good deal of time. While others are sitting at home watching football or out raking the leaves, you will be hunting or scouting or out at the range sighting in. Your friends that are encouraging you already know this; that is why you will quickly find yourself alone. In three years, you will find yourself joining them around the TV on Sunday and that will be that.
Anytime you sit down to a venison dinner or see a nice rack on the wall, chances are the hunter has made a terrific sacrifice of time, money, and personal comfort. If you were the hunter, that is something to be proud of in a way that few people that have never hunted will be able to understand. I have dedicated myself to getting you to that understanding, and getting it done on the cheap.