If you are interested in learning how to get involved in deer hunting, you might deal with many obstacles as a beginner.

So I decided to gather and ask from +41 pros and deer hunter experts one same question: “For a new deer hunter, what are the top 3 keys to success?

And I received tons of responses that might blow your mind. Some of them are unseen or little-known.

But first, here’s my recap for whitetail deer hunting tips for beginners:

  • 27.9% of pros agree that scouting is the #1 key to whitetail hunting success
  • 19.1% experts recommend you should prepare and practice with your gear before opening day
  • 10.3% advice relates to patience
Quick recap

contributor list

Whitetail Deer Hunting Tips for Beginners:

John Eberhart

(Bowhunting Pressured Whitetails)

John Eberhart is a self-taught hunter. He has been bowhunting for 53 years and in that time, he's learned many tricks of the trade. John is an outdoorsman with a long resume including podcasts for Wired-to-Hunt and Avery’s Outdoor Magazine Radio Show, as well as interviewed for articles in Outdoor Life, Fur Fish Game, North American Whitetail, Archery Business, Bowhunting World, and other magazines.

You don't have to know much to kill mature bucks on the properties TV actors/entertainers that hunt 100% micro managed properties with tons of mature bucks. So I personally wouldn't consider their thoughts if hunting public property because they are TOTALLY different.

My keys for success are targeted at hunters hunting heavily pressured public lands, not managed for big bucks properties where many mistakes can be made and opportunities will still occur due to the amount of mature bucks on the property that have been allowed to pass by hunters for several seasons while growing to maturity without consequence.

On managed properties, mature bucks have a much higher tolerance of human intrusions, odor and in my opinion are relatively simple to get close to and kill.

1. Scent Control

A whitalils nose is their main line of defense and when you can take that away from them, it's a MAJOR game changer.

Hunters have had success for eons by hunting downwind of where they expect an opportunity, but it is an undisputed fact that deer often come in from downwind and or pass by and go downwind.

There is only one technology that can eliminate 96 to 99+ % of your human odor during a hunt and that is a properly cared for activated carbon lined ScentLok exterior jacket, pants, gloves, and head cover worn in conjunction with scent free rubber boots and a frequently washed fanny or backpack.

During my first 34 seasons (1964-1998) I exclusively hunted the wind and there were certain types of terrains I quit hunting due to constantly changing wind thermals and swirling winds and occasionally my best rut locations would not get hunted because the wind direction required for them, never occurred on my days off work.

In the 21 years (1999-2020) using a strict scent control regiment, no place is off limits and wind direction is a non-factor. For anyone wanting my scent control regimen, email a request to: deerjohn51@gmail.com

2. Scouting

Since well over half of the Pope & Young entries from all states are taken during the rut phases, most scouting should be done during post-season (once the snow is gone) while you can still identify the sign left from the previous rut such as scrape areas, licking branches, rub-lines or clusters, converging runways, etc.

During post-season you can scout as often as you want without fear of altering fall movement patterns.

The surrounding area and trees during the rut phases will also look similar to what you are looking at during post season (with all the foliage down), indicating how much security cover your locations will offer for mature buck daytime visits.

Most hunters scout during pre-season and mature bucks don’t have the thought process to differentiate between scouting and hunting and simply react to the sudden influx of human activity by avoiding the area or most often, turning nocturnal.

Over molesting an area during pre-season can totally shut down all daytime activity by mature does and bucks, negating any chance of early season success.

When scouting for locations on pressured properties, for any chance of consistent success, any location you pick must have adequate security cover surrounding the kill zone as well as adequate transition security cover to a known bedding area, otherwise the possibility of a daytime visit by a mature buck is slim at best as this is not TV fantasy land hunting.

3. Daily and Seasonal Timing

If your hunting time is limited, take it during the rut phases when there is a higher chance of an opportunity.

Mature bucks in pressured areas just don't move much or very far during daylight prior to the rut phases, so take advantage of their testosterone driven rut phase daytime movements.

Natural isolated destination feeding locations such as mast and fruit trees that are bearing food should not be hunted in the mornings as you will likely spook deer feeding at them with your before daylight entry.

On all morning rut phase hunts you should be in your location and settled in at least an hour and a half prior to the crack of dawn so as not to spook mature bucks moving back into more secure cover before dawn.

Since all buck traffic during the rut phases revolves around doe traffic, rut phase locations should be left totally alone until then, so the doe traffic at them is left unaltered.

When doe traffic is altered away from hunting locations prior to the rut phases when mature bucks are typically nocturnal, the buck traffic when pursuing does will also be altered.

Michael Hunsucker

(Heartland Bowhunter Show)

Michael Hunsucker has been hunting for more than 25 years. He is the co-host of Heartland Bowhunters, a popular show that follows Mike and his friends as they hunt big whitetail deer across North America.

1. Improve habitat through prescribed fire and timber stand improvement

These methods not only improve habitat, but also provide more food for the deer to browse on than any food plot will provide.

2. Scouting is something that you simply cannot do enough of

Between running trail cameras and glassing from a distance, any information that you can acquire about deer and their behavior will only help you be more successful come season.

3. Improve or create water sources to help keep your herd healthy and on your property

Especially during dry moths, deer rely heavily on a good clean water source. If you can’t create one where you need it most, you can pick up water troughs from your local farm and home store that work great!

Kandi Kisky

(Whitetail Freaks TV)

Kandi started hunting when she met her husband Don back in 1990. Since that fateful day, Kandi has taken numerous large bucks with her top five grossing more than 160 B&C each, with her largest being 175 5/8". Kandi and Don are farmers by trade and cherish the simple family life that comes with living in Iowa. They have a son Kaleb who loves the outdoors as much as his parents do!

1. Get the best equipment

2. Do your research and make sure you are in the best place your state has to offer

3. Be willing to work harder then anyone else to go to any lengths needed to ensure success (you can't be lazy)

Michael Lee

(Backwoods Life Hunting Show)

Michael was born in a small town in South Georgia called Cordele, raised on the Flint River and the banks of Lake Blackshear.

His love for the outdoors started very young as his father, grandfathers, and uncles would take him fishing every weekend.

After college he jumped into the world of outdoor television after co-founding TV show Southern Backwoods Adventures, which is now Backwoods Life.

1. Patience:

Like everything else that you learn, there is a learning curve. Be patient and hunt as much as you can.

There is no supplement for time spent in the woods learning patterns, food sources, and spending seat time in the stand. You also learn what not to do.

2. Food

Learn what your deer are eating.  This may change through the season so you will need to adapt as they change.

Row crops, acorns, food plots (if you plant), etc are all target areas that you need to focus on.

3. Hunt the Does

Where the does go, so do the bucks. A spot may only have does on it early season but the bucks will come (this is where patience comes into play).

With the rut the bucks will find the does and if you are there bingo.

I hope these make sense.

Bill Winke


Bill Winke is the primary host of Midwest Whitetail Show, which airs on The Outdoor Channel.

He spent a stint working at High Country Archery where he met Greg Tinsley who was an editor for Petersen’s Bowhunting magazine.

Bill got his start as an outdoor writer through Greg and continued to work in that industry until 2008 when he founded Midwest Whitetail.

1. Keep it simple

Deer hunting is not super complicated. They bed during the day, feed at night and travel between those two places during the low light of early morning and late afternoon.

Bedding areas are generally back in the cover while feeding areas are typically near ag fields.

Hunt the bedding areas in the mornings and close to the feeding areas in the afternoon. Trails are your friend so make sure to set up downwind of a good trail and put in your time.

2. Quiet

Getting to and from your stands without alerting deer that you are hunting them is the number one key to success and the biggest challenge we face.

Look for any way you can to keep the deer from knowing that you are hunting them.

3. Prepare your nervous system

Mentally rehearse the shot often while waiting so that when the time comes you will be able to maintain enough composure to make a good shot.

Deer hunting at close range with a bow is super intense and you have to prepare your nervous system for that kind of excitement.

Tamer Mol


An adult-onset hunter born and raised in Australia, now living and hunting in the mountains of Alberta, Canada.

He is also the Founder of DebutHunter.com and Facebook community "New to Hunting"

1. Get to know where the deer areas are

I spent way too many days in my early hunting life in areas that I thought would be good, but had no deer. Spend time in the field ahead of the season to make sure you are in good spots when the hunting season is on.

2. Practice varying shooting scenarios that have some form of pressure to it.

It is hard to replicate the adrenaline and anxiety surrounding a live shot on a deer, but any way to feel like you “have to make the shot count” will get you a little more accustomed to that feeling, and hopefully make a clean shot.

3. Be patient. Very patient

If you do not take your time when moving around in the field there is a good chance you will be spooking deer, even if you don’t notice it. Move slowly, stop and take your time. Periods of nothingness are part and parcel of hunting. So don’t force it

Brad Harris


  • 40 years in the hunting industry
  • NRA World Game Calling Champion
  • Invented of the Grunt Deer Call, Antelope Challenge Call
    Realtree Pro staff since 1987
  • Host of over 60 hunting videos
  • Host of Outdoor Traditions Tv show for 7 years on the Outdoor Channel
  • Co-Host The Christian Sportsman Radio Show
  • Featured in Hundreds of magazine articles and seminars on Hunting and Game Calling!

For me it’s all about Knowledge!

1. Know your Quarry and what make them special

Understand their habits, tendencies, instincts and their survival skills. Plus their weaknesses and vulnerabilities.

2. Know the habitat and terrain where you plan to hunt

Learn travel routes, bedding areas, food sources water etc. This all varies depending where you happen to be hunting.

Big timber, open country, linear habit, brush country all offer different challenges.

3. Know your equipment and gain confidence in it

Weather hunting with a great crossbow, gun, BP be proficient. Know your limitations with each one. Be confident in your chosen method of setups, freestanding, blinds stalking etc.

John Vanderlaan


Founder and Lead Editor of DeerHuntingGuide.net, has hunted deer for over 40 years in the whitetail woods. He shares his knowledge about chasing wily whitetails with members on his website, who are looking to sharpen their skills or find new tactics that can help them get closer to harvesting a mature buck.

We were all new deer hunters at one time in our lives and here are the three things that made me a successful deer hunter when I was just starting out back in the 1980s.

1. Find a mentor 

This is the number one thing that helped me the most when I was getting into deer hunting.

I didn’t have any hunters in my family, but I was able to find a family friend that showed me the ropes.

If you don’t have any friends or family that can help you, reach out to local fish and game clubs, or facebook hunting groups to find a mentor.2

2. Hunt the wind

Always keep the wind in your favor. We can take steps to reduce our human smell, but we can’t eliminate it.

A deer’s nose is its number one defense. Take that advantage away and you increase your odds of success.

3. Hunt from a tree stand or ground blind

A deer’s vision is incredibly good at picking up movement of any kind.

Using a tree stand or ground blind will allow you to get away with a lot more movement and remain undetected until you have an opportunity for a shot.

Jessica Bond

(The Outsiders TV)

Jess Bond is a talented hunter who lives in Oklahoman. She shares a passion for hunting and using their skills to harvest their own meat to provide for their family.
Jess has been featured on Outsiders TV documenting their hunts around the world as well as sharing other wild adventures that they have encountered along the way.

My Top 3 Keys to Success for a new Deer Hunter

1. Do your homework

Deer hunting starts way before the season starts. Put up cameras and study habits.

As November/the rut approaches, Look for scrapes with low hanging branches above them. These will be heavy traffic areas.

2. Hunt the Wind

If you have a bad wind for the stand you want to hunt. Don’t hunt it. Period. It will educate the deer on human scent.

Now, there are times that a mature buck will still come by if he is in full rut mode and trailing a hot doe, but that hot doe could scent you and peace out.

If you want to take that chance, go for it, but If you are like me and have work and kids, your time to hunt is limited, so you want the highest chance possible to harvest that mature buck.

3. Have an extra blind on hand

You are dealing with mother nature- the weather and animals- which is totally out of your control. You want to have a backup plan/option at your hunting property that stays outdoors for scent control (but out of the elements).

Piggy backing off of #2, That way if the mature buck you are after frequents a certain stand and you are limited with time to hunt, you will have the option to throw in a blind that favors the wind.

OR- If you are hunting and notice all the deer activity is on a certain field edge that is out of range, you can throw a blind over there. AND- make it favorable for your wind that weekend.

PS: Bringing a stand is a better option as your scent is off the ground, however, since this article is specifically geared towards new deer hunters, a blind is a much easier (and still a very effective option). I personally don’t have the knowledge to throw up a stand like my husband lol Blinds are my Jam.

Lindsay Persico


Lindsay Persico has lived in Montana for more than 14 years, and loves it. She has three kids that keep her busy with various activities. Lindsay also enjoys processing game, hiking, fitness training, shooting firearms and camping. She's written articles for The Outdoor Channel as well as Eastman’s Hunting Journal as well as accomplished Alone- The Beast show!

1.  Find a seasoned mentor

What I always tell new hunters is to try to find a seasoned mentor who is willing to show them the ropes and expedite the learning process a bit. The second most important tool is humility and the ability to learn from it.

2. Keep your mind wide open

The best way to learn something is to come at it with your mind wide open. You will make mistakes and blow hunts and that's an important part of the process.

Every single experience in the woods chasing whitetails is an opportunity to learn and that makes every one extremely valuable. 

3. The last key is patience

Whitetails are incredibly patient and if you want to tag a nice buck you'll need that as well.

I have killed many whitetail just because I was more stubborn than they were and that can mean sitting in one place for an entire day but I've had it pay off more than once.

Baylee Horner

Baylee Horner is a natural-born adventurer, who loves to share her passions with the world. Baylee is from Oklahoma and currently works 9-5 in an office, but outside of work she's often found exploring the outdoors.
She enjoys sharing her adventures through photography - documenting her travels as well as other people's journeys around the globe.

1. Patience is key when deer hunting

Making sure you scout well and always try to gain as much knowledge as you can before going in and hunting your spot.

Find where the deer bed, where their trails are and where they tend to linger the most.

2. Don't show off

Next thing I think would be don’t get caught up in the social media persona that you have to shoot the biggest baddest deer. If you shoot a young 6 or 4 it’s definitely something to be proud of. Show it off!!

Jen Shears


Jen Shears is a Newfoundlander with a passion for conservation. Her love of the outdoors began at an early age, and she spent over fifteen years working in National Parks and National Historic Sites across Canada.

The outdoors was always her first love, but she met her husband when they were both teenagers; hunting, trapping and fishing became part of their relationship. Today Jen still enjoys hunting as well as traveling to new places, so if you see her on your travels be sure to say hello!

I’ve been on a few hunts though and here are my recommendations:

1. Practice before hunting

When archery hunting in a blind, make sure you practice drawing back and shooting in a wide variety of positions.

The first time I hunted in a deer blind with a bow I was with another person and being so limited in space was a huge learning experience.

2. Mindful of any extra clothing

When archery hunting in cold weather, be mindful of any extra clothing (balaclavas, etc) that may change your anchor point or form during your shot.

This seemingly minor detail can cause a big change in your form and result in a miss.

3. Aim at whitetails’ knees

I had no idea that whitetails “duck” arrows shot at lower draw weights.

They hear the arrow come off the string and as they start the running motion they drop and their bellies almost hit the ground.

If you have a draw weight under 60 lbs and you are shooting out to 30 yards or more, you need to aim at whitetails’ knees.

It’s a scary thing to do, but I’ve learned the hard way that it’s necessary.

Hopefully some of this is useful.

Hayward Simmons

(Cedar Knoll Hunting Lodge)

Hayward Simmons has been involved in the equestrian industry for over thirty years.

He and his wife Dona own and operate Lakeview Plantation, an equestrian trail riding and RV camping facility, as well as Cedar Knoll Hunting Lodge, a hunting safari destination in Allendale County, South Carolina.

Hayward is featured regularly in magazines such as Outdoor Life, Field & Stream, Deer & Deer Hunting, Shooting Times and Progressive Farmer.

1) Seek the assistance of an experienced successful hunter/outfitter to serve as a mentor.

2) Become familiar with your weapon by shooting regularly prior to the hunt, practicing appropriate shooting techniques in order to capitalize on shooting opportunities.

3) Avoid becoming enamored with gadgets. Utilize good hygiene and other common sense scent management techniques to minimize the likelihood of being detected by deer.

Kelly McIntosh

(ReelCamo Girl)

Kelly McIntosh was born and raised in the Bronx. She moved to South Dakota with her husband, where they've enjoyed raising their three children in an outdoor lifestyle. Kelly loves archery shooting and is especially passionate about teaching other youngsters how to shoot, hunt, fish and enjoy the outdoors.

She participates in several organizations that encourage children to get outdoors—she's currently Vice President of the National Archery Association for Women (NAWA) as well as a member of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF).

From me, it would be to find yourself...

Everyone will be very willing to tell you what "they" think you should do, what works for them and they might have great success from that.

But that doesn't always mean it will work for you.

So find yourself and find out what kind of hunter you want to be. Enjoy the process, you only get to be new once so don't rush to be an expert.

Your biggest trophy does not hang on your wall, it hangs in your heart! Always treasure the memories of your hunts.

Jeremy Aron

(Do It Yourself Hunter)

DoItYourselfHunter is a television show on the Outdoor Channel. Daniel Lemmon, an old friend and fellow hunter, was involved in filming and editing.

He got help and encouragement from older hunters who took me out west on hunts with them. I want to inspire other young hunters like Daniel by giving back what we've learned or even capturing our own self-films for others to see how it's done!

1. Location:

Find good areas to hunt and do plenty of scouting.

2. Hunt weather and moon phases

When hunting weather I like to hunt after a major double digit temper drops. I really like hunting when the moon is straight above you or straight below you.

Those are the major move times, and when the moon is rising and setting those are the minor move times.

3. Hunt the rut

Ask other hunters in that area when the rut usually takes place or you can sometimes find a rut schedule on the Game and Fish website in the state you are hunting in (btw deer hunting is big business in these states). Also be persistent and confident in your hunting and shooting abilities.

Jordan Barnes

(Close Proximity)

Jordan Barnes is a close proximity archery hunter of wild hogs. He specializes in filming hunts from the perspective of the shooter, and he does all of his own editing and production work for his videos. Jordan's videos are filmed with a RED camera rig on a stabilizing arm that he designed himself to be as light as possible without sacrificing stability or durability.

Jordan has been hunting since he was 8 years old, and enjoys teaching others how to hunt. His focus on woodsmanship means that you will only see him using traditional gear such as bows, arrows, knives, slingshots, spears or atlatls in his video series - no guns!

1. Don’t buy into industry tricks, don’t cut corners, be a student of the game

Hunting Wild free range - fair chase deer and turkeys is an artform and hunting those game on southern public lands will fastrack anyone if they are willing to let the game teach them.

That will teach them leaps and bounds more than someone that just shows up to shoot animals on some form of prime manicured private land.

2. Pay attention to the finer details

Anyone that’s highly successful at something normally Is obsessed with perfecting it.

As a Georgia bulldog it pains me to give credit to this quote but Nick Saban said it best “you don’t practice it to get it right, you practice it so you can’t get it wrong! 

3. Time

Typically the more time you devote to something the better you will be at it.

Brennen Nading

(The Breaking Point TV)

The Breaking Point TV is a national television show on outdoor living and lifestyle. The team consists of an elite group of people with a passion for the outdoors, who have taken digital streaming by storm. Brennen is one of the crew members, whose dedication can be seen in every episode.

I’d say the top 3 tips would have to be:

1. Practice shooting

Whether it’s archery or firearm, it doesn’t matter how much time you spend in the field if you aren’t comfortable and confident when the moment of truth presents itself.

2. Less is more. Watch the weather.

Whitetail movement revolves heavily on the weather so it’s important to put yourself in the field on the days when weather is optimal. (Temp drops, before/after a storm, wind switch, etc)

3. Spend more time scouting than hunting

Better off watching from a distance to get an idea of what you need to do to get in close.

Sam Soholt


Sam Soholt is a photographer and hunter who specializes in capturing the beauty of nature. He has been featured on numerous television shows, magazines and websites for his hunting and outdoor photography work.

It all started when Sam was just six years old with a camera he got from his grandparents. After graduating college in 2005 with degrees in Media Arts & Design and Business Administration, Sam decided to pursue art full-time by living out of his school bus while traveling the country, photographing hunters for various companies such as Winchester Ammunition or Browning Arms Company.

1. Play the wind

Find whatever forecast or wind app that works best for you and live by it. Hunting in the right wind will kill more deer than any other tactic or piece of gear you can buy.

2. Don't over complicate things

There are a million articles, videos, and blogs on how to hunt deer. Just remember that deer need 3 things: Bedding, Food, and water.

Focus on areas that have all three in close proximity and go from there.

3. Hunt the best deer sign

Don't be afraid to go learn an area. Yes, you will bump deer. No, it won't be the end of the world if you do.

Be willing to be a little more aggressive in your tactics in order to find the best and most recent sign, and hunt that.

Andrew Maxwell

(the southern outdoorsmen)

The Southern Outdoorsmen is a channel for high quality tips, stories and strategies from the Deep South. The focus of the show is on deer hunting podcast for public land hunters, hunting club members, and high pressure lease holders in the Southeast.

If I was going to give 3 keys to success to a new deer hunter, the first one is by far the most important: build your own foundation.

1) Foundation:

All the books, tv shows and podcasts in the world will not make you a better hunter if you don't have your own foundation to start with.

Go hunting and think about what you are doing, think about what you are seeing, come up with your own thoughts and ideas.

Once that foundation is there, you can start listening to the ideas of others to start building your knowledge base.

2) Seek out info from people who relate to your situation

If I am hunting a pine thicket in Alabama the last person I need advice from is a guy on TV hunting bean fields in Iowa - the tactics do not transfer over well in that situation.

Find information from people who hunt what you hunt whether that be YouTube, articles, podcasts or chatting it up with guys at the archery counter at your local pro shop.

3. Woodsmanship

My last tip is to focus on woodsmanship. Focus on the deer and its behavior, habitat, the terrain it lives in.

Don't get distracted with gimmick products, try and learn how to hunt the deer on his terms in his home.

There is nothing wrong with using things like attractants, food plots or anything like that (if legal).

But you will learn more in a shorter amount of time if you hunt the deer based on what he is naturally doing, not what you try to make him do using attractants or food.

Most importantly, enjoy yourself and remember why you are out there.

Ryan Gill


Ryan Gill is a professional primitive weapons/tools builder. He has taken dozens of animals with his hand made equipment, and built a business around his journey. Ryan has consulted on projects for the Anthropology department at Texas A&M University.

When Ryan isn't building or hunting with primitive weapons, he enjoys teaching others about their history and culture through seminars across the country.

My 3 keys to success are going to be vastly different than everyone else's because I am a primitive hunters. I don't use tree stands, camouflage, compounds, or any other modern gadgets.

It's just me, a wooden bow with a sinew bowstring, and cane arrows tipped with a stone points.

It's the extra challenge of the primitive hunt that does it for me. I highly recommend it!

1. You must be aware of the wind

The wind will get you just about every times unless it's a really young deer

2. Get close!

Most of my deer kills are inside of 15 yards. I really like those slam dunk 8 yard shots when possible, so I either set up in the bushes accordingly, or stalk into 30 or so yards and hope they meander into a good close range.

Good close shots typically result in perfect double lung or heart shots and a dead deer inside of 50 yards.

If you want to get your blood pumping, try sending a stone point through a deer's vitals at 10 yards on the ground. Works for me, everytime!

3. Don't shoot when deer are looking at you

A deer's reaction time is insanely fast. I have seen many deer dodge or whirl into a bad shot even with compound bows at 20 yards.

Especially with primitive equipment, they can duck the arrow if they are looking at you when you shoot.

I typically only shoot at deer when they have no idea I am there. (except for a few rare instances).

Mark Knight


Mark Knight is a hunter at heart, and he's been hunting all of his life. He has a passion for the outdoors and getting people closer to nature.

Mark started Midwest Whitetail Adventures in 1998 with only three acres of land, but since then it has grown into over 18,000 acres of prime hunting property. Mark offers Kansas bow hunts that will blow you away

1. Learn all you can about the animal you will be hunting

2. Understand and be efficient with the weapon of choice

3. Learn all you can about the territory you will be hunting examples:

  • Do they have a predominant wind in the fall?
  • What kind of areas do the animals bed in?
  • What kind of food is in the area at the time they will be hunting?

Tarra Stoddard

(ReelCamo Girl)

Tarra Stoddard has a passion for the outdoors. She served as field staff for Safari Club International and Prois Hunting, and loves to hunt, fish, shoot (pistol and rifle) and is an NRA Pistol Instructor.

In 2019 she hunted bear in Nova Scotia and harvested a pronghorn in Colorado. Tarra partnered up with her local NWTF to help them reach their goals of conservation efforts.

1. Education

Educate yourself by getting a mentor, reading, watching videos, and joining local online deer hunting groups

Joining your local DNR, NWTF, or other hunting organizations is an affordable way to deer hunt and learn.

2. Applying knowledge

Apply the knowledge you learn when you deer hunt. Try different things you learn to see what works for you.

What may work for others like hunting in a ground blind may not work for you. You may love sitting in a tree stand, climber, or stalking deer.

3. Patience

Patience is something you will learn year after year. It can come in many forms.

Whether it's being patient just to see deer. Or getting a shot on a deer. In the meantime, you'll see and learn things that will be very rewarding.

Your definition of success may be different than mine. Success ‘’to me’’ is just being able to go deer hunting. Get out and #earnyourwild !

Richard Smith


Richard P. Smith is a true sportsman and outdoor writer. He has been hunting whitetail deer and black bear for more than 50 years, and he's an expert on the behavior and biology of both species.

In addition to his avid pursuit of big game, Smith has won awards as an outdoor writer from such organizations as the Flint Chapter of Safari Club International, National Outdoor Awards Association (NOAA), Michigan Outdoors Writers Association (MOWA) and Upper Peninsula Sports Hall of Fame.

1. Make sure your gun or bow is properly sighted in and know what distances you are comfortable shooting

2. Do as much preseason scouting as possible to select the best spots possible to hunt.

3. Make sure you have adequate clothing that will keep you both warm and dry while hunting, including boots, hat and gloves to maximize your time afield.

Bob Humphrey


In 1995, Bob became an outdoor writer, a registered Maine guide and a professional sportsman.

Besides that he is a field editor and former Whitetails editor for Petersen’s Bowhunting – the top bowhunting magazine in North America as well as take part in many whitetail research projects.

1. Scouting

The more time you spend in advance of the season, the less you’ll need to spend once it begins.

Learn the lay of the land you hunt. Look for sign. Study maps and satellite imagery to look for bedding areas and travel routes, and set out trail cameras.

2. Know your Quarry

Many, perhaps most of the questions about when, what, how, where and why deer do what they do can be answered through a better understanding of whitetail behavior.

Read internet and magazine articles, particularly in popular publications with a more scientific bent like those from the National Deer Association, The Whitetail Institute and Mossy Oak Gamekeepers.

3. Learn From Your Mistakes

Trial and error is often the best teacher and every hunt offers a lesson.

When things don’t go quite as planned, consider what went wrong and how you might do things differently the next time.

Books and magazines are full of great information but there’s no substitute for actual experience.

Steve Sorensen


A highly respected, award-winning writer, & event speaker, Steve Sorenson from Pennsylvania, came into the field of outdoor later but immediately become famous when the OWA of Pennsylvania awarded his column namely “Everyday Hunter” as the best column.

Steve has published features in top magazines including Bear Hunting, Sports Afield, OutdoorLife & much more.

That question can have many answers, depending on your assumptions. I'm going to assume the new deer hunter is a gun hunter (most are) and does not own his own property (most don't).

1. Get a gun with modest recoil

One that's not too heavy, one that you can shoot well, and top it with a quality scope.

Most mid-priced scopes will not let you down.

Shooting is a skill you can acquire only with practice, so practice shooting until you get confident.

Dry-firing teaches you trigger control, and shoot at least three or four boxes of shells to get comfortable with the gun.

2. Scouting:

Whether you hunt public or private property, you'll need to spend time scouting.

Learn what kind of habitat holds deer, what the lay of the land is like, and where deer like to travel, rest and feed.

By the time opening day comes you should have identified several places where you'll encounter deer.

3. Hunt early, late and often

Success often comes at the most unexpected times.

Beka Garris

Beka Garris is a born and raised Northern NJ girl, who has been obsessed with the outdoors at a young age. Beka went on her first hunt at age 7 and never looked back! As an avid outdoor enthusiast, she enjoys hunting for food, fishing for dinner, and exploring the great outdoors.

In addition to being an active hunter, Beka also loves cooking what she hunts or finds in nature. She spends most of her free time teaching her daughter about all things outdoors - from bowfishing to hiking in the woods - because she wants them both to grow up knowing how important it is to take care of our planet!

1. Persistence

This can be tough if you're having a slow season, but persistence has never failed me yet. Stick with it and good things are bound to happen.

2. Know your equipment

Being comfortable with your setup and knowing exactly how it works is important. This will also give you confidence in the field.

3. Don't be afraid to think outside the box and trust your gut feeling

If you're new to hunting, you're going to have a lot of seasoned hunters trying to give you advice and tell you what to do. That doesn't mean they're always right.

Robert & Sarah Arrington


Robert was born and raised in Jupiter, Florida, where he spent his days hunting, fishing, freediving and getting dirty. He has a passion for fishing and anything else that gets him outdoors! Robert loves to eat meat-eating animals that he harvests himself—no make-believe here!

If I were advising a new hunter on how to harvest a deer during archery season my top 3 keys to success would be:

1. Know your gear Inside and out

Know what your effective range is with your bow or gun and practice from every possible stance and angle!!!

Know your tree stand so that you can assemble it in the dark quickly and quietly (climbing stand) the last thing you want to do is not be sure of your gear.

That will kill your confidence!

2. Scout and set up with confidence!!!

Once you pick out your location, figure out your wind direction so you can enter your hunting area while remaining down wind of where you think the deer are.

Set up in a spot that you are confident in and once your hunting, NEVER HOPE to see a deer!!! ALWAYS EXPECT to see deer!

If you are expecting to see deer, you’ll remain vigilant and aware!

Once you see what you’re expecting to see, you’ll be mentally prepared to make the shot you’ve been practicing to make!!!

Once you’ve shot a deer, do not rush to trail the deer! Give it time!!!

3. Enjoy the process!

All hunters should be trying to learn, every time we’re in the woods!!! When you make mistakes, don’t get down on yourself, learn from it!!!

4. This is a bonus answer…

If you’re scouting or hunting in an area and see a nice buck. Do NOT tell anybody! Keep it to yourself!

I know this sounds crazy, but once you put in the time and effort to find a nice buck, use that information to understand the area.

That will not be the only nice buck on the area and if you tell one person, you might as well tell everybody!

Be persistent and everybody will know about the buck you found when you’re posting pictures on social media!

This has been learned over years of experience!!!

Mark Clifford

(Premier Outfitters)

Founder and president of Premier Outfitters. Mark is a US Army vet, and has 50 years experience hunting whitetail. Mark has harvested 25 record class bucks with archery equipment and countless bucks with a gun while chasing them all over the country.  Mark has been featured on many syndicated hunting and outdoor shows to include Deer and Deer Hunting TV, Land of Whitetail TV, Reel Shot TV, Blitz TV,North American Whitetail TV, Catchin Deer's  and is a published author in North American Whitetail Magazine and Field and Stream Magazine.

In my opinion the top three keys to for success for a new hunter is the following.

1. Scouting

Take time to do proper scouting but get it done in a day or two if you can and get out of there.

Have your stand with you and set it on well traveled trails between thick bedding and food sources.

For a new hunter you need and want to see deer, you may get lucky and kill a great deer but don't worry about size right now.

Lets get the first deer harvested and then move to bigger and better.

2. Scent control is everything

Hunt the wind, use plenty of scent control spray, invest in a ozone machine.

3. Patience

Stand time is everything, put in the hours to be successful.

Brenda Bullock

(Mile High Outfitters)

Brenda Bullock is the owner of Mile High Outfitters, a company that offers both fly in and pack in hunting and fishing trips into the Frank Church Wilderness and the Salmon River Mountains.

Brenda bought Mile High Outfitters in 1995. Since then, they have added three other businesses to their operation including the old Big Creek Lodge area, the Lucky Boy Outfitters area, as well as Idaho's largest retail store for outdoor gear - The Outdoor Store at Silver City.

There are three key components for any hunter that hunts with Mile High Outfitters, whether they are new or not.

1. Be in shape

You can not hike or ride horses through the mountains if you are overweight.

2. Practice with your weapon

Most hunters do not have opportunity to shoot their weapon every day but they should.

Archery hunters, even if they live in town, can set up a bow range in their garage.

Shooting one arrow every morning before work is better than shooting 30 once a month.

3. The last thing we require of our guests is to show up with a smile on their face

All we can do is prepare for the hunt and we do that all year long. We can not change the weather, forest fires or anything that happened at home. If the wind comes up and blows your tent down, smile. You’re still on vacation.

Mark Kayser


Mark Kayser has been photographing and writing about the outdoors with a career spanning nearly three decades. Today that career also includes co-hosting popular hunting shows such as Deer & Deer Hunting TV on the Pursuit Network and HuntTech Online. He also blogs and is busy posting his adventures on several social media platforms.
Mark is a regular contributor to outdoor publications such as American Hunter, National Wild Turkey Federation Turkey Country, Mule Deer Foundation, Bowhunter, Bowhunting World, North American Whitetail, Deer & Deer Hunting, Western Hunting Journal, Buckmasters, Predator Xtreme, Predator Nation and numerous other hunting

Jumping into any new activity, including hunting, is never easy.

Although you may have an instinctive advantage with an internal hunting yearning, there is a huge learning curve to the art of being a successful hunter.

Here are three quick shortcuts to help you along the way to hunting success.

1. Bea Mentee

Learn everything you can about hunting and hook up with a mentor to give you a jumpstart.

Many state wildlife agencies now provide mentorship programs for hunting.

You may even have a neighbor who hunts and would be willing to share information.

As you forge a relationship, a mentor can provide animal behavior lessons, how to be successful in a large field of other hunters and possibly even help you out with hand-me-down gear.

Most seasoned hunters are eager to assist new hunters with a desire to learn.

They understand that recruitment is the only way the heritage of hunting can survive so never underestimate the willingness of a mentor to help you be successful

2. Scout  and Network

Your hunting success depends on having a place to hunt. This could either be a public parcel or a private land holding you secure.

In either case, you will need to scout for the locations animals prefer.

Your mentor can help you with this effort, but a good rule of thumb is to look for the roughest and thickest habitat on a property.

Wildlife will use that to escape from animal predators and other hunters.

This can be especially true of public areas and the best public areas are oftentimes the most difficult to access so spend time gauging this category.

Finding private hunting land can be difficult. Think of places you encounter various landowners.

Places of worship, work, shopping and family activities like little league games all hold potential to network with people who may own land. You see these people out and about and share a friendly hello from time to time.

That creates an easier environment to instigate a lead-in to ask for permission over an unexpected appearance at a screen door.

If you do begin knocking on doors for hunting permission, be prepared to trade your sweat equity for access. Explain to landowners that you would be willing to trade hunting access for work on their land.

This oftentimes goes a long way, especially with older, retired landowners looking for someone to perform odd chores.

Finally, do not just focus on large parcels of land, public or private.

Sometimes the best hunting occurs on small parcels strategically located next to larger tracts, refuges and even suburbia.

3. Be a hunting warrior

This section is simply to excite you to hunt extremes.

You will face challenges by competing against savvy animals, other hunters, inhospitable weather and many days of unsuccessful attempts.

Be a warrior and keep hunting as hard as possible.

The harder you hunt and the more effort you put into your outings, the higher your chances will be to achieve success.

Do not let a failed stalk or getting busted on stand foil your spirit.

It is part of hunting and the very next encounter may be the one that leads to a backpack full of meat along with a trophy for the wall.

Kevin Paulson


Kevin Paulson is the founder of HuntingLife.com and the editor of Hunting Life Magazine.  He has been hunting for over 40 years all across America.

I have the honor of getting to take out 2-3 new hunters every single year.

It really is an honor, because I get to see these folks go through all of the emotions of the hunt with fresh eyes and it renews my spirit each and every year. Three keys to success are practice, endurance and mindset.

1. The first key practice is pretty standard

I want hunters to come to me with a rifle they shoot comfortably and they have had the opportunity to practice with consistently over a period of at least a month and well over a 100 rounds shot through it.

I want to know they can shoot out to 200 yards and before we hunt, we will shoot a good 20 rounds to get comfortable. 

2. The next two keys go hand in hand endurance and mindset

New hunters have to be willing to get outside and have the endurance to suffer through the cold and wind and the walking and hiking and glassing in order to be successful.

If you are not willing to put in the miles and you cannot or will not endure a little bit of discomfort, you will not be successful. 

3. Right mindset

As well, having the right mindset keeps you out there, the belief that a good deer is just around the corner.

I have found this positive mindset keeps a hunter always looking and when they are looking harder, hunting harder they are more successful.

Have a great mindset and you will have a great season.

Bruce Swearingen

(4S Wildlife)

4S WILDLIFE is a small business located in Reynolds, Georgia. Two good ol’ boys that care about the outdoors and wildlife conservation are behind this company. They formulate quality wildlife nutrition products which help grow & attract big healthy deer for hunters like you!

Being the owner of a deer nutrition company I deal with tons of different folks so I get to hear all different schools of thought.

I also get to learn even more than what my experiences teach me, I get to learn and hear what one person does that may work or not and get to share that with other fellow outdoorsman.

My top 3 tips for a new deer hunter are:

1. Remember, they live by their nose and their stomach

You will be shocked at how many deer you don’t see by hunting a bad wind. You have to take this very serious, from start to finish.

The way you position a stand, to entry and exit, to where your bedding area may be and where food is. 

2. If you hunt where baiting or feeding is allowed use that to your advantage

There is a lot to learn and discuss here but use common sense. Keep the edge. Don’t bait all the time so they become nocturnal.

Work it in a way that they know what the bait smell is by using it a bit and then only use it when hunting after your sure they’re have identified the oder as a food source.

Also he who has the least human pressure and the most food will have the deer.

3. Study your maps

I have lived on our home farm all my life and I’m still leaning it. Look for your pinch points, travel paths and travel routes to food sources.

Adapt to what’s currently happening on your place and don’t forget to pay attention to what’s going on with neighboring properties.

It’s a really good idea to get a fellow hunter to study your place with you and you study theirs.

You will be surprised and what you are missing by being trapped in the box of own place that a fresh set of eyes can help you correct.

Above all else have fun.

This is not work or a job. You do have to work at it but keep in mind hunting is for pleasure and not for competition or status. Do what makes you happy and satisfied.

Sara Gamache

(PNW Huntress)

My name is Sara Gamache and I have been an avid hunter since age 11. I reside in Washington State where I pursue my passion of hunting Roosevelt Elk and Blacktail deer. I also enjoy traveling internationally to hunt other species. I hunt with all weapon types: traditional bow, compound bow, rifle, muzzleloader and shotgun. However, I prefer to always use a bow on all my hunts. 

1. Put in the time

It seems like an obvious answer; of course you need to be the woods to have the opportunity to kill an animal.

However, sometimes I think people underestimate just how much time and commitment it takes, especially depending on the species.

Sure there may be years when you get lucky and get a buck on the first day of the season, and that is awesome, however, I can promise it won’t always be that way.

In the past, I found myself getting discouraged and giving up half way through the season if I wasn’t seeing anything or getting any shot opportunities.

It’s important to push past the discouragement and be in the woods every waking second you have available. There have been several seasons I didn’t get my animal until the very last day.

2. Scouting

If you have time before the season start putting up trail cameras and monitoring the movement of the animals.

By doing this you can start to understand their patterns.

With animals such as elk, they will hang out in bachelor groups in the summer, when the rut hits they break off and travel long distances to look for the cows.

However, when the rut is over they often return to where they were in the summer because it’s a guaranteed source of food and water that they need to replenish after a long hard mating season.

Therefore, if you don’t get something during the rut, and did the scouting during the summer, you’ll know the area they will likely return to.

3. Speaking of the rut…..

Always pay attention to when it happens and make sure you are in the woods.

There are several species, for example the blacktail deer that are extremely illusive, and you’re chances of getting one are generally going to be during the mating season.

If you’re new to an area and don’t know when the rut usually takes place you can look for resources online or maybe find someone in the area to share the information.

I hope this helps. These tips are primarily based off my hunting experiences in Washington state for blacktail and Roosevelt elk.

I don’t know how helpful it is for whitetail and other species, but I feel like it should still generally apply.

Brian Murphy


Brian Murphy is a lifelong employee of the Quality Deer Management Association. He’s spent decades at work with the QDMA, and recently semi-retired to spend more time with family, at home, and in the woods. Brian now works for HuntStand that allows him to continue to apply his knowledge and connections with hunting and outdoor industry.

1. Confidence

The biggest obstacle to a new deer hunter is a lack of confidence.

Can they find a deer, make an ethical shot, and successfully recover, field dress, and get the animal to a processor, or perhaps even complete the butchering process themselves?

2. Preparation

To gain the confidence needed, they must be adequately prepared.

They need a solid understanding of the animal, its habitat, behavior, hunting tactics, and, of course, proper use of their chosen hunting gear.

They also need to be mentally prepared, visualizing their first harvest opportunity, much like a professional athlete visualizes success on the field/court.

3. Adaptability

Regardless of confidence and preparation, a new hunter also needs to be adaptable, as challenges are the norm in hunting.

Weather, topography, hunter encroachment, shifts in animal patterns, etc., are common, so a willingness to try a different location/approach often is key.

That, however, must be balanced with not “overthinking” a situation and abandoning a well-designed plan too early.

Unfortunately, knowing when to stay put or shift often is not intuitive and must be learned through trial and error.

Matt Dale

(Dale Outdoors)

Matt Dale is a passionate hunter who has had over 150 whitetails since taking his first deer at age 12. He started hunting at 8 years old, following behind his father's footsteps and shooting a .22 rifle. At 12 he took his first deer, just half-grown doe, but it was the start of what would become an obsession with pursuing the whitetail deer from September to January every year.

He teaches others about hunting through education and instruction, as well as mentoring those who are new to the sport.

For a new hunter just getting into deer hunting or even a veteran, a constant successful deer hunter understands one thing.
Just like in the realtor business, it comes down to:

Location location location!

No deer or even a small number of deer traveling through the area your hunting means low success for anyone.

But a good piece of property where deer are funneling through with regularity means that even the hunter that doesn’t have a lot of knowledge on other things yet can be successful sooner or later if he’s on stand in a good location.

Now a good property don’t have to be 150 acres of prime farmland, it can be as small as 10 acres.

I’d rather hunt the right 10 acres with deer moving through it, than the wrong 100 or more acres where the number of deer is low.

Location location location!

That will help you kill deer when you may not have the other knowledge of helpful tactics yet.

Stephanie Murphy

(Huntress Texas)

My name is Stephanie and I am a woman of the outdoors.  My happy place is anywhere that is outside.  I love being in the boat fishing or hanging out in a tree bow hunting.  I guide both hunting and fishing trips.  I enjoy supporting other women outdoors. I am a rifle hunter and a bow hunter.

1. Patience

Whitetail hunting takes an extreme amount of patience.

There will be times that I will sit for days on end watching and studying how deer interact with each other while waiting for “the one” to walk my way. 

2. Scent control is second to none

I use Scent Guardian.

3. Scouting

Last, I need to know my area that I am going to hunt. If this means, days scouting, so be it.

I utilize different apps to assist me with finding the areas that I think will give me the highest probability of finding deer.

Tevis McCauley

(Whitetail Heaven Outfitters)

Tevis McCauley is the owner of Whitetail Heaven Outfitters. In 2002 he combined his love for the outdoors with his natural Southern hospitality to chase his childhood dream of creating one of the nation’s most recognized hunting destinations.

Whitetail Heaven Outfitters offers hunts on 15,000 acres spread across Kentucky and Tennessee.

1. Patience

2. Peristence

3. Positive Attitude

Those are the 3 greatest tools any hunter can carry with them!

Cory Glauner

(Outdoors International)

Cory Glauner is a hunter, angler who has been blessed with the opportunity to travel around the world in search of new adventures. His favorite animals to hunt are whitetail deer, elk, black bear, waterfowl (ducks & geese), turkey vultures - anything really!

1. Practice your shooting.

2. Learn how to stay calm under pressure.

3. Do your research and hunt where success is likely. If you're new to hunting, use a company like Outdoors International to find and hire a GOOD outfitter. It's the best way to get an education.

Angie & Scott Denny

(Table Mountain Outfitters)

Table Mountain Outfitters is Wyoming’s premiere hunting outfitter, with over 10 years of experience in the field. We offer fair chase guided hunts for pronghorn antelope, whitetail deer, mule deer, elk, cougar and black bear.

As you might guess our deer hunting varies from area to area.

1. First you need good access

We hunt mainly private ground and the access is very important. Good access sometimes takes a lot of time and sometimes money.

2. Know your ground

If you finally get good access to that special piece of hunting ground get in there and understand the ground and learn the habits of the local deer.

Remember the deer may not act the same outside of hunting season.

This means you may have to learn the ground during hunting season the first year.

If you don’t have time to find access and learn ground hire someone who does.

Sometimes it is worth the research and money to have someone else guide you to success.

Jarrod Erdody

(NextBuk Outdoors)

Jarrod Erdody, a lifelong hunter and outdoorsman, started NextBuk Outdoors in 2002 with the idea to “break the mold” of how hunting should be done. Jarrod wanted to show people that there is more to hunting than just killing an animal. In order for people to truly understand this he wanted them not only on the hunt but also behind the scenes where you can see exactly how we determine where and when we go out in search of animals.

1. Learn to be patient

New hunters are much more likely to fidget and get impatient…especially in today’s society of short attention spanned, device-addicted people.

Learn to sit still and really pay attention to what’s going on around you. Question everything you see.

It’s natural to have doubts if you’re doing things right or not.

Be patient but also don’t get caught up in thinking deer will keep doing the same thing (see rule 4).

As far as equipment goes, see rule #1, and keep it simple.

You don’t need thousands of dollars in the best gear and gadgets. Down and wool will keep you warm.

2. Wear quiet clothing.

3. Get proficient with your weapon, and practice in hunting-like situations.

Ben Rising

(Whitetail Edge)

Ben Rising has over a decade of experience in the hunting industry. He started filming for Drury Outdoors and continued until 2013. Ben and Melody started Wicked Ridge Outfitters in 2012, which is located in Ohio. His goal is to help others learn how to pursue and successfully harvest deer with Whitetail Edge Show.

1. You will only be as successful as to how committed you are to putting in the time to be successful

2. Always be open to learn from others teaching yourself is a great way to hone your skills but be open minded

3. Always practice with your weapons the animal deserves the most humane kill shot that you can give it be a constant student of advanced tactics to advance your methods of being a good hunter

Mia Anstine


Mia Anstine is a hunting guide, freelance writer, podcast host and commentator. She has been featured in numerous interviews and speaks at events across the country on a variety of topics including: hunting culture, conservation, wildlife management strategies and mental health.

1. Take a hunter education class

2. Find a good mentor

If you don't have a family member or good friend, look to the DNR or a local conservation organization for help in mentoring or to answer your questions.

3. Dedicate the time

Make time to get out into the woods. If you're only out there for a couple of hours, you're not likely to be successful.

Jay Scott

(Big Buck Registry)

Big Buck Registry is a museum of hunting stories. They're on a mission to share the tales of those once-in-a-lifetime hunting experiences through interviews, images, and videos. Their aim is to extract tiny details from these hunters' stories and bring them to life for people who are not able to experience this first hand.

1. Study deer patterns all year round

Deer will come and go in different spots, depending on the time of year, and it's your job as a new hunter to figure out the patterns.

Things to think about include food and nutritional needs early season, rut situations mid season, and late season nutritional needs for tired deer heading into winter.

Spend time in the woods and get those game cameras out, and leave them out.

2. Learn from Others  

There is a plethora of knowledge based podcasts and YouTube channels out there now that will endlessly discuss strategies and techniques to use at different times of the year.

Don't ignore information that is already out there. And, there's probably a really good deer hunter in town that is willing to help you learn.

Some face to face discussions are often priceless and the old timers are usually a wealth of information and are often willing to share.

3. Safety

This can't be over emphasized. Every hunter should be able to make it home after a hunt.

Make sure you know your limitations, know the area you are hunting, and use gps technology, and let someone know where you'll be (but make sure it's someone you trust and can find you quickly if necessary).

Besides that, understand your equipment, practice with it in hunting-like scenarios, and always stay connected to the tree or ladder when using stands. Use your harnesses and safety belts!

Whit Fosburgh

(Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership)

Whit Fosburgh is the president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, a position he has held since 2010. TRCP’s mission is to guarantee all American’s quality places to hunt and fish. Prior to coming to the TRCP, Fosburgh spent 15 years at Trout Unlimited, and served as fisheries’ director for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. He was the chief environment and energy staff member for Sen. Tom Daschle and was a wildlife specialist for the National Audubon Society. In 2015, he was honored as the Conservation Partner of the Year by Bass Pro Shops.

1. Make sure you define success the right way. 

Most hunts come up empty, even for the most experienced hunter, and some of my most memorable hunts never involved pulling a trigger.

Become part of the woods, use your senses, and pay attention to details, such as wind direction, sounds, and slight movements that catch your eye.

2. Never rush a shot. 

You’ll have more chences, and you don’t want your first memory to be blowing an opportunity or wounding an animal.

Practice breathing control and move slowly. There’s no shame in not taking an imperfect shot.

3. Do your homework. 

In addition to mastering the basic skills of marksmanship, study the terrain using aerial images and, if possible, scout the terrain in the off season.

Try to identify food sources and likely bedding areas. Look for funnel points.

Understand the prevailing wind direction and how that could impact your hunt.

In addition to increasing your chances of success, this is all part of basic woodsmanship and part of what makes hunting so much fun.

Sam Maizlech


Sam Maizlech is a firearms and hunting expert for Gunivore.com who loves sharing his knowledge and experience with fellow enthusiasts. Sam's love for the outdoors and firearms started at a young age with the Boy Scouts and continued to grow from there. Sam has a soft spot for shotguns and loves to play devil's advocate in the 1911 vs. Glock debate. Check out Gunivore for honest, reliable, and engaging firearm news and reviews ranging from modern marvels to classics from around the world.

1) Dress for the occasion. 

New hunters may not want to invest in all the newest and coolest gadgets and paraphernalia associated with hunting, but outfitting yourself in the right clothing is essential for success.

While this largely depends on the type of environment you're in, be sure to at least invest in footwear that is both rugged and comfortable for those long days in the wilderness.

You don't want your hunting experience ruined by wet socks, torn clothes, or any other preventable mishap.

2) Patience is a virtue 

One of the most difficult aspects of hunting that many beginners struggle with is the lack of instant gratification.

In most cases, hunting is a game of chess that requires immense patience, fortitude, and commitment.

It's important to go into a hunt knowing that you may not succeed and to do your best to simply enjoy the process and connect with nature.

3) Know the local laws 

As a hunter, it's your responsibility to know all the local laws and regulations to ensure you have a safe and lawful experience.

The last thing you want to encounter as a new hunter is trouble with the authorities for some unexpected reason.

Although there are some universal hunting laws, many states do have their own unique and unusual regulations.

Be sure to check your local state's game commission before going out on your trip.

David Phillipson

(GlowShot Targets)

David developed his interest in hunting growing up on a farm in Gippsland, Australia. In 2013 he founded GlowShot Targets in order to provide the best quality targets to Australian shooters.

1. Seek local knowledge

You certainly won't be the first person to hunt in a particular area. Ask around, join a club, check on social media, whatever you can do to get in touch with locals who have done it before.

Use their insights and knowledge to find out where and when you are likely to find the deer.

2. Scout out your location

You don’t need fancy tech to scout out and plan your hunt. With google maps you can scope out the terrain and tree cover to get a good idea of what you are up against and plan where you may want to start out.

3. Practice makes perfect.

Practice setting up and taking down your equipment before your day out. You want to minimise the noise you make and be ready for that perfect shot when the timing is right.

You don’t want to miss that perfect opportunity when it comes up by fumbling with your gear.

Offhand shooting practice with a .22 is a great way to make sure your muscle memory works in your favour when you get out in the field.

It is an easy and inexpensive way to keep your shooting skills fresh.

A great way to practice with a .22 is with a GlowShot Targets AR500 Gong. Steel targets give great instant confirmation of your hits.

Andrew Smith


Andrew Smith grew up hunting and fishing in Eastern Oregon and after graduating from the University of Montana now makes his home in Lolo, Mt. He enjoys hunting, fishing, biking, and all that the West has to offer with his two daughters. He works with IHEA-USA as the membership director.

Many new hunters get overwhelmed planning their first excursion and some don’t even go.

In a recent study over 33% of hunter education graduates did not purchase a license in the seven years after graduation with only 5% of hunter education graduates not intending to hunt prior to taking the course.

So 28% of graduates intended to go hunting, but something kept them from making the decision to continue.

Here are three things new deer hunters should consider before they go out on their first hunt.

1. Prepare.

Spend some time getting to know your hunting area. Make sure you have the correct clothing for cold or wet weather and that you layer clothes so you don’t overheat.

Get yourself prepared for the topography, the hiking distance, and elevation gain.

Hunting is more fun when you’re in shape.

Familiarize yourself with one of several cacheable apps available, to help with the ownership boundaries of your hunting area.

2. Practice, practice, practice with your firearm or bow.

Shooting frequently is the key to proficiency which leads to hitting your target accurately and consistently.

Placing an accurate shot is the key to filling your tag and, most importantly, ethical hunting.

This in turn leads to a better hunting experience for everyone.

3. Lastly, find a mentor

There is a big learning curve when learning to hunt and having a mentor to answer questions from shooting light to field dressing will shorten this curve.

Another great reason is having help with the work of packing out because a hunt isn’t successful until the hard work is done, and you’re back at the vehicle with your harvest.

The most important reason to find a mentor is that it’s more fun to share a hunting experience with others and that will encourage everyone to continue.

Here’s to many successful seasons

Marian Ann Love

(A Dixie Lady Deer Hunter)

Marian Ann Love is living high on the bluffs of Vicksburg, MS. She graduated in the Class of 1959 from St. Francis Xavier Academy. She has a big family of 5 great-grandsons and 9 grandchildren from her 4 daughters. She is retired after working for the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers (formally Waterways Experiment Station, now ERDC) with 25 years of service. She has been hunting for 34 years now and killed two wild hogs in the Mississippi Delta with one weighing 180lbs. She is looking forward to hunting and fishing in her 80’s now.

1. Water for hydration

I always carry a bottle of water for hydration in my hunting bag.  By the time I walk to my stand or walk to where I have shot a deer, I get thirsty and it also keeps me hydrated for the entire hunt.

2. Binoculars

Also, carry binoculars to scan the woods looking for signs of deer, horns, etc.. and to be prepared to shoot or just enjoy watching the deer in the woods. 

3. Camera

I always pack in my hunting bag a camera and/or cell phone to take pictures of deer.

I was able to capture a doe with one of the twin fawns suckling and just random shots of deer, bobcats, and hogs in the woods.

Being a blogger I enjoy taking pictures of my surroundings while hunting and my deer stand to tell the story of my deer hunting adventure.

Brianne Van Scotter

(Wilderness To Table)

Bri Van Scotter is a professional chef, author, tv host and hunter. Her television show, Wilderness to Table, can be found on Amazon,Carbon TV, and Sportsmans Guide . Her two cookbooks can be found wherever books are sold.

1. Know your firearm or bow extremely well! 

Practice shooting at different distances and become exceptionally comfortable with your gun or bow. Know your sights and how to quickly use them. Practice shooting from shooting sticks and in different positions so that you are comfortable.

2. Get to know the area. 

Learn signs of the animal, learn what they are eating, then learn where those items would be located wherever you are hunting.

3. Invest in good gear. 

From sights to camo investing in good gear is worth it in the end. A good sight/gun/ binos etc help to increase your odds of a successful hunt. Also having good cold weather gear! Sounds silly but bad clothes can make your day miserable!

Tyler Jones

(The Element Wild)

A former standout Safety at SMU and lead singer of 'Tyler and the Tribe.' He may not say it often, but this family-man is a champ at everything he does. That includes hunting trophy Whitetails. With a wall full of Pope and Young class bucks, he is a man who has accomplished a lot and says little about it.

Top 3 keys to success for a new hunter are very dependent on a number of factors such as geographical location, and heritage of deer hunting in the area.

1. Having a mentor

With that said, in my opinion, a couple of things to keep in mind would be that having a mentor whom is very experienced can be huge to helping one skip much of the hard-knocks learning.

2. Use feed

I'd also, use feed if its allowed in your state or region and I would start with shooting the first legal deer that shows itself.

3. Not listen to forum guys or TV host

As a bonus tip, I would not listen to any of the forum guys or TV hosts talk about managing a property by passing deer etc. That's something you can consider many harvests down the road.

Johnny Allred

(Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation)

Born and raised in the hills of Tennessee, Johnny Allred spent a lot of time Daniel Booneing it as a kid. He has been a Pro-Staff member for Commando Hunting Products, Knight and Hale Game Calls, Mathews Archery, Longleaf Camo, and Strut & Rut Energy Shot.

1. Pay attention to the wind.

2. Be patient

3. Be persistent

Stacey Sutherlin

Nurse by night --> Adventure by day
Student Pilot
Wife|Bonus Mom|Partiotum
Cozy Cabin Living

1. Don’t get discouraged

Have patience with yourself and take your time.

2. Research

Research the species of deer and learn what you can about them from what they like to eat, time of year patterns, their rut/breeding season, their temperament for the area you are hunting and how far they can travel.

Set up game cams if possible and use them to your advantage. You can gain so much knowledge from them such as patterning the deer, their habits, trails they frequent, where the bed and more.

3. Remember that deer are very alert and curious. 

Slow movements are vital so your hunt doesn’t get blown.

Jason Wenzel

(Deer Creek Seed Co.)

Deer Creek Seed is dedicated to offering only the best wildlife seeds for all your hunting needs. With a broad selection of mixtures and straight seed products, you'll be able to find all your food plot seed.

1. Scouting

I would advise on scouting the property your hunting. Try to identify deer movement patterns both early season and late season. Where are the bedding areas, where are the food sources, where are the water sources?

2. Stand Placement

Place your stands/ground blinds strategically where the wind may be at your advantage a higher percentage of the time and where you believe you may have the best opportunity of a successful shot.

3. Scent Control

When it comes to mature deer, scent control is a must. I would strongly advise on ensuring your clothes/equipment are scent free as well as taking showers with scent control shampoos/body wash

Terry Green


Terry started bowhunting at age 16, and after 40 years he's still at
it. He loves chasing critters with longbows, mostly from the
ground. He just can't seem to get enough. In 2003 Terry started
Tradgang.com which is a cyber campfire for Traditional Bowhunters.

1. Play the wind no matter what

You must stay down wind of the area your  are most expecting the deer to come from, and entering your stand whether on the ground or in a tree, or still hunting through are area.

If the wind makes a consistent change, move down wind of the spot you are hunting or move to another stand. You are not going to beat the deer's nose.

2. Keep your movement to a minimum, make no fast or even regular movements

Lets say if you have an itch that needs a scratch, sneak up on it like you would trying to sneak up on a deer.

And, refrain from moving to look if you hear something behind you, do not move.  Let the deer pass you before you attempt a shot.

Even if the the deer doesn't pass you, its best to not spook the deer.

Just listen to it leave and try and figure out why it took the route it did.  And, make sure you raise your weapon slowly.

3. Do not rush your shot

Rushed shots are much more likely to be disastrous. Way more times than not you'll have plenty of time to make a great confident shot.

Mike Slinkard


Mike Slinkard is a life long bowhunter and entrepreneur in the archery industry. Mike founded Winners Choice bowstrings which he sold in 2012 and currently is founder and president of HECS StealthScreen. Mike currently hosts "Hunting with HECS" which airs weekly on the Pursuit Channel.

Deer hunting is an exciting and addicting outdoor activity that also provides the healthiest nutrition on the planet. It is also a daunting challenge for a new hunter.

I feel that 3 of the most important things to know as a new deer hunter (not including standard hunting safety practices) are:

1) Hunt the wind.

More deer are probably saved by their nose than any other sense. The only sure way to defeat this is to keep the deer upwind of your position. Scent control products may help some but they are not foolproof.

2) Study deer body language. 

The way a deer acts when coming toward your position can tell you a lot about his demeanor and how he is likely to react when you have to move to draw your bow or raise your gun. Relaxed calm deer are way easier to take than alert deer.

3) Gain every advantage possible to put the odds in your favor. 

This includes being proficient with your weapon, use good camo with electrical blocking technology, make sure you stand and other equipment are silent even if you have to move, and get good at being still and silent.

Following these 3 basics will get you a long way down the road in the deer woods.

Amanda Lynn Mayhew

(Just Hunt INC)

This is award-winning, one tough outdoorswoman is a product of Northern Ontario, and the Creator of Just Hunt INC. This young woman has proved her worth as an athlete, inspirational speaker, angler, power sports enthusiast, sport shooting advocate, and a hunter whose mission it is to pass on the passion to our future.

1. I run a program title Take Me Hunting (different editions, ie., Grouse, Bear, Deer, etc) and the first thing I do is check to see what the girls have for equipment, including bows, optics, range finders, and clothing for appropriate temperatures in Ontario, Canada.

2. Having to apply for the appropriate licenses in the specific Wildlife Management Units so you know what you are eligible to hunt for is your first step.

3. Scouting plays a huge role in deer hunting, to have the best success, you want to look for where the deer are feeding, and bedding.

4. Preparation in sitting or stalking, are you using ground blinds, tree stands or placing yourself in edges of corn, forests or other farmers fields.

5. Making sure you have written permission, and are practicing with your equipment at different positions, sitting, kneeling and from tree stand angles.

6. Learn to use your range finder, optics and knowing your bow, arrows and broadheads to make your shot count are all parts of having a successful harvest.

7. Hands-on processing in the field and knowing what to do next once the animal is harvested to fill your freezer.

Fred Dougherty

(Wasp Archery)

Wasp Archery has been the leaders of broadhead evolution and innovation since inventing the world’s first broadhead with replaceable blades in 1972. And every broadhead we’ve ever made has come out of our Connecticut facility built from 100% American parts.

When asked to participate in this discussion I pondered the question of “deer hunter success” for several days and finally came to the conclusion that whether you are new to deer hunting or a seasoned veteran, the same general concepts kept entering my mind.

I have had the honor and privilege of having hunted deer and many other big game animals all over the United States, Canada, Mexico, Africa and even once in Greenland.

I’m sure there are multiple answers that could be given to the new deer hunter and all of them are probably right. For what it’s worth, here is my contribution:

1. Safety:

Your hunting experience, perhaps your very life, depends on practicing safety in every aspect of your hunt.

Obviously weapon safety comes first but other considerations include tree stand safety, vehicle safety, proper clothing for the conditions, letting someone know where you plan to be and when you will be back, even walking around the woodlands or prairie’s with a safety mindset and not taking any unnecessary chances all come in to play. 

2. Preparation:

It may seem obvious to some but know your equipment. This includes ALL of your equipment from weapon to clothing, boots, stands, backpack, and what to carry in it, etc.

Plenty of practice with your weapon, knowing the terrain you plan to hunt, research where deer are likely to be and scouting the area will all boost your confidence and increase your chances for success.

Even choosing the right mentor or hunting partner will not only increase your odds but will make your days afield much more enjoyable.

3. Attitude:

Not every hunt is going to end with a dead deer at the end of a blood trail. Nor should it. In fact, a vast majority of your days in the field will find you nearly frozen while watching the sun go down and having your tag still intact.

Expect, respect and learn to appreciate everything around you while you are hunting.

Open your eyes and absorb everything you encounter. I don’t think I have ever spent a day in the woods that I didn’t see or learn something new.

We are hunters. We are keepers of the land and a very minor part of all that surrounds us. Enjoy every minute of your hunting experience and when you least expect it, success will come your way.

Camron Stover

(Hunting Gear Deals)

I'm an avid bowhunter from West Virginia with aspirations of working full-time for Hunting Gear Deals in the near future. My passion was born in the bow-only counties of southern West Virginia and I’ve found a new home in the Mid-Ohio Valley, which has provided access to big bucks from the Buckeye State and excellent turkey hunting in West Virginia.  I often return to southern West Virginia to chase black bear, wild boar, and mountain bucks!

1. Start small

Small game hunting is an excellent introduction to hunting.  Small game hunting is an important step in becoming a better hunter.

2.  Invest in learning

Books, Podcasts, Seminars, etc.  Spend time learning about the animals, terrain, and plant species in your hunting area.  Never stop learning!

3. Find a friend

Hunting buddies make life-long friends and if there's one thing hunters love to do, it's help others.

From learning how to identify trees, to field dressing your first deer, a more experienced hunting buddy can make hunting much more enjoyable.

Steve Maxwell

(Master Rack Lodge)

Master Rack Lodge is Alabama's top producing whitetail deer hunting lodge for over 30 years. Whitetail deer hunting is our main priority. We manage over 10,000 acres year around to grow healthy Alabama whitetail bucks.

1. Know your equipment. You do this by experiencing rule number two which is practice practice practice.

2. Practice on the ground out of a tree and off a knee. Also practice different angles.

3. Focus on arrow exit instead of entry when you shoot.

Jim Litmer

(Third Hand Archery)

We have been inventing, designing and manufacturing archery accessories since 1992. All products are proudly produced in the United States. Being a small business ourselves, we like doing business on a personal basis.

1) Having a good mentor to me is the most important for a newbie.

A good mentor can save a newbie a whole lot of time.

2) Perfect practice, makes perfect.

Practice with the clothing etc that you plan to hunt with.

3) Hunt the areas does hang out during the rut.

The bucks will come from miles away looking for the does. And a bonus:

4) Burn up your boot leather scouting postseason.

It is much easier to see how deer are traveling to and from feeding and bedding and not worry about stirring the deer up while hunting.

Bottom Line:

Wow! What an amazing collection of useful advice.

Now I want to turn it over to you: What are your favorite whitetail deer hunting tips for beginners?

Let me know by leaving a comment below right now.

About the Author

Hi, I'm Robert Gate, a hunter from Texas and Founder of ArcheryTopic.

I first learned archery from my dad when I was 12 years old. He gave me a Mathew bow as a gift and instantly fell in love with the pursuit.