Scent control is critical, but don’t forget deer can see pretty well, too.
If you can see a deer’s eye(s), it can see you ... or at least catch your movement. The side-of-head location of a whitetail’s eyes gives them a field of view of about 310 degrees, so they don’t miss much! As good as today’s camouflage patterns are, whitetails will stick pick up on movement.
Veteran hunters develop a sense of when to move and eventually learn how much movement they can (usually) get away with. What follows are some thoughts on how you can increase your chances of getting off a shot.
Trimming too aggressively is one of the most common mistakes made by bowhunters. Because deer so often surprise us and suddenly appear in shooting range, you need cover to get your bow or gun in position for a shot. That problem is compounded by the presence of multiple deer. The more cover, the better chance you’ll have of getting a buck in your sights. Instead of trimming everything to ground level, instead create strategic openings at various locations around your stand. Also keep in mind there will be much less foliage later in the fall.
Next, use the cover to your advantage, and move only when your deer’s head goes behind an obstruction. You’ll have to read the situation to determine if you should draw your bow or raise your gun while the buck’s head is still obscured. The amount of cover available, and the speed at which the deer is moving, are factors to consider when deciding when to draw or aim. It requires more movement to draw a bow, so it’s often a good idea to draw while the deer’s head is behind cover. Just remember you might have to hold at full draw while you wait for the deer to come into the open.
Since motion is what usually catches a deer’s attention, always move slowly, and try to move less at the key shooting times just after daylight and just before dark. Also keep your bow or gun in a near-ready position. If it’s hanging from a hanger, don’t position your gun or bow where it requires extra movement to reach it.
Finally, don’t forget to watch for other deer. A nearby doe can ruin your hunt if she sees you and blows or stomps. In situations where you simply can’t wait until all deer present are obscured, move very slowly into shooting position, or simply wait for another day.
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