hunt mistake imageThe massive buck stepped closer. He was behind a tree, and only the huge antlers were in view. The hunter’s heart was racing as he mounted the rifle, and scoped the rack. “What a great trophy to hang on my wall!”, he thought. The buck stepped from behind the tree, and the hunter took the shot. The buck ran off as the bullet passed over the buck. A clean miss!

Distraction is a common “stupid mistake”, that hunters often make. Focusing on the antlers, instead of the kill zone, often results in a miss. Once you make the decision to take the shot, you need to become the “Terminator”, and emotionlessly focus on the one thing you need to do. Take your one, BEST shot.

Buck fever is a common mistake. We have all been infected. Getting excited is fine, but learning to control the excitement is essential. You do not want any “premature” releasing of your arrows or bullets.

When the Moment of truth arrives, here are some tips to help you create a positive outcome.

Practice makes Perfect!  Shooting practice creates muscle memory. The more you shoot, the more accurate you become. Every shot teaches you a new skill, or increases your confidence.

Organization helps!   Looking for your release, calls, or gear, in the middle of a shooting event will burn you every time. Something will fall, make a noise, or create movement. Always be ready to shoot. Have your weapon loaded, and ready. It should be hanging in a way to allow access with minimal movement. Place calls on a string, and hang them around your neck or tucked into a pocket.

BREATHE!   Take slow and deep breathes when the target approaches. The more oxygen to your brain, the better it processes input. Take a full breath before you shoot. Release half, hold, steady, then shoot. Practice will improve accuracy.

Squeeze the release, or trigger, slowly.  The weapon should surprise you when it goes off. This will insure an accurate shot placement with no flinch, or jerk of the weapon.

Deer have incredible smell, sight, and survival instincts.  I have seen deer wind my trail that was several hours old. Bucks will often smell hunters 20 feet high in a tree stand. Bucks can see an eyeblink. Big Bucks got big by being alert, aware, and being smart. Know their strengths, and prepare for them.

Scent Free is important. Always know the wind! Keep your hunting clothes stored in a scent free container. Use scent wafers or natural debris to keep your clothes smelling like nature. Never put a mating scent onto your body or gear. Smoking, cooking, smoke, or any un-natural odor will give you away. If you are a still hunter, or an active stalker, you will stink. BO is just a fact, and deer will smell you. Always hunt into the wind to avoid detection. Wind also goes vertical. Warm air rises and cool air settles. Morning air generally rises and evening air settles. When hunting in a tree stand, you create a scent cone below you. Place decoys, or attracting scents, appropriately.

Optics are worth looking at!   The sooner you see the critter you are hunting, the more time you have, to prepare. Compact binoculars allow you to scan the area around your stand. Wind will identify the most likely approaches. Look for a piece of deer or movement. You will almost never see a whole deer at first. Often, you will see an ear flick, eye blink, tail swish, or antler tine. Horizontal lines will show the back or belly of a deer in a forest of vertical trees. Once you see the chosen target, make your preparations to shoot.

Never look a deer in the eye! Once you plan to make a shot, focus on the kill shot you plan to make. Take time to make your 1 best shot! If you look at the deer’s eyes, they will see you! The reflection, blink, and eye movement will give away your position. If you don’t believe me, look at a deer, in the eye, that you do plan to shoot. Then you will agree with what I am saying.

Move SLOW!!!  Once you are hunting, HUNT! Every step and movement needs to be slow, quiet, and minimal. Camouflage helps, but deer see in black and white, and can identify slight movements over great distances. Always think about what is behind you. Stand with a rock or tree to break your silhouette. Position your tree stand on a tree large enough to hide you. Branched or multiple trunks also give you greater concealment. Keep your body tight and make all movements slowly.

Hunter Orange can be seen by deer! Deer do not see colors but they do see reflected light. Brite colors, like orange, reflect more light. I do not wear an orange hat when on stand. As I turn my head to scan for deer, the hat moves too! It is like wearing a warning beacon. Your chest, and body move less. A sleeveless orange vest gives you security without movement. Camo patterned florescent orange vests break up your shape as well.

Silence is golden! You are hunting in the deer’s living room. They know every smell, feature, and characteristic of their environment. I have watched a deer smell a pruned branch, and spook. Any un-natural sound such as metal click, zipper, cell phone sounds, or clunks will get their attention. Be quiet!

If you snooze, you lose! Expect the deer to be in range at any moment. Sleep at home. Hunting successfully requires you to be alert, and to use every sense. Sleeping in a tree stand can also be dangerous.

Deer hunting is about patience and waiting. You spend hours or days of time waiting for some incredible action, that takes place in just a few moments. If done correctly, these moments will last a lifetime, whether you make the shot, or not.

Mistakes are the best lessons! Embrace and learn from every stupid mistake that you make. Take ownership and responsibility. If you don’t, the stupid mistake will repeat itself. Deer are amazing critters that deserve respect, and ethical harvest. Being a sportsman is all about being your best.

Aim small, miss small!

Montana Grant

For more Montana Grant, visit his website at www.montanagrantfishing .com.