Adopting proper strategies and avoiding rookie mistakes are part and parcel of achieving success in hunting. In this part of the guide, I attempt to lay out all of the strategies and mistakes a hunter may make.

During the rut, when bucks let their guard down, hunters often capitalize on this opportunity for greater hunting success rate. Of course, by adopting proper strategies, you can significantly increase your chances of bringing home a trophy.

Of course, mistakes can significantly reduce your chances of success. If you do it right, you can find out what are the best approaches to approach a buck and avoid rookie mistakes that most hunters may be oblivious to.

Hunting strategies you must adopt

Here are some of the top hunting strategies which i find helpful.

1. Pack smart

On wet days, moisture will likely get into your day pack. You should protect your gear by storing items in zip-lock bags. You can organize your items by packing similar ones together such as flashlights and batteries in the same bag. It will help if you get a checklist as well, especially for a beginner. This is so that you do not miss out anything on the day of your hunt. Do not forget to pack food and drinks as well. This is so that you will not have to move away from your tree stand or ground blind and risk being detected by deer. Bring water and energy drinks enough to keep you hydrated for the length of your hunt.

 2. Clear your shooting lanes

For hunting on a tree stand, prepare the area by cutting shooting lanes before your hunt during pre-season preparation. This is because foliage on trees can be a factor that hinders your chances of harvesting deer. Ensure all the shooting lanes are clear and that you are able to see deer coming and make a clear shot at it from your stand. You can practice taking up the different shooting positions from your stand and then remove the branches or other hindrances in your line of shooting. This can be done a few weeks before your hunt. Do not clear the lanes during the hunting season itself or it may disturb your hunting area.

Use food plots

 3. Use food plots

Food plots are made by planting or spreading food for deer to eat. This is done to attract them. Note, however, that it is not legal to spread food in some states and you are only allowed to plant. An effective food plot will consist different food options and may look disorganized and wild. This is because you want to make it seem as natural as you can so that deer will go to the food plot without being suspicious. You also will not want other hunters spotting your food plot.

You should ideally set up your food plot near to a water source but not too far from deer bedding area. If you can, make it such that the entry to the food plot area comes from the bedding area. Your trail camera will come in handy here to capture the entry and exit of the deer. Make sure your hunting location gives you a good view of the food plot so that you are in range of a good shot when deer come looking for food, whether from your tree stand or ground blind.

 4. Use a grunt call

A grunt call is a small tube that allows you to produce a grunt sound like the noise deer make by simply blowing into the mouthpiece. This can be a very helpful tool to lure in a buck, especially during a rut. The buck will likely think that the sound you make is coming from another buck, and he will come your way to eliminate competition. The difference between using a grunt call in different situations is the intensity of the calling.

If your deer is out of sight, you can attract one by letting two or three grunts out. They should be only a few seconds long each. If you notice your deer from a distance, make one or two grunts a few seconds longer than if your deer is out of sight. This will likely get the deer’s attention. When you want to get the buck to come closer, you can cup your hand over the end of the grunt call and make soft but fast grunts. This will cause him to be curious about what competition he may be facing in the area and lure him into a good range for you to make a shot. Never use your grunt call when a buck is looking at you or already facing your direction or he might realize your location. Only do so when his attention is away, like when feeding or checking out other deer

 5. Use deer scents wisely

Using deer scent around your hunting area will help to cover up human scent so that deer cannot detect you. It can also be used to attract deer to your hunting are. You will need to be wise with the timing of the different scents that you use because you want to make it as believable to the deer as possible.

Doe estrous is the urine of a doe that is ready to breed. This can be used to lure bucks from a long distance. You can either purchase authentic doe estrous or artificial estrous scent in a bottle. However, you should only use this during a rut because it would not make sense to the buck at other times. You do not want to spook the deer with something that seems unnatural. On the other hand, basic doe urine or buck urine can be used on any average day. They can peak interest in deer because they may think that a new deer is in the area. Generally, doe urine attracts both doe and bucks while buck urine only attracts other bucks. Buck urine is a good to use leading up to the rut. This is because at this stage, bucks are becoming increasingly competitive. The smell of an intruder in their space can draw them near as they try to locate the intruder.

How do you use deer scent? Check this out.


Hunting mistakes you must avoid

A few common mistakes that beginners make include:

1. Leaving scent behind

Some beginners are not careful with leaving their scents around. For example, leaning against trees. This can alert deer to your presence, causing them to avoid returning to the same areas. You should be careful to minimize scent as much as possible by covering your hunting clothes with foliage and dirt or even using an odor eliminator. You can also use scent-free soap during your shower before your hunt.

 2. Hesitating before the shot

When the moment of truth comes, many beginners freeze or hesitate before taking the shot. This is likely to ruin your chances of bagging a buck. You will need to learn to control your emotions until at least after the shot. This will of course come with more real-life practice for you to get the hang of it. You will gain more confidence as you gain more experience on the field.

 3. Losing focus

Even experienced hunters may lose focus at times while waiting for deer. This is because of how relaxing and calming it is to be in the woods. Although it may take a long wait before you spot a good buck, it is important to keep your focus and not drift off. Once you drift off at the wrong time, you can miss your one shot at the buck of a lifetime! Hence, be alert always. Try to observe and learn things from your surroundings.

 4. Not staying put

Make sure to stay put especially during a rut. During this time, bucks are searching wildly for does. Hence, they are usually seen wandering throughout the day. By leaving your stand or blind too early, you are bound to be spotted. This will ruin your chances of seeing that buck again. You should also make minimal noise so that you do not reveal your hiding spot.

 5. Not locating bedding areas

It is easier to spot a buck during the rut, but apart from that, you will need to hunt close to bedding areas to increase your chances of spotting one. If you do not locate the bedding areas, this will make your hunt much harder. Try to look out for fresh deer droppings and scrapes because they are good indicators that a bedding area is not far away.

 6. Positioning your stand incorrectly

When you put up your tree stand, you should consider the potential issues that can arise. For example, check whether the tree is healthy and strong or whether it has disease and dead branches that could be dangerous. You should also think ahead about which direction the deer can come from when you set up your stand. You want to position your stand in a way that you can prevent excess movement when you take your shot. It is also easy to forget to consider the position of the sun and end up getting shone on, allowing the deer to see you.

 7. Overhunting at your position

After successfully hunting a deer from your stand or blind, you will likely feel confident to set up your base at the same position again. However, repeatedly using the same position is a mistake that many hunters make. Deer respond quickly to hunting pressure in the area. If you overhunt at the same position, they will soon realize, and you will see fewer deer as time goes on. Hence, you will need to look out for different places to position your stand or blind strategically.

 8. Not enough practice with your weapon

No matter how much time you put into planning and scouting, if you are unable to make a proper shot at the big moment, all your plans would be in vain. Many new hunters and even experienced hunters do not spend enough time practicing their shot. The best way to ensure a steady shot is to practice with your weapon all year-round. You should also train with different conditions so that you can prepare yourself for the real hunt. If you are a bowhunter, train by shooting at different distances and angles, and at elevated positions. If you are a firearm hunter, you can practice freehand from different angles and positions. Getting enough practice will help you maintain a consistent shot execution and give you confidence to shoot under pressure.

 9. Making your move too soon

If the deer has turned to your direction, slowly raising your weapon will likely be a mistake. Most of the time, one movement is all it takes to spook it away. Instead, hold very still and take silent breaths. This is especially so if the deer is staring at you. If the deer is looking your way because it heard some noise or movement, it may stay around for a while before leaving. Once it looks away, then it is your opportunity to make a shot.


It all comes down to practice, practicec and practice. You need to test and find out what works best for you. of course these strategies are here just to give you an indication of what works. While the mistakes are laid out to remind you of what you should avoid. If you follow what works and avoid what does not work for hunting, your chances of success will significantly increase.