12 Reasons Some Hunters Kill Big Deer But Others Don't

By author of Brow Tines and Backstrap

Are Any of These Reasons Familiar?

Some guys and gals seem to always kill big deer. Other hunters rarely do if ever. So what’s their secret? Well, it isn’t just one thing. But those who frequently kill big deer have certain things in common. These 12 things are some of those.

Access IssuesAccess IssuesAccess IssuesAccess IssuesAccess Issues

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1 | Access Issues

You’re only as good as the land you hunt on. You can’t kill a big buck if a big buck doesn’t live there. Those who consistently kill big deer have access to quality land. Sometimes it’s private land. Other times it’s public ground. Sometimes a little of both. But one thing is for sure — access isn’t an issue.

Photo credit: Josh Honeycutt

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Realistic GoalsRealistic GoalsRealistic GoalsRealistic GoalsRealistic Goals

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2 | Realistic Goals

Successful deer hunters set realistic goals. They don’t expect to kill a big deer every time they go afield. They recognize both low-odds and high-odds days for deer hunting and how to approach each. And they don’t pass up on a respectable buck for the area they’re hunting when it presents an opportunity.

Photo credit: Josh Honeycutt

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Equipment ProficiencyEquipment ProficiencyEquipment ProficiencyEquipment ProficiencyEquipment Proficiency

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3 | Equipment Proficiency

Good deer hunters don’t need the best equipment. Plenty of deer hunters get the job done with below-average arsenals. But they are proficient with the equipment they use. You can’t be second guessing your gear at the moment of truth and expect to fill tags.

Photo credit: Brad Herndon

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The Extra MileThe Extra MileThe Extra MileThe Extra MileThe Extra Mile

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4 | The Extra Mile

Those who regularly take big bucks aren’t afraid to work. If there’s a micro kill plot that needs planting, they plant it. If another stand needs hanging down in the thick stuff on the back 40, they hang it. Simply put, they do their homework and the legwork.

Photo credit: Heartland Bowhunter

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The Little ThingsThe Little ThingsThe Little ThingsThe Little ThingsThe Little Things

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5 | The Little Things

These cats forget about the big picture long enough to look at the little things. They realize the lesser things add up to become as important as the bigger factors. And then they act accordingly.

Photo credit: Shutterstock/Kevin McCarthy

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Our NosesOur NosesOur NosesOur NosesOur Noses

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6 | Our Noses

A whitetail has the best nose in North America. But you have one, too. Use your nose. It’s not nearly as good, but it works. I’ve been told I have a good sniffer, but when close enough, I commonly catch the scent of a scrape or bedding area recently frequented by deer. It’s also important to use your nose when blood-trailing deer, too. Sometimes you smell them before you see them, especially during the peak of the rut when they're ripe from tending scrapes.

Photo credit: Heartland Bowhunter

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Every Noise Means SomethingEvery Noise Means SomethingEvery Noise Means SomethingEvery Noise Means SomethingEvery Noise Means Something

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7 | Every Noise Means Something

These hunters keep their ears open, too. Every sound has the potential to affect your hunt. Squirrels suddenly started barking? Maybe a deer is easing into range. Heard something walking? Your ears can reveal if it’s a two- or four-legged critter before your eyes do.

Photo credit: Shutterstock/Bruce MacQueen

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Movement and DetailMovement and DetailMovement and DetailMovement and DetailMovement and Detail

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8 | Movement and Detail

Great deer hunters spot deer really well. After all, you can’t shoot what you can’t see. Don’t scan for the entire animal. Learn to look for an ear, nose, tail or some other small body part. They also see detail in tracks, rubs, scrapes and other deer sign. Doing both of these things help elite hunters spot/find more game.

Photo credit: Josh Honeycutt

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Reading TerrainReading TerrainReading TerrainReading TerrainReading Terrain

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9 | Reading Terrain

These hunters observe the land and know how deer will likely react to it. It directly affects stand locations, for sure. Focusing on key terrain features that force or encourage deer to use particular areas for travel is common. And then they camp out on these spots when the timing is right.

Photo credit: Phillip Vanderpool

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Separating Good Info from the BadSeparating Good Info from the BadSeparating Good Info from the BadSeparating Good Info from the BadSeparating Good Info from the Bad

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10 | Separating Good Info from the Bad

The best deer hunters know how to separate the corn from the crap. They don’t listen or apply bad advice. They objectively reason through information they come across and use what they can to their advantage.

Photo credit: Josh Honeycutt

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Past Mistakes and ForgetfulnessPast Mistakes and ForgetfulnessPast Mistakes and ForgetfulnessPast Mistakes and ForgetfulnessPast Mistakes and Forgetfulness

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11 | Past Mistakes and Forgetfulness

Consistently successful deer hunters learn from their mistakes. They take those lessons learned and apply them to future hunts. Those who don’t, well, they’re generally the hunters who don’t fill as many tags.

Photo credit: Shutterstock/Steve Oehlenschlager

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HesitationHesitationHesitationHesitationHesitation

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12 | Hesitation

The best deer hunters have ice water in their veins. They don’t hesitate when opportunities present themselves. Good opportunities aren’t passed up in hopes of great ones.

Don't Miss: The Science of Killing Big Bucks

Photo credit: Heartland Bowhunter

Editor's Note: This was originally published June 21, 2017.

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