Deer hunting is a game of chess. It’s all about staying off each other’s radar. Deer try to avoid hunters. Hunters try to avoid from alerting deer. That’s the deal. But just because you don’t knowingly spook a deer while you’re deer hunting doesn’t mean you aren’t spooking (and pressuring) deer. Here are seven reasons why.
1. Your Cameras Are Tipping Them Off
Trail cameras are likely the most innovative piece of gear in modern deer hunting. I wouldn’t trade mine for anything. I run 30 of them annually. They’re a major part of what I do and are integral in my plans for scouting, finding and targeting deer. That said, if you aren’t careful, you can do more harm than good with them.
First, make sure you use cameras with LED or No-Flash illumination. Flashes spook some deer. Some deer aren’t affected by it. Best not to take the risk. Next, don’t leave them in a deer’s line of sight. Hang them high and point them downward. Lastly, make sure they are camouflaged or brushed in.
2. You’re Leaving Scent On Gear Left in the Field
Cameras. Treestands. Ground blinds. Scent drippers. You name it. Scent often gets left on it when you’re handling such things in the field. Oftentimes, deer come by later and smell what you leave behind.
3. Your Ground Scent Is Spooking Deer Even When You Aren’t There
You can’t just worry about your scent cone. You have to worry about your ground scent, too. Scent is deposited anywhere you walk. That’s why it’s important to choose good entry and exit routes with reduced risk of spooking deer. If you don’t take this precaution, you’ll spook deer — even when you don’t realize it.
4. Your Scent Cone Hit a Mature Deer (and They Don’t All Blow)
Sometimes you even spook deer directly without knowing it. Not every deer that catches a wave of your stench (to them) will tell the woods about it — especially big, mature bucks. They don’t like to draw attention to themselves, and therefore, don’t always blow when they detect danger.
Deer see differently than humans do. If they took the driver’s license visual test, they’d fail it. That said, they’re incredibly adept at spotting movement. Because of this they can spot you moving in your treestand long before you see them. And if they’re still far enough away, you may not even notice their hasty retreat.
6. You’re Making Too Much Noise Walking In and Out of the Woods
Scent may be a major factor in your entry and exit routes, but it isn’t the only one. You must remember that noise is a factor, too. If you make noise walking to and from your treestands, deer will often hear it. This leads to a lot of deer getting spooked that hunters never know about.