The 7 Sins of Deer Hunting with a Gun

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Are You Making These Gun-Hunting Mistakes?

I’ll readily admit that I am a passionate bowhunter. I love to bowhunt whitetails. It’s what keeps me up at night and daydreaming while the sun is shining. I love it.

That said, I was a gun hunter first.

There’s just something about the smell of freshly burned gun powder in the morning. Call me crazy, but it’s a country boy’s drug. Perfectly good. Completely safe. Absolutely moral. Gotta love it.

As mentioned, gun hunting for whitetails is another passion of mine. And I’ve made a lot of mistakes doing it throughout the years. Here are some of the lessons I learned the hard way so hopefully you won’t have to.

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Neglecting Proper Gun CareNeglecting Proper Gun CareNeglecting Proper Gun CareNeglecting Proper Gun CareNeglecting Proper Gun Care

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1 | Neglecting Proper Gun Care

It’s crucial to take care of your firearm(s). Clean them regularly. Don’t bump your scope. Protect both rifle and scope from the elements as best you can. Don't get the muzzle of your rifle dirty. Invest in the best you can afford. And don’t forget to take care of them and they’ll take care of you.

Photo credit: Bill Konway

Failing to Properly ScoutFailing to Properly ScoutFailing to Properly ScoutFailing to Properly ScoutFailing to Properly Scout

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2 | Failing to Properly Scout

Just because you’re a gun hunter doesn’t mean you can be a lazy hunter. You have to put the time and effort in to find the deer you want to shoot. Spend time in the field working to get on whitetails. Just because you have a long-range rifle with you doesn’t mean it’ll come easy. And you can’t kill deer just anywhere.

Photo credit: Shutterstock/Mike Van Deven Jr.

You Only Have Short ShotsYou Only Have Short ShotsYou Only Have Short ShotsYou Only Have Short ShotsYou Only Have Short Shots

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3 | You Only Have Short Shots

Rifle are rifles. If you can shoot long distances, you might as well put yourself in a position to do it. Don’t get stuck in a bowhunter’s mentality when caring the boom stick. One of gun hunters’ biggest mistakes (and one of mine, too) is to hunt in spots where your longest possible shot is less than 50 yards. The only time I break this rule as a gun hunter is when I am completely certain that a deer is on a pattern and coming through an area on a regular basis.

Photo credit: Shutterstock/Critterbiz

You’ve Only Cleared Lanes in One or Two DirectionsYou’ve Only Cleared Lanes in One or Two DirectionsYou’ve Only Cleared Lanes in One or Two DirectionsYou’ve Only Cleared Lanes in One or Two DirectionsYou’ve Only Cleared Lanes in One or Two Directions

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4 | You’ve Only Cleared Lanes in One or Two Directions

Don’t be stingy with your limb trimming. Cut lanes in all directions so you can capitalize on a deer that comes from any direction. You want to be able to utilize the range your gun has so you can kill that deer before it gets downwind of you.

Photo credit: Shutterstock/Erin Cadigan

Lacking Necessary StealthLacking Necessary StealthLacking Necessary StealthLacking Necessary StealthLacking Necessary Stealth

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5 | Lacking Necessary Stealth

Don’t get lazy. Walk in slow. Stay downwind of deer. Keep off their radar. It’s important to use proper entry and exit routes. Don’t walk near bedding areas when leaving your stand mid-morning or walking to your stand of an afternoon. Also, stay away from food sources when walking to your stand of a morning and when leaving after the evening hunt.

Photo credit: Shutterstock/Bryan Eastham

Forgetting about the Wind DirectionForgetting about the Wind DirectionForgetting about the Wind DirectionForgetting about the Wind DirectionForgetting about the Wind Direction

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6 | Forgetting about the Wind Direction

Just because you’re a gun hunter doesn’t mean a deer can’t smell you. Sure, it happens less often. But it still happens. Can't speak for everyone, but when I'm gun hunting, I choose setups that put me a little further away from the deer activity (especially when hunting open areas). Also, just the nature of having to be up close and personal with deer while bowhunting leaves more room for them to make it downwind close enough to smell you. Even still, when gun hunting, make sure you don’t alert deer and always play the wind. You want it in your favor, not the whitetails'.

Photo credit: Shutterstock/Tom Reichner

Not Paying Attention to Scent ControlNot Paying Attention to Scent ControlNot Paying Attention to Scent ControlNot Paying Attention to Scent ControlNot Paying Attention to Scent Control

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7 | Not Paying Attention to Scent Control

Scent control is a must. Make sure you take showers using scent-eliminating soap. Keep hunting garments clean and washed regularly. And stay scent-free between the house and the treestand.

Photo credit: Shutterstock/Tom Reichner