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Preparing for Deer Season

Updated: Apr 11, 2019

Bow or Rifle Be Ready for Success

The adrenaline pumps as you step out the door, seeking your first deer of the season. Dreaming of the big buck, you will put into your freezer; you remember the preparation you put into getting ready for this moment. Adhering to the laws of your state, you go through a mental checklist of gear. You feel confident in your training both with your weapon and in survival procedures. Finally, the moment has come, you sight in the animal and delight in the joy that your careful planning has brought you.

State Laws

All states have a series of detailed laws that regulate hunting. Some states require a hunters safety class, and some don’t, but all hunters should participate in this class at least once. Hunters are only allowed to hunt certain animals at specific dates during the year. States will require you to have a “tag” for an animal, and they limit the number of tags for conservation purposes. State laws change often, so even if you are a seasoned hunter, you want to check on these regulations each year.


Practice is primary for all hunters. It is the only way to obtain confidence and accuracy. Accuracy ensures a clean, ethical kill, upholding the good name of hunters everywhere. Always practice with the ammunition you will be using on the hunt. If you are using a rifle, you want the exact caliber and manufacturer. If you are utilizing a bow, you use the same arrow, fletching and broadhead combination. You don’t have to use them every time you practice but make sure you have experience with the same gear you will utilize to kill the deer.

Know your distances. If hunting from a blind, you typically have a good idea of the range the animal will be at when you shoot it. Practice this shot so that you can hit your mark cleanly each time. If you are hunting with a bow, you may be using a tree stand. Be sure to practice from an elevated position.

Training Classes

Besides the hunter’s safety class, there are other classes you should take. Orienteering classes teach you how to read a map and use a compass. Before heading out into the wilderness, you should always have a map of the area. However, a map is useless if you don’t know how to read it and use a compass. You can usually find classes at your local outfitter.

Safety is essential! Maintaining your fitness level is key to staying safe on the hunt. It is also a good idea to participate in a CPR and first aid class: available at The American Red Cross. Homeland security encourages all Americans to take a Stop the Bleed class. This class ensures that the American population is “trained, equipped, and empowered in a bleeding emergency.”


Go for hikes to become familiar with the terrain and movement patterns of the wildlife where you will be hunting. Put up game cams and check the footage. Obtain topographical or satellite maps to learn the lay of the land. Think about where you will be putting your blind (if you’re going to use one). When hunting from a tree stand, you want to make sure that you have an adequate place chosen. Consider clearing brush ahead of time, so you have a clear shot. If you will be hunting on someone else’s land, now is the time to obtain permission.


Starting at the feet, make sure you have a quality pair of boots and socks that will keep your feet comfortable all day long. Your clothing should take into account both the weather and the vegetation of the area you will be hunting in. For example, if you are hunting from a tree blind, you will want your camouflage to match the tree, but if you are operating in the snow, you may want to choose a white cammo. Overdressing or underdressing can lead to problems so research the weather for your geographic location during your hunting season and dress appropriately. Also, know the state laws regarding the use of hunter orange.

There is a wide variety of accessories for hunting that you may consider carrying. At the bare minimum, you should have a: first aid kit, compass, license carrier, hunting knife, knife sharpener, flashlight, multi-tool, rope, water (a filter is a smart idea as well), emergency food, lighter or fire starter, binoculars, and a range finder. Other non-essential equipment that you may consider are hand warmers, scent killer, GPS unit, shooting glasses, deer lure, sleeping bag, and calling tools. Unless you are paying a guide to take care of the animal, you may consider carrying some items to process the animal and get it home after the kill. You can find a comprehensive checklist of hunting gear at

Your Weapon

Always inspect your bow to make sure all of your gear is in tip-top shape. Make sure none of your sights are loose. Check the blades on your broadheads to make sure they are still secure. If you are hunting from a tree blind, check the blind, your harness and safety gear to ensure it is reliable. Bow hunters may want to have some specific items in reserve: bow cams, string wax, arrows and broadheads, and back up string, for example.

A rifle will need an inspection and cleaning before you take it hunting. Check your optics to make sure there are no loose bolts and test the action to make sure it is running smoothly. You may want to take it to a gunsmith for a complete breakdown and cleaning. Some of the gear that rifle hunters will want to stock is a cleaning kit, gun oil, and ammunition.

The time you put into preparation for the hunt can make or break your day. Do your research, take some classes, organize your gear, and have fun.

Works Cited

“5 Things to Help Prepare for Bowhunting.” HuntOnly Articles,

“8 Tips To Prepare For Hunting Season.” Top Best Rifle Scope Reviews And Buying Guide -, 21 May 2018,

“Now Is the Time to Prep for Deer Hunting Season | Winchester Ammunition.” Winchester,

“Stop the Bleed.” Department of Homeland Security, 26 July 2018,

“Custom Topographic Maps and Aerial Maps for the USA & Canada.” Custom Topographic Maps and Aerial Maps for the USA & Canada,

“Navigation Classes & Events | REI Classes & Events.” REI,

“Red Cross Training | Take a Class.” Red Cross,|NonBrand|NB&utm_term=cpr/first aid certification&utm_content=First Aid Certification&gclid=CIbJn7jYvuECFVOVxQIdcMAHzQ&gclsrc=ds.

Report, Staff. “Whitetail Hunting Checklist | Deer Hunting Tips from Guide Outdoors.” Guide Outdoors, 14 Aug. 2018,

“Where to Hunt • NSSF.” NSSF,

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