Deer Hunting Tips For Beginners: The Complete Guide To Bag Your First Deer

Deer hunting is an exciting and rewarding activity for outdoors enthusiasts. However, for beginners, knowing where to start can be overwhelming. This complete guide covers all the deer hunting tips, tricks, and gear you need as a novice to set yourself up for success on your first hunt.

Choose the Right Firearm

Choose the Right Firearm

Your weapon of choice will depend on the deer species you are targeting, your shooting ability, and local regulations. Consider the following firearm options as a beginner:

Bolt Action Rifle

  • Common beginner choice
  • Accurate at long ranges
  • Slow to operate bolt mechanism
  • Good for patient hunters
  • Recommended calibers:
  • .308 Win
  • .270 Win
  • .30-06 Springfield

Lever Action Rifle

  • Fast cycling lever mechanism
  • Short to medium range
  • Affordable price point
  • Great in dense brush
  • Recommended calibers:
  • .30-30 Win
  • .45-70 Gov’t


  • Effective at short ranges
  • Wide shot spread
  • Slug, buckshot, or birdshot loads
  • Ideal for hunting in dense cover
  • Use slugs for big game hunting


  • Single projectile per reload
  • Short range
  • Primitive hunting experience
  • Learning the reloading process takes time
  • Low regulations in most areas

Use Proper Hunting Optics

Clear and reliable optics are essential gear for any type of hunting. Two must-have options for beginners include:

Hunting Optics

Hunting Rifle Scopes

  • Magnifies target for precision
  • Recommended 3-9x or 2-7x magnification
  • Match scope to rifle caliber


  • Calculates exact distance to target
  • Eliminates guesswork on shot placement
  • Essential for ethical harvesting

Make sure to properly sight in your scope before the hunt and practice judging distances with your rangefinder at the target ranges you expect to encounter when hunting.

Improve Your Marksmanship

Simply owning a deer rifle isn’t enough – you need to be competent and confident with it too. Here are marksmanship tips for beginners:

Master Proper Shooting Form

  • Sturdy standing, kneeling, or sitting shooting platform
  • Rifle butt securely planted in shoulder pocket
  • Consistent cheek weld on the stock
  • Slow, steady trigger squeeze

Use a Lead Sled Shooting Rest

  • Reduces rifle recoil
  • Helps perfect proper form
  • Consistent accuracy

Practice at the Range

  • Dial-in rifle scope at exact hunting distances
  • Simulate field positions from elevated stands and ground blinds
  • Start at 50 yards, then progressively extend your range once proficient

Logging consistent range time will make you confident and lethal when you draw down on a deer.

Scout Prospective Hunting Areas

Scout Prospective Hunting Areas

Part of being a successful deer hunter is putting in the legwork to find where deer congregate.

Locate Food Sources

  • Oak trees dropping acorns
  • Orchards and agriculture crops
  • Low brush and saplings providing tender greens

Find Bedding Areas

  • Dense brush and young saplings
  • Hillsides with ridges and saddles

Establish Funnel Zones Between

  • Travel corridors between food and bedding areas
  • Natural pinch points along terrain

Identify areas with recent deer sign like rubs, scrapes, and tracks too. This tells you deer are in the area.

Invest in Scent Control Measures

A deer’s sense of smell is legendary. Make sure you don’t announce your presence prematurely and spook deer by integrating scent control into your hunting strategy:

Use Scent-Eliminating Soaps and Sprays

  • Removes and masks human odors
  • Use unscented detergent when washing hunting clothes

Store Gear in Rubber or Plastic Containers

  • Airtight seal prevents odors from permeating gear
  • Leave clothes outside to air-dry after using scent treatments

Spray Boots with Scent Eliminator

  • Deer often catch wind of something foreign by smelling the ground
  • Treat dragging straps and harness straps too

Consider a Scent-Eliminating Ground Blind

  • Portable pop-up enclosures with carbon panels absorb odors
  • Blackout interior conceals movement

Hunt Into the Wind When Possible

  • Wind carries scent away from your location
  • Deer will smell you before you smell or see them

Use Deer Calls Properly

From grunt calls to rattling antlers, deer calls can draw bucks into range by mimicking deer language. Follow these effective calling tips:

Use Sparingly and Avoid Overcalling

  • Start calling softly, then increase volume if needed
  • Sounding unnatural will make deer cautious

Grunt Tube

  • Mimics buck grunts
  • Sparingly use tending grunts to show dominance and aggression from territorial buck invaders

Bleat Can

  • Imitates doe estrous bleats
  • Shows a hot doe ready to breed
  • Calling too much will seem unrealistic

Rattle Bag

  • Simulates the sounds of antlers clashing during a fight
  • Alternate rattling sequences with pauses when calling

Establish Realistic Calling Setup

  • Position yourself where a deer could conceivably be grunting or rattling
  • For example, on a game trail, near rub line, etc.

Use calls as part of a larger strategy to pull deer into bow or gun range.

Hunt the Pre-Rut and Rut Phases

Hunting during the peak breeding times in autumn offer your best chance to encounter mature bucks. Here is what you need to know:

Pre-Rut Period

  • Early October
  • Bucks begin wandering to check for estrous does
  • Responsive to calls and scents

Peak Rut Phase

  • Late October through November
  • Increased daytime activity
  • Distracted bucks check every doe

Post-Rut Period

  • December
  • Exhausted and weathered bucks
  • Difficult hunting

Set aside time in your work or school schedule to be in the field as much as possible during these prime times.

Be Patient and Stay Scent-Free in Your Stand

Some of the best deer hunting advice for beginners is simply to have patience and discipline while on stand. Here are tips:

Pick Areas Deer Naturally Funnel Through

  • Stand sites between bedding and feeding zones
  • Travel pinch points along terrain features

Sit All Day If Needed

  • Be in position before daylight
  • Stay until dark during rut peak

Have Quick Access to Your Weapon

  • Safely hang bow or gun within reach
  • Be ready when deer appear in range

Remain Silent and Still

  • No loud smells or food wrappers
  • Avoid excess movement

Stay Downwind of Expected Approach Routes

  • Deer follow their noses
  • They’ll smell you before you see them

Follow this smart stand strategy and you’ll tag your first deer in no time!