Minnesota’s firearms deer season is right around the corner. To help you safely make fun memories afield and boost your odds of bagging a big buck, we offer the following tips from your friends at Minnesota Equipment.
Statistically, hunting is an extremely safe sport. But that doesn’t mean you should take chances. Nothing ruins a hunt faster than an accident, and serious accidents can alter—or end—lives.
Always play it safe. Review and follow hunting safety procedures for firearms handling, tree stand use and more. If you need a refresher, check out safety tips from a trusted source like the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Play by the Rules
Know and follow all hunting regulations. These laws don’t just help level the playing field, they preserve wildlife and promote hunter safety. Spend time reviewing the annual Minnesota deer hunting season information and hunting regulations.
Minimize the Fear Factor
To a whitetail deer, human presence can be either alarming or benign. In many areas, deer are accustomed to the sights and sounds of tractors and other farm, logging or land management equipment. Using a compact utility tractor or off-road utility vehicle to check trail cameras or move from one spot to another is less likely to scare the daylights out of a big buck than bumping the deer while walking through the woods.
Have a Plan B
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket when it comes to stand selection or hunting tactics. Have alternate plans in case hunting pressure, crop harvest, weather or other factors alter deer behavior in your go-to hunting spot.
Have a few different stands, ground blinds or stand locations ready to go, and be prepared to try different hunting techniques such as still-hunting or making drives with hunting companions if stand-sitting doesn’t pan out.
A deer’s nose is one of its main defense mechanisms. You might fool a buck’s eyes or ears, but if he catches a whiff of human scent, it’s game over.
Commercial scent-control products are popular, but it’s also smart to keep your hunting clothes as scent-free as possible. Store your clothing in an airtight container, with pine branches or other natural scent from the local area, to keep the apparel from soaking up odors from deer camp.
Also play the wind. Afoot or on stand, always hunt downwind of deer trails and bedding or feeding areas.
Know Your Weapon
When it comes to surefire gun handling in hunting situations, familiarity breeds success. The more accustomed you are to shouldering and shooting your chosen deer hunting firearm, the more likely you are to squeeze off a successful shot when the opportunity presents itself.
Firing the gun a few times while sighting in isn’t enough. Practice shouldering, aiming and firing until the process becomes second nature. You needn’t shoot hundreds of rounds in the process, simple dry firing counts as valuable practice. Be sure to hone your shooting form and focus on every detail of aiming, breath control and firing.
Don’t forget to practice your moves while wearing your hunting clothes, including gloves. Bulky cold-weather apparel can complicate the shooting process, so it pays to be prepared. Practice different shooting positions as well.
If possible, go through the motions from your stand, so there are no surprises once opening day arrives. For example, you may realize the stand’s quarters are too cramped for comfortable shooting, or you can’t shoot in a direction from which you expect shot opportunities to come.