John's Journal...

Twelve Ways to Find Your Buck Deer to Hunt

Day 2: Tips for Locating Deer to Hunt

Editor’s Note: Tagging a deer is easy. All you have to do is get a deer in your sights, squeeze the trigger, and let your bullet do the rest. But finding a white-tailed deer can be difficult. Thousands of outdoorsmen spend days attempting to take a deer in areas the animals rarely frequent. Many hunters sit in tree stands or ground blinds day after day waiting for a deer to appear, because they have seen a few tracks or droppings. Some hunters set up their ambushes close to trees where a buck has rubbed his antlers. Although these outdoorsmen are hunting over deer sign, there is no guarantee that the hunters are in a good place to take a deer.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger View* Hunt the most-productive terrain for your area, although the direct route to your destination may be through unfamiliar land. Avid deer hunters say terrain is a key factor in locating deer. For instance, in many parts of New York State, most of the nut-producing trees grow on southern slopes. Since these trees produce some of the most-favored food for deer, sportsmen there often concentrate their hunting on southern slopes, but they also look for other food-rich areas such as abandoned apple orchards. Current topographical maps are an immense help too. In the Northwest, shelterbelts (windbreaks) provide both food and cover for whitetails on the edges of agricultural croplands. In the Deep South, the edges of soybean fields and river-bottom swamps are good places for deer hunting. And, in Texas, breaks in the terrain, such as the cleared lanes on either sides of fences, often lead hunters to deer.

* Determine the deer’s preferred food source in a specific place, and take a stand close to that food source. The whitetail needs 10 to 12 pounds of food per day. “Even deer within one state have different preferred food sources,” Dr. Ross Shelton, former extension wildlife specialist with the Mississippi Cooperative Extension Service, says. “That preference is often determined by the time of year and the availability of that preferred food. For instance, in my area of the South, the deer seem to prefer persimmons, crab apples and sloes (a type of wild plum) in the early fall during bow season. But later on, deer favor white oak acorns. In parts of the state where no wild fruits grow, the deer’s favorite food may be something entirely different. The hunter should find out what the preferred foods are in the region he plans to hunt during the time he wants to hunt.”

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewPennsylvania hunters search for small trees such as red maples, black cherry or young oaks to learn whether or not deer are feeding on this type of browse. Look to see if the twigs of trees and shrubs have been chewed off. Rabbits often utilize the same food source as deer, but rabbits cut twigs off squarely as though they had been cut with scissors. When a deer feeds on twigs, the deer chews and tears the ends. A deer has no upper front teeth and can’t cut a twig cleanly. If acorns and nuts are the preferred food, a hunter has to know how to distinguish between squirrels and deer feeding on the nuts. Sometimes, squirrels chip the shells of the nuts away to get to the kernels, but deer most often pop the nuts in half to squeeze the meat out of the shells. In some places, deer feed on agricultural crops rather than on wild food. For instance, abandoned apple orchards in New York may be productive places to find concentrations of deer, while in the West, grain fields are invaded by deer in the winter, and in the South, soybeans draw large numbers of whitetails.

For more deer-hunting tips, get John E. Phillips’ Kindle eBooks “How to Hunt Deer Like a Pro,” "How to Hunt Deer Up Close: With Bows, Rifles, Muzzleloaders and Crossbows,” and “PhD Whitetails: How to Hunt and Take the Smartest Deer on Any Property,” or to prepare venison, get “Deer & Fixings.” Click here on each, or go to, type in the name of the book, and download it to your Kindle, and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, SmartPhone or computer.

About the Author

John Phillips, winner of the 2012 Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the 2008 Crossbow Communicator of the year and the 2007 Legendary Communicator chosen for induction into the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame, is a freelance writer (over 6,000 magazine articles for about 100 magazines and several thousand newspaper columns published), magazine editor, photographer for print media as well as industry catalogues (over 25,000 photos published), lecturer, outdoor consultant, marketing consultant, book author and daily internet content provider with an overview of the outdoors. Click here for more information and a list of all the books available from John E. Phillips.

Tomorrow: More Techniques to Pinpoint Deer to Hunt

Check back each day this week for more about "Twelve Ways to Find Your Buck Deer to Hunt"

Day 1: Discovering Ways to Find Your Buck
Day 2: Tips for Locating Deer to Hunt
Day 3: More Techniques to Pinpoint Deer to Hunt
Day 4: Hunt a Preferred Food Source and Make a Drive to Find More Deer to Take
Day 5: More Routes You Can Follow to Locate Deer and Take Them

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Entry 742, Day 2