John's Journal...

How to Hunt White-tailed Deer When the Heat’s On

Day 2: Human Odor – What Deer Fear Most about Hunters

Editor’s Note: Deer do strange and unpredictable things when the hunting pressure builds-up over their range. But you can modify your hunting tactics to adjust to the situation and take deer.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewSince my hunting-club members hunted the same 2,000 acres every weekend and several days through the week regularly, some sportsmen might assume that that much hunting pressure would drive big deer out of the region. “But that’s not true,” Dr. Keith Causey, retired professor of Wildlife Science at Alabama’s Auburn University, explained. “From studies that have been done on deer using radio telemetry, we now know that the whitetail usually spends his lifetime within one square mile. Of course there are exceptions to this rule. But most of the time the deer won’t leave his home range. Larry Marchinton, a retired deer researcher at the University of Georgia attempted to drive deer out of their home ranges by constantly harassing them with dogs. Of all the deer that Marchington studied, only one animal left its home range and did not return.”

According to Causey, deer fear man’s odor more than any other thing. “Once deer are able to make a slight association with man’s odor and the form of a man, one of two things happens. The deer either can become adjusted to the sight of men and lose their fear of them, or if the deer are constantly harassed by humans, they will learn to panic at the sight of man, whether or not they smell him. The hunter actually trains the deer to fear him.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger View“And the whitetail fawn learns to fear man from the doe, who transfers these signals to her fawn, so that it knows what to run from and what to fear. I feel that human odor may release a natural fear response in the deer as well as a learned response. Although there is no way to monitor the intelligence or thought processes of a deer, we can assume that the more human contact the animal has, the more adept he becomes at avoiding human encounters. This may explain why so many 1-1/2-year-old animals are taken each year in harvests, and why the older deer are less likely to be killed. The deer that are able to survive past 1-1/2-years of age have to be better at escaping humans from smelling their scent and seeing them in the woods than the younger deer are.”

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.


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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: Tactics to Use to Eliminate Human Odor When Hunting Deer

Check back each day this week for more about How to Hunt White-tailed Deer When the Heat’s On"

Day 1: Know the Wind Direction to Successfully Hunt Deer
Day 2: Human Odor – What Deer Fear Most about Hunters
Day 3: Tactics to Use to Eliminate Human Odor When Hunting Deer
Day 4: Where Deer Hide to Avoid Hunting Pressure
Day 5: More Unlikely Hideouts for Deer to Use to Escape from Hunter Pressure

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Entry 745, Day 2