For bow enthusiasts everywhere, the crème de la crème of hunting is pursuing and catching the black tailed deer. Many hunters have tried and fallen short of succeeding in their quest to snag the elusive buck.
Lucky for you, there are some essential black tailed deer hunting tips and tricks you can use to make your next excursion a grand success. Keep reading for three ways to find pre-rut blacktail bucks, the three mistakes you should not make while on the hunt, and our top tips and tricks for hunting black tailed deer.
3 WAYS TO FIND PRE-RUT BLACKTAIL BUCKS
When hunting season is at its peak, black tailed deer often turn nocturnal, making the challenge of catching them all the greater. When this happens, your best bet to keep an eye on their movement is to use trail cameras. Trail cameras are unparalleled in their ability to help you scout effectively all year long.
The details you can see through your trail camera will enable you to better identify the buck’s behavioral habits and heighten your chances of bringing a black tailed deer home. You should position your camera in areas with high levels of black tail buck activity, such as a game trail with plenty of rub lines and scrapes.
Keep your camera at waist level so you will not take unnecessary images and drain your battery life too quickly. Make sure the camera is less than 20 feet away from the area where you expect the buck to alert it. Always wear protective gear like latex gloves and rubber boots when looking at your camera’s photos so your scent does not remain.
LOOK FOR DOES
Another easy way to find black tailed deer is to look for does. Where does are, bucks will follow. Focus on regions with lower elevation where you have identified clusters of does on pre-season scouting expeditions.
Does tend to stay relevantly close to their home area. You are more than likely to find 1 or 2 bucks scampering after the does during pre-rut.
LOOK FOR SCRAPES AND RUBS
A final way to locate black tailed deer is to look for scrapes and rubs. If you are scouting an area and see rub lines and scrapes, you have already won part of the battle.
Scrapes and lines tell you that bucks are nearby. Bucks check their scrapes for aromas continuously during pre-rut, so the chances you will run into one are high. Older bucks make rub lines by rubbing their antlers on small foliage to claim their territorial dominance over other bucks.
MISTAKES NOT TO MAKE
DON’T FORGET TO SCOUT
The first mistake not to make when hunting black tailed deer is to forget to scout. Black tailed deer follow set patterns and usually live within the space of a square mile. Scout so you can choose your buck before another hunter gets to him.
With your trail camera and mapping equipment in tow, scouting is easier than it has ever been. It is possible to scout for deer in lower-elevation areas for most of the year since bucks seldom diverge from these areas. There are greater concentrations of deer in lowlands during the winter while deer migrate back to the high country once spring hits.
Consider consulting a wildlife biologist in your area to find out where the deer in your region live during the summer and winter, and when they transition from range to range. When you notice deer and tracks pointed in the same direction, you have probably discovered a migration path.
You will find significant amounts of deer in these areas. However, you will only see a deer once as it moves along and most migration takes place at night. The best way to scout for black tailed deer is to be ready at dawn and remain until dusk as these are the most common migration periods.
DON’T OVERLOOK WIND ELEMENTS
Never overlook wind elements when hunting for black tailed deer. Wind can either benefit you or undermine your efforts completely. Pay attention to wind trends in your hunting region so you can be fully prepared if a gale hits.
There is no clear consensus on how deer respond to the wind when nearing a feeding area. Some experts state that deer travel against the wind while others insist that they go with the direction of the wind. That said, you never want the wind behind you in the area you expect the buck will appear.
Keep a fragrance-free detergent on hand to rid your clothes of any distracting scents. You might also want to purchase wind-direction checking powder. This handy powder will give you a clearer idea of where the wind is coming from and help you get ready to meet the buck when it arrives.
DON’T GLASS ONLY WHEN YOU SPOT SOMETHING
It might be tempting to glass only when you spot something on the trail. However, this is one of the greatest tactical errors you can make when on the hunt for black tailed deer. Rather, glass even when you spot nothing.
You are more likely to snag a buck with the aid of glassing than by depending on the naked eye alone. When you wait until you spot a deer with your naked eye, it is more likely that the buck has already seen and heard you.
You probably already glass large regions, but you should still glass ahead in smaller cover, particularly when you cannot see very far ahead of you. A buck could be next to you, but without the glass, you might only see the back of them as they make their escape.
Glass more than once for improved accuracy. Keep your bins and a portable spotting scope in your gear at all times.
BLACK TAILED DEER HUNTING TIPS, TRICKS, & MORE
If you want to increase your likelihood of bagging a black tailed deer, you need to scout pre-season. Whether you like following game trails, hunting from tree stands, or glassing, pre-season scouting is your best maneuver.
If you are unsure where the buck is located, you are already at a distinct disadvantage. Give yourself a competitive edge and pre-scout so you know where to hunt and where not to hunt. When pre-scouting a region, aim to go 2 or 3 times at dawn and dusk so you can monitor deer patterns.
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
If you have tried to snag a black tailed deer previously and came home empty handed, you are not alone. Even the most skilled of hunters lose the prize buck.
Remember that practice makes perfect. To increase the odds of victory on the hunt, practice using your weapon so you are comfortable with it. This applies whether you are using a rifle, shotgun, muzzleloader, or bow.
Your clothing matters when hunting black tailed deer. It protects you against the elements, so you do not have to leave the hunt early due to insufficient apparel.
Always choose your hunting clothing based on the weather you plan to hunt in. Wear layers if the weather will be cold and water repellant gear if you expect rain. Choose clothes that will last you for many expeditions to come, are well-fitted, and made from quality materials.
There are two primary hunting strategies used to catch black tailed deer. These are using binoculars to find clear cuts for deer or stalking deer trails. You can use either strategy you prefer.
If glassing clear-cut areas, make sure you use optics made for durability and sharp perception. Remember to look more than once at a target area as even skilled hunters have been known to miss bedded deer.
If you decide that following a game trail is the best strategy for you, make sure you invest in the right footwear. If your feet get too tired and sore, you cannot keep up. Quality boots will offer you the support you need to continue onward.
You should always let a friend or family member know when and where you intend to hunt. Make sure you know the region you will hunt in.
Stay away from tan or white clothing during peak hunting season. Instead, wear hunter orange detectable from all vantage points. Elk and deer see red and orange hues as subtle colors. If you have your dog with you, make sure they are wearing hunter orange or another easily identified color.
Make sure your hunting equipment is in working order before and following each outing. You should know how to use each piece of equipment confidently before taking it out to hunt.
Bring along a change of dry clothes for if unexpected weather hits and have rain clothes handy too. Always pack a first aid kit in case of emergency. Make sure you have pinpointed your target before you shoot. Stay cognizant of nearby hunters trailing deer.
Bagging the mysterious black tailed deer is far from an easy feat. There may be days you feel like giving up and going home. This is the last thing you should do.
When you make mistakes on the trail, identify them, learn from them, and do better next time. With the right equipment, clothes, strategy, and patience, you will be well on your way to catching that black tailed deer.
My articles appear in Marketing Edge Magazine, on Gizmogrind, and with various Medium publications. But one thing hasn’t changed in all of my life: no matter where I was or what I was doing. I’ve always loved to be outdoors.
A man needs nothing more than a good flannel shirt, a well-worn pair of jeans, and comfortable hiking boots. I don’t go for all the fancy luxury stuff. Suits are uncomfortable and shaving sucks.