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NEWER or YOUNG Hunters- thoughts for them or ?’s from them..


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A lot of newer hunters crave information, understanding, want to learn from seasoned hunters, increase their skills, knowledge, etc. IMO- it’s important we remember every couple years there’s a whole new group of hunters that haven’t heard a lot of information yet. Everyone has to start from scratch. I remember the days when I started & how obsessed I was at gaining knowledge, hunting like a maniac & making a lot of mistakes. As hunters, I feel our group is a great bunch of mentors and like passing “wisdom” down.
What’s any advice for our new hunters here? What’s any key points you’d like them to know. Mistakes to learn from & considering many may be starting on difficult to hunt, over hunted, public land, etc. tactics, mental parts of hunting, take aways from your many years of hunting. Maybe the things you wished you knew when you started.

For the new hunters.... please don’t be shy- no question is wrong or stupid - any realm of the spectrum - what questions do you have? Challenges, things you wish you could figure out?

I’ll leave this open ended so others can post. IW is a place we want to foster an encouraging & inviting environment to our new hunters & next generation. GO!....
Thanks for starting this thread, I fall in the new hunter category. One thing I don’t understand (but can’t be that difficult?) is how “thermals” work. Anyone have any good links or any info there?

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Thanks for starting this thread, I fall in the new hunter category. One thing I don’t understand (but can’t be that difficult?) is how “thermals” work. Anyone have any good links or any info there?

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Great question. Here is an explanation that helped me understand the basics of thermals:


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Milk weed pods should be ready to harvest soon. Take some fluff with you to the stand to watch how the wind is moving.

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I too use these, I think they tell you a lot about thermals and how your scent will be dispersed in the breeze. I have had them plummet straight to the ground and fly 2-3' off the ground for a long ways prior to landing, and then I have had them float straight away from me in the tree and fly till out of sight. Just my observations anyway.
Thanks for starting this thread, I fall in the new hunter category. One thing I don’t understand (but can’t be that difficult?) is how “thermals” work. Anyone have any good links or any info there?

That is a great question and I see that several have already replied with some good advice. I'll add this too...(perhaps this has already been shared, if so, sorry. :))

Thermals tend to work in your advantage in the mornings, as the rising temps lead to your scent "rising" more than "falling". I still take the wind direction into account when hunting mornings, but you can usually "get away" with more questionable winds in the AM than the PM in my experience. The wind also tends to die off to essentially nothing close to dark...so having the wind "right" during afternoon hunts is even more important than morning hunts IMO.

Whenever you are hunting an area that is adjacent to valleys and ridges, etc, you can get a sense on an aerial map how the wind will "behave" in an area, but you never really know until you hunt the area just how it is going to go. "Leaves on" in the early fall, can also be different than "leaves off" later in the fall too for a specific area. I too use milkweed silk to test the wind while hunting.

Primarily because of swirling winds in valleys/creek ditches...I tend not to hunt these areas very much and almost never will go "low" for an afternoon sit.
Get the windy app, I found it very useful before deciding which stand I should hunt. It won't predict thermals but it's amazing to see how the wind swirls and changes direction in detail and wind speeds real time.
One thing that's been a game changer for me is thinking long and hard about my approach to stands. I'd rather hunt an 'okay' spot with 'great' entry and exit than hunt a 'great' spot with a 'poor' entry and exit. When I first started bow hunting, I sniffed out some pretty solid spots but I would harm the spot because of my entry and exit from the stand and quickly burn it out. Could you make the argument that I should be more aggressive? Sure. I might miss an opportunity because I wasn't in the best spot but I know it won't be my only opportunity because I didn't blow the place up getting to where I was.

I'll spend sometimes close to an hour slipping through a shallow creek in the dark to get into a stand that's maybe not in the 'best spot' but I'm confident that I can hunt that stand many mornings through the course of the season without burning it out because the majority of my access to the stand is in water. It's a fool proof entry and exit. I don't leave ground scent, it's quiet (no crunching leaves), they can't see me unless they happen to also be in the creek or right on the bank, and your scent mostly stays and dissipates in the creek instead of floating through a bedding area or something. When you find a tree that's in a 'great' spot AND has 'great' access? Those goats better look out because they're in trouble. :D
My list of mistakes or things I wish I would have known is so long it’s almost embarrassing. Worst hunter on earth RIGHT HERE!!! When I started - it was bad!!!!

I wanted to throw out the “BIGGEST” Mistake I ever made.... this is more of a “mindset mistake”. something maybe even some folks wouldn’t admit. maybe 21-22 years old??? I shot a few big bucks but I think I had only been hunting where deer older than 1.5 lived, for maybe 4-5 years. (I Started at 14 or 15 and self taught- walking around like an idiot ruining Every hunt I went on, long story.). Anyways - so by this age I had seen and shot a few nice bucks. Hunted IL for first time & before that maybe 2-3 years in a “decent area of MI”. IL- about 2001.... Had the most incredible typical come in, I mean... HUGE. So, I was rattled.... to be expected. Like anyone would be.
let me back up again a bit..... I’m maybe 21 years old or so. I had “I gotta get a buck pressure” in my brain. “I wanna shoot a big one” in my core. I watched videos where the “legends” slayed some mammoths & that was just “amazing”. Lil jealousy of folks that shot giants, pressure & I wanted to “be the man” at that 21-ish years old. Maybe I had shot a 125” deer to date.
Now back to the deer... as he was coming in..... my mind started to go the wrong place. I vividly remember saying “I’m gonna get this thing. This will be so awesome to show my buddies. This buck is gonna be biggest any of me or buddies have ever shot, etc etc.”. My mind was NOT on making the shot. Or all the tiny little things up to that point. Ego, excitement, “the next day after I got him”, etc was on my mind. I hurried it up to close the last little bit “so I could finish him”..... I made noise, I moved too much. He got spooky, I lost my nerves and made more noise, moved more. Tried to draw and make a further than ideal shot..... I didn’t even get my bow all the way back.... he was RUNNING the other direction fast.
I’ll try and describe what was going through my head... I was so glued to the pressure, I was so rattled. I did NOT stop & slow myself down “all that matters is the shot, be still, patient, don’t do anything to spook him, you name it.” I was not calm. I was not the example of a “seasoned, patient, crafty, calming & confident hunter”. I was thinking a day ahead & I was an idiot. Idiot eaten up by big buck pressure, a lil bragging, proving myself & wanting to show folks my giant. I was immature. It cost me, NO JOKE, a 200”+ typical and that’s no joke. BUT.... it would have been the EXACT SAME if the deer was 160”. Not one bit of different result.
Since then, my process & attitude have changed with age. Yes- I think me 2020 was there now- that deer would be done. But- I wouldn’t be thinking of what I was and I wouldn’t be out with “pressure” & making the stupid mistakes in my head that could have been avoided. Now, I “don’t care” if I get a buck or not. Now.... when a big deer comes in..... it’s all focus on 3 Things...... 1) calm down to make the kill shot, wait, wait wait 2) dont make any dumb mistakes (be turned right, don’t have junk dangling or things that make noise or move, etc. ) 3) make the shot. All that counts. Put it in money zone. I Don’t think about anything else. Myself of 2001 & 2020 are 2 Totally different hunters.
clearly time Changes us all. Hopefully if someone deals with say, “jealousy”, hopefully over time that person works through it. Or pressure. Or target panic, Whatever it is. I made myself rethink all this shortly after that buck. I didn’t change this slowly over 20 years. I immediately realized what an idiot I was & how my attitude, goals, priorities & tactics needed to change. I’d say equal parts attitude/mental + hunting tactics both rapidly changed. Made hunting a lot more ENJOYABLE & successful. Sorry on the long rant of kinda a random example but a very specific mistake & lesson of my growth as a hunter.
Here’s a less specific, some little, some big & more general applied list of things I wish I knew when started or lessons learned, etc...
  • having 3-4 minimum stands for any wind direction. If the wind stayed “East” for 4 days straight - could hunt different stand for 4 days.
  • Not burning self or stands out... for example - come early October or December .... usually PM’s only. Only hunting October when easy access in & out &/or buck on pattern. & on “burning out”.... don’t have trail cams by ur spots that u check non-stop. Leave those deer alone- especially if it’s by ur stands or general hunting area. Leave them be as much as possible!!
  • Avoiding people & having lots back up plans. When I was younger & saw other hunters- it wasn’t about “courtesy” that I quickly left... I wanted to find areas without folks all over as those areas were generally messed up. If I lost permission or a farm was ruined by people or whatever - lots of back ups & extra properties/options.
  • As you are learning deer hunting in general & hopefully have lots of places to try.... TRY putting stands in all sorts of locations..... deep timber, pinch points, natural food, crops, close to bedding, overlooking crp, WHATEVER. Just don’t get pinned to hunting “one way” like “I always have to be on food or a field edge”. Trying all terrains & scenarios will teach u a ton- even if u make a lot of mistakes in process.
  • Willing to drive. My area SUCKED when younger... split gas & motel & drove to great areas on the cheap! Great areas & we didn’t care if we ate PB & J every day as broke youngsters.
  • Without over pressure- hunt all I could. Pounded out days & days when it made sense. Now a guy can pull up stuff like weather underground & look at changes in barometric pressure & temps - huge. Yes- when a student- I somehow skipped enough classes where miraculously I graduated. Hunted like a lunatic. When I did graduate & got a job (no kids) - took most nov for vacation.
  • If newer & a bow hunter- find an area with a lot of deer... shoot does to get comfy with everything. Backyard practice is great but piling up does is a huge benefit in improving skills.
  • Mess around with calls on small bucks, etc to see how react if no damage to be done. Same with practice drawing on them when nearby. On calls- do NOT over-do blind calling!!! Way way over done!!! With Grunt or rattle.
  • Get comfy knocking on doors. Learn it. Try and relax but be persistent & realize it’ll take 10+ times for success and over that to be comfy doing it.
  • If newer- spend as much time as u are able shooting bow, gun, etc.
  • No product, single method, tactic, weapon or anything u can buy will be the ticket to a big deer. With consistency at least.
  • don’t be an idiot & hunt without harness & safety line, etc. I can post a pic of myself from past making that mistake.
  • Be happy for ur buddies that shoot big deer. U will have ur day. Jealousy or envy eventually make hunting less fun, etc. your time will come.
  • Realize that all the times “things don’t work out” & it’s “frustrating” or “really hard”..... someday you will realize- it’s that element that makes this so fun & rewarding.
  • Even If a property is “good” but it’s filled with drama, lot of people, issues, etc - bag it- pull up and go somewhere else.

  • Start all this preparation, access to land, stands, Scouting, planning, Infinate back up plans Right when season ends.... January/February.
  • Lesson or side note..... nope- does NOT require lots of $ to shoot big deer!!!! $ can create good hunting BUT.... willing to travel cheap, knock on doors, go deep on sleeper public, etc - guys on budgets can get on big deer no doubt!!!
  • Start realistic. If u r new- clearly any seasoned hunters started shooting small bucks - all good. A healthy challenge & expectations are great but don’t put it at a level that’s out of line for area, your satisfaction or skills. Grow with time.
Well, that’s my lil rattled off list for tonight.
My one bit of advice for a new hunter: It does not matter how big of a deer you shoot, or if you kill a doe! Do NOT let social media dictate your harvest happiness. Id be willing to bet on this forum about 95% of the guys started by killing a doe, button, spike, fork...whatever it was it was NOT big!!! Hunt for yourself and NOT others! Define your happiness, earn your stripes to work into only hunting mature bucks!(if thats what you want to do). Just go out, learn, and enjoy yourself! Kill the first 80lb doe you see...THATS OK!!! Its awesome and ill be the first to congratulate you!
  • Access, access, access. I think a lot of beginning hunters ruin their hunt before they are even in their stand. Plan your entry and exits so deer cannot see, smell, or hear you and preferably will not cross the path you walked in on.
  • Overhunting their property. And I am not talking about the number of times you hunt it. As a beginning hunter I wanted a stand in every square inch of the property. Nowadays on farms I manage, MOST of the farm is off limits. Deer need their space. They need sanctuaries. By giving it to them they will stay there. Hunt the edges and let them make a mistake. If you bump them out you likely won’t see them again if it’s a mature deer.
  • Trail cameras: They were a game changer but many youngsters are ruining their hunting by 2 things involving cameras. 1. Where they put them. 2. When and how often they are checking them. I don’t put a camera anyplace I can’t drive a tractor or pickup to. I prefer the tractor and I leave it running the whole time. If you have to go for hike in the timber to go check a camera, you’re messing things up.
  • If you are doing the habitat and foodplot thing, try to have food year round. Deer figure this out real quick and you will recruit A LOT of deer that end up staying.
If you're just starting out, good chances are that you're no different than most of us are/were.
You learn best through personal experience, as compared to reading about and watching others.
Keep in mind that most of the best lessons learned are from bad experiences.
Have humility and don't beat yourself up too much when they happen, and they will happen.
Learn from your mistakes and don't be afraid to experiment.
2nd hand equipment is cheap and can kill deer just as good as brand new $$$ stuff.
Dragging and carting deer out by hand builds character.
Get involved in your local urban hunting program to work out your learning curve on tame city does.
Give all different hunting styles a try. (Party shotgun hunting in Iowa is a blast!)
Get to really know the lay of the land that you hunt. (It's amazing the knowledge you learn on one piece will transfer to other similar structural layouts.)
Keep it simple stupid. (Too much junk, er, I mean equipment quickly becomes a complete hastle.)
Try to keep your attention off of your phone and on Mother Nature.
Pay attention to everything going on around you. (Bird and squirel activity can sometimes indicate deer movement.)
No sudden jerky movements. (You can get a way with movement, as long as it's slow and smooth. Deer key off of movement way more than they do color or shapes.)
Treestands have their advantages, times and places, but don't be afraid to put in some miles and hunt from the ground, sans blind. (When it pays off, it's the most fulfilling deer hunting experience ever.)
When you be come a veteran, offer to take any/every young man/woman who shows interest.
My advise is just get out there. I have had people ask me and have got a few people into hunting.

1. Just get out and hunt. As a new hunter there is so many articles, videos, and pages to try to learn and thousands of people opinions, but nothing is better than just getting out there and hunt. You will learn more in one season hunting than you will reading a years worth of advise.

2. You don't need top of the line gear. The hunting industry is a real thing and there are tons of products out there that you plain don't need or don't need to spend half of what some of these items cost. Get yourself a cheap used bow, some cheap camo, and even just build some natural blinds out of brush. You will learn what you yourself will need/want overtime.

After these two points and a few outings then start to dive into more specifics.
Here's a couple things that have helped me:
(1) I keep a hunting journal for each season. When you get home after the hunt, write down things about the hunt you just had. Date, temp, wind info, where you were hunting, write down any details that you think may come in handy, what type of deer did you see, how were they moving through the area you were hunting, primary food sources at that time of year etc. At the end of the season you can look through it for some good memories and write down patterns you may have noticed or important lessons that you learned. It will also act as a data base of information that you can access over the years.

(2) I slowly creep to my stand, if I am going through areas where I may accidently run into deer. I always have my ghillie suit top on. I have come within shooting distance of a couple pretty decent bucks that way. Unfortunately, I freaked out when it happened because I simply reacted instead of staying cool and having a game plan of what to do if it happened. I also wear my guillie suit in because I can change my hunting plan if I get to a pre-hung stand and the wind is bad or the area has changed for the worse. I just set up nearby on the ground, but with the wind to my advantage.

(3) If you can, start learning where the does and bucks are bedded. If you jump them, make a note about it in your journal. After hunting season is over, go in to your hunting area when there is snow on the ground a few days after it has fallen. Fun and awesome way to find beds. If you can learn where these are, it will really help you get into your hunting areas like a ninja. Not to mention, you will begin to learn why they bed in certain places and what they can see from their beds.
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