While it may not be the most exciting job in the world, skinning a deer is important when returning from a hunt or when still actually on the hunt. If you have taken down the deer, elk, antelope or goat of your dreams in a glorious hunting adventure, you will need to know how to skin the deer and how to get the most out of your kill. If you are just learning about hunting, this how to skin deer article will be incredible handy for that remarkable day on which you will finally be able to skin a deer.
whitetail deer hunting
Deer hunting on the move, or stillhunting, is commonly misunderstood as to what it is and how to go about it. It is stalking deer, not waiting on a stump or in a blind for the deer to come to you. It can be the most rewarding deer hunting experience you can do. It can also be the most frustrating, since it is a skill which requires you to slow everything everything – your sight, your breath and your walking gait. But the payoffs go beyond the hunt to your better enjoyment of nature itself.
This article will talk about some things I’ve learned while hunting deer in the Vermont woods and oak mast ridges of Wisconsin. These few simple techniques can be used on your next hunt – whether you choose to stillhunt or not, the principles are the same. These techniques will also make your deer hunt a richer experience. It’s all about: you’re outdoors – enjoy the scenery, hunting or not.
Generally, as deer hunters, we think of one thing when we hunt, and that is deer. Not deer in general, but that deer. We are aided in this compulsion by our brains, and our eyes. Let’s talk about eyes first.
Hunt Deer with Soft Focus – See Them as They See You
We see as all predators do – forward, and tightly focused. Take a look at your average house cat and watch it stalk something. It pursues its object with its eyes narrowed and every muscle relaxed, yet steeled at a moment’s notice to pounce. We share with the cat and all predators having our eyes in the front of our head, designed to focus on a single thing.
However, deer, and all prey species, have eyes designed to detect motion. Deer and all prey species have eyes on the side of their head, and this aids in perceiving motion first, long before the animal can make out whether what they see is a threat, or just some pattern-breaking motion in the woods. When stillhunting for deer, we must adopt to the way they see. We must see motion first, patterns out of sync second, and the deer last. The only way to do this is to relax our focus and broaden our field of vision.
Here’s how to practice. Stand facing a wall, about six to eight feet away from it. Stare hard at a spot on the wall. Raise your arms, index fingers extended, fully out to the side from your head (and slightly behind). Now, keeping your arms straight and your index fingers extended, bring your arms slowly in front of your face. Notice the moment when your fingers come into view – this is your field of vision (FOV).
Now, turn to the wall again. This time, soften your focus so that your eyes, while seeing objects or spots on the wall, do not lock on any one spot. Repeat the index-finger practice. You should see your fingers enter your FOV much earlier than before. It is this type of sight – gained through practice, for it isn’t natural to us anymore – that allows us to see changes in woods patterns, motion – in short, to see deer out in the distance, possibly before they see us.
Now, onto walking.
Walk Toe-Heel, not Heel-Toe
You see it all the time – the hunter walking through the woods as if he’s hunting on rice paper.
It doesn’t work. As a hunter, you’re going to make noise. But then, so do deer and other game. So does anything living and breathing in the woods. What you want to avoid is making the rhythmic gait a hunter makes when he’s running, usually after a deer, or doing everything he can to be quiet, when he doesn’t yet see one.
Walking toe-heel is the way to walk, because the palm of your foot can be more flexible in its response to the softwood twigs and deadfall underfoot – like deer, whose hooves make relatively light contact with the forest floor. Walking heel-toe makes for a heavy, stiff step – a human step. Walking heel toe, take a few steps, pause, and, using the soft-focus described above, take in the environment, in a holistic way. Above all else, if you find yourself entering in to a steady, rhythmic gait, break it up. You also want to avoid any obviously human sounds sounds coming from anything man-made, such as metal or hard plastic. Bottom line – brushing past an oak stump is o.k. Marching in cadence is not, nor is that canteen banging against your hunting rifle strap buckle.
Know the Wind
Finally, walk into the wind. Yes, this is rule 1. But many hunters, especially those used to staying in a relatively insulated hunting blind, forget this cardinal rule. I’ve stood with my bow drawn on a buck 10 yards away, with the buck clearly trying to figure out what the heck this would-be rambo was up to – only to watch it spring to life once the wind shifts, and thanksgiving was a bit – thinner that year.
Don’t even bother still hunting on blustery days, with no prevailing winds.
The bottom line, when you are hunting deer in this way, is to get used to is slowing yourself down, for hours at a time, and softening your focus to “deer hunt” for motion – not deer.
But act like, see like, deer, become more a part of where you are, and you will reap many rewards – whether you take a deer or not.
Successful deer hunting is not a simple matter of tiptoeing quietly through the forest with a rifle and pulling the trigger when you have the animal in your sight. There are several strategies from which to choose. Some hunter prefer the ‘stand’ technique, while others catch a buzz off stalking their quarry. Working in a group as part of a team can bring people closer together. It can be fun whether there are only two or as many as twenty or more.
Basics Of Deer Hunting
With the stand method, the hunter remains in one place where he predicts the animals are likely to come. It is a good idea to use a hide. This may be on the ground or up in the trees at a minimum of twenty feet. They may be purchased commercially or constructed from materials that are immediately at hand.
Some hunters prefer to make use of whatever natural materials are lying around. Placing the hide at least twenty feet off the ground is often recommended. This is because the animals are less likely to detect your scent, they are probably not going to be able to see you and they are unlikely to hear any unavoidable noises that you might generate. You should try to remain very still and remain downwind of the target where they won’t be able to smell your presence.
Of course, using a hide, especially high in the trees, has a number of drawbacks. The most obvious and the most serious is the potential for falling and being seriously injured or, worse, killed. It is harder to maneuver and to get a direct shot.
In some ways, stalking your prey is more challenging than hiding in the bushes. It is important to move very quietly and to keep your eyes open in all directions. It is also important to stay out of your quarry’s direct line of sight. If you are stalking deer that are close to a highway, it is best if there are trees or vegetation at the side of the road where you can hide.
In a group hunt, one strategy is for one or two hunters to wait in a spot where it is likely the animal will want to escape to if disturbed. It is the job of the remaining hunters to try and manipulate the deer to that pre-determined trap. It is helpful to understand the behavior of the animals, in particular, how they will react under pressure, and to have a good understanding of the terrain and the vegetation.
A lot of hunters are convinced that the ideal way of predicting where the animals are going to be most active is to be aware of the phases of the moon. If you can forecast this, you have a good chance of making a catch. Breeding patterns are also influenced by the moon.
There are a variety of methods to choose in deer hunting. Some involve the use of a hide, either up in the trees or on the ground. Others involve stealth. A third method is to function as a group and surround the animal. Whichever technique you choose, develop a good understanding of the animals’ physiology and behavior, have a sound knowledge of the local habitat and bring with you an abundant supply of patience.