Deer Hunting for Beginners

If you're interested in beginning to hunt deer, start with this introduction to the basics, from tips on choosing a place to hunt to illustrated steps for dressing your kill.

| November/December 1989


Learn to sit quietly and pay attention, and you will get deer.


There's something addictive about deer hunting. The sport may not appeal to everyone, but those of us who are susceptible to its lure can feel the hooks pulling from deep within. Perhaps no other form of outdoor activity is as inextricably entangled in our history, myth, and language. Consider that the term venison, for the meat of the deer, is derived from the name of Venus, the Roman goddess of love. Other English terms sharing the same derivation are venerate ("to regard with reverential respect or with admiring deference"), venery (which means both "the art of hunting" and "the pursuit of sexual pleasure"), and venial ("meriting no particular censure"). Not to mention good old venereal, which, I suppose, needs no introduction. (Sounds like the stuff of a graduate-school thesis, "Buck Fever; Venereal Disease?")

At any rate, many men and women, after some degree or another of exposure to rural life, decide that the time has come for them to take a crack at deer hunting. Perhaps the motivating factor is a dinner of venison chops at a neighbor's house; maybe it has a more negative genesis that follows watching Bambi and family mow their way through the vegetable garden. Regardless of the reason for the urge, the novice nimrod is likely to find that game-meat gurus are hard to come by. Thus the reasoning behind our presenting this brief guide to deer hunting for beginners.

I can't teach you everything you'll need to know when hunting deer, though a few readers will most likely absorb the following pages and go out to score a good buck on opening day (those doing so will earn my envy and, probably, that of their closest friends, but drop me a line anyway should you be the one to strike it rich). Most beginners, though, will go on to look for an experienced friend, relative, neighbor, or coworker to augment (and undoubtedly at times contradict) the information presented here. What I hope to do is cover enough essentials to keep you from sounding like a bozo when you ask for that advice, to spell out enough parameters to allow you to judge whether the advisor in question is someone you really want to hunt with, and maybe even to ask you to look at your own motivation for deer hunting, and decide whether you really should be out in the woods.

In fact, let's start right there.

Deer Meat: A Cheap Eat?

I wonder just how many would-be deerstalkers actually believe that the sport is a shortcut to a ready supply of low-cost protein. I suspect that the rationale is more commonly used to justify the purchase of a new rifle, a bow, or any one of the innumerable pieces of paraphernalia that every nimrod "must have" at one time or another. At the risk of ruining a perfectly good rationalization, let me set the record straight. If your only reason to take up hunting really is to obtain a supply of low-cost, chemical-free, low-fat meat, don't buy a rifle. Instead, buy a beef calf, feed him for a season or three, and butcher him yourself. I mean, it is possible to find a low-cost, used rifle or bow, throw on your gardening clothes, and bag a hundred pounds or so of venison, but it doesn't happen often. More common is the deer hunter who, after decades of pursuing his game—sometimes successfully, sometimes not—may reach the point of amortization at which his venison nears the cost of beef—but only beef as served in the better restaurants of New York, Chicago, Kansas City, or L.A.

Don't get me wrong. Venison, if properly cared for, is delicious and healthful. Furthermore, the meat of a wild deer can't be duplicated, even by the ranch-raised venison served in the aforementioned eateries. It takes additional savor, too, from your pride at having supplied it and from the memories that help to season it. Its unique flavor should be just one of the reasons you drag yourself out of bed before dawn to stumble through the dark and climb a tree. The cost of the meat should have nothing to do with it. Remember, venison is priceless, but it sure as hell ain't generally cheap.

11/9/2017 10:16:31 AM

'document', you probably should have actually made sure that you knew the meaning of 'novice nimrod' in the case before opening your blathering pie whole, dunce. Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.

11/9/2017 10:16:29 AM

hey 'document', you should probably have learned the definition/context of 'novice nimrod' in this case before opening your pie whole, dunce. Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.

4/25/2016 9:55:45 AM

You just begun and there are many unknowns need to prepare the necessary tools to hunt, you can refer to the information here:

2/13/2016 10:58:52 AM

I have just recently purchased a new bow and am looking forward to using it for my first kill.

1/4/2015 9:15:34 PM

This is a good resource. Other resources for new hunters include , , and Thanks for taking the time to write this up.

1/3/2015 2:42:06 PM

"Novice nimrod?" You do know your article is entitled, Deer Hunting for BEGINNERS, do you not? Do you expect anyone to take you seriously when you write like an ass hole? Quick idea: don't insult you audience.

robert timms
7/15/2008 4:16:01 AM

With a name like "Mother Earth" I very much suspected a 'green' web site. Thankfully No !! The article on deer hunting was very interesting and generally applicable worlwide to ethical hunters. I enjoyed the read, the information and the references to hunting laws. Thank a lot. Regards Bob

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