Editor's Note: Daniel Mires from South Fulton, Tenn. is the author of The Hunt. He is kind enough to share some of his writings with Chattanoogan.com Outdoors readers. You would do well to check out The Hunt as well.
There are a few rules for killing a deer. These rules are imbedded in stone and must not be varied from at all if you want to be successful in your quest to kill a deer. These rules have been handed down for years and were pounded into my mind and way of thinking for the first 10-15 years that I deer hunted.
You must be in a tree-stand, you must remain motionless, moving only your eyes, and you must concentrate at the highest level every moment of the time you spend in the stand.
These same people that pounded these rules home came before you and placed tree-stands in locations and they were placed there for good reason.
Questioning these placements only showed your novice skill level and only brought forth snickering from the old timers that were showing you the RIGHT way to kill a deer.
Alright, before I bore you too much for you to even continue reading I will throw the “hogwash flag” and end this babble.
Portions of these “rules” are indeed true and to a point you do need to do portions of them.
I will say, however, that once I broke free of some of the pre-conceived notions that I had held as true to my heart as the stone tablets, I began to actually kill more deer and more importantly, I began to have more fun while deer hunting.
I am not talking about how to kill a huge, magazine cover type mature buck. I am talking about how to simply go out, have a good time and kill a deer.
This deer might be a doe, it might be a buck and yes, every once in a while, it might be a BIG buck.
I discovered this deep, dark secret to deer hunting quite by accident.
I remember sitting in my ladder stand and seeing movement in the cut tobacco field off to my left. The edge of the field was about 150 yards from my stand and it was just past a creek that ran the entire length of the field.
I could see movement and discovered it was deer that were moving around in that field. As darkness approached my dreams of them moving out of the field and into shooting range faded just as the light of this hunting day.
After the second hunt in a row seeing the same thing I fell upon an epiphany that burns hot, still to this day. I could go down there and sit on the GROUND and try to kill one of them when they came out.
I wanted to share this newly acquired plan with my hunting partner but I knew that he would scoff at me and scold me for not hunting that ladder stand that we had worked so hard to erect.
Just as if I were a Navy Seal or Marine Recon soldier I set about putting my plan into action. It was definitely a covert operation that if intel about it got out I would surely be banished from deer camp for no telling how long.
So the next afternoon hunt I had, I walked in to my stand along my normal and well-worn path. After I was sure my partner was safely settled in his stand I struck out towards the field. I crossed the big creek and slithered up the opposite bank with all the stealth of a bull moose crashing through the adders.
I found a good thick cottonwood and sat down against it, facing the direction the deer had been coming from.
Right on cue, at 4:15 the first deer jumped the honey suckle covered fence line into the field. Approximately 3 seconds later the big mature doe spotted me sticking out like a sore thumb and turned herself inside out and jumped back over the fence.
Thus ended the first battle in the war.
I then broke down and after making him swear an oath not to repeat it, I told my partner of my plan. We then sat down and discussed all the options.
I got too close to the field and didn’t have any cover in front of me, thus an enemy sniper picked me off.
We decided that it would be better to lay down in the prone position and stay behind enough cover to conceal our position, but cut enough of it down to afford clear shots.
We also devised a plan where we would actually count off one… two… three… then we would BOTH shoot, simultaneously at different deer. He would start on the left and I would take the right and we would go from there.
There was no way this was going to work. This plan was just too simple.
The feeling I had when that first deer jumped into the field was simply amazing. I could see her eyes plainly and she jumped the fence and immediately looked toward the cottonwood. However, the cottonwood was some 75 yards to my right and she had no idea we were there.
Just a few minutes later we were lying there looking at no less than nine deer in the field.
My heart was racing, I was breathing like a marathon runner and I was glad I was lying down; as if I had been standing I would have definitely passed out and fallen down.
The count began, ever so slowly and almost inaudible. One…. Two…. Three…. The two shots rang out, almost as one. I am not sure how his deer reacted, but mine did the classic mule kick and blasted out of that field like a rocket sled on rails.
All of this may sound routine and even boring, but this was the first time I had ever seen a deer, changed my stand location and killed the deer. I think the new fangled terms are, scouting, patterning and harvesting or something like that.
Granted, in areas where agriculture is not as prevalent as it is here in West TN this form of hunting won’t be near as accessible, but where you have row crops, or pastures, or any open area where deer frequent it can be quite bountiful.
Through the years my partner and I have critiqued our techniques, implemented video cameras and even forced ourselves to hold off on shooting until that last moment waiting to see if a buck would come out.
What started as a fluke has actually become a staple of late season hunting for him and I. This style of hunting has accounted for over 50 deer between us, one of my biggest bucks I have ever killed and a very nice typical 12-point that adorns the area above his mantel as I type this.
We have lain there on the ground, rifles resting on our backpacks in front of us and spent some good times and made some great memories. We have been there laughing, talking, heck even giggling like schoolgirls at times. We have talked and listened our way through rough times in our lives when otherwise we would have been perched in our solitaire lofts instead of doing what we really needed to do, talk to a friend. It just seems easier, sometimes, to talk about problems you have while you are looking through a good pair of binoculars at the distant tree line rather than looking at your buddy eye to eye.
The field where the 12-point was taken is in plain view of a major four-lane highway that traverses our part of the country.
We have had cars blow their horns as they pass and they see our blaze orange vests. I am sure they laughed all the way home at the idiots out in the edge of that field.
My partner has moved away but not far enough that we can’t hunt together; we just don’t get to as much anymore. We have both passed on these “rules” to our sons and have both shared hunts with them. In fact, my partner’s son was at his side when he took his 12-point. My son took his very first deer on a hunt very much like these I have described.
I have passed these “rules” or this “style” of hunting on to another friend of mine and when we hunt together these are the most memorable ones in my opinion.
This may not be considered “hunting” by some, it might be labeled “killing” but if you will notice the title and ultimately the end of many “hunting” trips the end result is the same. What happens in the process is what matters the most many times.
Since you have waded through all of this mindless babble I suppose you deserve a “point”, especially since this is one of those “how-to” articles that sell so many magazines across the country every month.
I suppose my point is this. Don’t get too caught up in the seriousness of it all. True, the whitetail deer is no pushover and ONE small movement at the wrong time or ONE noise that is just a little too loud or un-natural can end it all very quickly. Even at distances of 100, 200 or even 300 yards away, the deer is still one of the most wary creatures out there.
Oh, sorry, there I go again. I tend to get off track easily anymore. You were waiting on that point.
Don’t be scared to hunt the smallest of wooded areas that borders that field where old “so and so” sees those deer every day.
Don’t be scared to break away from the solitude every once in a while and share a close quarter hunt with a friend or child.
Most of all, however, just don’t be scared to move away from tradition, have fun and find your own way to enjoy the greatest pastime there is anywhere.