Deer are more educated, better at hiding, hunter says

The deer hunting world has changed. Hunters over 65 years old remember when hunting clothing meant a flannel shirt and khaki pants or blue jeans.

Footwear, if the hunter wasn’t hunting a wet swamp, was an old pair of work brogans.

Most deer were shot in front of dogs with a shotgun or — if you were a real hotshot — with a .30-30 iron-sight, lever action rifle.

You walked to where you hunted: no ATVs (heaven forbid the thought).

No food plots; no bait.

Alien as the thought might be, you had to pattern deer in their natural movements in their natural habitats, not sucker them into the open.

And no game cameras meant hunters really didn’t know what kind of deer were present unless they saw them.

Even so, hunters back in the day killed deer.

Now, even with all the modern aids to hunting and with a much larger deer herd, many hunters find deer hunting challenging.

Why?

Sammy Romano maintains that deer and, therefore, deer hunting have changed.

“White-tailed deer can’t reason like humans can,” Romano said. “Rather, they react to stimuli. Twenty years ago, far fewer people hunted.

“Now it’s the in thing to do, and there are not only more hunters — they hunt more days. Strong deer populations have resulted in extended seasons. Deer management has become more intensive which, converse to logic, has resulted in a more-pressured herd.”

So why do those factors matter?

“All this has resulted in a more educated deer — deer that are much better at avoiding humans than they used to be,” Romano said. “Hunters have to become more sophisticated to be successful. Deer may doubt their sense of hearing and sense of sight, but they never doubt their sense of smell.”

So what’s a modern-day hunter to do?

“Four things have to happen to make a successful hunt,” Romano said. “You have to be in the right place. You have to be there at the right time. The deer has to be unaware of your presence. You have to make the shot.

“Other than when and where you sit, scent management is the most important factor in determining the outcome of the hunt.”

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About Jerald Horst 959 Articles
Jerald Horst is a retired Louisiana State University professor of fisheries. He is an active writer, book author and outdoorsman.

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