White-Tailed Learning Curves

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White-tailed learning curves, those “learn by doing it wrong” moments that all hunters want to forget. But it’s important to remember and learn from them.


The white-tailed deer. For 2 seasons, pursuit of this beautiful and gracefully elusive beast has left me empty handed and my freezer wanting. Such wanting is what has inspired this website, and surprisingly, what keeps me motivated to head back out each season to brave frigid temperatures in search of that trophy buck.

While I have not yet had the honour of harvesting my first deer, the 2 seasons under wing have not been a total loss. The amount I have learned from my failures has given me more confidence than ever for the 2015 season.

I strongly believe that it is important to learn through doing and often failing. I also believe that our experiences are not only invaluable to us but to others as well which is why I want to share mine here with you. So here is some of what I have learned so far by doing things the wrong way.

How Not To Hunt White-Tails

Its late November, 20 below out, and we’ve just spotted a buck a few hundred yards up the trail heading off into the scrub brush. I decide to head off down the crossing trail to circle into the clearing behind the willow scrubs and attempt to gently push him back out to the trail for someone else in my party to take.

It’s just common sense – move slow, quiet, mind your footing and keep your eyes open. This was my game plan and my silent stalking skills paid off, sort of.

Once I had reached the far side of the brush patch I stepped up onto a stump to get a glance up and over the scrubs and hopefully catch a glimpse of some antlers. No such luck. That is until I stepped down off the stump where my foot found a piece of dead wood which was anything but quiet as I sank through it.

As I said, my stalking skills are apparently good. I had crept up within 30 yards of my prey without either one of us knowing it. It wasn’t until I misplaced my foot that I saw the beautiful trophy 8 pointer as he burst from his hiding spot immediately to my right and jaunted off out of sight before an opportunity presented itself.

Lessons Learned

As slow as I thought I was moving, excitement and impatience knowing what was in that brush caused me to be hasty. Had I moved even slower and taken the time to study the bush line harder before I’d got that close, I may have caught a glimpse of movement and had a shot.

The other option, and what probably was the correct move, would have been to set up on the adjacent tree line and attempt to call him out.

While I could spend time kicking myself for making the wrong decision, every wrong move I make is a lesson learned. I will not soon forget the sight of that white tail bouncing off out of sight.

So now I’ve learned what not to do in that situation which has instilled confidence that I can be successful the next time I am faced with that scenario. Further, as this was a new hunting area for me, I learned a great deal about what is moving through the area and how and also scouted out a perfect tree stand spot for next seasons bow hunt. Ultimately, my mistakes and failures have left me confident that next season will be successful.

While I recognize that this post doesn’t have any hard and fast tips for being successful in your hunt, I feel it’s really important to remind you not to be discouraged in those moments of failure, and to use them as learning moments for future hunts.

Your helpful input is always welcome and encouraged here so please feel free to post relevant tips or questions in the comment section below. We would also love to hear your stories of failure or success so please email them to us.

Happy hunting, be safe, ethical and environmentally conscientious.


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