Deer Hunting Tips
Inside the Outdoors, September 26
, 2014

While chatting with a friend, I asked him what would be the highlight of the upcoming hunting season. It didn’t take him long to respond with the following phrase, “Keep the powder dry.”

Those four words speak volumes for the muzzleloader hunter. It’s a known fact that if there is even a bit of moisture in the gun powder, it is a good chance it will not ignite and the ball will not be thrust out of the barrel. The result? That trophy animal that one waited for will probably be gone by the time the hunter has fixed the problem. Thus this expression is so fitting for the sport.

About a decade ago, the late John Stewart brought his muzzleloader gun into my studio and laid it out and explained piece by piece how it worked. His dedication still lives on in my mind even though now he has left us and gone where hunting is even better. He, too, emphasized the same thing as my neighboring vendor from the Latrobe Farmer’s Market stated, “You have to keep the powder dry!”


In watching a television show on deer hunting recently, a pair of wildlife conservation officers came upon a young doe that had been harvested and left in the woods. It was alleged that the hunter would return, that he probably went for some type of vehicle to transport his kill back to the road onto which he would load the deer.

The fact of shooting a smaller deer upset the wardens. It really isn’t the best strategy when seeking bigger animals. The scenario ties into a list of tips found on the Internet written by Trey Copeland on his website, He notes, “A part of seeing bigger bucks is letting the smaller ones walk. If you have everybody in 100 square miles practicing this, then you will continue to grow larger bucks.”

It is true, especially among young hunters that they want to say they got a deer upon the first time out. But allowing the smaller animals to continue on with their journeys will entitle them to grow into bigger animals and worthwhile harvesting at that point.

Hunters if you own your property and wish to keep it for your own gain, Copeland suggests, “Post keep out signs around your sanctuaries and safe zones so other hunters don’t wander in.” He advised making certain areas deer friendly, “giving them a food plot, an apple tree, something they will really enjoy.”

If one does own his own land, attaching digital deer scouting trail cameras may provide leads for hunters to ascertain path and herd patterns in certain locales. He recommends, “Position your camera to the north for the best quality pictures.”

Property, if not owned by the state, is under the proprietorship of an individual or corporation. If one hasn’t sought permission to hunt in forests or on lands, it is best to seek permission first before entering into wooded areas or grassy lands. One never knows if he is allowed to be there or not if there isn’t a little pre-planning first.

When hunting certain areas, Copeland recommends, “Hunt the edges of thickets and the nastiest overgrown areas you can find. Bucks love heavy cover.”

Tree stands are becoming more and more popular. The fact that one can rise above the forest floor and see the areas around him or scout out over open fields is a great advantage to the hunter who searches on foot.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission reminds hunters that it is unlawful “to damage any trees on public or private property by constructing a tree stand or using a portable tree stand or using a portable tree stand or device to climb a tree; use or occupy a tree stand that, when constructed, damages a tree.” It went on to state, “This does not apply to landowners constructing stands on their own property, or persons who have received written permission from a landowner to build or use a tree stand; tree stands on state lands can be placed out not more than two weeks before and must be removed two weeks after any deer season. In addition, keep in mind that one’s tree stand does not make that area exclusive to the owner; other hunters can hunt in that area.”

According the Tom Fazi, information and education supervisor for the PGC, “Deer have exceptional hearing and sight capabilities.” That falls in line with Copeland’s recommendation as to “using slow motion while on a stand. Deer can see movement from long ways.”

Copeland concluded, “Don’t make any human sounds that aren’t natural to a deer’s environment. Coughing, banging equipment against a metal stand or cell phone ringing will ruin a hunt.”

- Paul J. Volkmann
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