Three Reasons You’re Not Seeing Deer

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By Eric Clark | PUBLISHED November 29th, 2021

We were going to write an article about seeing more deer, but as the Okayest Hunter we quickly realized we’re not the authority on that topic. Instead, we figured we’d be better at helping eliminate some of the reasons you do not see deer when you’re out hunting so you can focus on how to see more.

Number 1: You’re Sleeping

Look, we get it. We love a good nap under the trees. What else are you supposed to do while you’re in your spot a half-hour before first light? The problem is you forgot to set the alarm to wake you up minutes before legal shooting light. Suddenly the next thing you know, you’re waking up to someone else’s gunshot as your alarm. That’ll sure put you on high alert. That other hunter probably shot the deer that snuck through while you were staring at your eyelids.

Our recommendation, try drinking one less beer or bourbon back at camp or trade one of them for a glass of water. You’ll feel more awake the following day. If you’re going to nap, don’t forget to set that alarm! (Do we need to mention that your alarm should be set to vibrate? 😏) Oh, and careful with the coffee. If you drink too much, that might lead to some issues other than sleeping in.

Number 2: Your Phone is Blocking your View

There are a lot of ways to distract yourself while you’re deer hunting. Watching the little chickadee’s flutter from tree to tree or the occasional field mouse scurrying about below can be pleasant little distractions to pass the time in the deer stand. Those things seem like they can only hold you over for so long, even though those are the very things we’re out to experience in addition to the hunt.

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Inevitably, though, someone eventually texts you. Even if it’s someone in your hunting party texting you about a deer headed your direction, or a report on how many squirrels they’ve seen, or maybe even that buck your nemesis shot two counties over. No matter the catalyst, once your phone is out, despite your hands getting cold, you’re off to check on the weather or those other notifications blinking for your attention. Maybe it’s the football game or something else you want to catch up on while you “have the time.”

The problem is once your phone is out, you’re officially checked out of the woods you’ve been so desperate to get to. Fight the urge or make a point to tuck your phone away somewhere you won’t feel the impulse to check it every time it vibrates with a notification. When you sit behind a screen, you lose the pulse and rhythm of the woods. Apps like Spartan Forge, Weather Underground, Google Maps, or others are practical tools, but they don’t need to be used the entire hunt.

We all know that one time you pick up your phone is the exact moment that shooter buck is going to sneak up on you, and you’ll have lost your chance to draw back or raise your sights on him. Most times, though, you wouldn’t have ever seen him at all.

Number 3: There Are No Deer to See

If there are no deer in the area, you’re not going to see them. As we all know, you have to see them to shoot them. You can tackle this issue in a few ways.

  • Scout in the off-season.
    • This is a great way to help determine how deer might be navigating a particular property and if it even holds deer. Indeed, different times of year will have an impact on if there are deer there, but it’ll give you an overall better idea.
  • Set trail cams or cell cams.
    • This will help take inventory and confirm if there are, in fact, deer in the area.
  • Speed scout the early season.
    • Speed scouting is hunting and scouting, and the goal is to look for active deer sign, and even kick up deer to validate if a property is holding deer.
  • Never go to a spot to go to a spot, if that makes sense. If possible, always try to scout your way in by seeking out fresh deer sign.
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Some other reasons may be because you did end up having too much coffee and were held up on the john back at camp or were squatting up against a tree while that shooter buck came by. Perhaps you were sick and coughing up a lung out in the woods. We’d recommend Dayquil and cough drops for that issue! Perhaps you’re just facing the wrong way or any other number of reasons. Deer are like ghosts in the woods, they’re really tough to spot especially if you’re not looking. That’s why it’s important to make the best use of the time you do have in the deer woods!

There are probably more than three reasons you do not see deer, but these were some that impacted our hunts this season. So some of this is really for ourselves to look back on as a reminder. We hope it helps you, too!

Comment some of the reasons you think you didn’t see any deer this season or past seasons.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>