The mule deer's ears are proportionally longer than the ears of a white-tailed deer, and resemble that of a mule. Mule deer have a black-tipped tail which is proportionally smaller than that of the white-tailed deer. Buck deer of both species sprout antlers; the antlers of the mule deer branch and rebranch, while white-tailed bucks have one main beam with several tines sprouting from it. White-tailed bucks are usually smaller than mule deer bucks.
Moose and elk are also popular game animals that are technically species of deer. However, hunting them is not usually referred to as deer hunting. They are considerably larger than mule deer or white-tailed deer, which makes hunting them rather different.
There are five common methods of hunting deer: stalking, which consists of following signs and trails of deer; stand hunting, waiting where deer are likely to travel (including tree stands); still hunting, alternately walking silently and waiting concealed in the pursuit of game; line drives, which consists of flushing deer toward a line of hunters; and spot and stalk hunting, which consists of spotting and then stalking the deer. Spot and stalk hunting is generally a method of hunting used in places where there are large visible areas, such as mountainous terrain where a person can see across canyons. The other four methods of hunting are used in places such as rolling hills or in country that is more level, where a hunter can hardly see over trees or bushes to spot and watch the deer. Scouting and stalking involves following deer sign. Common signs to pursue include rubs, scrapes, and tracks. Scrapes are places where bucks scratch the ground and urinate below low hanging branches on the edge of fields. Bucks do this to mark territory and attract female deer. Deer tracks may reveal the size, age, and species of a deer. Rubs are marks on the trunks and low branches of trees which indicate where bucks have rubbed the velvet off their antlers; this leaves a tell-tale mark because it removes tree bark where the deer rubbed. Another purpose for this is to mark territory with a visual signpost.
Another method of deer hunting is dog driving. A dog is let loose and used to drive deer out of their bedding area to a place where the hunter may get a shot.
Another method that is also popular is roadhunting. Road hunting is extremly hard compared to other methods used.
A favorite method employed by the Kuehners is to drive deer with the George's. The method is effective only if there is deer around however.
The vast majority of deer hunted in the UK are stalked. The phrase deer hunting, however, has also been used to refer (in England and Wales) to the traditional practice of chasing deer with packs of hounds, now illegal under the Hunting Act 2004.
In the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, there were several packs of staghounds hunting "carted deer" in England and Ireland. Carted deer were red deer kept in captivity for the sole purpose of being hunted and recaptured alive. More recently, there were three packs of staghounds hunting wild red deer of both sexes on or around Exmoor and the New Forest Buckhounds hunting fallow deer bucks in the New Forest, the latter disbanding in 1997.
The way in which the red deer were hunted was for a character called the harbourer to follow the intended quarry to the wood where it lay up for the night. In the morning, before the meet, the harbourer would carefully examine the perimeter of the wood to ensure that the stag had not left. After the harbourer had reported to the Master, the Huntsman would take about six hounds, called tufters, into the wood to rouse the intended quarry and start it running, separating it from any other deer that might be in the wood. This having been achieved, the tufters were taken back and the main pack were brought out and laid on the scent of the stag which, by now, would have had a good start. After a chase of indeterminate duration, the stag would become exhausted and would come to bay to face the hounds, often in water, where it would be shot at close range by one of the hunt servants.
The practice of hunting with hounds, other than using two hounds to flush deer to be shot by waiting marksmen, has been banned in the UK since 2005; to date, two people have been convicted of breaking the law.
There are also numerous factors that play a role in deer movement, but the one thing that may usually be counted on is the movement of deer 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset when the deer are going to or leaving their feeding ground. The main factors in deer movement are precipitation, wind, hunting pressure, rut, and lunar movement. Deer will stay in their bedding area during times of heavy precipitation, and when the storm stops, the deer usually start moving. Trees and brush are usually dripping with the precipitation from the storm, and wind blowing in the woods may become very noisy. Both of these situations make the deer nervous and cause them to start moving. At the end of a storm the deer will move to an area they feel is safe for them; they will also start moving if the storm passed through their feeding period. Most deer feeding occurs in farm fields, such as corn and soybeans; because they dislike being in the open during a storm, deer tend to move to a more covered or concealed area of the feeding ground or leave the ground entirely until the storm ends, depending on previous activity as well as the above mentioned factors. The rut is usually a month-long period when bucks mate with does. It can be much longer or slightly shorter than one month. The rut causes deer to be more active and do things that they would not normally do. For example, they might be seen in the middle of the day running through fields trying to find their mate(s). During the rut season is typically when most car-deer collisions happen, mainly because they are on the move so much they cross paths that they normally wouldn't. The last factor in deer movement is the position of the moon. When the moon is directly overhead, or below foot, deer seem to be more active in general.
Rifles, shotguns, and pistols are all commonly used for hunting deer. Most regions place limits on the minimum caliber or gauge to be used; rimfire rifles and centerfires under .22 caliber are often prohibited due to ethical concerns, although they have been used to hunt deer and larger game in some cases. Some areas of the United States prohibit rifle hunting altogether; most firearms hunters in these areas use 10, 12, or 20 gauge shotguns with buckshot or slug loads. Handguns are also prohibited in many deer hunting situations, but hunters in some areas have success with .357 magnum, .41 Magnum, and .44 Magnum revolvers and larger calibers such as the .500 S&W Magnum and .454 Casull. Specialty hunting handguns like the Thompson Center Arms Contender and Encore are capable of firing many big game cartridges like the .30-06 Springfield and .45-70. Large caliber semiautomatics (such as the Desert Eagle, LAR Grizzly, and many 10mm Auto pistols) also deliver enough power to take deer.
Muzzleloader hunting is also a common practice. Modern muzzleloading rifles equipped with synthetic stocks, telescopic and fiber optic sights, in-line ignition systems, advanced conical or sabot bullet designs, and black powder substitutes such as Pyrodex are much more effective than the muskets of generations past. However, many traditionalists still use wood stocked, iron sighted rifles with round lead balls and traditional black powder charges.
Hunting deer with edged weapons, such as the lance or sword, is still practiced in continental Europe, primarily in France. In such hunts, the hunters are mounted on horseback, and use packs of deerhound or greyhound dogs to track and drive deer. Only the hunt masters have the right to deliver the death blow, while other mounted hunters simply ride to the chase.
Alabama permits spear hunting of deer during its archery season.
Camouflage has been used for ages and while it is very important, it is not essential, especially during gun season when it is required that hunters wear blaze orange clothing when on public land. There are many different types of deer stands, ladder stands, climbers and stationary blinds. Ladder stands are ladders with a platform on top of them chained to a tree. Climber stands are platforms with a seat that may be carried on your back and then placed usually about 4-8 feet off the ground on a tree. Stationary blinds, built from wood and other materials are meant to be a durable and long-lasting blind either on a stand or on the ground, depending on the terrain. No hunter may take down a deer easily or legally without using certain weapons when they are permitted. Waterproof boots are not essential, but are handy, especially since deer do not always fall down when shot, and may run for a few hundred yards into unfamiliar woods. Knives are essential for skinning and field dressing deer. Tags and permits are required to hunt deer legally, and may be purchased from sporting good stores.
Cold weather deer hunting requires the hunter to prepare properly and make sure he or she has the right clothing and equipment for prolonged exposure to the elements. Humans must maintain a stable body temperature during cold weather hunting. When away from external sources of heat, our only heat source is that which we produce internally. This inner warmth primarily comes from burning food, or the oxidation of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are available in the form of raisins, chocolate, candy, and fruit.
The best dress for cold weather hunting is to wear clothing that preserves body heat while allowing body moisture to evaporate freely. This is accomplished through layering, or wearing alternate layers of clothing to provide insulation and ventilation.
The easiest way to stay warm is to road hunt. Road hunting only requires half of the clothing needed in cold weather. Considering that you also have a heater allows you to stay out for longer periods of time as compared to hunting from tree stands.