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iknowftbll's picture
Joined: 06/04/2012
Posts: 2
First time hunter in VA


I am a first time hunter currently living in Virginia.  I've recently taken a great interest in hunting and will be purchasing my tags for deer, bear, and turkey this week.  I've registered for the State's First-time Hunter class as well.  The state's wildlife department has a pretty good website that makes the laws easily available and easy to understand.  I really appreciate that.  They even have a map that shows where to hunt for a given type of game.  

What I am hoping is to get at least 1 deer.  The state issues 6 per year but I am not going to fill those just to fill them.  Plus I am considering trial and error.  I may use up a good portion of the hunting season trying to learn how to do it!  Still I am confident that I'll be able to get at least 1 deer.  I also want to get a bear.  Once again, I am sure that I'll spend a good portion of the season on trial and error.  I do have some experienced hunters at my new church that will probably be willing to spend a weekend out with me showing me some good techniques, so that's a plus.

I am starting this thread to open discussion for those of you who are knowlegeable about deer, bear, and turkey hunting in Virginia to share with me some of your insight.  What can you recommend?  Locations?  Equipment?  I greatly appreciate any and all thoughts on this subject.


Joined: 05/30/2012
Posts: 61
The most important thing to know....

Welcome to the site!  All of us were in your shoes not too long agao (well in my case a couple decades and continents ago...)  If we can do it, you can too!

Here is the very best advice I can give a new hunter:

The Most Important Lesson:

Mike Skelly

Like most, as a young hunter I longed for my first buck. I didn't take a deer the first season despite numerous sightings. The deer were there. I just couldn't seem to get a clear shot. I saw only tails, or running deer instead of deer standing broadside waiting for me like I thought they should. As the second season opened, I wondered if I should take shots that I was not 100% sure of.  I had a tag for antlered deer only, so I would at least have to make sure that the deer was a buck before I pulled the trigger.  I resolved that I would take the first shot at a buck I saw.  No more waiting for the perfect broadside pose. If I could just be sure it had antlers I would pull the trigger no matter what.


I had one glimpse of a departing tail opening day. My hunting companion bagged a nice six-point (eastern count) opening morning and so after that I was on my own, pitting my wits and knowledge of the terrain against the wily bucks I knew were there. The next day I saw three does trotting across an open field, but could not legally take them. By the afternoon of the third day I had buck fever. I thought I could see antlers in every clump of brush. Every fallen log was a buck in his bed to my eyes. I hunted away from home all morning. Without much thought, I crossed onto the next farm about noon. I did not doubt that access would be granted if I took the time to ask permission. We were on good terms with the neighbors and the area that I planned to hunt was cropland bordered by woods and a brush-choked stream bed well away from any livestock.


It was this stream that drew me over the fence line. I knew that any deer feeling pressured could duck into its gully to skirt the open field on one side and the open hardwoods on the other. I took a position overlooking where the gully ended. Any deer walking that brushy corridor would emerge into my view and either cross the field of corn stubble before me or work up the slope of open hardwoods on the far side. If a buck walked either of those routes my investment in cold toes and fingers would be well worthwhile.  I chose to settle in for a long wait, watching the shadows grow as the afternoon wore on.


Just about the time I was thinking more of my damp seat and cold toes than watching the hedgerow, I became aware of something moving in the gully. A bird flew up at the far range of my vision. Then a moment later, the sound of a snapping twig reached me faintly over the gentle sound of running water. Long minutes passed without revealing the wary buck and I gradually became less alert, lulled by the gurgling stream and the motion of gently swaying saplings. The dappled leaves still holding to them occasionally drifted down to mingle with the berry bushes separating the watercourse from me.


Minutes had passed without any sign of life when a crackle of breaking brush at the near end of the gully shot adrenaline through my veins. There was something unmistakably moving just out of sight and coming my way! I saw the top of a sapling move as something out of sight brushed against its trunk. The falling yellow poplar leaves drifted against the thick hedge of briars below. The form under the saplings moved closer. Yes, I could see it now. The unmistakable gray of deer hair glimpsed between silver saplings and the screen of red berry stalks. A sneaky old buck must have walked straight down the streambed. The noise of his approach had been covered by the gentle gurgle of running water and muffled by the wall of brush.


My breathing became ragged. My heart pounded in my chest. I could feel every pulse in my shoulders and throat. My palms begin to sweat as my thumb reached for the safety on the rifle that lay heavily in my lap as the animal moved toward me. Oh if I could only see antlers!


I tightened my grip on the cold stock. I could see the shape of his body now. It was about 3-4 feet long, soft gray, 3 feet off the ground and moving slowly, and steadily my way. He was nearly free of the saplings, which at that point, had a few low branches. We were only separated by the screen of thick blackberry bushes. I thought about the powerful cartridge in the chamber and knew that the briar stems could not deflect the bullet from its intended target. I would click off the safety, throw the rifle to my shoulder, and fire the instant I saw antlers. I contemplated the devastation a shot raking from chest to tail would create. Without a doubt the buck would slump in his tracks and I would have to drag him up the stream bank and out of those thick thorn bushes. Perhaps I should let him step clear? He was coming the right way. I realized that I was holding my breath. Then I saw the antlers.


I could not help but pause at the sight of them. I had dreamed of this moment for so very long. This was going to be my first buck, and oh what antlers they were! Powerfully thrusting through the thick berry bushes, the antlers shoved through the briar screen and broke into the open. With raking motions the rack moved toward me. I saw three long tines on each side and thick brow tines sweeping ahead of a gray hulking body almost as tall as the low sapling branches. I heard the briar stems breaking. I could even hear his breath and began to raise the rifle.


I never fired. I never finished clicking off the safety. In fact, I never even raised the rifle from my lap. I sat stone still with the kind of chill in my soul that I hope I never feel again. Long minutes later I was quite alone at the edge of that field.  For what I saw as that matched set of perfect antlers was thrust clear of the briars, was that they quickly split apart and fell earthward when the man who held them stood up. This hunter, with rifle slung over his shoulder, had bent at the waist to move under the low branches and held his rattling antlers in either hand to push thorns away from his face as he climbed the stream bank. He never knew I was there. He never knew how close his tree bark camouflage had brought him to being a terrible statistic. As I look back now, more than a decade later, I do not recall seeing any red or blaze clothing at all. What I do recall is that my hands shook as I took them off the unused rifle and silently thanked God that I had learned the most valuable lesson of hunting without tragedy.


I've taken more than a dozen deer from that same area over the seasons that followed. But two years ago I went deerless. I heard my buck working a rub, and caught glimpses of his gray hide moving away through the hardwoods in the last light of the last day of the season, but I let him walk into the shadows with my tag unfilled. I was 99% sure of my target. But 99% is not sure enough, because years before I had learned that when you are hunting, safety is the most important lesson of all.


Location: Florida,USA
Joined: 08/21/2003
Posts: 1585
Welcome to BGH iknowftbll and

Welcome to BGH iknowftbll and welcome to the Sport that can and will change your life.

As for tips...they are as varied as the hunters, deer and woods but here are some of mine;

Even before the first tip, be sure of what you will consider a successful hunt. If that answer is a kill then save youself alot of time and find yourself an outfitter and book a hunt with them and read no farther. If that answer is being in the woods and one with nature, then read on and congratulations you are already an outdoorsman and hunter.

First, learn everything about the animal you are going to hunt...I mean EVERYTHING, what they eat, where they eat, where the vitals are located, why are they here and not there, etc.. Learn this from talking to other hunters, read every book and article you can find, watch every video that you can find...not those on the TV shows but the ones on youtube of actual real life hunting. Pay more attention to the animal and its reactions and movements than to the hunter and what rifle and ammo they are shooting.

Secondly, when out in the woods learn and practice good woodsmanship. Try to leave no trace of your visit there, my goal is to try and make sure that even the best of the best tracking dogs would never know I was there. After that then see everything.. dont just look at stuff...SEE everything. If you find sign then see everything around so as to determine why this animal is here. What makes this spot preferrable to other areas. What is there that they can eat, hide behind, does the terrain change, this can be ever so slight that it is hardly noticable but there will be some sort of vegatation change whether it the the lack of or the abundence of a particular plant. Keep in mind that the only thing on that animals mind is What can I eat, where can I stay hidden and where and with who can I mate with. Staying hidden and alive override everything else most of the time. Soon you will get the hang of what to see and you'll notice that most game animals, Deer in particular, will almost always be found on the EDGE of something, the edge of a field, pasture, creek bed changing vegatation, changeing terrain and treelines, irrigation canals, fence lines and rows, windbreaks, whatever is in the area where there is a transition between two somethings, sometimes this transition is sharp and abrupt, for others it is ever so subtle but it will be there. Find out what they are eating and where that food is located. Find out where they are bedding and then look for a good ambush point somewhere inbetween. If you find a well used trail then make ever increasing in size circles around this trail and you'll soon find another less noticable trail running somewhat parallel, this is the one you'll want to keep an eye on.

Thirdly, after you have mastered some of the above you'll be ready to set up and get ready for your hunt. Most important item after you have found the deer is WIND. DO NOT depend on camo, cover scents or blinds, treestands or any other homemade or store bought "Deer, Bear, Hog, Turkey" attractant. Always Always, ALWAYS hunt with the wind in your face and blowing away from where you expect to see your quarry. Keep in mind that changes in elevation and terrain and even tempature will cause the wind to swirl and even change directions an few hundred feet from you so become aware of how this works and use that knowlege. If you there are no favorable stand locations based on the wind then do not hunt there, wait for the wind to become favorable. Do not allow someone to convince you the the wind does not matter. Most animals can see you, hear you and not bolt away but let them smell you and they are gone. Next, know what your animal looks like. Sounds silly but you'll almost never see the whole animal at once. Deer and Bear often are first noticeed as Micky Mouse head. They will look just like mickey mouse standing there. With Deer I often notice a flash of white, most often from their tails as they are running away, LOL.....but really, the insides of their ears have white hair, fur or whatever you want to call it, and they are constantly pivoting their ears listening for the slightest sound, next would be their black nose which is circled in white also. Then there is the horizonal line of their back and neck which stands out against the verticalness of the trees and brush. After you have seen them and you are absolutely, positively 100% absolutely, positively sure that is an animal and the animal you are hunting and it is legal and they get into range of the weapon of your choice, then the knowing about where their vitals are that you should have learned eariler comes into play because they almost never are standing still broadside and in a field or clearing so knowing the location af the vitals in relation to the angle of the projectile path will give you your aiming point. Breathe calmly and normal, exhale and squeeze the trigger or release the arrow......or not.....mabe just seeing one and knowing that you can get there is enough in which case you can just snap the photo quietly and continue watching and enjoying Gods creations.


Location: Virginia
Joined: 10/11/2012
Posts: 2
Hello mate,As the hunting in

Hello mate,

As the hunting season begins so does the mating season. As the weather begins to cool off in Northern Virginia our four legged friends have begin looking for food and mates. Every year at this time as food begins to get scarce our four legged friends are found along the side of roadways and a few find themselves in the middle of the road. 

As avid hunters we make sure our food plots are in and growing well before the first frost. The deer will need the food to get them through the winter and especially if the winter is harsh. We do this because we know this is the time of year deer are looking for food.

Don't hesitate to contact me if you need more advice.




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