Deer Hunting: Getting Started

White-Tailed Deer
Deer Hunting
Getting Started

Whether you are curious about deer hunting or have experience in the field, this section offers guidance that can help you advance your skills. Find information on:

  • Choosing the right equipment
  • Scouting locations
  • Preparing for the field
  • Field dressing your harvest
Hunter Education Requirement

Please check all hunter education requirements before you head out to the field!  Visit our Hunter Education Requirement page for details and exemptions.

Deer Hunting Tips

Be Safe

  • Safety is your first priority. Nothing matters more than firearm and tree-stand safety.
  • ALWAYS identify your target as a legal deer before putting your finger on the trigger. Never shoot at sounds in the brush.
  • Never climb into a tree with a loaded gun. Always wear a safety belt or harness while in a tree stand.

Spotting Deer

  • Patience is mandatory.
  • Talk to landowners about deer patterns as they are likely to know where deer gather and travel.
  • Deer are active throughout the day during the breeding season (usually late October through November). Otherwise, morning and evening are the best times to spot deer.
  • Deer are often found at the edges of fields or clearings in the woods.
  • Snow-covered ground reveals a deer’s tracks and makes moving deer more visible.

Position and Aim

  • A deer’s nose is its best defense; try to position yourself upwind of a deer trail.
  • If you spot an approaching deer, try to remain motionless. Deer have keen eyes and ears.
  • Aim for the “kill zone,” an area 4 to 6 inches behind the left elbow of the front leg. You are more likely to hit the deer’s heart, cause less trauma to the deer, and achieve a clean kill.


  • Adjust your range to 10 and 60 yards.
  • Carefully study deer patterns and tendencies where you plan to hunt, then set your stand accordingly. Most deer kills are within 30 yards of an archer’s stand.
  • Hide your scent and read the wind direction before you begin hunting.
  • You must be able to pull back the bow without straining or undue motion or sound.
  • Most hunting bows are adjusted to 50 to 70 pounds of pull, meaning the amount (in pounds) to pull the string back 28 inches. Less than a 50-pound pull is not recommended.
  • Missouri bowhunters are not required to wear hunter orange. Because you must get close enough to your target to hit the kill zone, wear clothing (camouflage) that allows you to blend into the natural landscape.


  • Never climb into a tree stand with an arrow in the ready or nocked position.
  • Do not travel to any hunting spot with your arrow ready to shoot.  Bowhunters have been severely injured or bled to death after falling and landing on a broadhead.


  • Use practice arrows with the same weight and length as your hunting arrows.
  • Practice with targets set at varying distances until you can place several arrows within 6 inches of one another in a bull’s eye. A shot to the kill zone is more important with bowhunting than with firearms hunting.
  • There are archery targets on the market that allow arrows, with both field tips and hunting broadhead tips, to be retrieved and re-used.
  • Seek out experienced bowhunters for their input and encouragement.