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
Illustration of deer
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 and while climbing a tree.

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 where the deer's heart and lungs are located.


  • 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.
  • Read the wind direction before you begin hunting, and set up downwind of where you expect deer to travel.
  • Ensure that you can 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.
  • Wear camouflage clothing that allows you to blend into the natural landscape and enable you to get close enough to your target to hit the kill zone, Missouri bowhunters are not required to wear hunter orange except when the archery season overlaps with the youth, antlerless, or CWD portions of firearms deer season.


  • Never travel to a hunting location or climb into a tree stand with an arrow in the ready or nocked position. Bowhunters have been severely injured or bled to death after falling and landing on a broadhead-tipped arrow.


  • 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 in an area the size of a deer’s vital area.
  • Look for archery targets that allow arrows with both field tips and hunting broadhead tips to be retrieved and reused.
  • Seek out experienced bowhunters for their input and encouragement.