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Whitetail Guide

Improve your chances in the field with Winchester's Guide to Whitetail Hunting

Whitetail hunting presents a unique set of challenges that requires special skills and equipment. Regardless of your skill level or the quality of your equipment, there are some basic steps you can take to improve your chances in the field and bring home that monster buck. The following is a guide to whitetail hunting basics.

The best way to improve your chances of bringing home a big buck is to know where they are. Get in the field and scout early to learn whitetail habits and movements. Pay careful attention to deer signs such as scrapes, rubs, droppings, tracks and deer trails. Motion-sensor game cameras are also a good way track deer movement. Many of these cameras will put a time stamp on the pictures, which allows you to identify what time of day deer are moving. Knowing when and where deer move, eat and sleep is critical to developing a successful plan and determining effective stand placement and tactics for deer season.

Deer Stand Placement
Understanding deer movement means you can then begin strategic placement of your deer stand. Locate your stands near deer trails that run between food sources and bedding areas. Ideally, you should locate a part of the trail that has a natural ‘funnel’ or narrowing that will help keep the deer confined to a targeted area. When placing your stand, select a location that will be downwind and about 25-100 yards from the path you expect the deer to take. If you are using a tree stand, it should be placed at least 12-15 feet off the ground. Use natural surroundings and foliage to provide additional cover. If you are using a tree stand, be sure to use a safety harness and follow all safety practices. If possible, setup your stand several days before your first hunt. This will allow the deer time to get used to the presence of the stand and you to clear branches and create unobstructed shooting lanes which will improve your chances to take a clean shot from your stand.

At the range, shoot at distances near and far to learn where to hold at a distant target. Learn your firearms capabilities as well as your own capabilities. Always check your background for a safe backstop before beginning to sight in the firearm.

Place the target at 25 yards and fire three shots. Adjust your scope, according to the manufacturers instructions, to hit dead on or slightly low and confirm with three more shots. Be sure to allow your barrel time to cool down between shots - a hot barrel will change the point of impact of the bullet. Place the target at 100 or 200 yards (depending on the expected ranges you will be hunting) for your final adjustment. Fire three shots and adjust your scope to the point you wan the bullet to strike, using the center point of impact of the three bullet holes.

Before the hunt, spend time shooting in a variety of positions such as standing, sitting or kneeling and practice shooting in the type of clothing in which you typically hunt. Learn how to take advantage of natural rests and how to shoot off of crossed shooting stick rests. Never take an off-hand shot if a shot from a solid rest is possible. Remember, the key to accuracy and success is a steady gun and a smooth pull of the trigger.

Having a well-fitting gun is critical to becoming a proficient shot. A variety of guns are available for whitetail hunting. Gun styles range from the traditional bolt action rifles like the Winchester Model 70 to cantilever shotguns like the Winchester Super X3 to gas-operated autoloading rifles like the Winchester Super X Rifle.

When selecting a firearm, it is important to select a gun that fits. The gun should not only provide a comfortable physical fit, but it should also fit the conditions in which you hunt. The Winchester Super X Rifle offers reduced recoil and enhanced ergonomics promoting better handling. For more information on the Super X Rifle and other Winchester Firearms, visit

It is paramount to match the cartridge and ammunition to the animals you plan to hunt. While some of the .22 caliber rifles designed for small game and varmints are extremely accurate, they are not powerful enough, nor well suited for hunting deer and larger animals. Neither would you hunt rabbits with a .338 Winchester magnum designed for use on large game animals. Winchester produces a variety of slugs and bullets perfectly designed to cleanly and quickly take that trophy buck.

Never mix ammunition. Keep it separated by calibers and cartridges as well as bullet weight and bullet design. Seldom do equal weight bullets of different design have the same point of impact. Remember, if you change the bullet weight or design, you must re-sight your firearm.

Winchester Ammunition is an innovator in ammunition technology and offers rifle bullets and shotgun slugs in a wide range of calibers and gauges to meet your needs on the range or in the field.