Best Time to Hunt: Top 10 Tips

Written by Chanel Coetzee
Updated: June 26, 2023
© Maksim Safaniuk/
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Hunting used to be a way of life, but these days it’s more of a sport with strict rules and regulations. As communities and agriculture evolved, hunting became less of a necessity. So, today, hunters use it to escape to nature and manage population numbers. Hunting has many benefits, including health benefits like physical exercise, stress reduction, and lower heart rate and blood pressure. However, it differs from the past when anyone could go into the woods and shoot anything. People need to know about hunting seasons so they don’t go against any of the rules and restrictions set in place for balance. But the first tip is to know the best time to hunt, which is during hunting season. However, hunting season differs depending on location, season, animals, etc. So, below are tips to help you find success when hunting.

Hunters on a Mountain Ridge
Hunters on top of a hill scout for deer.
Image: OUTDOOR_MEDIA, Shutterstock


The Reason For Hunting Seasons

Having a specific time for hunting season is important for various reasons. And not all of them are based on when wildlife is most vulnerable or exposed. Instead, the government department concerning natural resources decides when hunting season should occur. These decisions are made to preserve the wildlife for future generations to enjoy the sport. The natural resources department must balance and preserve the ecosystem to maintain wildlife populations.

Furthermore, hunting seasons are carefully curated to ensure the best chance for success. For example, hunting seasons are determined by animal breeding periods. In addition, giving animals time off helps them to recuperate. So, the best time to hunt varies according to state. Therefore, ensure to familiarize yourself with your state’s rules and regulations regarding hunting and when it is allowed. This is not only for your benefit but will save you from any penalties incurred by hunting unlawfully. In addition, you can have your hunting license revoked, depending on the laws of your state.

Hunting Season For Animals

Because animals have various breeding behaviors, not all will have the same hunting season. Therefore, we have compiled a list of hunting seasons for animals in the USA.

When is the Best Time to Hunt Duck?

Duck hunting is very popular in the USA. While most birds’ hunting season depends on species, waterfowl habitat, and migration, the duck’s hunting season dates are selected a bit differently. The Migratory Birds Convention determines the dates each year, and the season usually occurs between September to January. However, there are restrictions in place to protect the duck population, like weapon prohibitions and bag limits. The duration of the duck hunting season will also differ depending on the Flyway (routes ducks take when migrating).

When is the Best Time to Hunt Deer?

Every state provides a schedule for deer hunting season. However, seasons will vary depending on the type of deer you intend to hunt. For example, the two deer species in the USA are the white-tailed deer and mule deer. Furthermore, deer hunting season typically commences in September and ends in December. However, some states don’t allow deer hunting until October or November, and it may last until January, depending on the state.

There are usually a few rules for hunting deer. For example, some states might implement designated hunting hours, like Missouri, where you can only hunt 1.5 hours before sunrise and for 1.5 hours after sunset. In addition, you might have to use designated weapons in certain months. For example, there are specific months when certain states permit archery, usually at the start of hunting season. Then, in the following months, hunters may use firearms.

Hunters can’t go out and shoot any deer that crosses their paths. There are certain criteria hunters have to follow before selecting their kill. Typically, deers without antlers are off-limits. However, some states allow it if you get a permit.

When is the Best Time to Hunt Turkeys?

The two most common species of Turkey in the USA are the Ocellated Turkey of Central America and the North American Wild Turkey. Since turkeys have such a wide range, it’s best to check with your state to find out the best time to hunt them. However, hunting season generally occurs in spring or fall, but not all states allow hunting twice a year. The best time to hunt turkeys in the spring is from April to May, but some states prefer to start in March. Turkey hunting season in the fall usually commences in August and lasts till October. However, certain states begin in November and end in February.

Top 10 Tips for Hunting

There are many factors you need to consider before a hunting trip. Being prepared is essential for a successful hunt.

1. Get Licensed

Most places in the USA require hunters to have licenses as it prevents illegal hunting and secures much-needed funds for local revenue. Therefore, it is essential to check your state’s requirements before participating.

2. Exercise Before Hunting

While most people don’t prepare before a hunting trip, it is a good idea. For example, most hunting excursions involve hours of hiking, walking, and lifting. If you don’t train before the trip, these activities can cause serious pain to the body. You don’t have to train for a marathon, but doing exercises like walking, push-ups, or jogging will make a difference.

3. Pack the Essentials

Before packing, make a checklist of all the equipment you will need for your trip. Ensure to pack all the gear a week before the excursion, ensuring all weapons are firmly secured. Then, the day before the trip, go through your checklist.

4. Alcohol is Not Your Friend

While many people see hunting as a release from the real world, drinking while hunting is not a good idea. As alcohol distorts your judgment, handling weapons while drunk is a massive risk. Furthermore, it can reduce focus, often leading to other members of the hunting party getting injured.

5. Always Stay On the Designated Path

It is natural for hunters to veer off the designated path in search of adventure. But, local authorities have set up specific routes to ensure nobody gets lost or wanders into areas where dangerous animals could harm you.

6. Never Hunt Alone

It is always best to have a buddy with you when out in nature. Anything could happen; you could fall and break something or accidentally shot by another hunter. That’s why having someone near is essential so that they can call for medical assistance.

7. Ditch the Camo

While most hunters opt for camo clothes, wearing bright clothing is safer. For example, hunting accidents are often caused by other hunters mistaking someone for an animal. Therefore, wearing bright colors prevents any unwanted accidents.

8. Gun Safety

When hunting, there are usually other people in the vicinity, like rangers, or other hunters, so gun safety is imperative. Therefore, being cautious and alert before shooting at any target is essential.

9. Prepare an Emergency Kit

Hunting is not a dainty sport. There are bound to be accidents or medical emergencies that every hunter needs to prepare for, from cuts and scrapes to broken bones or gunshot wounds. So, it’s essential to have a fully-stocked emergency kit on hand. The kit should always include the following:

  • Gauze
  • Alcohol
  • Scissors
  • Cotton

10. Keep the Environment Clean

Unfortunately, some hunters tend to leave their litter lying around their campsites. Unfortunately, this negatively affects the environment and all the animals that live there. As a result, there may not be anything to hunt in the future.

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About the Author

I am a 33-year-old creative and professional writer from South Africa. Wildlife is one of my greatest passions and led me to become the writer I am today. I was very blessed to work with an abundance of wildlife (mainly big cats) and captured my unique experiences in writing. But I wanted to take it further, and I ventured into the freelancing world. Now, I get to spend my days writing about animals; what could be better?

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