Purposely finding a deer and getting a good shot will entails a knowledge of deer biology, on-the-ground scouting, and shooting ability all combined into a hunting strategy. The culmination of a well-executed hunting strategy is having a deer (or in some cases a particular deer) provide a shooting opportunity at range and shot-angle where the hunter is confident will result in a quick kill.
A “hunting strategy” is the “how” a hunter applies knowledge and skills in order to get a good shot. A “hunting plan” is where and when a hunter will implements his/her overall strategy. Experienced deer hunters can intuitively assess the potential of a variety of hunting strategies, and put a hunting plan together in a matter of minutes based on years of experience and familiarity with their hunting property.
However, in order to teach a novice hunter the process of developing a strategy and adapting that strategy into an effective plan, you will need to parse out the various steps involved and explain how various bits of knowledge are applied.
For white-tailed deer, particularly in the East, there are two overarching strategies:
a) wait for the deer to come to you
b) actively go find a deer.
In the West, especially for mule deer, most hunters actively go find a deer.
Because white-tailed deer prefer thick, brushy habitat, most hunters elect to wait for the deer to come to them. Patience and confidence in location are keys to being successful.
Mule deer prefer open terrain, occur at much lower population densities than whitetail, and are much easier to spot at long distances. Once mule deer are spotted, the next step is to plan how to sneak within shooting distances. Often shots in the West are quite long when compared to those taken in the East.
While the hunting strategy and plan adopted by your program will, to a large extent, be dependent on the preferred methods employed by your mentors/guides, we recommend that “stand hunting” be the preferred option. Stand hunting is highly effective, requires less skills and coordination, and the shots presented are generally at an unalarmed, still or slowly moving deer.