After interviewing hundreds of the best deer hunters from across the country on the Wired To Hunt Podcast, I’ve realized they all have one thing in common: a never-ending drive to learn more about deer and deer hunting.
There’s never been a better time to learn than now. But amidst all our modern digital resources, the age-old hunting book has been forgotten. And that’s a damned shame.
If a blog post or YouTube video is a plate of venison poppers, a book is the medium-rare venison steak and baked potato. For those truly committed to becoming better deer hunters, you occasionally need to help yourself to a full course of hunting know-how and deer ecology. Here are three deer hunting books that will satisfy that hunger.
“Whitetail Access” by Chris Eberhart
To take off for months at a time and hunt deer across the country is the dream of millions. Chris Eberhart lived that dream and wrote this book about it. Traveling and hunting across North Dakota, Missouri, Wisconsin, Ohio, and other locales while living out of his minivan, Eberhart takes the reader along for the hunting trip of a lifetime while also carefully documenting his DIY tactics and experiences along the way.
It’s the most entertaining whitetail book I’ve read to date and it’s jam-packed with learning opportunities. For a more in-depth look at Eberhart’s hunting tactics, pick up “Precision Bow Hunting,” another one of my favorites.
“Mapping Trophy Bucks” by Brad Herndon
One of the most important skills for a deer hunter is an understanding of how cover and terrain features influence deer movement. “Mapping Trophy Bucks” is the best-available introductory resource to this topic.
Herndon outlines how to read topographic and aerial maps, how to identify features such as ridgelines, points, saddles, and inside corners on maps, and finally, how deer relate to these features. To bring it all together, the book highlights exactly how to set up and hunt these areas while considering deer behavior and wind and weather conditions.
“Big Buck Secrets” by Steve Bartylla
A whitetail consultant and outdoor writer, Bartylla has a knack for communicating in-depth hunting knowledge in an unassuming, easy to understand manner. He’s like that slightly corny yet wise uncle we all love, except this one can help you become a better deer hunter. In “Big Buck Secrets,” Bartylla does this in spades, but what sets this apart from other books is how every method discussed is paired with a real-world example, graphics, and maps to illustrate the necessary points.
This is a first-rate educational resource for the aspiring deer hunter wanting to level-up their skillset, whether they’re hunting public or private land.
“A Hunter’s Heart,” edited by David Petersen
A Hunter’s Heart” should be required reading not just for deer hunters, but hunters of any and all species. This book is a collection of essays from a wide breadth of writers who all explore a different aspect of hunting. Some of these essays are simply enjoyable, some are inspiring, some are saddening, some are challenging. But across the board, this book forces the reader to think more deeply about why he or she hunts—an important exercise for us all.