In this post, I cover the 10 best deer hunting books in 2023 to improve as a deer hunter. The books I have listed below will transcend your hunting career to a truly eye-opening understanding of what it takes to figure out, find, and consistently take big bucks.
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Best All-Time Deer Hunting Books
What I find interesting is that the hunters in the books below have adapted to their conditions and mastered personal techniques, creating their own styles of hunting to achieve success.
The books below describe three over-arching styles of consistently taking big bucks; tracking in snow, habitat manipulation, and extreme preparation/scouting.
From reading these books you’ll not only get lifetimes’ worth of knowledge from the best deer hunters in the world, but you’ll be able to mix and match their different styles of hunting to create your own style.
Different Styles, Same Success
Although the three overarching styles are quite different, there are similarities. It is important to pay close attention as you read these books and be aware of the similarities they share.
There is a reason they have all come to the same conclusions after a lifetime of hunting big bucks (it works).
A lot of my hunting style incorporates a mixture of all these hunters. Armed with the knowledge of the experiences and tactics of these big buck-killing gurus has made me so much deadlier in the woods.
Even when unsuccessful, I leave the woods feeling like I put the odds in my favor as much as possible for that particular day. Prior to reading these books, I was just hoping to get lucky, a recipe for failure.
Bowhunting Pressured Whitetails – John & Chris Eberhart
John Eberhart is one of the most well-known deer hunters in the world and has an impressive resume for taking big bucks in Michigan despite Michigan having one of the most highly pressured deer in the U.S.
In his book, he states how big bucks react to hunting pressure:
Hunting Pressure and Mature Bucks Insights
Once you understand the concepts laid out in this book, finding mature bucks becomes easier. They’re found where other hunters don’t go.
He also goes into how to use other hunters, which he calls “deer deflectors”, to your advantage.
John talks about scrapes, rubs, staging areas…etc but while explaining how hunting pressure alters that activity.
You’ll be absolutely amazed at the work involved with consistently taking mature bucks in highly pressured areas. It will expand your mindset as to what you are currently doing, compared to what it actually takes to shoot big bucks in pressured areas.
Precision Bowhunting – John and Chris Eberhart
Whitetail Breakdown Month By Month
This is another great book by the Eberharts. Instead of talking solely about pressured bucks, John and Chris break the book down into a month-by-month format. This really helps the reader understand what whitetails are thinking all year long.
By understanding this big picture, you are able to anticipate what deer are doing throughout the year. This is a big advantage because not only does it help you hunt more effectively, but scout like a pro as well.
In addition to learning what whitetails are doing throughout the year, John and Chris talk about what they personally do throughout the year to prepare for the upcoming season.
Being able to follow the Eberharts through an entire year of scouting, preparation, and hunting gives readers invaluable knowledge.
Consistently Kill Mature Pressured Bucks With A Bow
This book hands-down improved my hunting the most. I used this book as my deer hunting bible for years. I’d pick this book up before hunting season for years to make sure I knew the best times to hunt certain treestands. I still pick it up on occasion for specific questions that I might have. For these reasons, it is one of the best deer hunting books available.
If you want to know which of these 10 books will give you the most bang for your buck (pun intended) it is hands down these two books by the Eberharts.
How to Bag the Biggest Buck of Your Life – Larry Benoit
Larry Benoit was and still is one of the most famous deer hunters of all time. Larry and his family almost always shot giant bucks every year. These bucks would almost always dress out 200+ lbs.
But more than that, they did it in the most unique way, by tracking big bucks in the snow. Tracking bucks in the snow is pretty isolated to New England. This is because there’s adequate snow during deer season and deer numbers are somewhat low. This makes following a track easier than in areas with high deer populations.
This book covers everything from getting into shape, gear for tracking deer in snow, scouting, deer sign, the art of reading deer tracks in the snow, and more. This is a must-read for anyone who wants to start tracking big bucks in the big woods.
Big Bucks the Benoit Way – Bryce M. Towsley
This is another fantastic book on the Benoit family, except this time it is from the point of view of the writer Bryce M. Towsley. There is a first and second edition of this book.
I’ve read them both and they are both great reads. I liked these books because it’s based on the author’s perspective, which is one of a new deer tracker being trained by the Benoits.
This is a very helpful perspective for new trackers because they are able to glean an understanding of what it takes to track big bucks in the big woods. Bryce does a great job portraying the learning curve associated with tracking big bucks in the big woods very accurately.
Benoit Bucks – Bryce M. Towsley
Tracking Bucks On Snow In The Big Woods
Yes, I have a third book about the Benoit family because their concepts are that important to understand, especially if you’re new to tracking bucks in the big woods.
This is another informative book by Bryce. This time, instead of diving into the art of tracking as he did the Big Bucks the Benoit Way, each chapter is dedicated to each individual Benoit.
Different Styles of Tracking On Snow
This is a very helpful perspective to have because each Benoit has their unique style of shooting these massive northern deer. By learning their styles you’ll be able to try out and fine-tune your style to figure out what works best for you.
Hunt Smarter Not Harder
The book also talks about how the styles of each Benoit have changed due to old age. Basically, they hunt smarter, not harder. If you’re a young tracker this is powerful information because you can catapult your tracking career by hunting smarter at a younger age.
Hal Blood – Hunting Big Woods Bucks: Secrets of Tracking and Stalking Whitetails
System For Success In The Big Woods
Hal Blood is a master guide in Maine and has been tracking big Maine bucks for many years. His enthusiasm to track big bucks himself and for other hunters throughout his guiding career has allowed him to create a “system for success” as he calls it.
In this book, he describes the methods he uses to consistently take big bucks in the big woods of Maine.
Put The Odds In Your Favor In The Big Woods
Although tracking big bucks is the main topic in this book it also talks about how to maximize success in the big woods in other ways. These ways include the best times to stand hunt, when to still hunt, and when to track.
Basically, it’s a guide to putting the odds in your favor in the big woods where only small pockets of deer are found.
Gear and Conquering Fear of Big Woods
In the book, Hal describes the gear he uses and that has proven to work through his long career as a Maine guide. Having the proper gear in the big woods is important because it can be dangerous being so far from civilization in the cold climate of northern Maine during deer season.
Hunters often are afraid of the big woods because of how vast it is and their fear of getting lost. He also describes how to have the right gear so that you can put your fears to rest.
Hal Blood – Tracking Whitetail Bucks
Hal wrote another book that was published in 2017. This book is different than the previously mentioned book because it doesn’t teach you directly how to track bucks in the big woods.
Instead, Hal recalls all of the bucks he’s shot over the years and writes about the stories involved in taking each of those bucks. Each chapter is broken down by the name he gave to the bucks he shot. In each chapter, he unravels the story of how he was able to take each buck.
Learning Through Storytelling
Although this book does not directly teach you how to track big woods bucks, you passively learn a lot through storytelling. It is tough to explain to someone how to track, even to other hunters who have never tried it.
There’s a lot that can only be learned through experience. That being said, I believe our brains learn better through storytelling than any other way.
For example, you will understand when to implement certain strategies and why Hal implements them when he does by using the specific examples in his book as he tells the story.
For this reason, there is a lot of tips and tactics that can be extracted from this book and is highly recommended. This book can be found on Hal’s website BigWoodsBucks.com.
Steve Bartylla – White-tailed Deer Management and Habitat Management
Whitetail Habitat Management
Habitat managers have a unique ability to see how deer react to certain applications over time. Through trial and error, habitat managers figure out what does and doesn’t work on deer. This is based on property layout, design, and hunting applications.
Habitat managers are different than your average hunter because the average hunter will often struggle by making the same mistakes year after year. Whereas it is the habitat manager’s job to learn to implement strategies that work.
Steve has figured out what does and does not work and does a fantastic job going through the steps that it takes to manage deer and deer habitat.
Applicable To Public Land
Even if you’re not interested in managing deer on your own property reading this book is one of the best things you can do to improve your success on public or private lands.
By taking the principles that Steve addresses on his client’s parcels and applying that knowledge to the areas you hunt you can determine if a property is worth hunting.
Basically, you want to find hunting grounds that already have all or most of the features that Steve is trying to build on each of his client’s parcels.
Being able to pick out these spots on public land will give you a huge advantage over other hunters because it will put you closer to the action.
Big Bucks Aren’t Everywhere
By reading Steve’s book you will understand what Steve is looking for to maximize the potential of a client’s property. If you can re-create what Steve is looking for on public lands, you can bet that is where the big bucks are going to be located.
There are certain criteria that need to be met in order for big bucks to inhabit an area. Big bucks aren’t found everywhere, and there is a reason for this.
Steve does a great job explaining where the big bucks will be found, and how to create the habitat that makes big bucks move into an area.
Putting The Odds In Your Favor
I think the most important thing I learned from Steve Bartylla is that it’s all about the odds when deer hunting. You can only predict what’s going to happen on a given day to a certain percentage, but you can stack your odds by doing certain things at certain times to give yourself the highest percentage possible to be successful. This is just as true as a whitetail deer and habitat manager or hunting public lands.
Jeff Sturgis – Whitetail Success by Design
Deer Habitat Improvements
When learning about a new topic I always like to take into consideration multiple opinions because it allows me to articulate similarities and differences in style.
Jeff, like Steve Bartylla, is a whitetail habitat manager. Jeff has been designing whitetail properties for years. A lot of what they teach in their books is similar but they are different in some ways as well.
The main reason for reading this book would be to learn how to manage deer on your own property or properties.
That being said, I’ve learned a lot about how whitetails relate to their habitat, what they eat, what makes them feel safe, how pressure affects movement, proper treestand placement…etc.
Applies To Public Land
Like Steve’s book above, this has made me much more effective when hunting on public and private lands. Because Jeff manages properties of all sizes, and across many areas of the U.S. he has incredible amounts of experience on whitetail behavior.
Reading Jeff’s book will guide you in understanding what type of habitat big bucks are found in, and more importantly, why they are found in these areas. Jeff also has one of the most, if not the most read whitetail blogs in the world which can be found on his website www.WhitetailHabitatSolutions.com/blog where he has an abundance of information.
Mapping Trophy Bucks – Brad Herndon
This book was a great read because it was full of diagrams and examples which made the reading experience fun and effortless. Without the diagrams and examples, it would have been hard to digest and interpret what Brad was talking about because there is a lot of information packed into it.
A lot of this book is about teaching readers how deer use terrain features to their advantage and goes into detail on how to hunt deer using saddles, ridges, and funnels to your advantage.
He even has a whole vocabulary dedicated to the different types of terrain, which he defines at the beginning of the book in order to explain himself to the fullest extent.
Wind & Thermals
Brad does a great job explaining how to hunt mountain/hill bucks, there aren’t many books out there on the subject. Understanding wind and thermals in all scenarios is important, but they can be especially tricky in the mountains. Brad does a good job explaining how they work.
This book is a little old-school because it talks about using paper maps as tools. However, it gave me the idea to start using Google Earth to map bucks even more effectively. I wrote an earlier article on this if you want to learn how to scout deer using Google Earth: 15 Best Tips for Scouting Deer Using Google Earth.
BONUS: Dan Infault – The Hunting Beast
Dan has been one of the biggest influences on my style of hunting as well. Dan does a great job teaching about bedding areas; where they are and how to hunt them. Hunting bedding areas is in my opinion, is the best way to take big bucks consistently.
Dan mentions time and time again that in order to kill mature bucks you have to sneak into the 100-yard bubble around a buck’s bed in order to shoot him in daylight.
This is quite a claim that I had never heard before, nevertheless, his wall of bucks surpasses most, and from hunting bedding areas myself I have seen more buck activity than I ever imagined was possible in the areas I hunt.
Although Dan prefers to hunt swamp bucks, he has a lot of good information on how to hunt deer in steeper terrain as well.
The Hunting Beast Forum
Although not an author of a book Dan is the owner of one of the best, if not the best online forum for hunting whitetails. His forum is called The Hunting Beast.
The information contained in the forum is just as helpful as any one of the books listed above, you just have to do a little more digging to find what you’re looking for.
Final Thoughts on the Best Books For Deer Hunters
These books will give you all the knowledge you need to consistently take bigger bucks in your area. For this reason, they are the best deer hunting books.
That being said, they will not give you the hands-on experience you need to fully understand what these master hunters are talking about.
You may inherently understand the concepts they are talking about at a surface level. But it’s not until you implement their work ethic and strategy into your own hunting that you will be able to fully grasp what is inside these books.
For this reason, these books should be read multiple times. I would recommend reading your favorite before and after each hunting season. When you read these books again at the end of the season you should have some “oh yeahhh, now I get it” and “damn I should have tried that” reactions.