During hunting season in many parts of the United States, it can be extremely cold. Sitting in New York during a hunting season in late November I can recall thinking “What am I doing out in this cold”, followed by “Boy I wish I had some warm coffee or hot chocolate.”
Yes, you can drink coffee while deer hunting. Having a warm drink can help to calm the nerves and take away some of the boredom that comes with waiting for the game to appear.
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Coffee While Rifle Hunting – A Handful Of Tips
When rifle hunting, taking coffee is more feasible from a ground or elevated blind where deer are less likely to see you, as opposed to when on the move or in an open tree stand.
I prefer using a 24-ounce “Café style” steel mug for its insulation benefits.
For instance, during a chilly New York deer hunt, I kept my coffee warm on a camp stove before heading to my stand. The advantage of this mug is its travel lid, which is easier to operate than twist-off lids, minimizing movement and reducing the chance of alerting deer.
Coffee While Bow Hunting
Taking coffee bow hunting can be a little more challenging. Most people bow hunt from an open tree stand and generally, deer are a lot closer so even the slightest movement could alert the deer and spoil your hunt.
You need to limit movement if you are going to bring coffee with you while hunting.
I would use the same coffee mug if you are bow hunting. I don’t think it makes sense to bring a thermos, and then pour from it into a regular drinking cup.
Can You Drink Coffee and Still Get A Buck?
Yes, you can drink coffee in your stand and still get a respectable buck. I drink coffee when I hunt because it keeps me warm and helps keep me more alert. However, this is not the case for everybody.
If you take too many stimulants before and during your hunt, such as caffeine or energy drinks, then odds are you’ll move more than necessary, and small twitches could scare away the game.
That’s how deer sensory patterns work: they pick up on any human-like patterns which usually works as a warning sign so they can sense humans are nearby.
In addition, too many stimulants could also cause slight movement when you are trying to aim, thus throwing off your shot.
Coffee Smell – Can Deer Smell Coffee?
Coffee will not spoil your hunt; it’s the movement that spoils your hunt.
Most of the smell associated with coffee is from brewing and you do that long before you get up in your tree stand.
Having your coffee in a travel mug will greatly reduce the smell as well.
Another tip is to keep your coffee simple. A more traditional coffee with milk and sugar gives off less aroma than a fancy-flavored coffee (yes avoid that double mocha grande from Starbucks).
I don’t even use flavored creamer, but that may be a little overkill.
Effects of Coffee on Body Scent and Deer’s Ability to Detect Hunters
There has been some debate over whether the strong aroma of coffee can be detected by a deer’s sensitive nose, potentially alerting them to a hunter’s presence.
According to one source, coffee itself does not seem to directly affect a deer’s ability to smell a hunter (Talk Leisure). The coffee bean can help absorb human odors. The real concern is if drinking coffee leads to spilling it on clothes or gear, or causes the hunter to move around more, creating noise and scent.
Overall, the consensus seems to be that coffee aroma itself does not travel far enough or strongly enough to alert deer (Buck Hunters Blog). Deer rely more on their other senses to detect danger. As long as hunters remain downwind, move slowly and infrequently, and avoid spills, enjoying coffee while on the stand should not affect a deer’s ability to smell hunters.
However, some hunters still prefer to avoid coffee or other strong scents as an extra precautionary measure, using scent-masking techniques instead (MeatEater). Winds and weather conditions can also influence scent travel and deer behavior (Petersen’s Hunting).
3 Tips To Drink Coffee and Ensure You Still Get That Trophy Buck
Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it?
Remember deer have a keen sense of smell but utilize sight and sound to help sense danger. As we discussed the coffee smell isn’t likely a huge issue, but the movement associated with drinking it may. Additional movement is also likely to create more sound if you drop something, brush up against something, or knock something over.
The #1 thing I can recommend is to limit your movement as much as possible and you will see deer.
Do Not Worry About The Small Stuff
Hunting site selection, sound discipline, and time in the stand (spent hunting) are way more important than worrying about having a couple of cups of coffee. Spend more time focused on these areas and enjoy your cup of coffee during your morning hunt.
Don’t Take Things So Serious
Many of us aren’t trophy hunters, we are average Joe’s out in the woods to relax, hunt, and enjoy ourselves. If you aren’t out to get a monster buck, have your coffee and relax. You’ll have more fun if you aren’t so serious all the time and trying to hunt like a machine.
You can always have coffee when you get back to camp, that way there won’t be any movement or smells while out in your stand. It won’t be the end of the world!
Alternatives To Coffee
You may decide that taking coffee isn’t worth the chance you may unintentionally scare away deer. There are a few alternatives you can use to take coffee’s place.
If you are using coffee for the caffeine boost, you could substitute it with an energy drink that contains caffeine.
If you are using coffee to keep warm, you could substitute with something like a hand warmer pack which is lightweight and small but does not emit any smell that would alert deer.
You could also choose to drink water while you hunt which is an alternative to quench your thirst.
Coffee can be a great way to stay warm while hunting and, if it is done correctly, will not spoil your hunt. There are two main tips to having coffee while you hunt.
Limit your movement as much as possible when it is time for that cup of joe. You just don’t need to be moving around a lot, ever!
Don’t take hunting so seriously and enjoy yourself.