Know the Lingo - NSSF Let's Go Hunting

Know the Lingo

How to talk like a hunter

Hunters, just like any other hobbyists, have their own lingo to communicate quickly and effectively. (It’s also pretty darn fun once it becomes fluent!) New hunters should learn some of it so they can also communicate in the same language. A few examples follow.

Upwind: Refers to the direction the wind is blowing in relation to an object, person, or animal. Because most animals have keen noses, it’s almost always best to stay “upwind” of them so your scent doesn’t blow directly toward them.

Downwind: Opposite of upwind. Example: “The deer was downwind of Mike, so it busted him and ran off.”

150-inch Buck: When serious deer hunters talk about bucks, they often refer to them in measured inches of antler as a means of efficient and universal communication. A 100-inch buck is small in most places; a 120-inch buck is average; a 150-inch buck is very impressive; and a 200-inch buck is a once-in-a lifetime type of animal. New hunters shouldn’t get wrapped up in measurements—after all the meat is the real trophy—but they should know of what their fellow hunters speak.

Legal Shooting Hours: While state and local laws can vary, hunters generally are allowed to hunt 30 minutes prior to the day’s official sunrise until the day’s official sunset or, in some states, 30 minutes past it. It’s your duty to know your hunting area’s legal shooting hours.

Dekes: Short for decoys. Many game animals—including big game like deer and elk, but especially migratory birds—can be effectively hunted with the use of dekes.

Stand: Any place from which a hunter actually hunts. It could mean a treestand, an elevated box blind, a ground blind, or just a great spot on a ridgetop.

Glass: As a noun, glass refers to a binocular. As a verb, it’s the act of using a binocular or spotting scope to scan an expanse in hopes of finding an animal to pursue.

Bag Limit: Refers to the maximum number of game animals a hunter can legally kill, or put in his or her “game bag” to take home. Again, it’s up to every hunter to know the bag limits for the bird/animal and area where he or she is hunting

Monster, Pig, Toad, Brute, Booner, etc.: Slang terms for describing huge game animals. Example: “That buck was a toad!”

Still Hunting: A style of hunting in which the hunter does not stay stationary all the time, but remains still for a few minutes, then slips to a different position to observe again. It’s the opposite of “stand hunting.”


About the Author: A native Oklahoman, Jeff Johnston is an NRA-certified shotgun, rifle, and handgun instructor, as well as an NRA Distinguished Expert shooter. A lifelong hunter, he’s taken many different species of game, including a few giant whitetails and one rare masked fox squirrel from Georgia of which he’s particularly proud.