• Dear User,

    We had issues in getting your old password work with the new version of the software, henceforth kindly Reset Your Password here

    You won't be able to login with your old password

    If you do not receive the Password reset request within a few minutes, please check your Junk / Spam E-mail folder just in case the email got delivered there instead of your inbox. If so, select Not Junk, which will allow future messages to get through.

    If you still need assistance, email [email protected]

    We appreciate your patience and understanding on this matter.

Buck Hollow Sporting Goods - click or touch to visit their website Midwest Habitat Company

Stalking & Still-Hunting

blake

Life Member
The Vanishing Art of Stalking & Still-Hunting

by Jim Casada

In today’s world, the vast majority of deer hunting is done from elevated stands, which in reality might more accurately be described as “sits.” For the most part, stand hunting is a waiting game, although rattling, grunt calls and the use of various scent attractants do involve some active approaches on the part of the hunter.

This kind of hunting was not always so ubiquitous; what were once common methods, namely still-hunting and stalking, have for the most part been abandoned. Yet in certain situations and geographical settings, these approaches might be the best ways to get within range of whitetails.

The Skill Of Woodsmanship

In one fashion or another, all traditional methods of deer hunting involve taking the action to deer as opposed to waiting for them to come to the hunter. Up until the last 40 years or so, it was how American hunters put venison on the table.

Still- and stalk-hunting placed a premium on superior woodsmanship. I’ll flat-out guarantee that anyone who takes to the whitetail trail using still-hunting and stalking techniques will improve his woodscraft skills to a significant degree.

The finest deer hunter I’ve ever known always hunted afoot. Joe Scarborough moved through the woods like a ghost. He was so quiet, so attuned to his surroundings, that his customary method involved shooting undisturbed deer in their beds. On top of that, he invariably shot them in the eye.

Of course Joe had been a sniper who spent three tours of duty in Vietnam, and his woodsmanship was so outstanding that when walking through the woods in front of him, I constantly caught myself looking back to check whether he was still there. The man exemplified the concept that “silence is golden,” at least in a woodland setting. Most of us will never achieve similar levels of unobtrusive oneness with the world about us when hunting whitetails, but at least we can strive to do so.

Ways To Stay Unseen

In the course of a typical day Joe would cover a lot of ground in a measured, unhurried fashion. His was constant watchfulness, ever alert for an ear flick, a glimpse of a tail or the glint of sunlight off a tine. Similarly, there was always a lot more watching than there was walking, but even so, he could cover a lot of ground in the course of a full day.

For Scarborough, as for any skilled hunter afoot, the quest takes on new, challenging dimensions once a deer is spotted. If the animal is within range and a clear shot is available when it is spotted, obviously all that is required is easing the gun into position and making an accurate shot. Otherwise, it’s time to stalk to within range.
This might necessitate a belly crawl, a strategic retreat to take a roundabout route to a suitable site, or some other tactic. Whatever the choice, it’s an extended equivalent of a bowhunter picking a moment when he can make his draw unseen.

Whether stalking, still-hunting or employing a combination of the two, one distinct advantage is the ability to hunt into prevailing winds. A fixed ladder stand or tripod offers no such opportunity to adjust to the vagaries of shifting or changing winds. When a front approaches, bringing winds from a different direction, stand hunters sometimes find themselves at the mercy of the deer’s first line of defense, its sense of smell.

How To Stalk Successfully

Even if hunt from a fixed location, you can still incorporate some still-hunting techniques. Rather than walking hurriedly and heedlessly from a stand after a morning session, or while en route to a stand in the afternoon, take your time — lots of it — to cover the ground between your vehicle and your hunting station. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how productive this might prove to be, and it has additional advantages, including avoidance of getting “sweated up” and reducing the likelihood of spooking deer.

While on the ground, be constantly alert for movement. Ease to the top of every hill and each turn in a trail or road with great caution. Use vegetation to cover your progress as much as possible, and in general allot some extra time get to and from stands.

Never overlook taking a water route to deer. As is the case in many regions of the country, pressured deer near my southern home regularly seek refuge on islands in larger rivers, on elevated hideaways in flooded river basins or swamps, or in thickets bordering small streams flowing through remote regions. Often the only feasible way to reach deer in such habitat is to paddle to them using a canoe or johnboat. Hunters with sufficient gumption and a willingness to go the extra mile (or maybe several miles) can ease into an area without making much noise, leave their watercraft, and hunt afoot from that point. Then, too, a canoe or johnboat offers a much easier way to get a deer back to civilization than a long drag over rugged ground.

Obviously there are times when turning to the traditional approaches to deer-hunting will be impossible. Yet in many situations the varied options offered by still-hunting or stalking can serve the hunter well.

Thoughts On Safety

Potential downsides to traditional approaches include safety considerations and the possibility of interfering with other hunters. Generally speaking, the techniques described here should be employed on private land, where you know you won’t encounter another hunter. However, for the really venturesome sportsman of the sort who gets back of beyond on a regular basis, doing this on really remote stretches of public land might be considered. In any case, wear plenty of hunter-orange attire and take care not to intrude where someone else might be hunting.

This post is for informational purposes only.
 

sep0667

Land of the Whitetail
My first bow kill was on a stalk. Wasn't really stalking being that I really had no clue what I was doing and was more just sneaking around the woods looking for a deer paying no attention to wind or anything, but I got the job done lol.
 

whitetailassasin

New Member
Roughly two-thirds of all my deer kills with a bow are the result of a good 'ol spot and stalk. Nothing like the confidence it inspires and the rush of adrenaline being eye to eye with your quarry. Stand hunting has it's place but the stalk is just primal. Anyone that hasn't gotten out of the tree should give it a shot, I highly recommend it. You won't be sorry.
 

Daver

PMA Member
Roughly two-thirds of all my deer kills with a bow are the result of a good 'ol spot and stalk. Nothing like the confidence it inspires and the rush of adrenaline being eye to eye with your quarry. Stand hunting has it's place but the stalk is just primal. Anyone that hasn't gotten out of the tree should give it a shot, I highly recommend it. You won't be sorry.

I have a few "eye level" bow kills to my credit and several stalks with my muzzy in hand that resulted in successful hunts too. It is a different deal on the ground, but I, like many others, hunt primarily from an elevated stand nowadays.

My hunch is that "back in the day" most of us had more ground/acres to hunt and less concern about spooking a particular deer, so a spot & stalk or still hunt was a fairly common thing. Now, we get pretty particular about exactly what stand we will hunt on a given wind and even how we approach/exit the stand.
 

whitetailassasin

New Member
Most of my ground kills are public land. Not a land owner and the private ground I do have access to is not large enough to spot and stalk. Stand hunt those areas b/c of the smallish size and the fact that they are all funnel-type pieces of land. Small can be good! Nice thing about the public land around me is it's THICK! Keeps most everyone out of it except the couple stands 100 or so feet in. Hunt it enough that it seems I know every tree and can sneak in through a creek bed(almost all the public land is located along the river so there are feeder creeks everywhere.) Makes for a good time stalking. If I get serious about a particular buck you'll find me in a stand. Does die via the spot and stalk though. My freezer's filled every fall!
 

hillrunner

PMA Member
I have a few "eye level" bow kills to my credit and several stalks with my muzzy in hand that resulted in successful hunts too. It is a different deal on the ground, but I, like many others, hunt primarily from an elevated stand nowadays.

My hunch is that "back in the day" most of us had more ground/acres to hunt and less concern about spooking a particular deer, so a spot & stalk or still hunt was a fairly common thing. Now, we get pretty particular about exactly what stand we will hunt on a given wind and even how we approach/exit the stand.

I agree, most of us are not willing to push the deer around when we have a very limited number of acres for the whole season. I used to try it during snow storms but never killed one doing it. I have killed deer off the ground with a bow but not a true spot and stalk.
 

SaskGuy

Active Member
I've not killed many deer with a bow at all but they all came from spot/stalk/ambush type hunts. I've actually only killed 3 deer in my entire life from an elevated position. I just find it very enjoyable to be able to go after them and it helps keep me from getting restless.

I understand entirely about what is being said about having a limited number of acres and less room for error, I feel fortunate that I am able to "throw caution to the wind" so to speak.
 

Sligh1

Administrator
Staff member
.

My hunch is that "back in the day" most of us had more ground/acres to hunt and less concern about spooking a particular deer, so a spot & stalk or still hunt was a fairly common thing. Now, we get pretty particular about exactly what stand we will hunt on a given wind and even how we approach/exit the stand.

RIGHT ON! I love to stalk and still hunt BUT I won't do it on my land, I have a limited area to hunt and know that is a lot of pressure to be creeping through areas, bumping deer and leaving scent (VS the short/small entrance in and out of my stand once a day on many occasions). I'd do it if I had 5,000 acres to hunt. When I was 14 and started hunting- I could go anywhere and got my 1st 10 point that way- stalked & ended up getting him at 5 yards as I was hunched up against a big shrub and pricker thicket. Now, if I SEE a buck bedded, ABSOLUTELY, I'd stalk him & man would that be cool to get him with my bow.

Personally, I'm FAR more effective from a treestand, seeing dozens of bucks in a day (some small, yes) at 5-15 yards - perfect shot opportunities for quick/clear kills and immensely exciting for me.

Sure would be nice to mix it up with stalking and still hunting though BUT I know my success would go down substantially (that's ME personally) and my land would be in rough shape later. If a guy's good at this though and can make it happen, VERY COOL!
 

About this Discussion

Top Bottom