How to Still-Hunt for Deer With Your Bow

Posted: October 2, 2015 in Blog, New Post, Original Content
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For me I can go a whole season sitting and never see a single deer but if I still hunt I see them all the time. Usually they see me first but that’s another story. Being 6’3″ makes still hunting slightly more difficult but at least I see the deer. This is a skill I need to work on. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits.

Still Hunting keeps you awake. Let’s face it, sitting in a tree stand or sitting on a bucket or in a blind all day wears on the psyche and puts you to sleep… about the time that big buck walks by.

Still Hunting gives you exercise. Sitting is bad for your back and your spare tire. Conversely, walking is good for both.

Still hunting gives you intimate knowledge of the land, the deer’s habits, travel routes, schedule, etc.

Now for a few tips.

Camo from head to toe including all your equipment. Avoid hip and back quivers, as they tend to swing back and forth with each step, potentially spooking deer. Take quality binoculars for scanning the woods.

Go as slow as possible, and then go slower. This takes practice, but you need to master it for the deer not to see you. The standard practice of taking a step or two and then stopping to look for 30 seconds works. It makes it harder for deer to detect you, and you also have a better chance of spotting movement—the drop of a head, the flick of an ear, the lift of a hoof—if you are motionless. When you do it properly, you may cover 100 yards in an hour. To walk quietly, wear boots that fit tightly, with solid support and a thin sole. You need to be able to feel sticks and other debris under your foot before you bring your entire weight down. Put your heel down first, slowly rolling onto the ball of your foot. Gradually increase the pressure, and find another place to step if you feel something underneath. No matter how hard you try not to, you will snap a branch underfoot. When it happens, just wait a full minute before proceeding. Deer will forget about the noise if you give them enough time. If conditions force me to make a ruckus going through a particular spot, I’ll blow a series of grunts on my call, hoping to fool deer into thinking the noise was caused by one of them. It is about being a silent forest ghost and using all your senses to hear or spot deer before they spot you. Then there’s the wind. Pay real good attention. Is it a constant SE wind or is it swirling and unpredictable? Try to always have the wind at your face so you don’t get nosed.

A light rain or snow is perfect for still-hunting. The precipitation helps hide your sound, scent, and motion, and deer activity often seems to increase in this kind of weather. Windy days are good too; the swaying branches and howling gusts also disguise your presence, but deer won’t be moving as much. Look for them in hollows and on the lee sides of hills.

Look for water. Creek bottoms are great places to still-hunt. Deer often follow the watercourses, and the trails you find parallel to the creek make ideal routes. The water can hide your sound.

Stop next to cover. It’s one of still-hunting’s golden rules. Having a tree next to you when you’re not moving helps hide you from deer, and it also gives you a rest. Don’t forget to look behind you. You are moving slow enough that something could be coming up behind you. When you pause to scan, scan left, right and behind you. Still hunting is not about getting somewhere, it is about going where you see game, so look everywhere. Stick to the shadows whenever possible, and get into the habit of using available ground cover and land contours, such as dry creek beds and even stone walls, to help conceal your forward progress.

Good binoculars are a still-hunter’s best friend. Use them often to pick apart the terrain in front of you. If something seems even slightly off, glass it. Wear them on a harness that holds them snug against your chest so they won’t swing when you duck under brush. Bring them to your eyes slowly.

Get a ghillie suit, seriously! This leafy camouflage outfit hides the two visual clues that I think are the main things that spook deer: the flat, wide-eyed predators face, and the upright, two-legged silhouette of a man.

There’s no need to dress as warmly as you would for a day of late-season stand hunting. You’ll perspire in bulky clothes, which also make it harder for you to move quietly. I wear a synthetic base layer under a medium-weight wool jacket and pants. Nothing is quieter than wool.

Wear a fanny pack to bring lunch, water, a survival kit, and extra clothes. A backpack is too noisy for still-hunting; it always ends up raking across branches or brush. I prefer a fanny pack’s lower profile. A model with shoulder straps supports the load better and is more comfortable to wear all day.

Ok, that’s it for now, get out there with your sharp stick and nail one for me.

Don’t forget to Like, Share, Comment and Subscribe. Share the love and keep on prepping.

  • Chris

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