Tree Standing Versus Stalk Hunting for a Buck
Day 1: Neither Stalking or Tree-Stand Hunting Deer Works Sometimes
As the rain poured down, and the wind blew, I had cold feet and a sore back. I thought to myself, “Did my mother raise someone who doesn’t know any better than to sit out in this kind of weather and try and kill a deer with a stick bow?” I had fingers so cold that I probably couldn’t release the arrow if I had the opportunity to shoot. So when I heard my friend coming by in a truck a few hundred-yards away, I unsnapped myself from my safety belt, scooted down the icy tree trunk and hurried to the road to flag him down. My friend, J. Wayne Fears of Huntsville, Alabama, rolled-down the window on his truck and said with a big grin on his face, “I’ve got to go back to camp to check on some things. You can just stay here and hunt if you’d rather.” “You lying rat,” I told him. “You’re as cold and miserable as I am. The only thing you’re going to check on back at the camp is how warm the fire is. I’m ready to help you do that. This tree stand hunting for deer in bad weather is for the birds.”
On another hunt a few years ago in relatively-unfamiliar woods, I decided that I should stalk hunt to bag a deer. However, as an extremely-impatient person, I hunted under the same theory many sportsmen employed – if I covered enough ground, surely I’d run into a buck somewhere that needed harvesting. I stalked from place to place and did in fact see a number of deer. I spotted many whitetails leaving each vicinity when I arrived, heard a great deal of crashing brush as deer fled from cover, saw many brown patches of hair darting through the trees as deer escaped and ever now and then observed an ear tip or one or two prongs of ivory-colored antlers. However, I didn’t see any shootable deer as I stalked. The deer ran quicker and hid better than I could see. I learned that stalking quietly didn’t pay off in deer dividends for me.
But I also knew that millions of hunters each year took bucks from tree stands and while stalking. I realized that these sportsmen had done something I hadn’t done, and that perhaps I’d find one tactic more productive than the other. As I began my research, I learned that neither hunting technique - stalking or tree standing - presented an absolute, surefire, can’t-miss, guaranteed method of taking a deer. However, on certain days in particular places and under specific conditions, I found stalk hunting usually a far-more-productive way to bag a buck than tree stand hunting. In other areas, on various days under a different set of circumstances, I had the most success while tree-stand hunting.
But how does an outdoorsman know which tactic works best in the terrain and on the day that he plans to hunt? The more I studied and researched the answer to this question, the more I discovered that as in all hunting, I could find no absolutes. And to steal a mouthful of words from a scientist, many of whom like to talk in circles, “My research tends to indicate that under these kinds of hunting conditions and in specific situations, there are times when tree-stand hunting can be more advantageous, while the same is true of stalk hunting, when you consider certain variables.” Let’s look at the situations and the circumstances that should help you select one technique of hunting over the other from the hunter’s point of view for more success.
Tomorrow: The Whys and Wheres of Tree Stand Hunting