Silent Stalking Deer
Day 1: Stalk Hunting Deer in the Woods
Editor’s Note: When you know how to move through the woods like a ghost, you’re bad news for sly whitetails – in every type of terrain. The silent stalker is a part of all that’s around him. He moves with the ease of a warm summer’s breeze that’s never seen and barely felt. He is a predator who moves in for a clean kill. He is a silent stalker of deer. The stalk is one of the most-effective methods of taking game. Man was not the originator of stalking techniques but merely the imitator. He observed cats as they stalked and killed their prey. He watched the foxes move in close for their attacks. And, he saw other predators as they closed distance and then came in for the kill. Because of his primitive weapons – his spear, knife and bow and arrow – early man had to learn to stalk in close if he was to harvest game and survive.
George Johnson, a farmer and hunting-camp operator from Louisiana, believes his chances of taking a buck are greatest in a feeding area. “I spend an awful lot of time trying to find exactly where deer are feeding. I know in my part of the country they’re feeding primarily on acorns during hunting season. So, when I go into the woods I look for a spot that has 15 to 20 acorn trees all in a clump. Next I check for a large amount of fresh droppings and tracks and an abundance of acorns on the ground. Once I find a good spot I leave it and don’t return for at least 2 days. Then whatever human scent I may have brought into the feeding ground will have dissipated, and the deer should be back on their normal feeding patterns.
“Many hunters will make noise on the way to the place they’re hunting. But this action has a domino effect. As the hunters spook animals out in front of them, these animals will move out and spook the deer in the area the hunters are planning to stalk. So, I’m extremely quiet going to my hunting grounds. One place I stalk requires crossing a creek. I have friends who hunt this same area. They utilize an aluminum boat to cross the creek – banging around and spooking everything. When they arrive at the hunting spot, they almost always are unsuccessful in taking a deer. However, I have been extremely successful in getting deer in this region, because I wade the creek and make little or no noise while getting to my hunting spot.
“I hunt from daylight until 10:00 am or from 2:00 pm until dark. I stalk all the way to the area I plan to hunt. I generally take my deer within the first 75 – 100 yards I’m hunting. I mentally decide that I won’t move more than 400 yards in the time I have allotted myself to be in that region. I also choose a route to move along the edge of the feeding site that will provide me cover, so that deer will have less chance of seeing me while they feed. When I stop, I always lean up against a tree, so I’m not silhouetted.
“I stalk hunt deer much like I stalk hunt squirrels. I slip slowly and quietly from tree to tree without being detected. I never hunt a road. I never move more than three steps at a time. After I’ve taken three steps, I wait at least 5 minutes, before I move again. If I see does, I may stand for 15 or 20 minutes in the same spot. Usually bucks will be feeding a short distance from the does. By standing perfectly still and watching the edges of the feeding ground, I may see the movement of a horn or an ear twitch that will give away the buck’s position.
“I’ve found that the most-effective technique is to hunt across the wind. I’ve observed that deer feed with the wind coming from behind them. With their heads down, they can smell anything that approaches from the rear. When they look up, they can see anything in front of them that may be moving toward them. So, when I stalk cross-wind I feel as though I’m coming toward the deer on his blind side where he neither can see or smell me. However, I don’t feel that the deer’s senses of sight and smell are the only senses he uses to determine danger. I believe deer are alerted by barking squirrels and frightened woods birds. A successful stalk is when a man can go into the woods and move through the woods without alarming any of the animals. Deer know the distress calls of other animals. I believe they react to these other animals’ alarm calls to stay alive.
“Most of the time in the woods I hunt I never will have a shot longer than 100 yards. My favorite two shots that I usually wait on are a rear shot or a shot on the front shoulder. I’ve found that if I can place the bullet close to the anus of the animal, he will drop instantly. If I hit the point of the shoulder, often I will break both shoulders and cause severe heart and lung damage that will drop the animal where it stands. If I do take a deer in an area, then I don’t hunt that same region again for about a week. I feel letting everything get back to normal again before I go back in to this place to try and take another deer is the best way to stalk hunt deer.”
For more deer-hunting tips, get John E. Phillips’ Kindle eBooks “How to Hunt Deer Like a Pro,” “How to Hunt Deer Up Close: With Bows, Rifles, Muzzleloaders and Crossbows,” and “PhD Whitetails: How to Hunt and Take the Smartest Deer on Any Property,” go to www.amazon.com/kindle-ebooks, type in the name of the book, and download it to your Kindle, and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, SmartPhone or computer.
About the Author
John Phillips, winner of the 2012 Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the 2008 Crossbow Communicator of the year and the 2007 Legendary Communicator chosen for induction into the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame, is a freelance writer (over 6,000 magazine articles for about 100 magazines and several thousand newspaper columns published), magazine editor, photographer for print media as well as industry catalogues (over 25,000 photos published), lecturer, outdoor consultant, marketing consultant, book author and daily internet content provider with an overview of the outdoors. Click here for more information and a list of all the books available from John E. Phillips.