The Lost Art of Stalking and Still-Hunting for Black-Powder
Note: Deer hunting doesn’t begin or end at your
stand site. Instead, begin your hunt once you leave
your vehicle, and end it when you return to your vehicle.
The way to do this is to stalk hunt. When done right,
stalk hunting enables hunters to move quietly through
the woods without spooking their target bucks or any
other wildlife in the area, and also allows hunters
to look more closely at the surrounding woods and spot
targets they otherwise may miss. By following some strategies
learned and practiced during many years of stalk-hunting
for deer, you can learn to stalk-hunt the right way
to bag more bucks.
When I spotted the flicker of white at the edge of
the cane, I used my binoculars to identify the rump
of a deer. But the dense cane thicket blocked my view
of the head and the rest of the deer’s body. Though
I knew the deer couldn’t see me, I stalked slowly
and deliberately toward it, stopping repeatedly to recheck
the animal’s position – initially 80 yards
from me. I was 50 yards from the deer, and could see
the deer’s white antler tips in the edge of an
opening through which I suspected the deer would pass.
I stepped behind a big tree, braced my rifle against
the side of the
tree and aimed at the spot where I thought the buck
would walk. I remained motionless for what seemed like
an hour. Apparently the deer decided to stay put at
the edge of the cane and feed on the hundreds of acorns
from the white oak tree. Finally, the buck lifted his
head slightly and took two steps, making his front shoulder
visible in the opening. He stopped and looked in my
direction, never seeing me as my camouflage clothing
allowed me to blend in with the tree trunks and the
oak brush around me.
I didn’t fire as soon as I spotted the buck’s
shoulder. Instead, I waited until I could see the crease
in the deer’s skin, where the shoulder blade protruded.
Aiming an inch behind
the shoulder at a spot of ruffled hair, I slowly squeezed
the trigger of my rifle. When the gun reported, the
buck bolted to the right and vanished into the cane.
I heard cane popping and breaking as the buck tried
to escape. Then, after a brief silence, the buck fell
with a loud crash. Instead of rushing to the deer, I
waited 30 minutes. I’d learned that if I made
a bad shot, and the deer hadn’t gone down, coming
in just after the shot would spook the deer. So, I set
my watch timer for 30 minutes and began to whittle.
I felt like a kid whose mother had asked him not to
eat the cookies he could see in the cookie jar when
she left the room. But I managed to sit still and wait.
I reloaded my gun with a Speed Loader and continued
whittling. At my watch’s beep, I stood, spotted
an easy-to-follow blood trail and went toward the place
where I thought the deer had fallen. The path the buck
had made through the broken cane assured me I’d
made an accurate shot. The 8-point buck traveled only
20 yards before piling-up.
Tomorrow: How to Stalk