John's Journal...

The Lost Art of Stalking and Still-Hunting for Black-Powder Bucks

Why Stalk

Captain of the "Miss Celeste",  Maurice "Fitz" FitzsimmonsEditor’s 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 Captain of the "Miss Celeste",  Maurice "Fitz" FitzsimmonsI’ve 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 theCaptain of the "Miss Celeste",  Maurice "Fitz" Fitzsimmons 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 behinCaptain of the "Miss Celeste",  Maurice "Fitz" Fitzsimmonsd 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

Check back each day this week for more about "The Lost Art of Stalking and Still-Hunting for Black-Powder Bucks"

Day 1: Why Stalk
Day 2: How to Stalk
Day 3: Why Watch Your Back Trail
Day 4: Why Watch Your Back Trail and Why Stalk to Your Stand
Day 5: What’s the Secret to Seeing More Deer When You Stalk?


Entry 379, Day 1