Editor’s Note: One of the most-effective methods of taking game is stalking. Man was not the originator of stalking techniques, but merely the imitator. He observed cats as they stalked and killed their prey. He watched foxes move in close for their attacks. He saw other predators as they closed the 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 wanted to harvest game and survive. He was a part of all that was around him. He moved with the ease of a warm summer’s breeze that never had been seen and barely felt. He was a predator who moved in for a clean kill and then left. He was a silent stalker of deer.
A man who still hunts with the primitive longbow, Jerry Hill of Harpersville, Alabama, maker of the legendary Howard Hill (https://howardhillarchery.com/) bows, explains his method of stalking. “I prefer to stalk and hunt from the ground for deer instead of from a tree stand. Then once I see game, I have the ability to move to it. If you’re in a tree stand, the game has to come within bow range, or else you won’t get a shot. But on the ground, once I spot the game and determine its direction of movement and the wind’s direction, I can decide which way I can move. Then the buck will continue on his normal feeding pattern and walk to within 20 or 30 yards, so I can take a shot.
“Stalking deer is more of an adventure for me then other kinds of deer hunting. There are more calculations that have to be made before the arrow’s released. A good stalk hunter with a bow must first determine the direction in which the buck is feeding. By expecting the deer to continue on in that direction, the hunter then can start to decide where he needs to be to intercept the deer.”
Next Hill mentions you have to determine wind direction because you can’t move where the wind will take your scent to the feeding deer. You have to move to the point where you want to intercept the deer without alarming the animal with your scent. The third calculation is observing what type of cover is available for you to move through to keep the deer from seeing you – like natural barriers such as rivers or thickets that will prevent you or the buck from arriving at an intercept point at the same time. You’ll need to know whether your stalk involves circling the deer and losing eye contact with him before you reach the point in the woods where you want to take a shot. All of these evaluations should be made right after you see the deer and before you ever start to move. Once a hunter begins a stalk, he or she should move, so that he doesn’t spook any squirrels or birds as he slips to within shooting distance of the deer. Even if a deer stops feeding and looks directly at you, if you don’t move while he’s watching you, you can continue your stalk.
“Oftentimes I have spooked a deer when I’ve been stalking,” Hill reports. “That’s not necessarily bad, especially with young deer. Sometimes spooking the deer may be an advantage. I’ve found that a young deer will run from movement it doesn’t understand. But after that buck has been gone for awhile, often he’ll return to investigate that movement and try and figure out what’s spooked him. So, if I don’t get a shot when I spook a deer, many times within 30 minutes to an hour, if I stay still in the same spot where I’ve been before I’ve spooked him, the buck will walk back in for a look-see, and I can take him.”
To learn more about hunting deer, check out John E. Phillips’ book, available in Kindle, print and Audible versions, “How to Hunt Deer Up Close: With Bows, Rifles, Muzzleloaders and Crossbows” (http://amzn.to/11dJRu8). You may have to copy and paste this click into your browser. (When you click on this book, notice on the left where Amazon allows you to read 10% of the book for free).
Tomorrow: Stalking Hills for Buck Deer