Editor’s Note: Stalk-hunting deer with a bow was the way of the early Americans. Native Americans were deadly effective at taking game using a bow. However, today, because of our hurry-up society, most hunters can’t refrain from walking too fast to stalk successfully.
When Larry Norton of Butler, Alabama, a longtime deer-hunting guide and avid bowhunter, spots a deer at 100 yards and then moves to within 15 yards to take a shot, he attributes much of his success to the way he walks in the woods. “When you step into hardwoods, look the area over for about three to five minutes, searching for movement,” Norton advises. “Then move 20 yards, stop, and do the same thing again.” Foot position and balance are the keys to Norton’s technique for stalking. Although most bowhunters stalk on two feet, Norton stalks on one. Every step he takes is calculated, and when and how he transfers his weight from one foot to the other is critical to his stalk-hunting success.
“Once you take the first step, lightly put the heel of your front foot down first,” Norton explains. “Gently and carefully rock your front foot forward with no pressure on the sole of your foot. All your weight remains on your back foot. Your front foot is just touching the ground like a limp rag. I wear rubber bottom boots, so I can feel any sticks or twigs under my front foot. If I feel a stick under my foot, I either move the stick slightly with my foot or reposition my foot to be sure I don’t snap the twig. Your ability to feel what’s under your foot before you transfer your weight will determine how much noise you make when moving through the woods.”
Once Norton has his front foot on the ground, he still has all his weight on his back foot. When Norton’s foot in front is firmly placed, he begins to transfer his weight from his back foot to his front foot. This slow weight transfer ensures steadiness and prevents noise. When Norton has transferred all his weight from his back foot to his front foot, he lifts his foot in the back slightly off the ground, carrying all the weight of his body on his foot in front. Next, he slowly and carefully brings-up his back foot, keeping it close to the ground and moving it slightly in front of his front foot. As Norton walks, he carries his entire weight on only one foot at a time.
“If I’m stalking in water, I try not to ever have a foot out of the water,” Norton comments. “When I’m bringing my back foot forward in the water, I slide it gently and quietly. If you take your foot out of the water, you’ll make a sound. Also, the water will run off your boot and splash in the water below your boot. Too, you’ll disturb the water when you begin to put your foot down again. By keeping your foot in the water and sliding it, instead of pulling it up out of the water, you don’t make as much noise or disturb as much water and are less likely to be detected.”
If a deer spots Norton as he’s taking a step, Norton freezes and stands on one foot as long as he must to wait for the deer to quit watching him. By making sure that he takes only quiet and deliberate steps, Norton is much-less likely to spook the deer he’s stalking.
John E. Phillips’ latest deer book “How to Hunt Deer Like a Pro: Volume II,” just was published on Amazon in print at https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0BGSP3QPB/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tpbk_p4_i4 The Audible version should be available in December. Since deer hunting and deer hunters are drastically changing each year, John has interviewed some top deer hunters like Mark Drury, Dr. Larry Marchinton, Dr. Bob Sheppard, Pat Reeve, Gene Wensel, Cody Robbins, Ernie Calandrelli, Brian Murphy and Luke Brewster, who took the world’s largest whitetail, to learn their up-to-date techniques for successfully hunting deer and having more places to hunt.
Too, check-out John’s book, “Bowhunting Deer: the Secrets of the PSE Pros,” https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0091T1NKM/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_taft_p1_i1, available now in Kindle, print and Audible versions.
You may have to copy and paste these links into your browser. When you click on these books, notice on the left where Amazon says you can read and hear 10% of the Audible books for free. On the right side of the pages and below the offer for a free Audible trial, you can click on Buy the Audible book.
Tomorrow: Camouflage Your Deer Stalk & Eliminate Odors