John's Journal...

Silent Stalking Deer

Day 3: Stalk Hunting the Hills for Deer

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.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewMike Sanders anticipates the deer’s seeing him first when he’s stalking. “My hunting club has two types of range to hunt – the hills and the swamp. When I’m hunting hills, I assume that the bucks will see me first. So, the most-important ingredient in my success in the hills is that I know the terrain and the deer’s escape routes. I’ve found that when you jump a buck between two hills, he may run straight away for a distance. But unless he has picked up your scent, he generally will circle to either the right or the left and come back to see what’s spooked him.

“So, I’ll begin my stalk between two hills. I start at the base of a valley and try and walk the little gullies or streams that come down between the two ridges. Often I will hear the deer get up. However, even if I don’t, I’ll assume that I’ve spooked the deer. When I reach the top of the hill, I turn around and walk right back down between the two hills that I’ve just walked up. Then when I reach the base, I move over to the next hollow, either to the right or the left. If I know the deer’s escape route, I know which hollow to go up. But if I’m not sure which hill the deer has run over, I’ve got a 50-percent chance of seeing him whether I go right or left. As I start up the second hollow, I’ll move very slowly and quietly. I prefer to stalk in boots with soles that are almost worn-out. Then I can feel twigs and sticks under my feet and try not to break them. If I’ve guessed right, I’ll catch the deer’s moving on the opposite side of the hill I’ve just stalked up. Generally a buck will circle and go right back to the hollow where he’s been frightened. What I try to do is intercept him on his return route.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger View“Often my wife and brother-in-law will stalk with me in adjacent hollows. Usually one of us will jump the deer that one of the others will take. Knowing the routes a deer will travel when he’s spooked, and which route he’ll use to come back to his favorite hollow has been responsible for us bagging many bucks. However, this method doesn’t work if the deer smells the hunter. Although a whitetail will investigate something he can’t distinguish by sight or sound, he always will flee from human scent. I wear a masking scent. In my opinion hunting hills is the most-difficult aspect of stalk hunting, because your vision is limited by hills on either side.

“Does are often the key to getting close to the bucks when you’re hunting hills. Remember that the buck learns how to survive from the does during the first year he’s on earth. If you’ll watch a doe, you’ll see she’s constantly looking for danger, testing the air with her nose and looking to see what her yearlings are doing and what danger might be waiting for them. She’s always on the alert. So, if you come up to a group of feeding deer that may contain both bucks and does, be extremely careful not to spook the does. The females are much like a radar system that the buck uses to alert himself to danger. Many times I’ll have to slip past the does to get close enough to take a shot at a buck. When I get within range to take a shot, I feel that my stalk has been successful whether I bag the animal or not.”

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, 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.

Tomorrow: Stalk Hunting Fields and Slipping Down Roads to Take Deer

Check back each day this week for more about "Silent Stalking Deer"

Day 1: Stalk Hunting Deer in the Woods
Day 2: Stalk Hunting Trails and Stalking with a Bow to Take Deer
Day 3: Stalk Hunting the Hills for Deer
Day 4: Stalk Hunting Fields and Slipping Down Roads to Take Deer
Day 5: Stalking Deer in Water and Ingredients for Successful Stalking of Deer

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Entry 740, Day 3