John's Journal...

Silent Stalking Deer

Day 5: Stalking Deer in Water and Ingredients for Successful Stalking of 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.

Stalking in the Water:

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewI discovered this method of stalk hunting some years ago when the river-bottom swamp I hunted became flooded, and the only access to some of the best hunting territory was through a thigh-high slough. I wore a pair of waders and also SOSpenders (, an inflatable flotation device, to stay in the slough and stalk. I like lightweight, heavy-duty waders. I can wade through the flooded sloughs and underwater briars and not puncture the waders and make them leak.

Moving through the water I have several advantages that land hunters do not have.

* The deer is not expecting the hunter to be in the water. Water provides a natural barrier between man and deer. Therefore when there is an expanse of water between the deer and hunting pressure, the animals feel more secure and move more freely.
* I make very little noise, if any, as I move through the water. I try and move slowly enough, so that no waves or ringlets are noticeable on the water’s surface to spook the deer.
* I leave no scent on the ground I travel, because it is all underwater.
* I spook very-little game as I stalk. I have had beavers, muskrats and wood ducks swim within 10 – 15 yards of where I’m standing that never have seen me and been spooked.

Usually my water stalking is in flooded timber. If I spot a deer off in a distance that I want to move in closer to for a shot, I almost always can keep a tree between me and him, while I’m stalking closer. Even if the deer sees me in the water, he rarely will spook, because he’s accustomed to seeing things in the water. Nothing in the water has ever indicated danger to him. Too, the water and the standing timber break up my form. Therefore the deer doesn’t see the outline of a man when he looks – at least not most of the time.

In a freshly-flooded woodlot, many of the acorns and other foods that deer thrive on float to the surface and ring the edge of the water – like a bathtub ring. Deer will move along the edges of the slough to feed on this food that has floated-up from the bottom. Generally, I’ll see several deer in a morning of stalking in the water. Oftentimes the deer will be out in the slough with me – feeding or swimming from one bank to the other. I never have spooked a swimming deer. When a buck comes out of the water on the other side, he’ll usually hesitate for a minute and present a good shot, instead of running off as soon as he exits the water.

Ingredients for Successfully Stalking Deer:

You need:

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger View* Patience – Usually the difference between the hunter who takes a deer while stalking and someone who doesn’t is how much patience the hunter exhibits and how slowly he stalks.
* Camouflage – Besides wearing camouflage clothing, I like to use some type of either camo paint or netting to cover my hands and face. The sun on a hunter’s hands and face will telegraph fear to a deer as quickly as a shot will.
* Warm clothing – Without warm clothing, the hunter can’t move slowly enough and be comfortable enough to stalk effectively.
* A reliable gun – Often a shotgun designed for the deer hunter is extremely useful when stalk hunting in the rain. At other times, a quality rifle with a good scope is more effective.
* Small, lightweight binoculars – The key to being able to take a deer when stalking is to be able to see the deer before he spots you. A small, lightweight pair of binoculars will give the hunter this advantage.

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.

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 5