John's Journal...

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

How to 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 folloCaptain of the "Miss Celeste",  Maurice "Fitz" Fitzsimmonswing some strategies I’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.

For most of my life, I’ve stalk-hunted deer with a shotgun. I began reading about hunting deer with a rifle after college and decided to purchase one with a scope. I knew that combination would help me make an accurate shot – regardless of the range. But after missing the next six bucks I shot at, I realized increasing my range didn’t necessarily mean I could take more bucks. I wanted to solve the problem and rebuiCaptain of the "Miss Celeste",  Maurice "Fitz" Fitzsimmonsld my confidence, so I told myself my .30-.06 rifle was a 2-3/4-inch 12-gauge shotgun. Again I began stalking deer as I had with my shotgun. I took my next buck at 30 yards as it fed at the edge of some flooded timber.
If you follow a few basic principles, you’ll also find stalking an effective means of hunting with your muzzleloader:
* Change your mindset, and slow-down. In most areas of life, we believe the faster we go, the more we’ll get. But when applied to hunting, that philosophy isn’t necessarily true. To take more deer, you must see more deer. To see more deer, you must slow-down. Though you may not spot any deer in the first few minutes of your stalk, you still may not have stalked in the wrong spot. You may miss seeing what’s around you if you stalk too fast.
* Remember the 50-percent rule, which means you’ll Captain of the "Miss Celeste",  Maurice "Fitz" Fitzsimmonssee 50-percent more of the surrounding woods with each step you take. Study the area as if searching for a needle in a haystack. Search for a deer’s leg jutting out from behind a tree, the small black circle of its eyes, the white of its ears, the parallel line about 3-1/2- or 4 feet off the ground of its back or its white antler tips – no bigger than the tip of your pinky finger. These indicate when you’ve located a deer.
* Time your stalk. Most hunters can’t stalk effectively because they can’t slow down and can’t adjust their bodies to the relaxed pace. I pace myself first by deciding how far I want to travel in a given time. For example, if I want to travel 50 yards in 30 minutes, I’ll choose a spot – a tree, a bush or another landmark – in the woods and pace myself. If I reach my halfway point before 15 minutes have passed, I wait at that spot and study the woods in that area before heading for my target again. I can control my stalking speed by designating landmarks and monitoring my pace to them.

Tomorrow: Why Watch Your Back Trail

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 2