John's Journal...

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

Why Watch Your Back Trail

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 following 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.

Once, during the middle of deer season, James Smith and I drove deep into the woods before first light. After parking where we always parked, Smith stayed in the truck to catch a quick nap. I waited five minutes beforCaptain of the "Miss Celeste",  Maurice "Fitz" Fitzsimmonse getting out of the truck and then slowly stalked toward my stand site. Twenty minutes after daylight, I’d only moved 75 yards from the vehicle. I looked back at the truck, the road and the briars beyond the road and spotted a flash of white just behind the briars and not 30 yards from the truck. But I couldn’t decide what I’d seen. Using my binoculars, I looked into the briar patch behind the truck. A fat 6-point buck, which had apparently fed in the briars down near the edge of the road, stood staring at the truck. As I raised my rifle to my shoulder and braced against a small sapling, the 6-point ducked his head and began slowly sneaking away from the truck. A little creek lay about 20 yards from the briar patch, and as the buck stopped and prepared to jump the creek, I fired. The buck went down, stood up again, then stumbled once more and fell.Captain of the "Miss Celeste",  Maurice "Fitz" Fitzsimmons

When I saw the buck fall, I also heard a racket from the truck. Smith jumped out of the truck, gun in hand, and ready to defend himself from whatever or whoever had startled him. Spotting me, he said, “What are you doing? You almost scared me to death. You’re going to run-off all the deer in the woods by shooting just to wake me up.” Smiling, I slowly walked back to the truck. Then I told Smith I’d been deer hunting and would appreciate him helping me drag my buck back to the truck. When we walked through the briars to where the 6-point lay, Smith said, “I can’t believe you took a deer this close to the truck. There’Captain of the "Miss Celeste",  Maurice "Fitz" Fitzsimmonss no way that buck could’ve been so close to hear us drive in and park without getting spooked. I think you went and shot this buck somewhere else and dragged it here just to wake me up.” Once I showed Smith the short blood trail from the briars to where the deer fell, he had to believe my story, unbelievable as it seemed.

Generally you’ll find older-age class bucks where you least expect to encounter them. During daylight hours, deer can hold safely in areas where hunters park because hunters rarely hunt there. Hunters think the noise from opening and closing doors, talking and walking to stand sites spook deer. However, mature bucks have become accustomed to these sounds and have learned parking areas are safe because these sounds mean hunters will leave that area soon.

Tomorrow: Why Watch Your Back Trail and Why Stalk to Your Stand

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 3