John's Journal...

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

Why Watch Your Back Trail and Why Stalk to Your Stand

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.

Often, still and stalk hunters make the mistake of looking only ahead Captain of the "Miss Celeste",  Maurice "Fitz" Fitzsimmonsof them, rather than also behind and around them. Don’t forget to study the 50-percent more of the woods you can see with each step. On a hunt a few years ago, my brother Archie and I stalked 75-yards apart through a hardwood bottom, a technique we had used before with repeated success. One of us would spook the deer to send it running in front of the other. As we moved out into an area that led to a path of flooded timber, I saw Archie pass a suspicious-looking briar thicket. I stopped and watched Archie walk 10 yards from the thicket and then move past and in front of the cover. With my binoculars, I could see antler tips in thCaptain of the "Miss Celeste",  Maurice "Fitz" Fitzsimmonse briars and expected Archie to spook the deer as he moved away from the briars. When Archie had walked about 50 yards from the briar patch, the fat 7-point buck stood up and sneaked out of the briars without making a sound. I readied my rifle and before the buck could cover 10 yards, squeezed the trigger and dropped the buck.
If you hunt high-pressure areas during muzzle-loading season, you’ll notice the older, smarter bucks often will hold tight in thick cover and let you walk past theCaptain of the "Miss Celeste",  Maurice "Fitz" Fitzsimmonsm. However, if you hunt with a partner and watch one another’s back trails, you’ll see just as many deer behind you as in front of you. Remember to glass the area ahead as well as behind you when you stalk. The number of deer you’ll see coming and going on your back trail will surprise you.

Why Stalk to Your Stand:
Stalk hunting carefully means you can reach your stand site without spooking your game or the squirrels, birds, or other animals in the area. Many still and stand hunters often miss taking deer because they spook the deer they hope to bag by making noise on the way to their stand site. If you’ll slow down and stalk to and from your stand site, you’ll avoid spooking animals in the surrounding area and likely may spot the deer you hope to harvest.

Tomorrow: What’s the Secret to Seeing More Deer When You Stalk?


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 4