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Stalk Hunting

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by Mencius, Nov 29, 2012.

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  1. blarby

    blarby Member

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    You haven't lived till you've stalked flocks of wild canada geese in grass fields !

    It teaches you all about jerky movements, active listening, and prey driving.

    1911 Guy has some great advice !
     
  2. CApighunter

    CApighunter Member

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    I only hunted one weekend and came up empty this year and I tried a mix of stalking and glassing a large area. The area I glassed had tons of sign, but only saw one doe the entire time. When I was stalking, what I would do is walk the forest service roads and watch for tracks. On the second day, I found some large buck tracks that left the road and skirted along the edge of a creek bottom. About 10 yards off the road, I found fresh dropping that were still steaming on the old cattle trail. I continued down the trail until I heard a branch snap in front of me, I could hear the antlers hitting low branches. I trailed the deer for another 5 minutes, before I tried to flank him and get a shot, but he managed to slip away. At one point I was within 30 yard and could only see bits and pieces, but there was no shot due to the thick brush. My record of 0-5 seasons is pretty disapointing. My hunt for the elusive California buck continues...
    CApighunter
     
  3. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

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    That's how I shot the end of my 870 Wingmaster off, got some mud in it, didn't realize it, when I was army crawling along a grassy fence to get a shot at some Canadas in a field. Was fun and I got a big'n out of 'em. Made for a memory if nothing else. :D
     
  4. 1911 guy

    1911 guy Member

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    Whether to "stalk" or "ambush" is based a lot on what you're hunting and the terrain you're hunting it in. Personal preference for a particular style should be pretty far down the list. I've hunted some areas like sleepyone mentions. Everything is so overgrown with briars (reclaimed farmland is terrible for this) that sneaking anywhere is almost impossible. Then it's time to thrash around in the brush during the off season and decide where you're going to put your stand come fall and season opener.

    Prett much, stalking or standing involves the same amount of legwork, you just do it in different phases of the hunt.
     
  5. Mencius

    Mencius Member

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    First try

    Well, I went out this morning and gave it a whirl. You can, of course, skip to the next to the last paragraph if you just want to know the conclusion.

    I was going to some land behind my mom's house. Pulled up to her house just as it was getting light enough to see at all and had a herd of about 8 run in front of me out of her pear trees. She still says I cannot shoot them that close to the house...

    Thought at least they were moving around some. I started walked to where I was going to start and ran another solo deer out of the field her house is in. Still too dark to really see much detail. Seemed like a decent size deer, but could not tell much other than that.

    By the time I got into the woods good it had gotten light enough to see fairly well. I had been walking and stopping the whole time and thought I had entered the woods pretty quietly. I was glassing with the binoculars and looking around a ton. It is fairly thick and I probably cannot see far enough to really do this well in here. It was fairly still with an occasional light breeze from varying directions.

    After about 15 minutes I see a flicker of white and heard one run off. He was not that far away, but there were alot of trees and such between me and him. I guess he heard/saw/smelled me before I saw him. He was probably 70 yards or so away.

    I kept going in deeper and was taking 3 or 4 steps and looking around a ton before I moved to the next spot. The ground was covered in leaves, but they were not as noisy as they should. They were still a little damp from the dew. There were, however, little sticks just under the leaves I kept breaking.

    I had another one or maybe two, I could not really tell, run again just out of sight. I just barely saw a flicker and heard them running. Them or another started snorting after a while. They sounded like they were snorting but not running or anything. I tried to get closer, but the more I went toward them they always seemed about the same distance away.

    I cut through those woods and came to the edge of a field I wanted to cross to get to a little outcropping of woods in a field. I stood at the edge of the woods and glassed a while before I ventured across.

    As soon as I got about 20 yards into the woods I heard one off to my left. I froze and pulled the binoculars up. I looked and finally found him. Could not tell too much, other than it was a deer. Then he ran a few steps and there was another running in there too. I very, very slowly slid behind a clump of 4 decent size trees and crouched down.

    I finally spotted him again and saw it was a buck. He looked like a smallish 6 point. Tough to really count points because he was still fairly obstructed. I slowly put my binoculars down and let the strap hold them and unshouldered my rifle. I got a decent look at his front shoulder back to about mid-gut. Still a couple trees obstructing the total view.

    There was a decent size clearing kinda between me and him. He came into the clearing and started stomping around. At this point he was 50 yards or less from me. He looked dead at me a couple times, but did not seem worried at all. I guess what they say about deer being color blind is true as I was covered in bright orange.

    Then a doe came out behind him. They both started running a little and I realized what was happening, our mini, second rut was in full swing. The buck started chasing the doe and she came running straight at me. She got within maybe 10 yards of me before veering and running into the field I had just crossed. The buck was running parallel kinda trying to cut her off. They then disappeared into the field.

    I sat quietly for a few minutes longer, walked across the little woods outcropping and then circled back through the field and went home.

    I had several opportunities where I could have shot that buck. I had decided before I went out this morning I was not going to shoot anything that was not pretty big with a decent size rack. I decided to pass on him, I think he was still a little young and hopefully he will grow up into something a bit bigger.

    In the end I figured I covered 200 yards in about 2 hours before I got to the edge of the field. So, all in all, it was a great time and I cannot wait to get out there doing that again. Of course, I need more practice so I don't scare those deer. Might be also that my field of vision is so limited in there. Might try a different spot next time. Thanks for all the tips guys.
     
  6. gspn

    gspn Member

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    Sounds like a great "first time" out. Close encounters like that can make it quite addictive.
     
  7. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

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    Sounds like a large population of deer in that area, something ya want if still hunting is gonna work.;)
     
  8. guntech59

    guntech59 Member

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    Known as "still hunting" in the Northeast. I believe you got everything right.

    One thing to add....it is MUCH easier (for me) when there is snow on the ground.

    My eyes are not what they used to be.
     
  9. jrdolall

    jrdolall Member

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    In my younger days I was often successul with quiet stalks in the afternoon. We did not have a lot of pines where I hunted back then so walking through the pine needles was not an option. I generally tried to walk an old logging road or a mostly dry creek bed as it was easier to be quiet. I hunted this property for years, before it was sold off, and was very familiar with deer patterns.
    I would walk relatively quickly to whatever area I wanted to hunt and then just sit down for about 10-15 minutes and let things calm down. I would then stand up and begin my "stalk" which means I basically took 1-2 steps and then glassed the area. It would take me 3-4 hours to go a couple of hundred yards. I picked my area based on wind direction and where others were hunting that day as I did not want to affect their evening hunts. A piece of lightweight string on my gun barrel or bow helped with wind detection. Marlin 336 was my preferred weapon for these hunts as all shots were within 50-75 yards. Binoculars were mandatory as I spent much more time glasssing than moving. Most of the deer I saw were feeding through the hardwoods and we eventually just ran into each other. If I saw a deer that was not legal then I was basically stuck with standing completely still until that deer moved out of my area because I did not want to get busted. Spent many hours standing and watching buttonheads feed within 25 yards of me and I couldn't move.
    As I have gotten older I appreciate an afternoon nap more than I did back then.
     
  10. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Member

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    Mencius, You were still hunting. Lots of fun and can be exciting. If I were you I would keep the rifle off my shoulder.

    I have been known to take an afternoon nap out in the woods. After getting up at 3:00AM, it can be a long day. If it warms up, and the action is quiet, you can get sleepy. I once looked up from a "nap" and had three large bucks within 60 feet of me. Exciting.
     
  11. sleepyone

    sleepyone Member

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    Thanks for sharing. Sounds like you had good technique and patience, which is one of the most important requirements for hunting and one that is totally in your control.
     
  12. 336A

    336A Member

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    This is my favorite way to hunt, 1911 guy pretty much nailed it with his post. A lot of folks think that I'm crazy caue as I don't hunt from a tree stand, still hunting is very rewarding. The added benifit is that it allows you to scout during the season if you didn't get the chance to do so before season. This was the case for me this year do to long hours at work and things worked out in my favor. Due to the nature of still hunting most times shot opportunities will be rather close, I prefer a shotgun and slugs.

    Guntech59 I see that your having some pretty wierd weather up there right now. This time next year I'll be back up there, I can't hardly wait.
     
  13. 1911 guy

    1911 guy Member

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    What you saw there should help you formulate your plan for next time.

    The deer are feeding just before dawn and you now know the direction they're headed to bed down (this may change at times and often does).

    which way was the wind blowing in relation to your entry point and final point where you broke out of the woods? Are the deer bedding in those woods or traveling past them after feeding?

    Notice any good ambush spots along their travel route? A better entry point than the driveway?

    See any well established trails, or are they just taking advantage of the fruit trees once in a while? Do you have acess to the land adjacent so you can follow these trails?

    Congrats for moving slow and seeing deer.

    The trick to the sticks under leaves thing is to take smaller steps, keeping your center of gravity close to your body, not under the foot way out there. This allows you to pull a foot back ad re-position around noisy stuff. Also, learning to walk putting your toes down first will help. As you roll your foot back toward the heel, you'll feel any sticks or such. If you do, simply take that step on your toes, without the full foot touching the ground.
     
  14. Mencius

    Mencius Member

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    I am not sure how I could keep my rifle off my shoulder and use the binoculars effectively. The ones I have are fairly big (50mm) and get wobbly pretty quickly one handed. Also, the rifle is not that heavy, but seems like it would get pretty heavy carrying it around one handed for a few hours. Thoughts on how to carry it and use the bino would be appreciated as yeah, it would be better to have it off the shoulder. Yeah, I guess I just need to man-up and make it happen...

    I did see some heavily used paths and found a place that looked like 4 had bedded down as the leaves were mashed flat in a place that looked alot like a deer's body. It crossed my mind to set up near there and see what showed up.

    It was very still, but the wind that did blow kinda came from different directions. It was hard to get a feel for a dominant direction. I definitely had a pretty good breeze to my back from time to time. Think scents work well? I have never used them before because I was always in a stand looking at deer across a field.

    Just a point of clarification, I walked about 1/4 of a mile away from the house. The deer I saw when I first pulled up I don't think I saw again. I can probably come from the back side, but I will be walking across a field they feed in.

    And yeah, 1911, those tips were dead-on. One thing about the horizontal vs. vertical, there were many stumps, down trees, and tree limbs on the horizontal. Admittedly, most of what I saw was a flicker of white running off just out of my field of vision.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2012
  15. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

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    A note on binos, large objective and lowish power preferred in the wood. They need to gather light. I have a pair of compact 10 power that fit in my pocket that I bought for hunting out west in the desert and mountains, great for that, good power, in good light when I use 'em, light and handy when trekking distances in rough country. But, they're worthless at dawn or dusk and don't do well in the shade of the forest.

    Still hunting is less strenuous than spot and stalk in rough country. those big binos ain't the burden they are out west. I usually carry my rifle muzzle down on my off side on the sling over the shoulder. I can reach and grab it with my off hand and whip it up into shooting position post haste this way with little extra movement. I have a couple of light rifles I prefer for still hunting, a .357 lever gun with aperture ghost ring that's barely 6 lbs if that and a little Remington M7 in .308 scoped with a 2x10x40 which I set on 2 power, VERY fast gun on target and both rifles are short, light, and handy. Both have slings and I carry 'em as described when slung and using my hands for such as using the binos.
     
  16. jrdolall

    jrdolall Member

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    I carried my rifle on my shoulder and binos on my chest. I moved so slowly that I was rarely seen before I saw the animal. I usually got busted when deer came in behind me as my attention was 180 degrees rather than 360. 1-3 minutes glassing and then maybe 2 yards of movement. This extremely slow movement gets too boring for most people so they decide to hurry up or take an additional few steps so they can see around a bend. Bad move.
    I like scents as a COVER much more than as an attractant. I have had pretty good success the past two years with the newer "bedding zone" scents which supposedly mimic the smell of deer as they relax in a bedding area. The one I have been using is like a stick of deodorant and I rub it on my boots as I walk into my stand. Several deer have walked over my trail and done some serious sniffing but none have gotten agitated or excited so it must do something. I am pretty skeptical about scents for attracting deer but maybe they do work at certain times on certain deer.
    I am getting excited now and I think I will try the old technique one afternoon this week. I have the perfect spot if I can just stay patient long enough to work the entire firebreak.
     
  17. Sav .250

    Sav .250 Member

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    Lots of good stuff from the posters. Seeing as your "new" to the sneak part of hunting. I`d try still hunting but move around every now and again. One thing for sure, you`ll sound like a tank coming through the woods to your local deer. :)
     
  18. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Member

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    At this point, I would do what Sav.250 suggests.

    Keep the bino's around your neck on a strap. The bino holders that are sold are very good and keep them from bouncing. Maybe your binos are a little powerful for your method of hunting in your locale. I use 6x30 binoculars in the woods. They are small to medium sized traditional binos. But I used cheap 10x50 Bushnells for years and know what it is like to carry them around. They usually got left at home. But I made do at times depending on the situation.

    Consider this scenario... you are moving quietly thorugh the woods still hunting. You see some movement ahead of you and you immediately see nice antlers. What happens next?

    This is not when you reach for your binos. It is when you slide your rifle up to your shoulder into a firing position. If this buck appeared as described, it is very likely that it sees you or sees "something". Taking your rifle off your shoulder will be a lot of additional movement and probably a recipe for failure. (Not always, but often.) You don't want to be shooting at "tails".

    "Sneaking" in the woods takes practice. When I was about 16, I was hunting squirrels and I believed moving quietly through the woods "still hunting" which I think is a fun way to hunt squirrels. I apparently walked pretty close to one of my neighbors hunting and didn't see him. He told my brother that I sounded like a "tank" moving through the woods. Never forgot that.

    But we all do the best we can and react to the situations as they develop. It is part of hunting. Hope you continue to have a great time.
     
  19. Mencius

    Mencius Member

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    Oh I am not kidding myself, I know every deer within 1000 yards can hear me stomping through the woods knocking down limbs, vines, breaking sticks, and in some way getting on every dry leaf in my path. Maybe I need to get some little 2"x2" pegs to put under my boots, one for each, and maybe I would sound more like a deer. :p

    Maybe just have the gun in hand when I move and when I first look around the new area with the (very) naked eye and then shoulder when glassing and then pull the rifle back down again when I move? I dunno, y'all are probably right about needing the gun in hand. I will figure something out.
     
  20. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Member

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    You really can "sneak" around in the woods. Remember you're Rambo! Don't give up. It's a skill. Bow hunters stalk deer to within shooting range from time to time, but most use a stand or some kind. It's HARD which is why it's a challenge and fun.

    Raise your rifle when you believe you have a shot. If I see deer, I will shoulder the rifle and check it out with the scope. At that point you are ready to fire at a moments notice without any further movement or sound other than perhaps the safety being moved to off. For me, if I raise the rifle on "horns" the safety is OFF (finger off trigger) even if I don't take a shot.

    Don't worry. You'll develop an approach that works for you.

    I have been hunting with a handgun more of late, and it is more consistant with using a shotgun that is not scoped. Hence, I tend to use my binoculars more even when deer are within rifle range, but not comfortable handgun range. I kind of enjoy that aspect. If I spook them or they wander the wrong direction... that's the breaks.
     
  21. heeler

    heeler Member

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    It's a lot of fun but one must have patience.
    The more you do it the better you get at it.
    I primarily hunt on a 4000 acre ranch in the south Texas brush country where everything sticks,bites,stings,and claws.
    Everything.
    There are several spots on this ranch that ran cattle for a number of years before hunters gold and oil was discovered and even though the mesquite motts are there,there are game trail galore.
    I sneak around using an old Remington 600 Mohawk in .308 caliber with a 2x7 Leupold VX-1 scope set on 2x.
    The rifle being around seven pounds in equipped mode is 37 inches in length which helps greatly while cruising around on foot and has plenty of potent power to dispatch a deer or nasty boar hog like I walked up on last year.
    As I have aged I find the more I enjoy it.
    I only do this during morning hours as I have no want to get turned around in that brush at 30 minutes past sundown.
    I prefer windy days or wet days to do this because let's face it,you will never be able to hear as well as our respected game the deer.
    If I cover more than 125 yards in two hours I am going too fast.

    Edit to add...I carry a super light pair of twenty two year old 7x20 Nikon binoculars at high chest level that work great for this kind of work.
    Also,ditch the heavy hunting boots and wear something very soft like old desert boots that where popular in the 70's and are actually making a come back.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2012
  22. 1911 guy

    1911 guy Member

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    Don't get discouraged by lack of initial sucess or sounding like a bulldozer going through the woods. It's a learned skill. Remember how long it took four year old Mencius to learn to tie his shoes? Now you can do it in the dark, not waking up Mrs. Mencius when you ready for work. Same thing.

    About seeing all those stumps, downed trees and limbs: That's how prey animals blend in. When you assume it's a fallen tree or stump, you walk right past. It's when you take time to look that you'll ocassionally see an ear or eyeball.

    I'll sit in a stand if I think that's going to give me the best odds of sucess. But for pure enjoyment and fun, I'll sneak around the woods every time.

    ETA: if the woods where you hunt are thick enough to limit visibility to 100 yards or less, ditch the binoculars. Binos are very good for spotting deer far enough away that you haven't spooked them yet. If you're inside 100 yards, they either already know you're there or you've got enough advantage of wind and sight that you can begin a planned stalk. If, however, the terrain is somewhat open, the binos will help you avoid a lot of fruitless wandering. You can glass from a vantage point and move to a more likely place, hopefully one where you've been lucky enough to actually see deer in the binoculars. Where I usually hunt, they'd be a waste of effort and space to carry. But move a bit to the west of me and they go from pain in the butt (N.E. Ohio) to really nice to have (W. Ohio and Indiana) to absolute necessity (open plains west of Illinois).
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2012
  23. helotaxi

    helotaxi Member

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    I really like the binos for looking into the shadows across the small meadows and for scanning the meadows just before sunrise when you can't really resolve anything with the naked eye. The binos gather more light than your eyes and as a result good ones will brighten things up a great deal. I've got a pair of Nikon Monarch 5 10x42s. They're very lightweight, have very god optics and were very affordable.

    Spent this last weekend still hunting elk here in the mountains. Saw one right at last light on the first day, but since I didn't have a tag and my buddy who did was a couple yards in front of me when I did the "check-six" and saw her, by the time I got his attention, she had stepped into the treeline and was gone. We staked out that meadow first thing the next morning and were moving along an abandoned road (a very quiet way to travel and cover ground in a relative hurry) when we heard the proverbial herd of wild elephants coming through the trees 150yds or so away. He got in position at the edge of the trees and dropped one out of the herd before they even knew we were there. Shot measured 80yds across a clearing and slightly uphill. Had her gutted and out of the woods by 9. Skinned and hanging in the cooler by noon.
     
  24. ridgerunner1965

    ridgerunner1965 Member

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    pretty hard to do where i hunt. crunchy oak leaves and dry twigs.lots of wind too makes them spooky.ive done it dureing or after a rain but thats bout it.i like to do my homework and see where they are traveling and wait for them there.
     
  25. d2wing

    d2wing Member

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    As 1911 said do not shift you weight to the next step until you have slowly stepped down. Sometimes heel first works better as you can control it better. Yes you will make some noise
    But you can learn to be quieter. Animals do not move in steady steps like people, try to skurry like a squirrel if you can't avoid making noise. The pause for awhile because they will pay attention if the noise is out of place.
     
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