rachunter

stalking/still hunting

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i've been reading about stalking deer for the past month.i'm not getting it if i follow the though of "if you think your moving slow slow down more" i'd never get anywhere.i have a few areas up in the adks i've been looking at on maps and Ariel photos,but it's going to have to wait until spring to do any leg work[2' of snow] so i'm limited to long island for now.anyway when you guys stalk what is your  usual process ? do you play the wind,walk a few steps and stop,how long do you stop if at all.i've been looking at a few swamp areas as well as a few high ridges to the sides of the swaps.i found a good gullie leading from a high spot to a swap while up there this fall,so i'll be working that area.but i'd like to have a few back up areas as well. 

i've been sitting in trees for the past 30yrs so this is all new for me.

 

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10 minutes ago, rachunter said:

i've been reading about stalking deer for the past month.i'm not getting it if i follow the though of "if you think your moving slow slow down more" i'd never get anywhere.i have a few areas up in the adks i've been looking at on maps and Ariel photos,but it's going to have to wait until spring to do any leg work[2' of snow] so i'm limited to long island for now.anyway when you guys stalk what is your  usual process ? do you play the wind,walk a few steps and stop,how long do you stop if at all.i've been looking at a few swamp areas as well as a few high ridges to the sides of the swaps.i found a good gullie leading from a high spot to a swap while up there this fall,so i'll be working that area.but i'd like to have a few back up areas as well. 

i've been sitting in trees for the past 30yrs so this is all new for me.

 

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Hmmmm...Looks like a Ruger...Scope's too damn big, tho.....GRIN....

 

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22 minutes ago, Pygmy said:

Hmmmm...Looks like a Ruger...Scope's too damn big, tho.....GRIN....

 

if this little guy passes the test this weekend that scopes heading down stream.i read to much and got caught up in the long range game.

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The trick is seeing the deer before it sees, hears, or smells you.   That is easier said than done.   Dry, noisy leaves and no wind is a no-go, as is crunchy snow and no wind.    Wet leaves and steady wind is good, soft, wet snow and steady wind is better.  It is much easier to see a deer before it sees you when there is snow on the ground.  I was able to stalk into firing position on deer up there 3 times this year (single doe, doe with a button buck, and 1 small antlered buck) prior to the snow.  I killed the single doe with my ML in the early season (zone 6C).  The buck was distracted, and feeding up on a ridge when I snuck in on him mid-way thru rifle season.   He was not yet a "shooter" for me at that point.   Knowing where the food is and where the does are is a tremendous help when deciding where to still hunt.   You can cover ground fast in between those spots, as long as you slow way down when you get close.   

When the conditions are right, still hunting is great, but there are lots of times when finding a good spot to sit and letting the deer come to you works better.  I always let the conditions I find determine the method I use on any hunt.  This year, hunting the Adirondacks 14 days total in three trips, from the start of ML thru almost the end of rifle season, I saw around a dozen antlerless deer (all while still hunting) and 2 bucks (one while still hunting and one while seated).  I would guess that I sat two hours for every hour that I still hunted.   I have done better up there by waiting until sunrise, then still-hunting to my spots in the morning, than I have by getting to the spots before sunrise.    

Is that a Marlin 336 30/30?   I had one years ago and really miss it now.   My big heavy Ruger M77, 30/06 with 3-9 Redfield is not the best for still-hunting.  That Marlin would be just about perfect.         

Edited by wolc123
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I live to still hunt and track in the ADKS but I suck at it. I move too fast and don't "notice" deer like I should. My saving grace is that I can shoot.

I like to get up high before light wait an hr or 2 after day light and hunt my way down. I have never had luck hunting up. Move slow and hunt with your eyes more than anything else. The moving slow part can be tricky because as you have said you have to cover ground.

The hardest part of still hunting is knowing when to cover ground and when to slow down to a crawl. The only way to learn this is by messing up a lot. The last 2 bucks I have killed up north I have smelled before I saw them.


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To me, still hunting and stalking are two different types of hunting. You need to know your $$$$ for both as it's a stealth game.

To me a stalk is driving and glassing, or walking and glassing fields for game, then trying to sneak up on what you spotted, hence "stalking". Maybe getting of fresh tracks and "stalking" the tracks.

 

Still hunting, while similar, isn't the same as stalking to me. Still hunting you move slowly through the woods, looking to catch a flicker of an ear or tail. You walk slowly through areas where you don't always know if deer are in there or not. You scan the area for both deer and the next place to stop at, then slowly move to that next spot to stop. Then you just repeat that from one cover point to the next.

 

The big common factor to both is this, stealth!

There's a reason many hunters call stalking and still hunting an art, you have to have your head on a swivel in every direction! You need to be looking down to make sure of your next step, you need to be looking around for your game, and you need to always be aware of were you are and what's beyond your target.

 

Sitting in a stand no matter what it is ( blind or tree stand ) over food plots is great, but getting up and going after your deer can be a lot more fun, and walking helps keep you warm and in shape for dragging the deer out.

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I have only hunted the 'dacks a couple of times and that was with a group.. We hunted timber company land and did very well with "organized stillhunts"...We'd post standers on likely escape routes and the "drivers" would stillhunt towards them...The walkers killed as many deer as the standers.

However in years past I have done a fair amount of stillhunting around home..I used to love to do it when conditions were favorable, with a decent snow cover and a steady wind in my face...I used my binoculars a LOT, even in close cover...It is amazing how much better you can see by focusing back through a lot of the cover..  Of course  the areas I hunted were ALL prime cover here in the southern tier..

I smelled a number of bucks before I saw them...I could also smell coyotes and foxes too, but they were usually gone BEFORE I saw them...

I especially loved stillhunting elk in black timber in Colorado and New Mexico... You can smell them a good hundred yards away..Much stronger than whitetails...

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funny you guys mention smelling the deer,when i was at the waterline of the swap i could smell a deer in there after getting home and looking at an areal photo there's a little finger of land going into the water right where i kept smelling deer.

i kinda figured this was going to be a hands on learning experience.i'm game!!!

 

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2 hours ago, wolc123 said:

    

Is that a Marlin 336 30/30?   I had one years ago and really miss it now.   My big heavy Ruger M77, 30/06 with 3-9 Redfield is not the best for still-hunting.  That Marlin would be just about perfect.         

yup it's a marlin 336c 3030 i just put that 4x scope on it.i like my ruger hawkeye 06 i might down size the scope but that rifle is a keeper.

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Nice gun.  My father in law has one with open sights and I am going to try and talk him into letting me use it this fall.

Speaking of smelling deer, I got a good whiff of that this fall on the 2-1/2 year old buck that I killed at home with my crossbow.   I saw him go into a corn field, about 75 yards away, and could hear him munching on corn as he made his way closer.  He was directly upwind, it was peak-rut time, and that piss smell was unmistakable.  Now I can understand how that would give away their location in heavy cover as you sneak along downwind.  It would probably only work at peak rut time however.     

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Been practicing some staking and still hunting no weapons of course. It's a little hard around here to track one deer.Yesterday i got on one big and one small set of tracks there was no mistaking the freshness of them.I followed them for a few hundred yards then i saw the fawn got a little closer and saw the mama made it to about 75yrds when all hell broke loose there was about 6-8 more deer bed down in front of them.Went over and checked out the beds.Started shed hunting again found a giant track looked like it was made in the morning started following it which was rough but i'm pretty sure i stead on the same tracks  about an hour of tracking and looking a head BINGO locked eyes with a buck laying under a tree,vine nest PING he was gone.He didn't have his antlers but i could see where they where.My heart was pounding so hard i thought it was going to explode.I haven't had that "buck fever" feeling in years.Intense even if i had a gun i couldn't get a shot off.Did a bunch of little circles around there looking for his sheds nothing.

this is a pic of where he was.The little white paper looking thing is the bed.the second pic is the bed with hair in it.

 

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Been practicing some staking and still hunting no weapons of course. It's a little hard around here to track one deer.Yesterday i got on one big and one small set of tracks there was no mistaking the freshness of them.I followed them for a few hundred yards then i saw the fawn got a little closer and saw the mama made it to about 75yrds when all hell broke loose there was about 6-8 more deer bed down in front of them.Went over and checked out the beds.Started shed hunting again found a giant track looked like it was made in the morning started following it which was rough but i'm pretty sure i stead on the same tracks  about an hour of tracking and looking a head BINGO locked eyes with a buck laying under a tree,vine nest PING he was gone.He didn't have his antlers but i could see where they where.My heart was pounding so hard i thought it was going to explode.I haven't had that "buck fever" feeling in years.Intense even if i had a gun i couldn't get a shot off.Did a bunch of little circles around there looking for his sheds nothing.
this is a pic of where he was.The little white paper looking thing is the bed.the second pic is the bed with hair in it.
 
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Now you're hooked!

Last year I shot one of the biggest bucks in my life and it is tied with the most exciting moment of my season the other was opening day of northern zone gun when I got on a decent track on dry ground and tracked a decent "probably 2yr old 7pt to his bed. Tracking on dry ground has been something I have been working on for a long time and this was my first successful track!

The only other advice I can give you is if this is how you're going to hunt start shooting now, I'm not talking from a bench I'm talking practice what your shots will be close, fast and freehand. The way I do this is with gallery loads with my 35's I use 35cal pistol bullets loaded to 1500fps. I have steel targets in the back yard from 15-100yds. I shoot my deer rifles at least once a week. I don't know how many times I have ruined a good track because I missed or wasn't able to get a shot off fast enough.


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9 hours ago, Buckmaster7600 said:

 

 


Now you're hooked!

Last year I shot one of the biggest bucks in my life and it is tied with the most exciting moment of my season the other was opening day of northern zone gun when I got on a decent track on dry ground and tracked a decent "probably 2yr old 7pt to his bed. Tracking on dry ground has been something I have been working on for a long time and this was my first successful track!

The only other advice I can give you is if this is how you're going to hunt start shooting now, I'm not talking from a bench I'm talking practice what your shots will be close, fast and freehand. The way I do this is with gallery loads with my 35's I use 35cal pistol bullets loaded to 1500fps. I have steel targets in the back yard from 15-100yds. I shoot my deer rifles at least once a week. I don't know how many times I have ruined a good track because I missed or wasn't able to get a shot off fast enough.


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ya i'll definitely be hitting the range.

btw thanks for the tip on the lead pistol bullets in the muzzleloader worked great and saved me some coin. 

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You got to know when to walk, when to stop, when to go slow.

Sometimes I cover a 1/4 mile quick, so.eine the next 200 yards takes an hour.

Gps and good binos.

100% camo.  Includes your face and hands.  I have shot deer that heard me a few minutes ago.

Learn the wind.  Learn how a deer uses it. Learn what the does do and bucks do with wind.

I glass open areas carefully,  and smoothly walk through them in they're clear.

A forest has routes, ways the deer go through them.  Variety is the spice of life.

Learn why a deer prefers a spot at a certain time.

If you move while you hunt, any day is a good day to hunt.

Salerno brothers, the book the still hunter too.

Adirondack's I love, but the same game can be done in pa or the catskills.

Learn a place, it takes a few years and lots of gps shots....   then advance to the next.  Keep a journal.

 

Also, deer are migratory.   A lot of these big bucks get shot during a snow storm, because they get off the mountain and head to thick understory. 

Squirrel and grouse made me a still hunter. 

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Others have already provided good input, but I'll echo some main points I agree with:

- Let the conditions dictate your method.  Still hunting on noisy ground (dry leaves, crunchy snow) usually doesn't work out too well.  Also, moving through thick brush or vegetation (which there is a lot of up there) quickly spooks off nearby game; either avoid traveling through those areas (if you can), or strategically make these movements when you think there is lower chance of spooking game (mid-day or in warmer weather when the deer are less active).

- I agree with the poster  who said it earlier that stalking into your position in the morning and then stand/ambush hunting for a period of  time is a solid method.  Moving in the dark in the ADK's (especially off trail) is tough, and noisy, even with a headlamp.

- Ambush/stand hunting works up there only if you've done your homework and figured out where the deer like to travel, eat and sleep.  If you just pick any old spot to stand hunt from, you can find yourself sitting around staring at nothing for hours on end.

- Unless you're trying to get from point A to point B to change positions or get to camp, move slowly (slower than what you normally think slow means).  The terrain, noise, line of sight, ect. is all stacked against you.  And unlike out west or in more open farmland stand hunts, it's a bit more difficult to figure out if you've been made by a nearby deer.  They can smell and hear you long before you even see them, and sometimes you'll never even know they were there.  Take your time, watch your foot placement, try to gauge the wind (it's difficult in the deep woods where the air currents are subtle at best).  The one buck I saw up there this season, I literally walked right into; I saw him first as I crested a little hill.  He saw me eventually, but I was downwind of him, and it took him 2-3 minutes to figure out what I was.

- Spend some time during the summer or even after the fall season in the winter (when snow is on the ground) hiking around and looking for deer sign.  You'll be surprised to see that there are lot of deer paths that intersect with foot trails and even roads.  Now, you may not always want to post up on a trail (especially if it sees a lot hikers), but those scouting trips will give you a good idea of where to focus your efforts.  

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This is my favorite topic in a long time. It's awesome that so many different tactics can be successful!

Some go slow some go fast, some think camo is important some don't, some play the wind some don't.

The most important thing is you have to make to points come together that's you and a buck you want to kill. How you get there isn't important it's what you do after that matters most!


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I really enjoy still hunting.. It is difficult to have the paitience to do it properly.. I have snuck through swamps and bedding areas in the big woods for hours.. I know there are deer in here somewhere.. step pause,step pause,glass,etc.... then you lose patience and crunch over to a better looking area and crash! , away he runs..lol.

I have always said that the biggest asset to my hunting skills would be to improve my quick/jump shooting skills.. As a general rule I will not even shoot at a surprised jumped deer.. If I don't have the time to place my shot they get a pass..this has resulted in a lot of stories about the beautiful buck that I saw as he ran away..lol

I believe  with practice  a person can become very proficient at jumping and shooting deer... One  of the best still hunters I know was an old timer that was 90% deaf.( no idea how he was quiet). When a deer jumped up within 50yds of him it was dead.

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To do a good job at stillhunting often requires some pretty serious physical fitness. When you step on a twig and spot a deer looking at you at the same time, you may have to be able to hold that very awkward position for a while. Holding that position will be a test. You fail and the deer will flee. The sound alone, or a bit of movement alone, won't normally make the animal flee, but if you put the two together you're probably done.

It's not always about being absolutely quiet either. It's about not making noises that are considered alarming or threatening to the animals. I've had deer come within feet of me while I was running a chainsaw, even during hunting season. It's a human form that's moving around, it's pretty loud, and it smells like sweat and two-stroke exhaust. But they're curious and want to check it out.

I've never stalked deer before, so I can't comment on it, but stillhunting is an art form that needs to be practiced. I spent much of my youth sneaking around the edges of beanfields with a .22 rifle hoping to surprise a woodchuck that was within range, and I learned a lot.

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"It's fun to win elections." -- Bill Whittle

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Far as guns go, they're all good.  The scope and safety is the trick.  A quick shot requires you see the rectile of the scope quickly,  the power is low enough to see the deer right off,  the scope is set on the rings where you see a good picture right away.  And the safety works well for you.

I hunt with a browning blr in 450 marlin with a 1.25-4.5×32 Bushnell scope with the very thick firefly rectile.  It glows in the dark too.

My backup is a marlin 336 in 3030 with peep sight

I hunt in pa, so my muzzleloader at hand is a 54 cal flintlock.  

Far as agility goes, a friend from rennselaer county who harvest bucks most years takes yoga to practice.

Track hunting is done in snow.  It's quieter and easier to see deer.  You walk till you find track, then analyse the track.  If their straight,  they're moving.  If they meander, then they're close to bedding down.  You also look where you are and where they're heading.  

True trackers go hunting on a day most hunters are worried to go out there on.

Swamp edges, along creeks, and on ridges where they elongate or make a path to the next ridge.  South faces are generally better too.

Layered clothing, comfortable boots, and good glass 7x35 ideal.  

3-6 miles is not rare on foot for tracking.

I still hunt, mix still to spot hunt on dry or when I'm feeling lazy or hung over, but track when there's fresh snow.

On fresh snow, the deer are in very thick evergreen patches where I hunt.

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good stuff here guys,

i knew when i bought my house up in the adk's it was going to be a challenge. I'm looking forward learning how to stalk and still hunt up there. This will be the fifth season up there the second year i walked up on a small five point during the rut he had no clue i was there.That was my second gun buck ever for me.The season after that i tried sitting[treestands] didn't see anything but a few does.Last season i mixed it up and realized still hunting was the only way to go up there.I walked up on a busted up rack buck but gave him a pass.this season it going to be all still hunting with the ml and gun.i've been reading watching videos and going over maps.

thanks for all the info i'm soaking it all in.   

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1 hour ago, sailinghudson25 said:

Far as guns go, they're all good.  The scope and safety is the trick.  A quick shot requires you see the rectile of the scope quickly,  the power is low enough to see the deer right off,  the scope is set on the rings where you see a good picture right away.  And the safety works well for you.

I hunt with a browning blr in 450 marlin 

after playing around with my marlin 3030 and ruger 3006 i'm thinking the 3030 might be the way to go with snap shooting.Going to hit the range and see which one fit the need better.

funny you mentioned the BLR i never knew the existed until last night.I'm thinking of getting the 223 rem. for coyote hunting.

  

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after playing around with my marlin 3030 and ruger 3006 i'm thinking the 3030 might be the way to go with snap shooting.Going to hit the range and see which one fit the need better.
funny you mentioned the BLR i never knew the existed until last night.I'm thinking of getting the 223 rem. for coyote hunting.
  



I have closets full of deer rifles and I have yet to find a better gun for still hunting/tracking than a Remington pump. They shoot better than anything else freehand and you have a fast follow up.


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Some great advice here!  For me the thicker the area I am in the slower I stalk.  When I reach open area where I can see more than 40 yards I will post for a few minutes and scan if its a pinch point or other natural barrier I might sit and post for an hour or so otherwise I will walk through to the next spot and start the process all over again.  Typically if I find a spot I suspect deer are hiding I will try to call them in, when I do this a minimum of 20 minutes is required to let the deer come to me.  You need good cover for this as the deer will pin point your location.

I always slow down when approaching a ridge top, ravine or any other area where I can see a long distance.  It keeps your outline minimal and if deer are in the area it makes it harder for them to spot you.  After a few minutes of scanning what I can see I will take a step or two more, very slowly to reveal the entire area and scan again.  Spotting deer is something I think is learned, some simply can't do it at all but successful hunters can pick out deer in cover, the more you watch deer the easier I think it is to spot them.

I like to stalk downhill and have more issues going up as the deer usually see me before I see them.  If I can keep the wind in my face and sun at my back I am happy but don't worry about the wind as much unless it is steady from one direction.

The Benoit have a great book "Big Bucks the Benoit Way".  Even they changed tactics when snow stopped coming, the last episodes they had where about hunting smarter not harder and one episode spoke about Track Rattle and Roll using calls and rattling.  Great book with valuable info, another one I have used is "A Guild to Adirondack Deer Hunting" by Charlie Alsheimer.

Use your instinct and slow down in area you think deer are located.  Try calling it works!  Use your sixth sense, smell and hearing, often it will reveal the deer before your sight does especially in cover.  (Smelling a bucks stained tarsal gland freaks me out because I know I am really close!)  Scan with your eyes not your head, if something makes a noise do not turn quickly to see what is was but slowly turn only your head.  I second the shooting often, it makes a big difference when stalking or still hunting. VIP Have fun and simply enjoy every encounter in the woods they are your encounters and no one except you saw them!  Loved the story on the buck!!!  Awesome! 

Good luck and be safe! 

 

 

 

 

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8 hours ago, Buckmaster7600 said:

 

 


I have closets full of deer rifles and I have yet to find a better gun for still hunting/tracking than a Remington pump. They shoot better than anything else freehand and you have a fast follow up.


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i'm going gun shopping this weekend it was supposed to be for a revolver,but i'm going to check out rifles instead.my boss swears by his rem. 7600 3006.i'm going to look around for one.i never picked up or tried on fast cycling a rifle because i always shot off the bench.that just changed!! 

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