Northcountryman

The lost art of still hunting

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Idont know much about still hunting , rarely do it in the Catskills , mainly because I have very little trust in other hunters but in a I get region like Adirondacks , I would imagine you could get away with it and it’s probably almost essential considering a much lower deer density . The biggest concern in terms of success is making noise . Its so hard to walk without making noise that a deer will detect ; in areas where a lot of leaves and branches are down, near impossible .How would one hunt areas like that via still hunting ? 

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I hunt almost exclusively in the Dacks and still hunt most of the time. I actually worry less about sound and more about my pace and wind. In my experience deer in the “big woods” are very forgiving about sound and have almost no tolerance for movement or scent. So the name of the game for me is to cover the miles I need to cover to get into a hunting area quickly, then slow down so slow it’s almost hard to sustain. Even with “corn flake” leaves if you’re truly moving at still hunting speed it won’t be too loud. I also pay very specially attention to limit all unnecessary body movement. Keep my upper body stable, no swinging my arms, take small manageable steps. Counterintuitively, I like to wear tall, fairly stiff mountain boots while still hunting. I don’t feel the forest floor as much but i get much better balance when moving ultra slow. It’s also worth considering using a 3 point sling or no sling at all so you gun is also front and ready. I also carry a wind checker in my pocket at all times and check the wind often. It changes and swirls a lot where I hunt but I try to hunt the wind when possible. I hope some of that is useful! Good luck, the rut’s coming soon.


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Also use the terrain as much as you can for cover. Walk the back side of ridges and peak and glass over.  

I used to have a spot I went to only when the ground was wet and wind was right . Seen deer in there most every time. So make a mental note where you see them as you are likely to again. 

I used to like to do this midday when deer we're more apt to be bedded. 

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Slow is the name of the game.  Watch for any movement, tails, ears.  Take your steps very easy, very slow, 1, 2 steps and stop, listen, watch for movement.

Hunt during windy conditions, covers noise.  Snow storms, rain dampens the ground cover.

Most important, Hunt and Move Slow, Wait, Take Your Time

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15 minutes ago, Northcountryman said:

Great advice, so what’s a wind checker anyway? Never heard of it 

Find yourself some milk week pods, free and shows exactly where your wind is going.

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I agree with hock first year using milk weed.  Ill will always have it on me while hunting.  And knowing where to slow down comes with expiernce and what deer are showing you.  The piece i killed my deer on last week and found scrapes yesterday i know i can walk in 1/2 mile at a steady pace before i slow up. Ive hunted it for 15 yrs and ive never caught a deer or seen tracks even with snow the first 1/2 mile.   Look for sign,scrapes rubs,trails scat.  They will show you where they hang out.  Best tool i use is pre scouting with huntstand or onx hunt apps to give you a rough idea of whats where.   

Most important is speed and wind they are used to other animals running around.  

Last note my friend kills 90% of his deer still hunting.  3 things he always does wind in his face always stops at a tree/bush he can shoot around,gun is always ready.

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All good advice. If you think you're moving slow, slow down. Lose the sling. Hunt with the sun at your back. Always, stop near a tree or sapling to use as a rest. If conditions are dry and noisy, or crusty snow, move when the wind blows. Be still when it doesn't. 

It's great if you can hunt into the wind, but if I did that where I hunt, I'd walk in a 60 foot circle all day. I do use milkweed fluff to stay aware or the wind however.

A couple/few times a day, in an area that looks especially promising, I'll take a seat on a rock or log for a 1/2 hour or so to stretch my back out. It also gives my eyes a bit of a break and I feel fresher when I continue on. 

Been hunting like this my whole life. My dad and gramp taught me how. I may not see game everyday, but I have a great time every time I go out. And I have been very successful at it. Wouldn't hunt in the eastern woods any other way unless there was fresh snow on the ground.

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Would you hunt an un familiar piece of land via still hunting , without input and advice from a friend or fellow hunter? I could see myself scouting an area first and maybe still hunting it after I’ve found sign and/ or promising spots but to hunt it blind via still hunting , not sure :superstition:

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Most important is having  a good game eye  deer will freeze lots of times before they run you have to train your eyes to pick them out from the background. Or you will not even notice they are near you until it's to late .

Edited by Hunter007

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Great advice, so what’s a wind checker anyway? Never heard of it 


This is what I was talking about. The milkweed is also an excellent suggestion. Can’t beat free...

https://www.cabelas.com/product/Dead-Down-Wind-Wind-Detector/1206555.uts

As for how to decide if you’re in a good spot, a lot of it has to do with land features for me. If I can find the right combination of high country with natural funnel and pinch points and low country with swamps and thick cover that’s where I want to start. Then I’m looking for fresh sign in a reasonably high density.



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Would you hunt an un familiar piece of land via still hunting , without input and advice from a friend or fellow hunter? I could see myself scouting an area first and maybe still hunting it after I’ve found sign and/ or promising spots but to hunt it blind via still hunting , not sure :superstition:


For me personally I’d rather have some scouting time in an area before I get really slow and still hunt it. But if you can’t pre-scout an area and the terrain looks good I think a combination of still hunting mixed with short sits can be a good approach.


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I like to still hunt public land when its raining or windy. Ive had a few successful hunts under those conditions. If I feel like Ive made too much noise, Ill let out a small grunt. It worked last Friday.

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I’m gonna give it a try at some point this season but not before thanksgiving I think unless I’m way upstate . I worry about safety in the Cats unfortunately. I would like to try it though in a well scouted area and combine it with some shirt sits here and there . Contrary to popular belief , deer tend not to leave their home range during rifle season,  sightings go down after opening weekend cuz they feel the heat and the pressure , go mostly nocturnal and stay mostly concealed during the day . This may be the only method to be successful in certain cases but I’ll bet it’s hard as hell to spot em!! I wonder how many times I’ve walked past a buck over the years hiding in the brush or a thicket and had no idea as to their presence !! 

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I exclusively still hunt if I’m in the ADK’s unless there’s snow and I’m tracking. You’ve gotten a lot of good advice already!

 

I’ll start by saying I’m not a good still hunter! I’ve had a lot of success doing it but most of that is on my shooting abilities and not my still hunting abilities. The key is covering ground, there’s times when I’ll cover 3 or 4 miles in an hour “I call it the mall walkers pace” then there’s times when I’ll cover 50 yds in an hour. Knowing when to go slow comes with experience, if you jump a deer go to their bed and look around, look from where they were lying to where you were standing when they got out of their bed

 

I pay very little attention to wind and scent control, unless there is a very steady breeze the wind is so inconsistent it’s basically impossible to hunt with the wind in your favor all the time. I’ve shot way more deer that winded me than I have deer that saw me. I know some people say always try to stop behind a tree or brush for cover and A possible rest but I completely disagree, I will never stop behind anything because there is always enough trees and branches between me and the deer I don’t want to purposely put any more in my way. I also want to be able to swing the gun freely if they do get up and take off.

 

Although I’ve killed bucks on dead calm days with crunchy leaves or snow most of the time I use those days to cover ground and look for spots to come back to when the conditions are right. There’s been many morning when I wake up and get outside and say to myself “I’ll kill a deer today if I want” and most of the time I’ll have the chance.

 

Hunting the big woods is an education and the tuition is time. If you bugger a still hunt and jump a buck you want to kill don’t get discouraged, study what went wrong sit down for a half hour after you study the scenario then head off in the direction he went I’ve killed bucks that I’ve jumped 2 or 3 or more times in the same day. You aren’t hunting pressured deer most likely they have no idea what made them take off, they just saw or smelled something that wasn’t right so they got out of there, usually they won’t go far they’ll go 50-100yds stop and look back and try to figure out what it was then find a spot to lay back down or another place to eat. The worst thing you can do after jumping a buck is take right off after them, because they aren’t far away and they’re looking back, let them calm down then go after them.

 

The last advice I can give is SHOOT, I’m not talking about about from a bench I’m talking about practice standing 20-100yds from a target and go from having the gun in your hand down by your side or across your body to firing a shot as fast as you can. Don’t worry about hitting bullseyes, worry about putting a round as fast as you can in a paper plate. The key to killing deer in big woods all boils down to capitalizing on the opportunity you’re given. If you’re waiting for the perfect broadside shot from a rested shooting position you’ll go along time between killing bucks.

 

 

 

 

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Great advice. 

I prefer moving to sitting in a stand and take advantage of every rain to get out. I've set up a few ground blinds around my property that I use to pause and consider my next move.

So far, only minimal luck but hope that changes soon.

This is worth a read.

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