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I'm not the most experienced stillhunter. I spend most of my time whitetail hunting viewing the world from a position high in the trees. And from that viewpoint, I've put a lot of meat on the ground. But I still enjoy stillhunting and have had some success with it. Mostly, I figured it was dumb luck, but not always. Here's what made meat for me a few years back on opening day of the season.

I got a permit for the Bridgeport Hydraulic properties and was anxious for opening day. I'd never been on the property before and there's no permission to enter without the permit and only during legal hunting hours, so there was no scouting, either. So I went in bllind before daylight, walked a likely path halfway up the hill between the water and the top of the hill and set a stand in a tree that looked like it might give me a good view once daylight arrived. I setup and hoped for the best.

About 45 minutes after sunrise, I saw some deer about 80 to 100 yards away direcly up the hill browsing in a fairly clear area of the woods. I didn't notice any bucks, but saw about half a dozen does and one very young adult doe or fawn. So I decided to try something I'd read about.

Once the deer wandered out of sight, I climbed out of my stand and circled the hill and stalked up to where the deer were and used a fawn in distress call to see if I could convince a doe to come back and look around. Several minutes later, there wasn't any movement and I let out one more series of calls and leaned up against a tree thinking about how nice the weather was and how good it was to be in the woods and contemplating where I might hang my stand for the evening hunt since I found a feeding area.

That's when I noticed a doe coming in at an angle quickly and very alert. She was looking around and then she'd take a few more steps forward very quickly, look around and moved closer in. In what must have only been about 20 seconds, she was inside 20 yards and with her head behind a tree, I drew the bow and nailed her when she stepped out from behind the tree. She ran around 60 yards and crashed down just out of sight over the ridge.

Within an hour and half of the opening season, I'd tagged my first deer of the season in an area I'd never hunted before and the fawn in distress call was the thing that made the difference. I don't think this will work out so well later in the season, but in this early season game, does are still senstiive and responsive to this tactic.
 

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Nice one, Robert! Personally, I've not seen much success with the fawn distress call but sounds like you really pulled it off this time. I presume you had a favorable wind, too. Your success gives me renewed interest in using this call. 21 days and counting...
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yes, the wind was favorable. That's why I stalked around the side of the hill for the approach to keep the wind in my favor. If I would have ignored that, I'm positive I'd have never had a shot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Other things about stillhunting that are worth discussing is that as long as you're in the woods with a bow in your hand, an opportunity can present itself. After being in a treestand for 3-4 hours, I've usually had enough and climb down. That's when I usually do some hunting on the ground, but not necessarily hardcorre sneaking stillhunting, but rather just wandering, seeing what's going on on the forest floor and getting a better feel for what's happening at ground level. That pays off whether you get a shot opportunity or not.

The best bet for a serious stillhunt are when you've narrowed down the area you want to hunt to a very small area that doesn't tempt you to try to move too fast and cover lots of ground. Stillhunting and covering lots of ground aren't very compatible. I've had shot opportunites while in "travel" mode, but they've been few and far between and just hiking with a bow isn't all that productive where I've hunted. But work a small plot very, very slowly and carefully with lots of standing and looking and very little walking and good things can happen.

To me, stillhunting is good way to hunt a small plot of land that doesn't have good treestand positions - or when you're not really sure where you would want to put a treestand because there's so much deer activity. It's good for very thick areas along the favored edge habitat that whiteails love so much. It's good for hunting standing corn or in fields where only a few small juniper bushes provide the best large cover.

When there's a specific run you're monitoring and there are excellent tree stand positions available, I don't think there's anything more effective than getting up in the trees, but it's not the only way to tag a deer and whether you just get bored easily or whether you're trying to move into position to intercept deer in a bushy area that you can't hunt from the trees, stillhunting can give you a bit of an edge. As long as the bow's in your hand, the hunt isn't over. :)
 

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Congratulations on the successful still-hunt. It has been a dream of mine for quite some time to take a deer in such a manner.

I, too, have had success in the early season with fawn distress calls. Success that is, in calling them in.....I won't say about the shooting part....LOL
 

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One of my favorite still hunting methods is to walk along in the water where possible. I think the rhythm of your foot steps is completely masked by water and moving can be so quite, and fluid! It also forces you to lift your feet slowly out of the muck to keep from getting one of your boots sucked off. Making a little splashing doesn't seem to alert game as much. I have taken deer and pigs while slipping through swamps in knee deep water. Surprisingly a lot of critters hang out in or around the waters.
 

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Most of the woods in my area were once upon a time, farm lands.. Of course, most people passing bye, wouldn't think that was the case these days as a lot of this land has been developed.
The remnants of many of those farms still exist and when ever possible, I'll take advantage of some of those old stone walls when ever I'm still hunting.
You can sneak along real slow, then peek over, move a little more, peek over again etc. Stone walls can also make for good cover while moving to and from stands too! I like the wall..
 

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Some years ago I tried something like that, but it wasn't a fawn distress call. It was short, quick bursts of "blowing". Deer are very curious in nature, and sure enough an adult Doe came up to the fence looking around intently, but I never got a clear shot at her from the other side on the ground.

One other time, I was hunkered on the ground in the weeds, slamming some antlers on the ground (stomping), snorting, blowing, thrashing branches, and just making a ruckus. Not more than 5 minutes later, a Doe came sneaking in and she was REALLY on alert. Had no shot whatsoever because she had already pin-pointed my exact location.

There have been other situations where I've been walking slowly and quietly to or from stand locations, and have had deer nearly walk right into me. Sometimes meat in the freezer and sometimes not, LOL.

Still-hunting in general? For the most part, I've been busted more times than I would like to admit. But I still haven't called it quits on doing whatever necessary to get in amongst deer where there are no trees to hunt from.

Where I hunt, there are some pretty good-sized fields that used to be in beans or corn about 10 years ago. But then they went into the gov't filter strip program (set aside). Since then, the willows have been spreading further and further out into the fields and the rest is chocked full of blue stem. It makes for some interesting transition cover between the crop fields and traditional bedding areas.

In some cases, I've been mowing lanes by the edges (you mow it and the deer will use it). But for the most part, the increased area of shoulder-high cover has made these areas more difficult to hunt. A few of the fields are totally set aside and others are strips of set aside about 40 yards wide between edge of cropland and tree lines/ditches. The deer are not as easily patterned from crops to bed anymore, as they tend to meander all through these areas.

I think that when the rut really gets going and the bucks are moving around a lot, still-hunting some of these areas might be worthwhile. If I were to do it too much, the getting busted events would be too frequent. So for me, it will only be on an occasional basis. But when conditions are right and at the right time... it could add to up to some exciting confrontatios!
 

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I was stillhunting in SE Georgia over the weekend, and due to changes in the wind probably from hurricane Ike, I had to set-up a makeshift ground blind on a different side of the food plot that my laddeer stand was on. On the advice of a local archery shop, I used some fox urine around my stand to mask my odor. I was in scentlok also. Sunday I had two deer within ten yards of me, unfortunately they were behind some heavy brush, and did not come out in the open. But I think the cover scent helped some.
 

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But when conditions are right and at the right time...
Yeah, there are many days when still hunting is definitely not the way to go. Any time it is dry and I can't walk silently, I won't even try it.

Give me some intermittent rain, either hard or medium, and I will try it. I haven't had much luck getting close to animals during windy conditions, but I have read that this is supposed to be a good time to still hunt. I'll still try it again, but no luck so far.

It is my understanding that bucks and does don't move around much (and it has been my experience, too) during high winds, so the only way to get to them would be to invade the very dense thickets that they must be hunkered down in during those high winds.

By the way, I understand that Fred Bear could stalk deer on a dry oak leaf laden forest floor....
 

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Piney, get you a tripod and set up amongst the thicket. They are making some lightweight ones nowadays. If you set up tight to one of the willows, for cover, you might be surprised. Just a thought.
 
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