T Nation



Any hunters here? Getting my license in a month (bow/shotgun) and have a whole bunch of questions.


You have several here. Go ahead with questions and somebody is bound to chime in although different regions may have different answers.


There are previous hunting threads also that may give you valuable insight.


I live in the Northeast (NJ). I'm going to start with shotgun hunting pheasant and turkey hunting this winter and spring, respectively. Next year, I wanted to bow hunt deer. I'm new to the bow, so I need some time to really get it down. My question, or what I'm looking for, is information on stalking deer vs. sitting in a tree stand. I realize it will be much more difficult stalking but that's the approach I'd like to take.

Yes, I understand and accept that I'll significantly decrease the likelyhood of taking a deer down by doing this and it probably takes a long time to develop skills and senses for this sort of approach, and I'm ok with that. Moving on, anyone hunt deer or any game this way? Just looking for some insight, stories, and tips. Thank you.


Stalking with a bow is a zero sum game. The proximity needed will be nearly impossible to achieve. Don't make things harder than they need to be, just bow hunting will be challenge enough for a beginner.


Stalking takes a lot of patience. It helps to know the terrain you are hunting and the likely spots the deer will be in. If you think you are moving slow, move slower.


I realize it will be much more difficult stalking but that's the approach I'd like to take.

Yes, I understand and accept that I'll significantly decrease the likelyhood of taking a deer down by doing this and it probably takes a long time to develop skills and senses for this sort of approach, and I'm ok with that.

Anyone with experience, lessons, or stories relating to this method of hunting?


Definately years, think in terms of you will be learning now, so that you might be a halfway decent hunter 5-10 years from now. Forget stalking, for now, you will just be walking a lot, to find signs, figure out where they're bedding, what and where they're eating. And of course as the season progresses all of this is changing.

The easiest thing to do is figure out what they're eating, when they're moving, and put up a tree stand close to their route where you can see the trail without being over it. This will probably put meat on the table, but no trophies unless you're damn lucky.

Use technology for now to keep things simple for now. I started with a crossbow two years ago, was going to use a compound this year but a motorcycle accident messed that up. A few years from now I plan to graduate to a recurve.


I have done it gun hunting and without realizing it been standing in the middle of a small herd of deer. I would not have able to draw a bow though as the deer knew something wasn't right and was just waiting for me to move to bolt. I had a young one staring at me for ten minutes, bobbing it's head trying to get me to move.

It takes a certain discipline just to sit still in the woods for hours that will clear your head. Foolish IMO to make a difficult task harder.


Time isn't a concern...time learning, time waiting, time spent wandering the woods.

Any resources I can look into for understanding deer behavior and habits?

What about scent? What have you used to cover up? And any tools or methods for understanding wind?

Like I said, I'm brand new so I have no idea other than preconcieved notions. I know this is one of the hardest methods of hunting but I really dig the idea of moving like a ninja through the woods, rather than standing in a tree for hours. I'm sure I'll do a bit of tree stand and blind hunting, but I'm going to make an effort to learn stalking. I think it's a pretty cool investment of time and energy.


I just wash all of my clothes in detergent that is free and clear of dyes and perfumes, and keep it stored in a trunk with some cedar pieces and pine needles. I'm skeptical of some of the scent blocker stuff. Also, get up on in tree stand and you don't have to worry as much about scent.

As far as stalking goes you have to have a great many acres to do it in, so that you don't wind up trespassing. Or, driving a deer by someone else's tree stand, as I have done.


Happen to know the average distance you've taken your shots from? Gives me something to work on...like, if I should expect it be from no less than 50 yards.

Another distance question is, after you spot a deer (with optics, from your blind, treestand, or wherever you're walking,waiting) is there a distance that you feel is just too unreasonable to attempt to cover to get into range?

How about season and conditions? Easier to stalk in the fall, winter, or spring? What about on wet ground - I imagine less snaps and pops would be very helpful.


I agree on the cover scent stuff being overrated. The wind direction is the most important element here. A dog can sniff out weed that is in a tightly sealed package and a deer olfactory senses are several magnitudes higher.


You really shouldn't be taking any shots much over thirty yards with a bow, which is really close if you are stalking.

As for conditions, scouting can happen year round but hunting will be consigned to the fall season.


Stalking here with a bow is basically a no go. Getting close enough isn't really the problem and I have killed more deer stalking with a gun than I have sitting. I get bored deer hunting, more of a turkey hunter. But the problem with the bow is drawing once you get in range without them seeing you and running like a scalded dog. I have taken one deer, my only deer with a bow, stalking but that was a deer I spotted moving through some very thick stuff 200 yds away and new patterns well enough to get down and head her off, basically getting set up before she ever got there. It was a lot luck and a crossbow would increase your odds exponentially but I just enjoy my compound and crossbows may not be legal archery equipment in your state.

Also, this approach was with a big tract private land deer. A public land deer would have seen me move right out the gate and been out of there.

A shotgun with a slug would also be effective for deer, especially while you are learning to stalk. Learning to stalk and learning the bow at the same time for me would be a recipe for frustration, but if you have the patience, great. I use a very simple pattern when stalk hunting w/o knowing if there is a deer present. 3 steps, look and listen. Always move with odd numbered steps, don't go over hills and rises without slowly surveying what is over them, don't bust out into open fields, slowly ease up to them always looking, stay next to woodlines, do not get to far out in the open unless you have to. And my dad's favorite advice: Always look for lateral lines, because the woods are made of vertical lines and a lateral line could be a deers back, or a fallen log but its always worth inspection before moving.


Second the scent block stuff being overrated. I will use some scent killing spray but I am skeptical that it works. Take your clothes to where you are hunting, then put them on. Keep them stored in a trunk. Don't use fragrance deodorants, soaps, or detergents on yourself or your clothes.

If you are going to be walking a lot, a back-pack is a decent investment, dress in layers that way as you get warm or cool down you can shed or add. Think about where you are hunting when buying clothes, if you have a lot of briars and thick stuff, some of your expensive material clothing just does not hold up. Trust me on that one as I learned the hard way.

And for range with a bow, your range will be any distance you can consistently put three arrows in a 6" circle in practice, minus 10 yds because pressure in the woods decreases that range. That has always been my rule of thumb.


This I like. Especially the vertical/lateral line advice.


Except for ticks. I stay out of the woods when the ticks are out. But I like to go hunting shed antlers in the spring. It's good to know the land you're hunting like the back of your hand. The land I hunt on is semi public, as in it's open to the residents of my town. But only myself and two old geezers hunt there, and I know them well, and I know where their tree stands are, and they know where I am.


Ticks are a recent phenomenon here. I swear I spent my entire youth and up until now in the woods and never saw a tick until the the past five years. Now they are awful, my buddy did an experiment where he put on some khaki pants and walked across a small field. He had 37 ticks on him.


If we have a warm winter, I have to take my hunting clothes off in the yard and lay them out in the sun after turkey hunting here. Then I get my wife to check my hairline just to be sure. They are terrible without a cold snap to cut them down.