Adam Scepaniak 08.19.23
As we creep closer and closer to fall hunting seasons with each passing day, we are continually looking for ways to prepare our gear and potentially switch up tactics for an even more successful season than last year. Two weeks ago we talked about a lot of the pros to hunting from a ground blind as well as the cons. Now, let’s take it one step further. How about still hunting? Slowly stalking your way through the woods like an outdoors ninja or patiently waiting for a whitetail deer to walk down a trail while you are simply hiding behind a tree at eye level. It can definitely be adrenaline-inducing and is a lost art that most modern hunters don’t have. If you want to have a new perspective this fall, it might be worth giving a try. Let’s walk through the positives and negatives to still hunting, and ground hunting whitetail deer – or other game animals – without a blind.
“Home on the Range” Series Coverage on AllOutdoor
Welcome to our reoccurring series of “Home on the Range.” Here, we would like to share all of our experiences for those who may be homesteading, living off the land, hunting, farming, ranching, and truly investing in nature and the great outdoors. The ability to provide for yourself and your family can be tremendously rewarding and simultaneously difficult at times. So, in “Home on the Range” we want to share our different exploits so you can learn and hopefully we can receive your feedback along the way as well.
Still Hunting – Ground Hunting Deer without a Blind
When it comes to still hunting that term can mean a couple things to different people. For some, it is actively walking, searching, and stalking. Slow, methodical, calculated movements through the forest hoping to sneak up on game. For others, it can mean simply hunting at ground level with no blind, no camouflage cloth, no stand, shelter, nothing. Just you out in nature trying to hide beside natural elements. If you’re a fidgety person or a loud-snacker, still hunting might not be for you. To be at eye level, you need ninja-esque patience, nerves, and stealth. You can’t be tapping your feet against a log playing with a crinkly Cheetos bag. That’s where hunting from ground blinds or elevated blinds can be handy because they will mask or hide a lot of your pensive movements.
- Less Gear – Still hunting not only requires less gear out in the woods, but it is a significantly lower financial investment as well. You simply need your bow, firearm, or musket plus the clothes on your back and a backpack if you so desire.
- More Mobile – We previously bragged about ground hunting with blinds as being mobile, but still hunting is even more mobile. You can get up and switch positions multiple times per hunt, or be actively stalking as previously mentioned.
- Get Exactly Where the Deer Are – If all of the deer movement near you is in a chopped cornfield with no good trees to hang a stand from and you don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb with a ground blind, then simply still hunting in the corn might be the right answer. Still hunting can get you closer to what you are hunting when stands and blinds aren’t getting it done.
So, as you can see there are a lot of benefits to giving this a try. It requires less gear (especially if you are just starting out), you can be more mobile if need be, and you can place yourself in areas that a blind/stand might not be feasible. Now, for the downsides to still hunting and working from ground level.
- You’re Exposed – Still hunting is called just that because you need to be utterly motionless – like a marble statue – because most wild game animals have amazing eye sight and they will see you. When you are in a blind, elevated stand, or hang-on treestand you are out of their line of sight; thus, you can get away with more fidgety movement. Plus, you’re exposed to the elements. All of the wind, cold, and rain you feel down to your bones. You might end your hunt early in inclement weather when you’re exposed as opposed to being in the shelter of a blind or box stand.
- Eye Level (Fart Level) – We already mentioned how being on the ground, exposed, and out in the open leaves the door open for you to be seen more easily, but what about smelled?… You’ll regret that gas station burrito really quick when still hunting. Clean, odor-free clothes will be a must and you will want to not eat any… “stomach upsetting food”… before you head out into the field.
- Guessing Game – When people position stands and blinds there usually is a reason to the madness. It is on a heavily-frequented trail or food source. When people start unpredictably squatting down in a cornfield waiting for Da Turdy Point Buck, there is less rhyme and reason. Both to the decision-making in your chosen spot and the deer. So, as desirable as it might be to become the next Deer Ninja, you can get outsmarted just as easily with this tactic as with any other.
Final Thoughts on Still Hunting
When it comes to still hunting it can be feast-or-famine. If your hunting tactics and scenery is getting stale, give it a try! That is typically my motto. Whenever I feel like game animals are eluding me and I want to “pull one over on them” – because they can get used to our movements, too – I will try still hunting and working from the ground. I most often do this with wild turkeys because they frequently are like patterning cats; its chaos. It can also pay dividends for whitetail deer hunting as well. Do you have a big bruiser of a buck bedded down in a cornfield? Try and spot-and-stalk them through the corn by still hunting. It could just be the thing you need to outsmart an old, smart buck. Simply, food for thought. As always, let us know all of your thoughts in the Comments below! We always appreciate your feedback.
All of the quality photography for this article was completed by Savannah Pierson of Savvy Photage. She is an expert in her field and her assistance in creating engaging photography and content is greatly appreciated.