While it is of upmost importance to familiarise yourself with your hunting equipment before heading out into the field, it is the techniques and knowledge learned through many hours of practice that sets you up for a successful stalk. Read the full article on shooting practice here
Here are five top deer stalking tips to help you achieve success when out stalking any deer species.
Read The Wind
Your scent will carry a long way with a strong wind, so it is essential that you use the wind direction to your advantage wherever possible. Carry a small bottle of chalk which when squeezed, gives off a very faint plume of powder. This allows you to immediately read the wind so that you can stalk into it and not give your position away.
If you don’t have a chalk bottle, a few blades of grass thrown up into the air will let you see which directions it’s blowing.
Concealment is Key
Often the first thing you see when someone is walking by the side of a wood is their face and hands. Many hunters forget to cover these areas, yet it is easily solved by using camouflage.
Deer can identify the body as a dark outline against the trees and surrounding foliage. Many hunters believe that when out deer stalking it is advantageous to break-up this shape up using camouflage. Although many skilled deer stalkers are able to approach their quarry to within a few metres without it, in reality have a greater chance of stalking closer to the deer you’re pursuing if you break up your outline with camouflage clothing. Watch our video on essential stalking equipment here
Deer stalking requires stealth, patience and control. Walk heel to toe, slowly rounding your foot as the weight transfers to avoid snapping twigs or crunching dried leaves or other vegetation. The goal for hunters is to make as little noise as possible with precise steps. As you cover terrain, stay focused and keep your head up and eyes open for antlers, tracks, graze and browse signs, bedding and any movement or other signs of life. These can be as small as the blink of an eye, once your eyes are trained and attention is honed.
All movement should be deliberate, slow and small. Be positive in which direction you are stalking and move with caution. Feel the ground with your feet before placing your whole weight on the ground. There’s nothing more frustrating when deer hunting than stalking in close to you quarry only for it to be spooked with an errant snapped twig.
Keep your eyes on your quarry, and feel your way over the ground with your feet. If you are about to gently put your foot down and feel a twig, you can do something about it, but if you’re committed you may have miss your opportunity.
Move at the Right Time
Only move when the deer is pre-occupied, such as when it drops its head to graze or paying attention to others in the herd that is your cue to move. This is also a good sign that the deer is relaxed and not aware of an alien presence. Keep a watch on the deer and when it looks up, stop. It is simple but you would be surprised at the number of hunters that forget this concept. Of course, there are the eyes you can see, but potentially many more that you can’t. Sometimes excitable hunters can be so preoccupied at the sight of a deer grazing on a woodland margin that they don’t see the others stood just inside the shade of the wood.
Make Yourself Smaller
Turing yourself to the side (even slightly) during the final approach can offer deer stalkers a clear advantage. The visible area of your body effectively reduces and there is less for the deer to see. This combined with the fact that you may be wearing camouflage clothing, gloves and a facemask will break up your outline and you have become significantly more difficult for the deer to see.
Read more technical hunting tips and advice from Hawke here
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