If you follow a few basic principles, you’ll find stalking an effective means of hunting with your CVA rifles and muzzleloaders:
* Change your mindset, and slow down. In most areas of life, we believe the faster we go, the more we’ll get. But you won’t find that necessarily true, especially as that philosophy applies to hunting. To take more deer, you have to see more deer. To do that, you have to slow down. Even though you may not see any deer in the first few minutes of your stalk, you still may not have stalked in the wrong place. You may be stalking too fast and not seeing what’s around you. * Remember the 50-percent rule, which means you’ll see 50-percent more of the woods with each and every step you take. Study the area as if looking for a needle in a haystack. Search for a deer’s leg sticking out from behind a tree, the small black circle of its eyes, the white of its ears, the parallel line about 3-1/2- or 4-feet off the ground of its back or its white antler tips – no bigger than the tip of your pinkie finger. These give-away indicators will tell you you’ve located a deer.
* Time your stalk. Most hunters can’t stalk effectively, because they don’t slow down. They can’t adjust their bodies to the right pace. I pace myself by first deciding how far I want to travel in a given time. For example, if I want to cover 50 yards in 30 minutes, I’ll pick out a spot – a tree, a bush or some other type of landmark – in the woods and pace myself. If I make my halfway point before 15 minutes have passed, I wait at that spot and study the woods in that immediate area. Then, I’ll head for my target again. I can control my stalking speed by designating landmarks and monitoring my pace to them.
Why Stalk To Your Stand:
Stalk hunting carefully means you won’t spook your game or the squirrels, birds or other animals in the area before you reach your stand site. Many still and stand hunters often don’t take deer, because they make too much noise walking to their stands and spook the deer they hope to bag. If you’ll slow down and stalk to and away from your stand site, you’ll not spook anything in the area and may likely see the deer you want to harvest.
Why Watch Your Back Trail:
During the middle of deer season in Alabama, my home state, one year, James Smith and I drove deep into the woods before first light. After we parked where we always parked, Smith stayed in the truck to catch a short nap. I waited 5 minutes before getting out of the car and slowly stalking toward my stand site. At 20-minutes after daylight, I’d only gone 75-yards from my vehicle. I looked back at the truck, the road and the briars beyond the road and spotted a flash of white just behind the briars and not 30-yards from the truck. But I couldn’t decide what I’d seen. Using my binoculars, I looked into the briar patch behind the truck. A fat 6-point buck apparently had fed down the briars on the edge of the road and stood staring at the truck. As I brought my .50 caliber CVA rifle up to my shoulder and braced against a small sapling, I saw the 6 point slowly duck his head, turn and begin to sneak away from the truck toward a small creek, about 20-yards from the briar patch. The buck stopped to prepare to jump the creek, and I fired. The buck went down, came back up and stumbled again before finally falling. When I saw the buck fall, I also heard a racket from the truck.
Smith jumped out of the truck with his gun in hand, ready to defend himself from whatever had startled him. Spotting me, he said, “What are you doing? You almost scared me to death. You’re going to run all the deer in the woods off, just shooting to wake me up.” I smiled and slowly walked back to the truck. Then, I told Smith I’d been deer hunting and would appreciate his helping me drag my buck to the truck. When we walked through the briars to where the 6 point laid, Smith said, “I can’t believe you took a deer this close to the truck. There’s no way that deer could have been that close, heard us drive in and park and still not get spooked. I think you went and shot this buck somewhere else and dragged it here just to wake me up.” But once I showed Smith the short blood trail from the briars to where the deer fell, he had to believe my story, unbelievable as it may have seemed.
Generally you’ll find older-age class bucks where you least expect to encounter them when hunting with your muzzleloader. During daylight hours, deer can hold safely in an area where hunters park, because the hunters rarely hunt there. Hunters think the noise from opening and closing doors and talking and walking to stand sites spook deer. However, mature bucks have become so accustomed to these sounds and have learned this area is safe, since these sounds mean the hunters will leave that region soon. Often still and stalk hunters make the mistake of looking only ahead of them, rather than also behind and around them. Don’t forget to study the 50-percent more of the woods you get with each step.