Yet hunting may be one of the most misunderstood terms in the sports vernacular. Then again, can you blame anyone for assuming that the phrase “always on the hunt” literally means sitting in a tree or blind?
Contrary to the semantics, however, hunting always involves nearly constant movement – sometimes stalking slowly in the wind; other times immobile, only moving their eyes to fully immerse themselves in the landscape.
The Oxford Language website defines stalk hunting as “hunting game by stealth; hunt down. Another website, called Hunter-ed, identifies it as “stealth walking through an animal’s habitat – sometimes for long periods of time – to scan and listen for game.”
And, just to be clear, hunting still has nothing to do with that exasperated call from a spouse a week at deer camp, “Honey, are you still hunting?”
All kidding aside, this method of hunting takes effort. So why, in this modern age of high-tech tree stands and pop-up blinds, would anyone still want to hunt in the first place? Why waste energy scrambling up hills, freezing your fingers and toes, and giving up that sacred deer hunter’s nap after lunch?
For starters, going mono-y-mano with a cunning whitetail deer embodies the American philosophy of deer hunting in its most austere form. After all, what’s more appealing than heading to the range and executing an ethical, well-aimed shot? It all looks so simple in print, but it’s a tall order and harder than it looks. Ask anyone who has tried. The truth is, hunting always requires expert carpentry, a plethora of patience, and a healthy dose of providence.
Success starts with using the wind to your advantage. Even a novice wouldn’t try to step on a downwind deer. It’s just not possible, no matter how much unscented soap you’ve lathered on or how many activated charcoal clothes you’re wearing. Mammals – including Homo sapiens – constantly emit odors through sweating, breathing, and shedding dead skin and hair. Until now, no one has developed a magic product that completely omits this process, and until then, fragrance will always play a role.
To the frustration of many hopeful hunters, deer possess an uncommon sense of smell. According to researchers at Mississippi State University, a white-tailed deer’s olfactory ability is 500 to 1,000 times better than a human’s and 30 percent more efficient than a deer’s bird dog. . If Fido can detect game birds from 50 yards away, it’s no surprise that the lingering aroma of spicy hunter sticks and last night’s cigar are deadly gifts for any white-tailed deer looking to keep their fillets intact.
Same for the sound. Besides a superior sense of smell, white-tailed deer possess acute auditory defenses. In other words, they quickly detect any unusual noises. Swishy nylon clothing is a certified showstopper. The same goes for squeaky strap mounts or clinking coins in pockets. And arm the dog with a lever-action rifle? Game over. Believe me, I saw this one play in real time.
Woolen clothes are revolutionary. While it won’t fix metallic squeaks or rattles, this natural miracle fabric is warm, quiet, and retains minimal odor. And besides, nothing says “I’m a serious deer hunter” like a traditional buffalo check hunting costume.
But what about the quasi-x-ray vision of a white-tailed deer? Remember that venison has been on the menu since the dawn of time and deer must have developed an acute ability to detect unnatural movements. To mitigate this defense mechanism, one must move slowly, in synchronization with the rhythm of the woods.
How slow? Think Rip-Van-Winkle, watch-watch-your-beard-push the beat. An old hunter I once knew said it best: “If it seems slow enough, cut your speed in half.”
In shot hunting, we can (partially) level the playing field by paying close attention to a few factors, like walking into the wind, dressing in quiet clothing, and moving slowly and deliberately through the woods. All things considered, though, one of the biggest benefits of the Stationary Hunter War Bag is using the contours of the terrain to avoid detection.
Hills and valleys prevent deer from seeing or hearing hunters and greatly decrease the human scent factor. Each climb and descent in altitude is almost like a new episode. Approach each peak with caution, exposing only your eyes. Scan for a few minutes before moving forward. You will be surprised at what you see and what you don’t. Most of the deer I have shot while hunting have never been aware of my presence.
Speaking of shooting, rifle rigs are important, but probably not as much as most people think. Honestly, any accurate setup will do – assuming it’s been checked on the range and (ideally) previous hunts. I prefer a traditional lever action with iron sights for quick target acquisition and simplified carrying.
Sniper rifles work too, but remember, these aren’t ad hoc binoculars. The last thing you need is to check something that looks like a deer to discover a human hunter in the crosshairs.
Hunting may not be the easiest method of filling the freezer with venison, but it’s how our ancestors preferred to harvest meat, and it’s still one of the most rewarding and engaging tactics. in a whitetail hunter’s arsenal.