Make a Plan
Every hunt needs to start with a hunting strategy. Before you go to the woods or leave camp, you need to have a plan for the way you intend to hunt that day. You aren’t sure what type of hunting strategy to use? Here are the 7 strategies we use to be successful. Each strategy has it’s own purpose and preparation process.
- Still Hunting
- Ground Blinds
- Elevated Stand
- Game Calling
Still hunting is simply moving through the animals habitat stealthily and stopping frequently to listen and observe. You are trying to spot the animal before it spots you. This means that you will move slowly and often stand in one position for extended periods.
This hunting strategy is a great way to hunt a new area for the first time. We use this strategy to learn where the animals sleep, eat and drink. As you move slowly through the animals habit, you should take a mental inventory of these important parts of their habitat.
When you still hunt, you should consider your silhouette and always try to keep a low profile. I always try to stand in front of a bush or tree allowing it to break up my human outline. Many people will stop behind the bush for cover, but this limits your shooting opportunities.
When you are stalking game, you are following signs of a particular animal or you are closing the distance on an animal you have already spotted. A stalk could start when you find a fresh track in the snow or spot the animal laying under a tree across the canyon.
This hunting strategy requires that you pay attention to the elements. In most cases you will need to consider the wind direction and terrain as you stalk the animal. Take time to consider your approach before closing the distance.
While stalking you should always be alert, looking for other animals that could ruin your approach on the desired animal. Patients is often the formula of a successful stalk.
Posting is the act of sitting or standing in one location for a long period of time. You may know where animals like to travel through or visit regularly, but an elevated stand or shooting blind is not practical.
When posting and awaiting game animals, you should be in a comfortable shooting position with a rest. You should also have a pair of binoculars to scan the terrain.
Give yourself the best chance for success by learning how to judge the distance to your target or carry a range finder when it is legal. Posting often offers you the element of surprise which gives you a chance to take your time when taking the shot.
A ground blind is a structure on the ground designed to conceal you while waiting for animals. The covering could be a man made structure of synthetic materials like nylon or plastic. These type of blinds will need to be removed at the end of hunting season. Usually we will construct a blind from the natural materials around the location we want to hunt. We use the branches and old logs found laying nearby.
A ground blind is something that should be constructed or placed many days before a hunt to limit noise and human activity. You will be limited to the blind while awaiting approaching animals, so consider wind direction and shooting lanes when placing the structure.
I also suggest placing markers in your shooting lanes to help you quickly judge the distance to the animal. Markers are usually pieces of ribbons that mark designated yardages. These yardage markers give you a quick reference when it’s time to shoot at the animal. I also recommend doing this when shooting from an elevated stand which we will cover next.
Hunting from an elevated stand gives you the ability to see over obstacles and avoid the animals normal line of sight. This type of hunting is restrictive though in the sense that you are fixed at one location. You must wait for the animals to approach your effective shooting range.
Elevated stand hunting is a great way to hunt animal travel corridors in thicker cover. Always be aware of the dominant wind directions when placing an elevated stand. Consider where you expect animals to approach your shooting lanes.
Lastly with elevated stands, you must always inspect them for any excess wear or needed repair. And never sit in an elevated stand without the proper fall protection device.
An educated hunter knows the sounds of his prey. Whether it is the bugle of the bull elk, the grunt of a whitetail deer or the gobble of a strutting turkey. Knowing the sounds and what they mean can make all the difference when hunting.
You can use game calling to locate, entice or pursue game animals. There are mating calls and fighting calls and many other interesting sounds. Learn what the different sounds are for the animal you are hunting and their typical response to certain sounds.
Game calling can be challenging to learn and master, but the reward is amazing. When you can mimic the sounds of a wild animal and convince it that you are an animal also, that is a true achievement.
Even if you don’t feel you are a good game caller, it is important to learn all the sounds of the animal you are hunting. Knowing the sounds of your prey is a skill every hunter should develop.
Driving is the act of using one hunter or more to push animals to another hunter or group of hunters that are posting.
You must first find an area you believe the animals are bedding or hiding within. The posting hunters need to find locations outside the area you plan to drive where they expect animals to travel when they leave the cover. It is important that the hunters that are posting are aware of all other hunters locations. They must plan their shooting lanes so they will not be shooting in the direction of other hunters.
After the posting hunters are set, the driving hunters spread apart and walk through the cover headed in the direction of the posting hunters. The drivers try to encourage animals to move in the direction of the posting hunters. I prefer that the drivers talk loudly with each other so that everyone is aware of their location throughout the drive.
This hunting style requires some planning and everyone needs to stick to the plan. It is best to have about 6 hunters. Usually the animals will be running when they leave the cover, so have a call you can make that could cause the animal to stop out of curiosity. But be ready to shoot because they may not stop for very long.
Use What Works for You
Understanding the different hunting strategies and when to use them will increase your success as a hunter. Some strategies you may find work better for you than others. Don’t feel you need to use all of them.
But when you are planning your next hunt, consider each hunting strategy and how you could apply it to the hunt. You may find yourself discovering new ways to hunt the same area. Changing strategies can change results.