Stalk or Stand What Will You Do When Hunting Deer?

Stalk or Stand What Will You Do When Hunting Deer?

J. Wayne Fears
J. Wayne Fears

Pottstown PA –-( On each day you hunt deer, the strategy you choose often will determine whether you spot a deer.

For instance, although tree stand hunting has revolutionized the sport of deer hunting, it may not produce the best results in every situation.

Let’s look at several hunting scenarios, and decide which technique works best for each. We’ll evaluate your best chance for seeing a buck based on a) stalk hunting; b) hunting from a ground blind; c) hunting from a tree stand; or, d) all three tactics. Deer season has ended across much of the country but is still going strong in the South.

The Rut during the Rain
a). Stalk – Once the rut begins, and rain pours down throughout the night and then tapers-off shortly before or at daylight, that’s when you need to stalk-hunt deer. The wet ground will help you to stalk quietly. This factor, combined with a gentle breeze, will provide ideal stalk-hunting conditions. Bucks excitedly chase the objects of their affection during the rut, focusing their attention on estrous does rather than the eager hunters on the property. List the places where you’ve encountered does prior to the rut, stalk slowly and quietly to those sites, and then wait and watch for 10 to 15 minutes before moving to the next location. As you stalk the doe hotspots one after another, you’ll move along the same trails the bucks will use in pursuit of their ladies.

big buck
Stalk or Stand What Will You Do When Hunting Deer?

A 2- Or a 3-Year-Old Clear Cut
a). Stalk – When you find trails running into a 2 – or a 3-year-old clear cut that has a creek or a drainage ditch running through it, hunt on foot. Wade through the creek into the clear cut, and enter the area from its downwind side. Although the creek’s water will cover the sound of your movements, you still may spook a buck. Always carry a grunt call. Then, if you jump a buck, you can blow the call, and often a buck will return. If the deer doesn’t see you but hears your movement through the water, the grunt may fool him into believing another buck has entered his territory. He may return to investigate 10 to 15 minutes after hearing your grunt call, allowing you the chance to get off a shot. Visit to learn more about my book, “How to Hunt Clear Cuts Successfully.”

Flooded Timber
a). Stalk or c). Tree Stand – As winter rains fall, many creeks and rivers overflow their banks, sending deer to ridges and high spots out in the flooded timber. Then tree stands or stalking both will pay buck dividends. When stalking, wear hip-high or chest-high waders, a headnet and gloves. Move slowly in the water. Staying in the water means you’ll move quieter than you will on land and reduces your threat to the deer, since they don’t expect danger to come from the water. The water also helps to eliminate your odor to keep you from spooking a deer. To hunt from a tree stand, find a trail used by deer to cross the water, perhaps an underwater ridge or a beaver dam. Wade into the water downwind from the trail. With a climbing tree stand, position yourself as high as you feel comfortable climbing. During the winter when the leaves have fallen, your best view will come if you climb high. Scan the water’s edge for deer on the move, confident that deer won’t look out over the water for you.

Deer in the Snow
c). Tree Stand – When you discover a buck track in snow country that leads into thick cover, climb into a tree stand, and set-up as far away from that thick cover as you feel comfortable that you can make an accurate shot for the best hunting action. You may pinpoint a thick-cover region, perhaps not more than 40 yards in circumference, and often located in the middle of the field. The buck hiding inside this safety zone can see and hear from all directions. When you attempt to stalk that region, the buck often will spot you and flee. If you can’t target the thick cover from above, approach the area from downwind well before daylight. Reach the thicket before the buck returns from his nightly feeding, and then you may take him.

The Rut during Dry Weather
c). Tree Stand – In extremely-dry weather, you can hear the leaves crack as bucks chase does through the woods. Climb high above the forest floor to see long distances and to hear well.

No strategy always works every time. Always consider the wind, and carry a grunt tube with you to call out-of-range bucks to you. Match your hunting methods to terrain, weather conditions and the deer’s breeding seasons. Don’t only stand or only stalk for the most success.

To learn more about J. Wayne Fears’ new book, “The Ultimate Deer Hunter’s and Land Manager’s Pocket Reference,” visit Also, to see more scenarios and learn more about whether to stalk or stand in various hunting situations, go to

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