Still hunting is a term often misunderstood by the novice. Basically, it is merely a form of hunting in which one or two hunters move over a roughly predetermined course through a likely area. It is quiet hunting as compared to the noise and bustle of the organized drive.
On the basis of the return in venison, it may prove less productive than the drive, under some circumstances. On the other hand, it can be practiced in a country where the terrain makes a drive impossible or impractical.
Watch Method in Still Hunting
It is, however, productive of far greater pleasure to the average hunter. In the first place, the still hunter is hunting all the time, whereas in the driving method much time is lost in the organization, assembly of hunters, posting of standers, and lining up of drivers. It is, in every sense, a greater challenge to your skill as a hunter.
Areas are important
The easiest method of still hunting whitetails and the one that often produces a satisfactory result is the watching technique. In this, the hunter locates a vantage point overlooking an area where deer would naturally pass and takes up a reasonably comfortable position.
This method is most productive during the early morning and late afternoon. Unless the area is being stirred up to some extent by other hunters, it rarely pays off during the period between 9:00 A.M. and 4:00 P.M.
Hunting in the terrain with equipment
It is not at all a haphazard method, for its effective use calls for a knowledge of the area, the terrain, and the feeding, resting, and traveling habits of the local deer. You just need proper hunting equipment like an arrow, guns, bows, arrow rest equipment, proper scope, etc.
Also, it calls for more patience and immobility than many hunters can provide. It is necessary to remain still for several hours, regardless of discomforts.
Selecting the spot in the terrain
The spot selected for a watch should overlook a well-used deer runway if one can be located. Here again, familiarity with the terrain is important. If you know, for example, that the deer habitually cross Stony Brook at a certain point, or top Green Ridge just south of the power line, or move through Old
ManHankin's orchard at the northwest corner, then you are able to select your vantage point with the assurance of some reward. And don't neglect the wind. Take up your position at a spot where the wind will be blowing, even though at an angle, from the probable passage line of the deer to you.
Get information from local hunter
It may be that you can get the necessary information from local hunters or from companions who have hunted the area before. If you have made your own reconnaissance of the terrain in advance, you will not have to depend upon the possible inaccuracies of the others.
Deer are, to a large degree, creatures of habit. They move from the bedding ground to the feeding area late in the day and normally move from the feeding area to the bedding or resting area early in the morning.
Feeding area location
Once you have located the feeding area it should not be too difficult to find the trail they follow to the bedding ground. They may feed in old orchards, recently cut-over or burned-over land, overgrown forest fringes, and similar places where good browse is available.
Shelter areas may be laurel or rhododendron thickets, stands of young evergreens, alder runs, cedar swamps, or small patches of cover on a slope or just under a ridgeline. Often they connect the two areas with a well-defined trail or runway, and even a novice can determine from the condition of a runway whether it is being used currently or whether it is old.
Extremely slow, the calculated head movement is permissible, for without it you often find it impossible to cover the area properly. But your chance for a good shot depends upon the deer are not seeing you.
Last tips in still hunting: the watch method
Regardless of your alertness, there will be many occasions when a deer will approach as close as twenty or thirty feet from your position before you spot it. Often the movement that results from the surprise of this sudden appearance eliminates the opportunity for a shot. A few such experiences will help your determination to stay motionless.