Still-hunting isn’t about being still at all. It’s about being on the move, watching, listening and stalking. But the idea is to be as quiet as when you are completely still.
In the modern world, efficiency and speed are king. It can be hard to let go of this mantra. But still-hunting demands it. Each step you take must be deliberate. Look ahead and follow the path of least resistance. Watch out for noise hazards like dead twigs, dry leaves or crunchy ice. Take only one or two steps at a time, then take a moment to scan your surroundings. Remember to use all your senses - sometimes you will hear deer before seeing them.
Every time you move a handful of steps, new habitat will be revealed. Use your binoculars to search every inch of the newly visible valleys, hills, or tree lines. Deer are masters of blending in and often just a small flick of the ear or turn of the head will expose them, if you are looking closely that is.
When you’re sure you’ve looked everything over carefully—look again. After not seeing anything for a while, you’ll likely get anxious to start moving quicker, and if you drop your guard at all, you’ll quickly make a misstep. You can stand for several minutes between each step before advancing. It just makes it easier for you to detect movement.
When you’re moving at such a slow pace, you could have deer approach you from any direction. Part of the reason for carefully scanning your environment is so you remember what everything looks like. Just a quick glance at something you’ve seen before will tell you if anything is different.
Lots of times you will unknowingly flush a deer and it will circle back behind you. Deer don’t like being pushed out of their home range, so they will trick you into thinking they are running away, but many times they just run in a big circle to get back to where they were.
When you see a deer and it doesn’t know you are there, your heart will be pounding. Remind yourself to move slow and methodical in order to set yourself up for a clear shot. If there was ever a time to rush, this is not it.
If you startled a deer and it’s running off, whistle or yell “hey!” Sometimes deer will stop to look at what is making the noise. You won’t have long – maybe a few seconds. But if you’re lucky, they will stand broadside and focus on you for a moment. This is your chance. It won’t work all the time, but it’s always worth a shot.