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Hunting Whitetail Deer on Foot


Taking Whitetail Bucks on foot is possible but takes certain skills and knowledge of deer habits.


A hunter should not follow a deer trail directly, but should move in the direction of the trail, crossing it at intervals in wide, long, winding swings.  This allows them to intercept suspicious bucks that fishhooks or circles to look back. 


A productive technique when two hunters are working together is for one hunter to move along 15 to 20 yards to one side of the tracks while the other parallels him much farther out on the other side (25 to 125 yards) depending on forest/vegetation density.  When the wind is crossing, the wider hunter should be on the upwind side.  The hunter closest to the trail may catch an unsuspecting buck, but most likely the buck will move upwind, coming into view of the other hunter.


If there are three hunters, one walks the deer trail and the other two parallel him, far out on each side.  This is also used when hunting long ridges.


Hunters that like to hunt from foot have to be patient and skillful and are often referred to as a still hunter.  They may not get more than two hundred yards in a half-hour.  The walking hunter must pause, look, and listen more than he walks.  He also wants to walk like a browsing animal would, by taking a few unevenly timed steps, waiting, and then taking a few more steps.  A deer, like other animals, recognize a steady, rhythmical pace as human.


Always walk with any wind in your face or blowing at an angle that pushes your scent behind you.  The most alluring deer scents don’t seem to attract deer but they help mask the human odor.  The hearing of the whitetail is acutely attuned to high-pitched sounds like that of a cough, a snapping twig, sling swivels, or other loose metal pieces on your body.


Deer Drives


Between six and a dozen men are needed to perform successful drives of 40 acres and more.  This is the best approach for hunting swamps, brushy areas, heavy downfall areas, etc.  The standers move to an area downwind or on a higher area and spread out.  Ideally, they would take tree stands for a position, allowing them a greater view of approaching deer and the other hunters.


The pushers or drivers take a position on the opposite end of the designated area that is to be flushed.  At the far end they spread out to cover the entire area to be pushed.  With the wind at their back, their scent is caught by the deer as they move through.  If the breeze is right, a whitetail may smell a hunter at a third of a mile.  The drivers should walk quietly and steadily towards the standers.  One man, stationed near the middle of the pack, should be designated to give a prearranged signal (usually raising his arm) to begin and end the drive.


Quiet drives give standers a better opportunity for a shot at a walking or trotting deer.  Noisy drives push deer to escape the area at top speed (about 35 mph) leaving the stander only a quick look.


Happy hunting!

Wisconsin Hunting Preserve

Wisconsin Hunting Preserve

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