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Spot and Stalk Hunting for Deer by Trial and Error

Travis Leier | Mossy Oak ProStaff

spot and stalk bowhunting


The first time I went bowhunting I really didn’t know what to expect, but I had spent all summer long shooting my bow and trying to learn how to judge distance. Finally, I had enough confidence that I could take a deer out to 40 yards, and that I could get within a yard or two of accurately guessing the distance.

The place I was hunting had an abundance of heavy cover and a small opening through which I could shoot. The timber was oak and ash, and this spot had numbers of fallen trees there. No one ever walked down in the coolie on the edge of the field at the bottom of a very steep drop-off. The coolie probably ran for about 100 yards across the bottom. 

My dad had told me about the spot and knew it from one end to the other. In years past, he and his friends used man drives to push whitetails out of this coolie. He told me about the trails the deer used to come into and out of the field. 

I have come to have a better appreciation for spot-and-stalk hunting. My friend D.J. Randolph and I went to western North Dakota, and D.J. was using the spot-and-stalk technique to take a mule deer. In 2007, I had an antelope hunt in western North Dakota, and I had a blast spotting and stalking. So, in 2017, I tried to use some spot-and-stalk techniques to hunt this big buck that would score 170 inches plus, since I knew where he usually showed up.

During the 2017 season, once I began hunting from the ground, I’d get behind a bush and rattle and grunt and wait to see what whitetails would respond. If I didn’t see any bucks after about 30 minutes, I’d move to another spot and use my same rattling and grunting. In 2017, I had a very nice 4x4 (an 8-pointer by eastern standards) that I would have taken. But he came in about 60 yards downwind of me, and I could tell by his body posture he was thinking, “Something doesn’t smell exactly right here.” So, he backed away from me and slowly walked away.

After hunting early season using this spot-and-stalk method I’d learned from hunting antelope in western North Dakota, I now know that spotting and stalking doesn’t work very well in the heavily-timbered places I hunt at home. I also have realized that since I didn’t take my one buck of the year that I legally could harvest, I’ll have to hunt in some of the coldest times of the year. So, I’m hunting from ground blinds, instead of tree stands. But I still had rather hunt with a bow than hunt with a gun - even if the weather is really cold and windy.

Travis Leier of Velva, North Dakota, has been hunting whitetails for 21 years and has been a Mossy Oak ProStaffer for over a year.

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