One thing hunters will always disagree on and continue to learn about are techniques for successfully hunting game. Everyone has a specific way they like to hunt, and the beauty of the sport is that nothing is necessarily wrong as long as it works and is an ethical way to hunt game.
While there’s always something new to learn or discover, there are some basic hunting tactics that all hunters should know and learn. Here are nine basic techniques all hunters should know.
When still hunting, you walk slowly and quietly through a hunting area. You want to stop often to survey the area. Stop for different amounts of time to scan and listen for game. You need to use both your ears and eyes to identify game.
You want to spend more time standing still than you do walking. Much more time. In fact, it’s recommended you spend 10 times longer standing still than you do moving. If you move too often, you’ll alert game to your position and not have a good opportunity for a shot.
This type of hunting is effective for both large and small game. It’s an excellent choice if you don’t know the terrain well, and want to learn the landscape as you hunt.
Stalking is similar to still hunting in some ways, but it involves following indicators that lead you to game. The indicators may include tracks, animal sounds, smells, and droppings among other things. Through your stalking, you locate the quarry and get close enough to make the kill.
Stalking is a skill that takes time to become proficient in. You have to learn the signs a quarry leaves behind, remember to stay downwind, and learn to be patient, quiet, and alert at all times.
You don’t want to spook the animal before you get a chance to take a shot. Stalking is one of the harder hunting tactics, but it’s also one of the most rewarding.
Posting is a good technique when you have a spot in a hunting area that offers you a good view of an area where you know game passes through, or a location that allows you to survey a large portion of the hunting area.
When posting, bring a small seat of some kind with you. You can always sit on the ground, a rock, or fallen tree, but you’re probably going to be at that one specific spot for a while, so it makes sense to have a comfortable seat to sit on.
When posting, make sure you dress for the cold. With still hunting and stalking you’re moving around a little, and that can help keep you warm. While posting, you don’t move, and you tend to get cold faster. That means you need to make sure to wear plenty of layers to protect yourself from the elements.
Ground blinds are small, temporary structures designed to conceal a hunter from their quarry while they’re posting. They can be homemade or purchased as a commercially manufactured product or kit.
Regardless, of the type of construction, they need to match the terrain in terms of camouflage in order to best conceal the hunter. A ground blind should be positioned downwind and away from the sun.
It’s also smart to place the ground blind in the hunting spot well ahead of the time you actually plan to hunt. That way deer and other animals passing through or living in the area will get used to it sitting there.
Another option is to place the blind closer to the time you plan to hunt but do a good job concealing and camouflaging it so animals don’t notice it.
When many people think of deer hunting, they automatically think of an elevated stand. These stands are exactly what they sound like—a stationary position for the hunter that’s high up.
They serve to give the hunter a good view and conceal them from game. Most have a seat for the hunter because of the long duration of time they will spend in the stand.
There are generally two types of stands: tree stands and tower stands. Tree stands use a tree in the hunting area as part of the support for the stand and are often temporary. Tower stands are free-standing structures designed for the specific purpose of hunting. They’re typically more permanent structures.
Using a game call is a way to attract your quarry to you. Game calls are used while practicing one of the techniques listed above. Calls can work well when you’re stationary or using a ground blind or elevated stand, but they can also be used when still hunting or stalking
There are a wide variety of calls out there for just about any type of quarry from squirrels to upland birds to whitetail and mule deer. Game calls can be used to attract game you can’t see yet, or you can help draw in quarry you know is there but just out of range or hidden from view.
Though some people don’t care for the technique for ethical concerns and some states don’t allow it (make sure to check your state’s regulations before attempting), driving is effective for a wide variety of game species. In order to do it, you must have a group of hunters.
When you’re driving, part of the group becomes the “drivers” while the other part takes the role of the “posters.” Their roles are pretty self-explanatory.
The posters post up at the opposite end and to the sides of the hunting ground from the drivers. The drivers walk through the hunting ground with the intention of driving game out of cover and towards the posters. The posters then take the shot when the quarry gets within range.
With this type of hunting, you have to communicate well. Every member of the hunting party must know where the other members are. To help with this, all members of the group must wear plenty of blaze orange hunting gear.
Flushing can be done in a group, by yourself, or with a dog. It’s when you use noise and movement to get an animal to leave cover. This is an excellent technique to use when hunting rabbits and upland birds like pheasant.
When flushing, you want to concentrate your efforts on bushes, brush piles, and other terrain or debris that might make a good cover for your quarry.
When flushing, you should try to vary your pace through an area and stop occasionally. This can make the quarry believe it has been discovered even if it hasn’t. If you just power through an area, the game may not move and assume you’re just passing by.
Flushing with Dogs
Another way to flush is with dogs. The dogs do much of the work of actually probing cover areas for the game, allowing you to keep an eye out for any quarry that breaks cover.
When hunting with dogs, it’s important to keep track of where the dog is (we recommend an orange collar or vest for your dog). It also helps to have a well-trained dog.
Poorly trained hunting dogs will flush animals out of range, chase close behind animals after they break cover, and mangle the animal after you shoot it while retrieving it. Hunting different game requires a dog with the specific training for that quarry.
How do you like to hunt? How does it vary from place to place or season to season? Leave a comment below.