As it usually does, the conversation at work this week turned to hunting. One of the men in the conversation looked up and said with all seriousness, “with the price of corn this year I don’t think I can afford to feed. I might have to back to hunting like I did 20 years ago.”
I have a feeling that there will be a lot of hunters doing that this year. With corn prices almost double what they were this time last year, and the economy continuing it’s abysmal pace many hunters will barely be able to afford their lease fees, much less buy corn to feed fill the feeders. Since feeder-less hunting will be a first time experience for most I thought it would be a good idea to cover a few of the basics to hunting as a refresher course for those who have spent the last 20 years sitting in a box guarding corn.
First, find natural food sources. There may not be much out there since rain has been scarce but there will be a preferred natural food source that the deer are hitting.
Second, don’t be afraid to become mobile. Ladder stands, box stands, and pop-up ground blinds are nice but mean you only see deer that come by a single specific spot on your lease. If you set up on an active trail this is fine but when the deer aren’t moving you’ll be stuck looking at a big sack of nothing all day. Instead of sitting, take the time to work on your still hunting skills and sneak slowly down trails leading from one feeding area to another. The deer will have to be on the move to find food, you should be too.
The key to still hunting is speed, or rather a lack of speed. Walk as slowly as possible, then slow down some more.
While walking at a mind numbingly slow pace look all around you for pieces of a deer. It is very rare that you will see the entire body of a deer while hunting. Most of the time you’ll see the twitch of an ear, horizontal lines of a back, flick of a tail, or a single eye watching you from behind a screen of brush.
More than ever, if you have water on your place it will attract deer. Setting up on a waterhole can be a highly productive way to spend an afternoon.
It is possible to kill deer without corn in their mouths; you just might have to work a little harder to do it.