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Eye To Eye Bucks


Over the past several years there has been an increase of interest in portable ground blinds. While they have their purpose and place – especially when its raining. Hunting bucks from the ground is one of the most effective and addictive methods of hunting.

During the treestand era, whitetail deer hunters all across the country have all but forgotten how to hunt from the ground. A generation ago, every deer killed was killed from the ground. No one ever thought of hunting elevated. While there is no doubt hunting elevated is very effective, deer have evolved to looking up for danger more than just a few years ago making it more difficult to harvest deer.

Just this past weekend, I was hunting a great travel corridor when a young buck appeared, I knew immediately I wasn’t going to shoot, so I just enjoyed the show. As I watched the buck, I was making mental notes of his body language, his movements, how he reacted to natural sounds etc. As he approached completely upwind of me, I say motionless twenty five feet above him. He moved and fed to within eighteen yards when for seemingly no reason, he looked up directly at me. I never moved, but after a few seconds he left the area in a hurry. While I cannot say that he wouldn’t have seen me from the ground, it points out how even young deer have learned to look up for danger. While I do not believe he knew what I was, he just knew something wasn’t right.

When hunting from the ground there are a few methods you can employ. One is to use natural vegetation as a blind. In this scenario, I prefer finding trails that are skirting a large blown down tree. When this scenario is present, I set up in and among the tree limbs, a comfortable seat (with back support) and I can sit there for hours. Make sure the tree is large enough to hide your outline, clear out all debris on the ground beneath your feet so you don’t make any unnecessary noise with your feet, and be prepared to shoot sitting. (Archery hunters should practice shooting sitting prior to season.)  Also, here good camouflage is critical; I prefer the leafy of ghillie suits in this scenario. The three dimensional patterns help to distribute my outline and allow for better concealment.

The other scenario is to sit against a large tree on the edge of a feeding area. Acorn ridges or along the edge of agriculture fields are best. Several companies make ‘tree seats’ that strap to trees and provides comfortable sitting against the trees. Here again, you want to clear out all debris around your feet. If using a firearm a by-pod, or other shooting stick will help hold steady, I especially like these when hunting with a handgun. (More about that in a few weeks)

As with any hunting, play the wind, let the wind be in your face, and by hunting from the ground this is much easier done, if this tree doesn’t work because of the wind, move a bit and face the other direction. Being mobile and quiet are two of the best benefits of hunting from the ground.

Several years ago, I hunted from the ground more out of necessity than choice when my only deer stand was stolen. I learned then that not only is it effective, but its exciting to kill bucks at mere feet from your stand. By sitting motionless, deer will often move directly towards or past you without ever noticing your presence. It has been well documented that a deer’s vision is keen to movement, being motionless is critical. Survey the terrain at a distance and when possible, try and pick up the deer at the furthest distance possible. This will allow you to ready your weapon well in advance. If archery hunting, watch for the first opportunity to draw. This is usually when the deer walks behind a tree or brush. Raise your bow and draw all in one slow steady motion. When they emerge, let them have it. Most of the shots I have from the ground are ten yards or less. However I do have a few choice spots where I can see a bit further and have killed deer at greater distances.

When hunting from the ground, you have elevated the challenge and the effort. Your success is greater appreciated and the thrill of looking them right in the eye is a feeling that can only be experienced.

When looking for opportunities to get your buck, don’t limit yourself to treestands, look down and find a great place to ambush these bucks eye to eye.