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Face to Face


We all love to sit in a tree and see bucks walking around oblivious to our presence. But have you ever tried it while sitting on the ground? Thirty five years ago when I started deer hunting I did not have a tree stand. I used five gallon buckets for a seat and leaned against the trunk of a tree in a likely location. A lot of deer died in this fashion. As I have gotten older and needing to change things up, I began again sitting on the ground to hunt deer. I call it using turkey tactics for bucks.

Using my Browning Gobbler Getter turkey chair, I slip into likely locations, set my chair up and wait for a face to face encounter. The excitement of seeing the deer move in while sitting on the ground is different from the excitement of seeing them from a tree stand.

The tactics are similar. Scouting and looking for fresh sign, I check the wind, look for where I expect deer to show up and slip into the woods and wait for them. There is something about sitting on the ground. The woods look different, the sounds are different. Birds and squirrels are confused with what you are. Movement is calculated and methodical. Similar to when a tom is coming to your call, hunting deer from the ground doesn’t allow for as many mistakes.

Full camouflage is recommended, although not fully necessary. Movement is the key here. Long before the advent of camouflage hunters were killing deer from the ground. Some common sense is needed to ensure you are not detected. Place your chair back in some brush, shade is important to conceal yourself from wary eyes. Cutting some limbs and placing them around you.

In my neck of the woods beech trees are everywhere. These deciduous trees do not drop their leaves until the new ones push them out. So there are dead leaves all over the forest. This works two ways, it hides movement of deer, and when placed in the right locations can hide me also. Using some small pruners, I cut low growing beech limbs and place them in the ground all around me to hide my outline. The same can be done with cedar and pine trees. Anything to break up your outline will help.

When sitting on the ground, I also like to be vocal. Sure this brings attention to my location, but trusting my concealment, calling from ground level seems to have a better effect than calling from a tree.

One of the best places to ground sit is in pine plantations. These planted pines reach a height that prevents hunters from seeing into them, but once they get to twenty to thirty feet tall, the lower limbs are dying off and the under story is barren. Sitting inside these plantations at ground level, hunters can often see one hundred yards or more through the bottom of the trees. Many big deer are killed in these plantations by hunters willing to get down and hunt from their level.

When sitting on the ground, I prefer to hunt feeding areas, places deer want to end up. Transition areas are also great for ground sitting. Sit still, look for movement, and be ready for deer to appear out of anywhere. Excellent scent control is also a great idea when sitting on the ground. Regardless of where or how you try it, sitting on the ground and seeing deer come close and provide shot opportunities is exciting. If you want to mix it up a bit, try sitting on the ground and looking at your buck face to face.