Are You Spooking Deer Before You Ever See Them?
I can't help but get a little annoyed when sticks start snapping and leaves start crackling. But the worst? When I see people walk to the treestand like it's a walk in the park. Picking flowers on the way to the stand. Touching everything within reach. It kills me.
Obviously, there are exceptions to how I feel about this. It's a different story with children and those who are new to hunting. They've yet to learn. And I have all the patience in the world with new hunters during such times. I enjoy and take pride in teaching them. But when I see alleged experienced hunting professionals walking to the treestand like it's a walk in the park, I throw up in my mouth a little.
I'm not here to judge. I'm not the best deer hunter, either. Far from it, in fact. But it truly saddens me to see this slow death of woodsmanship and complete disregard for the most basic of hunting skills. It isn't all about tromping to a treestand and waiting for a deer to run by. There's way more to the act of hunting. And we need to respect and develop each aspect of it. So here's 10 tips on how to stay quiet while deer hunting.
It's elementary. But always walk heel-to-toe. This allows you to pull back up in case you misstep or put your foot down on something loud — like leaves and sticks. It also helps to muffle the sound of your footsteps as you ease along your route.
Take It Slow
Don't walk fast. Take your time and don't get in a hurry. You're better off taking more time to reach your destination than to spook all the game away before getting there. You should treat every walk to the stand and ground blind as if you're stalking game, especially once you leave inhabited areas and enter areas frequented by deer. Take it at a snail's pace.
Watch Where You're Walking
A lot of hunters like to scan the landscape as they walk and never look down. That's a mistake. Pay attention to where you're putting your feet. Also, learn to see and feel with your feet, too — which is a skill you'll develop over time. Also, stop walking periodically to scan the landscape and glass for deer. This is a good practice to do every 30 to 40 yards or so, if not more frequently.
Find the Soft Spots
Put your feet down with caution. Don't step on sticks, leaves and other loud forest-floor debris. Don't walk in really muddy spots, either, as they can make loud noises as your boots pull back up and out of them. It's best to find the softest, quietest spots to place your feet as you move along.
Keep Yourself Honest
Personally, I like to place something with a little noise to it in my pocket. Sounds counterintuitive, right? Well, I've found that putting my keys in a loose pocket helps keep me honest. Some days, I get in a rush and try to move faster than I should. But as soon as I hear the slightest jingle, I know it's time to bring it down a notch or two.
Wear Quiet Clothing
Swish-swish-swish is just as bad as snap-crackle-pop. Wear clothing that doesn't make noise. With some materials, the loud sound of cloth-on-cloth can be very loud and will give you away to nearby animals. Always test clothing before you purchase them to be sure they are quiet. Simply rub the clothing together if you can't try them on. You should be able to tell about how quiet they are. Scentlok, Arctic Shield and Field & Stream all offer great products.
Wear Quiet Boots
Just as important as quiet clothing, boots that don't make noise is important, too. Unfortunately, many boots squeak, grind and groan when wet or put under tougher conditions. Do your research and find a good boot. You might want to check out Nike's new offering to hunters. It's a very good, effective hunting boot.
Make Sure All Gear Is in Its Place
Backpacks can make noise as well. Make sure all gear is stowed away correctly. Put things in pockets so that they don't move around. The last thing you want is stuff rattling around as you walk. Also, make sure all buckles and straps are tight and secure. That will help reduce noise, too. And if something does start making noise, stop and figure out what needs to be done to fix it. Then resume your approach.
Pad Metals and Contact Points
I prefer to pad anything that can make noise. You don't want metal-on-metal. You don't want loud objects clanking against each other. Putting adhesive felt strips on metals and contact points will help reduce this issue.
Make Sure Blinds and Stands Aren't Noisy
This is very important that should be conducted during your routine safety maintenance checks. That said, always remember to make sure there aren't any loose, degraded or missing parts to stands and ground blinds. And if something is noisy, replace it or fix the problem to reduce the sound.
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