Hunters know that targeting food sources in the late season can be one of the most successful ways to hunt. Deer movement can be extremely predictable. Once they find a sustainable and nourishing food source, they won’t easy part from it, and they’ll likely feed in it the same times each day.
Many hunters to overlook one tremendous strategy: still hunting. If you’ve never heard of it, or have never tried it, still hunting is simply easing your way through the woods, keeping an eye to the horizon and looking for deer. This tactic’s effectiveness plays on the way that deer vision works. Deer are mostly color blind, and can really only detect short wavelength light (including blue colored light and into the ultraviolet spectrum).
Deer vision is fairly blurry, really only designed to detect shapes and, you guessed it, movement. That’s why you get picked off up in your treestand when you go the grab your bow off its hanger, or when you begin to draw. Your outline stands out against the bare sky, now that the leaves are gone, and the movement you made in that tree to get situated tipped off the deer to your presence.
Still hunting offers a way around that. Literally starting in the late morning and all through the day, moving through the woods at a snail’s pace (only about a couple feet every few minutes) and utilizing tree trunks as cover, you can survey a large portion of the woods without your movement ever being detected. Your shape is no longer skylined against the bare tree tops, and you’re at eye level with the deer with every little bit of cover as an advantage to you.
Deer leave their beds to feed throughout the day. That doesn’t change just because the leafy greens have died and much of the mast crop has either been eaten or stowed away by greedy squirrels and chipmunks. There will still be residual food left for deer to feed on, and that is likely where you’ll encounter them while still hunting.
The important thing about still hunting is that most people who use this tactic do so during firearm season. A shot affords them less motion to take the shot and an effective range that is a bit further than most archery tackle. However, us archers tend to forget that, in many states, we have the opportunity to utilize a weapon that is just as stealthy as a shotgun. Our crossbows are perfect for still hunting.
Many modern crossbows are exceptionally narrow and incredibly well balanced, making for a very easy and effective shot. The advent of RDX and RCX technology (reverse draw and revers cam designs), produce crossbows that are more narrow than the profile of most human torsos. Ideal for reaching around trees for a covert shot, and the perfect tool to have at the ready for whenever a shot opportunity presents itself, makes still hunting with a crossbow the best kept late-season hunting tactic of recent years. Get out and try it for yourself. If implemented properly, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results!
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