Ground Hunting Whitetails is underrated

stumpknocker

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Aug 4, 2020
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95
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Upstate SC
Great story. I hunt about 50/50 ground or in tree. The big problem with ground is drawing back when multiple deer are about. Hard to get all their heads behind trees at once. In those cases I draw and pray they freeze and wish I was in a stand.
 

Northwoods Drifter

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Oct 24, 2020
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thats is awesome I like to do both and let the conditions and the terrain dictate the rest!! That said eye to eye is the ultimate!
 

Dos Perros

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Jul 30, 2015
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Lenexa, KS
Any of you guys decoy? I think they'll be more ubiquitous for whitetail ground hunting in 10 years time.
 
Joined
Oct 12, 2020
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Nice write up, this is my first year hunting deer and mobile ground hunting is the what I’ve done so far this year and plan on doing for the future.
 

MiiisterAnderson

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Nov 2, 2020
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16
Thank you for sharing, this is very encouraging to a guy attempting to the same. From your photos you are having fantastic results!

I'm trying my hand at ground hunting in our nearly completely timber covered property. The challenges are the leaf covered forest floor which makes it challenging to move quietly in the fall. I've had better success in getting closer to deer (but not within range) on windy and rainy days, but I've been unable to put together a good shooting solution. In the denser timber, the longer shots are 15-20 yards, so I currently struggle with getting close without being seen or heard.
 

Roeshaa

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Nov 3, 2020
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27
Great story! Just started bow hunting this year and plan to do the ground attack more often going forward.
 
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Midwesterner00

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Dec 19, 2018
Messages
47
Thanks for the feedback guys. I am very surprised to hear about so many other guys that are doing this as well. I do still hunt from stands and blinds but I find myself more times than not hunting from the ground so I am able to hunt where the deer are that day versus where my stands are. I am also looking into adding a decoy or two into my arsenal. Does anyone have any experience hunting from the ground with a decoy? I was thinking about the heads up decoy to attach to my bow but I don't think I like the idea of the deer being focused directly on me while I am trying to get a shot.
 

MiiisterAnderson

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Nov 2, 2020
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I am also looking into adding a decoy or two into my arsenal. Does anyone have any experience hunting from the ground with a decoy?

I have not yet hunted with one, but was researching decoys this morning as well. We have a couple more seasons to go through here (youth, antlerless, alternative methods, and archery thru 15 Jan) so I'm tempted to try it out. If you believe the reviews of the Primos and similar decoys, they are like deer magnets :).
 

fatlander

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Joined
Feb 11, 2016
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1,445
I have not yet hunted with one, but was researching decoys this morning as well. We have a couple more seasons to go through here (youth, antlerless, alternative methods, and archery thru 15 Jan) so I'm tempted to try it out. If you believe the reviews of the Primos and similar decoys, they are like deer magnets :).

My 3D deer target works just fine. I have yet to have a bad reaction from a buck that saw it. It’s a small delta McKenzie baby daddy buck, and I cut one of the antlers down to basically a forked horn. Only put one antler on him when decoying and the ears back. Bucks can’t stand it, and have to come investigate.


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Joined
Oct 12, 2020
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I have also had issues moving quietly enough through the leaves on the ground. I’ve been thinking about what sort of shoe I could wear that would help. Something to make my foot more like a lions paw, soft with fur that muffles sound. I’m not sure there really is an answer.... Barefoot, socks or moccasins are probably the best solution, perhaps a stalking boot or very light tennis shoe. Also thought of those very minimal toe shoes you used to see. All of those don’t seem like they would help with leaf crunk too much though. The deer themselves make noise walking, it’s just a different sound than what I make. Probably just need to set myself up for success by limiting the movement to areas that I can be silent. Not sure what the overlap of those spots and where the deer can be found is yet in my area.

I’ve thought about decoys, but won’t be using them during gun season on the public land here in Michigan. I am going to try using a grunt tube.
 
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Midwesterner00

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Dec 19, 2018
Messages
47
I have also had issues moving quietly enough through the leaves on the ground. I’ve been thinking about what sort of shoe I could wear that would help. Something to make my foot more like a lions paw, soft with fur that muffles sound. I’m not sure there really is an answer.... Barefoot, socks or moccasins are probably the best solution, perhaps a stalking boot or very light tennis shoe. Also thought of those very minimal toe shoes you used to see. All of those don’t seem like they would help with leaf crunk too much though. The deer themselves make noise walking, it’s just a different sound than what I make. Probably just need to set myself up for success by limiting the movement to areas that I can be silent. Not sure what the overlap of those spots and where the deer can be found is yet in my area.

I’ve thought about decoys, but won’t be using them during gun season on the public land here in Michigan. I am going to try using a grunt tube.
I personally think trying to walk quiet enough through the woods when its calm is a lost cause. I think the best option is to either get set up before the deer are in the area or hunt easier access points like field edges or transition areas. The windy or rainy days are when I get a little more aggressive and push closer to bedding areas.
 

eltaco

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
May 18, 2013
Messages
453
Thanks for the feedback guys. I am very surprised to hear about so many other guys that are doing this as well. I do still hunt from stands and blinds but I find myself more times than not hunting from the ground so I am able to hunt where the deer are that day versus where my stands are. I am also looking into adding a decoy or two into my arsenal. Does anyone have any experience hunting from the ground with a decoy? I was thinking about the heads up decoy to attach to my bow but I don't think I like the idea of the deer being focused directly on me while I am trying to get a shot.

I’ve been hunting whitetail from the ground this year with a decoy, and it’s been absolute dynamite! I’m becoming convinced that I get a better reaction to calls when they originate from the ground than 20’ up a tree, as well... but having the decoy available to provide the visual has been key. I’ve pulled bucks from 150-250yds across open fields consistently on numerous occasion.

The other strong benefit of the decoy is you can create your own natural funnel. I use them a lot on field edges. Decoy out in the field about 20-40yds, wind coming to my face, and it puts the buck in between me and the decoy every time (so far) as the buck tries to circle downwind of the decoy.

I’ve been hunting elk primarily for the past 13 seasons and recently moved to the Midwest. This has been an exciting season to start putting elk tactics to use in the whitetail woods. I get far more encounters with deer than elk, and I’m finding the two react similar on most accounts... really has me scratching my head why the traditional hunting tactics are so vastly different.
 
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Newtosavage

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Sep 20, 2018
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In someone's favorite spot
Congrat's on an awesome buck!

Ground hunting whitetails with a bow is extremely challenging. Only place I've ever been able to make it work was in Illinois. For whatever reason, I've never successfully taken a whitetail with a bow in TX from the ground. Almost like hunting two different species!

Anyone who has never tried bowhunting whitetails from the ground probably has no idea how hard it really is. A person who has done this successfully has really accomplished something.
 

GPool1842

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Feb 26, 2018
Messages
290
Location
OK
That’s so cool man! I took my first bow buck this year from the ground at 12 yards with a longbow. It’s such a rush. It is cool to hear how enthusiastic you are about it.. keep it up!
 

TheGDog

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Jun 12, 2020
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OC, CA
I love that time/moment when they go behind a tree or like you said down into that depression and you know that's your quick moment to hurry up and draw back!
 

RRen

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Jul 6, 2020
Messages
10
So the past 3 years I have had to learn really adapt how I hunt. Now most of this has been out of necessity as I live 2 hours from my prime hunting timber. These past seasons I have become a father to 2 young children, which has limited my ability to pick up and leave for days on end, let alone for more than a couple hours for sake of keeping my wife from going insane. That leaves me with the option of trying to bow hunt around my house, which consists of small pieces of public land that are severely over hunted or wide open crop fields and fence lines of private land that belong to my neighbors and nobody would even think to deer hunt. Now I will be the first to say that I definitely lucked out on the private land. After scouting and putting up some trail cameras, not only did I find a fair amount of deer in those little waterways and fence lines, there was also some mature deer that I would like to target.

After deciding I could give it a try in the open crop land, I set up some ground blinds and 1 tree stand in the only tree that would hold a stand. In the short times I did that, I noticed that I would see deer but they would often not come into bow range. I then made a decision to scout one evening in an area that I did not have a blind or a stand and I would just sit on a high point and glass to see where the deer were coming from and where they were headed. That night a saw the biggest buck I have seen in this area and he was headed in a direction that I felt I could easily cut him off. I snuck down in the waterway ahead of his path and quickly got a 15 yard shot at my biggest buck with a bow. That moment and that rush of sneaking into position and fooling a mature buck on his level in this open terrain was amazing.

That rush fueled a new obsession that I would take into my next deer season. This year, however I had planned my first mule deer hunt and I would be spending all of my vacation driving out to Idaho. After an amazing but unsuccessful Idaho trip, I was left to hunting the occasional weekend or week night. Even those hunts were few and far between as it was very hard to leave my pregnant wife with our young daughter for very long. Long story short I struck out during the rut. I still had a bow tag good for after gun season in Iowa, although I did not think there would be much of a chance to get that tag filled in the late season with snow covering up what little cover I had been hunting during the fall. One morning I saw a group of deer run into a small draw close to my house and I decided I would go sit near there that evening, thinking I might get lucky and shoot a doe to put my archery tag on. That evening I positioned myself in an abandoned acreage that butted up to the draw where I saw the group of deer and waited. I didn't have to wait long before that group of deer was walking up my direction. In that group of deer was a nice 10 pointer. I had to reposition slightly to get in front of them but I was luckily assisted with a couple of trucks driving by that distracted the deer enough for me to crawl into position. I later shot that buck at 30 yards and was so amazed how lucky I had got for the second year in a row. 2 nice bucks with a bow from the ground in an area that has no timber or substantial cover.

Ok this year. 2020 has been a different animal for many reasons. First of all, screw COVID and everything around this stupid virus. I was stuck going to work and coming home for most of the year and was left with little scouting or sightings of mature deer. Not even on camera. Combine that with the 2 kids at home and I was certain I would not have much time or much of a chance to get my tag punched this year. And honestly I was kind of ok with that. I mean how lucky can a guy be? Well with that being said, I did get out a couple of times in the pre rut but I was having trouble getting to where I thought the deer would be without spooking anything so I kept my distance and did not push anything. That lead to this past weekend. Halloween morning and I had a couple hours to go out before I had to start helping get the kids ready for the day. Very windy day so I was able to sneak down into the waterway where I had seen a lot of deer from the road the past couple evenings. It was a very bright full moon so before daylight I was able to see a couple of does down the waterway about 100 yards. Once they walked the other way a little, I took advantage of the wind and snuck down closer to where they went in hopes a buck may be doing the same thing. I set up in some tall grass shortly before shooting light. As it got light, I positioned myself in the direction I would guess the deer to be coming from and as I was doing that, I noticed a very nice buck doing exactly that. He was freshening up a scrape and headed right towards me. As he went in a small depression in the trail, I drew and he walked right in front of me at 20 yards. As he came right in front of me he was grunting and lip curling at what I later saw was a small buck and a doe to my right. I made a good shot and he didn't go 40 yards.

What the hell? I did it again? How is this happening? All I know is I am not going to change anything and keep riding this wave out. The rush of hunting on the ground and taking those western hunting tactics to these big Midwest whitetails has become my new favorite passion. Good luck to everyone else out there, remember to hunt where the deer are and not where you think they should be.

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2018 Buck

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2019 Buck

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2020 Buck
I like it! Im gonna give it a go here in TN
 
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