Author Topic: Trouble from the ground: the sad tales of an involuntary vegetarian  (Read 4852 times)

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Black Moshannon

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 Im hoping some of you hunting experts can read this and lend some advice. For reference, I hunt whitetails in Central Pa. I have recently bought a property which has a lot of deer activity. I am only interested in hunting from the ground. I realize this is a difficult path to take and there is a long road ahead but i'm using the selfbow anyway so it all kind of goes together. I put up a blind which is made from a green army type netting material hung over some stakes and poles driven in the ground, and which I sit in on a five gallon bucket. There is just enough room to shoot over the top. The blind is located in an area where deer feel secure due to heavy brush. There are several recently made scrapes in the area, a spring of water, and two fields on either side of the little corner the blind is tucked into. The backdrop of the blind is a large spicebush/brush pile, so i feel that I am fairly well surrounded with breakup. I put up a second blind made of brush along a man made path. Deer use this path pretty much every day. There is a very heavily run deer trail which adjoins this path. I set up the brush blind close to where the path and trail meet up. The backdrop of the blind is a large locust tree which I sit against on a five gallon bucket. This blind was also designed to be shot out of from a sitting position.

Failure No.1

This was at the beginning of the rut. I was sitting in the first blind, the one with the green net. Around 8 am a stocky buck wih a big rut neck came in. I was caught unprepared with my feet stretched out in front of me. Luckily I had got the arrow on the string before the buck came into sight, as I heard the sound first. The buck came walking up to around ten yards facing me. I leaned forward. The buck seemed to sense this and jerked slightly and stopped. I decided to wait to shoot until the buck walked past me just a bit, as I had heard to do. The buck continued forward and was now probably within ten yards and turned broadside in a clearing, literally looking like a perfect shot. I got impatient and leaned forward slowly, raising the bow. The buck jumped and trotted away, and the opportunity was over.

Failure No. 2

This was from the same blind, maybe a week later. Just after 8 am a young buck came walking up a trrail located above and behind the blind. I was prepared for this to happen and had set up a lane to shoot up in that direction as well. However, I was more unprepared than the first time, at least mentally. I tried to swivel around and point my bow in that direction but the movement was very jerky and ungraceful, and the buck noticed immediately and trotted away.

Failure No. 3

This was just this morning, around 7:20 am. I was sitting in the brush blind along the trail. This time I thought I had learned from the first two times. I had the arrow on the string, and was sitting upright, waiting for a deer to come in. Three big does came in on the little deer trail which joins the large path, about fifteen yards from me. I was watching the lead one and decided I would let all of them walk past until the last one so I could take a shot without the other two busting me. The does did not seem to sense me at all. There was a cross wind so no issues with scent. I decided I would very slowly lean forward, pointing the bow up towards the trail, while the does continued in my direction. I thought this would be better than waiting to move, and then having to take one big movement. However, I was horrified when the lead doe seemed to sense what I thought was a very slight, cleverly sly and slow motion as I leaned forward, and all three went back from where they had come.

Luckily during these encounters I was never scented, at least the deer never blew or snorted. They also did not run away frantically, but just kind of trotted slowly away as if slightly disturbed. I know that I am moving at the wrong time each time. I feel that each of these were opportunities where an experienced hunter would have had a good shot. What am I doing wrong here? Everything is going right up till I start preparing to shoot. Also as a side note, if this matters, my shooting method is to point the bow at the target, pre- aiming it and getting the right gap and alignment, then drawing, then holding a couple seconds while I check sight picture until the release happens.

Offline Pat B

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Re: Trouble from the ground: the sad tales of an involuntary vegetarian
« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2021, 10:45:07 am »
If the deer detects movement he will go on alert until he determines what it is. If he hears a noise he will go on alert until he determines what made the noise. If a deer smells you, generally the game is over. I think your main problem is movement. Try to anticipate where the deer travel route is and set up to make the most of that situation. When I hunt my bow is across my lap, arrow on the string with my string hand in position and my other hand holding the bow handle. As soon as I hear or see movement I go on the ready slowly raising the bow to the shooting position and have tension on the string. If the opportunity presents itself it only takes the slightest movement to get the shot. When you do move try to simulate the movement the wind or breeze makes as it moves through the woods and not just a sweeping move.
 Sounds like you have set up in a productive area. If you learn from your mistakes eventually you will connect and it will be the thrill of your life. Just keep at it and eventually you will score.
Make the most of all that comes and the least of all that goes!    Pat Brennan  Brevard, NC

Offline WhistlingBadger

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Re: Trouble from the ground: the sad tales of an involuntary vegetarian
« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2021, 11:03:00 am »
Interesting post, Kenneth.  I mostly hunt mulies and elk, but I aspire to ground-hunt whitetails, so I'll be reading with interest.
Thomas
Lander, Wyoming
"The trail is the thing, not the end of the trail.
Travel too fast, and you miss all you are traveling for."
~Louis L'Amour

Black Moshannon

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Re: Trouble from the ground: the sad tales of an involuntary vegetarian
« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2021, 12:03:47 pm »
If the deer detects movement he will go on alert until he determines what it is. If he hears a noise he will go on alert until he determines what made the noise. If a deer smells you, generally the game is over. I think your main problem is movement. Try to anticipate where the deer travel route is and set up to make the most of that situation. When I hunt my bow is across my lap, arrow on the string with my string hand in position and my other hand holding the bow handle. As soon as I hear or see movement I go on the ready slowly raising the bow to the shooting position and have tension on the string. If the opportunity presents itself it only takes the slightest movement to get the shot. When you do move try to simulate the movement the wind or breeze makes as it moves through the woods and not just a sweeping move.
 Sounds like you have set up in a productive area. If you learn from your mistakes eventually you will connect and it will be the thrill of your life. Just keep at it and eventually you will score.

Thanks for the advice. It sounds like I need to not move if the deer can see me. So I will try to slowly raise the bow when I hear the deer coming in and then pause until the shot opportunity.

Offline WhistlingBadger

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Re: Trouble from the ground: the sad tales of an involuntary vegetarian
« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2021, 12:14:22 pm »
Thanks for the advice. It sounds like I need to not move if the deer can see me. So I will try to slowly raise the bow when I hear the deer coming in and then pause until the shot opportunity.

That sounds right.  With calm, unpressured mulies, I can get away with slow, smooth movement at a distance.  They either assume it's another deer, or it's just too far away for them to notice.  Once you're inside the threat zone, say about 70 yards, they're going to react to any movement they see.  And within the hot zone, inside about 30 yards, you'd better not move a finger unless their heads are behind cover.

If they're alerted, on the other hand, or if they have a really smart herd doe who knows the hunt is on?  Forget it.   ;D  I've had them bust me a quarter mile out.
Thomas
Lander, Wyoming
"The trail is the thing, not the end of the trail.
Travel too fast, and you miss all you are traveling for."
~Louis L'Amour

Offline Pat B

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Re: Trouble from the ground: the sad tales of an involuntary vegetarian
« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2021, 01:13:18 pm »
If you can see the deer's eyes he can see you.
Make the most of all that comes and the least of all that goes!    Pat Brennan  Brevard, NC

Offline PaSteve

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Re: Trouble from the ground: the sad tales of an involuntary vegetarian
« Reply #6 on: November 16, 2021, 01:42:01 pm »
Encounters are one thing... getting a shot at an unsuspec (-Pting whitetail is a totally different story hunting them the way you are. I would estimate one in ten encounters will produce a shot. Most of the time the opportunity never arises so yes movement is your issue. Good luck and take the advice given above. I use a homemade ghillie suit that I believe helps also setting up so the deers attention isn't focused in my direction also helps.
"It seems so much more obvious with bows than with other matters, that we are the guardians of the prize we seek." Dean Torges

Offline Outbackbob48

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Re: Trouble from the ground: the sad tales of an involuntary vegetarian
« Reply #7 on: November 16, 2021, 04:57:00 pm »
Kenneth, I am  from nw pa and also hunting from the ground with self bow and ghille suit. First if you can see the deer eye he can seeyou, I like set up with good back cover and a obstruction ( lg. tree or thick brush ) directly  in front of me and lanes to roughly 45 degrees left and right. I use a face mask , gloves and a ghille type hat to break up my outline, I keep my bow on lap and in my hand, also I have a very nice comfortable chair, when a deer comes in say on my left lane I don't move until he goes behind my center obstruction and then draw and shoot when he is entering my right lane. Also is a good idea to have lots of set ups as to not hunt same setups to often. I know you said that deer didn't wind ya, but after you leave how many discovered your spot and who is pattering who. If I have setup that don't have frontal obstructions I just try and be patient and only move if they look away to munch on something or just turn head away, also when deer are in wolf range( killing range) I always try and squint my eyes half closed to eliminate the window effect of blinking and keep lowering my head and not making direct eye contact. Ya ever get that feeling someone is looking at you and look up and they are, I believe deer are real sensitive and can feel that real well. I had a buck in to about7 yds last nite  and he was really cautious, this has been my 3rd encounter with this same buck. Have I ever told you how bad I hate antler restrictions 3 up area. Have I killed alot of deer on the ground, No but the ones that I did were real special, the big ole does are the really tuff ones, maternial insinct runs very deep. Sit very still and be alert it can happen in seconds, Have fun and let us know how it's going. Bob

Black Moshannon

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Re: Trouble from the ground: the sad tales of an involuntary vegetarian
« Reply #8 on: November 16, 2021, 06:24:51 pm »
Thanks for the advice. It sounds like I need to not move if the deer can see me. So I will try to slowly raise the bow when I hear the deer coming in and then pause until the shot opportunity.

That sounds right.  With calm, unpressured mulies, I can get away with slow, smooth movement at a distance.  They either assume it's another deer, or it's just too far away for them to notice.  Once you're inside the threat zone, say about 70 yards, they're going to react to any movement they see.  And within the hot zone, inside about 30 yards, you'd better not move a finger unless their heads are behind cover.

If they're alerted, on the other hand, or if they have a really smart herd doe who knows the hunt is on?  Forget it.   ;D  I've had them bust me a quarter mile out.

All mine are going to be within thirty yards just cause of the landscape here so no messing around for me. On the positive side They donít see me either till theyíre right up on meÖ

Black Moshannon

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Re: Trouble from the ground: the sad tales of an involuntary vegetarian
« Reply #9 on: November 16, 2021, 06:30:11 pm »
Kenneth, I am  from nw pa and also hunting from the ground with self bow and ghille suit. First if you can see the deer eye he can seeyou, I like set up with good back cover and a obstruction ( lg. tree or thick brush ) directly  in front of me and lanes to roughly 45 degrees left and right. I use a face mask , gloves and a ghille type hat to break up my outline, I keep my bow on lap and in my hand, also I have a very nice comfortable chair, when a deer comes in say on my left lane I don't move until he goes behind my center obstruction and then draw and shoot when he is entering my right lane. Also is a good idea to have lots of set ups as to not hunt same setups to often. I know you said that deer didn't wind ya, but after you leave how many discovered your spot and who is pattering who. If I have setup that don't have frontal obstructions I just try and be patient and only move if they look away to munch on something or just turn head away, also when deer are in wolf range( killing range) I always try and squint my eyes half closed to eliminate the window effect of blinking and keep lowering my head and not making direct eye contact. Ya ever get that feeling someone is looking at you and look up and they are, I believe deer are real sensitive and can feel that real well. I had a buck in to about7 yds last nite  and he was really cautious, this has been my 3rd encounter with this same buck. Have I ever told you how bad I hate antler restrictions 3 up area. Have I killed alot of deer on the ground, No but the ones that I did were real special, the big ole does are the really tuff ones, maternial insinct runs very deep. Sit very still and be alert it can happen in seconds, Have fun and let us know how it's going. Bob

Thanks Bob. I like the concept of an obstruction directly in front. I will try this tomorrow morning with a tree clump. That was also set me up in a different spot. The comfortable chair is another issue since the chairs with arms get in my way. I may have to go and spend the money on a decent one since I do shift quite a bit on the old bucket. I havenít cared for the antler restrictions either.

Offline Pat B

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Re: Trouble from the ground: the sad tales of an involuntary vegetarian
« Reply #10 on: November 16, 2021, 07:14:36 pm »
I think if you are well camoed good back cover to break your silhouette is very important. Front cover will help conceal your movement.
And, don't forget the have the wind in your favor. If the smell you they are gone.
Make the most of all that comes and the least of all that goes!    Pat Brennan  Brevard, NC

Offline Fox

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Re: Trouble from the ground: the sad tales of an involuntary vegetarian
« Reply #11 on: November 16, 2021, 10:56:36 pm »
Haha sounds like your going to get it!
 
Iím starting to feel like I donít have a clue of what Iím doing though ! Iíve only even seen maybe 3 deer this season (my season starts October)
Why must we make simple things so complicated?

Offline Don W

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Re: Trouble from the ground: the sad tales of an involuntary vegetarian
« Reply #12 on: November 17, 2021, 07:57:44 am »
If you read archery books from "Whitetail Magic" By Roger Rothhaar(1993) to "Hunting with a Bow and Arrow by Saxton (1925) and most of the better books they all mention that some of their misses were as memorable as their successes. It's a hard concept to practice at times, but once you get it down, this journey becomes so much more enjoyable.

You didn't mention why you chose to hunt from the ground, but it's one of the most challenging ways to hunt whitetail, and in my opinion, the only one I'll call true hunting. If a person can't climb in a tree stand and shoot at deer, you should take up golf. The only challenge is hitting what you shoot at and avoiding the overwhelming boredom that comes with sitting there.

I haven't missed a deer season in 50 years, and my season this year sounds a lot like yours. I've missed, and I've missed opportunities because I wasn't paying attention. Most of the time the whitetail will win. They are crafty little buggers, and that's what keeps you coming back.

It's always a doubled edged sword when you tag out to early. So sometimes I look at the misses as an opportunity to hunt tomorrow. Some will say it's making excuses for yourself, but if your not having fun, what's the point?

You got some good advice already, and the opportunities you've already had says you're doing well. Think of all the "hunters" that can't get to where you are and score with a rifle!

So in my opinion, you don't have any trouble, and the tales are far from sad. You're so close. Follow the advice above, learn how deer see, remember if a deer can see you, you simply can't move slow enough, figure out how to move without being seen.

In front of a tree is fine for a rifle. With a bow, behind it is much better. Have fun and keep sharing. I love to hear of others hunting from the ground.
Don

Offline bjrogg

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Re: Trouble from the ground: the sad tales of an involuntary vegetarian
« Reply #13 on: November 17, 2021, 10:27:10 am »
Iím certainly not a expert hunter.

I think youíre learning and have been given some great advice.

Iím different than most bow hunters. I never did hunt with a compound. Never grew up with a bow in my hand either. It wasnít until I made my own stone point, arrow and selfbow that I really got the bug.

In some ways I think that has made it easier for me.

I did hunt with a 16 gauge single shot shotgun that was passed down through my dadís family though.
I really think hunting my a single shot 16 gauge is almost more like hunting with a selfbow than a compound is.

Especially from the ground.

Like Steve said probably 1 in 10.  You e already had what 3?

Like Outback said . Sit still. Always remember. There are deer around me I just donít see them yet. Even the best camo and cover can be nullified by the littlest of movements.

People always ask me . How close do you have to get?

I like to get close. I donít have a exact distance and it changes with conditions. Itís just when it feels right.

The hard part isnít getting close. As you have already found out. The hard part is getting that shot off without being detected.

For me thatís why I think shotgun helped.

Not really sights. Just a bead. Almost like the tip of my arrow.

You donít so much ďaimĒ as you put that bead on a spot.

Iím not a fantastic shoot. I guess I shoot mostly what I would call instinctive. At least Iím not aware of any real aiming method I use.

My form really is poor.  I know it really stinks, but it is a smell I have become comfortable with. I think it works good for my style of hunting. I guess some might call it a snap draw? I usually just remain as still as I can until it feels right. Then in one fluid motion point, draw and release.

It isnít the greatest for 3-d but it has served me well in hunting conditions. At least the way I hunt.

You have learned.

You found a couple good spots.

Youíve been close.

You realize how little movement or eye contact it takes to have it all go away.

Iím guessing you will experience actually getting a shot off soon. Then you will learn even more things.
 
Like concentrating on a spot. Keeping it all together without getting overexcited.

I donít think Iím the first one to say it, but hunting is quite often hours and hours of distractions, uncomfortable positions and sometimes even pure boredom. At any unknown moment broken by fleeting seconds filled with adrenaline.

Good Luck. Keep Hunting.

It isnít impossible. Itís very rewarding.

Bjrogg
A hot cup of coffee and a beautiful sunrise

Black Moshannon

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Re: Trouble from the ground: the sad tales of an involuntary vegetarian
« Reply #14 on: November 17, 2021, 11:13:48 am »
Thanks for the replies guys, it means a lot. This is the most exciting thing I have gotten to do. I do wear camo, face mask and all but my left hand, the bow hand is bare, so maybe I should cover that with a glove.

Failure/ learning session No. 4

I went back to the brush blind on the trail. I know I should've switched it up but it was frosty cold this morning and I found myself heading to the comfortable seat in the dark. Around just after I was able to see i heard crunching and slowly brought up my bow and swiveled around. Several small does came up that little deer trail towards the path. It was still dark enough that I could not quite see all the details at that distance (maybe eighteen yards). I held still. To my surprise they didn't come down the man made path towards me as I had thought they would, but instead cut across and up the hill into the field at the top. The wind at some point switched to my back, and I heard one of them snort. Then it seemed they went into the field.

Roughly fifteen mins later a bigger doe came up the trail. This time I had my bow down in my lap and I raised it very very slowly, behind cover of the blind. The wind was back in my favor. I don't know what the doe saw but she made a sound and whirled around and headed back down the trail.

Probably fifteen mins after that a large buck came up the trail. This time it was light enough to see all through the woods. I had my bow semi-raised and was turned towards the buck. The buck moved very slowly. He kept stopping and looking around, once for probably ten mins in which I stayed frozen with annoyance. He took the same path as the small does, headed up into the field. At some point the wind had switched back and was now blowing behind me up towards the field. When the buck got behind some trees and was now about thirty yards or more off, I used the grunt call which I had set to a lighter tone like maybe a young doe. I couldn't be sure but it seemed like he stopped. I really couldn't see him anymore as he was really blended in. I used the call again. At this point, I heard the buck snort and suddenly the woods up on the hill beneath the field seemed to explode and what looked like fifty white tails went flying like mad. It seemed that a bunch of deer had stayed down further into the woods and did not go entirely into the field as I had thought. At this point I left the area and was done for the morning.

About an hour later I went up to feed the horses in the field and a doe was still out in those woods. I know they are still rutting strong cause yesterday I saw a massive buck tending a doe in a friend's field (a recurve hunter) for probably an hour. I will not be out there for awhile again since the season will be out for a bit after Friday and also I have switched my anchor point to just below my eye as of this morning, so that's going to need some work. I have gone from semi-instinctive to completely aiming with a gap and a very static and defined shooting method which seems to suit me.

So I learned that the deer take a different path that i thought and based on that I will find a couple other sit spots.