I’ve hunted mostly on the ground for the last eighteen years and for the last eight of them, I’ve done my hunting exclusively on the ground. I do sometimes miss the bird’s eye view of my old tree-top perches. But, my success on freezer filling has never suffered and I take just as many mature whitetail today as most anybody I know; only I do it from much closer ranges and with the added thrill of being down at their level. Now, am I critical of treestand hunters? Oh heck no! I love y’all and I am jealous that I’m not up in the balcony with you instead of down here at stage level.
I have noticed though, far too many new hunters entering the sport and right away buying a new treestand. They’re being told that treestands are just as important as your gun or your bow. Personally, I appreciate the advantages of a treestand, keeping your scent off of the ground and movement above their line of sight, but they aren’t a must.
I still hunt while on the ground using whatever cover that’s available, as much as I can, to break my outline and mask movement. Being at eye level means you’re also at nose level and those shifting and swirling winds are much harder to overcome. You’ll want to give great consideration to primary wind directions to keep your scent blowing away from expected travel routes. I hear a lot of opinions on cover scents, while I know that most of the guys who are of the opinion that they don’t work are the same guys that hunt all year long with the same bottle of scent. You can’t be a cheapskate and just use a squirt or two at a time; I fully saturate myself in the stuff. My point is, it’s a cover scent, use enough to fully cover yourself and confuse the buck’s nose.
If brushing yourself in on the ground instead of hiding in a blind, you definitely have to keep your movements to a minimum. You may not be able to get away with nearly as much movement on the ground, but that doesn’t mean you have to remain a statue either. I do a slow pivot of my head any time I need to move and check that nothing is in my immediate line of sight, then move slowly, my hands close to my body to offer as low of a profile as possible. If there is any wind, time your movements to match the swaying of the underbrush about you.
Mostly though, the biggest difference of being on the ground is your diminished line of sight. You need to be ready at all times. Most often when you see the deer, you’re already close enough to identify and shoot if you choose, but you won’t have time on your side. As quickly as they enter your shooting zone, they can exit it, so be prepared at all times to respond to any opportunity given, no matter how brief.
As always, if you have any feedback, suggestions or even just want to share a good hunting story, give me a shout at [email protected]. God bless and good hunting!