After spotting this mule deer buck in his bed and waiting for the wind to change, I was able to sneak to 23 yards and waited for him to stand up. He only made it 50 yards!
The most obvious place to look is around trees and shrubs. Deer will hide amongst and on the edges of these areas in an attempt to be in the shade and to hide them from predators, like hunters. Many times a big buck can lay in a brush patch not much bigger than the deer himself, yet be almost totally concealed. The spotting skill comes out when you can pick out the fork of an antler, a rump, a nose, or a moving bush that should not be moving. You have to really pick these areas a part with your optics, and even then you might not see what is hiding in there. I have had deer magically appear out of shrubs after I thought there were none around.
Other areas that deer like to bed down are amongst boulders and under cliff faces where they can find shelter from the sun and avoid cougars and other predators. Anywhere you see shade is a possible bedding area, especially early season when it is hot. Even once the temperatures get colder in the fall deer will still seek shade as their coats thicken up.
Long Range SHOOTING:
A new fad that has come up in the last 10 years and is bound to wipe out the quality of deer and will most likely change hunting as we know it, especially in the west half of the USA. Long range hunting is when a person relys on their scope, rifle, wind gauge, and calculator to determine exactly where to aim on an animal that is up to (or more than) 1000 yards. How people can call this hunting and be proud of themselves is beyond me.
An animal has absolutely no defenses at that ranges of over 500 yards or so and relying on ones equipment only to take big game is very selfish and cowardly. Long range shooting should be left at the range and not used to wipe out our quality animals. Long range is shooting and not hunting. Please do the right thing and help to educate people on the lack of sportsmanship that is associated with long range hunting. You can go to YouTube and see all types of long range shots on trophy animals; the team of hunters don’t even have to whisper! Be sure to leave a comment on the unsportsmanship.
Spot and Stalk Deer Hunting Video
Check out where this 165 inch mule deer bedded down on this hillside of boulders right at first light. Other hunters came in from the top after him, but my brother and I positioned ourselves in a perfect spot to see him first thing, and then watched him bed down just out of sight of the rifle militia above. Unfortunately for the buck, we had a good plan to find him from a far. A shot across the ravine and the rest is history.
Putting the final stock on a deer is the most exciting part of spot and stalk deer hunting. The object is getting as close as possible without the deer detecting you. This is the part where rifle spot and stalk and archery spot and stalk deer hunting differ a lot. Of course, many times, a deer will position its self in an area where it can only be seen within range at 50 yards. I have had several situations where I could spot bucks from 800 – 1000 yards away, but could not see them on the final stock until I was within 20 or less yards.
The best defense a deer has is his ability to smell. One molecule of human scent will make a bedded down deer turning into a running deer instantly, typically not giving the hunter anytime for a standing still shot. For this reason, you have to play the wind more than anything else.
When spot and stalking deer, wind can be your worst enemy or your best friend, it is all about how you play it. Wind, especially a decent wind can help to cover up the sound of a hunter stalking within range of a deer. Also, wind can be used to take your scent away from a deer. You can get 10 yards away, and as long as there is a decent breeze blowing your scent away from the deer, you can remain undetected to the nose of a very smart deer.
Regardless of the weapon you are using, you will need to use the wind to your advantage, especially with a bow or other close range weapon in your hand.
Many times while spot and stalk deer hunting it is necessary to make the final stalk until the wind is right, especially while bow hunting. I have had to watch deer for hours until the wind changed before I could put on a stalk and typically I have been glad I waited. I have also blown plenty of archery stocks because I did not wait for the wind to change and stabilize, but then after the stalk was a bust, the wind picked up and stabilized.