5 Ways to Improve Spot and Stalk Bowhunting Success


Tips to Fill More Tags

Speed Up, Slow Down

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1 | Speed Up, Slow Down

The pace at which a bowhunter moves during a stalk can ultimately decide the outcome. Move too slow and you’ll likely miss your opportunity. Move too fast and the odds of bumping game goes through the roof. So what’s the best speed to move at when trying to get into bow range of an animal? It depends. When you’re just starting a stalk and are still a long ways away from the intended target move quickly given there is some form of cover. Even within a few hundred yards moving fast can be to your advantage as long as you have substantial cover between you and the animal and you’ve pre-glassed the area for other critters that might bring attention to your approach.

After getting to around 100 yards or to a point where cover becomes limited, it’s time to stomp the breaks and nock an arrow. From this point forward every move should be calculated while continually scanning with binoculars for other animals that might catch you moving in. Don’t get in a hurry and keep your rangefinder at the ready. 

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Make Terrain Work for You

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2 | Make Terrain Work for You

In steep mountain country, bowhunters have an abundance of hiding places and terrain features to use when approaching game. Hunting in this type of terrain can be physically challenging but the opportunities they provide for spot-and-stalk style hunts can’t be denied.

On the other hand, seemingly flat land with sparse foliage can seem like an impossible place to stalk game with archery gear. However, if you know where to look, flat grasslands and farm ground can still provide a bowhunter all the cover needed to pull off the perfect stalk.

Ditches, drainages, standing crops and thick tree rows are just a few things to look for. In farm country, putting an object like a round bale in between you and your target can be all it takes to punch a tag. When stalking in places with limited cover, it’s always a good idea to have a pair of knee pads handy since the odds of having to crawl into position are much greater. 

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Rarely a One-on-One Game

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3 | Rarely a One-on-One Game

Whether the animal you’re stalking is bedded or feeding, there’s a good chance that it’s not alone. Even if you’ve glassed the area and there doesn’t appear to be anything else around, it’s always best to assume there are other animals nearby that are primed and ready to ruin your hunt. As you move toward your target, stop to glass regularly at any point when new areas come into view or before moving out from behind cover.

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Don’t Expect a Top Pin Shot

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4 | Don’t Expect a Top Pin Shot

No matter what or where you’re hunting, the odds of getting extremely close to game while stalking aren’t great. Being prepared to shoot out to 40 or 50 yards will drastically increase your chances of success. Practicing at longer distances in the months prior to hunting season is a great way to hone shooting skills and boost confidence. Keeping a rangefinder at the ready while on a stalk is a must.

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Patience is Everything

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5 | Patience is Everything

Most see the challenge of getting into range of game as the biggest obstacle when spot and stalk hunting. However, unwillingness to wait once within striking distance is what I’ve found unravels most bowhunting stalks. It’s easy to feel rushed while moving in on a stalk but once you’re into position undetected, take a breath. Evaluate the situation, if the animal you’re after is calm and staying put, relax for a minute and let your heart rate slow. Check the range and wait for the perfect opportunity to come to full draw.

If the animal you’re targeting isn’t in a position for a shot, especially if they’re bedded, get comfortable. In these types of situation trying to get the animal to stand or attempting to get even closer will often result in frustration as the animal bounds away and out of your life. Great patience must be shown in these situations but waiting for the shot will more often than not lead to success. 

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Spot and stalk hunting with archery tackle is challenging, sometimes frustrating, and a whole lot of fun. I’ve found that nothing gets my adrenaline flowing like sneaking into bow range of unsuspecting game. This method of hunting will test your skills and patience. But when success is realized there is no greater feeling. These five tips will help you to end more stalks with a filled tag.

Editor's Note: This was originally published on February 15, 2017.

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