How to - Stalk closer to your Deer

Within 6 easy tips...

Hunting for Keith Watson is not a hobby, it’s a way of life.

With over two decades of experience, Keith shares with us his passion for Deer Management.

Keith's believes that fox control and deer management are skills honed in the field and a great believer in the phrase: If you give a man a job he enjoys he will never work again. Keith feels privileged to have the management of UK deer species in his hands, a custodian of the countryside, having ultimate respect for his quarry and the environment in which they live.

Keith's top tips for getting closer to your Deer...

Tip 1 : Read The Wind
Your scent will carry a long way with a strong wind, so it is essential that you use the wind direction to your advantage wherever possible. I carry a small plastic bottle of chalk which when squeezed, gives off a very faint plume of powder. This allows me to immediately read the wind so that I can stalk into it and not give my position away. This goes for foxing as well.

If you don’t have a chalk bottle, a few blades of grass thrown up into the air will let you see which direction it’s blowing.

Tip 2 : Concealement
Your body shows up as a dark outlined shape to deer and it is my belief that if you break this shape up, you have a better chance of getting closer. I have used camo for many years now and Realtree camo is part of my standard stalking kit. My favourite pattern being Realtree APG. I get the impression that the deer know something is there, but by breaking up your outline, you buy yourself a few valuable extra minutes of time in most cases.

Have a look at someone walking down the side of a wood next time you are out…What’s the fist thing you are going to spot? I bet it’s their face and hands! Many people forget to cover these areas and let me tell you that it’s your loss if you decide to stalk without gloves and a facemask. Again, these items are part of my standard gear and I never leave for a stalk without them.

Tip 3 : Movement
Make all movement small, slow and deliberate. Be positive in which direction you are moving and move! Any sudden, swift actions will no doubt attract attention…Unwanted attention!

If you are with someone, make sure that they don’t point or move their hands about…Swatting flies is a classic!

Tip 4 : Feel The Ground
Feel the ground with your feet before placing your whole weight on the ground. How many times have you stalked in close only to spook your quarry with a snapped twig?

Keep your eyes on your quarry, and feel your way over the ground with your feet. If you are about to gently put your foot down and feel a twig, you can do something about it, but if your committed you have no chance. I would say this is one of the most common mistakes when taking clients out. They get excited and want to move in too quickly, it’s my job to calm the situation down and take it step by step.

Tip 5 : Move At The Right Time
Only move when the deer is pre-occupied. When it drops its head to graze or paying attention to others in the herd that’s your cue to move. Keep a watch on the deer and when it looks up, you stop. It’s simple but you would be surprised at the amount of people that forget this concept.

Tip 6 : Make Yourself Smaller
I find that turning myself side on to my quarry on the final approach gives me an advantage. My body width halves, and there is less of me for the deer to see. Combine this with the fact that my camo will be breaking up my outline and all of a sudden, I have become very difficult for the deer to see.

(Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)