Ground Hunting Answers
I’ve recieved several questions regarding ground hunting as opposed to tree stand hunting, so I thought I would post a question from Doug Sutherland who emailed me today. I hope this sheds some light on this subject. Please feel free to contact me or to leave a question in the comment section and I will be happy to address it. Here’s Doug’s question:
“Hello Marc, I was wondering about your ghillie suit pros and cons. I am having trouble hunting on the ground, those deer are sharp. I take all the precautions with scent but it seems difficult to get drawn at 20 yards. I have been close a couple of times out already.You said you’re typically a ground hunter.Just thought I would ask your advice. It seems to me if you master ground hunting the benifits outweigh treestand hunting.I have a young family and a fear of falling leaving me helpless to support them. Doug Sutherland”
Well Doug, you’re not alone in your thoughts. With the disturbing anouncement of another hunter who lost his life today while falling from his stand, this seems to be a question that hunters are starting to ask. There are definitely pros and cons when hunting on the ground. I’ll list some of the most common pros and cons below:
1. Great mobility if you need to relocate to get into a better position.
2. Safety from falling from a stand.
3. Able to blend into the environment as opposed to being seen from above.
1. Body scent can be more concentrated.
2. Very limited in distance viewing.
3. Movement easier detected.
Of course you can go on and on about the pros and cons, but these issues mentioned are a great place to start. First and foremost, I would never attempt to hunt on the ground without a ghillie suit. I’ve been busted in a stand with all Realtree hunting clothes and never busted with the ghillie. Proper camo is everything.
Hunting on the ground definitely takes some practice. There is no doubt it is more difficult than stand hunting, so practice makes perfect. I enjoy the discipline that is required to pull off a successful hunt on the ground because ultimately, it makes you a better hunter in every aspect. You have to constantly watch the wind, any movement and be conscious of scent control. When stand hunting, these elements are also critical, but a person can be a bit more lax and maybe get away with it. The safety issue is a big concern as I am also a father and worry about my children in tree stands. Tree stands are dangerous…period. Tree stands are also very productive, so a person has to weigh out the options. I started my boy out ground hunting so I would have the opportunity to instruct him in a comfortable atmosphere, but it did come with some difficulty. Having said that, as a father, I also have a fair amount of fear from an accident that would leave my family without a father and a husband. Here’s what I suggest:
1. If tree stand hunting, get a safety harness that doesn’t depend on a hook to support your weight. They have belts that wrap around the tree with a loop on it in which your harness slips into the loop. They work so well that a person can literally jump off the stand with little to no drop in elevation, and then simply step back on to the stand. Here is a link to a brand that I use and works well: http://www.scout-inc.com . The website is very generic but it does have some good safety videos. You’ll have to wait until the end of the videos in order to get the company’s phone number though.
2. When hunting on the ground, always check the weather before you go out. Get the wind direction and speed. Although the direction can vary some when you’re in the woods, you can always keep in mind where it is coming from. Never, never, never even attempt to take a deer that comes from downwind from you on the ground, you’ll just educate them. Even if they bust you, don’t move as they won’t know to be frightened by a Sasquatch looking shape in the future.
3. When buying a ghillie suit, get a good one! Get one that has a ton of material on it and not one of those cheap ones. Yes, they get hot on warm days and can cause you to sweat, but they also can keep you warm on cool days when the deer are moving.
4. Always make a clearing to accommodate your “draw” when setting up as not to bump into anything when drawing down on a deer. In the same respect, always try to set up next to a tree or a bush as to blend in with the environment.
5. Remember, the early settlers and the American Indians were excellent hunters with primitive weapons and they did very well, if not too well, when it came time to harvesting an animal from the ground. It certainly can be done!
6. Being clean is an understatement when hunting from the ground. Stay at home if you don’t plan on being as scentless as you can.
One other thing I would like to mention is you can increase your odds on the ground if you choose a day with a steady and direct wind (not a swirling wind) to hunt as the wind will hide your movement when drawing on a deer. They won’t seem to notice movement as much because of the fact that it’s already windy.
I hope I shed some light on this subject for you Doug.
I wish you the very best in safety and in hunting! Thanks for writing.
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