As mentioned in http://thesportsmanfamily.com/2018/08/28/learn-hunt-hunting-methods/, Still Hunting involves walking slowly and stealthily through the animal’s habitat. However, its not as simple as just heading out to the woods and going for a walk. You need to constantly be on alert and move slowly and deliberately enough that an animal won’t hear your, but would think you are a static object if it sees you. The two most important aspects of Still Hunting are Stealth, and Route Selection.
Stealth is the ability to move from one location to another without being noticed. When it comes to hunting, there are three aspects of stealth that need to be considered:
- Audible stealth
- Visual stealth
- Scent stealth
Audible stealth involves being able to move while making so little noise that an animal will either not hear your, or might think that the noise is natural. Either way, the goal is to move in such a way as to not produce a sound that will startle the animal.
Visual stealth, as you might guess, is the ability to not be seen. Most people probably think that the most important aspect of visual stealth is a good camouflage. They couldn’t be more wrong. No matter how good your camouflage is, if you are moving while an animal is looking in your direction, you will be spotted. Don’t get me wrong, camouflage can be very beneficial (especially for predator hunting). But visual stealth requires that all of your movements be slow. Is it time to raise your weapon? Do it slowly! Grabbing your binoculars? Do it slowly! Need to scratch an itch on your butt? Do it slowly! Are you noticing a pattern?
Scent stealth is incredibly important if you are hunting big game. If you are out hunting small game, turkey, or waterfowl, it isn’t as important. It is imperative that you pay attention to the wind while you are Still Hunting big game. If the wind is at your back, you can bet that the animal will smell you (and possibly bump) before you even know its there. Always try to walk with the wind in your face while Still Hunting big game.
You could probably argue that route selection and stealth are essentially one in the same. I say this because you should choose a route that takes you through an area that minimizes your chance of an animal seeing, hearing, or smelling you. However, you also want to make sure that you pick a route where you have enough visibility to see the animals well before you walk right into them.
Edge habitats are generally considered good habitats for Still Hunting. This is because edge habitats usually provide a quiet route with good visibility. Depending on where you live, you might have different edge habitats. Some examples are:
- Where a forest meets a meadow
- Where swamp meets a forest
- Where mature timber meets new growth
- Where hardwoods meet softwoods
Basically, an edge habitat is any place where there is a transition in geography or vegetation.
You also want to make sure that you pick a route where you will be walking into the wind. If the wind is at your back, your best bet is to either wait for the wind to change or pick a different route.
Another consideration for route selection is the sun. You want the sun to be behind you. This is beneficial both for your ability to see the animals, and for your visual stealth. If the sun is behind you, then the animals will be better lit and you will not be as brightly lit.
Improving Your Chances
I’ll be honest, Still Hunting is difficult. But there are a few things that you can do to improve your changes of finding and harvesting the game.
First, move slowly! I mean really slowly. Take a few steps, and then stop and observe. Take a few more, and stop again. A general rule for Still Hunting is that you should spend 10 times longer being still and observing your surroundings than walking. If you think you are moving slow enough, go even slower.
Second, try to always have a backstop behind you. This will help you to blend into your surroundings, and prevent the animal from noticing you. Third, try to pick a route that has you walking on bare ground, large rocks, or soft vegetation. This will help to minimize the noise that you make. Try to avoid walking on dry leaves or loose gravel. Fourth, hunt when there is some moisture on the ground. This will help to quiet your footsteps. High winds can also be beneficial, since they can cover up some noises that you might make. Finally, try to walk with a non-human gait. Doing this could potentially cause an animal that hears you to think you are not a threat.