Hunting on the ground can be very productive when the terrain is open enough to spot animals at a distance. Agricultural lands, rolling grasslands, forest clear cuts, power line right-of-ways, and young pine plantations are just a few of the open-country areas where hunting from the ground can be a tremendous advantage.
One of the best tools to own when hunting these areas is a quality pair of binoculars. When matching wits with whitetails eyeball to eyeball, success depends on the hunter spotting undisturbed game and using available cover to move in on the animal or to position himself along the route the animal is traveling.
Standing corn is another situation when hunting on the ground makes sense. Deer often use corn fields as both feeding areas and resting habitat. I’ve seen many areas where deer refuse to leave the corn until the combine cuts the final rows!
The ideal condition for hunting standing corn is while the wind is blowing enough to rustle the leaves and cover any sounds of a hunter sneaking through the rows might make. The best way to approach standing corn is with the attitude that every row you poke your head into is hiding a trophy buck. Work into or quartering the wind and go slowly. If the ground and corn stalks are wet from a recent rain or snow squall, so much the better.
During the rut, when bucks are most active, combining treestand and ground hunts can be the best of both worlds. Position a treestand in an area that affords a good view of deer bedding cover and wait for deer to show themselves. If a hot doe is in the area, it won’t be long before a tending buck shows himself.
On the farm I lease for hunting, willow flats, tag alder, and tall grasses provide ideal bedding cover. Several doe family units live on the property and during the rut bucks pop up out of nowhere. Treestands positioned in a large maple tree and a mature white pine provide the perfect perches to watch for deer movement. Once I spot a buck, I quickly determine the wind direction, consider which way the buck is likely to move and calculate a short and fast-paced stalk.
As with all stalks, the best possible conditions are a steady wind that pushes the hunter’s scent safely away from the animal. If the ground cover is damp it’s possible to move quickly and quietly. If the ground is dry, the stalking pace must be slowed down to reduce the noise.
An exciting way to hunt, I often work with another hunter to double team bucks in an effort to put the animal in the squeeze box. Hunting from the ground adds a new dimension to bow hunting and in the right conditions can be the best way to position yourself within bow range.
If you haven’t already, get flexible with your bow hunting tactics. From a tree or on the ground, hunt smart and put the odds in your favor.