The details most overlook that make all the difference.
Success and failure in the world of whitetail hunting many times comes down to ninja like stealth. Those that are consistently successful on the most wary game animal have learned to pay close attention to little details that make all the difference. One of those little details I’ve found that makes a big difference for me is being silent, dead silent. This, however, is not an easy task, as it seems everything in our gear, and the woods, can and will make noise - hunt busting noise. So below are some key practices of my no sound regimen I’ve developed over the years that have yielded dramatic results for me, and I believe will take your stealth, and hunting up a few notches as well if employed.
First, my no sound regimen includes analyzing all my gear. I look for gear I do not need and get rid of it. If I don’t really need it, why carry it in the woods? I eliminate the extra weight and possibility to make noise with it. The gear that is left goes through a thorough soundproofing process. I wrap all exposed metal of stands, sticks, buckles and hooks with Buck Bumper (HERE), a soundproofing wrap I developed for just this purpose. This eliminates the unavoidable clangs that happen when metal touches metal which are absolute hunt busters. If there are any unnecessary buckles on a pack, for example, I remove or cut them off. These always have a tendency to find something to hit and make noise. Safety is important, but it seems climbing harnesses are covered with noisy metal buckles that are hard to soundproof. I avoid setups that need these, but soundproof every buckle for when I do. So, either get rid of the thing that makes noise, or soundproof it eliminating the chance to make the noise.
Second, I plan my entry and exit routes. When I can I trim these ahead of time and sweep a path so I’m stepping on bare ground. Trim all branches that can brush clothing and gear as well, and obviously know your routes in the dark so you’re not wandering off and making more noise than necessary. I’ve found I make about twice the noise in the dark, which translates into educating deer and hunting pressure. The more I know my path, and have it prepped, the more I decrease this noise factor. I either mark it with a GPS or have it well memorized. Also its important to say that entry and exit routes may be different, so again plan these ahead of time putting a lot of thought into which will be the least intrusive route when going in and coming out. Depending on where the deer will be (field edges, bedding, food sources) and time of day you are coming/going, these may change, and usually they are not the shortest routes so plan extra time. For example, I have a spot in Ohio on a field edge that leads from bedding to a food source. In the evening, I come through the field to the stand, since it is furthest from the deer and least intrusive to where they are (bedding). When I leave, however, I do not go back through the field. I simply slip down and head back off the field closer to bedding, where they came from. This allows a hill to block the sound of my exit, and deer should all now be away from bedding and in the field. For morning sits in this area, I do the exact opposite.
Third, I plan enough time to travel extremely slow if necessary. Where I cannot trim paths, or crunchy leaves have fallen, just going super slow and being methodical with every step cuts down on noise. I look and plan every step when I’m within 100-200 yards of my stand location. Getting there quickly will do no good if I boot nearby deer. This approach allows me to walk past deer frequently that are bedded within 30-40 yards, especially when hunting deep in bedding cover where they cannot see me. Further, I utilize cover sounds (environmental noises) to mask noises I make. This not only applies to coming and going, but also when scouting and especially when setting stands. For scouting I look for windy, and rainy days as my masker and can be in and out quickly and completely unheard. You want your first few sits to be a total surprise to the deer, and this tactic is essential to accomplish just that.
Fourth, I make the decision ahead of time to be dead silent. This cannot be underestimated, as you will rise to the bar you set for yourself. It is constantly on my mind when I am preparing, getting to my stand, setting up in my stand, getting down, and exiting my stand location. It takes extra effort and extra attention at every move, but is the cost of being dead silent. These details of being extra cautious at all times drastically cuts down on hunt-killing noises I make and I’m convinced leads to much more and better encounters with whitetail deer at close quarters. I believe it will for you too.
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