Archery hunts offer the special opportunity to get up close and personal with elk, deer and pronghorn. When a bugling elk comes running in hot or you put the sneak on a wary deer, the payoff is extremely rewarding. The stalk is tense and there are a few ways to increase your chances of success.
Work the Weather
Wind can be your best friend and it can blow your stalk in a second. Pay very close attention to the wind, thermals and weather that is pushing your scent through the air. Integrate the wind into your plan and approach before the stalk begins. Sometimes, wind will swirl or change and things just don’t work out but you should always be planning to utilize a head or cross wind to your advantage.
Choose Footwear Wisely
Your heavy hunting boots are loud and awkward up close on game. If an elk comes barreling into a call, obviously you won’t stop to change shoes. On dedicated stalks however, take off those boots and use a softer option. Plain old socks are just fine and carrying a thick pair is adequate for many stalks.
Terrain that has sharp objects, thorns and cactus can easily penetrate socks however. A pair of moccasins with soft tanned hide are great for stalks of this nature. You should always focus on placement of each step regardless but the extra padding is nice to have.
Go Simple and Quiet
You’re wearing soft shoes to walk quietly but your clothing and pack also create sound. Wear soft clothing and drop your gear before making the stalk. You won’t need a pack to make the shot so leave it in a safe place. Empty your pockets, remove everything except your range finder, binos and wind check then get started.
Slow it Down
Rushing the stalk rarely works out. Stay low, use natural features in the landscape to hide your presence and move at a painfully slow pace. Ideally, the deer or elk are bedded and you can spend 20-minutes or longer to get in position. On some stalks, it can take an hour of creeping, pausing, crawling and sneaking around to get into position. The last bit is often especially painful because you are so close.
After finally reaching a position, don’t jump up and take a shot. Sit tight, watch the animal and don’t draw until you have a clear window and you are outside the immediate line of sight.