Deer Hunting’s No. 1 Ground Ambush Tip: Break Up Your Silhouette

You don’t have to be in a treestand to fool a whitetail’s eyes. The key for on-the-ground deer hunting success is breaking up your silhouette.

Deer Hunting’s No. 1 Ground Ambush Tip: Break Up Your Silhouette

If you’ve spent the majority of your time in treestands while pursuing whitetails, but want to improve your ground game, then pay attention to your silhouette. It’s imperative for you to not look like a human when sitting or standing while waiting on a whitetail. This begins by carefully considering the cover that is behind you — your backdrop.

The first rule I learned about gun hunting for wild turkeys was to sit against a tree that was wider than my shoulders. The reason? A wide tree trunk breaks up your silhouette. This same rule applies to deer hunting, and if you’re gun hunting, you can simply take a position exactly the same as when turkey hunting; sit with your back against a big tree, limit your movement and then shoot when a deer walks by. A large stump, blowdown, boulder, thick bush or other dense/dark object will work as a backdrop instead of a tree, too.

Turkey hunters (above) obey the “break up your silhouette” rule, and deer hunters should, too.
Turkey hunters (above) obey the “break up your silhouette” rule, and deer hunters should, too.

The issue becomes more complicated when bowhunting whitetails with a compound or traditional bow. Why? Two reasons. First, you can’t draw your bow with your back against a wide tree trunk; your draw arm/elbow will hit the tree, preventing you from reaching your anchor point. The second problem is it requires a lot more movement to draw your bow than it does to slide off the safety of a firearm or crossbow. You’ll need more cover to conceal your bow draw movement than simply a large tree trunk behind you.

To solve the first problem, I carry a seat that provides back support while I sit butt on the ground. These stadium seats, or predator chairs, are lightweight and tremendously effective for deer and turkey hunting. Instead of positioning the stadium seat against a wide tree trunk, I place it 10-12 inches in front of the tree; this gives me plenty of room to draw my bow. Two of my favorite stadium seats for deer and turkey hunting are the Alps Outdoorz Backwoods (MSRP: $29.99) and the Easy Chair ($36.99) from Sportsman’s Outdoor Products.

Alps Outdoorz Backwoods (left) and Sportsman’s Outdoor Products Easy Chair (right).
Alps Outdoorz Backwoods (left) and Sportsman’s Outdoor Products Easy Chair (right).

To solve the second problem, I search for nearby logs and branches and then quickly build a screening of cover in front and to the sides of my seat. Because I’m sitting so low (butt on the ground), it doesn’t require a lot of work. One tip: Be sure to have a couple logs/sticks that stand as tall as the top of your bow; that way, your bow’s top limb won’t draw attention from whitetails.

 

Consider the Angles

When you’re sitting butt on the ground, you must sit in a way that allows you to shoot comfortably to one or two shooting lanes. You won’t be able to cover 180 degrees — not even close.

For example, I’m a right-handed shooter, and let’s say the tree breaking up my outline is at the 6 o-clock position, and I expect to shoot at 12 o’clock and 10 o’clock. I sit with my legs pointed between 1 and 2 o’clock. I make sure that the cover in front and to the sides of my body doesn’t interfere with drawing my bow and moving it between 10 and 12 o’clock. I also ensure that the cover is low enough to prevent deflecting my arrow.

If you haven’t hunted this way much, you’ll be amazed at how close you can be to whitetails without them busting you. Of course, you must have the wind in your favor, and you can’t move to draw your bow at the wrong time.

When is the wrong time? If you can see a deer’s eyes, then the animal can see you. Even with logs and branches positioned around you, and a good backdrop, a deer is likely to pick you off moving unless you wait until it is walking behind a tree or a thick screening of brush.

Deer hunters in areas without big trees can use a bush, boulder or some other object as an effective backdrop.
Deer hunters in areas without big trees can use a bush, boulder or some other object as an effective backdrop.


Hunt the Hot Sign

One great advantage to hunting whitetails from the ground using makeshift natural ground blinds is you can hunt and scout at the same time, taking advantage of the hottest sign. You aren’t tied to a treestand, and you don’t have to carry a heavy pop-up ground blind.

This butt-on-the-ground system requires nothing more than a stadium seat and a pruner for quickly cutting shooting lanes. Even with a bow, it’s a way to sort of “run and gun” while sitting in ambush for a whitetail. You can sit for an hour, maybe two, then move a couple hundred yards and sit some more.

This technique works especially well during the whitetail rut when bucks are on their feet all day searching for a doe in heat. Eventually you’ll slip into an area containing all the action, and at some point a rutting buck will walk through your shooting lane.

Treestand hunters should also pay attention to breaking up their silhouette by choosing large-diameter trees whenever possible.
Treestand hunters should also pay attention to breaking up their silhouette by choosing large-diameter trees whenever possible.
As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.


Discussion

Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.