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Common Deer Hunting Methods in Australia.

When it comes to deer hunting in Australia there are three main methods that hunters use. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages.

In this blog we will take a very brief overlook of each method and some of the advantages the method may have for the Australian deer hunter.

The first hunting method we will talk about is spot and stalk. Spot and stalk is a very successful method of hunting which is best used in an area that the hunter can get a high vantage point. Although a very successful method the method comes with a moderate level of difficulty and a beginner hunter may spook deer at first.

Some benefits of Spot and stalk are you don’t need an intimate knowledge of an animal’s movements, their habits or the terrain they live in. The animals will be unaware of your presence and tend to move about and feed unalarmed.

For the spot and stalk method you will need a quality pair of binoculars and possibly a spotting scope to allow you to see the animal in fine detail.

To successfully use this method, you will need to:

Choose somewhere high with a good view of the terrain, preferably looking over a feeding ground or water hole.

In the early mornings, investigate sunny areas and north facing slopes where the animals will be warming themselves. In the afternoons, concentrate your efforts on feed areas or game trails leading to these spots.

Before you begin stalking, fully assess all the animals and choose the ones you wish to take.

Once you have selected an animal (Your Game) Stalk your game – Go very slowly, planning each step before you take it. Animals have highly developed senses of sight, smell, and hearing, so you will need to overcome these senses to get within shooting range.

Use the landscape to conceal your movements. Deer can detect your movement due to their keen eyesight. Use trees and bushes or even the contour of the ground to your advantage and only move when the deer have their heads down feeding or when they are facing away from you.

Always keep the wind in your face. Deer have a highly developed sense of smell and will spook if your scent wafts towards them.

The second method we will talk about is still hunting. Although Still hunting can be extremely successful it is also more difficult. Mistakes will cost you your game. Still hunting is best used in thick-forested areas where visibility is limited.

Some of the disadvantages of still hunting are that it can be a very difficult way to hunt. To be successful, you need to be able to move through the forest extremely slowly while you constantly scan the thick bushland looking for game before it sees you.

However, the benefits of still hunting is it’s extremely effective when hunting for trophy bucks during the rut, as they will he will be tending to his territory. A buck in thick bush makes for an easy target.

Equipment needed for this method includes the right firearm. For still hunting, choose a light-weight rifle capable of harvesting your chosen game at close range. Because you will be moving very slowly, the weight of a heavy gun can tire you. Visibility will be hampered by the dense forest which means shots will be at close range, so consider using open sights or a low powered scope that gives you a good field of view.

To successfully use this method, you will need to:

Timing is crucial in this type of hunting. It is best to still-hunt when the game is moving, feeding or browsing. Try early mornings and late afternoons when the game has begun to travel towards their feeding grounds.

Make sure you keep the wind in your face. Most animals have a sense of smell up to 40 times stronger than that of a human, an animal’s sense of smell alerts them to the presence of danger.

Pick a good path. Look down and pick out an easy path forward. Your path needs to conceal your movements as well as offer a quiet approach.

Be patient and vigilant. Take a few steps forward while looking into the forest, not down at the ground. Walk three to five metres, then stop and investigate the timber for any sign of an animal. Try and stay out of sight by using ground cover, trees, and land contours. Stick to the shadows and do whatever you can to conceal your forward movements. Each step you take will uncover a new section of the forest. The trick is to look more than you walk. Look through the timber to see the deer before they see you. In thick cover you will almost never see the full animal, so look for slight movements such as a tail or ear flicker. Also concentrate on any object that looks out of place like an antler sticking out of the grass. Once you have positively identified your target, you can begin to plan your shot, but you may need to get closer, move slow and quiet.

Keep your approach quiet.  Unnatural sounds and noises will alarm any wild animal. If you do snap a twig or snag a branch, remain motionless for a few minutes. Keep looking into the woods. Remove or fasten items to stop them from making unnatural noises.

The third and final method we will talk about in this blog is blind hunting. Blind hunting can be very successful if you have done your homework and set it up in the right location. You will also need to be very patient. Blind hunting is great for a beginner hunter as it is relatively easy and will conceal some small hunter errors such as unnecessary movement.

Blind hunting is best suited to Open, barren grounds or flat landscapes that provide no cover for stalking.

For this method of hunting, you will need a blind and some good quality binoculars.

A hunting blind is a cover device you can use to reduce the chance of detection. Game will see your approach well before you see them, so the use of a blind could very well give you the advantage.

If you are bowhunting, a blind is a great way to maximise your effectiveness. Make sure the animals pass by your blind within your effective shooting range by setting up over a game trail, funnel or food plot.

Rifle hunters can also use a blind to their advantage. Set up the blind within 100 metres of a game trail that overlooks a feeding area. The blind will also allow you a steady rest for your rifle.

To successfully use this method, you will need to:

Choose a good blind. Most good hunting retailers offer a tent-like blind available in many different camouflage patterns. Otherwise, you can build a natural blind from materials from around your hunting location.

Choosing your site is the most important part of setting up your blind. Make sure that your location offers a clear view of the animals. It must also allow the blind to be concealed so it does not interrupt the natural landscape.

Make sure the blind looks as natural as possible. You are in the animal’s home and they are sure to notice a new pop-up blind sitting out in the open. Always make sure the wind is in your face. Human scent blowing into your hunting area will spook animals. Set up the blind before you plan to hunt the area. This will give the animals some time to get used to the blind’s presence.

Clear a shooting lane. Using a blind means, you don’t have the flexibility of movement to improve the sighting of an animal. Take some time to clear any limbs and branches that could get in the way of a successful shot.

Like all hunting, timing is crucial. Try and get into your blind before daylight. Alternatively, try early in the afternoon, before the animals begin to feed. It’s important to avoid disturbing animals on your way in. also ensure you walk to the blind downwind, keep your movements concealed and avoid using game trails to get to your blind. Animals will smell you using their trails.

So what kind of hunting method best suits you? Information in this blog was gained by doing the NSW DPI Hunter LEAP course on fallow deer ecology and heard management. HSSA are an approved Hunter LEAP provider and can provide the hunter leap courses to R licence holders in the greater Brisbane area. For more information visit https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/hunting/education-and-training-for-hunters or www.hssa.club.

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