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-   -   Stillhunting a bench on a hillside--best way? (https://www.huntingnet.com/forum/whitetail-deer-hunting/402933-stillhunting-bench-hillside-best-way.html)

Father Forkhorn 11-27-2015 05:45 AM

Stillhunting a bench on a hillside--best way?
 
Is it better to hunt above or on a brushy bench that links a high bedding area and a low feeding area. A deer trail runs its length

A hunter could theoretically walk about thirty feet above the bench, though the cover is thick and might cause some issues in spots. Or, he could walk the trail and have the wind in his face. Because of the steepness, he'd have to do one or the other.

Game Stalker 11-27-2015 06:11 AM

I would attempt to set myself to either side between the bedding area and the game trail to the food source, trying to use as much height as possible to my advantage. This should permit an encounter w/deer as they move to and from bedding and food source using the trail.

Champlain Islander 11-27-2015 06:14 AM

I mostly still hunt and the situation you describe is one I am always looking for. Wind and scent control is important since if the wind is wrong it doesn't matter how well you can see especially in a thicker area with limited visibility. I would work the wind and if you are looking for a bedded buck they often bed with the wind at their back facing downhill so they have both flanks covered. I love to pick my way uphill into the wind very slowly looking for a bedded deer near the edge of the bench. Once I get to the top I'll often creep along the edge looking for animals up ahead. The end of the day I would be focusing near the bottom trying to catch them going to the feed. The secret to still hunting is to use both the wind and terrain to your advantage and go slower than slow. I will move a step or two and then stop and look in a 360 degree view. If deer are moving they will always be going faster than I am and I often hear them coming. If they are bedded or feeding a step or two at a time will often give you the chance of seeing them. My still hunting is actually stand hunting except I am always moving from one stand to another 10 feet at a time. I rarely stay in a spot for more than 5 or 10 minutes unless I see a ton of fresh sign. If there is snow I keep moving until I cut a fresh track that is an animal I want to go for. Then I am moving at the same rate I feel the animal is going. If it is circling for a bedding site or browsing then I slow down. Once you get the hang of still hunting it is productive but you do need big woods without a lot of other hunters.

Bocajnala 11-27-2015 06:20 AM

Good Post by CI. I'll add... Take binoculars and USE them. Especially if you're above the bench looking down into the brush. Use your eyes more than your feet.
-Jake

Champlain Islander 11-27-2015 07:01 AM

Very important Jake... and a good point that I forgot to mention. The biggest tip I can also add is you seldom will see a whole deer standing there. I condition myself to look for deer parts or brown colors. The flicker of an ear or tail will often give them away and the brown outline of the back is another thing to look for.. If thick get down low and you might see some legs especially in a cedar or coniferous bedding area. For those people trying out still hunting don't get discouraged if all you end up seeing is flags. It is a numbers game and an acquired skill. All of a sudden you are seeing shootable deer and my deer sightings are often many more than the hunter who sits on a stand all day. I wouldn't recommend that kind of hunting unless you have big woods as I previously said. I have used this method of hunting with great success elk hunting too. They always have lots of eyes and noses though which makes it tougher. Terrain use to hide your approach and wind control are most important out west plus like Boca said using the binos. Speaking of binos get a bino halter which keeps them tight to your chest and always available.
In the northeast... benches, swamps and saddles are always a good place to spend time. I rarely will spend much time in the open hardwoods especially since there aren't many nuts this far north. Lots of people spend all day sitting watching an open hardwoods and I have found the deer will rarely cross them. Most of the time they will be along an edge of a defined thicker area which is where I hunt. I have shot a lot of deer and it is rare that my shot is more than 75 yds with most from 40 to 60.

Mojotex 11-27-2015 07:28 AM

This is one of the best posts I have come across. Many. many great points .... using wind, using terrain, moving extremely slowly , using binos to help spot details, etc. After my grand dad suddenly died when I was 10 or so, one of my families best friends who was also elderly sort of became my substitute grand dad, gave me a piece of advice that has served me well over the years. He dearly loved squirrel hunting and had two great little treeing terriers. The dogs treed one in a big old pine and try as I might I could not find the squirrel .... Mr. Herman told me to look for "what ain't tree". And lo and behold I spotted the squirrel withing a few looks, a "hump" on a limb. So, when I still-stalk hunt I look for what ain't deer. If you have never tried this approach, give it a shot. It works for me.

Bocajnala 11-27-2015 07:41 AM

I love to still hunt. People look at me crosseyed when they say "Where will you be opening morning" And I say, "Well, I'm gonna get dropped off at point A and hunt to point B and get picked up" But it works. The more you practice the better you'll get. And they first time you shoot a deer in it's bed, or just standing up from it's bed you'll be thrilled. I practice these skills while squirrel hunting, they don't require you to be as sneaky, or careful about the wind, but I still treat it as if I'm after deer. That has really helped me.

-Jake

Father Forkhorn 11-27-2015 08:10 AM

Thanks, guys.

I realize I messed something up in my post, though, so I will edit it.

The big question: would you be on the bench or above it? As I say, you're forced to do one or the other.


I mostly still hunt and the situation you describe is one I am always looking for. Wind and scent control is important.
I do some stillhunting, so I'm ok as far as technique and knowing how. Your thoughts are mine as far as situation. This spot looks really, really, prime with the right wind.


Take binoculars and USE them. Especially if you're above the bench looking down into the brush.
I'm about to go purchase a new set--The board's convinced me of that on some earlier posts. I have a pair that will work for the moment, if the Black Friday madness prevents it.


Mr. Herman told me to look for "what ain't tree"....If you have never tried this approach, give it a shot. It works for me.
An excellent tip. I hadn't thought of it in those terms, but it makes perfect sense.


And they first time you shoot a deer in it's bed, or just standing up from it's bed you'll be thrilled. I practice these skills while squirrel hunting, they don't require you to be as sneaky, or careful about the wind, but I still treat it as if I'm after deer.
I stillhunt squirrels myself, and for the same reasons. If you're screwing up with squirrels, you'll surely blow it with deer. Plus, squirrels live in deer country and it's a good way to find hunting spots.

Spotting a buck in its bed would be the highlight of my hunting season. I've not done that. That's why I want those binocs.

Champlain Islander 11-27-2015 09:34 AM

I like benches and will always gravitate to them. I find deer and elk like to stay close to the edges and work their way along them. You can usually see pretty well on the benches because they are flat. Occasionally you can get part way up the high side and improve your sight line but that would be a spot I would sit for a bit. My own feeling is if I am moving I would rather be above them than below. If picking out a stand a high point looking onto the bench is a good spot almost like being in a tree stand. If looking for a spot to sit I like to find where the bench runs into a saddle because that is usually the spot they will access the bench from.

Edit: I just read your original post again. I haven't hunted Kansas so I might not be getting the right picture of your spot. From what I remember driving through it was pretty flat. If visibility is limited because of brush on the bench I would take the high side and work the edge slow to spot along the bench below me. If I understand the description there is a well defined run going along the bench which is their preferred way to cut through that bushy area. I would go higher in that case and try to view along the run up ahead.

Sheridan 11-27-2015 10:01 AM


Originally Posted by Game Stalker (Post 4230394)
I would attempt to set myself to either side between the bedding area and the game trail to the food source, trying to use as much height as possible to my advantage. This should permit an encounter w/deer as they move to and from bedding and food source using the trail.

I am definitely a still hunter also (including coyotes); but since you know where their bedding area is and where their food source is, I would use that to my advantage.

Knowing that they feed at night and transition during dawn and dusk, I would still hunt +/- 40 yards off the main game trail (as all the big bucks do); as was mentioned maintaining the higher ground and keeping the wind in my face at all times !

Take it VERY slow and remain motionless once you make an encounter; more often they will get comfortable as they continue along their way.

During the rut they could run into you quickly, so be "ready" at all times.

Sounds like you found a good spot, so DON'T blow them out...................you can always come back to try again !!!

Good luck Big Guy :happy0001:

Father Forkhorn 11-27-2015 02:23 PM


I haven't hunted Kansas so I might not be getting the right picture of your spot.....If visibility is limited because of brush on the bench I would take the high side and work the edge slow to spot along the bench below me. If I understand the description there is a well defined run going along the bench which is their preferred way to cut through that bushy area. I would go higher in that case and try to view along the run up ahead.
I think you have it, but let me see if can add something for a better description. The bench is actually an old lane cut for running quarry equipment along the bluff of a big river. If you think of a trench cut into a hillside, then you have it. It's like walking down a trench about the width of a two lane highway, but one that has big boulders and is now brush choked.

It's actually a perpendicular cliff on the high side, so deer have to use the bench to travel. On the low side, the trench leaves a little cliff face about 20' high, but you can walk along its top and see down into trench.

Your advice is making sense. I should be on that 20' cliff face if possible.

I was hoping to make a diagram but it failed.

Oldtimr 11-27-2015 02:43 PM

You have better vision of what is below you in heavy cover than looking straight in or up.

Champlain Islander 11-27-2015 02:50 PM


Originally Posted by Father Forkhorn (Post 4230449)
I think you have it, but let me see if can add something for a better description. The bench is actually an old lane cut for running quarry equipment along the bluff of a big river. If you think of a trench cut into a hillside, then you have it. It's like walking down a trench about the width of a two lane highway, but one that has big boulders and is now brush choked.

It's actually a perpendicular cliff on the high side, so deer have to use the bench to travel. On the low side, the trench leaves a little cliff face about 20' high, but you can walk along its top and see down into trench.

Your advice is making sense. I should be on that 20' cliff face if possible.

I was hoping to make a diagram but it failed.

Sounds like that "bench " is a man made path that has grown up and now acts as a funnel to allow deer to go from bed to feed. Yup I would use that as a stand and not still hunt. If the run is well defined it should be a slam dunk. A funnel is either man made or something in nature that changes the path for animals. Sounds like you are on to something. That being said I would use the wind to my advantage and the time of day to determine where to sit. Late in the day the lower end should see animals funneling down to the fields or feed spots. Reverse in morning as they head to the bedding areas. The runs if well defined show lots of activity and should be a great place for an ambush. Good luck.

Father Forkhorn 11-27-2015 04:57 PM


You have better vision of what is below you in heavy cover than looking straight in or up.
That's another reason to try to get upon the high part.


Sounds like that "bench " is a man made path that has grown up and now acts as a funnel to allow deer to go from bed to feed. Yup I would use that as a stand and not still hunt.
You've hit it exactly. It's definitely manmade and works as a funnel. Once a deer gets in it, they pretty much have to run it end to end.

A stand might be the way to go. It would certainly work in this place.


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