Close this search box.

Bowhunting on the Ground – Still Hunting

Darren in the Woods

I started bowhunting from the ground. It was the only way I knew how to hunt deer. Still, hunting with a compound bow, as it turns out, is not quite that simple.

Sitting against the base of a tree may work just fine when using a shotgun, but it does not work quite as well when using a compound bow.

While recurve bows and wooden arrows usually come to mind when thinking of traditional bowhunting, for me, it means getting on the ground and being at eye level with deer.

It’s my ultimate challenge to use the terrain, wind, and weather to my advantage. I spent the first years of my bowhunting life using these elements to my advantage.

I had many beautiful encounters with deer during that time using these traditional bowhunting techniques, but I never took one. Many hunters do this regularly, but it is mostly a matter of knowing when and where traditional bowhunting is effective. 

Nowadays, I spend most of my time in the deer woods waiting for the perfect ambush from a treestand.

But some of my best hunting memories come from those first years when I was only bowhunting using traditional techniques.

Remember: Hunt the wind

When bowhunters say “hunt the wind,” they mean that you should keep the wind in your face by hunting directly into it when you can.

This will help you sneak up on deer undetected. There’s a lot of truth to them, and every bowhunter should pay attention.

read.. most hunted big game

The archer interested in traditional bowhunting success should take those words one step further and hunt in a steady wind whenever possible.

A moving branch, grass, or falling leaf can create so much movement in the woods that a hunter moving slowly will go virtually undetected.

The wind will help muffle any noise you might make while walking on dry leaves or snapping branches.

That’s definitely an exciting way to hunt, especially on windy days when deer are more likely to materialize out of nowhere. The only downside is that the wind can also make deer uneasy and overly alert to danger.

Take Your Time

When you’re new to traditional bowhunting or still hunting, the biggest mistake you can make is moving too fast.

It’s very tempting to cover a lot of ground in hopes of seeing more game, but when you’re on the ground trying to remain concealed, the biggest weapon you have is the ability to move slowly.

When deer hunting, you will often hear experienced hunters talk about covering 100 yards of cover in an hour. I’m unsure if that is reasonable, but I go as slowly as necessary to avoid making noise.

There are a few things to consider when deciding how fast to still-hunt through the cover. The ground condition- if it’s wet or covered in snow, I can move a bit more quickly.

If it is wide open and a deer could spot me from a greater distance, I will slow down. The speed you still hunt depends on the type of cover you are hunting through. One of my favorite places to still hunt is a tiny apple orchard that has been neglected and has become very thick.

The oasis provides a safe place for deer to bed and eat. It is easy to approach from downwind, and the orchard is about 75 yards long and 50 yards wide.

I take my time hunting along one edge of the orchard, moving quietly and taking about 45 minutes to an hour to hunt its entire length.

Quietness is not the problem. Often, deer are hunkered down, and to find an ear or a tail flicking, and you have to move slowly and scout each potential hiding spot.

Hunt Areas with Higher Density of Deer

I described the old apple orchard as an excellent place to hunt using traditional bowhunting techniques. Rather than just taking to the woods to still hunt my way around, I prefer to visit several hunting areas on a given day.

Each site has a thick cover or transition area from hardwoods to thicket. This allows me to use the terrain’s natural features to my advantage and provide some concealment from the game I am pursuing.

One of my favorite areas to hunt is a small ridge that runs for about 200 yards along the side of a gently sloping hardwood stand.

The roadbed provides a nice travel route for deer. I slip in on the downwind end of the roadbed and, staying below the road, use its lip to remain hidden from the view of deer using the travel route.

Traditional bowhunting can be more successful by finding smaller areas that are ideal. I can periodically slip up to the lip of the roadbed and use my binoculars to scan for deer coming my way.

If I am lucky, I slip back down from the edge and out of sight to wait for them to come by within bow range.

Still hunting remains the most basic form of bowhunting. Relying on your keen sense of the woods and ability to spot an animal and get close without being detected is at the heart of bowhunting.

Although still hunting with a bow can be a more difficult task, it can also be more rewarding. Bowhunting relies heavily on the hunter’s skill to spot game, get close to it undetected, and hopefully harvest a deer. This type of hunting can be a gratifying and challenging experience.

I learned how to use the wind and weather to my advantage by hunting in areas difficult for deer to see me.

I would slow down when moving through thick cover and take advantage of rain or snow days when the wind blew hard. This helped me get close to deer much more frequently.

Before you go..

Still, hunting is the most basic form of bowhunting. It relies on your keen sense of the woods and ability to spot an animal and get close without being detected.

Although still hunting with a bow can be more difficult, it can also be more rewarding. You rely on your skill to spot game, get close to it undetected, and hopefully harvest a deer.

This type of hunting can be a very enjoyable and challenging experience.


Q: What is the best way to spot deer when still hunting?

A: The best way to spot deer when still hunting is by using binoculars to scan the area for movement. You should also be aware of your surroundings and look for areas where deer may bed or feed.

Q: How do I get close to deer without being detected?

A: The best way to get close to deer without being detected is by using the wind and weather to your advantage, as well as by slowing down your movements through thick cover. You should also try to hunt in smaller areas that are ideal for bowhunting.

Q: What should I do if I see a deer but it is out of bow range?

A: If you see a deer but it is out of bow range, you could wait for the deer to come closer to you.

Q: What are some of the challenges associated with still hunting?

A: One of the challenges associated with still hunting is getting close enough to deer without being detected. Another challenge is being able to spot deer in difficult terrain. You also need to be aware of the wind and weather conditions to use them to your advantage

Q: What is the most rewarding aspect of still hunting?

A: The most rewarding aspect of still hunting is being able to harvest a deer undetected and without a stand or blind. It´s very enjoyable and challenging to hunt this way.

Q: What are some other tips for still hunting?

A: Some other tips for still hunting include using the wind and weather to your advantage, being aware of your surroundings, and hunting in smaller areas that are ideal for bowhunting.

Q: What type of clothing should I wear when ground hunting?

A: When still hunting, you should wear clothing that will help you blend in with your surroundings. This may include wearing earth tones or using camouflage.

Leave a Comment

a hand holding a bow
Alexander Knobloch

Best Vintage Recurve Bows

Recurve bows, with their historic roots stretching back centuries, have been the stalwart defenders of lands, castles, forts, and the people who dwelt within. Countless civilizations have wielded these ancient tools of war and survival, each adding its unique spin on its construction and use. In the modern era, the humble recurve bow has found

Read More »
a crossbow leaning on a tree stumb
Josh Boyd

How Far Can A Crossbow Shoot

It is not uncommon for beginning crossbow archers to question how far their crossbow can shoot. Of course, this curiosity is only normal, as most wish to understand the full range of capabilities that their equipment holds. However, the answer to this quandary is not always as simple as one might assume. While the exact

Read More »
a deer walking across a plain
Alexander Knobloch

How To Field Dress A Deer

You have efficiently scouted during the summer months, positioned your deer stands in superb locations, and put in your time on the stand in a relentless fashion. All of this diligent preparation and hard work has culminated in this singular climactic moment as you stand afield, viewing your successful harvest. However, as victorious as this

Read More »