Contrary to what the name implies, still hunting is the act of walking through the woods, slowly looking for game. It is slow, effective, and very hard to learn to do correctly. Once mastered, still hunting can be one of the most productive hunting methods is the whitetail woods.
You can use the tracks as a way to fall in behind a buck and dog him in hopes of catching up. This is a lot of fun and you'll learn plenty about buck behavior that'll benefit you in coming seasons, but it's not likely to produce a shot.
Bucks are known to monitor their back-trail, and they'll often bed where they can see anything that might be following. Usually you'll find only an empty bed at the end of the trail - and a set of running tracks leaving it. You have to keep a eye open to see if the buck will bed soon. One clue, the buck will start browsing. When he is browsing, he will be slowing down. You should slow down (depending if the tracks are fresh) Then start creeping, slow and silent. Sweep with your eyes side to side. That buck might be close. Keep your gun at the ready.
Bucks will bed facing his back trail and with the wind on his back. Look for the buck in cover like a fir or behind a blow down. If he is with a doe look for her. Another clue, the buck will make a 90 degree turn and head up hill. That buck might be up there watching his back trail. Sneak around and climb the other side. If you find his tracks on the other side (he went right over it) keep on his track until you get him or run out of light.
You don't have to walk right on top of a set of fresh tracks to take advantage of the information they offer. Assuming you're hunting an area you know fairly well, start looking for tracks at a well-used feeding area. When you find a big set that likely belong to a buck you should have a pretty good idea where he went. From the location and direction of tracks, take an educated guess at where the buck is bedding. Instead of trying to sneak in along his back-trail - circle around, get the wind right and stalk the area with the assumption that he's going to be there.
Keep your pace slow and look ahead often with binoculars. If you don't know where bucks are likely to bed in the area you're hunting, you can still use tracks to your advantage. Still-hunt parallel to their course, about 50 yards to the downwind side. Whenever you see a terrain or cover feature ahead, such as a ridge, knob or heavy thicket, that might serve as a bedding area, swing wide downwind and make a careful approach.
Submitted by Shane Wilkins
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