November 04, 2010
Many bowhunters believe that they should always stalk slowly. This is not true. A skillful foot hunter varies his stalking speed to get close to animals. A fast, aggressive approach is often better than a slow approach, especially on a long-distance stalk.
I have lost count of the times I've seen archers blow stalks by timidly tiptoeing after game. Even from several hundred yards, they follow the old formula of "take a step, and then wait two." This might work in a small, rain-soaked whitetail woodlot, but big country requires big moves. Otherwise, animals like elk and mule deer might shift position or the wind might switch long before the bowhunter arrives.
Here's a good rule of thumb for stalking: Outside of 150 yards, you should go as fast as possible -- even trotting or running -- if you can stay downwind and out of sight behind foliage or solid ground. From there, slow down no more than you think is required to keep from being seen or heard.
On an average stalk, a good hunter only slows to a creep during the last 75 or 100 yards. At times, when you're close, you might need to kneel or stand motionless for more than an hour between steps. In summary, the best bowhunters vary their stalking speed to match the circumstances.