Living and growing up in the South Eastern parts of Alberta is great, the hunting is good, the fishing is solid and the summers are hot. As you all know, Southern Alberta is know for its mule deer hunting, big bucks and lots of them, but it isn’t easy hunting. Unless you hunt from your vehicle and do the mad dash as the deer cross the roads you almost have to spot your game, and then proceed to stalk.

As a young boy I would always be in the coulees looking for animals to get close to, and as I got older I would sneak my fathers camo and rattling antlers to try and get in that comfort zone of the urbanized deer that roam the prairie of Medicine Hat, Alberta. Now, you must think that wouldn’t be a problem because they are so used to traffic and people etc. but dang it man, it was and still is tough.

The older I got the more and more I wanted to get closer to game, whether it was deer or bear, I wanted to get close and that’s all there was to it. Now, as a mature hunter, I am always so careful when it comes to the stalk because one wrong move and the hunt and possibly an entire day of hunting can and will be lost.

Here are a few basics that do work if used correctly.

P_PCypressHunt003.jpg picture by PeaknPrairieOutdoors

The first thing is, you have to be able to spot your game from a comfortable distance; by that I mean comfortable for the game that you are not a threat to your presence. Hunting the south country, is mainly wide open terrain and most think it can be near impossible to get within the 40 yard mark, but that is where you are wrong. When you are dealing with the last forty yards, every step, breathe, and movement is of the utmost importance. But lets start from the beginning.

First things first, your preparation at home can play a big role in your stalk. Most hunters think that when they wash their gear in scent free detergents, and UV Kill their garments that they are good for scent control but they tend to forget that you still have to eat your breakfast, make your lunch and have a cup of java for the drive to the hunting spot.

P_PCypressHunt004.jpg picture by PeaknPrairieOutdoors

I have done it before, you get dressed up and ready to make that stalk and you get within the 80 yards and need to close that next 40 and wham! your busted. The nose lifts; the animal sniffs you out and will walk away without even looking at you. Leaving you stunned, wondering what went wrong… you did everything I mentioned before, but forgot about that smoke you had on the way out and the cherry air freshner hanging off of your rear view mirror.

To minimize these problems, when you are done washing your gear, toss it into a scent free duffle bag or even a garbage bag. Invest in a good scent elimination spray and proceed to spray yourself down after you get out of the truck prior to getting dressed. It does take more time, but it will increase your odds by huge numbers. You may also want to scent eliminate your truck with sprays prior to the hunt as well.

When stalking in the open country and through the the timber or brush, camouflage patterns are critical. In open country get a good pattern like Realtrees Advantage Max-1 or Max-4, Mossy Oaks Brush or Montana’s Prairie Ghost. Utilizing patterns like these will increase your chance of getting close..matching tones and shades are the best thing to do. Remember, deer see UV coloring in clothing so with out killing the clothing with a UV killer you will glow a blue or yellow to them while you think you are invisible!

P_PCypressHunt001.jpg picture by PeaknPrairieOutdoors

Now you are at your area of  choice and spot a couple of good bucks making their way to go bed down, sit tight and wait for them to lie before the stalk. Most times they will be bedded for at least an hour or two which should give you enough time to get close and wait for the shot. Get dressed, scent eliminate yourself, and grab your bow and binoculars and remember to wind check, then begin to move in. Always, move towards the animal down wind. The minute you slip, and get up wind of the game you can almost count the hunt as being over. If you are a fair distance off, it may not bother them but getting in close the wind is everything even if you wear scent elimination gear the wind can bust you. Also, the wind will help muffle any noises you do make on the way in.

I will use a stalk that my brother and I made last season in the Cypress Hills, Alberta area as an example. We spotted 5 bucks moving up and over a coulee, about half a mile away from the road. We watched these bucks for a good 20 minutes and decided to wait until they were up and over the hill before we went in. We had to walk across a huge flat before reaching the base which took us a good half hour to get to. From there we glassed the hillsides, and draws, that we were on the edge of to see if we could spot the group of bucks before we went any further. We noticed three bucks bedded down another mile away to the south of us. We check them out for a good five minutes before moving any further. We walked around the side of the hill being sure, not to expose our silhouette till we came to the peak, so we could again take another look.  All we saw were three does moving through the brush. Dang it, where did they go, we were baffled. They put the slip on us. We sat there for a good 45 minutes scanning every piece of brush looking for some antler, ears, a nose anything, but nothing. We looked at the bucks on the hillside that were easily a mile away from where we sat and planned a second attack on these bucks. We decided to move from the bottom to the top of the adjacent coulee and slowly start to sneak in from the backside. Even though, we were a good three quarters of a mile away we were still so so careful with every step made. It is always a good habit to develop as, it will just carry through when yo are getting close enough for that bow shot.

Once, we peaked over the edge of the grassy hill, we took a look, to make sure the bucks didn’t move or didn’t hear or see us so we could then plan the rest of the stalk from where we sat. We now had no choice but to go through the wide open space that separated us from them. We studied the terrain and contemplated which way to go. Looking at the bucks, the wind was directly at our chin, so the only obvious way to go was straight at them in the open. But we didn’t want to do this, simply because we had a long ways to go, at least 900 more yards at this point. We could go to the right of the bucks and work our way along the side of the hill and come up beside them giving us an up close and personal shot but the wind was shifting and we didn’t want to alert our prey.

We finally decided to go straight on, and sure enough about 45 minutes later we were anchored in at 60 yards of the three pope and young bucks to see them sleeping with their noises to the wind.  So there is myself and my brother and the 3 bucks.. who is shooting at what and when we thought. We decided that Tyler would shoot first and I would try to get a second shot or at least hope to at the other buck. Two of the deer were solid, one good 140 inch typical four, a 155 inch 4 and a smaller 30 inch buck… all great deer. We moved about 6 inches every few minutes watching, waiting, trying to get close enough for a good ethical shot. Sixty yards turned to 55, then to 50 and that was as close as we got. Out of nowhere the three bucks got up.. looked around and decided they didn’t want to be there any longer and walked off. *sigh* I know… all that work and we have to walk back to the truck picking our brains apart trying to figure out what it was that set these bucks off and out. It can be many things, we took to long.. maybe they smelt us or caught a glimpse of the glare from the binoculars. We will never know but at that, we taught ourselves another lesson on stalking game. Always always take your time, and think.. prepare for the worst and hope for the best.  The become a master of the stalk you have to make them and unfortunately you don’t get good at it on the first try, but don’t give up and learn from every mistake. I hope this helps you out the next time you see a deer that may be to far out of reach and in the open stuff, maybe it will give you a little boost to try and go after him.

Here are a few spot and stalk victims that were taken in the last few years by family and friends.
BrandonAntelopeBuck1sitepic.jpg Dads Goat 73 inches picture by PeaknPrairieOutdoors

DadsBuck004.jpg picture by PeaknPrairieOutdoors

DadMuley2.jpg picture by PeaknPrairieOutdoors

Thank you and God Bless,

Brandon Heather
Xtremely Alberta Outdoors