We somehow think we’re protected from the whitetail’s keen senses by just using camouflage (to get past their eyes) and scent concealment (to get past their noses), when deer have a third highly honed sense (hearing) they use very well to keep us from suc
I once had a friend who wanted a log cabin in the northern wilderness. Like many of us, he wanted a place he could get away from the noise, hunt and never see another person, and where fish had never seen a lure before. As the coffee can filled up, he finally found the perfect spot and immediately hired a contractor to start building the cabin of his dreams.
Several months later, my friend invited me along for a short fishing trip to check it out for the first time. We were amazed! The log walls were the finest we’d ever seen, thick and sure to keep out any amount of cold and wind. The roof was strong with sturdy steel that would protect those inside from snow and rain of the great North. However, where huge skylights, sliding doors, and postcard view picture windows should have been…there was nothing! Just holes and gaping openings in the walls. Naturally, we thought nothing of it and went to bed not worrying at all about possible rain, wind, bugs, and any wild animal that could just walk right into the place. After all, we had a good roof and solid walls, and that was good enough?
Are you kidding me? Of course we wouldn’t do that, and no sane person would!
Unfortunately, just like a cabin with the windows and doors missing, we hunters have been walking around with huge holes in our defenses. We somehow think we’re protected from the whitetail’s keen senses by just using camouflage (to get past their eyes) and scent concealment (to get past their noses), when deer have a third highly honed sense (hearing) they use very well to keep us from success. And just like my friend’s cabin, ignoring this lack of protection has major consequences!
There is something new in deer hunting, it’s called sound concealment. In my first article I shared two rules to help hunters get past a deer’s ears, and the real possibility of reaching 100 percent stealth. If you missed them, you really need to check them out at soundbarrierhunting.com. In this article, I will continue to delve into the little-known science of deer hearing, as we attempt to reach that next level as a hunter and never be heard again!
Sound Concealment Rule #3
Most hunters get to their hunting spot way too quickly. Maybe out of pure excitement, or trying to sneak a hunt in after work, we rush in getting to our stand. This reveals a sound principle you can probably identify with: when we don’t allow enough time, we make way too much noise.
First of all, we need to plan our hunts so we have enough time. I’ve found that if we slow down our approach and really taking our time, that we can cut the noise we make by at least half. I call this the Rule of Halves, and it works! If it will take you ten minutes normally to get to your stand, take twenty, if fifteen, take thirty, etc. When doing this, watch where your foot lands each footstep. Be sure there are no twigs or excessive leaves that will increase the amount of noise you make. Look for bare patches of dirt that won’t make noise, stumps or logs you can step on, or grass patches that will be quieter than the alternative. Now look up at eye level. It’s not just your feet that make noise! Notice each branch or twig that will scrape your arm, backpack or weapon. Plan and prevent by slowly avoiding these, instead of blasting through them and sounding like a giant wind chime!
Let’s take it up a notch. Not only should we slow our approach to decrease noise, but also slow down each step, applying the Rule of Halves here! In the case you can’t avoid all leaves and still have to step on some twigs, cutting the time it takes to place your foot down by at least half will dramatically decrease noise you make, and increase stealth. On clear days, seemingly insignificant noises can travel very far!
During gun season a few years ago I remember a particularly crisp and clear morning. A heavy frost made the leaves especially crunchy, and as the first rays of light darted through the woods, I heard it: loud crunching in the leaves. I got my gun up and waited as the crunching got louder and louder. Finally, the noisy creature got close and I could catch glimpses of something through my scope and that’s when I quickly put down my gun because I realized it was another hunter! Apparently, the neighbor had walked all the way from his house a quarter mile away, through his woods, along the edge of the property (with NO hunter orange on which is illegal and very dangerous) and I had heard every single step!
This is true when we enter and exit our stands too. However, if you slow it down, take a really slow step effectively crushing one leaf at a time and extending the time of impact of your foot, this decreases the noise level significantly! So, GO SLOW!
Sound Concealment Rule #4
Use Cover Sound
I’ve been hunting over twenty-three years, and over that time I have learned quite a few things. Probably one of the biggest things I’ve learned is utilizing what’s going on around me, in particular what I’ve termed, cover sound.
A few seasons ago I was walking back to a new spot in a stand of poplars near an old overgrown field. As I tried to walk quietly in, a flock of thousands of blackbirds came and landed in the trees near my stand, cackling and making incredible amounts of noise. In fact, they were making so much noise that I could have been driving a tank and no deer in the area would have heard me. The blackbirds were covering any noise I was making, and I could very quickly and easily get to my stand without any deer knowing I was there.
Now, this is not always the case, but utilizing natural cover sounds like wind gusts, planes flying overhead, a car driving by, and various other nearby noises can be leveraged to your advantage to help conceal your presence. Simply take your steps, make your movements, when these sounds occur.
A few years ago I was turkey hunting on a particularly thick property in Tennessee. On the drive into the property I noticed several turkeys already out in the field, making it nearly impossible to get into position. However, I decided to try a risky stalk through the thick tangle of woods to see if I could close the distance. Utilizing tip # 3 (GO SLOW) I took a good forty minutes to carefully plan my route and pick my way through the woods. When a plane flew over, a wind gust blew through the leaves, or a squirrel added a cover sound, I utilized this to make up some time or conceal an inevitable noisy step I had to take. As I finally reached the field edge, I realized my worst nightmare. In my haste to get out of the truck I had loaded my gun, but not racked a shell into the chamber. To do so now would surely alert the bird, but what could I do. I decided to wait for a cover sound to disguise me. After several minutes of patience, I had my break, as a loud plane flew over giving me my window of opportunity. The plan worked and a few minutes later I had one of the largest birds I’ve ever taken on the ground.
This works with all animals, and these rules can be a game changer for you if you can go slow and utilize cover sound! Next time, I will share three more tips you won’t find anywhere else on sound concealment.
Join us at soundbarrierhunting com, for new video tips and deer hearing science. Until then, make the decision to take your hunting to a new level and never be heard again!