“Stand hunting simply denotes a hunter’s concealing himself in a well chosen spot, where he waits for deer to come to him.” – David Libby
Jim Shockey once wrote, “Tracking a whitetail in fresh snow is arguably a better way to hunt than stand hunting or still-hunting. Tracking eliminates the boredom of the former and the randomness of the latter.” And truthfully, I certainly believe that to be the case for me, and could never quite understand how anyone could find the same satisfaction sitting on stand from dawn-to-dusk, that is until I met Dave Libby.
Dave is a hunter that leaves nothing to chance, from his rigorous scent control system, eating habits during the length of a deer season, choice of which stand to sit and even the patience to sit motionless for up to 14-hours a day in whatever the elements happen to be. Dave writes, “Stand hunting is the only method by which I ever attempt to hunt deer. This, of course, begs the question “why?” There are other ways that deer can be taken, so why am I so single-mindedly devoted to the stand?” He goes on to answer,
“I am hopelessly addicted to observing God’s creation at it best, and I know of know no better way to do this than by concealing myself well, and watching as the drama of nature unfolds before my eyes. It also offers what I believe to be the best possible chance for success in suburban and semi-rural areas, (where I do the bulk of my hunting) especially for mature bucks.”
Hunting Whitetails From On High is not just a book specialized for stand hunters, it includes deer behavior, antidotes (some quite hilarious) and a wealth of information that is certain to enlighten the reader. This is indeed a book that is by and for the average, hard-working huntsman who relishes the hunt itself.
Libby explains, “A tremendous amount has been, and is being, written about hunting whitetail deer. I, personally, have subscribed to four fine periodicals on hunting; one specializes exclusively in the study of deer and deer hunting. I also own several books that address the subject, and do it very well. I have nothing less than profound respect for those individuals who have dedicated themselves to the study and hunting of deer, whose unimpeachable credentials are substantiated by their success. However, for those of us who live in the more populated parts of the Northeast, one problem persists; much of what is written about stand hunting is irrelevant.
The overwhelming majority of deer hunting celebrities who dominate both the written and video media are plying their trades in the South and Midwest, usually on large private exclusive leases where hunting pressure is managed, buck-to-doe ratios are kept balanced, and bucks are allowed to survive unmolested to three or four years of age. Of course, there is nothing wrong with this. Those who live and hunt in whitetail Mecca’s are certainly allowed to offer advice, and those who do are worth listening to. The problem, however, is that many of us will never have the opportunity to hunt on private leases in places like Kansas or Missouri, and where we live it’s a whole different game.
Not only are there far more deer in the Midwest than there are here in the Northeast, but they are also much more concentrated. There the landscape is dominated by large crop-fields, broken by comparatively small tracts of woodland, with well-defined bedding areas. Available cover tends to be loaded with deer, and travel routes are easy to discern. Here, there are virtually no crop-fields, and the landscape is covered with forest. Often, bedding and feeding area are poorly defined and intermingled; sometimes deer do not even bed consistently in the same cover each day. We have far fewer deer to begin with, and those that we do have are not nearly so concentrated, since cover is more prevalent and ubiquitous, scattering them over a much larger range.”
And this is but one of the many reasons why I, long ago decided to track whitetails in the big timber; fewer but bigger deer, lot’s of elbow room and little interference from other hunters. Libby address this when he writes,
“In the northern big woods, the remarkable record of trackers like R.G. Bernier, the Benoits…cannot be denied. In fact, I expect that in the areas where they hunt, tracking is probably the most effective way to consistently take mature bucks.” It is! But as Dave explains, “However, in the more populated parts of the Northeast, tracking down and shooting big bucks would be nearly impossible. Tracking requires snow, and most places don’t usually get any until after deer season ends. And when there is snow, any effort to track deer in a suburban setting would be fraught with frustration…most Northeastern blocks of land are simply too small and run the tracker up against posted property and houses.”
So, you may be asking, how does this guy succeed hunting amidst ever encroaching dwellings, other hunters and deer that know far more about us than we may think? The first, and perhaps most important is Dave’s ambitious scent control. Even he describes as, well, a bit eccentric. “Warning: most of you are going to find what follows to be a bit extreme; you might at times even begin to question my sanity.” But as they say, the proof is in the pudding. “A radical scent-elimination regimen has proven to be very helpful to me and my hunting efforts, and although it is an awful lot of work, I have found it to be well worth the effort.”
Much work is required to find hunting locations void of crowds, but again, and exercise worth one’s time, especially if you’re looking to alleviate yourself of frustration. Dave explains, “Scouting effort should have this as its foremost aim. Be as cognizant of sings of hunting pressure as you are of deer sign. Avoid areas that afford easy access, where there is ample parking. In places where the hunting pressure is heavy, it might be difficult to find perfect freedom from all hunter interference. Don’t worry if someone occasionally walks through your hunting area, but if you regularly see orange then it is time to move on to more secluded grounds.”
From chapters of Defeating The Enemy Within, Closing The Deal, Bucks For Busy Folks, to properly hunting the four-stages of the whitetails annual rut and how to predict it. Dave has left no stone unturned in his sharing of this wealth of information. In fact, despite being a tracker, when I first read Hunting Whitetails From On High, it was a book that I could not put down. It not only held my attention, but served to help me better understand a whole different way of hunting deer. This is indeed a book that should have been written long ago, one that is sure to help legions of stand hunters become far better at their sport, and perhaps even better, themselves, for taking the time to read it.
To obtain a copy of Hunting Whitetails From On High send check or money order in the amount of $23.95 payable to: David Libby, 125 Dolloff Road, Standish, ME04084
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