If you’re up on the current whitetail hunting trends, mobile whitetail hunting tactics are everything you hear and everything you read about.
But if you aren’t doing hang and hunts on the regular, what are you missing? It’s surely the fastest route to wrapping your tag around a booner, right? Before you get caught up in the latest and greatest, it’s important to understand when mobile hunting tactics are absolutely the right move, but also when the tactic can actually be detrimental.
“I don’t think mobile hunting is overrated, but I do think its necessity is misunderstood,” MeatEater’s Tony Peterson weighed in. “Some hunters seem to adopt a strategy that is mobile or nothing, when they could be setting up stands or blinds ahead of time, and really putting themselves in a good position to more efficiently hunt later. I see this with the saddle hunting crowd a lot. People buy into saddles, which are an amazing tool, but then they use them for every scenario. If you’re hunting private ground, or really anywhere that you can hang a stand ahead of time, it’s not always the best choice to saddle up.”
So when is mobile hunting the right move? The most compelling scenario is one in which your current hunting spot has gone cold. If all your usual spots are not producing, whether it be from unanticipated hunting pressure, habitat changes, or just a genuine lack of deer, it’s time to do some in-season scouting with a stand on your back. Perhaps you want to try the famed bump and dump strategy. This is your perfect opportunity to test its merit.
Another perfect use case is when you have lots of ground at your disposal and can afford to educate a few deer. The tradeoff of adding a few new spots to your arsenal will far outweigh bumping a few does. Casting a wide net might also clue you in on a sly whitetail, discreetly living just outside your peripherals.
The last clear advantage of the mobile setup is your ability to leave an area completely undisturbed until the day of your hunt. As they say, your best hunt is usually your first hunt. In the case of mobile hunting, practically every hunt is your first hunt. This has become my go-to strategy for opening day, or out-of-state hunts. After locating a deer from afar, via glassing or road scouting, I like to keep him unaware of my presence. Instead of stomping into his bedroom before the season starts and deploying trail cameras and several lock-on stands, I like to keep him unaware of my intentions. After studying the terrain and pinpointing a good ambush site, I move in on opening day with a lightweight stand and sticks at the ready.
“One of the dangers with falling in love with mobile hunting, especially when you get a good system down, is that you want to do it all the time. Sometimes, finding a spot and volume hunting is a better bet,” Tony said. “I see this a lot in big woods situations, with low deer densities. Sometimes you just need to trust your scouting and be patient, which is hard if you think that the primary way to always kill deer is to keep moving until you find them. I really believe patience kills big deer, and it can be hard to be patient for some folks who are all in on mobile hunting.”
Similar to what Tony has experienced, I find myself needing to be careful of using my mobile hunting setup as a crutch. Sometimes knowing that I have a tried-and-true hang-and-hunt system, I find myself cutting corners and making excuses when I don’t want to hang another permanent treestand. During scouting trips I think, “ah, I’ll just pick out a tree and hang and hunt this spot.” More times than not, I find myself regretting this decision come November. Hang and hunts will always require you to operate on less sleep, will always be louder setting up, and will have less-than-perfect shooting lanes as a result.
When it comes to a place that you hunt every year, and have honed in on the very best tree that the spot has to offer, a lock-on treestand will reign supreme. The same can be said if you have very few hunting spots at your disposal. In that case, every deer you bump off the property decreases your odds of success, and fumbling around with climbing sticks in the dark certainly isn’t going to help. The truth is, if you have time to adequately scout your hunting area pre-season, silently climbing into a pre-hung stand has more upside. You can’t build a house with just a hammer. Having multiple tools at your disposal and, more importantly, knowing when to use each tool, will make you a more well-rounded hunter.
Feature image via Captured Creative.