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Ground Hunting Whitetails in the Southeast

Bryan Landy of Mobile Hunting Gear (an excellent place to find gear for mobile hunting, I might add) wrote in with this awesome story of how ground hunting for whitetails came full circle for him after 30+ years of deer hunting!

To catch the tips and tactics Bryan references here, make sure you listen to episodes 306, and 210 of The Southern Outdoorsmen Podcast.

Editors note: Episode 210 "Ghillie Suit Ground Hunting a Bucks Bedroom with Travis Murray" has been a top listener success story producing episode for The Southern Outdoorsmen Podcast. Travis is an extremely accomplished deer hunter in Mississippi, taking multiple Boone & Crockett caliber deer in the state with both modern and traditional archery equipment. You can find additional interviews with Travis in episodes 257, 398, and 213. These are all phenomenal, info packed episodes but we especially recommend episodes 210 and 213.

A little back story, I killed my first deer at 11 using the same tactic discussed below. I developed this tactic as a result of being impatient, but not wanting to move too quickly. As a kid I would complain about being cold (it was really a boredom thing) so my dad would put together a somewhat still hunt/push. He would take a ridge & give me the bottom or vice versa. We would walk out a ridgeline & then meet up to take stand or plan another ridgeline route. Being young & lacking confidence, I would always outpace my dad so I worked into a walk and sit routine vs a conventional still hunt. I killed several deer using this method until I started hunting more on my own, and grew patience/confidence to sit on stand. Spent years hunting using normal mobile tactics (terrain, funnels, feed trees, bedding, etc) and did well on young deer with the occasional mature deer.
Fast forward 30 yrs. and I circled back around to that walk and sit tactic. Now however, it’s purpose driven and much more deliberate. A couple of my friends you’ve had on the podcast are masters at this ground attack. I learned a ton from both & both had excellence podcasts involving ground tactics/techniques. In episode 306 Justin Wright explains how he gets aggressive with ground approaches instead of “just waiting”. He talks through a successful bump and dump hunt. Similar in episode 210 Travis Murray dives into his ground game using ghillie suits, “hides”, and “being at peace with the wren”.
I hunt 2 ½ hrs. to 3 ½ from home on my “local’ ground and stringing multiple days of hunting together often isn’t possible. I try to take a week to hunt the Midwest, but other than that it’s a day here or there when available. Most places I hunt trail cams are illegal, there is no agriculture, and it’s affected by annual flooding – yep so why do you hunt there – because it’s the closet place with a good potential for pope and young size bucks. With limited time and certain constraints being ultra-aggressive seems to work best for me. I try to condense in season scouting and hunting in small windows so I basically scout 90% and hunt 10% but do it in a day or even morning or evening. I have a destination spot and scout/hunt my way in resulting in slow scouting for maybe an hr. or 2. Then depending on sign I may setup for 30 to 50 mins and then repeat.
A couple years back I got stuck on a work project, had to cancel two out of state trips, and didn’t even hit the woods until Dec 12th. I had a couple weeks to hunt, but didn’t have much time. I had been out of town working and away from the family for months so coming home and leaving for two weeks hunting wasn’t an option. I had time for a day here and there until the first of the year. My chips were all in on an overlooked spot that has been money in the past and I hadn’t hunted it in a couple years. I knew this time of year with an all day sit I was surely going to get a shot, but as daylight broke, I notice a climber 30 yards away. I stuck it out until noon and then when I climbed down, zero sign. Immediately it hit me, I’m screeewwwed. I had zero plan B just knew A was going to work. After wallowing in my self-pity and eating a cheese burger I figured it was time to come up with plan B. I drove around checking spots the rest of the evening but pressure was high and my hopes were low. I took the next day off with the family and then on my drive up the next day I listen to Travis’s podcast “Ghillie Suit ground hunting a buck’s bedroom.” I’ve talked to Travis dozens of times in the last 8yrs, but it never clicked until that podcast that’s exactly the way I started hunting. Nope never knew about bedding and never walked/sat with confidence, but now with more knowledge this should work. Long story short on the 18th missed a 145” 10 at 8 yds (dang vine), 2 days later battery door open on a range finder cost me a 38 yd shot on a solid 3 yr. old 8, and finished out the season with a 130 class 8 5 yds from me with no shot. What the heck maybe I was on to something. The next yr. I stupidly tried to close the distance from 40 yds on a nice 10 (had that new ghillie jacket thought I was invisible) sky lined and busted. Finally on Jan 4th walked up on a 3yr old bumping a doe & made the 60yd shot with the primitive 35 whelen (read the MS or LA regs, it’s odd I know).
Now to this season I took my ground game to OK. We had 7 days & I spent the first 3 just covering ground fast to learn the place. On the evening of the 4th day, I walk hunted into a pinch and had a nice 8 come over my left shoulder at 3 yds and bust me. The next morning, I choose a similar spot for a walk hunt. It took about an 1hr to get in to good sign. I first setup in a cedar but within 5 mins a spike passed & I determined it was not a good sit. I move 6 yds to my right next to a big tree & grabbed dead cedar to brush myself in – per Travis, pick shade areas and make sure of overhead cover. Another small buck came by & maybe an hr. into the sit. Then a nice 8 with split brows fed by me around 10am. I decide to take the shot and double lunged him at 20yds. Relief I can actually hit something with this bow and 32yrs later got it done on the ground same as I started!!!!
I’d like to thank Jacob and Andrew for putting out a quality podcast.
- Bryan Landry

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