Illustration by Andre Malok
A well-known big-woods hunter, Flannery has been successfully tracking and still-hunting late-season bucks, by himself, for decades. But when he must put meat on the ground, he gets backup. "If you can get a buddy to flank you on your downwind side to cut off circling bucks, your odds really soar," he says. "My grandfather called this closing the back door. It's a simple tactic, but believe me, it works."
And it works whether you're following a big set of tracks or still-hunting any linear cover, such as the edge of a swamp or a creek bank. Either way, the tracker or still-hunter moves forward, preferably in a crosswind, hoping to spot a buck out in front of him. The flanker starts a couple of hundred yards behind and about 300 yards to the downwind side. As the lead hunter advances, the flanker teardrops or zigzags, staying between 150 and 300 yards downwind.
If the lead hunter gets the shot, great, says Flannery. But if he jumps the buck and can't shoot, he should hurry 75 yards to the downwind side and wait. The flanker should also be ready to shoot. "Odds are that buck is going to circle downwind to get a whiff at what spooked him, and he's almost never going to swing more than 300 yards." That means one of the two hunters should be in perfect position to get the shot.
Photo by Donald M. Jones
Hide and call
"If the buck doesn't show or is out of range, use a doe grunt or bleat to pull him into position for the shot," says Flannery. "And while you're waiting, hide behind a tree or get on a knee to hide your form. I've had many bucks look right over or past me and give me a shot at just 20 or 30 yards."
Randy Flannery is the owner of Wilderness Escape Outfitters, he is a Master Maine Guide and renowned tracker and stalker who's been teaching those skills for 25 years.