Get Out of the Tree and Bowhunt Whitetail Bucks from the Ground

THE TYPICAL BOWHUNTER keeps his butt glued to his tree stand the whole time he's in the woods. That's a great way to miss out on some excellent hunting opportunities throughout the season.

With the careful use of natural cover, a lightweight compact blind, or a gillie suit, you can sneak unnoticed into places you'd never be able to hunt otherwise. Here are four great times to play this low-impact ground game.

IN THE BEDROOM: On early-season evenings, big whitetail bucks have a habit of milling close to brushy bedding cover, waiting for nightfall to enter more open areas. Setting up a tree stand may not be possible without sending the buck packing. This is the perfect time to sneak in and hunt from the ground. While other hunters wait over fields for deer that never show, you can be drawing on a trophy in good shooting light.

IN THE OPEN: Amid large agricultural fields in whitetail habitat or in the mixed crop-and-grassland terrain of mule deer or pronghorn country, animals commonly feed far from forest edges to see and flee danger from a distance. Here, tucking yourself into the subtle cover of an overgrown fencerow, an island of brush or uncut crops, or a patch of cover near a water hole can get you within bow range of unsuspecting game.

ON CALL: When rattling or vocalizations will play a big role in your day's plan, it makes sense to keep your feet on the ground. All calls, from bleats to bugles, sound more natural when they emanate from your quarry's level and are not muffled by an enclosed blind. Being mobile also allows you to work several calling locations, thus covering more terrain.

ON THE MOVE: Any time you realize your elevated perch won't produce, get down and make a move. If the wind shifts or you see deer and decide you'd be better off 20 yards yonder, quietly change locations. If your buck passes by your stand well out of range, descend, circle around, and set up an ambush. When he finally does step in close, you'll have a better shooting angle than you would have from up in a tree.

GROUND GEAR

Natural cover may be all you need, but more often a small blind or gillie suit is key. A portable seat adds comfort.

BUCKWING TURKEY & DEER HUNTING SEAT ($26; 610-264-1122; buckwing.com) You can adjust this seat's legs between 6 and 12 inches.

H.S. STRUT PORTABLE GROUND BLIND ($17; 319-395-0321; hunterspec.com) Measuring 72x27 inches, it rolls up to a 14-inch package.

BOW HUNTER GHILLIE SUIT ($160; 888-887-7727; the outdoorstores.com) This suit is designed so that it won't interfere with your bowstring.