How to Maximize Stealth Without Minimizing Hunter Safety

A trail cam on a tree, hunter safety and stealth concept.

Regardless of the game you intend to hunt, stealth and invisibility are key ingredients for a successful harvest. 

However, most hunters know that it's hard enough to blend into the surrounding habitat, never mind getting close enough for a clean and safe shot without being detected. 

If you are looking to up your stealth game or simply learn some tips and tricks for your first time in the field, these tactics will give you a leg up and improve your chances of tagging out this season.

A hunter points a rifle safely, hunter safety concept.

Use Game Cameras To Your Advantage

Using a game camera is a great way to prepare for a hunt by getting up close and personal with the animals without them even knowing it. 

If you are hunting a game animal that has restrictions on your harvest, for example, a 3-point minimum, you could benefit from using a game camera pre-season. With a camera, if you close in on a buck or a bull but can't tell exactly how many points you see, you could lose precious time behind your optics that should've been spent behind your scope.

A game camera comes in handy because you can learn about wildlife in the area without having to scout it daily. You always want to be sure you're shooting a legal animal, and it cuts down on your time in the field if you're already familiar with the game and have a decent idea of which animal you're looking at through the crosshairs.

Install Your Camera In the Right Spot

When you install your game camera, make sure you put it somewhere with a great view of the trail and a great view of the sky. Good reception is also crucial. If you want up-to-date footage from your trail cam, then make sure you place it in a spot with a reliable cell signal. 

Don't underestimate the power of an HD display, either. The crisp shots will help you determine if that eye guard is long enough to hang a ring on it. 

Make the Animals Do All the Work

Another way to get animals near you without scaring them off is to bring them to you. 

It's not easy walking around in the woods without making a sound, so, depending on the game, you can find a place to position yourself that's downwind from the wildlife you're hunting and call them toward you. This way, you're not making a lot of noise and scaring them off before you get a chance to see them.

Remember that not all animals can be called in or stalked. You should always take the time to learn the animal you're hunting so you know the best way to increase your odds of putting meat in the freezer. 

Consider using electric calls or watch YouTube videos on how to properly use a wide range of mouth calls. The more you practice, the more natural it feels, and the better you'll get.

Use Distractions To Get a Better Shot

Another way to increase your stealth is through distraction. 

If an animal moves in on you because you're calling it or you know its pattern and you've parked yourself in its path, it will know that something is up sooner or later. So, a great way to avoid being noticed is to set up a distraction. 

Decoys are a great way to do this; they hold the animal's attention and allow you to position yourself better and take a clean shot.

If the wind isn't in your favor or is swirling and inconsistent, using scents is another way to confuse an animal or prevent it from running off. The animal may feel as though something is wrong, but if it can't identify what, a whiff of a cow in estrus might put its mind at ease and lure it in for an even better shot.

Always Exercise Safety, Especially When Being Stealthy

When putting the stalk on, you want to be as invisible as possible, but not so invisible that you go unnoticed by other hunters. 

Obviously, wearing hunter orange is a great way to avoid a messy situation with another hunter. Blaze orange is easily seen by people, while most wildlife can't see that part of the color spectrum and won't take notice.

Some seasons don't require blaze orange, so it isn't always necessary. However, it is always essential to follow the safety laws and regulations

Every state, season, and game management unit is different, so do your research before heading out into the field. Consider taking extra precautions when hunting in heavily trafficked areas, so you don't run the risk of injuring yourself or others. 

For example, a great tactic for treestand hunters is to label your tree with a long piece of flagging tape wrapped around the base.

Screenshot of the Hunter-Ed app for teaching hunter safety.

Be Stealthy and Safe With a Hunter Safety Course

Hunting laws and regulations are in place for a reason, and hunters must learn about them to stay safe in the field. While stealth is crucial to gaining an advantage over your prey, safety must be a priority over moving quietly. 

Hunter-Ed helps hunters stay safe while moving in the field or staying still in a blind or hunting stand. As you plan your next hunt, make sure you've taken your state's required hunter safety course. In an online course through Hunter-Ed, you'll learn everything you need to know about firearm safety, why blaze orange is crucial, and other crucial aspects of being a safe hunter. 

Find the course for your state and start learning before your next hunt! With safety as a priority, you'll enjoy more days hunting game to fill your freezer. 


Originally published October 14, 2016. Content updated July 24, 2023.