Open Country Stalking
I could see the small band of mule deer picking their way towards me through the sagebrush 800 plus yards away. With my 10 power binoculars I spotted a legal buck bringing up the tail. I dropped down and crouched behind a large chunk of sage just waiting for them to pass within range. Unfortunately, they stopped and began milling around before finally settling down, with a few of them laying down right out in the open. They were not going to come to me; if I wanted any closer, I'd have to go to them.
No problem... I'll just execute a stalk and harvest myself a nice 3X3 buck..... Or so I thought. I picked my way through a couple of small ravines and behind a knoll, cutting the distance to a mere 500 yards. Then I was out of cover; there was nothing between me and those big-eyed, floppy-eared deer but wide open spaces. And I was not just about to take a shot at that distance.
As hard as I tried, I could not find another approach that offered any kind of cover. As I stood to take a closer look, at least five of them zeroed in on me with ears cocked forward, trying to catch any irregular sound. They knew I was there and there was nothing I could do. The wind was in my face but I was out of cover.
I had nothing to lose, so I decided to walk right out in the open at a 45 degree angle that looked to them that I would pass right on by. I tried not to stare in their direction but act nonchalant as I angled away. But every step actually got me closer and closer. When I had cut the distance to 250 yards, I rested my rifle over a set of shooting sticks and filled my freezer for the winter.
Since then, I've used this ploy on several occasions and it has yet to fail. You can pull off an open country stalk if you make it look like you're not heading straight towards them. Mule deer are used to watching predators and people walking out in the open and if you are not going straight at them, they will stand alertly and watch you walk by. I think that as long as they can see you and you're not posing an immediate threat, they will let you walk by. I try never to make eye contact with any of them.
So, if you find yourself right out in the open with no where to hide, just walk at a 45 degree angle towards, yet away from them until you get within range. Hey, it's worth a try and you'll sure enjoy watching those deer watch you.