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  • “Mobile Origins” Ft. Justin Hunold - #1 The Original Mobile Hunters

    August 30, 2022 7 min read

    “Mobile Origins” Ft. Justin Hunold - #1 The Original Mobile Hunters

    “Mobile Origins” – The Original Mobile Hunters

    By: Justin Hunold

    You’ve put in your time E-scouting. Hours spent pouring over maps, apps, forums, and websites. You’ve made the drive, you’re eight hours from home, you planned to spend the first day or two speed scouting. You jump into the woods and follow the elevation line, side hilling to the saddle that you had marked, a perfect travel corridor for a cruising buck. As soon as you get to the X on your mapping app you see your premonition was 100% right. And then you see it, up there, in those trees.

     How often has this scenario played out for you over the years? You find “THE” spot only to look around and see an old stand of some sort, milk crate, lawn chair or five-gallon bucket in the area you thought no one would ever be. Well, unless you are hunting whitetails in someplace, they don’t exist, it is a sure bet that someone has seen that spot before.  We should embrace that.

     In a time where we have every tech advantage, mapping apps, weather apps, wind data, trail cameras and electronic scent control we have the ability to usurp our woodmanship for a bird’s eye view and a bulletproof set up. When I go into the woods to find the best hunting spot available I smile and nod my woods dumb head at that old homemade ladderstand. You know the one, falling apart, nailed to the tree, maybe made from an actual ladder, maybe with a wood seat, or even an art deco chair. That is confirmation that I have indeed found a good spot.

     Let’s dive into those chairs, stools, buckets, baskets, and old climbing stands that have become more a part of the tree than the leaves it grows all summer. Those leaves will fall off, that treestand grew into that tree years ago and has too many growth rings around it to ever come out. These were the original mobile hunters in terms of modern whitetail deer hunting. These humans made intrusions on the landscape are signs of someone doing the work to get either to the deer or away from the pressure, which are both core tenants in the mobile hunting game.

     The mental space it took that hunter to do that is different but similar to our mental space of the 365 game of deer hunting.  We might think about whitetails every day, I for one try to do one thing every day, no matter how small, to improve my hunting. This sort of dedication is not a thing of modern times. With the Venatic culture of the world this was not an option it was survival. But with modernity comes options.

     So, when we see a long-abandoned stand in a far-off hotspot, take note. That person used their woodsmanship to find that spot, on a paper map, or more likely actually walking through the woods and noting the area. Then at some point after that, with the idea of that spot remaining strong in their minds they carried out a bucket or dragged out lumber and built a stand. Let’s think about what that takes, there were no cameras, no mapping apps, no GPS. It was all a good idea on how deer traveled, from observation and then getting to a great spot where there wasn't a lot of hunting pressure. If that’s not the definition of mobile hunting, I am not sure what is?

    Those old stands and seats aren’t the only signs hunters have left over time, and we as culture must take cues from our hunting history to make sense of today's world. The oldest cave art we have found, mostly located in Europe, will generally depict a hunting scene or at least animals that were important to survival. There are convergences of rivers, here on the North American continent, that have become renowned archaeological sites because hunting parties left tools, bones and reminisce of their presence there to be found. To hunt is human, and to leave our mark is part of the story and nonverbal communication of where a good spot is. Ever think “Hey, this would be a hell of a spot “only to kick up a 30-30 casing out of the dirt on your next few steps?  That my friend is mobile hunting. And mobile hunting is human.

     So, here you are blessed to see someone else’s hard work and woodmanship. You found this spot using your mapping app and verified it in the way our species often differs from the other inhabitants of this blue ball, through someone else’s experience. Now, let’s look and see what we can do to adapt our set up to that spot and the new tech of hunting.

     There is a strong likelihood that the surrounding deer trails have migrated locations a bit from when that stand was put there. Changing timber, structures and even water can change these trails, verify where they are. There is also a good chance that “old spot” is set up for gun hunting and you might be hunting with a bow, range will matter. We also have tech apps that can show us wind history, historical weather data, and deer behavior models. You might end up with a great idea of what those things will make that “new old spot” the most productive situations. The previous hunter probably went back to that spot with few regards for any of those factors.

     We also have a really well-educated hunting population in present time, when they chose to be. If you’re trying to find “The Spot” I’m sure you’re one of them. We listen to podcasts, read blogs, articles, books and watch videos about all things whitetails. Generally speaking, we understand thermals, prevailing winds, deer travel, photo phase, moon phase, animal sight, smell and biology better than ever before. We probably have a good grasp on animal behavior and seasonal travel. And we can verify a lot of these things via cameras and apps. So, you verified that spot with some old screw in steps barely poking out from a tree, covered almost to the end with years of bark and wood great. Now more than ever use that same modernity to find the spot in the spot. Find the trails and make a plan.

     From here, you don’t have to go back until the conditions match that spot. This is totally different from the person that built that stand. They were invested. In contrast, you might have to go pick up a camera at a convenient time. You can know that spot is there and try to plan on the conditions that make it optimal. Mark it on your mapping app, make notes on preferred wind and weather, place a cell camera, and get your intel in line.

     You will leave less trace than the generation before you. Slip in with sticks and a platform on your back and a saddle around your waist. Leave no trace, follow that mapping app, know the wind direction and thermal effect to plot the best way to get to the stand location. Water access from a creek that goes unseen until you scout it boots on the ground, even better.

    Picture: 1971 James Green (Creator of the original tree saddle) with a Georgia Giant. 

    Use your headlamp to sneak in well before daylight. Slink up the tree, setting each stick on the same oak you marked as a pin earlier in the year. Position your platform with the tree between you and the expected route of travel for the deer. You know where the thermals should take your scent as the ground warms at light, and you knew with the predominant wind you walked through in the dark you shouldn’t have spooked anything. And you know this because you’re a modern mobile hunter, tech and woodmanship included.

     When you hear that stick crack and it’s obviously different from the squirrel sound, we all get fooled by you to start to look. Sunlight is warming the ground and the steam coming up from frost on the leaf covered floor. You see his antlers a second after you pick out the white around his nose and eyes. Because of that tech and an understanding of how to use what it’s telling you; you’re bulletproof.

     When the woods settle down, your adrenaline dump has you still shaking, your phone buzzing with texts from friends for a situation update, and your watch shows an hour past the shot you can take a second. Don’t do this next to the deer, don’t do this next scouting season, or when you come in to pick up your camera. Look over at that old stand, bucket, chair, or milk crate and acknowledge your place. The hum of modernity often replaces the hum of the natural world, but when you find a spot like this and you have an experience like that, take that minute to connect to all the people that walked through there before, or took the time to drag out lumber or a stool. You now share something with them that likely no one else they ever knew did in the same way. After all, to hunt is human. And in any time people like us, well,  they are a point  on a timeline for mobile hunters that goes back as far as the first imprint of man on this blue ball.

     About: Justin Hunold is lifelong hunter from upstate New York, family man, and  enjoys educating and sharing information on the outdoors. He has been Trophyline ambassador for years, a consistent contributor to Trophyline since the first day of Trophyline’s rebirth in 2019. At his core, Justin Hunold is a Mobile Venatic through and through.

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