Unless a deer is in sight or sounds reveal one is near, while heading somewhere on foot, especially a stand site, don’t act as if searching for deer. Don’t display hunting behavior, meaning, don’t sneak from place to place, often halting to scan ahead and to either side and often change direction. Instead, walk non-stop at a moderate pace along a fairly straight path, keeping your head pointed straight ahead. Act as if you are only passing through the area, getting to some distant site foremost in your mind, thus appearing harmless.
This sounds crazy, I know. After all, you are hunting deer, but there is very good, little-realized reason for doing this: within every mile you travel on foot in whitetail habitat, at least during the first 2–3 days of a hunting season, if you continue doing things wrong, you will unknowingly pass within easy shooting range of eight or more unmoving (frozen) whitetails hidden in cover. “If this is true,” you might be thinking,” this is a very good reason for sneaking and often halting to scan for deer. Actually, this is one of the most ruinous things you can do. Though inexperienced fawns and yearlings that see you displaying such behavior may not realize what you are doing in the woods, whitetails that have survived two or more hunting seasons will instantly recognize you as being “very dangerous,” after which they will abandon the vicinity where you were discovered, quickly and noisily or with great stealth, and not return for four or more days (does and young) or fourteen or more days (mature bucks), meaning, you have just ruined this portion of your hunting area. A randomly wandering hunter displaying such behavior can cause all whitetails to abandon an entire square-mile or more in 1–2 days, without seeing a deer.
For this reason, consider yourself to be actually skillfully hunting while not moving about on foot and not hunting while moving about on foot. Stand hunting, not moving about on foot, is the most productive way to hunt mature whitetails because you are then doing exactly what mature whitetails do to avoid being seen and heard by passing hunters or predators. Consider your hike to a stand site to be a mere but necessary non-hunting prelude to actual hunting. Walking non-stop at a moderate pace with your head pointed straight ahead (day or night) will do the least amount of damage to your hunting area because most whitetails seeing (or hearing) you doing this will not flee but instead resume whatever they were doing after you have passed. Your odds of seeing deer at your stand site(s) will then be greatly improved today and throughout the rest of the hunting season.