Back view of a hunter in the forest holding a rifle and walking up the path.

How to Be More Stealthy While Hunting

Walk softly, tread lightly, and try not to make any noise. However you put it, all hunters could stand to be more stealthy in the woods. We try our best, and then something happens that gives us away and makes us cringe; the snap of a twig or a boot's splash in a puddle. It's about more than how we walk or our footwear. It can be addressed by how we pack our backpacks or how noisy our clothes are. If you've moved through a wooded area on a quiet day listening to your outerwear rustle or your coat rub on a tree, then you know what I'm talking about. We would like to be silent all the time in the wilderness, but it's impossible unless you have practice. Even then, you need to know how to stay quiet. With that in mind, we came up with five things to remember as you try to weave through the trees like a phantom. 

1. Creep, Don't March

Two hunters in the forest with rifles searching for the prey.


Learning to walk through the woods quietly is probably the most important of all the steps (no pun intended) towards becoming more inconspicuous to our quarry. It would help if you started with proper footwear, such as soft-soled shoes or lightweight boots, but you can't always use the latter and keep your feet warm.

In response, you should work on your gait. We suggest walking heel-to-toe and bending at the knees. One good rule of thumb is to place your foot on its outer edge, then roll the rest of your sole down until it touches the ground, hopefully avoiding the telltale sound of a crunch.

Slowing the pace while remaining vigilant of your surroundings can significantly increase your chances of staying quiet. Lifting your foot and pointing your toes to the ground will decrease the likelihood of snagging anything as you raise it, and it even gives you the ability to realize it before it happens.

2. Quiet Your Body

Hunter with rifle viewed from behind while walking uphill towards the sunlight that breaches through the trees.


It all starts with breathing. Inhaling and exhaling through your mouth is quieter, but each individual is different. Start by giving yourself enough time to complete the task—walking to your stand or blind—so that you don't overexert yourself and start to breathe too heavily. If you can. avoid areas where you must bend under low-hanging branches or brushy spots that can snag your clothing. Remember that you will have your bow, rifle, or shotgun, and probably a backpack that can and will hook and drag across vegetation. Slim down your accessories and don't bring too many excess supplies.

3. Wear Quiet Clothing

Men's Standard Camo Hunting Hoodie Performance Fleece (S - 3XL) - Mossy Oak, $32.20 - $44.99

If we wanted to hunt in wet conditions, it used to involve wearing obnoxiously loud rain gear. For many years now, we have had access to some of the best waterproof hunting clothes we could ever wish for, and with multiple brands vying for our hard-earned dollars, they're developing better gear. With the onset of products like polar fleece and GORE-TEX, we have not only a way to stay warm and dry but also noiseless. We have great use for products that withstand thorny underbrush and make it through without a tear, but they aren't needed for every hunting situation.

4. Control Your Scent

Hunting Scent Control

Travis Smola

This tip is equally as inportant as how we walk. Staying scent-free during hunting season is a great way to keep whitetail deer from busting you and alerting the surrounding animals that you're there. Your scent is crucial to the hunt, and also crucial when scouting. Scent control practice is one of the best ways to make ourselves invisible in the woods.

5. Consider Everything Else!

Portrait of hunter crouching in the forest and aiming with rifle.

Predrag Vuckovic via Getty Images

Deer and other animals keep a close watch on fields, ridge lines, old logging roads, and other apparent trails, just like we do. Move slower and exercise more patience when traversing areas that leave you out in the open, or in these types of spots. Also, use the sun to your advantage by keeping it at your back when possible. Take the time to linger in the shadows to keep your silhouette from being obvious. Pay attention to all areas you can cover with camo, like your face, hands, and weapon.

All options must be kept on the table and thought of ahead of time if you're going to hunt stealthily through the woods.

Please check out my book "The Hunter's Way" from HarperCollins. Be sure to follow my webpage or on Facebook and YouTube.