Is Mobile Always Better?
By Alex Killman | PUBLISHED October 8th, 2023
The mobile craze has been going strong for years now and feels like it’s at an all-time high, with most of the exciting new gear coming out revolving around just that – being as light and mobile as possible. In all honesty, that’s my preferred hunting style. But with all its benefits, is it always best to keep moving, jumping from tree to tree in an effort to “stay with the deer?” As much as we may not want to admit it, the answer may not be as simple as our saddle-wearing selves would like to admit.
Mobility Has Its Advantages
Sure, mobile hunting has led to the downfall of a lot of wary bucks who would have lived long lives in their little hidden pockets of timber if not for the advent of the tree saddle. There’s no denying that. As I said before, I’m a mobile hunter. I see the value in it. I like to stay on the move as much as I can. Hunting is hard. As much as we may think we’ve got the deer figured out, most of time - especially for bowhunters - we just don’t. And mobile gear allows us to move on quickly from poorly chosen spots. That’s the biggest benefit. We can set up on an oak flat today, glass deer 150 yards away, and be set up there the very next morning. But that’s probably not the most common scenario. What usually happens is we set up on an oak flat today, see absolutely nothing, and try a different ridge 500 yards away the next day. Sometimes we hit it big, but sometimes we just keep hopping around hoping the grass becomes a little greener. Sometimes, the exciting potential for new opportunity can cause us to forget a few benefits of sitting still.
Deer Don’t Follow a Daily Script
Our best weapon against whitetails is their propensity for developing patterns. It’s the basis for how we hunt them, aside from the Rut of course. That’s really all scouting is. We’re looking for heavy sign that indicates a trail or area that is being used routinely. We spend a lot of time and money trying to create patterns for deer through hinge-cutting, planting food plots, creating mock scrapes – we’re just trying to get them to do the same thing routinely, so we can hunt a spot with confidence. But even with a lot of trail cam intel, it’s easy to forget that deer may be patternable, but they’re not robotic. Even when completely unpressured, they will not do the exact same thing every day. They won’t always walk the same trails, use the same bed, or feed in the same spot. With a desirable food plot, you can definitely get very close to an every-single-day feeding pattern, but some days you can still be left scratching your head. The point is, always jumping around with a mobile setup can cause us to miss out on a second - or even third - day opportunity. Meaning, the buck you thought was going to come across Ridge A this evening might have been bedded elsewhere due to the wind, and he walked across Ridge B instead. But that doesn’t mean that he won’t be coming across that trail on Ridge A the next time you hunt. We’ve gotten so afraid of missing out or burning out a spot that we may be missing opportunities that a little patience would have provided.
More Mobile, More Pressure
Another aspect of mobile hunting that we might be turning a blind eye to is the fact that every time we go walking through the woods to a new spot, whether scouting more or going in for a “blind” sit, we’re spreading scent and potentially bumping deer unknowingly. Even though it may not be as glamorous these days to have preset stand locations, in some cases, that may present our highest odds. With preset stands, we’re able to build out great entry and exit routes, hunt only when the wind is ideal for those spots, and either tag what we want or exit with almost no impact on future movement. Of course, preset locations are best when you’re hunting terrain features or trails that are heavily used year-after-year, such as funnels, pinch points, or saddles.
Have More Than One Tool in The ChestIt’s easy to go all-in and wear mobile hunting like a badge of honor, making it the center of our hunter identity. But we’ve got to remember that saddles, hang-ons, and climbers are just tools. If we use the wrong tool in a situation just for the sake of staying relevant, we could be leaving opportunities on the table. So, whether you slip on a saddle for every hunt or not, make sure to give your spots the time to pan out, scout smart if moving is necessary, and always use the right tools for the job.