Hunting in general for big game animals can provide a serious challenge to anyone that opts to tackle the endeavor. There are various methods that can be used, as well as a plethora of weapons to choose from. But whether you are bow hunting from a tree stand and getting the animals to come to you, or hunting a large area using the spot and stalk method, one hunting factor remains constant. The hunter will need to remain undetected by the animals long enough for them to be able to get in position for their desired shot.
In as much as this sounds fairly simple, anybody that has done it will tell you it is anything but easy. Spot and stalk hunting is a method that requires a hunter to be fully aware of everything in their surroundings to even stand a remote chance of being successful. With this in mind I would like to break down the spot and stalk hunting method and provide a little insight into how to be successful with it.
The first thing to be addressed is the spotting phase of the hunting trip. Spotting requires two important ingredients from a hunter. 1)Patience; being able to slowly scan an area over and over to spot and animal will take some time. Whether the animals are browsing slowly or should they be bedded down, they are not always easily seen, unless the hunter looks very thoroughly through the particular area. The other most important requirement is quality optics. Depending on the distance the hunter is glassing from a good set of binoculars may not be enough. A good high powered spotting scope can come in real handy in many long distance, lower light situations that may be encountered.
My personal preference is to use both whenever possible. Searching with a good pair of binoculars, trying to spot a possible target and then focusing a spotting scope on it can be very productive as scanning with binoculars is much easier than with a spotting scope. Regardless of how it is done, the spotting phase of the equation cannot be taken lightly. Otherwise the hunter is just still hunting, hoping to see an animal before it is in a full sprint away from them.
Once a hunter has spotted his quarry, it is time for the stalking phase of the hunting trip to begin. As tempting as it may be for them to grab their gun and charge forward directly at the target, this probably should be avoided. Instead, now is the time to formulate a stalking plan. There are three main things to consider now while planning the stalk. The first two will require further use of the optics. While planning the route to the animal that is going to be used, the hunter must make sure to scan the terrain closely, looking for anything that may impede the path of the stalk. Some things that may hold up progress might be downed trees or possibly a creek that is too deep to cross quietly. The other thing to be very aware of when scanning the terrain would be the presence of other animals. More than once I have gotten within yards of my desired shooting range on a nice buck, only to spook a couple of small does that I had not noticed and end up with nothing.
The other and possibly most important factor to consider when planning the stalk is the direction of the wind. At time it is easy to be fooled into thinking that there is very little wind because you cannot physically feel it, but trust me, there are always thermals moving the air in some direction. One of the best ways available to keep track of the wind thermals is with a recycled nasal spray bottle filled with water. By squeezing the bottle periodically, a fine mist will be released into the air, and a hunter will more than capable of monitoring the direction and plan their stalk accordingly.
The spot and stalk hunting method is without a doubt, one of the most exciting ways to hunt as well as one of the most gratifying when it is done successfully. By following these simple rules and using high quality optics a hunter can greatly increase their odds of success, regardless of what method is chosen to hunt with....
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