In the leadup to Easter, when many of us go out hunting, beginners may like a bit of advice. You may know a lot of these tips, but you may pick up on something that helps you bag a big ‘un. By Marcus O’Dean
1. If you are going to be walking in flat to rolling terrain, before you start, work out the prevailing wind direction and plan your hunt walking basically into it, taking in likely spots for game on the way.
2. When in hills in average sunny weather, the prevailing wind will eddy around ridges and gullies, necessitating you having to change direction often. Be conscious particularly when you suddenly feel the wind on the back of your neck and then re-evaluate.
3. In less windy weather, air currents will rise up hills in the morning and start to descend in the cool of the afternoon.
4. Walk slowly and pause every fifty metres or less and observe, glass and check the wind, if necessary.
5. Hide the vehicle in shade under trees or in dips, so animals don’t spook.
6. If you spot game and they haven’t seen you, stop dead still and wait a few seconds, then slowly crouch and evaluate.
7. Wear mitts to conceal pale, moving hands and as a matter of routine, don’t wave hands around.
8. Light rain is really good to do close-in stalks has the rain conceals your footfall and softens brittle leaves and twigs.
9. Still hunting and glassing can be a very effective hunting method, particularly from a high position at dawn.
9a. Following from above, while it is dark, the cold air will be pushing downhill, so your climb up to a spot to get above game will mostly be into the wind. Once on top, wait for sunrise, glassing and the air will change towards you at most places on the tops, facilitating a stalk down onto game.
10. Avoid presenting your silhouette by walking ridgetops – select one side and contour around just below the ridgetop.
11. Be aware of the shine that comes from riflescope and binocular lenses. If you are looking towards the sun, animals will probably pick up sparkly reflections, so it pays to shade the objective lenses with your hands.
12. Although dawn and dusk are known as the magic hours, as you know, many good animals (with the exception of pigs mostly) are shot in full daytime, so persist and go gently all day.
13. After a cold night, most game animals seek sunny spots, protected from the wind, so they can warm their bones before going to bed down. They will stay out longer after a frosty night or after rain.
14. If you are drawing a blank, think food, water and shelter and let that guide your approach.
15. If your sling swivels squeak or rattle, tape them up with electrician’s tape.
16. In rain, close your bolt on an empty chamber and carry muzzle down. Put some glad wrap over your scope ocular and rubber band secure it. Electrician’s tape over the muzzle keeps water and crap out of the bore.
17. Never close a de-cocked bolt on a live round, as the firing pin is in hard contact with the primer. Carry it bolt closed on an empty chamber or bolt open until in the final stages of your stalk.
A few more tips… When you have to take the shot on still or slowly walking game, realise that on many occasions, you will have a few seconds to make sure of your shot, so take and extra second or two to get your position better, settle and take the shot. When you plan your shot or the stages of your stalk, look at the features of the terrain and choose stages of the stalk which end at places when you can adopt a well concealed rested position – back against a tree or bank are really good for the sit.
When in a party and stalking towards a likely game location, go in single file, as you only present one profile into the wind for visual detection – side by side halves your chances.
If you are stalking in on a feeding animal, like a pig, which has poor sight, walk into the wind towards him quietly while his head is down but freeze as soon as he lifts his head – when he resumes feeding,
get going again. In a mob of goats, there will often be a sentry and they and deer have very sharp vision.
Don’t be afraid to leopard crawl in the last up to fifty metres of a stalk to get a good animal. Also, don’t slavishly think that an animal won’t come in towards your scent – although rare, it’s happened to me more often that I remember. Check your backtrack often.
You can mask your scent to a good degree with eucalyptus and /or tea tree oil. Don’t use deodorant or aftershave and wash in plain water-minimal soap.
If readers have any feedback I’d be really interested.