During a crisis, when you are forced to hunt for survival having a good rifle and pinpoint accuracy is not all it takes to bag game animals. Whether you use a rifle, shotgun, handgun or bow to hunt for meat, stalking is a useful talent to have.
I moved through the stand of pines, trying to avoid the occasional twig or stick which lay in my path. I didn’t want to step on them and let their noise announce my presence in the woods. The deer I sought was no more than 20 yards away from me, partially obscured by a small berry bush.
The deer twitched his tail, a signal. I froze in place as he raised his antlered head to look around. He lowered his nose to snuffle around in the leaves for food. I raised my bow, drew the nocked arrow back to the corner of my mouth, held for a split second and let it fly. The arrow thudded into the deer’s side just behind his left front leg. Startled, the animal flinched and ran into the nearby brush.
Quickly, I drew another arrow, fitted it to the Browning recurve, waited a minute and walked toward the place where the deer went into the tangled woods. He was down and dying less than 50 yards from the place where I shot him. Another deer down to prove that stalking works. It can work for you too.
Whether you use a rifle, shotgun or bow to hunt game animals, stalking is a useful talent to add to your bag of tricks. Being able to find your way through the woods without making too much noise, being able to sneak up on game until you’re almost close enough to touch the animal, or being able to sneak by other hunters without their knowing you are there gives one a rush as no other hunting skill can do.
It Is always wise to be prepared to hunt for game. In the event, something happens to disrupt our civilized world. The disruption of the food chain, the breakdown of government, war or other variables could suddenly place us in a situation where we will wonder if the next meal will be a possibility. When that happens, it is nice to know that one can reach out and get a gun, bow or spear and go forth as our forefathers did to obtain our own food.
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Any disruption of our easy-supply world can be an ego and confidence shattering event. We should want to be able to counter any threat to our existence. The need in forage for vegetables, trap game or stalk and kill meat will exist until some form of balance has been achieved.
Some experts state that in the event of a disruption of civilization, there will also be disruption of normal game patterns of behavior. The animals would move ahead of the masses of humanity spreading out from cities and catching meat would nearly be impossible under those circumstances.
Some of those experts might want to speak with mountain men and professional outdoors people who have lived in the wilderness. One old man in the Appalachian Mountains, after having been asked about the experts’ opinions concerning game In a survival situation, spat in the dirt and looked me in the eye. son.” He said, “them school educated sobs don’t know much. Them stories are poppycock.”
According to this old expert, when it all comes down and the fan blades get dirty game will be there for those knowledgeable people who know what to do to find it. The resourceful outdoors person will always be able to stalk, trap or fish for food … And find it. Here is how rood can be found using one very efficient method—Stalking.
Know Every Square Foot of your territory before stalking
First, begin now, while times are relatively peaceful, to become familiar with the territory you believe you will have to use as a survival base. You will have to stake out between 75 to 100 acres of land surrounding your base camp as a basic territory.
You will have to cover every square foot carefully to ensure that you know where dens of small animals can be found, where squirrels like to nest and where water can be found.
In this way, you will have a good notion as to the different kinds of game that can be found and how many types are offered within a given area. Pay particular attention to the small game population of your territory.
In addition to rabbits, squirrels, opossums, groundhogs, beaver and assorted other residents of the forest, there are also insects, grubs, birds and slugs that can be made into viable meals.
Stalking plays a big part in obtaining the small as well as the large food sources of the survivalist.
Because of this, it is always a good idea to carry along a “possible’ bag” when you go afield. You can carry in the bag the occasional grub, bird or small animal that happens along for a later meal. You might be stalking deer, but never turn down any offering of a meal so long as the animal’s death wasn’t caused by a disease.
The importance of clothing when stalking
When stalking, you will find it advisable to wear clothing which is light enough so that you can move without restrictions. The clothing must be chosen to go along with the climate and season or your area. It must be capable of protecting you from the elements, keeping you warm when you need warmth, yet allowing you easy movement through the forest.
Long ago, Indians were feared by settlers because they had the uncanny knack of sneaking up close enough to a person to reach out and touch them. They often did touch them … With a tomahawk or club. The Indian did his sneaking while dressed as lightly as possible, often totally naked. Today our psychological leaning toward clothing keeps us from adopting the Indian means of easy movement. It did back then even more than now.
Trappers and outdoors men of long ago could not equal the Indian’s stalking talent because of their heavy clothing they wore. So they adapted and began trapping. To gather meat, our trapper forefathers used snares, dead-falls, or long range rifles.
The occasional pioneer who could stalk successfully felt that his life was far more full than anyone else around him because he had developed a talent that could not only provide larger quantities of meat for the table, but it could also allow him the ability to go through the forest without being seen or heard by other, perhaps more hostile humans.
Heavy clothing, which keeps one from feeling tiny branches rub against an arm or leg also impedes movement.
Leather boots, worn in the outdoors for protection against snakes and lower leg injuries, can also be a detriment to proper stalking unless measures are taken to counter the problem. When moving carefully, leather or rubber soles prevent the feet from feeling twigs or sticks underneath the shoe.
The breaking of said stick by a careless foot could lose that prized evening meal or it could cost you your life. It is a good idea to begin to train yourself to walk as softly as possible. Most of us will never wear moccasins but we can, if we practice, walk just as softly with our boots on as those brave men who went before us who wore moccasins.
Movement when stalking
Always move carefully and deliberately. Take the time to look down to where you will place your foot to see what you might step on. Avoid the twigs and sticks that are so obvious. Set your foot down slowly, toe first, and then ease the balance of the foot down before you place your weight on it.
Take a few slow steps, scanning the ground before you set your foot down. Stop, look around you and never go forward until you have done a slow scan of the area around you for game or other people. Look for irregularities in shadows or silhouettes in the trees and bushes nearby.
Never step on limbs and logs that you can step over. Never step over until you have carefully looked at the ground on the other side. Be certain you won’t set your foot clown on top of a rattlesnake. Nothing can ruin your day as much as an angry snake under an unsuspecting foot. Besides, the last thing you need is a bite from a rattler or copperhead to disable you.
If you happen to be the major load provider for a small group or family, an accident winch puts you out of commission could well be the death sentence for the people who depend on you, especially if they do not have your stalking skills.
Pay attention to details
Train your eyes to sweep the terrain in at least a 180-degree arc in front of you as you go along. Be alert for movement of any kind. Shadows which move independently, tracks made by animals passing through, human footprints, all are worthy of your attention.
Take care to judge the age of the tracks you find in your path. The fresher the tracks are, the crisper the edges of the imprints will he. Feel the earth. Is it moist or dry? Judge the age of the imprints by the character of the ground underneath. It’ the dirt is moist, the track will hold its shape a bit longer before it breaks down. If it’s dry, the track will dissipate as breezes or other disturbances cause the dry earth to shift. By carefully judging the tracks, you will be able to tell how long it has been since your quarry passed by.
Related article: Trapping and Snaring for Survival
Watch for broken branches and bent grasses along the trail you travel. You can tell the age of a trail through the grass by the speed in which the grass blades straighten themselves up after being bent. Broken branches will be sappy if the break is recent. The wood in the break will be a light color. As the breakages, the color darkens and the sap dries up. When the chips are down, little things mean a lot.
Every few steps, rest in the shadow of a tree or a bush and scan your back trail. Crouch low and look under the brush and tangled growth around you. Look for animal or human legs. You can differentiate between sticks, tree trunks and animal or human legs because living things have an extreme regularity in them.
Take the time to constantly pause to listen for sounds and movements that are out of the ordinary.
Your odor becomes a major problem when stalking
Like it or not, humans stink. Animal noses are far more sensitive than ours and they can smell us for greater distances. They can smell the food we ate for our last meal. They can smell our fear. They smell our body odor which, by the way, becomes stronger to an animal when we try to conceal your odor using deodorants.
To counter delivering scent to every animal in the field or to extra sensitive human noses, practice walking into the wind. Since that might not always be possible, there is another, more positive way. Try standing in the smoke of a healthy campfire before you go into the forest. The wood smoke effectively masks human odor.
Breath properly when stalking
Do not overlook problems uneven breathing can create. Progress through the woods is easier if you practice controlling your breathing. Nothing fancy, just keep it slow and regular. Every so often take a deep breath to keep your system charged with oxygen. The oxygen level keeps you primed and ready for action. Keeping your breathing under control allows you the ability to magnify your hearing and awareness of things around you. You will be sensitive enough to realize that you are either progressing too fast, too slow or just as you should he through the forest.
If you have stalked welt, you will see some game. When this happens, remain cool. Do not get anxious. Take a deep breath and begin to maneuver closer until you can make your shot. Then stay put for a moment. Scan your immediate area for another deer or game animal. Many times, you can bag a second animal without leaving your place of concealment. Usually, a deer will not go down immediately when it has been shot. It will run.
When you do not immediately chase it, the animal will not add more panic to its already frightened condition. It will often trot only a short distance before it caves in. By maintaining your control, you will not have to pursue your game very far.
A last word on stalking
Stalking is an art. If you observe only a few fundamentals, you will be able to obtain game and stay alive even when others think the situation is hopeless. You will save ammunition because you can get close enough for a one-shot kill. You will save time because you went after the game instead of waiting for it to come to your traps or snares.
And that all but guarantees your adequate salvation from starvation. Stalking the prey properly assures your survival the food chain stops.