Home Forums Campfire Forum What to know about Stalking

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    • Wolfshead
      Post count: 82

      It is amazing the chain that can be built one link upon another. From gillie to stalking… I did not want to hijack the Stalking thread so I thought I would ask, What knowledge can you pass along to help us with much less experience? Please share what you can!:D

      How would you start someone out if you we’re to be their mentor? Must knows, important points, helpful tips…

      Really interested to learn from some really great bow hunters!

    • WyoStillhunter
      Post count: 87

      I will not attempt a treatise of what I think I know. Rather, here are a few basics to start the discussion.

      1. It is vital that the hunter see the quarry before the quarry sees the hunter. Sounds logical but it took me a long time to realize that eyesight was my first line of offense. I cannot begin to recall the overwhelming percent of animals that I saw long before I heard them or smelled them.

      2. Stillness or extreme conservation of movement is essential. You cannot see everything if you move too fast. You will be seen if you move too fast. “Move a little, see a lot.” In almost any environment a single step, or even half step, opens new lines of sight, new vistas, which must be thoroughly explored visually before moving any more. Arms and hands must be controlled. Head swivels must be made slowly. Everything must slow down and long pauses are required to process all visual data before proceeding.

      My wife says my supper is ready so I will let it rest right there.

    • David Petersen
      Post count: 2749

      In both this thread and Dr. Ashby’s related thread, it would help to clarify terminology so that everyone is on the same page, to wit: Traditionally, “stalking” is short for “spot and stalk” and denotes the situation where we have spotted game from a distance and attempt to close on it into shooting range. Meanwhile, sneaking around hoping to spot game before it senses us and flees is traditionally called “still hunting.” I’ve never liked that term as it implies, well, stillness, as in sitting in ambush. So I always use the more descriptive term “sneak hunting.” None of which may matter to either of these threads if what we’re talking encompasses both situations. But I’m a word guy and can’t help myself. 8)

    • James Harvey
      Post count: 1130


      My experience (limited though it is) is that you just need to get out there and do it. If you’ve got an understanding of principles of camouflage and why things are seen and you keep all those annoying throw away lines in mind you’ve pretty much got everything I’ve ever read of use on the subject. Getting to spend time in the scrub with someone who knows the game well is invaluable, but not necessary.

      A game you can play with friends (we do it at work from time to time) is to select a dense bit of bush somewhere, define an appropriately sized movement box (for 1 or 2 people per team it may only be the size of a couple of basketball courts) and try to move from one side of the box to the other while the other team is doing the same from the other side. You can use air rifles or just a handful of rocks, but you’re trying to get through unseen and unheard, while pinging any bad guys you see. Once you’re hit you’re ‘dead’. We often apply rules like you can’t stay still for more than 30 seconds to keep guys trying to move quietly, otherwise you just get a bunch of guys waiting in ambush.

      The best part, and the real learning curve comes at the end when you hear from your ‘enemy’ how they found you.

      Mr Alex Bugnon summed up everything anyone has ever taught me on the subject quite nicely somewhere on this forum. To paraphrase: “Watch a cat stalk a bird and believe you can move like that”. 😉


    • Ralph
      Post count: 2554

      “I played like I was something I ain’t and snuck up on him”. :lol::lol:

      Slow as you go, avoid silhouetting, use the terrain, wind in your face, when you think you’re going slow as a turtle, slow down. Probably more but a good start.

      Now in the spot and stalk scenario, at least where I’ve hunted for the biggest part, probably a good bit of ground needs to be covered before the actual in close stalking can begin. Then you got gotta get out of site, play the wind and bogey.

      I’ve stalked deer just for grins and experience at times. You tell me how they know the difference when I’m after their hide and when I’m playing. Amazing! There’s something to an animals 6th sense about predators!

      I sneaked 😀 up on a sleeping coyote one time, about 10 yards away, and quietly said “boo”. You talk about an animal turning inside out and hauling butt. I think I could have gotten closer but I worried about what might happen if he didn’t like me or something.

      Anyway, challenging, fun even when busted.

      I’ve been busted by stinking range cattle on many occasions so there are other factors beyond stealth to consider.

    • David Petersen
      Post count: 2749

      Ralph — Aren’t range cattle fair game there? Everything else is! 😛 Here, we call them slow elk …

    • Ralph
      Post count: 2554

      Hey Dave, I won’t poach fish or game, I won’t rustle cattle and I best not terminate “slow elk” so I’ll just practice photography 😀

    • Ed Ashby
      Post count: 816

      To me true “stalking” is what I’ve always termed “Pussyfoot’n” but today many different hunting methods are often called ‘stalking’. Here’s how I explained the different methods, in an excerpt from the introduction to one of the Old Derelcit articles; on ‘pussyfoot’n’.

      ” Now, slip’n up on a critter, without him know’n your there, is about as much fun as any of us older folks ought to be allowed to have. It’s exciting. Maybe not quiet as exciting as some well endowed young lass would be but, nowadays, stalking provides about all the nerve tightening, heart pounding excitement the Old Derelict can handle without risking fatal consequences.

      Stalking has become such a catch-all term that it’s hard to define. Seems it’s come to mean any hunting where the hunter moves rather than taking a static stand.

      In reality, stalking, as the term is now used, takes many forms. There is still-hunting, track-um-up, spot-and-stalk and rapid reconnaissance. Then there’s pussyfoot’n.

      Few gun hunters are really good at pussyfoot’n. Their weapons of choice enable them to strike from a distance so great that it’s seldom necessary to do any pussyfoot’n at all. Not so for bowhunters.

      Pussyfoot’n is a skill all its own. But it is a skill that comes into play no matter what other form of stalking the bowhunter employs. Come along, and the Old Derelict Bowhunter will show you what he means.

      In still-hunting, the object is to move, very cautiously for a short distance, then remain still for several minutes. The goal is to be still a lot more of the time than you are moving. Think of still-hunting as sort of a moving ground stand.

      The best locations and times for still-hunting are areas where the animals move, and at the times they are likely to be moving. Exactly the same places and times one would usually be hunting from a stand.

      When still-hunting, the shot may present just like from any other stand, with the animal coming to you. But, just as likely, you will spot the animal and have to pussyfoot up to it after he’s been located.

      Still-hunting is a sport of slow progress. Usually one only moves a few feet from his old location to a new one, then pauses for at least five minutes. Some still-hunters move a greater distance between ‘stands’ then remain at the new location for a much longer period of time.

      When changing from one location to the next, the good still-hunter will employ his best pussyfoot’n techniques. Often the game is spotted during the change of locations.

      If the still-hunter is covering much more than two hundred yards an hour, he’s moving too fast. Remember, the object is to be hunting from a stand, just one that moves periodically.

      Still-hunting is most effective in areas of high game concentrations. Bedding areas, provided the hunter is in position before the animals begin returning there, lend themselves well to the still-hunter’s tactics. So do wooded feeding areas. Trails to and from feeding areas, during the times game are traveling, are productive for the still-hunter.

      Tracking can be a highly efficient form of locating game, PROVIDED the terrain lends itself to tracking AND the hunter has the necessary skills to follow the tracks.

      Even the Old Derelict’s ‘friends’, noted for their obnoxious onslaughts on his ambivalent abilities, concede that he is a fair tracker. But he’s certainly not in the league with any of the really good trackers he’s seen here in Africa.

      Most of us have become too civilized, too far removed from the day to day life of the bush, to be competent trackers. Even among the African natives, few still possess the tracking skills necessary to stay with an individual track, or even the tracks of an entire herd of animals, long enough to locate the game.

      Great trackers are made, not born. The best trackers are generally middle aged or old, and have tracked almost all their lives. There are few really great young trackers. Even pretty-good trackers are now scarce enough that they are sought after, and highly prized, by the Professional Hunters.

      There is no easy way to learn tracking skills. One has to first learn to identify what animal left the spoor. Books can help. Experience is essential. Real spoor is seldom ‘textbook perfect’.

      Once tracks and spoor can be identified, then it is experience and practice, more than anything else, which separates the good tracker for the pack. There are some tricks that can help.

      Tracking is easier when the sun is low in the sky, morning and evening. Position yourself so that the tracks are between you and the sun. The shadow cast by the edges of the track makes it more visible under these conditions.

      Knowing where to look for the next track helps. So does being able to recognize the ‘other spoor’, bent grass and branches, depressed turf, disturbed pebbles, etcetera.

      Being able to age tracks is important. One must know which tracks are worth following and when you are getting close to the game. It is one of the most difficult thing to do. But tracking is a subject better suited to an article of its own, and the Old Derelict doesn’t have room here to go into detail.

      Still, even those with the most rudimentary tracking skill can follow an animal under ideal conditions. A fresh snow is the perfect example.

      Even for the expert tracker, tracking just helps locate the animal. Once it is located, a careful stalk becomes necessary. The bowhunter has to get close. Some have to get a lot closer than others. Again, it’s pussyfoot’n skills that become important.

      In the next stalking technique, rapid reconnaissance, one moves rather rapidly, but as quietly and inconspicuously as possible, through the hunt area. The hunter tries to stay very alert and locate the game before it becomes aware of his presence. Then one can plan the stalk and pussyfoot in for the shot.

      Rapid reconnaissance is very effective for animals who are somewhat less alert, like warthogs and other wild pigs of various kinds. It works very well for most game in areas where there is broken terrain or where the bush is only moderately thick and with few leaves.

      For grazing animals (grass eaters), rapid reconnaissance lends itself to terrain where there are open areas interspersed with patches of thick bush. Especially in the early and late hours, when game is more likely to be found grazing.

      To effectively employ rapid reconnaissance, one has to use the same cautions as in any other stalking. Hunt into, or quartering, the wind. Upper-body movement must be kept to a minimum, arms limp at your side, not swinging about.

      Stay alert. Look through the brush. Watch for movement and colors that suggest the quarry. Check out any horizontal lines. Most vegetation is in a vertical line. A horizontal line just MIGHT be an animal’s back or belly.

      Successfully applied, rapid reconnaissance results in the hunter locating the game before it sees him. Then a stalk is planned. You guessed it. Pussyfoot’n time.

      Spot-and-stalk involves locating the animal at long range, planning and executing an approach and then pussyfoot’n close enough for a shot.

      Somewhat open and hilly terrain, canyon country and mountainous areas are all ideal locations to apply spot-and-stalk tactics. If the terrain is right, this is the most effective method of locating animals. From a vantage point, with binoculars, one can ‘hunt’ more area in an hour than he could walk over in a day.

      Regardless of which of the forgoing techniques is used, one employs it only to locate the game. When it comes down to the nitty-gritty, it’s his pussyfoot’n skills that gets the stalking bowhunter his close range shot.

      Now, pussyfoot’n can be used as a ‘pure technique’, the primary method of hunting. Pure pussyfoot’n involves moving through the bush VERY slowly and VERY carefully.

      For working bedding areas AFTER the animals have bedded-up, pussyfoot’n is the method of choice for the bowhunter. Gun hunters often ‘drive’ these areas. Some bowhunters do too.

      Drives force the animals to get up and move. Few bowhunters are adept at hitting moving game. By using special techniques, drives can be successful for bowhunters sometimes, but much less frequently than for gun hunters.

      The good pussyfooter is right at home hunting feeding areas and travel paths, too. If he’s pussyfoot’n right, he becomes just one more of Nature’s predators moving through the bush.

      Like tracking, few modern hunters are good at pussyfoot’n. Yet it is the one skill which generally is needed in every form of stalking. Modern man spends too much time in the concrete jungle, and not enough in the real jungle, to develop even marginal pussyfoot’n skills without consciously working at it.

      The essence of pussyfoot’n is to move so cautiously, so quietly and so slowly that the animals never hear you and never see you move. The eyes are used for looking as much as possible. Head turns are accomplished in movements so slow that they have to be measured in millimeters per minute.

      When pussyfoot’n, use all your senses to help you hunt. The ears should be used as much as the eyes. Every sound must be carefully investigated.

      Pussyfoot’n requires that all body movements be kept to an absolute minimum. The upper body is moved as little as possible. Foot movements are confined to VERY SLOW, minute, steps.”


    • Col Mike
      Post count: 911


      It would be hard to add to Dr.Ashby’s experienced response. I assume from your previous posts that you are one of our younger members–if so I offer the following recommendation–READ READ anything you can find about the animals and plants in your area. Knowing something about their life adds so much to the hunt.

      The art of tracking has been termed the birth of science because it involves observation. Build or get a tracking box–sand box. Walk in it let your pets walk in it –watch the tracks age. Track yourself. Listen–identify every sound you hear. Observation is a learned skill–I call it inspection eyes–start with your home–If my wife moves one object in the house I notice as soon as I walk in the room. AusJim gave some good hints–hide and track your friends.

      Get out there and watch, listen, observe, ask why–are all the tree limbs on one side, why is that side of the trail muddy and the other side dry–There is so much to see and learn that it will take a lifetime. Learning never ceases even when you get as old as the rest of the folks on this forum.

      READ Read READ.

      Semper Fi


    • Wolfshead
      Post count: 82

      ColMike I am new to hunting that is true, but I grew up to watching Chuck Connors in The Rifleman, Vic Morrow in Combat, and Fess Parker in Daniel Boone. :D:D


      I would like to thank you all for you experience and knowledge. It is greatly appreciated.

      I do realize that it does take time and a “lifetime” of experiences to learn all of this. I think that a lot of the fun is those experiences. Getting some of your knowledge and some of your experiences helps to give a starting point to those of us that are interested in the ground game.

      I look at all the experience on this site and see all the different but similar responses to this thread and enjoy my reading and learning.

      Where else can you go to get the knowledge from someone who hunts big game in Africa, who writes and hunts with the heart of an Elk in Colorado, the experience of the Australian military, cattle rustlers from Texas…:shock::lol::D as just a sampling…?

    • Bruce Smithhammer
      Post count: 2514

      Wolfshead –

      Hard for me to add anything to the wealth of knowledge and advice already given in this thread, but if you’re interested, there are two resources that I would highly recommend;

      “Stalking and Still-Hunting (The Ground Hunter’s Bible) ” by G. Fred Asbell


      “Tom Brown’s Field Guide to Nature Observation and Tracking” by Tom Brown

      Both have a deserved place in the traditional woodcraft & hunting library, imo.

    • gigglemonk
      Post count: 146

      I agree with smithhammer (and everyone else) on those two books. Asbell describes “woods walking” and Brown describes “fox walking”. Both are the same technique that sounds like pussyfoot’n.

      Practice practice practice

    • Wolfshead
      Post count: 82

      Thank you for the recommendations!

      I actually have both those books and I really like them, especially Asbell’s.

      It is good to also hear what others experiences are as we have such a wealth of knowledge on this site from people from all over. Each one you hear from has just a little bit of a different way about them and to learn that one little nugget that maybe someone else has over looked can be a big help.

      Again, I thank all who have replied and I will listen to more if you have it!:wink:

    • Mark Turton
      Post count: 759

      ColMic suggested a sand box, great idea nobody uses these now its all trail cams but the tracks will teach you more than pics, set them up all over, firm base about an inch of sand is all you need and you will learn so much.

      I have a battered copy of ‘Collins Guide to Animal Tracks and Signs’ by Preben Bang its European based but there is a lot of common info that’s really good.

      http://www.princeton.edu/~oa/nature/tracking.shtml these are interesting.


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