Avoid detection and bag more game

Published 5:12 am Sunday, December 30, 2001

Outdoors Columnist
One of the first steps in bagging a trophy, whether it is an Alabama whitetail or a Colorado bull elk, is to detect the game before it detects you. Hunters spend thousands of dollars each year on camouflage clothing and cover scents to avoid detection, but we can learn a lot about avoiding detection by copying the tactics of the game we are after.
Deer and elk will take advantage of terrain to avoid a hunter. They may escape after sneaking down a ravine or large ditch until they have put enough distance between them and the hunter to high tail it. Hunters can use these same terrain features to their advantage.
Not only do we need to wear the appropriate color camouflage clothing, it is important to make the camouflage blend in with the background. Predominantly green leaf pattern camo stands out like a sore thumb if you are in a hardwood bottom in January. Just as important as color is cloth texture. Wool, flannel, fleece, or Polartec are much better than the slick materials that amplify the sound of every twig they touch. While hunter orange caps and vests are lifesavers, avoid the ones made out of plastic. They are noisy and reflect sunlight like a mirror.
Anything that reflects light deserves your attention. Firearms with high luster blued metal and shiny stocks spook game. Buying another rifle with a matt finish and a camo or non-reflective stock can alleviate this problem. This is as good an excuse as I know of for having to buy another rifle. If you dont want to go that far, use some of the no-mar camo tape or the elastic camo gun stockings. They can be cut and tailored to fit most guns.
Large game animals detect more hunters with their nose and ears than their eyes. Cover scents and hunting into the wind will help in preventing animals from detecting your scent, but metallic noise is another matter.
Noisy sling swivels, the thump of binoculars banging against a rifle stock, or the screeching sound of Velcro are dead give-a-ways that a human is in the woods. Lubricate swivels, keep binoculars in a large pocket or wrap them with a thin piece of foam secured with tape. Go with buttons rather than zippers and Velcro when possible.
Not only can we learn to take advantage of natures cover like a game animal, we can learn to walk like one, at least to some degree. Ever been on stand and hear the steady, rythmatic swish, swish, swish sound of a hunter walking towards you through a thick mat of dry leaves? Learn to walk more like the animals. Take a few irregular steps, pause, and take a few more, pause. Break up any rhythm in your stride. Learn to take advantage of the same cover and movement habits of a buck. It may just help you take him home with you for dinner.

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