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by Jared Bloomgren
It doesn’t matter what you hunt, where you hunt, or how you hunt; there is one thing that you need on every hunt you partake in, in any location at any given time of the year. The one constant that is needed on any hunt is patience. With patience, you are able to stalk or wait on that animal of your choosing without pushing the envelope too far and blowing the hunt and educating them. Patience will yield you more animals than any other factor that comes into play. I will touch on various types of hunting situations and provide an example of how I used patience to turn the situation into a positive outcome.
Spotting and Stalking:
More animals are missed during spotting than one would think. When you find a good vantage point and you are glassing the terrain and you think that there is nothing there to look at; slow down and go over it again. More often than not I have missed bedded bucks on the first look. I have to remind myself to be patient and go over the terrain again and look for any little thing that might show signs of life. Look for something that doesn’t fit the terrain, look for shadows and look for shady areas that could provide that buck or bull with the shade needed to stay comfortable. I have found that after initially glassing an area, I may find a few animals but by slowing down and taking more time, I often find numerous animals that most often are over looked. One situation in particular comes to mind. I had been glassing for what seemed like an eternity, my eyes were tired, my legs were numb and my butt was sore. I was sure the buck that I was searching didn’t stop in this basin. He had to have moved on. I took a break, ate a snack, drank some water and enjoyed the view from my perch. I took in a few deep breathes, stretched and went back to glassing. I felt revived as I pressed the spotting scope to my eye. A few minutes passed and suddenly I noticed something out of the ordinary; my buck bedded in a location that I had already glassed numerous times! He had been bedded there all along! A simple break was all I needed to regain my concentration and get my patience back in check.
When it comes to stalking an animal, patience isn’t an option; it is a virtue. Stalking pits your skills against that of your prey on their terms. They are very familiar with the terrain in which they live. You must be too. Being patient will make it easier for you to complete that stalk. Impatience will cause you to step on the twig or brush up against that branch that you should have seen. I have found myself numerous times rushing a stalk and have to remind myself to slow down and be patient. By doing this I begin to notice more things that could ruin that stalk. Numerous stalks pop into my head when thinking about this topic. One such stalk I found myself bewildered and lost. I couldn’t figure out where I was in relation to the terrain. I looked back towards my vantage point where I was and realized that everything looked much different now. From over a mile away things sure look different when you get to that location! I pressed on not sure of exactly where I was. Just then I bumped a buck that I didn’t know was there. He jumped up and blew out of the basin taking the big boy with him. I had become impatient and ruined that stalk. I didn’t take the time to do terrain recognition like I should have. I rushed myself. Ever since watching that monster cross over the ridge something inside me changed. From then on, I remind myself more constantly to remain calm and keep patient. Patience has rewarded me many more animals since that time. When I know I am rushing things or becoming impatient I will take a knee or sit down, grab some water and say a quick prayer, recheck my position to ensure that I am on track and go about my stalk. Always, always be sure you pay attention to the terrain before, during and even after a stalk!
While sitting in the treestand or in a ground blind, I have seen many people lose concentration and an animal will come along only to bust them because they weren’t paying attention. Yes, I am that guy! Patience comes into play again. It can be hard but keeping an open mind that an animal could come walking along at any time can keep a person going. Knowing that you are so close to either success or defeat and thinking about it can help remind you to stay alert at what is going on around you in any situation. Sitting in an antelope blind can be exhausting to say the least. I am reminded of sitting in a blind at a waterhole in 100+ degree heat or perched in a treestand during the rut all day long in freezing temperatures. In either situation you are almost guaranteed to see an animal sooner or later. 12 hours in on my 14 hour sit, I finally had a shooter antelope buck come in to quench his thirst and 4 hours in on my 6.5 hour sit I had a mature whitetail sneaking along the trail in search of a hot doe. Both animals are now on my wall! Why? Because I was patient!
Patience is a must in this situation as generally you are on the move with the animal and keeping at least two steps ahead of them and what they are going to do is essential. Anticipating what the next move will be can be difficult at times because animals can be so unpredictable. Paying attention to the habits of animals is important. If you are able to watch the animal of your choice before going in for the kill always helps but is not always possible. Many times while planning how to ambush an animal, I have had to change my plan numerous times to adjust how I was going to kill that critter. The wind can change, animals can change heading, you may run out of cover, you may be hot, tired, and wore out but maintaining patience is vital to success. I am reminded of this last season, twice. Spot and stalk situations turned into ambush situations. Spot and stalk and ambushing are much the same to me but in an ambush you have an animal that is still on the move. I had spotted three whitetails moving from their feeding area to their bedding area; as I stalked closer I realized that they were moving faster than I initially thought. I quickly decided to slip in front of them. After a couple of failed attempts I was hard after it again. This time it paid off as the three bucks passed by around 40 yards. I opted to take the most mature but not the biggest racked buck. My arrow hit its mark from 44 yards! Patience and staying two steps ahead of these bucks made it possible. Another situation this last season was with a mature mulie that I had spotted at first light. At 8 am I was moving along a shallow draw towards 14 deer; one of which was the buck I had hoped to pass an arrow through. I did get impatient and a doe spotted me. I had become impatient and was moving too fast. After a long stare down the doe moved her group off to safer pastures. A half a day later I was inching forward on the same group as I had a couple of more times throughout the day. There was very little cover and patience forced me to remain pressed to the ground and moving very slow. I knew it was the last stalk/ambush of the day. I had run out of cover and the deer were moving my way. I had planned for them to move down this low area headed in the direction they had came from that morning. I had 75 yards to crawl to get to the only cover available to conceal me. Once I was there I prepped the area and moved the weeds/grass that I needed to for a shot. Numerous deer, and that doe, finally picked me out when they were at 30 yards. The buck was still pulling up the rear. I remained calm, range finder pressed to my eye, bow in my hand, and patience at bay. The buck came into the opening at 62 yards, I lowered my range finder and hooked my release and pulled my bow back slowly in one motion without spooking the deer. I watched as my arrow ended my 2011 season perfectly!
Regardless of what type of hunting you are doing; spot and stalk, ambush, still hunting, treestand, blind, drives, etc….the list goes on and on. Patience has its place in each hunt. Increase your patience and I guarantee you will increase your success!