PSE’s Jared Bloomgren The Red Zone
By Jared Bloomgren
The “Red Zone”…..a stage in every stalk that I CRAVE! My bow is checked over one last time for anything that may have went wrong up to this point…..I recheck my position to ensure I am on track….Grab a quick drink and a take a quick stretch….Pack comes off, boots come off or booties are put over my boots, my senses enhance even further and my reaction time quickens all while slowing down. Each movement, each step, and each breathe is thought about with much more thought and concentration. Moving like a wild animal with stealth, concentration and thought out movement is a must!
The Red Zone can vary on the terrain but for me it is usually the last 150 yards of the stalk. You are now within easy hearing distance of your quarry and often times may be within sight as you move. Picking the best possible route is a must during the final stages of your stalk while you are in the Red Zone.
One of my favorite quotes, one that says it all and doesn’t need to be explained: “Getting close to game undetected and maintaining self control while delivering a well placed shot are the true keys to bowhunting success.” -M.R. James
Now there are a lot of things that need to come into consideration at this time and you need to become more aware of your surroundings. Like stated above, when I decide that I am in the Red Zone I remove my pack and take a quick break, grab some water and remove my boots or put on Sneaky Pete Feet or some other type of booty to help muffle the noise I may make while walking. I take a quick survey to be sure that I am on the right track. One thing I forgot to mention on my last blog is that I input the animal’s likely position into my GPS before I leave my vantage point. That way I can use that as a reference while I move helping me keep on track. I don’t rely on it solely because picking the animal’s position could be off substantially.
Paying attention to each step is a must and vital to achieving the overall end state. It always seems that when you take that one step and you weren’t watching where you place that foot is when you find that noise maker! A twig, pine cone, leaves, etc…you get the picture. Not only must you pay attention to the ground you need to watch for tree branches and brush that may rub against your equipment or gear that would cause noise. Loose rocks can also be a nuisance. Picking a route that avoids anything that can make noise is very important. Another crucial factor is the wind and/or thermals. Have they changed? Are they still steady and in the right direction? I have had to re-plan a stalking route a time or two when I have gotten into the Red Zone because of these variants. Sometimes finishing the final stage of the stalk will require switching up the plan and making adjustments.
It doesn’t matter if I first spotted the animal from 2 miles away, the final 150 yards usually takes the longest. Slowing the pace 10x’s will help you move more quietly and it will also help calm your nerves. If possible I will try to get a visual on the animal to ensure that it hasn’t moved. There are times when you have to find the animal again as it may have gotten up and moved a bit before re-bedding a short distance away. Generally they won’t move too far away but may change position to get back into shade if it is a warm day. If you cannot locate em’ just keep going with the stalk, nice and slow as if it is still bedded in the same spot. Keep your eyes peeled and be ready.
It doesn’t matter how many stalks that I have done. I always get an adrenaline rush when I finally see that animal. It always requires me to take a quick break to regain composure if at all possible. My senses become even keener and movements slow even more as to not tip that animal off. When I get into position for a shot I make sure that it is a shot that I know will be a good clean kill. I take another deep breath and look at my sticker on back of my arrow rest, “Stay calm and pick a spot.” It helps to make me focus and think about the task at hand.
Sometimes I have had to wait for the animal to stand in order to get that shot. There are different ways of helping to get that animal up. You could throw a rock or grunt but I have found by trial and error that that isn’t the best way. Patience is always the best option. Patience will yield you far more animals than anything! (watch for a future blog about the importance of PATIENCE) I like to wait the animal out and let it make the call. Eventually it will stand to reposition in the bed or to move to feed. Being ready during that time is a must! By throwing a rock or grunting it will give that animal an idea that something else is in the immediate area and most often they will bust out of their bed. By letting the animal decide when it is ready to stand will have them far more relaxed and allow you more time to take the necessary shot. But be patient! It could take sometimes hours for the animal to stand or it could take seconds! Nothing like gambling!
If you have been following my blogs you now know the proper way to help you become a successful Spot and Stalk hunter. Spot and stalk hunting requires the most patience in my opinion and it really pits your wits against that of your prey. It is the hardest style of hunting and the rewards are far more rewarding in the end! After 25+ years of spotting and stalking I still learn something on every outing; something that I put into my bag of tools to use on a later hunt. Never stop learning and always keep advancing! Keep your mind open to always learning more! GOOD LUCK!
Jared “J-Rod” Bloomgren is a hardcore Do-It-Yourself bowhunter who strives to better himself each year in the outdoor community. As a professional hunter, freelance writer and photographer, he likes to relive his outdoor adventures through written expression and photography making the reader feel as if they were along on the hunt. He attributes much of his success to the vital education he has learned from the various big game animals that he hunts. He is quoted as saying, “In each and every hunt, success or defeat, I learn something from every outing and that I can put in my arsenal of knowledge to use at a later date, a later date that will again put my wits against that of my prey.”