PSE’s Jared Bloomgren Spot and Stalking Part II
By Jared Bloomgren
In my last blog I covered the spotting portion and now let’s get to the really really fun part; STALKING!
After I have glassed up an animal that I want to stalk I come up with a plan of how to kill that animal. Things to consider:
1. Is the animal in a stalk-able situation?
2. Are the winds and/or thermals right?
3. Is the terrain and/or concealment adequate and passable?
4. Is there enough time in the day to complete the stalk?
5. Do you know the terrain? What is between you and the animal that you have to overcome?
6. The animal’s behavior?
Is the animal in a stalk-able situation?
I look at the animals location and can quickly determine if the stalk is do-able or not by looking at various things.
Are the winds and/or thermals rights?
Knowing the way thermals work in the area you are hunting is very important. Knowing when thermals switch directions and prevailing winds in the area are very important. This will determine which way you go about the stalk. And sometimes you may not be able to do the stalk because the winds are not correct and the terrain doesn’t give you the concealment needed for the wind direction. Wind direction and thermals will always dictate which direction you go at the animal. Sometimes that direction will not allow you a stalk because of the terrain.
Is the terrain/concealment adequate?
Think about an animal bedded on an open ridge with a gentle facing slope versus an animal bedded below a cut bank or cliff. It is obvious which one warrants a better stalk. Pick apart the terrain around the animal and find which route offers you the concealment and terrain features needed to get close enough for a shot. What is the ground like? Is it noisy? Will dry and crunchy twigs, branches, grass or even snow make it difficult? Using something to cover up noise is very important. I like to slip on “Sneaky Pete Feet” over my boots or remove my boots altogether and slip on extra socks. This will greatly cover up the noise you may make. Another thing to consider during this time is if you can approach the animal from above or below. Generally speaking an animal will be facing downhill and it seems that they usually expect danger to come from below. If possible I will always try to complete my stalk by coming from above. You need to determine if the wind direction and thermals will allow this. If not, coming from below is not out of the question either. It usually just takes more work.
Is there enough time in the day to complete the stalk?
Stalks can vary greatly on how much time it will take to complete. I have had stalks that took only one hour and on the other end of the spectrum I have had stalks that have taken over 8 hours to complete. There are so many factors that come into play. I have run out of daylight before and was forced to back out of the stalk entirely. Knowing if you have enough time will help you determine if you should pursue or wait until another day. For example, this fall I found a large mule deer buck bedded in an area where I felt I could close the distance before it got dark. I had 2 1/2 hours to kill that buck and I thought I had plenty of time. Unfortunately for me I didn’t study the terrain enough to notice that there were some very large cuts between me and that buck that I couldn’t see. It caused me to run out of daylight and had to back out and wait for another opportunity, another day…….hopefully!
Do you know the terrain? What is between you and the animal that you have to overcome?
That was a problem on that stalk. I didn’t judge the terrain accurately causing me to run out of daylight. It is very important while planning your stalk that you know what kind of terrain is between you and that animal. I often times study a topographic map so I know exactly what is between us. On that hunt I did not have my map and the various cuts and terrain changes were not visible. I know the stalk would have been successful given more time to complete it. If I would have known I simply would not have tried the stalk. Next time……hopefully! Before setting off I also like to pick some terrain features that will help me decide where I am at during the stalk. These will help keep me on track at any given time. When you get under way things will look much different when you are completing the stalk. It is mind blowing how much the look and lay of the land seems to change from what you remember when you were perched high on your vantage point. Having terrain features to reference is very important. Terrain features that are easy to identify and stand out will help you along the way.
The animal’s behavior?
How is the animal acting? If the animal is calm and close to taking a nap that will greatly increase the odds of you making him take a dirt nap! If the animal is very skittish and nervous he will likely be on the lookout for any kind of danger! All ungulates know that in order to survive they need to be on the lookout at all times. With coyotes, wolves, bears, lions, and humans they are constantly scanning for the unknown danger. I always let an animal calm down before closing the final portion of the stalk, the “Red Zone.”
That is the low down and dirty fun part. To this day I still learn something on each and every stalk. There is one small section left and that is what I like to call the “Red Zone.” The final 100 yards to that animal. On my next blog I will talk about the “Red Zone.”
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.”