Saturday, June 28, 2008

Cultivate Your Hearing & Seeing Senses

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A hunter’s five senses are of great importance, and of the five, the two most important for bow hunters are hearing and seeing.

Kicking back on a summer day and letting your senses adjust to your surroundings is great practice. Crawl up into a tree stand, fasten the safety harness, and let your senses open up to everything around you.

Learning to see (I mean to really see) is an acquired talent that is coupled with good vision. Most people seem to expect deer to look like they do on a calendar photo. That pose is seldom seen with wild deer.

You know what I mean. Stiff-legged, body as taut as a bow string, head held high and ears swiveling. A deer, unlike a human, can swivel his ears. You and me will hear out of the right or left, of possibly both eats at the same time, but we miss some of the more subtle tonal qualities found in the woods.

Most hunters who do well in the woods hear the lower tones. I can’t keep up with multiple conversations, but can hear the muffled tone as a twig breaks when a deer steps on it. I can hear the light shuffling sound of feet moving through damp leaves, and a deer walking through leaves as dry as corn flakes, sounds like an explosion of noise.

However, many hunters tune out the various sounds of a deer. They jump if a deer snorts nearby, but such a snort doesn’t bother me. You see, it’s not that I expect it but have trained myself to unconsciously absorb the loud sound without making any movement.

I find myself tweaking my brain into straining out the obvious sounds such as cars on the highway, a plane flying overhead or even the startling flush of a nearby ruffed grouse. My attention is focused on listening for muffled footsteps, the soft rattle of leaves or the tiny snap of a twig.

It’s an acquired art that only you can develop. It’s the same with seeing things while out in the woods. Most people study nearby terrain much too quickly. Many hunters really don’t know how to see what lays in front of them.

Seeing means looking as deeply as possible into the brush. Look for horizontal lines in a vertical tag alder run. Look as deep into a cedar swamp or tall marsh grass as possible, and anything that moves in-between you and your distant vision, will immediately be seen as movement. It’s then you really begin to see.

Carefully sort out the tag alders. A buck can stand for 30 minutes in an alder run, but eventually you may see the flick of a tail, the twitch of a nose, or the slow turning of an ear. Often it is those minute movements that catch your eye, and allow a hunter to thoroughly focus in on the area. It may still be hard to pick out the motionless animal, but learn how to do it right, and spotting deer before they spot you becomes not only possible but probable.

These two parts of bow hunting can be learned. The hunter must learn how to listen and look. It is not a talent acquired overnight, and it requires constant practice. Doing it on a winter day is a bit easier than during the summer or October because of the contrast of deer hair against white snow. Heavy vegetation during the summer months can conceal some movements, making it more difficult to spot movement.

Practice a bit now, and then again during the fall, and by the time hunting season opens in October, you’ll be amazed at how much more you hear and see than before. Gaining a familiarity with listening and looking will allow a hunter to make great strides in their ability to hunt successfully.

And best of all, with practice, acquiring these arts can be accomplished. Once learned, and practiced during all four seasons, it will put you far ahead of many hunters.

Posted by Dave Richey on 06/28 at 01:05 PM
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