Copyright Lark Ritchie 1995. 1996.
Whether you're a bow hunter, rifle hunter, or muzzle loader, begin now to practice your shooting by taking only one shot per ten minutes. The reason for this is that when your hunting, only the first shot counts. It must be the one that's on. Make sure your sights are on, then get out of the habit of "zeroing in". Place the shot the first time. If it wasn't where you wanted it, remember that, and wait at least ten minutes before trying another one.
Once you're comfortable with this technique, and are effective, move on to this next step.
Schedule one entire day well ahead for yourself. You will need your Hunting Clothes and a Canteen of water, an alarm clock, or an alarm wrist watch,and your weapon. Tell your wife, your girl friend and others that you will be unavailable. This is YOUR quiet day. Get out in the country.
The weather does not matter. If it's sunny and warm, great! If it's raining, great! The point is, get out there no matter what the day presents. Plan to sit in your chosen spot at about 8:00 in the morning, and do it.
Find a comfortable spot where you can fire your rifle/bow/etc. If you cannot use a rifle in this area, take along a 22 calibre, and get somewhere where the trees are fairly dense and scrub brush is about 4 to five feet in height. Make yourself a small ground blind to blot out your body, and place a target 26 inches from the ground, and 40 yards away. If you have squirrels in the area, place some goodies for them at the base of the target.
Promise yourself that no matter what shows, you will only take one shot during your sit, and the shot you do take will be dead on the centre of the target. No popping at squirrels or birds.
Once you're sitting, set the alarm clock to ring in two hours, then place it behind you, out of sight. Do not look at it until it rings. In the mean time, sit and scan the area around your target, and spend the time watching, and being a part of the countryside. If you have to move, do it slowly. If you have wildlife around, do not alarm it, just watch it.
When your alarm does sound, whatever your stance at the time, stay there. Slowly put your weapon in shooting position and hold on the target for five minutes before shooting. If it's a gun, it should be shouldered and sighted; if it's a bow, it should be drawn for the shot. Wait the whole five minutes, then take your shot. That's the shot you have to be happy with!
Once you have taken the shot, take a break, meet your buddies, go have lunch. Then repeat the whole session again in about two hours.
Doing this will give you an idea of what to expect when you're up here, and also give you an indication of how you will shoot under actual hunting conditions.
Here are a few things to think about while you're sitting.
To make a good, clean shot, you have to be in a position which is solid and balanced. Always set yourself in a position that allows you that balance. Ten to one, your animal will show when you are not in the most comfortable position. Work on maintaining a comfortable, balanced position.
An animal places it's whole life in "present awareness". What I mean is that an animal rarely reaches the state of relaxation that we are accustomed to. It needs to know what's nearby, and what threat it may be present at all times. Try to remain aware that you are the predator in this case, and your movement, sounds, and smells have to be minimized, if not eliminated. You have to be the one with control, the one who becomes a rock or a tree.
When you hunt with us, we want you to become a true hunter. The client/outfitter relationship should fade out quickly, and be replaced with the comaraderie of the hunt. The money allowed both you and us to organize the hunt and the setting, but once the hunt starts, do not look at your experience as a financial transaction in which materials have been traded for money. What you want to do, is look on the week as you becoming a part of nature, experiencing some of the things that faced everyday people one or two hundred years ago. You will encounter the weather as it happens, the bugs and flies and animals, the aloneness in the wilderness, and an exercise in confidence and skill. Attitude is a critical factor that each of us determine during the week.
Power and Destruction.
You have that potential. As a Native Indian, I have a lot of respect for life and nature. You have chosen to attempt to take an animal's life. I ask you to promise yourself that you will do your best to make your kill a clean and quick one. You're hunting an animal that is physiologically very similar to yourself. It has eyes, ears, nose, and a whole body. It feels pain, and it does't want to die. We accept that. You have to also. This is why the first shot counts. Make it the best you are able to do. We'll give you as much information as you want, and will spend as much time as you want to make this possible. Make sure that the animal you put your sights on is the one you want. Make sure you see that animal as what it is, not just another target.
Why are you hunting? Don't kill for other people's admiration, because the other people don't really make a difference in the final analysis. What's really happening is that you are experiencing an event as old as man himself, and in doing so, will realize some thing of what that poor pioneer had to deal with on a daily basis. Some of it really was satisfying, and some of it was a real pain in the behind. Try to place yourself in a frame of mind in which you are motivated by internal, personal challenges rather than external values and demands. Make this your hunt.
Holidays or Vacation.
Is what you're getting into a series of holidays or a vacation? I prefer to think of the time as holidays. There is a difference.
It starts the minute you walk of the job. Make it an enjoyable one. Plan to take the time to make it good. Plan to get some rest, and to put aside a few dollars for a souvenir for those you left at home.
Hunting is not always physically comfortable, and success is not measured only in the kill, but proper preparation and a good attitude will go a long way in making your trip an enjoyable memory.
© 1996 Lark Ritchie. Contact me at this address..