Scouting

2009 Hunting Diary—Day 1

This year our hunting party failed to get drawn for antlered moose. So, we are going to concentrate our efforts on elk. Now, moose and elk are animals you cannot hunt alone—they are just too big for one person to process in the field and get out of the bush. You need a team, and our team has been together, more or less, for over 30 years (see my article, Team Moose).

This year we are hunting a new area which can be a daunting task because we are not familiar with the area or where the animals might be. So, a scouting trip was in order. That task fell to me because I’m the closest person to that area. Last week I headed out to have a look. Now, I didn’t go there cold. I talked with several people who had been in the area in the last few years and got some ideas about where we may find elk and set up a camp.

Scouting begins the landscape immersion.

Scouting begins the landscape immersion.

It was a beautiful day, with blue sky, minimum wind and moderate temperatures (to 20° C). The latter was a relief as temperatures had been soaring into the 30s °C days before, unusual for this time of year. However, what was most impressive was how dry the landscape was. All the forestry and oil-field development roads were dusty and the usual wet areas were very dry. So tracking conditions were poor at best. I checked out several trails and on one I found a lick where moisture was seeping from a slope, and animals came to lick the mud to obtain minerals for their diets. I checked the mud back and forth and only found deer and some coyote tracks, but no elk. I moved on and did find several interesting areas that deserve another look when we muster our hunt.

What I like about scouting is that I am not held by any set plan. I drive the roads and walk the trails and let the sights, sounds and scents guide my steps. Although I don’t carry a rifle, I often carry a shotgun if the upland bird season is underway. And that was the situation on this scouting trip. As a result, I shot a nice grouse that served as an hors devours for dinner back home that night.

Most important, this particular trip gave me a feeling for the landscape we are about to hunt, where the water drains, the highlands versus the lowlands, where mature forest is replaced by second growth, and where game trails lead from possible bedding areas to feeding areas. It also stimulated my still-hunting techniques and got me interested once again in immersing myself in the environment and honing my senses to get in tune with what is going on around me.

So, what’s wrong with that?

www.donmeredith.ca

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About Don Meredith

I am a writer and biologist living in Alberta, Canada. I write a monthly column for the Alberta Outdoorsmen magazine.
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