Hunting technology is constantly improving. But even as the tools we use as hunters improve, we should never lose sight of the fundamentals.
Until a relatively recent point in world history, humans relied on hunting for everything from food to shelter. In recent years, though, life has become simpler. And, as a result, many hunters have forgotten the lessons passed down from generation to generation.
If you’re looking to rediscover what came second nature to our forebears, here are a few skills you can easily master.
- Master Tracking
Unless you plan to remain stationary while hunting, it’s crucial to know the signs you’re hot on the trail of the bear or deer.
As you trek through the woods, look for signs of recent activity. Tracks are an obvious one, but also look for snapped twigs, distressed bark on a tree, recent droppings, and crushed grass, among other signs.
Make sure to move carefully throughout your trip. You want to keep ahead of the animal you’re tracking, but you also don’t want it to pick up on you.
- Work on your calls
Bait use isn’t legal in every state. That’s where calls come in.
Deer, duck, bear and, well, every call sounds odd. But if you do them well, it can bring your prey right to you. And no matter whether you’re bowhunting with a high-tech crossbow or using a rifle, you need to get as close as possible to get a successful ethical kill.
You can buy devices that play a recording of an animal call, such as mating calls to attract curious animals or the sound of an animal in distress to attract predators. However, with practice, you can make the calls yourself — which is what hunters have been doing for thousands of years. You don’t need a recording.
- Think about your scent
Animals like deer and bear can easily pick up your scent. But with just a few precautions, you can go largely unnoticed.
We don’t often think of how many scents we give off. When you think about it, though, we bathe using scented bars of soap or body wash, and then wash our hands with scented hand soaps throughout the day. And then, every few days, we wash our clothes with scented detergents.
If you know you’re about to go on a hunting trip, plan ahead. Use unscented soaps, shampoos and laundry detergent. When you’re not on a trip, store your hunting clothes in bags so they avoid picking up the scents from your other clothes. You won’t smell as great as normal, but it will pay off.
- Use teamwork
Early humans used teamwork to bring down massive sabretooth tigers and wooly mammoths. While modern hunters face less formidable game, teamwork can still make the dream work.
Using a tactic called driving, one hunter can push a group of animals toward a group of hunters. Then, when the animals get close to the group of hunters, the “driver” moves away so the group can get off a clear shot. It’s a great way for everyone to bring home a big score.
Needless to say, this type of hunting requires a lot of planning. The group and the driver need to be in constant communication throughout to ensure locations are known and so the driver can clear out when the group is within range.
- Find a secluded area of the woods
As we build homes closer and closer to areas previously considered the “wild,” humans and animals are coming into contact more frequently than before. As a result, many of the patterns deer and bear once followed have been thrown off.
The intersection of civilization and the wild is only the start of it. Over the course of a hunting season, animals become more aware of danger and adjust. The onus is on the hunter to perch in areas of the woods where animals feel safe.
That’s why blinds are so important. With just a hunting knife and shovel, a hunter can clear out roots and dirt in a thicket, make a natural-looking blind, and position themselves there. Then it’s a waiting game.
Stay in your comfort zone
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Start practicing “old school” hunting skills used by hunters long past. Soon enough, you’ll be teaching others the old ways to keep these traditions alive.