Secret Bowhunting Tip #3: Be Patient
Never underestimate a buck! If you hunt long enough, this will ring loudly in your head. Bowhunting is a game of patience. Rushing in on any animal usually results in failure. Here are some examples.
Patience Example 1
A few years ago I went elk hunting with a person whose name isn’t Joe, but let’s call him Joe. After a long, fruitless, half-day hunt, we finally spotted a herd of cow elk bedded on a steep hillside. Since I was holding out for a bull, I let Joe lead the charge on the unsuspecting elk. What transpired was a little ridiculous.
I crouched behind Joe as he steadily climbed through the thick scrub oak towards the elk. There were probably 20-30 animals total, but we could only see bits and pieces of them. As we got closer, a bedded cow came into full view at about 90 yards and was looking right at us. I pleaded with my Joe to slow down and wait for one to feed into view, but he persisted forward, trusting in his camo to fool the elk’s eyes. At about 40 yards the bedded cow leapt from its bed and blasted away, taking the whole herd with it. Surprise, surprise.
Had Joe been just a little patient, I’m certain he would have gotten a shot. The wind was perfect and the cows couldn’t see us crouched in the brush. Some of them were even feeding around us. They felt safe and weren’t going anywhere. Even if it took two or three hours, inevitably one of the cows would have wandered close enough for an easy shot. Instead, we went home empty-handed.
Patience Example 2
In 2012 I was hunting the extended hunt for deer. On the second day I spotted a massive, tall-racked, mature 4×4 buck. He was a true giant. Unfortunately, I spotted him late in the morning as he was bedding down with a group of does. The ground was blanketed with crunchy snow and I knew it would be nearly impossible to stalk close. But I had to try. For the next seven hours I worked carefully into the area. As I got closer I literally had to break the frozen ground with my hand before placing my foot down. It was the most arduous stalk of my life. Finally, I knew I was close, but the thick oak brush made it impossible to see anything. So I just sat and waited.
Right around 4 pm I heard the crunching of hooves in the snow. By some miracle, the group of deer were up and feeding in my direction. Long story short, the buck appeared briefly in the only window I had. I misjudged the distance and sent an arrow sailing harmlessly over the giant buck’s back. Game over.
Although I failed with my shot, I succeeded in my stalk—a stalk that burned up then entire day. The failure still stings today, but not as bad as if I’d simply rushed in and blew out the deer.
In bowhunting, the hunt only just begins when a deer is spotted. Having patience and getting close is the real challenge. But if you are patient, there is almost no buck you can’t get close to. Since hunters are really predators, we can learn from studying other predators. Have you ever watched a lion stalk a gazelle on TV? Have you noticed how carefully, calculated, and slowly it’s done? Wild predators have innate and instinctual patience. Otherwise they will starve.
Next time you’re on a stalk, remember the lion in the grass. He might not be successful every time, but he never gives up and he moves with eternal patience. Be a predator; be patient and let nature unfold at its own pace.
Click here the next tip: Secret Bowhunting Tip #4: Hunt Alone