Anticipation part of the spirit of the hunt

August and early September offer the perfect time to reflect on the hunting and shooting sports. Both are great experiences, but different and equally valid.

I’ve just returned from a successful antelope hunt and the opening day of dove season, which is more of a shoot. That begs the question as to the difference between the two.

This is one sportsman’s quest to define the difference using these two recent outings.

The antelope hunt was a classic; plans were made and all of the necessary transportation and camping equipment were put together. Clothing was assembled and selected to be prepared for any conditions and the necessary optics and rifles were cleaned, assembled and tested. Planning and anticipation are major factors of the hunt.

Upon arrival at the distant hunting area, camp was set up and scouting began two days before the opening. Following discussions with friends and locals, a couple of potential areas were chosen and a nice band of antelope were spotted the day prior to the hunt.

Watching them for hours to determine their behaviors and moving patterns lead to a strategy and a plan for opening day.

Early the first morning we returned and attempted a stalk on the always alert animals. Three separate attempts were made — all unsuccessful, as their ever watchful eyes busted us in spite of our perceived camo and stealth. A new plan was needed.

We noticed a clump of willows in the center of a large flat pan formed by an ancient lake bed. Concealing the Jeep behind a brush-covered hill, the long trek was made across the open area to the willows where I was able to conceal myself in a natural blind.

The plan was to wait for their eventual and anticipated return. The hours passed as I periodically dozed. There may have been some “deep-throat calling techniques” used while I dozed to help lure them in.

Then they appeared, a large buck and five does. He was magnificent and totally unaware of my presence 70 yards away. One clean shot and the hunt was over, but the work of field dressing and preparation began.

A great classic hunt; anticipation, packing, camp preparation and stories around the campfire. The scouting, strategy, the plan, the stalk and a bit of good luck were all aspects of the chase with a successful ending. However the shooting was separate and the hunt would have been successful even without filling the freezer.

The dove opening was equally enjoyable, but different and much simpler and enjoyed with a group. We went to our regular secret spot as the sun rose; the dove were already flying. The shooting was great and followed by an afternoon hunt after the required nap. All shot first day limits and it was drinks and stories around the campfire.

The next morning was a repeat of the first. The birds were cooperative and our shooting improved with practice. It was a great traditional dove shoot and therein lies the difference — less planning, more socializing and virtually no chase-no hunting.

Other examples of hunting include most of the big game species — sheep, elk, bears, deer, and even turkeys, ducks and geese. All of which require planning, stealth, concealment and skill.

That’s not to say all big game are hunted. Some folks like to fill their freezer by so-called “road hunting.” This involves driving logging and farm roads looking for the easy shot from off of the fender. This is shooting and not to be confused with hunting, but admittedly it’s effective. This is meat shooting, not hunting.

On the other hand we all enjoy a day of practicing our shooting skills at the range whether it be with .22s, hunting rifles or pistols, and a good dove, rabbit, quail or chukar shoot with friends or alone. It’s part of our shooting heritage. We’re all aware of the target shooting and hunting skills of legendary Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett and more recently Hemingway, Roark, Jack O’Conner, Craig Boddington and Carmichel.

The American tradition lives on; in spite of their differences, hunting and shooting are important parts of that tradition.

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At the recent hunting and fishing conventions it seemed to be the year of the wristbands. In addition to the various colored “message/support” bands were many that held tools, weapons or identifications. I found two, however, that I’ll use on my next outing.

One is called the “Superband.” It is an insect repellant wristband that works. The other is the Acadia Paracord Bracelet; a uniquely woven wrist band developed by Chums. When unraveled it becomes 8 feet of 550 lb. parachute cord. And can even be further unraveled to create emergency fishing line. I have one of these strapped to my survival kit and have no doubt it will be useful.

For more information go to:Superband; ; Paracord bracelet;

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