Monday, June 18 , 2018, 11:56 pm | Fair 61º

 
 
 
 
Advice

Captain’s Log: Exercise Patience and Camouflage to View Wildlife

Think about what critters see, hear and smell when you want to view them in candid situations. Prepare correctly and be patient enough and the rewards can be spectacular. Here’s a story of mine.

One time many years ago, I was deer hunting up near Mutau Flats between Rose Valley and Frazier Park. I prepared for critter-camouflage and really got into the moment ... a very long and drawn out moment that was really hours.

I wore colors that blended in with the browns of deadfalls and dirt. I had been camping out of a pack for two days and didn’t have any deodorant.

Walking a good mile upwind from camp, I then began moving very slowly to find just the right spot. I smiled when I saw it ... a 50-yard clearing in a canyon, with a dozen trees, a fair number of bushes and two large, downed deadfall trees with lots of busted branches.

I sat down and watched that clearing from a distance until I was sure there were no critters occupying it. Then I cautiously circled the area until I was downwind, and approached the clearing softly and slowly ... the kind of slowly that takes 10 minutes to move 30 yards.

Rather than moving through open spaces, I kept near trees and bushes. Studying a deadfall at the downwind edge of the clearing, I picked a spot with a good backrest above a flat patch of dirt, and with lots of branches poking out in different directions to break up my silhouette.

Sitting down carefully, so as not to break any twigs, branches or other noisy things, I moved slowly to arrange my things so I could be very still, with my deer rifle across my lap. I sat as motionless as possible for about an hour and a half. I had to tense and then relax muscle groups periodically, but I didn’t want to stretch because that would be too much movement.

Preparation and patience paid off big time. I heard a commotion and a scurrying sound at the far edge of the clearing and then nothing.

After a couple of minutes of wondering what had happened, a large bobcat with a squirrel in its jaws stepped cautiously into the clearing, just 20 yards from me. It stopped and looked all around. Its gaze paused as it passed by me and I held my breath.

The predator looked past me, scanned the rest of the area and then plopped down as if it didn’t have a care in the world and ate its meal with gusto.

Stretching lazily, the big cat took a five-minute snooze, then licked itself clean. It took another good long look around, and then stepped behind a bush and simply disappeared.

I felt really good about the experience and it boosted my confidence as a hunter. I didn’t have a deer encounter that day, at least at a distance I would feel right about taking a shot (and I’m a good shot), but still I ranked that as one of the most successful days of my hunting career.

Preparation and patience paved the way to success yet again!

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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