SILENCE IS WHAT still hunting is all about.

Still hunting for black-tailed deer

Silence is golden when pursuing this outdoor activity

Living on Vancouver Island is special for people who enjoy the outdoor sports and recreational challenges of unlimited fishing and very generous hunting opportunities. For the first 10 months of 2013 my outdoor adventures have largely centred on various fishing activities. Time has come to change priorities and start some serious hunting to balance things a little.

During the 2012 season Smitty and I had a very successful season when we took three small black-tailed bucks in dedicated still hunting. For people unfamiliar with the jargon of hunting, still hunting is practised by hunters who walk quietly though a forest and in the process try to see animals before they run away.

The choice of weapon, as in archery or firearms, has some bearing on your still hunting techniques. What is of primary importance is to wear warm, waterproof clothing that blends with the forest surroundings and is of a soft material that makes virtually no noise when you brush past a tree or branch along your path.

Some aspects of this type of hunting are that you learn to stand still or sit in appropriate places for considerable periods of time waiting for deer to move around you. The extreme form of this hunting is from camouflaged blinds or tree stands – where you will spend most of your time quietly sitting and watching.

Still hunting brings out the best of your observation skills. You must learn to recognize fresh tracks, browse marks, and recent examples of bucks breaking branches on small trees and scraping the bark off as they mark their territory.

Weather, as always, is an important aspect of this type of hunting. Ideal conditions will cover a wide variety of situations. This past weekend on Saturday and Sunday afternoons I spent hunting under what could be described as ideal conditions for our forests. The wind was blowing along with rain and there was considerable natural noise to deaden the sounds you make as you slowly walk through the forest.

During the two afternoons I saw one small button buck  that watched from the security of a perfect background that his colour blended with and made him almost invisible. (Note: a button buck is a fawn of this year and at this time of the year the does leave them on their own as they seek a new mate.) It was the only deer I saw in the two outings.

You may consider the fact I saw no deer as a failed hunting trip; but you would be wrong. I came off both days on a high, having been in the woods seeing a great many other things that make up the ever changing world of nature.

Still hunting as a technique can be adapted to all types of weather conditions, and while some conditions are more productive than others it is always a thrilling adventure if you are attuned to the rhythms of nature.

The picture with this column is of a tree I took during a walk on a quiet day. There was no wind. When I share the photograph with fiends I frequently hand it to them upside down – that is with the grass at the top of the picture. Hunting on such a day may be a problem if you want to quietly walk through crunching leaves. What you can do under these conditions is to recognize you will be noisy, therefore announce your presence by being quite noisy, then find a spot to sit down and be quiet and still. Frequently a curious buck will come over near you to see who made the noise. I once took a large four-point buck using this technique.

Soft, fresh snow in cold weather will create perfect conditions for this type of hunting. You can move through the forest in close to complete silence. Take notice of the wind direction and you have still hunters ideal conditions. One day under these conditions I saw several deer that were very nervous, and later in the day I discovered why. When I crossed my own tracks there were the tracks of a large cougar in mine. I never saw it; but I am certain it was never very far away.

Still hunting skills are also the skills of all who would enjoy a walk in a forest. Take a good walking staff and give it a try.

 

Ralph Shaw is a master fly fisherman who was awarded the Order of Canada in 1984 for his conservation efforts. In 20 years of writing a column in the Comox Valley Record it has won several awards.

 

 

Just Posted

442 Squadron assists coast guard with medevac of injured boater

On Sunday afternoon, June 24, 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron was tasked… Continue reading

Crown Isle acquires Longlands Golf Course

The Crown Isle Resort and Golf Community just got a little bit… Continue reading

Comox resident proposes golf course conversion to park

A Comox resident is hoping he’s not the only one who would… Continue reading

Moms of those killed by illicit opioids take to B.C. Legislature in call for action

Moms Stop the Harm, a nationwide network of families who have lost loved ones to overdoses rally

Taxing Vancouver Island

Big Read: find out which communities are paying the lowest and highest taxes on Vancouver Island

Pigs crash yoga class in B.C.

First it was goats, now it’s pigs — you can get downward dog with the whole farm in Aldergrove

Judge dismisses DNA request in Cranbrook triple murder case

Dean Christopher Roberts must appeal directly to the federal Minister of Justice, reads ruling.

Yes, we could use a soft drink tax

NDP rejects useful tax advice because it’s not popular

Canada sweeps China in Pacific Rim Basketball Classic

National men’s team beats China twice over weekend in Vancouver and Victoria

Rainbow crosswalk in B.C. defaced 10 days after installation

Surrey’s first rainbow crosswalk has been defaced sometime over the weekend

Closing arguments expected in trial for twice convicted Canadian killer

Crown, defence expected to give closing arguments in Millard murder trial

Canadians undertake the world’s most dangerous peacekeeping mission

A dozen Canadian peacekeepers arrive in Mali as yearlong mission begins

U.S. justices won’t hear case of anti-gay marriage florist

The case is regarding whether business owners can refuse on religious grounds to comply with anti-discrimination laws

Most Read