Walking through the woods quietly isn’t easy. And it’s not a skill you keep if you don’t practice it often. Work and family responsibilities have prevented me from anything more than weekend hunts for the last several years, but I finally got a week off to hunt last week.
After the first couple of steps into the woods on that hunt, I realized I am very rusty. I had to slow way down and choose my steps very carefully to avoid snapping twigs or crunching gravel. I probably only moved about a quarter as fast as I was able to back when I hunted much more regularly, but that was OK. I didn’t get as far into the backcountry as I would have liked, but the other thing about being out of practice for hunting was that I wasn’t in shape like I’ve been in the past. I’ve been working out, but there’s no way to prepare for hiking in the woods at high elevations other than doing exactly that. So shorter hikes served as that practice.
There were elk and deer all over the place, but every time I started getting close to them, I’d step on a stick or snap one off a tree, and the next thing I heard was big game animals exiting the area at a high rate of speed.
By the end of the week, I thought I was getting quite a bit better at it. A fresh layer of snow on the ground certainly helped, at least until that snow got crusty. When that happened, every step made a crunching noise. It reminded me of one of the Indiana Jones movies, where Short Round said, “It sounds like we’re walking on fortune cookies.” I guess I still need more practice. But that’s the good news. It gives me a good excuse to go hunting again so I can work on my sneaking.