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    Default Hunting- By Messor- Part one

    Hunting – By Messor
    Part One


    It’s a tale as old as time, it shaped the evolution of animals more than any other factor, for its only when being hunted that one adapts/evolves methods of trying to stay alive, and more importantly the other side of the coin, it’s only when one needs to eat to stay alive that hunting suddenly becomes more than a word.

    Good day ladies and gentlemen, ok I know many of you guys so let’s just say ladies and men. Trying to explain to someone how to hunt is like trying to explain to someone the act of procreation. Most people do have the hang (hopefully) of it, yet the methods and ways of doing such is as varied as the stars in the sky. The question thus arises, if people have been hunting since mankind evolved some three hundred thousand years ago, why is it then that I am here trying to explain it to you? Well the truth is that some time ago some gentlemen won a noble prize when he proved that evolution can happen in one generation, something to do with potatoes but let’s skip the boring facts, truth is with the modern industrial and agricultural developments mankind is quickly un-learning how to hunt, at a frightening rate.

    Ok, now there are many things I can teach you, but words do not a hunter make, and my actions I cannot print on paper, so let’s just have a casual chat about hunting. For the purpose of this articles(plural because maybe some others to follow) I am going to focus on one thing and one thing alone, hunting on foot, alone or with a hunting partner, in terrain known or unknown to the specific individual (or plural). I cannot focus on shooting from a vehicle, because it’s not hunting, and I cannot focus on hunting with a guide/PH, because as much as it pains to say it hunting is a business and the second you are being guided the business uses the employee to create results, meaning you think you are hunting but you are not. And I’m not going technical in this specific article, I’m going spiritual, no that’s a dumb word let’s call it logical.

    There are many subsections in hunting, terrain, animals, stalking, rifle, ammo, hunting, etc etc , but for part numero uno let’s start with the following.

    Animal behaviour

    This will be the core of this article, and it’s something people know little about, nor care about during their once a year hunt, yet it is paramount when trying to understand hunting success. Animal behaviour guides everything we do in the hunting veld, whether we understand or even know about it, it’s there, it influences us. Let’s start with a simple hunting scenario that plays itself out thousands of times a year. Hunters arrive at game farm, they are so eager to get into it that they bother not shooting their weapons in correctly(which should have been done before that anyways), after a quick talk about safety, tagged animals……..bla bla they head off in a direction, you can say they are heading in the unknown. Now at this point I must tell you no matter how much you have hunted before should you not have that sense of excitement at that point stay at camp, and drink, or cook, or make firewood, or sit and enjoy nature, but don’t go hunting, we all have our time to retire.

    Anyways, you walk along, be it on a path or not, and see a target animal. At that point your heart starts racing at 200 m/h and you are suddenly fiddling with your safety wondering if you already chambered a round or not. Should the animal be within shooting distance you find yourself without a steady shooting platform but you take the shot anyways, you realizing you’ve discharged a round only when the smoke clear, and HOPEFULLY you hit something. Does any of his sound familiar, how does your once a year hunting trip usually go? Time for some questions, why was the animal standing there, why were you within shooting distance, why did the animal not detect you(you great hunter you), and and and.

    Time for some answers to those questions, firstly the animal stood there because it wanted to, duh! Sorry that was just joking the animal does have a reason for being there, it’s feeding, it’s part of it’s migratory path between water sources and food sources, it’s looking for sun or shade, it’s looking for mud to take a tick bath, it’s having it’s morning berry breakfast, you name it, etc, etc. How many of you guys have ever thought about that after looking at the body of the dead animal? Is it a stupid question or irrelevant question? Or can it just be that if you knew the answer to the question then next time you would not have to walk 30 miles before running into an animal. Now at this point I must make a distinction between what we humans perceive as behaviour, and what is actually true animal behaviour. Many times you would have been on a game farm or just out hunting, where the tracker tells you that “over there” or in “that mountain” or around” that watering hole” you will find animals. You must then realize that statistically he could be more accurate than the norm, but humans see patterns where there is often none, yes if you work on the farm and see animals in that spot 20 times during the year then your brain tells you that’s where they stay, but the hunter is there only once a year so if the animals are not there at least 50% of the time then it will have little impact on hunting success. Listen, assimilate, and remember the info given . I have a saying that I often use, I must just copyright it, I say “Forget the how, ask the why”. If you know what the animals are supposed to do then what they are doing currently is of far lesser importance. If you know a certain group of kudu moves between grazing and water at certain times during the day then it matters more that you know why, and that will lead you to the where(how).

    Plains game, buggers, I have plenty shoes worn out, not because I can’t hunt of course agggeemmmmm, sorry just clearing my throat, no because of the sharp rocks and ………..things you step on in the veld of course. Now of course they are a lot easier to spot than their bushy cousins (no reference to anything else, but it’s still an interesting thought), it’s just getting to them is harder. People often think animals just run at the sight of anything moving, that is not true, every hunter and outdoorsman know animals don’t run when you’re not hunting them, or when you want to shoot them but left the gun at home, or when they cost a LOT more than you can afford. You see the same thing in wild parks when antelope grazes directly past a group of lion, the antelope knows that running off would have no purpose, and the lions know that running after an impala with your stomach full is awkward, so both parties leaves each other alone without claiming victory.

    Now all game antelope’s got something different in the way they do things, and as such the more you hunt the more you see and learn and the better your chances of success. Some smaller antelope are fighters like bosbok, some large antelope are complete sissies like eland, some antelope are too damn cocky for their own behalf, like sable, and some are just crazy, like black wildebeest. Whatever the case may be and however different their behaviour may be it’s important to understand it in order for you to follow the correct course of action during a stalk. Animal warning noises follows closely on this list, even though when you hear it you’ve probably already been detected. Even when I’m old and deaf the whistle of a ribbok will stay with me forever.

    Now many of you must see me stalk, it’s a thing of beauty, you see my feet moving, my body changing location but not sound………yea I’m just joking again. But it brings up another point, I have hunted many places where I stalk around as if I’m stalking Chuck Norris, but the workers that walk those same places walks around daily making noise of biblical proportions. It’s not to say that animals view humans as danger, Piet and Koos that checks the water each day and keeps on chatting about the black label stuck in their heads is of no interest, and no threat to the animal. But put Piet or Koos in hunting clothes, give them a rifle and ask them to stalk the animal and suddenly the animal becomes a lot more aware of their presence. We might think it beneath such a simple creature but forget not that an ant with no brain can perform complex tasks, a game animal with a large brain can do a lot more than you give it credit for. On the plains many people do the walking past animals thing, and it works in places where animal haven’t learned the trick yet. People walk towards the animals in circles that diminishes in distance, so even if for the animal it looks like the human is walking away(or to be more precise not towards) them the human closes the distance enough for a shooting shot, while the animals do not suspect the foul plot. Some leopard crawl straight upwind to a suitable position, some shoot them from afar. But first determine their behaviour, predict their movements, and think about what your actions will bring to the groups mentality.

    The subject of being detected while hunting is an interesting one. Just like in normal behaviour antelope’s defensive behaviour varies a lot when it comes to what they do after being spooked. Of course it varies a lot between animals of different degrees of hunting intensity, but then animals just don’t run themselves to death when spooked, they clear distance between them and the hunter and go on doing what they do, it is illogical to think they would run forever and you won’t get a chance at that group again. It’s simply not true, I have been detected several times by plains game before, they relocate and I stalk them there, simple as that. Also if you understand the fact that many animals are indeed territorial it’s illogical to thing that antelope hunted in bush conditions will run away too far for you to hunt them again. What must they do, they are designed to be eaten, no matter how far they run that fact remains. So after being detected you do the same, go on hunting, what else can you do?

    Now it must be said that even if you haven’t got the faintest clue about anything I have just said, people must know that even if you don’t people still hunt and shoot animals successfully. And it’s simple really, in bushy areas animals try and walk the line of least resistance, putting them on foot paths, crossing their paths with humans. But if you know the animal is not suppose to be there at that moment, because it should be in shady areas, resting or near water sources then you won’t be looking for it there, and your chances of success will be much higher. Like a kudu hiding from cold winter wind, or springbok hiding in plateaus or valleys of small koppies. Ribbok lying underneath bushes on the eastern slopes, or steenbok going down in the thick brush.The concept itself becomes much more interesting then when you realize some great hunters to this without actively thinking about it. Meaning instinctively, or subconsciously they perform these calculations without actively or purposefully thinking about it, time and experience is the cause of such anomalies, something all should strive for.

    Weather as such then does play a big part in the behaviour of antelope, but then that behaviour almost makes it easy to hunt them. Hunters must not try and predict their success according to foul weather, adapt your strategy to how the animals will react to the weather. Iit’s very easy to surprise mountain antelope when hunting into strong wind, they simply can’t smell or hear you, same goes for baboons. You get those days, and many here will know what I mean, when there is an eerie wind blowing, not cold or hot but whatever it is it either scares animals into wearing camo, or they temporarily relocate somewhere else, because you simply don’t see any. It is important however to never project human emotion and behaviour onto animals, finding fault is what we do best, the fault lies with the human not the animal, simple as that. So if you are failing, adjust your strategy to accommodate the behaviour the animal is emitting at that stage.

    Ok, I can’t write everything in one article, too much information for that, for that I might as well write a book and charge people for it(insert smug smiley here, followed by another just joking disclaimer), but even in such small article some things must be highlighted. Information drives everything around us, hunting included, arming yourself with information is then just as important as with everything else. We spend many a night loading ammo, checking gear, worrying about stuff to pack, worrying about butcher costs, and and and, the list is endless, but prepping on the target animal is never done.

    Next time, going kudu hunting? Well then read up on the kudu, read op on its eating habits, read up on its water requirements, read up on its habitat preferences, read up on its food preferences, read up on its mating habits. Study its vital chart, study its horn lengths. For other animals study gender identification. When you arrive at the hunting destination don’t go scrumhalf-ing, no such word but it implies someone donnering into something bigger than it without thinking about it first. Ask the farmer, guide, residents about what are the habits of the animals in the area. Ask them about the travelling routes of the animals, ask them about all the water sources, and acquire as much information before you test your skill against the unknown. Next time you go hunting in a new area, did you read up on the area, do you know the animals, dangers, even humans living there. Did you read up on what the gemsbok that walks there eat, they sure as hell don’t eat the same stuff the gemsbok in the Namib does. Is the body size of antelope there perhaps smaller, meaning will you be able to indentify adult animals and horn lengths properly, like springbok differs from the Karoo to the Kalahari? Or Eastern Cape kudu have horns but no body? Even if you are not met with success that specific hunt you will be more knowledgeable about the said animal and terrain next time. The list goes on and on, do you just want to shoot something dead, or is nature a passion with you?

    Ok, time to end, the ending of this article will be simple, life is such a mad rush, people want to carry that over into the hunt, and if you are rushing it then enjoyment flies out of the window. Don’t blame money and work-leave, we all know that’s a “insert French word here” poor excuse. Sit every now and then, listen to the sounds, look at the topography, look at the view, but ALWAYS think about what you are doing, and what you are trying to achieve, and think on how to achieve that. Lastly if you are met with success, think about how you achieved it, dumb luck happens, but the more you practice the luckier you get.
    Last edited by Messor; 14-12-2014 at 20:53.
    "It's not the dying part that scares me, it's the not living."

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    Default Re: Hunting- By Messor- Part one

    Great read!!! Thanks Messor

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    Default Re: Hunting- By Messor- Part one

    Quote Originally Posted by golof View Post
    Great read!!! Thanks Messor
    +1

    Now we'll patiently wait for part 2. I'm liss for a decent braai all of a sudden ;)

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    Default Re: Hunting- By Messor- Part one

    Messor thanks for that, really liked it!

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    Default Re: Hunting- By Messor- Part one

    Thanks Messor I have gained some perspective throughout this read, hence I will reference this to ensure assimilation before a hunt.

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    Default Re: Hunting- By Messor- Part one

    Awesome article and well written. I enjoyed reading that

    Thanks Messor

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    Default Re: Hunting- By Messor- Part one

    Very nice article Messor! Looking forward to more!

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    Default Re: Hunting- By Messor- Part one

    Thanks

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    Default Re: Hunting- By Messor- Part one

    Thanks for a good read.

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    Default Re: Hunting- By Messor- Part one

    Great piece, thanks. Sticky worthy .

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