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How to Execute the Perfect Stalk

Paying close attention to the small details, while preparing to encounter and overcome variables is imperative to successfully stalking your quarry.

How to Execute the Perfect Stalk
(Photo courtesy of Colton Heward)

Planning and executing a successful stalk is an essential skill for hunting big game. Once you find your target animal, take a deep breath and consider the different factors that will affect the outcome of your approach. Here are five crucial variables that should be considered before every stalk.

1. Time of Day

Mountain thermals rise and fall with the sun. Be sure to take this change into consideration when attempting a stalk in late morning or early evening. You need to play the wind, and thermals make stalking tough in the mountains. Make sure to check prevailing winds, but always keep in mind the direction of the thermals.

checking topographic satellite maps on phone
(Photo courtesy of Colton Heward)

2. Mark Shooting Position and Target Location

Before you begin your stalk, make a solid mental note of your target’s position as well as your intended shooting position. Note the range of each, which allows you to fix your position from afar. When possible, place pins on each specific spot with your mapping apps. Everything will look different once you begin your stalk, so the better your markers are, the higher your chances of success.

3. Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Never underestimate the keen eyesight of an animal—even at extreme distances. Do everything you can to approach unseen. When faced with a wide-open expanse of ground between you and the animal, travel low to the ground and move as slowly as possible. Check often to ensure your target is unaware of your presence. Patience is key.

4. Check for Other Animals

It is easy to become laser-focused on your intended target and neglect other mountain dwellers you may encounter on your approach. Take an extra minute to scan your intended route and be sure there are no other critters that will foil the stalk before you get into position to take the shot.

hunter uses laser rangefinder to gauge distance
(Photo courtesy of Colton Heward)

5. Biological Habits

Bucks, bulls, and bears act and move differently depending on the time of year. Excessive heat, breeding seasons, and the looming winter all play a role in an animal’s daily routine. Understanding your quarry’s habits—and how they change as the season progresses—is a necessity when planning a stalk. To improve your chances of a successful stalk, take the time to study an animal’s behavior before heading afield. 




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