Top Tip: Slowly does it

Stay still, keep quiet and stretch your senses to find your quarry

Stay still, keep quiet and stretch your senses to find your quarry - Credit: Archant

Phill Price tells us how ‘less is more’ when you’re out in the field

Human beings are creatures driven to succeed and that often takes the form of doing more and trying harder, so when the advice is ‘do less’, we find it hard to accept. This shows up when people go hunting. They rush around, thinking that if they just look in the next field or up the next tree they’ll find their quarry, and quite often they’re wrong. The main reason for this is that they scare their quarry away before they even see it.

Wild animals have incredible senses and can detect us from huge distances. If our scent is carried on the wind, rabbits will pick it up and bolt down their burrow before we get within a hundred yards. Pigeons have the most amazing vision, which is highly attuned to movement, so the unaware hunter strolling through a roosting wood will scatter them like a bow wave several hundred yards ahead.

A wise old hunter taught me a simple truth decades ago. He said that our quarry is just as likely to be where we are now as where we’re going, so stand still, shut up and then listen and look. Can you see the squirrel’s tail hanging from that branch? Is that a pigeon behind a screen of twigs?

As long as you stand still in some cover you have a chance of finding the quarry. As soon as you move, every living thing will notice you. The blackbird that you showed no interest will rocket away making a shrieking a message that all the other creatures understand. Danger! Predator! Don’t think the squirrels and pigeons can’t speak blackbird - they most certainly can.

When you’re sure there are no quarry animals or birds around you, move slowly and quietly a few yards into cover, and then stop to study again. Repeat this slow, deliberate routine and you’ll disturb the countryside far less.

The old chap also told me to use my eyes four times as much as my feet, by which he meant stand and look for four minutes for every minute you walk. Many people hesitate as they walk, glance around and set off again. That’s the wrong way. Don’t glance - study. Follow each branch of a tree from the trunk to the tips. Follow each curve of the hedge from your toes to the horizon, slowly. This way you’ll see the rabbit’s ears in the grass that you’d have otherwise overlooked.

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Move less and you’ll bag more, I promise.