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

Air Gunner - - Contents -

Slowly, slowly, catchee quarry, says Phill

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.

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

“Don’t think the squir­rels and pigeons

can’t speak black­bird”

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