Gerald Almy: Tips to Improve Your Hunting Skills | Nvdaily

For a change of pace from the usual outdoors section, here is a collection of tips for a wide variety of species that could help you on your future hunts.

Antelope: These animals are most active and least suspicious just after dawn and the last hour or before dark. Use these times to glaze the main feeding areas and you can often get much closer than you could in a blazing midday sun.

Turkeys: When hunting turkeys with a decoy, make sure there is elevation, open field, or other arrangement preventing another hunter from sneaking by by pulling the decoy with you in line of sight .

Deer: Try a staggered two-person still hunt. Have a hunter work slowly through a shelter with the wind blowing across. Then have a second hunter walk 75 to 125 yards downwind and slightly behind.

The first hunter can jump a dollar and shoot a shot, or the deer can turn back downwind, offering the trolling hunter a chance. Make sure you wear plenty of bright orange and know your safe shooting paths.

Ducks: It is often possible to determine if ducks are worth calling out by the way they fly. Birds that are high, fly fast and in a straight line know where they are going and are not likely to come towards your decoys or calls. However, lower flying birds that appear more hesitant or indecisive in their flight can often be lured into shotgun range with good distribution and skillful call.

Turkeys: If you separate a flock of turkeys in the fall, but have lost your calls, try whistling aloud three to five times, as if calling a dog. Young birds are particularly sensitive to this “kee-kee” call, which they give to regroup when they are separated.

Deer: Sometimes it’s best to let the weather dictate your hunting strategy. If it’s dry and the leaves are cracked under the feet, take a stand. You will make too much noise trying to chase the stalk away.

If a light mist or snow is falling, slowing down slowly is often a productive tactic. When a big snowstorm has blown, get in the car – the deer will be lying down and you will have to chase them.

Ducks: On most rivers, a distance of 4-6 miles is a good distance for a float hunt of about half a day. Always favor the float that is too short rather than too long. You don’t want to be surprised on the river after dark.

Rabbits: For the most part, it’s best to avoid open areas when tackling rabbits. The thicker the cover, the better your chances of skipping that career.

Look for patches of heather, clusters of brush, abandoned farm machinery overgrown with weeds, dead trees shrouded in vines, and fences covered with honeysuckle. These are the places where rabbits like to hang out.

Quail: It is a mistake to assume that all quails are flush with a single simultaneous flock. Usually a few latecomers get up late. Save a shell and these quails may present the best opportunity of all when there are no other birds to distract you. Of course, there are very few quails these days in the Shenandoah Valley, but in the southeastern areas you can still find some of these wonderful game birds.

Ducks: When you first spot ducks from a distance, use the highball or hail call – fast, high-pitched quacks. This attracts the attention of the ducks and turns them towards you. Once they spot the spread of the decoys, switch back to smoother, satisfied hen sounds.

Woodcock: When jumping on a woodcock, do not shoot your weapon while the bird is rising. An easier shot will come if you wait for the bird to stabilize and start to fly horizontally. At the point where it changes direction, it will be practically still.

Elk: At the end of the season, forget about the well-known large prairies that appear on topographic maps. These have been pounded hard by other hunters since opening day. Instead, look for tiny open pockets with a bit of grass or herbaceous plants left on high, hard-to-reach ridges or hidden in otherwise thick patches of dense black wood. Most elk are hunted in the western states, but Virginia is slowly building a herd of these large game animals and limited hunting is already underway.

Award-winning outdoor writer Gerald Almy is a resident of Maurertown

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