Tracking Techniques for Ethical Hunting

Scout for signs of wildlife in your hunting area and use these techniques to avoid detection.

  • Because deer have poor depth perception, the two-dimensional appearance of a hunter can easily blend into the landscape if their form is simply obscured in some way.
    Photo by Fotolia/mbridger68
  • You can improve your hearing significantly by cupping a hand around your ears.
    Photo by Miles Olson
  • One extreme camouflage tactic is to dress in deer's fresh skin. Timucua hunting deer in Florida, c. 1562, by Jacques Le Moyne.
    Photo courtesy The Florida Photographic Collection
  • A unique and comprehensive, fully illustrated guide to the complexity, ethics and spirit of the hunt, "The Compassionate Hunter" by Miles Olson is a must-read for beginning and experienced hunters alike. It will appeal to anyone who wishes to delve more deeply into the complex, humbling and ultimately profound reality of our relationship with the food that nourishes us.
    Cover courtesy New Society Publishers

Wild meat, hunted in a responsible way, is one of the most healthful, sustainable foods possible. Depending on how it is done, hunting can be as local, intimate and humane as it gets. And aside from this, it demands the hunter enter a world of awareness, wildness, life and death that we have lost connection to as a culture.

The Compassionate Hunter's Guidebook (New Society Publishers, 2014) by Miles Olson is a guide for those that come to the act of hunting with pure intentions, motivated by a desire for healthy food that comes directly from the land where they live. This practical manual suggests that hunting is not a "sport" and the animals whose lives are taken are not "game." It combines a deep, philosophical exploration of the ethics of killing with detailed instructions on every step of the process. The following excerpt is from Chapter 5, "Techniques."

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: The Compassionate Hunter's Guidebook.

Several years ago, I was invited by an acquaintance to go deer hunting. Although I had some reservations about the man who was inviting me, I decided to go. He was much older than me, a seasoned hunter with a long lifetime of experience, so I figured he probably had a lot of knowledge and wisdom I could learn from. The idea was that by coming along I could shoot a deer myself or, if he got one, I would give him a hand with any heavy work and could take the hide, fat and organs and any other parts that he didn’t intend to use home with me.

On the day of our hunt, he picked me up at the road near my home early in the morning. We drove in his pickup truck a couple hours, first along the highway and then veering off into a network of logging roads.

The plan was, according to my hunting partner: drive. We would drive until we saw a buck off in a clear-cut or crossing the dirt road in front of us. We both had rifles resting between our legs, at the ready, and when we spotted our quarry, my partner would stop the truck, open his door, aim and shoot if it was on his side. If the deer was on my side, it was my shot. This really was not what I’d had in mind when I signed on to this excursion. Nonetheless, I quietly went along with it, deciding I was there to passively learn from this man.

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