A couple of weeks ago, I planned a weekend duck and goose hunt. Hunting by myself would allow me to hunt in any manner I wished.
Hunting our 140 acre plot on Webb Tract can be limited when in a group, but by hunting alone, I figured I might hunt anywhere on the parcel and apply any style I chose without interference from any other hunters. I was right.
Before leaving home, I focused on a couple of tactics, one for geese and the other for ducks. I convinced myself that these two tactics would work. Therefore, my strategy for the hunt was limited by my own vision.
When I arrived at the property, the water levels had been manipulated in a way that I hadn’t anticipated so my primary goose and duck hunting tactics were not as favorable as I had anticipated.
The blind where I had intended to wait out the specs, had a water truck parked about 75 yards from it. It appeared to me that the large truck might inhibit geese from using the field and the high water at the south end of the property was attracting both ducks and geese – another change I’d not anticipated.
I made a key strategical error, I’d limited the tactics I might use by concluding that the activity on the property would be the same as the last time I hunted. This was a fatal strategical flaw, a common problem when hunting ducks and geese.
In my strategy I should have included all the possible scenarios that could happen on that weekend and then come prepared with a greater array of tactical elements. This was not the first time that ducks and geese had used the south end of the property, so I should have come prepared with gear that would support that option – or any other place on the property for that matter.
What would I have done differently? It turns out that the blind I intended to use was in a field that was nearly dry. My plan was to use very few goose decoys or maybe none at all and wait patiently for the geese to come in to the field. In this manner I could get close shots at set birds or even birds about to land. This tactic would allow me to watch the birds at close range, pick out good shots and kill a maximum number of geese with the smallest number of shots. I enjoy this type of hunting and was excited about the anticipated hunt – too excited.
When I arrived at the property, I was unprepared to hunt geese over water. I’d left my floating spec decoys at home, thinking they wouldn’t be needed. As it was, I hunted geese over my mallard decoys on Saturday afternoon, killing two specs at close range, but several other small groups of specs passed by just out of range and I believe that with six floating spec decoys in the pond – one of them attached to my jerk string, I’d have killed three or four more geese than I did.
My strategical mistake was to come unprepared to use all the tactics I needed – even though they were readily available to me. If my strategy had been more inclusive, I would have carried my floating goose decoys with me, even though I might not choose to use them.
How does this translate to a hunt on a pubic hunting area? Take for example a hunt at Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. The dogmatic approach might be to wait for a particular blind or pond, no mater how long it takes. If the strategy is limited such as this, you probably would bring a decoy spread to suit that pond. A better approach would be to search the internet for information about all the blinds at Sac refuge. That information is readily available.
Maybe you want to hunt elk during the rut with bow and arrow in Northeastern Oregon. These are the strategical elements of the hunt. Some other strategy may be attending sport shows to gather information about Oregon elk tags, purchase elk bugeling tapes or to find maps of potential huntig areas such as the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area. Selecting equipment, practicing your shooting and calling would become elements of your tactical arsenal.
Defining your minimum trophy size is a strategic element that can change as the hunt continues. Or, your strategy may be to attempt to kill the first legal animal you come upon. In either case, you are better off if you make this decision in advance.
Developing strategy is an element of hunting that provides year-round stimulation in anticipation of the next hunt. Periodic practice of hunting skills such as shooting or calling creates a hunting lifestyle and helps develop a skill. And skill forebodes success.
By understanding strategy and tactics you will clarify the process by which you can achieve your hunting goals.