Camouflage the Art of Non-Existing

For those who do not believe they will ever be confronted with a scenario of having to use camouflage to hunt an enemy, about 98% of us, use the techniques which we’ll explore for a more practical purpose. Turkey hunting! Man those birds can see everything! We’re not only talking turkey, any prey we hunt will immediately disappear if they see you before you see them. I will tilt the techniques towards the survival mode of protecting your family against a hostile force, but hunting to provide food is just as much a survival technique as any. Camouflage the art of non-existing is indeed an art-form.

Camouflage is historically one of the basic weapons of war. It can mean the difference between a successful or unsuccessful mission, which means the difference between life and death for the sniper team. Camouflage measures are extremely important since the team cannot afford to be detected moving alone, or as part of another element. People believe a sniper only trains in marksmanship, which is far from the truth. Marksmanship training teaches the sniper to hit a target, but a knowledge of camouflage teaches him how to avoid becoming a target.

A good sniper must be proficient in camouflaging.

Memorizing Target Indicators

To become proficient in camouflage, the sniper team must first understand target indicators. Target indicators are anything a soldier does or fails to do that could result in detection. A sniper team must know and understand target indication not only to move undetected, but also to detect enemy movement. Target indicators are sound, movement, improper camouflage, disturbance of wildlife, and odors.


  • Most noticeable during hours of daylight.
  • The human eye is automatically attracted to movement.
  • Quick or jerky movement will be detected faster than slow movement.


  • Most noticeable during hours of darkness, because our hearing becomes more acute as our eyesight lessens.
  • Caused by movement, equipment rattling, or talking.
  • Small noises may be dismissed as natural, but talking will not. No animal on earth talks except a human.

Improper camouflage:

  • Anything that Shines, including your skin.
  • Outline. Standing alone against a blank background like a horizon.
  • Contrast with the background. Wearing green in a snowy background.
  • Bright flashlights or lights at all.

Disturbance of wildlife:

  • Birds suddenly flying away.
  • Sudden stop of animal noises.
  • Animals being frightened.


  • Cooking.
  • Smoking.
  • Soap and lotions.
  • Insect repellents.

These, or any combination of these items must raise an immediate red flag.

Basic Methods of Camouflage

The sniper team can utilize three basic methods of camouflage. It may use one of these methods or a combination of all three to accomplish its objective. The three basic methods a sniper team can use are hiding, blending, and deceiving.Hiding is used to conceal the body from observation by lying behind thick vegetation or other object large enough to completely conceal the team.
Blending is used to match personal camouflage with the surrounding area to a point where the sniper cannot be seen. For instance in tall grasses.

Deceiving is used to fool the enemy into false conclusions about the location of the sniper team. Such as setting up 4 feet inside the room and shooting through a window.

Types of Camouflage

The two types of camouflage that the sniper team can use are natural and artificial.

Natural camouflage is vegetation or materials that are native to the given area. The sniper augments his appearance by using natural camouflage. For example, you don’t use green foliage in a desert.

Artificial camouflage is any material or substance that is produced for the purpose of coloring or covering something in order to conceal it. Camouflage sticks or face paints are used to cover all exposed areas of skin such as face, hands, and the back of the neck. The parts of the face that form shadows should be lightened, and the parts that shine should be darkened. Your exposed skin will glow in the moonlight. The three types of camouflage patterns the sniper team uses are:

  • Striping is used when in heavily wooded areas and leafy vegetation is scarce.
  • Blotching is used when an area is thick with leafy vegetation.
  • Combination is used when you are moving through changing terrain and is considered the best all round camouflage.

Jack of all Trades

A sniper must alter his appearance to blend into whatever terrain and conditions he finds himself in. Examples of these changes are:

  1. Snow areas. Blending of colors is more effective than texture camouflage in snowy areas. In areas with heavy snow or in wooded areas with trees covered with snow, a full white camouflage suit should be worn. In areas with snow on the ground but not on the trees, white trousers with green and brown tops should be worn. One must keep in mind how they are camouflaged in order to not expose themselves.
  2. Desert areas. In sandy desert areas that have little vegetation, the blending of tan and brown colors is important. In these areas, the sniper team must make full use of the terrain and the vegetation that is available to remain unnoticed.
  3. Jungle areas. In jungle areas, textured camouflage, contrasting colors, and natural vegetation must be used.
  4. Urban areas. In urban areas, the sniper team’s camouflage should be a blended color (shades of gray usually work best). Textured camouflage is not as important in these environments.

The sniper must be camouflage conscious from the time he departs on a mission until he returns. He must constantly use the terrain, vegetation, and shadows to remain undetected as he moves. There is no more a dangerous time during the mission than when he returns to a friendly area. Fatigue and undue haste may override caution and planning. He must never lose sight that he was in enemy territory when hunting, therefore, the enemy may be in his territory.

Proper Cover and Concealment Techniques

The proper understanding and application of the principles of cover and concealment used with the proper application of camouflage can protect the sniper from enemy observation and attack.

Cover is defined as a natural or artificial protection from the fire of enemy weapons. Natural cover (ravines, hollows, reverse slopes) and artificial cover (fighting positions, trenches, walls) protect the sniper team from flat trajectory fires and partly protect it from high-angle fires. Even the smallest depression in the ground may provide some cover when the sniper needs it most. A 8-inch depression, properly used, may provide just enough cover to save the sniper from enemy fire. It must become second nature for a sniper to always look for and take advantage of all the cover that the terrain provides, and as he moves choose routes that place obstacles between him and the enemy.

Concealment is natural or artificial protection from enemy observation. The surroundings may provide natural concealment that needs no change before use (bushes, grass, and shadows). The sniper creates artificial concealment from materials such as burlap and camouflage nets, or it can move natural materials (bushes, leaves, and grass) from their original location. However, the sniper must always consider the effects of the change of terrain on the concealment provided by both natural and artificial materials. A single pile of leaves stands out like a beacon. The principles of concealment include the following:

  1. Avoid unnecessary movement. Remain still–movement attracts attention. The position of the sniper team is concealed when the team remains still, but the sniper’s position is easily detected when the team moves. Movement against a stationary background makes the team stand out clearly. When the team must change positions, it moves carefully over a concealed route to a new position, preferably during limited visibility. Snipers move inches at a time, slowly and cautiously, always scanning ahead for the next position.
  2. Use all available concealment. Available concealment includes the following:
    1. Background is important. The sniper must blend with it to prevent detection. The trees, bushes, grass, earth, and man-made structures that form the background vary in color and appearance. This makes it possible for the team to blend with them. The team selects trees or bushes to blend with the uniform and to absorb the figure outline. Snipers must always assume they are under observation.
    2. Shadows. The sniper in the open stands out clearly, but the sniper in the shadows is difficult to see. Shadows exist under most conditions, day and night. A sniper should never fire from the edge of a wood line; it should fire from a position inside the wood line (in the shade or shadows provided by the tree tops). Don’t give away your position.
  3. Stay low to observe. A low silhouette makes it difficult for the enemy to see a sniper, therefore, always observe from a crouch, a squat, or a prone position.
  4. Avoid shiny reflections. Reflection of light on a shiny surface instantly attracts attention and can be seen from great distances. The sniper uncovers his rifle scope only when indexing and aiming at a target. He uses optics cautiously in bright sunshine because of the reflections they cause. Some things in the movies actually do happen.
  5. Avoid sky-lining. Figures on the skyline can be seen from a great distance, even at night, because a dark outline stands out against the lighter sky. The silhouette formed by the body makes a good target. Never cross or stand on a hill with the sky at your back.
  6. Alter familiar outlines. Military equipment and the human body are familiar outlines to the enemy. The sniper team alters or disguises these revealing shapes by using the ghillie suit or outer smock that is covered with irregular patterns of garnish. The team must alter its outline from the head to the soles of the boots.
  7. Observe noise discipline. Noise, such as talking, can be picked up by enemy patrols or observation posts. The sniper team silences gear before a mission so that it makes no sound when the team walks or runs.

The Rules of Movement While Camouflaged

A sniper team’s mission and method of employment are unique and differ in many ways from those of the infantry squad. The most noticeable differences is the movement technique used by the sniper, as movement must not be detected or even suspected by the enemy. Because of this challenge, a sniper must master individual sniper movement techniques.

  • When moving, the sniper should always remember, his life will depend on it, the following rules:
  • Always assume the area is under enemy observation.
  • Move slowly. A sniper counts his movement progress by feet and inches.
  • Do not cause overhead movement of trees, bushes, or tall grasses by rubbing against them.
  • Plan every movement and move in segments of the route at a time.
  • Stop, look, and listen often.
  • Move during disturbances such as gunfire, explosions, aircraft noise, wind, or anything that will distract the enemy’s attention or conceal the team’s movement.

Individual Movement Techniques

The individual movement techniques used by the sniper team are designed to allow movement without being detected. These movement techniques are sniper low crawl, medium crawl, high crawl, hand-and-knees crawl, and walking.

  • Sniper Low Crawl. The sniper low crawl is used when concealment is extremely limited, when close to the enemy, or when occupying a firing position.
  • Medium Crawl. The medium crawl is used when concealment is limited and the team needs to move faster-than the sniper low crawl allows. The medium crawl is similar to the infantryman’s low crawl.
  • High Crawl. The high crawl is used when concealment is limited but high enough to allow the sniper to raise his body off the ground. The high crawl is similar to the infantry high crawl.
  • Hand-and-knees Crawl. The hand-and-knees crawl is used when some concealment is available and the sniper team needs to move faster than the medium crawl.
  • Walking. Walking is used when there is good concealment, it is not likely the enemy is close, and speed is required.

Route Selection

Before moving an inch the sniper must select his routes of travel, the sniper team must remember its strengths and weaknesses. The following guidelines should be used when selecting routes:

  • Avoid known enemy positions and obstacles.
  • Seek terrain that offers the best cover and concealment.
  • Take advantage of difficult terrain (swamps, dense woods, and so forth).
  •  Do not use trails, roads, or footpaths.
  • Avoid built-up or populated areas.
  • Avoid areas of heavy enemy guerrilla activity.

When the sniper team moves, it must always assume its area is under enemy observation. Because of this and the size of the team with the small amount of firepower it has, the team uses only one type of formation–the sniper movement formation. Characteristics of the formation are as follows:

  • The observer is the point man; the sniper follows.
  • The observer’s sector of security is 3 o’clock to 9 o’clock; the sniper’s sector of security is 9 o’clock to 3 o’clock (overlapping).
  • Visual contact must be maintained even when lying on the ground.
  • An interval of no more than 20 meters is maintained.
  • The sniper reacts to the point man’s actions.
  • The team leader designates the movement techniques and routes used.
  • The team leader designates rally points.

A sniper team must never become decisively engaged with the enemy. The team must rehearse immediate action drills to the extent that they become a natural and immediate reaction should it make unexpected contact with the enemy. Examples of such actions are as follows:

  • Visual contact. If the sniper team sees the enemy and the enemy does not see the team, it freezes. If the team has time, it will do the following:
  • Assume the best covered and concealed position.
  • Remain in position until the enemy has passed.

NOTE: The team will not initiate contact. If the sniper team is spotted the mission is a failure. The enemy will quickly overrun their position by sheer numbers.

  • Ambush. In an ambush, the sniper team’s objective is to break contact immediately. One example of this involves performing the following:
  • The observer delivers rapid fire on the enemy.
  • The sniper throws smoke grenades between the observer and the enemy.
  • The sniper delivers well-aimed shots at the most threatening targets until smoke covers the area.
  • The observer then throws fragmentation grenades and withdraws toward the sniper, ensuring he does not mask the sniper’s fire.
  • The team moves to a location where the enemy cannot observe or place direct fire on it.
  • If contact cannot be broken, the sniper calls for indirect fires or a security element (if attached).
  • If team members get separated, they should return to the next-to-last designated en route rally point.

The skills required to be a sniper and/or spotter are becoming clearer now and they are immense. No militia or self taught sniper is expected to accomplish what a trained team is capable of performing, but learning bits and pieces of what makes a sniper team so effective, can only lead to you learning how to increase your skills.

Trapping with Snares

Since the beginning of time man has provided food for his family by utilizing snares to capture wild game. The spear cut into that usage, bow and arrows were much more efficient, and the development of guns made using snares nearly an extinct art form. Sure mountain men still used traps, still do, but that’s more profit oriented, selling pelts, than supplying a basic food source.

In a survival situation the sole goal is to acquire food for substance and trapping offers several key benefits that are beneficial.

With a few well positioned traps and a bit of luck, your catch can result in more food than a single hunting trip, and you can be performing other survival related tasks, like building a shelter.

The thought of bagging a huge deer, which would provide weeks of substantial protein, seems to be the answer to a prayer, but is it? It is a time consuming task, possibly hunting all day, with the possibly of coming back empty handed. A successful hunt will more than likely occur quite some distance from camp. Do you have any idea of how much energy you will expend dragging a 150 lb. deer 300 yards or more, through dense brush and up and down hills? Sometimes the end results are not worth the effort, and we all have physical limitations.

When the SHTF keeping your location a secret may be your best bet for surviving. Discharging a firearm while hunting can alert people of questionable character and intentions, of your presence. It may take them some time to find you, but they know you’re there and they’ll search until they do find you.

Trapping is not an all or nothing thing. The option to fish, hunt or forage is always available to do while trapping. You gonna gripe because you have too much food? Don’t think so.

Perhaps to seal the deal, a mere couple of dollars is all it cost to completely outfit your bug out bag with enough raw material to make you a successful trapper.

Tried and Proven

The numbers and types of snares are restricted by only by one’s imagination and ingenuity, but these are the types I’d recommend as since they have been utilized for hundreds of years, they probably work.

Dead-Fall traps are the simplest form of a simple snare, a big advantage for a novice, plus they can be constructed out of all natural available materials if need be. The theory of the dead-fall is simplistic … a heavy object is propped up with sticks, bait is attached to a trigger mechanism, which when activated causes the heavy object to fall and kill the prey. Can’t get much easier.

Paiute Dead-Fall was a mainstay of native American Indians trapping arsenal. Here’s what to do and how to build one. Firstly you’ll need to do a little research and planning. Ask yourself some questions. What animal seems to be in abundance? What would those animals eat? How big are they? Where would they be located? Once you formulate a plan begin construction by …. limiting human scent. Rub dirt on your hands to help mask your scent.


Example of Paiute Dead-Fall 

Material List

  • Y” shaped stick, about 8 inches long and thicker than a pencil

  • 2 inch long stick that is skinnier than a pencil

  • straight stick about 9 inches long and thicker than a pencil

  • flimsy slender bait stick, 12 inches long and about half the thickness of a pencil

  • 8 to 10 inches of string, para-cord, shoelace

  • appropriate bait

  • Flat rock about 5 – 10 pounds large enough for intended prey

To set it all up, take your 9-inch straight stick (from here on called the lever) and tie one end of the string to it. Tie the other end of the string to the 2-inch stick ( Toggle). Square knots are fine for each end of the string. Wipe or skewer the bait on one end of the 12-inch bait stick.

Lay the rock down on a flat, hard patch of ground. (Always use as flat a ground as possible) Stand up the “Y” stick ( Post) by the edge of the rock. Put the string-less end of the lever in the fork of the post, with about 1-inch sticking out toward the rock. Lift up the rock and place it on the tip of the lever. You should be able to hold the weight of the rock by only holding down the end of the lever with the string tied to it.

Next, you’ll wrap the 2-inch toggle halfway around the post. It’s basically a 180 degree turn. Now you should be able to hold up the rock by just holding the toggle. The final step is to place the baited end of the 12-inch bait stick between a rough spot under the stone and the tip of the toggle. To insure the trap is set correctly, let go of the trigger stick, and if the rock stays in the air, you are ready to go.

Survivalist Code – Waste not … Want not


Maintaining the code here’s a method for putting together a snare kit that is effective for prey up to 10 pounds. Find an old appliance, lamp, coffee maker, etc. and cut the cord ( normally 18-2 gauge) off. Strip the outer coating off the copper wire with a utility knife, careful not to damage the wiring. Depending on the wire’s thickness, as it can be separated to make more cords, twist the wire tight creating one strong single wire, twist the ends together in order to avoid fraying.

Fixed Snare: Find a twig that is about 1/8 to 3/16 inch thick and easily breakable, nothing green and flexible. Take one end of the wire and wrap it around the stick two or three times, then twist the twig like an airplane propeller, twisting the end closed. Break the twig and remove it, leaving an eye, which you thread the opposite end of the wire through creating a lasso. Secure the end to an attached object, tree or heavy rock and place the lasso portion over a burrow or small animal trail.


Squirrel Pole Snare: Seems squirrels are everywhere, back yards chewing things up, woods scaring deer away when you’re hunting, in the bird feeder. You can trap these tasty aggravating animals by exploiting their weakness of loving shortcuts.

Select a four to six foot stick about the size of your forearm, with the bark intact, ideally with a forked end in which to stick into ground or in a tree fork for added security. Using @ 2 foot lengths of wire make noose loops under 3 inches in diameter and attach them to the stick by twisting them in place. Use numerous snares and zigzag them all over the stick, enhancing your odds of capturing one of the critters.

Let’s Talk Primitive Range Finders:

A range finder, even a primitive range finder, is based on the exact same principles which are employed to manufacturer auto-focus cameras. They work like this: The camera emits an invisible laser beam of light which hits the subject object, then reflects back to the camera, where a sensor detects the beam, and transfers the data to a computer chip. The chip calculates the time it took for the beam to return to the sensor which determines the distance the subject is, and automatically adjusts the camera’s lenses to that specific distance.

Laser range finders operate under the exact principles. An infrared laser beam is emitted from the rangefinder, hits the target and rebounds back to the rangefinder. A computer chip analyzes the information and translates it into distance. This entire sequence occurs in seconds and is accurate, even with less expensive models, of plus or minus 1 yard/meter. There are models available, military grade, that are accurate to mere inches.

Quality Difference:

As with everything else we buy, quality and cost plays a big role in our choice, therefore it’s important to know the differences between range finders. All consumer range finders use a class 1 laser, the difference between a rangefinder rated a 300 yard maximum and one that rates 1200 yard maximum, is the computer chip and sensor. The more complex the internals, detecting lower light, filter out false information, quicker readings, etc. the more expensive. Know what and where you’ll likely be hunting and make your decision based on those issues. For instance, a 300 yard maximum rangefinder, for all practical purposes, would be useless hunting the large valleys of Montana, where a 1000 yard shot is not unheard of. Buyer beware:There are an incredible amount of variables involved in calculating maximum range. So many in fact that some manufacturers have stopped displaying maximum range on their advertising. That doesn’t mean the LRF won’t correctly display a 1000 yard distance, it’s just not likely to be perfectly precise in real life performance.


Bow Mounted LRF

Your Fault:

It may come as surprise to some, but lack of knowledge or skill of the user is the number one (1) reason a LRF will give off a false reading. After buying a new LRF take time to get to understand it. They are, at first, quite complicated with different functions for bow hunting or rifle hunting, rain or fog mode, scan mode, etc. May I dare suggest you may even try reading the instructions.

Again a LRF operates on a “Time-of-Flight” technology, emitting a laser beam and capturing its return reflection, allowing a microprocessor to convert turnaround time into yardage. However, no matter how smart this microprocessor is, it isn’t smart enough to determine if what you’re aiming at is actually what you intend to aim at. That’s where a little human common sense must be utilized. If you’re trying to gauge the distance to a deer in the valley and you get a 25 yard distance reading, you have obviously scanned an obstruction must closer, not the deer. However, when bow hunting a mistake like that could be easy to make. The deer may be 30 yards away, but you receive a 24 yard reading, because you’ve identified a branch between you and the prey, it’s not as glaring of a discrepancy and often leads to missed shots.

To hold a steady cross-hair on a deer with a LRF is no easier than holding one with your scope/rifle combo, and probably harder because it’s lighter. If you can’t hold a steady aim long enough to get an accurate reading, the most expensive LRF is no better than the cheapest. One trick to use, animals rarely stay perfectly still, making a perfect reading difficult … pick out an object, say a large rock or tree that’s adjacent to the target. You’ll get an accurate reading from that stationary target that you will translate into your scope reading.

Different Modes and Options:

Similar to a motor vehicle not all LRF are equipped the same. There are different modes (options) for different conditions. Check these out to know what you’re buying. Don’t wait until you spot a possible target to realize you don’t have a mode you thought you did.

Angles: There’s a big difference between straight line shooting and vertical compensated range. This effects bow hunters more than rifle hunters as most bow hunters shoot from elevated stands or on high steep ground. If the bow hunter uses the straight line reading provided by the laser rangefinder, it will result in a high shot and probable miss. This is the result of geometry, actual distances, angles and heights, just about everything I don’t understand. Luckily the manufacturers have addressed this problem with an accurate tilt-compensated rangefinder, but not all models are equipped with this mode. Not a huge mistake if you are a rifle hunter, a possible catastrophic error if a bow hunter.

Scan Mode: Its designed to give you a running measurement of a moving target, such as meandering while grazing, not a full out sprint, but can also be used to obtain a somewhat accurate reading through patchy vegetation. You scan back and forth in the direction of the target, pan until your laser beam breaks through a clear spot. These multiple pings are quicker than trying to get a single beam on the target through dense brush.

Brush, zip mode: This mode is generated by a filter that tells LRF to ignore brush between you and the target, which it does by focusing on the farthest object while ignoring closer ones. This is a must have for anyone who hunts in the woods, and is the default setting on many rangefinders.

Professional Grade: I’m not saying nobody buys or needs to buy a professional grade LRF, but unless you’re a competition shooter or a military sniper you won’t be able to use it. Why? Allow me to explain.

The instant your bullet leaves the muzzle of the firearm it begins to drop. There are LRF models that come equipped with a ballistics program, that you program variables into, such as load, cartridge, zeroing procedures, and it will calculate the amount of drop for the specific distance. This tells you how much of a hold over or hold under to employ. As you can see it is very complex and very expensive, but I thought I’d make you aware of such a devise.

Environmental Obstruction: Primitive Range Finder

I know I keep returning to the basics, but everything builds off the basics. The principal of a laser rangefinder is to emit a beam of light to get a reading off an intended target. Therefore, it’s important to remember anything that affects the operation of the beam influences the reading as much as the reflective ability of the target.

Any environmental factor which slows down or disperses the beam of light will affect the quality of the reading given by the LRF. The speed of light is derived inside a vacuum, therefore if anything voids that vacuum, it affects the accuracy of the reading. For instance, light travels quicker through lighter air than dense air. Fog, moisture, elevation or snow will retard speed. Usually this issue is not a big deal, but heavy rain, snow or fog can render a RLF useless as the light beam can not penetrate the elements.

Tip: While I’m thinking about it. Be sure to buy a waterproof LRF, or waterproof it yourself if its not. Moisture is a mortal enemy to sensors and microchips, as well as dust and dirt. Using a non-water proof LRF in the outdoors exposed to the elements will result in premature failure.

Maintain Your Human Skills: Primitive Range Finder

You won’t realize it until its too late, but by relying on a rangefinder you will lose your once, somewhat accurate, yardage judging skills. This can result in a ruined hunt if the batteries on your LRF die while in the woods. Retain these skills and become much more skilled with your LRF by killing two birds with one stone. Take your dog for a walk and every so often stop and pick out a target and estimate its distance from you. Then double check your estimate with your LRF.

Remember, nobody can take a skill learned away from you. Only you can do that by not keeping it sharp. The old saying “Use it … or lose it.” Applies here.


Learn the Art of Tracking

I’m a sucker for an old western movie, John Wayne and Clint Eastwood set the standard of being a bad ass in the old West. Ever notice whenever the western involved the U.S. Calvary, normally the 7th I assume in remembrance to Custer and his Regiment, the army always had an Indian scout. He was usually a poorly dressed imitation of a soldier or sometimes in his natural garb, but always Indian. Ironically, Hollywood got this attempt at historical fact correct, the scouts, also called trackers, were native Indians and were employed by the army because they could track and the white man couldn’t.


Indian Scout

As we look around the “non-civilized” world, deep Amazon, New Guinea, Mongolia, etc. wherever indigenous people live off the land, they are skillful at the art of tracking. Why? Because their very survival depends on hunting native animals for food, clothing and shelter. Faced with kill a deer or your family goes hungry, you’d better know where the deer are, and since they are nomads, you’d better be able to track their movements.

Today we go to the grocery store for food, or better yet, the closest fast food place. We program our vehicles’ GPS to guide us to an unfamiliar restaurant we hear we just have to try. Need to know anything … Google it. An eight year old boy living in the 1800s would know more primitive survival skills than 95% of the civilized modern man. Add that fact to the point that white men never did master the art of tracking, and you have a bunch of lost, starving men in ragged suits wandering about.

Well, I’m not going to let you be in that straggly group because we’re going to learn, at least the basics, of how to track animals in the wild. No matter how well prepared or stocked you are to endure a crisis situation, you will eventually run out of food if the event last long enough. At that point providing a new source of food for your family becomes the utmost important task of the day. Let’s begin.

Tracking is the art of learning where the animals are located and is divided into two segments. One segment, we’ll call Sign tracking, is being able to recognize signs of animal activity, such as trails, scat, tree rubs, etc. The second segment is actually identifying what type of animal it is by knowing the tracks they leave as they move about.

Landscape Tracking:

The first thing to do is find high ground with a good view of the landscape, being able to read the landscape is the first step. Most landscapes have “Islands,” patches of habitats that meets the needs of certain species of animals. In other words, you don’t look for a polar bear in the desert, but if there were an ice island among the dunes, that’s where you’d head. Try and locate an island where herbivores would be, the carnivores will follow so don’t worry about them.

So what does a herbivore need?

  1. The first thing is cover, a place to hide and escape to. Thick brush, lots of tangled vegetation, rocky terrain in which to slither under.
  2. Different varieties of vegetation and food source. An area with only one type of food is dangerous for an animal to make their permanent home. When the food source is exhausted or out of season, the animal will have to venture out of its protection to feed. They don’t like exposing themselves to predators. So an area with varied food sources is a very good area to hunt.
  3. Many people relate animals to themselves and think they require a water source close by for survival. This is not exactly accurate as herbivores derive most of their water from the plants they eat and dew.

Types of Habitats: Bear in mind location can play a large role in tracking. A deer in Iowa will require a slightly different habitat than a deer in Mississippi simply because of the environment. There are no swamps in Iowa … no large cornfields in Mississippi.

  1. Deep Forest is usually poorer animal animal habitat because there is little undergrowth for cover and the different types of vegetation is limited. You’ll find squirrel, rabbit and deer in this type of environment, but little else.
  2. Open Fields are also poor areas to find animals. There is no or very little cover and the center of the field is hawk and owl hunting territories. You may find a rabbit, but mostly field mice.
  3. Transition spots are excellent areas to locate many different varieties of animals. A transition area is where one type of habitat transitions into another. For instance, forest to field, forest and a creek, or different feed plots like clover to Milo.


Woods to Field to Food Plot

Analyzing a large Area:

Look for paths. Animals will tend to take the easiest path when crossing a landscape of any type, not much different than you and me. This traveling will create paths, nature’s highways, and are visible if you know what to look for. This is an excellent area to hunt, for unless an animal is being chased by a predator, when they leave the trail for the most difficult terrain they can find to discourage their pursuer, they will eventually take the path again.

Travel routes are somewhat different from paths. Paths are usually species specific, such as deer will normally only use the path, but trails are nonspecific species. Deer. Rabbit, squirrel, coyotes, etc will all use the same travel route. Notice if there is any vegetation growing or battered foliage, which indicates heavy traffic. These travel routes seldom change drastically.

Runs and Escape Routes are paths which are seldom used and change frequently. They would be the place to hunt in conjunction with a drive, as the animal would probably use the same escape route as was previously successful.

Lastly, you must be able to recognize animal sleeping areas and what they mean.

A bed is a consistent sleeping area, turkeys roost in much the same manner, which is used every night barring something interfering with the normal habits. A bed will be difficult to find because it’ll be located in the thickest, most difficult spot in order to make it difficult for a predator to reach quietly.

Transit Bed is like a vacation home for humans. It’s an established bedding area but not used all the time.

A Lay is recognized by the matted or crushed vegetation. It’s a brief resting spot where the animal feels safe enough to rest or chew cud.

Recognizing Recent Activity:

Being able to accurately read signs of recent animal activity is the key to a successful hunt. These are signs which an animals leaves during its normal course of living and are the most telling of all signs. They include, but are not limited to:

Rub which is an unnatural polishing or destruction of the landscape. They can be made unintentionally, such as rubbing against an item (limb) that protrudes into the trail when using the path, or intentional, such as when a deer scratches the velvet off its antlers, or will sometimes wallow in the dust to ward off mites and other parasites.



Deer Rub

Signs of hair or feathers can indicated recent activity. Read the site. Hair stuck in the bark of a tree or a couple of feathers most likely means travel and/or roosting. Large clumps of hair or numerous feathers most likely indicates a kill zone.

Gnaws and Chews can indicate recent activity as a beaver will gnaw on a tree, or rodents will gnaw on an animals’ skeleton (bones) in order to retrieve calcium. Chewing of vegetation can identify which animal it was. A 45 degree clean cut blade of grass was most likely a rodent’s incisors. A serrated edge most likely a deer, as they grab the grass against their upper palette and pull the grass off by raising its head.

Scratch marks can be made Unintentional, such as a bear or cat crossing boulders or rocks, and intentionally, such as a skunk or raccoon digging for grubs.

Debris and Upper Vegetation breakage can tell you the size of the animal and perhaps how long ago it passed through the area. Debris such as a larger creek boulder out of its banks will indicate a rather larger animal for it to be able to roll the stone. If the stone shows signs of moisture stain, the animal is fairly close. When vegetation is broken, the height of the break will indicate the size of the animal. Break the grass above the current break and compare texture and moisture content. Not even close … it’s an old break and the animal is long gone. Breaks same color and both have moisture, the animal is close.

Scat or animal waste is nearly like talking to the animal it can be that revealing. That’s why identifying scat and being able to analyze it is very important. In the summer herbivores leave loose mushy scat because they are dining on soft succulent vegetation. As Fall approaches you’ll see evidence of remains of nuts, seeds and berries. Scat in the winter is hard and will consist of bark and twigs. Never use your fingers to rummage through scat during your investigation, and if it is dry and powdery, do not inhale the dust as it could cause lung infections.

Animals tend to leave scat where they feel safe, so look for lays around scat droppings.

Who left the scat?

Tubular shaped scat – Raccoon, dog, skunk, wolverine, bear or possum.

Tear drop or tapered – Cat family

Fattened Threads – Weasel family

M&Ms – Rabbits & Hares

Oblong, possible nipple at one end – Deer

Tubular and tapered at both ends – Fox

Let’s Get Serious:

Animals don’t leave red flags laying around to announce their presence, unless you want to consider the white flag of a deer running away an announcement, which I guess it is… “Bye Sucker”. Let’s learn to read nearly invisible signs.

We start this by learning the Side-head technique of viewing the world. Get on the ground, keeping the suspect area between you and the source of light. Place your head as close to the ground as possible, scan the area with your bottom eye, which focuses on the ground to 1 foot above, the top eye reads up to three foot above ground. You are looking for a compression on the surface. What’s a compression? Dust and grit particles will collect on all surfaces. When an animal walks onto this surface it will either grind the grit into the surface or remove it. By utilizing the side-head technique you will be able to see either a shiny spot or a dull spot, depending on whether the grit is dull or shiny. If the trail is somewhat old and dust has resettled the pock will still be visible, just harder to see.

More invisible signs to look for:

Dulling occurs in the morning when there’s dew on the ground, which makes everything appear shiny. As an animal crosses the grass it will either wipe away the dew or compress it, which will give it a dull appearance in comparison to the rest of the grass. Be aware, this sign quickly disappears as the dew evaporates.

Shining occurs during the day after the dew is gone and everything turns dull. An animal stepping on the grass will press it downward flipping the shiny side of grass up to reflect the sunlight. This condition will last about 2 hours, depending on weather conditions.

Leaf depressions occur when animals step on them pushing them into the soil. The leaves will spring back up, not revealing the track in the soil, but not completely. By Side-heading you can still see the slight depression left in the leaves.

Analyzing a Track:

Anyone can see a track in the soft soil and declare victory, but that’s not even close to being accurate. When an animal places their hoof or paw down, the heel slides into the ground, indents, then pulls out. No track will ever go straight down, there’s always an angle, either when the foot enters or leaves.

The softer the soil the greater the slope of the wall which creates a greater distortion. Most people make the mistake of measuring the distorted track, not the true track. So what’s the big deal? Does it really matter? Well, it does if you want to be a 100% sure of what you’re tracking. For instance, a dog track can look like a coyote track. The dog’s inner toes are larger than the outer, the coyote the reverse. You can’t tell the difference in the overall track.

How to Age Tracks:

Okay, you’re doing pretty good identifying potential animal habitat, verifying your findings by locating solid signs of activity, locating tracks and reading what they tell you. That’s excellent, but as far as hunting for food, you need to know if the animal crossed that spot a couple of hours ago … or a couple of days ago. You need to know the age of that track.

The most important influence in track degradation (aging) is the current weather and fluctuations of weather.

Gravity is the second most influential factor in degrading.

The third factor is type of soil, which is classified from 1 to 10 with 1 being sand and 10 being clay (soft or hard).

The only method of learning how to determine track degradation is to experiment with different soils and weather conditions. It’s hands on training that can’t be replicated in a classroom or in a book. It’s time consuming and tedious work that may test your patience, but if you are serious about learning tracking, a must do exercise.

Training Lesson:

  1. The first thing to do is classify the soil. It’s best if you could perform simultaneous tests in different soil types.
  2. Clear an rectangle area about 1 foot by 1 foot, removing all rock, grass etc.
  3. Dig down about 2 inches, break the soil up as fine as possible, then pat the soil in the hole down into a flat smooth texture and allow it 24 hours to settle.
  4. Use a stick (not a knife) to scrape 5 lines in the soil, from barely scratching it to digging a ½ inch deep trench.
  5. Carefully examine the marks for 8 – 10 minutes ingraining every little detail into the subconscious. Write down current weather conditions.
  6. Come back 6 hours later and repeat the identical process, making new scrapes with the same stick, pressure and depths, directly adjacent to the first 5 lines. You’ll now have a visual comparison of fresh tracks and 6 hour old tracks.
  7. Repeat this process every 6 hours for 24 hours. Making note of the differences in each grouping.
  8. Then repeat the process every 24 hours for 6 days, showing degradation of fresh to week old tracks.
  9. Perform this identical task in all four seasons, as I said weather is the single most factor in degradation of tracks, thus telling their age.

In today’s technological age I suggest taking photos of each experiment, assuming the camera quality is adequate, and taking notes on your computer. I do warn you … do the experiments and retain to memory, the other is an aid for learning, but won’t help if the knowledge is not ingrained into your memory. Mastering this exercise will give you the skills to age a track within 2 hours, even if the track was a day old.

Do’s and Don’t s While Tracking:

By the very nature of the beast while tracking you will be in close contact with the ground and surrounding vegetation, which means you are at risk from certain environmental hazards. Let’s avoid them.

Scat – Never handle scat with your hands, use disposable gloves and a stick to pick it apart. Don’t breathe dried scats as it contains spores and microorganisms which are harmful.

Poison Ivy, Oak & Sumac – These poisonous leaves can create a severely irritating itchy rash that makes life miserable. Remember the basic rule “Leaves of three … let it be.”


Deer Tick

Ticks – ticks are disgusting little creatures, anything that sucks my blood is disgusting. Dog ticks carry Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, while deer ticks carry Lyme Disease, both serious illnesses. Always use pest protection that includes deet.

Bees and Wasp – can have their nests in rotting logs and in the ground. Their stings are painful and in some cases deadly if the person is allergic to the poison.

Obviously there are additional dangers to watch for, but these are the most common issues which makes life miserable for you.

It may be pretty evident now why the white man never really learned to master tracking. It requires intense concentration, patience and experience, which answers the question of why indigenous people are experts, they grow up learning the skills. But if you can become accomplished at the skills we disgusted you will be light years ahead of anyone competing for game in your area. That can be the difference between surviving or not.




20 Excellent Deer Hunting Tips

When thinking about a survival situation we normally tend to think in terms of days or at most weeks, before you are rescued or things return to normal. However, what if it goes on for an undetermined amount of time? You can only pack so much food, fruits and berries aren’t gonna cut it, and trapping small critters like rabbits or squirrels can be a hit and miss proposition. You’ll eventually need to find and bring down a large animal in order to have a reliable source of food.

Deer is the perfect choice to fulfill your needs, as they live in nearly every state in the country from the frigid north to warm weather Texas. Unlike moose or elk, that are monstrous in size and weight, a field dressed deer is normally transportable by a normal strength individual.

Deer are creatures of habit, whose traits are dictated by their environment. Once you determine how the deer react in this environment, deer in Iowa act in different ways that deer in Mississippi, they tend to repeat their daily activities unless something changes.

The key to successfully hunting deer is to learn their traits, what attracts and what repels them, and what you can do to enhance your success. Deer can be hunted with a bow or a rifle, each method has its advantages/disadvantages, but many of the hunting techniques are the same. For our example we’ll assume we are using a rifle to hunt with. It doesn’t matter what caliber gun you use, a 22, shotgun and slug, 45/70, as long as your aim is true. Of course the larger the caliber bullet the more room for error, a 45/70 bullet’s impact will knock a deer down, although not killing it, where a 22 will not.

Critical Tips for Deer Hunting Success

Tip 1. You must learn the environment in which you’ll be hunting. This is not as simple a task as it seem. Initially you must decide how far you want to stray from camp. You can’t hunt too close to the noise and smells of a typical camp, however you don’t want to travel too far, a mile away, as you hopefully will be carrying a 100+ pound carcass back with you when you return. You don’t want to be forced to abandon your kill to the coyotes or bears because you were too exhausted to continue packing the weight back to camp.

Tip 2. Scouting is a mission of research not sight seeing. Many people don’t realize there is a difference between looking and seeing. You are reviewing the terrain as you walk, but also what does the terrain hold. Look for scrapes along trees, usually pine saplings, but a deer will use whatever size tree available to rub its antlers against. Scour the ground for deer dung. Stop periodically and scan the area, do you see a worn path? Trails can be animal highways which are traveled periodically throughout the day.

Tip 3. Locate a path, deer rubs in the area? Now it’s time to look for a hunting spot. Being up off the ground is preferred if possible. It will offer you a greater field of vision, keep you off damp or wet ground, a sure method to quickly become miserable, and is above the deer’s normal line of sight which helps conceal your form. A portable deer stand is of course ideal, but if you don’t have one, look for a mature tree with low hanging branches that can be climbed to reach a fork or similar resting place you can sit in. Caution: Most accidents occur when climbing in or out of a deer stand. Use extreme caution when climbing, have your rifle safety on and never have a bullet chambered.

Tip 4. If you can’t get high then get concealed. Look for a large tree to lean against. The trunk will shield your backside from wind and view. Thoroughly clean the area of leaf and other litter to prevent noise, but realize this exposes you to bare ground. Place a blanket or something similar on the ground to insulate you.

Tip 5. Ensure you have clear shooting lanes. It won’t do you any good to position yourself in a place where thick brush or other obstacle blocks your view and shooting lane. The tiniest twig can deflect an arrow. Clear any obvious blockage, but you must beware if you move or disturb the area too much the deer will notice the change and alter their path.

Tip 6. Deer have excellent senses and smelling is one of their best. Human odors of any type will spook them. Always wash clothes and yourself in scent-free soap. Another trick is to store your hunting clothes, outer layers like coveralls, in a plastic bag with leaves and dry dirt. The clothes will take on the natural scent of nature and help mask your smell.

Tip 7. Using store bought scents are not a total waste of money, but it can be a repellent as much as a draw. Spreading deer estrous may entice a rutting buck to investigate, however, if the scent is put down at the wrong time of the season, it’ll only confuse the buck and deer will always use caution over curiosity. The won’t come near it.

Tip 8. It’s imperative to make as little noise as possible when walking to your hunting position. In order to do that you need to walk as straight a line as possible, not meander through the woods kicking up leaves. That sounds simple, but nearly impossible if you don’t have a marked trail. Woods in the daylight are totally different than woods in the pitch blackness. That easy to follow trail you took yesterday afternoon during the daylight is no longer visible, even with a flashlight at 5 A.M.

Tip 9. Use a florescent spray paint to mark trees showing the path. Spray an easily distinguishable spot as high as you can reach, trying to elevate it above the deer’s normal line of sight. Don’t be skimpy. Spraying trees every 20 yards is useless … you’ll never be able to find them. Now you’re lost and are concentrating on finding paint spots instead of your hunting spot.


It’s late morning and you have had no luck, nothing moving. This could be caused by many factors, weather conditions, full moon, picked wrong spot, whatever. You’re not doing any good there so it’s time to change your luck. If they won’t come to you … go to them. Let’s examine additional hunting techniques.

Tip 10. Hunting by walking and stealth. When walking do it slowly. You’re not at the shopping mall, there’s no hurry. Walk for a certain distance, one area of cover to another, and stop still. This is where a watch comes in handy. When standing still and straining to hear or spot wild game 2 or 3 minutes may seem like an hour. By using a watch to gauge your time, say 5-10 minutes, you’ll force yourself to stay still and in place.

Tip 11. Come to an immediate stop and remain motionless if you hear a noise. More than likely it wasn’t the deer who made the noise, but you. A twig snapping may seem like no big deal to a hunter, but it’s an alarm siren for the deer. If you see the deer it may stand and stare in your direction for a long time. If it doesn’t see or smell you, there’s a chance the deer will resume whatever it was doing. Then again it may bolt. Let it bolt. You’ll have the opportunity to try and track it. There’s literally zero chance of quick drawing and getting a kill shot off at a deer that’s on alert. The second you move to raise your weapon the deer will disappear. A wild shot will only insure you’ll never see that deer again.

Tip 12. Another technique besides slow walking is Quick-Stepping. A deer instantly recognizes the cadence of a man’s walk through leaves, but if you take short, lightweight quick steps in a 10 to 20 yard sprint and stop dead, there’s a distinct possibly the deer will interpret this as another animal. If performed correctly, you’d be surprised at how much you sound like a squirrel dashing through the woods.

Tip 13. When using binoculars while hunting move slowly looking for anything that doesn’t fit. A brown patch located the the middle of green moss should require an intense look. Always double check from time to time what you’ve already inspected. A change in light or an animal may have moved into view may have occurred in the last 20 minutes.

You just took a shot and was sure you hit it, but the deer turned and bolted, or the deer fell then got back up and ran away.

Tip 14. Resist your natural instinct to panic and go chase the animal. Sit still, hum a song, bite your lip, whatever it takes to allow things to settle down. A wounded animal will continue to run if it feels itself being pursued, but will lie down if not feeling threatened.

Tip 15. You have verified you did in fact hit the deer, as there is blood on the ground. Move slowly and quietly as you track the blood trail. Be alert for the quarry as it may have bedded down a short distance away. As you trail, drop a piece of toilet paper or other material at each blood spot. That way if you lose the trail you can backup to the last known blood trace and resume the hunt in a different direction.

Tip 16. Don’t give up. Many times the blood trail will simply appear to disappear. That’s normally not a good sign, but it doesn’t signal the end. Be persistent. Remember that may be the only deer you’ll see that week.

Tip 17. When tracking a blood trail don’t limit your search to only the ground. Depending on where shot there could be blood on leaves or branches that are shoulder high.

Tip 18. If you’re hunting in an area that is brush filled and drop a deer in the distance, take time to make a mental note of where the deer fell. This is especially important if you must lose sight of the area while traveling to it. A small blood spot is sometimes difficult to locate when you know where to look. Expand that area by 20 to 30 feet and you’ve lost it.

Tip 19. Be wary if the animal instantly drops, as there is a chance the deer fell from shock and will regain its footing and attempt to run away. Maintain a bead on the animal and be prepared to shoot again. For the most part it’s better if the animal runs a short distance then drops.

Tip 20. Unlike televised hunting shows, do not walk up to an animal and prod it with your weapon or foot. The last thing you want is for the animal to suddenly jump up, running away, and you’re too close to raise your rifle and get a shot off, or worse yet, the deer attacks and injures you. Instead, toss a limb or stone at the animal to get a response. Note: If an animal’s eyes are closed it’s probably still alive. If you harbor any doubts shoot the animal in the throat directly under the chin, which is humane and won’t waste meat.

Fishing For Survival

Let’s assume you have used your basic survival skills wisely. You have a shelter built, a fresh source of water located, a fire started with plenty of firewood gathered, being an expert in native vegetation you have gathered piles of edible fruits and berries, about all you’re missing is the satellite TV. There’s only one small problem… you’re still lost in the wilderness with a slightly sprained ankle, not totally disabling, but painful to walk on.

You have now exhausted the supply of fruit and berries, they don’t really do a whole lot for filling the gnawing knot in your gut, and if you gorge, you run the risk of having diarrhea and other unwelcome events enter the picture. You have no weapon, so hunting is out of the question, couldn’t walk well enough to drag a 200 pound deer carcass back to camp if you did bag one. Best you could do is attract wolves, mountain lion or a bear. That ain’t good.

You’re going to have to eat something substantial or you’ll begin getting too weak to hike out of your situation. Your best, and very tasty choice, is fish. I can hear you now. “Oh yeah, I’ll just tote in a couple fishing rods and reels, bucket of bait, lures, stink bait.” We’re not talking sport fishing … we’re talking survival fishing.

Prepare For the Worse

Anytime you venture into the wilderness or just off the beaten path, you need to pack to be prepared. Always carry an assortment of hooks, lines, swivels and small weights as part of your survival pack. Packing 40-50 hooks, a reel of line (100-400 yards) are not heavy nor do they take up much space.

Let me state this for the record before we go too far: I have had people tell me I should inform readers to not break State or Federal fishing laws, as there are a few proven fishing methods that are illegal. Are you people nuts? I suggest you do whatever you must in order to survive and pray for a game warden to pop up out of no where and arrest me. Rescue is rescue.

Now back to fishing. Let me tell you a story. I had a very good friend, not a great looking guy, but good personalty. When I was younger I’d watch him work the night clubs enduring one shut down after another by women of all sizes, colors and shapes.

I finally asked him “didn’t it bother him getting shut down by so many women?”

Nah,” he said smiling, “it’s a numbers game and eventually one of them will say yes.”

Well, that’s the way you need to view survival fishing. It’s a numbers game. That’s why you need so many hooks, and of various sizes, to put the maximum number of lines in the water. Eventually a fish is going to take the bait. Another reason for carrying so many fish hooks is that fish at a higher altitude are prone to be smaller than fish located in the valley, therefore you’ll need various size hooks depending on the possible size of fish you are searching for.

Should you have misplaced your hooks, because I know you didn’t forget them, you can make a fish hook out of just about anything, such as, fish bone, other animal’s carcass bones, natural thorns, pieces of scrap metal, anything that can be fashioned to a sharp point.


Scouting the area. In a way fish are like people, they live everywhere, but there are areas where most of them congregate. Look for grass, weeds, even lily pads growing alongside the water’s edge and in the water. Fish such as bass and walleye like to stay in cover (grass and weeds are considered cover). Hiding in cover gives several species of fish an instinctive feeling of security, therefore simply put … more of them in the area. The problem with casting and trolling in this type of environment is that you will inevitably get snagged in the undergrowth, which can create feelings of frustration to panic, if it’s your only hook.


Line Fishing

One way to avoid the snagging issue is to utilize overhead tree branches as your fishing pole. Tie your line to a branch over the water, near the cover (grass and weeds, fallen trees, etc), and let your baited hook settle to the bottom, then raise the hook a few inches. Catfish are bottom feeders, but most other fish tend to want a little space to maneuver.

Plan on getting wet while securing your lines because unless you have a boat, or can walk on water, wading out to the target spot with require getting in the water. Tie as many lines as possible, remember the numbers game, but use a little common sense. Don’t have 10 lines in a small area… spread the hunting area out as far as possible increasing your odds of a fish coming by.

Again, you’ll want to set as many lines as possible, but you may have to make them individually. What I mean is, if you make 10 lines all ten feet long, you may find as you set them 10 feet may not always be long enough to reach your desired depth or the water at all. A way to mass produce the lines is be sure to make them extra long. You can always wrap a 15 foot line around the limb to bring the hook up, but you can’t extend a 10 foot line to 15 feet.

Get Creative. Ever think of throwing a packet of balloons into your backpack? These balloons can be inflated and used as “floats”, if there are no overhead branches available.


Balloons or Jugs

Simply tie a baited hook, along with a weight and swivel, around the knotted end of the balloon. Then tie an additional line that you’ll use to retrieve the balloon and hopefully fish. Be sure the balloons are large enough that when inflated it has enough surface area to float on top of the water. Your line and hook will hang vertically, and float amid the grasses and weeds, submerged logs, etc. When a fish bites, it won’t be able to pull the balloon underwater because it has too much buoyancy.

The second line is obviously just as important as the bait line. When a fish is caught it will simply swim off with the bait and balloon if it’s not secured to the land. Additionally, wind, currents or just the natural rotation of the earth will make the balloon float away without being secured.

Finding & Using Natural Bait. Nature will provide an abundance of bait to use for fishing as insects and worms are found everywhere on earth except frigid arctic areas. Worms, grubs, grasshoppers, beetles, caterpillars and crayfish are but a sampling of natural fish bait. A caution here: Be careful turning over logs or rocks in the wild as there may be a snake or other unwanted creature lurking beneath it. You’re looking for prey … not to become prey.

Minnows and leeches also make good bait. Simply insert your hook through the tails and let them do their thing, swim. They aren’t going anywhere and are natural acting.

If possible you may want to vary your bait. Use worms on ten lines, crickets on ten others, etc. Fish don’t always strike the same bait, that’s why they make zillions of different artificial lures.

Where and When. There are no 100% in nature, but there are general rules. Here’s some general rules for fishing.

Spring: Spring is an ideal time to catch fish as many are hungry after a long winter and are now becoming more active due to warmer water, as well as laying eggs near shore. Fish along the shoreline, especially in areas of cover. Cloudy and rainy days make good days to fish, the fish don’t worry about getting wet. Note: If the rain is pouring down forget fishing as the water will become too murky for the fish to see.

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Summer: Fish will often move to deeper, cooler waters as the temperatures rise, which can pose a problem if you don’t have access to a boat or raft to fish from. To combat this disadvantage try fishing early mornings or later evening as well as river fishing, where you’ll usually find cooler water. In the summer, hot temperatures over several days can have a real negative effect on fishing. Water of shallow lakes, ponds and even smaller rivers that become too warm for too long, causes the oxygen level in the water to drop, causing fish to become sluggish. Patience and luck is all you can have in this situation.

Fall: Similar to spring, water temperatures tend to be cooler, as outside temperatures drop, making fish more active near the shoreline (important for people fishing from the bank from tree lines). Fish will feed more aggressively than in previous weeks, as they prepare for winter by packing on the fat.

Camouflage: Ever see a turkey hunter in the woods? If you did I will bet any amount of money he won’t bag a turkey. Why? Because turkeys have spectacular eyesight and if you saw the hunter with your puny human eyesight, I guarantee you that turkey spotted him from a 100 yards away.

So why don’t we ever think about using a little camo when fishing? Fish can see and hear things above the water and as with any other animal, will scurry away from possible danger. Any shiny and metallic item you’re wearing or fishing with might reflect sunlight, and/or movement, will spook fish. You don’t have to paint your face or conceal yourself in the brush, but be mindful of what you’re doing .. you may be defeating your purpose by chasing the fish away as they start to investigate your baited hook.

Fighting the Wind: You will encounter windy conditions and that can present decent opportunities for fishing if you know how to read the environment. The wind will kick up waves which restricts light penetration from above making it harder for the fish to spot you or your movements, thus camouflaging you. Even in clear water, the wind can kick up sediment, making the water somewhat cloudy, which also makes it difficult for the fish to see you. As with a lot of things in nature, the wind is a two edged sword. While it hides you from the fish, it may also hide your bait. They can’t try to eat it if they can’t see it.

To adapt, fish facing into the wind. Fish will almost always face into the current and the wind produces a current, although temporary. (I mention that because conditions change and so must your tactics.) Throw your hook into the wind, landing ahead of the fish, and the bait will float backwards into the approaching fish. When fishing the shore, prey fish will be pushed in the direction of the wind (current) towards the shore. Shore fish facing the wind.

Fighting Depression: There’s little worse than fishing all day and not catching a thing. In a crisis situation that can cause deep depression or despair to set in. Am I going to starve to death? It becomes important to realize why the fishing may have been lousy that day.

A weather front approaching can directly affect the fishing as fish react to changes in barometric pressure. Many types of fish will feed aggressively as a cold front approaches, but slows to a trickle or stops all together when the front hits, and may last several days after the front moves out.

Should a warm front approach the rise in water temperature will make the fish feed more. However, that is true in cooler weather as the sluggish fish respond to the warmer water, but reacts in reverse in the heat of the summer. The hotter temperatures force the fish deeper and slows feeding during the day.

Cloudy drizzly days can provide good fishing. Fish will venture out of the grassy areas into more open waters, which reduces the odds of becoming snagged. Insects will also be knocked off tree limbs into the water, creating an easy meal, except one of those bugs is connected to your fishing hook. Again, hard rain voids it all. You might as well hunker down in your shelter just like the fish are doing.

In stormy weather, beware of lightning strikes. Get away from the water. It’s not worth the risk.

In conclusion. Fishing is a game of patience, a marathon not a sprint, to the goal. Adding skills and knowledge as you just did will greatly enhance your odds of being successful. They say knowledge is power. I differ slightly. I say Applied knowledge is power. Commit these skills to memory, practice them whenever possible and apply them when necessary.