DRIVEN HUNT

Stay focused during
a driven hunt

NOVEMBER 2020

You might have the finest gun in the World and be a brilliant shot yourself, and you could get the chance to hunt in the best grounds there are. But you will still end up with an empty bag if you miss your opportunities.

A game drive usually has its own dynamics. We take our positions, load our guns, wait for the signal for the beaters to move, we start to hear their calls, dogs barking. They are getting closer, the temperature rises, but with time it begins to drop again – the sounds become more and more distant, everything gets quiet again, finally a signal – the end of the drive. The thing is – it does not always go this way.

I remember years ago, I got to a distant position on the flank of the drive. I leaned the gun against a tree and took the backpack off my back. I took out my hunting trumpet and played "go beat"! Immediately from under a spruce, not more than 10 meters from me, a cloud of snow rose and a boar jumped out from under the branches. I wasn't prepared, the gun next to my stand wasn't even loaded.

The old boar knows all the tricks. It will let the beaters pass. It will check the wind carefully. It will listen to the sounds. And it will go in the direction we least expect. And this will often happen just when everyone thinks the drive is over.

 

“Out of nowhere a boar jumped out onto the road, full speed, giving me a split second to fire.”

// WEATHER //

Some drives are very long. It is not that uncommon, especially in the mountains. Staying focused is not easy. Especially when the weather starts to bother us. When you sit still for a long time, it is very easy to get cold. You must be prepared for a weather change – a rain, frost and wind.

My observations show that in recent years the most important thing is insulation against moisture. The winters have gotten warmer than they used to be. Instead of snow, it often

rains in late Fall and Winter. It is very difficult to maintain thermal comfort when your clothes get wet.

It's a good idea to wear several layers that are easy to remove or to put on. The new hunting clothes that are coming out with built-in heating are often a wonderful help because they not only insulate from the cold, but actually warm you up.

At the same time, you must forget about the simplest and oldest solutions: it's always good to have a thermos with hot tea and a snack with you.

There can be lots of distractions during a driven hunt. The low afternoon sun in the Fall and Winter can shine in your face, making it difficult to stay focused. Other distractions are easier to deal with: Hunting clothes with built-in heating help you greatly to keep focus on the hunt.

// STAYING VIGILANT //

It's very difficult to pay attention when you are tired. As I mentioned – relying on hearing a branch breaking or a friendly message about wild boars coming towards you over the radio is not always enough.

I try to go hunting well-rested. It is not that simple when you must get up early, and the previous evening you sat by the fireplace with your friends, telling exciting stories of past adventures long into the night. The matter is even worse as when hunts last several days. You need to get enough sleep, go to bed early. Simple and hard at the same time.

Of course, it's easy to be vigilant when there's a lot going on around you. But when nothing happens, the beaters are long gone, the afternoon sun shines in the face... I think we've all been through it before. Edward, a good friend from my club, is known to fall asleep in the high seat.

Sometimes it makes him literally a dream neighbor. Last season, a whole pack passed under his position. The last wild boar remained – after my shot. Edward asked later, surprised (and a bit hopeful): Was there only this one? He still looked sleepy when he said that.

Remember to stay vigilant during your driven hunts. This is the wild boar I got because the shooter in the neighboring tower fell asleep during the hunt.

// BOREDOM AND DISCOURAGEMENT //

There are hunts where nothing happens. Sometimes it gets even worse – there’s nothing going on, but only at your place. Shots are fired, but only on the other flank. You look at the GPS device and you see the dogs on the other side of the valley. You hear excited voices on the radio, but faint enough that you know the action is too far away for you to take part in it.

The worst thing that can happen to you in such a situation is to miss the one and only opportunity that will present itself on such a day. If you get discouraged, bored or tired, you only increase the chance that you will come home empty-handed.

Stay alert, look around. Maybe you will get a fox? Perhaps a deer, if allowed. Or maybe a pack will enter the drive from behind, taking advantage of the fact that the noises are very distant. And maybe it will be you who gets this unique opportunity to shoot an old keiler that tries to sneak out the back door?

A few years ago, I was attending a montaria in Portugal with my friends. I was shown a stand on the road at the top of a hill, high above the bush in the valley. Behind my back and to my right was a fence. In my eyes, I got the worst place of all, there was absolutely no reason for a boar to pass my spot.

The dogs barked like mad below. My friends were emptying their magazines, leaving me idle and discouraged. But suddenly, after an hour I heard a twig snap. A crack. And out of nowhere a boar jumped out onto the road, full speed, giving me a split second to fire. I would never have believed that in this seemingly bad location, I would be named the king of the hunt in the evening.

There are drives when nothing really happens, or even worse: when everything is happening far away from you. It's important to stay focused, though. Maybe an old keiler will try to sneak away from the drive and cross your path?

// PHYSIOLOGICAL NEEDS //

It's a bit awkward for me to write on such a topic, but unfortunately it turns out that sometimes these mundane matters determine success and failure. I know from my own experience that you should remember to use the toilet only during breaks, away from the hunting place. Even if it must be done in advance. I missed the greatest opportunity in my life precisely because I disregarded these principles.

We were hunting in Byalka in Bulgaria. Early in the morning we approached the stands on a road along the crest of the hill. There was fog in the forest. We moved quietly, goose-like, taking our spots. The second group had separated from us earlier and was making an arc on the opposite side of the valley.

Tsvetan, our guide, stopped suddenly and whispered: wild boar – look! A large pack passed the line into the drive. Excellent news! We waited 5 minutes and moved on. My stand was marked just in the place we saw the game passing. I felt really good this time – perfect spot.

And immediately I realized I had made a serious mistake and forgot to visit the rest room before the hunt.

Angry with myself, I assessed the chances of surviving the drive to the end. They weren’t good - it could take up to three hours until the end. The wind was blowing in my face from the drive. I looked around, there was a steep slope behind me. My neighbors, Jean and Israel, were far away, obscured by the hill. I could make a few steps, do my thing, the slope would cover the smell…

After a while I was back on the stand, very pleased with myself. My mood radically changed, however, by a single crack of a twig from behind my back. I knew what it meant... An old keiler followed in the footsteps of the pack we had seen earlier. I heard it climbing the slope and stopping. I knew the reason. It rushed at high speed to my left. A moment later I heard the report of Israel’s rifle…

// HUNTING IS HUNTING //

The hunt sometimes follows astonishing scenarios. As in the movie, you would see wild boars running in all directions and your only concern would be if there’s enough ammo in the pocket. Unfortunately, more often the opportunity will come only once or twice throughout the whole day. Be ready. Let this moment determine your success.

//  Written in coporation with Lukasz Dzierzanowski, who is an author, hunter, blood tracker and gun enthusiast from Poland. When not hunting, he teaches Computer Engineering at a technical university in his hometown of Opole.  //

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