Most of my Western spot-and-stalk hunts start after gaining a high vantage point, plopping down and picking apart the landscape with quality glass. Most of the time – although not always – my target is a bedded animal. I prefer to stalk bedded animals for a number of reasons, but mostly because time is on my side.
One of the biggest mistakes most spot-and-stalk hunters make is rushing into the stalk. Yes, there is a time to be aggressive and toss caution to the wind, but stalking a bedded animal isn’t one of those times.
Wanna increase your spot-and-stalk success rate? Take the time to find and use landmarks to your advantage.
Choose five or more landmarks
First, use your binoculars and a spotting scope to pick at least five distinguishable landmarks you’re confident you can see at different points during your approach. I always pick five just to make sure I can see at least one at any point. Remember, once you leave your elevated perch, the visibility will change several times throughout the stalk.
Snap photos of your landmarks
After you have five distinguishable landmarks, take a small digital camera and snap some photos. No, I don’t recommend a smartphone unless you plan to attach the phone to your spotting scope. I like a high-zoom, packable digital camera that allows me to quickly zoom and snap pictures of each of my chosen landmarks. Why? There is nothing better than having an up-close image of your landmarks to refer to during your stalk. Countless times I’ve used my camera and binos to double and triple check my landmarks during a stalk. Having a quality digital image of each landmark will pay off in spades for you.
A GPS rounds out this trifecta
You have your photos. You have your landmarks. But you’re still not ready to start inching across the earth like a worm. If you’ve come into the modern age you most likely have a GPS with topographical map capabilities. If not, consider investing in one of these small, handheld devices. The GPS will show you your exact position, allowing you to estimate the targeted animal’s exact position and the location of each landmark. During the stalk, you can use the GPS in conjunction with your digital photos to better triangulate your distance from your target.
It’s a foolproof system that, if used correctly, will put you in close quarters of the animal you’re stalking.