I think that all my rifles are laced with some scent that sends deer running.
Walking through the woods on any day that I am unarmed, I’ll see plenty of animals. It is almost like some sort of Disney movie: critters of all shapes and sizes come scurrying up to me and watch as I pass by. Deer, turkey, and squirrel all want to be my friend when I am packing only a cell phone.
As soon as I throw a gun over my shoulder? It is like I’ve drenched myself with wolf or bear odor. The woods grow silent and there isn’t anything to shoot. In a survival situation I’m convinced I’d starve – it is my plight.
Today I spent an hour walking around a rural trout stream. There were some decent-sized fish rising, and they didn’t seem to mind my presence. I, of course, was not a threat. For instead of carrying a fly rod and hundreds of flies, I was only toting a camera… and not even the lens that I should be using. I stood as absolutely no threat.
The fish finned about without a care. Why?
I crept along the stream bank and approached the site of a rising fish. I moved slowly, staying low to prevent throwing a silhouette over the trout. Simply by coincidence, I was wearing drab colors. I had my polarized sunglasses on as I was scouting, so I could spot fish from a little bit farther away. There was also a tiny bit of chop on the water from the intermittent breeze.
The reason I didn’t scare fish was that I was seriously concentrating on making sure I didn’t spook the one trout I wanted to photograph. Essentially unrelated to fly fishing, I utilized a perfect approach to stalk a trout. Today’s moment – albeit just for some pictures – was one that I couldn’t let slip by, and so I treated it as such.
Like I’ve mentioned, there are some matters of approach that factored in to being able to get close to fish. More importantly, I focused. For that one moment, it was just that one fish. Not the others rising upstream or downstream. Not my buzzing phone. Not the animal making all sorts of noise up on the opposite stream bank.
As counter-intuitive as it is, whether we are fishing or hunting, we can sometimes try to do too much. It disturbs our quarry, and leads to frustration. Being deliberate is simple enough, but distractions and laziness can short-circuit what we know that we ought to do.
And it means repeating the process even if we go through all the right motions and still mess it all up by making a bad cast or wading haphazardly.
And it means repeating the process even if we mess it up a few times in a row.