Woodland Stalking - Be Prepared to Stand and Stare
- Wednesday, 29 May 2013
It is a requirement of Woodland Stalking that we be prepared to slow the pace down and simply observe our surroundings.
"What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare. No time to stand beneath the boughs. And stare as long as sheep or cows..." I am no poet or student of literature, in fact to my shame I even had to look up the author of these classic lines, however there have been countless occasions over the last few years of being a professional hunter when this particular verse has come to mind.
It seems that W. H Davies knew a thing or two about nature and the trials of everyday life that prevent us from simply being in the moment. Perhaps the reason that this poem comes so easily to my mind is because the words were spelt out in a small tapestry on the wall of my parent’s kitchen. Having just moved from their busy lives in London to the countryside to raise a family it seems my parents too must have known a thing or two about simple pleasures.
I don’t want to get too soppy here, as I say I am no poet, none the less there is a beauty in these words, and we as deer stalkers through the nature of our sport have the luxury to do exactly what Davies feels that we have no time for.
Woodland stalking perhaps more than any other field sport, save perhaps fishing, is about subtle movements and a slow pace that affords us the opportunity to observe.
Most of my clients come from high powered jobs and many in the Roe Buck season have even been sat at their desks just a couple of hours prior to rolling up at the stalking ground. Others have taken a few hours to escape the pressures of parenting. At the start of the outing often the stress and pressure that these guys and girls have been under is palpable.
I have to admit I too sometimes fall victim to the pressure to 'take action' to 'move on' to get on with it' and curse myself for doing so as the rear end of a deer bounds off into the thick canopy barking it's alarm. I do however try my best to slow the proceedings down. In doing so it has been to my amusement on occasion when stood leaning on my sticks gazing over a particularly lovely spot, that I have had clients new to woodland stalking whisper into my ear: "what are we doing?".
I consider it a vital role as my job as a guide to slow them up a bit, to get their minds to stop spinning and ease them into the subtle and slow pace of the countryside into which we are about to set foot. Not just for the good of their exploding arteries and charging hearts but also for the reason that unless they can slow up a bit they will be precious little good as stalkers over the next few hours!
Of course there are moments in woodland stalking that are full of excitement and drama, moments when the heart is beating out of your chest and the mouth is dry with anticipation. Eyes narrow and the mind focuses however this represents the climax of the stalk and is not the tactic that should be employed when one first immerses oneself into our quarries territory.
The joy of woodland stalking is the very thing that we are least used to doing, and that is the opportunity to do nothing, the chance to just sit on a log, or rest on your sticks and stare at the countryside around us.
If you are booking an outings stalking take the opportunity to live a few hours differently from the pressure of jobs and family life. If you can do this you will be best placed to actually achieve what it is that you have set out to do. Or failing that you will at least have given yourself the opportunity to stand and stare even if it is just for a few hours.