The Art of Stalking
by Danny Shingara
Stalking its prey is many things to the predator. In essence it’s the art of getting within striking distance without making a sound.
From the beginning of time, man has been observing the animal world closely not only to hunt, but to mimic those skills to capture the throne atop the food chain. Every region around the world has contributed to the modern day hunter’s vision of how to attain game. Specifically, let’s examine the North Americas, and the supreme animal hunters that have been imitated; not only revealing man’s ability to study technique, but to show the unison of early man and his fellow creatures.
This study starts with the keeper of the sky, the king over all that are known as birds of prey, the eagle. A solo hunter with a focus unmatched on all the earth, the eagle has been the center of man’s attention from the start of time. Many great religions of the world make mention of this great raptor, not only in regards to its ability to capture prey, but how this amazing creature presents itself among all the others on earth. The early warriors watched this great predator circle the sky with unbreakable focus, then without the slightest whistle of a feather, the eagle would strike its prey with powerful, sharp talons. It is noted how the eagle pays special attention to maintaining its weapons. The eagle will sharpen and cleanse their beaks through a process called feaking. Eagles wipe their beaks back and forth; alternating sides across rocks or tree limbs. This stalking master knows that silence is just as crucial as having a sharp beak and talons; a great deal of time is spent grooming itself by plucking any damaged feathers. Silent streaming feathers, razor sharp talons; it’s no wonder where man first dreamed of creating an arrow.
Coming down from the sky and into a dense patch of log pole pine we see the elusive mountain lion, crouching in wait for the unsuspecting fawn. Stealth is second nature to this apex predator. With ears drawn back to its light brown coat, the mountain lion is in perfect striking position, yet muscle endurance is conserved through a relaxed countenance. This giant feline is not hunting on unknown ground, it is stalking in its own territory. Surely, the Native Americans observed the lion as he patrolled its ground in the evenings light; peering under each overhanging ridge, gazing up any tree that might be habitat. Our ancestors gained much incite into the technique of keeping a hunting territory from the crafty mountain lion.
Man’s greatest weapon in the wild has always been the ability to observe and adapt. It’s interesting to consider how our weapons and techniques came from watching these masters of the hunt, who were built to be silent and deadly. We are past the age of predator observation as we have developed so many new gadgets and camouflages, or so we think. There are still men and women out there packing nothing but their weapon, a tarp and some food to track down the target, no matter how long it takes. When a mountain lion silently crosses the field in front of these great hunters or the eagle dives upon an unsuspecting prairie dog, you can bet the great observers are carefully noting the hunt that’s taking place in front of them.
Learning patterns from our prey is only one way to hunt. Studying the art of a creature who has been hunting to survive its whole life is another.