Shady As My Ex

23 May

Ancient civilizations use to worship the sun, understandably so. It played a critical role in all aspects of life and despite Tom Edison’s amazing accomplishments, it still plays a major role in all our lives today.  Just look at how much our attitudes and moods are affected after several stormy winter days when the sun is nowhere to be found.  I have personally never been to Seattle, but if it’s a gloomy as advertised then I can understand why Grunge was conceived there; though this may just be a smart ploy to keep a hidden gem sacred.  You know exactly what I’m talking about, it’s the same thing as finding a new hunting or fishing “honey hole” and giving sub-par reviews and/or false location to all your friends and family to discourage their exploration.  A small side-note, I have a lot of friends who are reading this and questioning everything I have ever told them! Ha.  The question you should be asking yourself right now is, “should I consider the sun my friend or foe?”

Location, location, location

One of my most memorable experiences I have had regarding the impact of the sun was duck hunting on public ground in some waterfowl designated conservation areas.  If you are familiar with these areas, then you know how critical location can be.  Not only for the ducks, but also for the other hunters as well; that are sure to be there if the ducks are.  On this specific day, we had set up in the dark on an open hunting pool and later had another party set up diagonal from us about 300 yards away.  This happened despite us flashing our lights at them as they were coming in.  This interaction was a little close for my comfort, but obviously, it didn’t bother them though that is not the point of the story.  What they hadn’t considered or cared about was that they were east facing with only low grassy cover in front of them.  Most novice hunters know that anything facing into the sun makes for tough conditions, especially when you’re shooting at objects that are in flight above ground level.  The other factor that plays a part is unless you can tuck under cover, the sun highlights you and every movement you make.  Again, nothing earth shattering to anyone that has spent any amount of time in the field.  Where the light went off in my head (pun intended) was how the sun made their uncovered or unpainted faces glow like headlights.  What they were unaware of or unconcerned with was how the oil in their skin, with the face being extremely oily, reflected the sunlight.  Even from 300 yards away, it was very easy to pick out the group of unwelcome neighbors.  Needless to say, the only shooting they had that morning was desperation blasts at a couple fly-by’s.  Note to self, you can’t cross the ethical distance Karma in the outdoors!

Details matter

The moral of the story is that you have to be aware of the sun, or where it will be.  It plays a massive role in almost all hunting situations.  When you’re hanging stands or ground blinds knowing where the sun is going to rise and set is extremely important.  When stalking staying in the shadows to conceal movement can mean the difference of getting in tight or not.  When glassing, find a shady or backlit location where the sun won’t be reflecting off any gear.  This will also help you regulate temperature depending on the conditions and allow for a more comfortable glassing session that should be more effective.  Lastly, be aware as to how much the sun highlights the oils in your skin.  A good solution for this issue is to use face masks or face paint.  I know a lot of guys aren’t favorable to face paint because it can be difficult to remove.  Here is a pro-tip, baby wipes work great!  Not sure what they put in those things to take crap off a baby, but they are tough on face paint.  Further, I have noticed that there are more companies on the market that are offering face paints that have a flat or dull finish and that offer soap and warm water cleanup.  One “old timer” that I know who I am sure has probably forgotten more about backcountry elk hunting than most will ever know, uses charcoal or charred wood from a burnt out fire to add flat black color to conceal his face.   It is this attention to minor details that can make a huge impact to the outcome of your hunt.

You don’t have to worship the sun as the ancients did, but I would highly recommend that you respect it.  Hunt Hard or Stay In Bed.