" I was looking at a number of soldiers being trained the other day in how to hide themselves from the enemy and how to creep up to him, and I was delighted to see that they were being taught in the same way that we teach the Boy Scouts - in fact, a Boy Scout officer was their instructor and several Boy Scouts were helping. "
From Baden-Powell, What Scouts Can Do: More Yarns, 1921
When you have animals in sight, stalking them lets you get closer. It allows you to observe their habits, watch where they go, and see what they do.
Stalking is also a fine mental exercise. To do it well, you must be very patient. You need to control your body so that you move smoothly and quietly. All your senses will be heightened as you concentrate on moving near a wild animal. Whenever you are stalking, think of yourself as a shadow. Become so much a part of your surroundings that you seem to disappear.
Stalking by waiting
The easiest way to get close to wild animals is to let them come to you. Many animals are quite regular in their habits. Sit near well worn animal tracks, and there is a good chance you'll see them coming by. Hide in the brush, bury yourself in leaves, or float among the water lilies in a pond. Climb into a tree and wait to see what animals pass below you. Crouch behind a wall of snow.
Many animals are active at night
Under a full moon, you are likely to see wildlife activity if you hide quietly at the edge of a meadow or near a lake or pond. As with all stalking, patience is absolutely essential.
Stalk against the wind
Many animals can smell you from long distances, especially if your scent is carried toward them by the wind. Try to keep downwind (with the wind blowing toward you) as you stalk toward an animal. If you come upon an animal from the upwind side, you may be able to make a wide half circle around it until the wind is in your face.
Move slowly and carefully
Animals will be startled if you make jerky motions or walk noisily through leaves and twigs. Move with care. When an animal looks in your direction, freeze. Don't move a muscle until it turns its attention elsewhere.
Make use of anything that will hide you. Hide behind trees, stumps, and rocks. Stay near the ground and watch from around the sides of your cover, not over the top. Your shape shows up sharply against the sky, so keep low as you cross ridges.
FUN WITH STALKING
You can practice stalking just about anywhere. At home, try sneaking up on the family dog, the cat, and your brothers and sisters. In camp, sit very quietly near a trail and see how many Scouts pass by without noticing you. Would you like to play some tracking and stalking games with your den or patrol? Here are several that have been popular with Scouts for many years:
A blindfolded "pirate" sits on a log with his "treasure" (a bandanna) at his feet. The other Scouts form a large circle around him, each Scout about a hundred feet away. They try to stalk up to the pirate, take the treasure, and get away without being heard. If the pirate hears someone, he claps his hands and points. That Scout is out of the game. Whoever successfully takes the treasure becomes the next pirate.
The "deer" (a Scout) stands in a forest or field. The other patrol members walk away from him several hundred feet in different directions. On a signal, they begin stalking toward the deer, using whatever cover is available. If the deer sees a Scout, he points and yells to him to stand. The Scout who comes the closest without being noticed is the next deer.
One Scout is the "wary wolf." The others stand in a line 200 feet from him. Whenever the wolf turns his back, they stalk toward him. Whenever he turns toward them, everyone freezes. Any Scout making the slightest movement must go back to the starting line and begin again. The first Scout to touch the wolf takes his place for the next game.
Of course, the best fun of all for a tracker and stalker is following and observing wild animals in their own surroundings. You'll have plenty of chances to do that on patrol and troop hikes and campouts.