Hunt Gather Talk 12: On Scouting


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Hunt Gather Talk PodcastIn this episode of Hunt Gather Talk, I talk about scouting. Yep, scouting for wild game, for places to fish, or to forage plants, sea creatures or mushrooms.

It’s all about the spot. I have my spots, you (hopefully) have yours. How did we get them? By putting in miles — on our boots, in the truck and in the boat. When you hunt or fish with a guide, part of what you are paying for is access to that guide’s spot. And, unless you want to rely on pure dumb luck, scouting is what makes any hunting, fishing or foraging trip successful.

Now is the time to start finding your spots. Actually, the best time was yesterday, but today will have to do.

I also talk about the vital role of “spots” as currency in the wild food world: If you have a spot for something, and I have a spot for something else, our relationship as fellow hunters, anglers and foragers is far healthier than if one of us is the one always asking, never offering.

In the podcast I talk about how to scout, what to look for and about what I have been scouting for here in NorCal these past few weeks.

Enjoy this week’s podcast, and, as always, if you like it, please subscribe and leave a review. It helps me a lot. Thanks!

Sierra burn morels
Photo by Hank Shaw
Bull pine catkins with pollen
Photo by Hank Shaw

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

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  1. A thoughtful episode, Hank — thanks! Your notion of currency got me thinking about how difficult it can be for new foragers and hunters to break into this economy of hard-won knowledge. I thought about examples of foraging experiences that are easy to share with first-timers without giving away any secret spots or honey holes. I wrote up a list of some of these on my blog — check it out if you get a chance and let me know what you think.!Honey-Holes-and-Secret-Spots-the-Currency-of-Foraging/c1sbz/57225f250cf2a12871bb80d9

    And keep up the good work! The podcast is great!

  2. I disagree! Scouting is great fun — it is learning what makes foraging or hunting possible to start with, and I totally love it.

  3. I hunt Deer and Turkey exclusively on my parents farm, I never ask permission to hunt on anyone else’s ground because I do not want them to ask to hunt our ground. The list of the privileged few that get to hunt my dads land cherish the fact that he lets them hunt (a couple of my buddies, only when I am with them and usually just a couple weekends per season)

    Public ground, I hunt for doves and ducks and know that it is public and expect to be crowded around here or that someone else knows about it. Generally if it is a hike back to a place most people stay out due to laziness or difficulty.

    This one spot last fall every time we dove hunted we saw deer and turkeys in the AM. My buddy asked if I cared if he deer hunted there, I had no problem with it because I didn’t want to drag a deer the mile and a half over hill and dale back to the truck. I think that sank in with him too and he never hunted back there.

  4. Spots
    I learned that lesson in 1972 in New England as a thirteen year old boy on a fine autumn day. Walking up from a wood across the street from where I grew up with a couple of brook trout piled on a forked stick. Fat and bright with spawning color destine for the fry pan. A car literally screeched to a halt in front of me and a Gentleman told me what a fine looking brace of fish I had and asked where I had caught them. I told him.
    For the next ten years I would occasionally see him with a couple of buddies fishing what I had come to feel was my stream. I told myself never again.
    With the wisdom of age I’ve softened a bit on that, but I pick my spots I’ve recently revealed another secret trout stream in the middle of suburban sprawl, to acquaintance who I know has pasted the harvesting stage of fishing and is more in it for the aesthetics of just being there. But on the other hand my mushroom,fiddle-heads, and ramps spots mmm…. not yet.

  5. I’ve got a standing rule. If I show someone a spot, that spot is gone. Human nature, or whatever, it’s almost a guarantee that all but the most honorable of humans (losers) will be able to resist the urge to return at some later time to take advantage of the free intelligence.

    I find it easier to simply accept this and move along, than to hold a grudge against otherwise likable people.

  6. Can’t agree more with the idea of if someone shows you a spot, it does not become your spot, regardless if it is on public land or not. I have been lucky enough to be taken to some great places with buddies that have put in the time. You always repay by taking them to one of your honey holes and it is understood by both parties how it is once you leave that place.

  7. On sharing spots- when I was a young lad of 14 a guide took me and my friend out bass fishing and took us to a secret cove in the back of a bay where he had a “pet” 6lb. largemouth that he had caught a number of times. He wasn’t a catch and release fisherman; we had a great shore lunch that day, but he clearly had a relationship with this fish, as odd as that sounds. He knew my dad well and knew us well and was sharing this special spot with us. We missed the hookup with the fish that day. I came back with our boat and my buddy two days later and hooked the pig. He tangled me up in a tree and broke me off. I came back a week later and the fish wasn’t there. I still feel dirty about potentially stealing/killing this fish. I didn’t put in the time and it wasn’t mine to take.
    So if someone is nice enough to share their secrets with you, don’t abuse them! You might end up carrying that guilt with you twenty some years later, and you run the risk of ruining the spot/resource which is the greater tragedy.