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My buddy and I will be hunting mulies out west this fall. Generally I hunt solo, but this will be a team effort.
What sort of hand signals do you use to guide your partner in? (The "Come back" hand wave [after stalker screws up] is already in the catalog!) Any podcasts or web sources on this topic?
Don't make it too complicated. Directions, stop, slow, come back. One my buddy and I never used, but that would be useful is if you are stalking something bedded, a signal that the animal is now up and about. Otherwise you think you are stalking in on a certain location, and you get blindsided by a feeding mulie just because he got up and moved. Don't ask me how I know lol
Hand signals are ok at fairly short distance, but flags work better for longer range spotter to hunter situations.
You can use one color for the hunter and one for the prey.
Develop a set of signals for direction the hunter should move, distance to prey, prey up and moving or bedded, call off, etc. draw them up and laminate 2 copies-1 for each. Takes some practice on how to best give signals and understand how different the distances are for the hunter vs the spotter but when you get it figured out and work as a team, it is amazing hw well you can set up for a very close shot.
Been using my set of cards for over 20 years. However, kinda like calling or packing elk, I always seem to be the “helper”...
Brian, my buddy and I used hand signals during my moose hunt whenever I dropped into the willows. We used the same hand signals that we used for training our dogs. If I needed to go left, he pointed left. If I needed to go right, he pointed right. If I needed to go further, then he’d raise his arm straight over his head. Once I was in the basic area, he’d make a circle over his head, so I knew I was close. He even improvised one. When I glassed him, he put his hands to the side of his face and cocked his head. I immediately knew the target animal had bedded. All this worked like a charm.
One suggestion. Make sure the one giving the signals wears a top that stands out. Kinda tough to pick anything out when your buddy wears camo against a sagebrush background! lol!
So glad to see a thread like this stressing Fair Chase. Some guys are using radios instead of hand signals. Good on you guys! C
Some guys get pretty elaborate, and that can be confusing. We always keep it basic. The hunter should still be hunting after all. Not being led precisely to a treasure. We use different colored flags representing the hunter and critter. The flagger just holds them in the relative positions. Full arms length, the hunter knows to get moving. The only other signals are waving them over head - critter is gone, stalk is over. Waving the flags low, under handed - lost sight of the critter. Followed by last known position/travel direction. The hunter can then decide to still hunt in that direction if he wants, while the spotter keeps trying to relocate him. You don't have to kill him in his bed.
Don't forget a signal from the hunter asking for directions. He should also have a flag, and if there is any sun, a signal mirror.
The ones that we use generally end up in laughter, calling each other a dumb arse, and saying "I thought you meant over there!" :) Hopefully the terrain you hunt allows you to use them. Where we hunt it is tough to use hand signals as we are generally approaching behind ridges, etc that keep us out of sight of the spotter.
Correction to previous post. Limp flags don't work very well. Use something to stiffen them or use cards about a foot square.
As to Brotsky's statement; if you can see the critter from below, eventually the hunter and spotter will also be visible to each other. That's when the hunter needs to signal. With any sun, a signal mirror is hard to miss.
Brotsky- So you are telling me a raised middle finger does NOT indicate I am the number one hunter? LOL!
I've got a hand signal for ya, Z! :) Seriously, we've used hand signals a fair bit and they sometimes work out well, sometimes not so much. My suggestion would be to keep it simple and discuss thoroughly beforehand.
I was thinking about this for our next spot and stalk hunt. Thought about stacking a green and red piece of paper on top of each other and then laminating then. Make one for each hand would give the signaler many options.
You can definitely get too many signals and get overzealous with sending signals to the guy up there trying to kill something.
There is definitely a fine line with respect to communication at distance and you will make plenty of mistakes before you really get it refined. It can be extremely frustrating to be on either side of the game and both sides need to realize that if either one of you screw up, hey the experience was a blast!
There is only so much you can do before the hunter has to get it done (or not) on their own.
Ziek makes an excellent point about the hunter needing something to get the signaler’s attention. I like the mirror idea. It can be really tough to pick out the hunter at distance when you are trying to stay focused on the critter. Especially if the hunter has good camo and is trying to stay out of sight from the prey. It can also get really frustrating on the part of the hunter if you are expecting signals and not getting anything. If the hunter can ask for a sign by flashing the spotters it can really help provide at least a little 2-way communication.
Visibility of the signals is a challenge. We use a white meat bag because it's visible and always with us. You hold the bag on the side you want them to go or lower than the belt for towards the signaler and above the head for away.
Still trying to figure out the hand signals thing without someone getting confused. Bad signals from me, or bad interpretation by my brother cost him a nice 4x4 mulie last year. I had a rangefinder and I would range my brother and then range the deer. I thought I would tell him how far from the deer he was. So when he looked back at me. I held up 30 and then pointed to which direction it was to the deer. He thought I meant to crawl 30yds that direction. And I had no way to stop him. The buck spooked when he was 6 steps from him. I would love to give some good advice, but you can see how my hand signals have worked out. I would agree to the keep it simple idea.
Charlie, Can't beat raidios and ear pieces ;-)
Have used orange (hunter) and white (Game) flags with good success. In steep terrain, you can just lay them on the ground....as the two flags get closer together, slow down and look more. In areas where it is fairly flat, using something to spread the flag or keep it stiff would be helpful, and the signal mirror is definitely a good idea. Kylet, I wouldn't use green and red.....not that easy to see at a distance sometimes....and quite a few people are red/green color blind....which would really be a bummer.....
If you can, get a copy of the older hunting video (VHS) of "How to Hunt Mule Deer in Open Country" with Larry D. Jones, Neil Summers and Dave Doran. That one video explains and demonstrates simplistic hand signals that work!
If you google usmc hand and arm signals you can get some ideas. You have to weed through the jokes but there are many legitimate ones.
Dwight Schuh’s book, “Hunting Open Country Mule Deer” is an excellent resource and has good examples of simple signals that we still use today.