Sound masking on the hunt
In hunting, in addition to visual (visual) camouflage, the nature of the cover under your feet (moss, grass, snow, etc.) is no less important, which either muffles the steps of the hunter, or gives it away with its noise.
Conventionally, all available types of cover can be divided into the following groups:
Low-noise (these are transitional covers between the first two groups, of which there are many in nature).
It often happens that the silent cover becomes noisy, and Vice versa. For example, white lichen-yagelnik, which is common in the vast territories of the taiga and tundra of the Russian North, at high humidity is a silent cover that resembles a soft carpet and drowns out the steps of the hunter. But this same wet yagelnik in the cold (especially in the absence of snow) when walking on it begins to make a lot of noise, and in hot weather dries up and breaks under the foot with a loud crunch, crumbling into powder.
Types of cover
There are many different types of cover in nature:
Grassy. Its noise level depends on the density and height of the grasses. No less important is their age: the younger and greener the stems, the softer and better they drown out footsteps. But withered and especially dried grass becomes noisy. But there are herbs that are by nature always hard and when moving on them make a rustling sound, they can include sedge;
Mokhovaya. This cover is usually always soft and well hides the steps;
Forest. There is always the opportunity to step on treacherous branches that break with a loud crack under your feet and give out the walking hunter. To move silently through the forest, observing the silence, you need to have a lot of experience and be very careful. Although even the most experienced hunters are not immune from the unexpected crunch of branches that are hidden by moss, grass or last year’s leaves. In deciduous forest in spring and autumn, especially in dry weather, dry leaves rustle loudly under your feet, and in coniferous – cones that have fallen from pines and Christmas trees and sometimes completely cover the ground. But pine needles from larch trees can drown out footsteps in any weather;
Sandy. A cover of pure sand will not betray the hunter when walking on it. In addition, after the rain, it becomes hard, almost does not slip under your feet and becomes completely silent.
The noiseless types of cover can include hard ground, bare stones, dry clay, etc., but only if the person’s feet are shod in soft hunting shoes.
Moving through the slurping swamp, keeping quiet, though difficult, but still possible, if you go with caution and utmost attention.
This type of cover is worth highlighting, because it usually passes the majority of animal hunts and under different weather conditions, it behaves differently.
When walking on snow, a lot of snowflakes break and change their shape under your feet, which causes a squeak, so it is almost impossible to completely avoid noise on this cover.
Snow cover even in the same place undergoes significant changes over time. The newly fallen snow usually covers the ground, especially in the forest, with a soft and fluffy veil, which well muffles the noise and hides the steps of the hunter. It is considered one of the best snow covers. But just the next day, the snow noticeably settles under its own weight and its compaction occurs. This process continues constantly, making the snow very dense, and subsequent snowfalls increase its depth.
In December most of the territory of Russia the snow becomes grainy, especially in the lower layer. Therefore, when driving on it, a dull, but loud enough sound is heard. By spring, when in warm weather the snow, heated by the sun, becomes wet and wet, and at night freezes, the surface is covered with a hard crust-an infusion. It can be different in hardness and thickness, sometimes the crust reaches the ground itself, that is, the snow freezes to the entire depth.
Such changes in snow cover occur mainly in the forest. In open areas (field, steppe, tundra), where there is no vegetation, changes in snow cover are formed mainly under the influence of wind. In addition, the snow freezes from the compaction of snowflakes, and the stronger the compression and stronger the frost, the faster it happens. You can give an example: the trail of hoofed animals is compacted unevenly, because its front wall freezes more than the back wall. This is due to the fact that removing the foot from the snow to take the next step, the animal tilts it forward, slightly squeezing the snow, and with the back wall of the track, this compression does not occur. For trackers and hunters, freezing snow is an important indicator.
The wind that blows snow from place to place produces a similar effect: the compaction and freezing of displaced snowflakes depends on the strength and duration of the wind, as well as the frost.
In the tundra, where there are strong prolonged blizzards and snowstorms, by November the snow freezes so that the deer move freely on the snow without falling, and with difficulty break through the snow with their hooves, getting food. On the Taimyr coast, the snow becomes so hard that Industrialists have to cut through it with an axe to set traps for Arctic foxes.
The wind in open areas is not held back by trees and carries large masses of snow, and on high ground it is usually not, as it is blown off them and settles in depressions and depressions. Therefore, in the lowlands, the snow is deep, and at elevations much smaller. Since all the irregularities are compared, the depth of snow is different, not only between large differences in elevations and depressions, but also in smaller areas. For example, small holes and depressions, furrows in a plowed field are leveled with snow, and hunters often unexpectedly fall into them. Often the surface of the snow is covered with so-called “zastrugami”, formations that resemble frozen waves.
All these factors have a significant impact on the density of snow in open areas, so it is in most cases uneven. Even and smooth places are still characterized by the same hardness of the snow cover, but in the presence of snowdrifts and snowdrifts, it becomes diverse: just a few steps away, the snow can be soft, then with a hardened surface, which is difficult to break through under the foot or breaks into blocks. Therefore, the noise and sounds produced by a walking hunter change quite dramatically, and you have to guess where to step in order to move silently.
In open areas such as ice and mountains, blowouts are often formed, that is, separate areas without snow carried away by the wind. To decide how best to go in this case – by blowing or snow – you should take into account the conditions of the specific area (depending on the cover of the exposed area and the hardness of the snow near it). But most often it depends on other circumstances: the behavior of animals, terrain, wind direction, the presence of barriers, and others.
In spring and autumn, a thin ice crust is often formed on the water in the swamps, which becomes an insurmountable obstacle to silent progress. Of course, you can jump from hummock to hummock, provided they are available, otherwise you will have to go around.
And another thing to remember always. Hunting clothes and shoes should be suitable for sound masking; the main thing is that they are soft. Then the hunter will not stomp, branches and grass will not whip on clothes and boots. And the clothes themselves will not rustle. For example, marsh hunting boots are not suitable for hunting where silence is required, for example. When walking, they knock loudly, and walking in them greatly tires the hunter because of their unsuitability and large weight. And if we summarize the above, we can conclude that the weight of the hunter’s clothing and shoes is directly related to the sound disguise. After all, a tired person makes more noise when moving. Only for this reason it is necessary to carefully select equipment for hunting and ideally have light clothing and shoes.