Often, when breaking camp in the morning, we tend to pack up and head out. We are tempted to move on without glassing the immediate area, as one gets the feeling there couldn’t possibly be something in the immediate vicinity where we have spent the last eight to 12 hours. This temptation can lead to a big mistake: We all know stories of people who’ve seen game as soon as they’ve gotten out of the tent, or even before leaving the tent.
Most game animals rise before dawn to move into feeding areas, which means they could walk over a ridge or into view, and they wouldn’t have been visible the previous night. They may also be unaware of your presence, and your evening cooking and relaxing will have had no effect on them. Thus it would help if you disregarded your intuition that they are “somewhere else” and make a priority of looking around while you wait for your water to boil.
Morning light is fantastic for glassing, and it helps to cast shadows from feeding animals, making them more visible. The glare of the mid-day sun will not yet be washing out the landscape, and the animal’s colors will pop more readily. The golden hour at sunset is well-known as the best time to find your animals, but the morning is equally as good.
On a recent sheep hunt, glassed from camp before leaving. Though we didn’t pick anything up, a few minutes after leaving, a ram came up out of his bed and over the ridge. Had we been in camp with our heads down, we would have missed him.
Once leaving camp, don’t watch the ground as you move to your destination. Keep your binos at the ready and your head on a swivel, always looking around—and behind you—as your movement through the terrain reveals new lines of sight. If you are moving camp, you may be losing view of slopes and valleys for hours or even days. Your knowledge of the landscape and your continued focus on looking in all directions will serve you well.
It’s a best-practice to go to be with a plan for the next day. If that plan sees you moving camp, or moving far from camp to glass, taking the time to do a quick check of the skylines and approaches to your tent site will open a bonus hunting opportunity sooner or later.
Optics I use: