October 19, 2012
Hunting Tip: Use Surveyor's Tape to Mark Downed Birds
By Phil Bourjaily
Losing my hat convinced me to start bringing surveyor’s tape to the field. I have written before about the importance of marking the spot where gamebirds fall. Even when dogs are present I make the effort to see exactly where birds fall, but when I don’t have a dog along, it becomes very important to mark the spot where a bird hits the ground, stare right at and go straight to it immediately. Usually I will drop my cap at the site of my mark so I have a reference point to search around if I can’t find the bird right away. You start at the mark and make increasingly larger circles around it until you find the bird.
Back to my hat: it was an Avery cap in Buckbrush camo that I was rather fond of. Earlier this season I dropped a dove in some standing corn. I went straight to it and hung the hat on a cornstalk as a marker. Bad idea. While I eventually found the dove I never did find my hat again, which I guess is some kind of endorsement of the camo pattern.
Given the choice between losing a dove and losing a hat, I’ll give up the hat anytime. But, there is a better way. Now I pack several strips of surveyor’s tape in my pocket. The bright orange tape is easy to easy to see. You can wrap it around a branch or cornstalk or you can tie one end to a big washer to give it some weight if you wanted to.
There isn’t a dove in this picture but there could be.They turn invisible when they fall in the stubble. Once this season I shot a dove, marked the spot, looked and looked for it and never found it. We fetched a dog (Springerman3’s Pete) and turned him loose at the mark. He picked the dove up right away. It had fallen about five feet from the tape but I had never seen it.