How to Cultivate Animal Awareness

Whether you’re into hunting, nature photography, wildlife observation or you’re in a survival situation, awareness is the key to being successful and may even save your life.

Animals already know how to do this because their life does depend on it. Their keen awareness skills not only help keep them alive, they also tell them things about weather, food sources and where to shelter.

We as humans have learned how to focus on certain things and block out other things. Think about when you drive; you usually focus on what’s ahead and in front of you and block out things to the sides. A lot of conditioning makes this our natural state, even though we don’t realize it. Practicing wide angle vision is an awesome way to reconfigure the way we see things.

The reason that prey animals (deer, rabbits, etc.) have eyes on the sides of their head is so that they can see predators trying to sneak up on them. They have a wide field of view. They don’t depend on depth of field like animals who hunt. Native Americans learned that in order to survive and develop keen senses, they had to practice seeing the whole picture.

Practicing wide angle vision is easy and once you consciously use it, you’ll be amazed at what you see. It has helped me see subtle movements in the woods when I hunt, movements I would have normally missed. It has also helped me avoid hitting a lot of deer on the highway because I have trained myself to self-correct the tunnel vision many drivers encounter.

All you have to do is hold your arms out to the side and move them in or out until you can see both hands. Nature makes practicing peripheral vision easier because there is always a lot going on. The next time you take a walk, try to see how many different things you notice that are on both sides of you. You’ll soon find that you can see everything in your field of view. People who do a lot of birdwatching know how to do this well.

On a more extreme level, wide angle vision can help you immensely in a survival situation. Tunnel vision is very common in situations that are stressful and fear based. The natural “fight or flight” mode kicks in and we usually let it lead us. This primal tendency has saved people from immediate danger (like a boulder rolling down the hill towards them), but it has also blocked out the other senses and led to disaster (like missing a good shelter spot or probable water source).

I’ve always preached about awareness being the best tool in any situation and being aware takes practice. Wide angle vision allows you to see more and in turn helps you to hear more and even smell more. When one sense is heightened, it kicks all the other senses into gear. It never ceases to amaze me how well this works. Sometimes I spot something in my peripheral and suddenly I can hear it as well. It has greatly improved my experiences in the outdoors and in everyday life.

© Volodymyr Byrdyak | – Meerkat