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In sensor networks, application layer QoS requirements are critical to meet while conserving energy. One of the leading factors for energy wastage is failed transmission attempts due to channel dynamics and interference. Existing techniques are unaware of the channel dynamics and lead to suboptimal channel access patterns. We propose a MAC layer solution called pushback, that appropriately delays packet transmissions to overcome periods of poor channel quality and high interference, while ensuring that the throughput requirement of the node is met. It uses a hidden Markov model (HMM) based channel model that is maintained without any additional signaling overhead. The pushback algorithm is shown to improve the packet success rate by up to 71% and reduce the number of transmissions needed by up to 38% while ensuring the same throughput.