Archive for the 'Hunting Stories' Category

0 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 5 (0 votes, average: 0.00 out of 5)
You need to be a registered member to rate this post.
Loading...

Published by archerchick on 10 Jan 2011

Let Your Eyes Do The Walking ~ By Dwight R. Schuh


Bow & Arrow Magazine
Bowhunter’s Annual 1979

LET YOUR EYES DO THE WALKING ~ BY DWIGHT R. SCHUH
Knowing Where To Look Is The Real Key To Efficient Spotting Of Game.

FROM HIGH ON THE cliff I could see two men hunting slowly across a sagebrush flat. Then the buck appeared between me and the hunters. He moved cautiously toward the head of a shallow canyon where the men would soon cross. Obviously, he had them spotted.

Just beneath a low rim the big four-point stopped and peeked over. For ten minutes or more he stood motionless, watching the hunters approach from a hundred yards away only to pass within thirty yards of his position. Surely his antlers were in their view. But they didn’t notice, and continued past the buck and across the flat.

When the hunters were well beyond, the buck slipped back under the rim, sneaked some distance
away from them. then trotted onto the flat, following the very route the men had just come from. I
couldn’t help but laugh. Mule deer are stupid?

I also had to reflect on this drama. Frequently, I’d hunted this country the way those hunters were
doing, covering as much ground as possible, looking for deer out ahead. I figured the more ground covered the more game seen, and the more game seen, the better the hunting. But this episode impressed on me the folly of that philosophy. How many big bucks had sneaked away from me? And how many times had I seen deer racing away I through the woods or across the sage flats, deer that had seen me before I’d seen them? Many times, that’s for sure. And just as sure, none of those deer had ended up on a meat pole.

A deer that sneaks away or is running full-bore is no game for the bow and arrow. Generally, to get a good shot a bowhunter must see an animal before it sees him, and his best bet for doing that is to stay in one spot and to look.

A moving hunter just sets himself up to be spotted. The less moving and more observing a bowhunter does, the better his chances for seeing unspooked game, an advantage that not only gives him time to plan a good elk but time to size up antlers and body condition as well. It gives him time to size up the overall situation, too, a point I’ve learned the value, of many times. In one
particular instance, I’d watched a dandy three-point buck bed in high sage.

In a hurry to get a shot, I went right after it without looking further. The stalk looked easy, but
about a quarter-mile short of my goal, two forked—horn bucks boiled out of the sage at my feet.,Of course, their snorting and stomping spooked my quarry. With more time
spent observing, I’d have seen them and could have planned
my stalk along a different route.

Finally, an emphasis on eye, rather than leg, power can save a hunter a lot of energy and can make him much more efficient. With his eyes, he can cover more ground more quickly, more quietly and more thoroughly than with his feet, I’ve spent days sneaking and peering over rimrocks, looking for deer bedded at the base of the cliffs. In three seasons of this, not once did I catch a buck there although deer beds were thick. Finally, frustrated, I went to a point overlooking a stretch of cliffs and settled in to watch.

The first day, three bucks walked across the flat above and picked their way down the rim. They bedded in the shadows at the base of a cliff. An hour later, knowing exactly where they were, I walked right to their position and collected a forked horn. I’d~.scored finally, because I’d
found an efficient way of hunting this country. I’d saved myself many more miles of fruitless walking as well.

The same game—spotting principles apply to all hunting situations, whether still-hunting through thick woods, watching from a stand, or spot-and-stalk hunting desert country. The differences are only a matter of degree.

The biggest advantage over game a hunter can give himself is to look for animals that are moving and are in the open. That may seem obvious, but a lot of hunters haven’t caught on.

“Ninety percent of the people who hunt here head out from camp to hunt about 8 or 9 o’clock,
just when they should be calling it quits for the day,” the manager of a bowhunting area told me. “And they’re returning to camp in the afternoon about the time they should be heading out to hunt.”

His point was that they were missing the prime hunting times of the day. Beyond any question, the first hour of daylight in the morning and the last hour in the evening are
the best times for spotting game (with exception of antelope which area active throughout the day).
As an example, during the 1977 season, my wife and I were perched on a desert cliff before daybreak. As the dawn glow slowly lightened a broad sage flat below us, we began to make out deer. By the time the sun came up, we had twenty-eight bucks in plain view. They were scattered all over, moving and feeding. By 8a.m. they’d vanished. A latecomer would have sworn the flat was barren. But we knew better. The bucks had just settled into the high sage for the day.

Another time, one August, we were overlooking a brush patch surrounded by dense oak trees. The parched California foothills looked lifeless. But at 6 p.m. the sun dipped behind a ridge, flooding the brush with shade, and within fifteen minutes, blacktails began slipping from the
oaks. By 6:30, a half-hour before sunset, We could see six large bucks and a number of does, all in the open.

In both cases, we could have blistered our eyes all day, scouring the brush for deer. Most likely we’d have seen none. But during the prime times, early and late, the deer were as easy to see as cows grazing a grassy hillside.

Certain weather can give the same advantage that early and late daytime periods can, because under some conditions, deer and elk may feed all day, making them easy to spot. Although game animals normally seek shelter during windy, violent storms, they’ll often be active and feeding preceding and following such storms. And on heavily overcast, drizzly days I’ve had excellent success spotting both deer and elk throughout the day. In fact, I’ve taken two elk that were feeding in the open during midday downpours.

Some hunters believe they have an advantage during breeding seasons because animals in rut supposedly for stupid things, but I don’t agree. Bucks or bull elk may indeed be less cautious at this time, but the real advantage is the fact that, rather than bedding all day, these animals
are active and moving, often in the open, making them much easier to spot than under normal conditions. In most regions, deer rut in November and December, elk in September. If seasons in your area are in progress at these times, take advantage of them.

In some cases, the later the season the better the game-spotting conditions. In western Oregon, for example, the early bow season is in September, the late season in November. In September, jungle—like foliage limits visibility to a few yards, but by the late season, leaves have fallen. A
hunter can see farther into the brush and actually can spot deer moving on adjacent hillsides, an impossibility earlier.

Snow is another advantage in late-season hunting. Not only are animals often more concentrated by snow but they’re the most visible against a white background.
Dan Eastmen, an Oregon biologist who’s spent years surveying deer, told me he felt knowing where to look was the real key to “efficient” spotting. His point was that a person can’t go into the field with wide-angle vision, looking at any and everywhere and expect to see much game. He has to concentrate his looking on habitat roost likely to hold animals.

Foe example, deer may use different slopes under various conditions. During dry season and hot weather, they’ll concentrate on north and east facing slopes where moisture lasts longest.

This is particularly true in dry country. When I first hunted desert mule deer, I spend days looking for bucks and nearly dropped my teeth every time I saw one, the occurance was so rare. Then Dan Herrig, a wildlife biologist who’d spent months observing desert bucks, set me straight.

“In this country during the Summer, I spend my time watching north slopes.” Herrig said ” A north exposure holds moisture longest and It’s shaded and cool. I look under trees, and in the shade at the bases of bushes and rocks. That’s where the bucks will bed.

Taking Herrig’s advice, I began seeing more deer than I’d dreamed existed. Up until then I’d been looking everywhere, and probably ninety percent of the country I looked at held no deer at all. Of course the preferred slope depends on the weather and season. During a cold spell, deer may move to a warm south or west facing slope. Picking the right are is a matter of judgement. Herrig offered another bit of advice that has paid off for me.
“Deer have traditional bedding areas.” he said “They’ll come back to the same places year after year.”

Under several juniper trees in a steep canyon he pointed out deer beds that had been worn two and three-feet deep from constant use by deer. Such beds. are especially common in steep, rocky terrain where bedding sites area at a premium. A hunter who knows the location of these traditional areas can expect to observe deer there consistently.

Food and cover are, of course, are major influences on game distribution. Vegetation and terrain that supply these basics will vary considerably from one region to another, but the principle is the same everywhere. For example around extensive new clearcuts or in open desert or grassland, areas with plenty of feed animals may congregate near pockets of good cover. In forested wilderness, on the other hand, climax vegetation generally guarantees a surplus of cover, but forage often is scarce. Here a hunter should locate and concentrate spotting efforts on areas where game animals will feed.

Prehunt reconnaissance of an area is a good idea, but not only to look for sign verifying the presence of game, but also to plan your hunt. In open country find cliffs, hilltops or other observation points that overlook feeding or bedding areas. In denser country, pick places for stands near clearings or well-used trails where visibility is good, or outline still-hunting routes from which you can observe promising habitat.

Keep two things in mind as you plan. First evaluate prevailing wind direction. If you try to observe country from the upwind side, animals will vacate before you ever see them.

Second, consider the sun. In dense canyon bottom this may not be a concern, but in open country, it’s vital. Without reservation I say never hunt or glass toward the sun. With that bright light in your face, you can see next to nothing. In the morning glass or still hunt from east to west and vice versa in the afternoon. Have alternate observation points and hunting routes in mind to make this possible and to compensate for changing winds.

The one essential equipment item for all game spotting is binoculars. Nobody can hunt as efficiently, under any conditions, with bare eyes as he can with binoculars.

That’s because binoculars not only magnify detail, but at close range, the isolate it. The, closer you focus, the shallower the depth-of-field, so that only objects in the plane of focus are sharp. If you’re focused for thirty yards an antler tine at that distance will stand out strikingly from
that blurred brush in front and behind. Binoculars also gather light, a real advantage early and late and on dark days.

During serious hunting, you’ll use binoculars constantly, probably several hours a day, so they have to be handy. To mak sure mine are, I have put an elastic band on them. , I hang the glasses around my neck then slip the elastic around my chest. The elastic band holds the glasses snug
against my body, but it stretches enough to allow bringing
them to my eyes.

Cheap binoculars are a waste of money. They’re often poorly aligned and
will make you cross eyed and dizzy. Good glasses start at about $100.

In open country 8x or 10x binoculars are good, but for all-around use, 6X or 7X are probably better. I’ve been more than satisfied with my Bausch & Lomb 7X35s.

A spotting scope is invaluable in open country where visibility is great. For the money, l think a fixed-power scope of 15X or 20X is the best buy. Variable power, say
15x-60x is fine under ideal conditions, but often, heatwaves cause such distortion that magnification over about 25x is useless.

High-power, optical equipment must be held solid. Binoculars of 7X, for example, magnify every movement you make by seven times. You won’t see much more than blurry scenery if you’re standing, holding binoculars with one hand. Use a tripod. or sit down, wrap your hands around your glasses, rest your elbows on your knees, and brace your hands against your forehead to form a solid glassing position. With a spotting scope, use a tripod.

To glass efficiently, be systematic. Whether you`re inspecting a brush patch at thirty yards or an open canyon face a mile away. divide the area into sections and cover it thoroughly from one side to the other.

l use two approaches to game spotting. One is to glass once, slowly and meticulously. from one side of an area to the other, trying to make out every detail the first time though. The other approach is to cover the country rapidly, going over it several times. Generally, the second
approach works better for me. My thinking is that if animals are in cover, I probably won’t see them, no matter how long I stare at one place. But if I’m hunting during a prime time when animals are active and moving, they’ll sooner or later work into a position where they can be seen easily. Even if I overlook animals the first, second or third times, I’ll eventually spot them if I cover an area enough times. Besides, rapid glassing seems to cause less eye strain than staring for a long period at one spot.

Game spotting takes time. A quick once-over won’t do. If l`m observing open country where visibility may be a mile or more, I glass for two or three hours from one position. In dense forest, of course, where visibility is thirty yardis, nobody is going to stay in one place for three hours.
There, a few minutes from each position may be long enough. Probably more important in dense country than absolute time is the ratio of time spent moving to
observing. A moving hunter won’t see nearly as much as
one who’s motionless, and he’s much more likely to be
spotted himself. Most good still—hunters agree that they
spend no more than a quarter of their time moving. They
spend the other three-quarters stationary, studying the
brush ahead.
The old cliche about “practice makes perfect” definitely
applies to game spotting. During my first years of big-game
hunting, I felt blind. My companions always spotted deer
before I did. But with experience, I’ve learned to make out
detail, and now the sight of a deer’s leg, an antler tine or a
flicking ear catches my eye immediately. My vision is no
better. Practice simply has put meaning into these details.
Practice is the only way to develop spotting skill.
And this skill is at the heart of productive hunting.
Whatever your circumstances, you’ll have little success
hunting with the bow and arrow if you can’t spot game
animals before they spot you. And rarely will you if you’re
hunting by leg power alone. If you’ve found yourself leaving
lots of tracks across the landscape but seeing less
than your share of game, get smart. Sit down, get out your
binoculars and let your eyes do the walking. <—·<<<<

Archived By
www.Archerytalk.com
All Rights Reserved

0 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 5 (0 votes, average: 0.00 out of 5)
You need to be a registered member to rate this post.
Loading...

Published by archerchick on 09 Jan 2011

The Inside Edge ~ By Mark Hicks


Bowhunting World
October 2006

The Inside Edge by Mark Hicks

?

The best place to hunt a field may not be along its edge, but at least 20 yards from the edge, farther back in the woods. Here’s Why.

The first truly big buck l ever saw while hunting crossed 20
yards from my treestand more than 3O years ago. lt was a
symmetrical 8-pointer with a wide spread, tall tines, and
heavy mass. Looking back through the years, l believe it would
have easily netted 140.

l had found the buck’s rubs scouting a point of hardwoods that reached
into a pasture in south Ohio. A cluster of several trees, up 6 inches in
diameter, bore scars. A distinct deer trail lead to the point along the
wooded side of the pastures fence. l figured this was the buck’s travel
route and l hung a stand in a tulip poplar within easy bow range of the
trail. l was in that stand every evening during the last few weeks of October.
On weekends, l was there mornings and evenings. l would never spend
that much time in any stand today, but l was just getting into bowhunting
and was greener than a corn sprout. l would have gladly shot the first
whitetail that stepped into bow range. Two does entered the pasture
before dark on three or four evenings, but they never offered a shot.
?

It was a balmy, overcast morning early November when l saw the 8-pointer.
l heard it grunt, turned my head and then watched the grand animal cross
behind my stand as it altenately sniffed the ground and scent-checked the wind. My
treestand didn’t allow me to shoot in that direction, and l knew nothing then about
calling deer. l could only watch in awe the buck slowly passed out of bow range
and out of sight. l can still see his bone white antlers glowing in the dim woods.

?

Sat Up Farther Back
I missed my chance at that buck because I made a mistake that plagues many
hunters today. I had set up for a shot along a field edge when I should have
been farther back in the woods along what I call “the inside edge.” Yes, slews
of whitetails are shot every year from treestands situated along field edges.
But, most of these deer are dropped early in the season when bucks are more
interested in food sources than female companionship.

Field edges become less productive as bucks enter the pre-rut and rutting
phases and begin searching for does. Any buck intent on finding a hot doe isn’t
likely to waltz into a field, though it may quickly cross an open field to see whats
shakin’ on the other side. A smart old buck on a mission normally won’t enter
a field until after his nose tells him that an estrus doe is feeding out there.
Instead of walking into the field or around its perimeter, a mature buck typically passes
by 2O yards or more back in the woods. Here, it can stay out of sight
and scent-check for does from a safe vantage point. The route the buck travels
during this reconnaissance is the inside edge, and you’ll often find rubs and scrapes here.

Though you may find rubs and scrapes anywhere along the field’s
edge, these are typically made after dark when bucks feel safe enough to venture
into the open fields. Since a buck must travel downwind
of a field to scent-check it, this is where you should look for the inside edge.
First, determine the predominant wind direction. For example, the predominant
wind in southeast Ohio where l hunt is from the southwest. Therefore,
l look for an inside edge near the northeast corner of a field.
?

l hunt the northeast corner because this is where a buck travels a diagonal
route as it cuts across the wind. This lets the buck scent-check the field efficiently
with the shortest traveling distance, The buck comes closest to the field at
its northeast corner, which makes this the ideal place to intercept him. Set
your treestand about 2O yards down-wind from the buck’s path. This puts
you at least 40 yards from the field, depending on how far back the buck”s
inside travel edge is situated. A stand back in the woods also offers
better concealment. Most of the leaves have fallen when the rut gets under»
way. When you’re perched in a bare stand along the edge of a field, a buck
is more likely to spot you. A treestand hack in the woods breaks up your outline
and helps you go undetected.

?

Pay Attention To The Wind & Routes

What do you do when the wind changes direction? Iowan Rick White, a member
of the Hunters Specialties pro staff. stays away from the inside edge rather than
tipping off a buck to his stand location. “I’ll hunt a different stand around that field
where the wind is to my advantage, or l hunt a different area altogether,” White
says. “You get only one chance at a big buck and you don’t want to blow it by
hunting with a bad wind.”

Even when the wind is right. “White takes precautions to avoid spooking
deer on the way to his stand. He takes the shortest, quietest route possible
that keeps him downwind of deer and their bedding areas. If the best approach
is to cross the field, White generally hunts an inside edge in the afternoon
only during the early season. By crossing the field in the morning, he would spook
any deer feeding there. During the peak of the rut, when bucks are pushing does
around, White will gamble on crossing a field for a morning hunt.

When he searches for an inside edge, White looks for buck sign associated
with intersecting trails, bottlenecks, pinch points, or some terrain feature
that funnels deer past a particular tree. “I usually don’t get back in more
than 2O yards or so from the field,” White says. “I want to be close enough
that I can see what’s happening in the field. That way, I might notice another corner
where deer are coming into the field.”

Before bucks get into the pre-rut and rutting phases, they often use inside
edges as evening staging areas before they enter fields after dark to feed.
White took advantage of this tendency during an early October hunt in Iowa.
At 3 p.m. he climbed into an old fence line oak 5O yards from an alfalfa field.
From this vantage, he could see the field and well over 100 yards through
the stand of mature hardwoods.
?

An hour before dark, does started to filter through the hardwoods, browsing
and feeding on acorns as they headed to the field. About 30 minutes later, White
spotted a dandy 10-point buck casually feeding on acorns l5O yards away. He
rattled lightly with his rattle bag, followed up with a few mature buck grunts
on his Hunter’s Specialties Tru Talker, and the buck came right to him. “He wasn’t
looking for a fight, he was just curious to see what was going on,” White says.
“That’s typical early in the season.” The buck came down the fence that
lead to White’s tree and never tried to circle downwind of him. “Early in the
season, bucks often beeline it straight to the sound,” White says. “They’re more
cautious during the tut and usually in downwind then.”
?

White smoked the buck with his Mathews compound at 15 yards. It scored
137 4/8. Had White set his stand on the edge of the alfalfa field, he might not
have seen that buck back in the woods. If he had called to the buck from the field
edge, it probably would have been leery of coming near the field before dark.
And, even if the buck did respond to a call from the field edge, it would have
approached from White’s downwind side and may have winded him.
?

Missouri bowhunter Alex Rutledge, another member of the Hunters Specialties pro staff,
also takes advantage of inside edges downwind from fields. He stresses
that mature trophy bucks are nocturnal and don’t appear in these areas until the
last 30 minutes of daylight. If you’re on a field edge at this critical time, the
bucks will be crossing behind you. “Most bucks travel into a cross-wind well back from
the edge of a field,”

?

Rutledge says. “If the cover is thick a buck may pass within 5O yards of the field. If it`s
a wide open woods, the buck may scent-check the field from 100 yards
or more away.” Big tracks, clumpy droppings, and rubs tell Rutledge where a buck
is crossing along an inside edge. After he finds what he’s looking for, Rutledge places
treestand downwind from the buck’s trail. When he’s hunting hilly terrain,
Rutledge never sets a stand in the bottom or along the side of a hollow.

“The wind constantly swirls in those draws,” Rutledge says. “lf you set a stand
there, you’re going to get winded. I always set my stand on top of a hill, or
close to the top where the wind direction is more consistent. A lot of bucks
cross over the ends on points, and that’s a great place to catch them.”
A point overlooking a field may not strike you as an inside edge, but that may
very well be the case if you hunt whitetails in hill country. Rutledge has taken bucks
from such places that were crossing 125 yards downwind from a field.

ARCHIVED BY
www.ARCHERYTALK.com
All Rights Reserved

0 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 5 (0 votes, average: 0.00 out of 5)
You need to be a registered member to rate this post.
Loading...

Published by archerchick on 08 Jan 2011

Calling In The Elk~ By Doug Kittredge


BOW & ARROW HUNTING
BOWHUNTERS ANNUAL 1979

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com
Calling In The Elk ~By Douglas Kittredge
“Successful elk hunting has little to do with luck.”
Standing about five feet at the shoulders, from eight hundred to over one thousand pounds, a mature bull elk can challenge any bowhunter.

Fortunate is the man who
hunts elk with a bow. His season comes at a time when the few available odds can be in his favor: weather rare ly severe, fewer hunters roaming the woods, early Fall rains to dampen his
footsteps; but most valuable, this is the time of the breeding period, or rut.
This is the period when even the cagiest of bulls puts aside his normal caution for the more important matter at hand.

There was a time when elk were extremely common animals, found in
great herds roaming the plains of the West. Because of market hunting pressure, the turn of this century saw the herds decimated to only 40,000 animals. Fortunate for today’s hunters,
the elk is an adaptable animal and has shifted habitat from exposed open plains to sheltered mountain forests where they now thrive in ever increasing numbers — literally an elk explosion by some states’ reports!

Though in ancient times some ten subspecies of these magnificent animals roamed North America, today, there are but four, and of these our hunting is directed primarily to the .
Roosevelt .and the Yellowstone varieties.

The true name is wapiti, from the Shawnee Indians. “Elk” really belongs
to a different animal, the European moose. Standing about five feet at the shoulders and from eight hundred to over 1000 pounds, a mature bull elk is a formidable creature, particularly when a bowhunter, previously acquainted only with deer, suddenly confronts one at close range. Such a
large target is mighty deceiving, making him seem much closer than he really is.

The mating season, or rut, probably does not actually start until mid
September, but bugling often is heard much earlier, starting in the latter part
of August in some areas. Cows do not breed until their third year; however, bulls participate at age two and often account for the majority of actual breeding in their younger years as the
older herd bull becomes more involved in chasing harassing competition away
from his harem.

As the rut progresses, the bulls become increasingly preoccupied with
their activity. They pay less and less attention to what is going on about
them. I’ve spoken with knowledgeable elk hunters who tell tales about elk do-
ing almost stupid things — perhaps walking right in toward a waiting hunter,
nose to the ground and sun at high noon. Or just standing there shaking
his rack from side to side while the archer excitedly lets fly arrow after
arrow. The height of the rut usually occurs toward the end of September
and lasts into the middle of October. During this time pugnacious old bulls
gather together their harems, consisting of perhaps only a few to more
than twenty cows. Smaller bulls are driven from the herd and the herd bull
becomes ready for combat as he plays his role in this yearly ritual.

Now is the time for the bowhunter to take advantage of the situation.
The smaller bulls hang around the harem, looking for opportunity to cut
out an amorous cow while the herd bull has his attention drawn elsewhere.
Challenge is given in musical notes, unique to this animal. It is a full-chested
effort that many outdoorsmen acclaim as the most exciting sound in
nature. Beginning on a low note, the call rises up the scale in three or four
tones to peak in a clear bugle held as long as the air supply lasts, then fades
abruptly into a series of almost hiccup type savage grunts. No two elk sound
exactly the same. The larger, mature bulls usually can be determined by
their coarse, deeper calls, while the young animals make with a thin, high-
pitched whistle. As the older bulls become increasingly upset, their calls can
transform into a chilling scream, lacking almost all musical qualities, even
becoming nothing but a series of deep- throated grunts. Many successful elk
callers attempt to reproduce only this grunting part of the call, feeling it does
more to arouse a challenge and has less chance for slip-up by making a false-
sounding note.

The courting efforts take their toll on the condition of an active bull elk,
burning off most of his accumulated Summer fat, scarring his neck and
bruising his chest through wounds from other rivals’ horns. He enters the
threat of coming Winter in badly weakened condition. It is reported
that a weight loss of three hundred pounds is not uncommon among herd
bulls during the rut.

An elk is an impressively antlered trophy. The immense antler display
begins to bud forth in May and continues growth into the first of August
when the blood vessels constrict and the horn growth hardens, soon to be
rubbed and polished to a magnificent fighting tool. The yearling bull grows
only spike horns, measuring ten to twenty inches in length. Each year the
bull grows a new set of antlers. By the time he reaches three years old, this
growth starts to become impressive, being more massive and up to five
points on each side. From this point the antler growth becomes larger and
heavier each season. A mature bull sports a head dress of six, seven or
even more points on a side, weighing fifty pounds or more. It is little
wonder their neck muscles and bones are so massive!

Elk thrive on browse, grass and forbs. Preference changes with availability
and the season of the year. During the Fall bowhunting periods, grass
fills most of their needs. They tend to be early morning and late evening
feeders, spending their midday in secluded, shaded bedding areas. Most
beginning elk hunters misjudge the speed of travel of a browsing elk herd.
It is almost impossible to keep up with using normal pussy-footing tactics.
They average better than one mile per hour and tend to browse in a straight
line, heading into the wind. Thus, a better technique calls for rapidly circling
the animals at a fast trot, dropping far enough to one side to keep
noise of travel from being important. The hunter should either get out in
front of the moving quarry to position himself in a hidden location, letting
the herd move to him; or be able to sneak in directly from the side.

Rarely is it a bull that is boss of the herd, rather it’s a wise old cow that
has her eyes, ears, and nose poised on what goes on about her. A bark-like
call acts as a warning of any danger, with headlong flight soon to follow.
As with many herd animals, elk often panic and stampede en masses, taking
their cue from other animals in the group whether they themselves have
seen a real danger or only imagined it. Such stampedes usually end quickly,
as soon as cover is reached, and the hunter can rapidly circle again to catch
up with the group. However, some elk movements are remarkable in distance
traveled. It is not uncommon to have spooked animals travel five miles or
more, going farther than just the next drainage cover.

During archery seasons, elk usually are found at the higher elevations
where they can take advantage of cooling breezes. They are restless animals,
perhaps because of the huge amount of food required. I have seen some
daily movements involving over eight miles of travel from feeding area to
bedding ground undergone on a daily basis. Elk water at least one time each
day and they may travel some miles to get to it. Rare is it that good elk habitat
does not contain an ample supply of this important liquid relatively closeby.
Their daily movements involve a pattern of feeding, watering and resting.
They tend to browse uphill from the bottomlands during the early morning hours, bedding in the cool thick timber during midday, resuming the browsing late in the afternoon,
moving in a downhill direction until after dark. Elk do feed during bright
moonlight periods of the month and most hunters feel their chances of success
are better during the dark phase of the moon.

Elk are bothered by hot weather. At times, they may seek bedding far out on an open point where refreshing breezes make life more comfortable and free of flies. High winds put elk
down into the safety of sheltered canyons where they can hear approaching
danger more easily. In heavily hunted areas, elk quickly become aware of the
pressure and either completely leave the area for more remote parts, or they change their habits such that they rarely leave the thicker-timbered hillsides, rarely being seen out in the
open. During such times, a patient hunter stands a chance of getting into the action by lurking high in a tree overlooking a well-used main trail or hidden water hole.

Successful elk hunting has little to do with luck. The hunt must be planned in detail. Six states account for eighty-five percent of the elk taken: Colorado, Wyoming, Oregon, Washington, Montana and Idaho — with Arizona and New Mexico becoming more popular with knowing bowhunters

First on the planning agenda should be writing the Fish and Game Department, c/o the capital city.of each state in which you are interested. Request information on expected season
dates, license costs, regulations and any suggestions as to possible hunting areas you might consider. If the name and address of the state bowhunting organization, or of individual hunters is available, it is a wise plan to contact them as well. Working out the details of a successful elk hunt takes time, so start well in advance of the season opening.

Hunting elk is an expensive undertaking, even when hunting without a paid guide or outfitter. There is no guarantee of hunter success. In fact, doing it the hard way with bow and
arrow puts the odds against you about nine to one. With increasing hunting pressure, decreasing available habitat and more restrictive hunting seasons, the best chance for success lies with booking a guided hunt through a reputable outfitter, Such a man should be able to put you in an
area where game is known to be, saving you the days of pre-season scouting. He also arranges for handling of the meat once you have an animal down — no small matter in the steep, remote areas most elk prefer.

Finding a suitable outfitter for a bowhunting experience can be highly frustrating. Most guides would rather hunt with a rifleman, as it makes their job many times easier. A number of
them look down on bows as ineffective for hunting these tough animals.
Frequently a bowman can be put in on game, only to have the wind shift so
he doesn’t get his shot, it becomes a miss, or there is a branch in the way.
Unless the guide is well acquainted with the quirks of hunting with bows,
he can lose patience with the hunter and his enthusiasm actually can
diminish the hunter’s chance for success.

The larger outdoor magazines contain sections devoted solely to listings
by the outfitting fraternity. Many Fish and Game Departments have published
listings of registered guides in their state. Write as many as you can. Not
only ask for their brochure, rates, and other pertinent information, but specifically request information about their capabilities of guiding a bowhunter. It is wise to request a minimum of three recent clients’ names as references. A phone call to a reference is worth many times that of a letter, for it gives a chance to listen to the tone of voice, or any hesitancy in giving an answer. Try to find out how the man felt the hunting conditions to be. Did game abound in the area? What
was the competitive hunting pressure from others in camp and other camps
in the area? What about the terrain and the weather? Did the guide perform as expected? And most important: Would he return to hunt with this particular guide again if he had the
chance?

Beware of any outfitter who makes fancy promises and fills his camp too full of hunters. Good guides rarely guarantee anything other than a good hunting experience under conditions
of fair chase, particularly when hunting an animal as elusive as an elk, with a bow. The top guided hunts have a single guide with a maximum of two hunters, and though admittedly more
costly, the best arrangement is one guide to a single hunter. Over half a dozen hunters in a single camp begins to spell overhunting of the area. You also want to know what flexibility you
might have in relocating the camp should the game not prove abundant or move out of the area.

Top guides and outfitters are much in demand, often being booked solid a
full year in advance. If you find this the case with the guide of your choice,
ask if he might be able to suggest another he considers capable, but perhaps not so well established. Though a quality guided hunt provides better chances for success, many of us cannot afford the bucks required. The well—conditioned, properly-prepared,
do it~yourself hunter still can have a good crack at this wily game. Begin setting up your plans by
writing for hunting maps of the area you have decided on. The Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management both publish such material. Topo maps are another vital addition and may be
obtained from many sporting goods outlets.

Consider how you are going to maneuver around in the hunting country. In most areas a four-wheel-A drive vehicle or a horse will be needed, though more and more backpackers
are going after elk. Elk hunting demands equipment that is in dependable, first-rate condition. Though archery seasons usually are blessed with fine weather, it can change overnight to an early season blizzard. Most hunters take more gear than they need until they learn how to
plan for all eventualities without duplication. I like to allow for a layered type of clothing outfit that provides a minimum amount of covering should the temperature be in the seventies,
yet I can keep adding another shirt or pair of long johns as needed to provide
warmth down to ten degrees or so. Nothing beats a good sleeping bag, so if money is to be saved, do so elsewhere and pay a little more for a sound night’s sleep. The same applies to boots, tent and backpack. Remember that elk inhabitat mountainous country and the smooth soled boots used by an Eastern whitetail hunter
don’t apply.

Being in shape physically is easy to say, but all too few of us really prepare for hiking the high mountain country where chances for elk will be best. Probably the inability to move around easily in hunting country accounts for more unfilled elk tags than any other single thing. Considering the
cost and effort most of us expend to hunt elk, it behooves us to prepare a bit in advance.

Start by paying a visit to your doctor. Tell him what you plan. He might
want to give you a brief examination, then offer his advice for an exercise
program you can follow a few months before the hunt. A couple of months
before the season I like to begin jogging or walking a few miles each day,
at a speed fast enough to work up the heartbeat and get my wind to puffing.
If a horse is part of the hunting plan, regular riding a few weeks ahead of
time can make the whole trip more enjoyable. Plan to be in the hunting area
several days ahead of time. Western elk areas tend to be at high altitude where
acclimatization can be a major help.

As most bowhunting seasons occur during the rut, the majority of hunters
take along some form of elk call. Over the years, these bugles have been fashioned from just about every type of plastic tube, bamboo, metal gas pipe, rubber hose, or modified reed calls.
Exactly imitating a bull’s bugle is difficult, if not impossible. I don’t believe I have ever heard a man-made call which sounds exactly the same as a real elk, and many of those on the market are
at best but a faint imitation. Accordingly, most hunters will acknowledge that the elk herds are becoming Wage wise” to the human efforts of trying to sound like a bull. In some areas, it is
rare for the elk to bugle at all, other than for a short while during height of the rut. In most areas. a poorly executed bugle will announce the hunter’s presence, instantly silencing the whistling bulls, putting the herd into flight, or at least on wary alert.

Correct use of a good bugle can save a lot of miles of walking. When an
answer is received, it shows the location of the elk, assures you of being in elk terrain, and that you can slow your travel and begin use of your hunting skills in working in for a shot. Though bulls will come in to an elk call, it has been my experience that more likely they will answer, then move the; gathering of cows out ahead of the: getting away from what they believe
to be a rival, challenging bull. I suggest moving in on the answering bull using a circling movement
watching to keep the wind in your favor and moving at the pace of a fast walk or trot. Don’t be too concerned about noise, just try to get out ahead if the elk as quickly as possible. Don’t
call again for about ten minutes. If the bull calls again before the ten minute; are up, try to decide if it is the same bull that first answered your call and he is moving toward or away from you. If toward you, hide in a position where you think you will be able to get a clear shot. Wait a minute or two before making another call, perhaps shielding your call behind your hand or shoulder to sort of muffle the sound and eliminate giving it true direction.

Keep your calls short. Don’t call too often. Try to let the bull make all the moves. He may continue coming in even though you don’t answer him again, and by staying silent you eliminate any chance of a poorly made call alarming him. I like to make a grunt
by sucking in my breath behind the flat of my hand, but unless you know
what you are doing, you can choke up and ruin the whole thing.
I found that the quickest way to learn how to call up elk was to spend a
few days in the field, after the close of the regular season, to try calling. Most
archery seasons close just as the rut is really beginning to hit its full peak. Arranging your schedule to allow a few extra days following the season can work wonders in polishing up your
technique. Here is a time when you can experiment with anything and failure won’t matter,

First crack of morning and just before it is too dark to hunt legally are the prime times for calling. Some hunters even go out well after dark, leaving their bows behind, to make a bugle or two directed into canyons or up mountainsides where they hope an answering hull will indicate a new
place to try hunting. Except during the height of the rut, most elk terminate their bugling shortly after dawn. In working through your selected hunting country, when no elk are known to be close by, try to cover as much ground as possible, looking for fresh signs of droppings or tracks. Make
a bugle every fifteen or twenty minutes during the first hour or so of morning and the last half hour of evening.

Keep your eyes peeled for spring fed areas in small alpine meadows
where elk may be wallowing in the mud. An elk wallow is an important
part of the rutting ritual Here the bull will paw, dig and urinate, until he has a sloppy quagmire in
which he`ll roll around much like a domestic hog. Such wallows are used year after year.
There is a strong, distinctive odor in the wallow area during the rutting season. Frequently an alert hunter will recognize this unique smell when pussy-footing through the woods, signaling him of animals in the area long before they actually come into view.

This scent of elk is a good one to help mask the human odor. I like to step on fresh droppings as I come across them, squashing them well into the soles of my boots. I also rub some
onto the cuffs of my pants. One elk hunter told me he ties an old sock to his belt. In the sock he puts any fresh droppings he might find, a little of the odorous mud from a wallow, the
scented dark urine spot from a fresh elk bed he comes across; anything that
is strongly elk scented. Then he dips his sock in such water seepage as he may come across, letting the resulting mess slop around against his leg, splattering his pants and the trail around
him. There is a certain air about him, but he doesn’t smell of man!

An elk’s best protection is his nose. The careful hunter must pay strict attention to keeping the direction of wind movement in his face. Hunting clothes never should be worn near a campfire. Cigarette smoke is a no·no. Care must be taken not to slop gasoline when gassing up the transportation buggy. Don’t consume strong coffee first thing in the morning…it
exudes from the skin much like eating raw garlic or onion.

Barely second to his nose are the elk`s eyes and any movement spotted will bring his immediate attention. Noise seems to be the only place where there’s a bit of a chink in his armor — perhaps because an elk is pretty noisy himself — but just let the sound be foreign to the woods, such as
a clink of metal or a rubbed thump of a bowstring, and he’s all ears. The lean, red meat of the elk is absolutely the best there is. No moose, sheep or deer I’ve ever had quite equals the flavor. Because the animal is so large and the insulating qualities of the heavy hide so good, elk meat spoils easily. By the very nature of the bow and arrow where there is a time lapse in between shooting the animal, then finding his carcass, time is against us.

The man who hunts with a bow must be prepared on the spot to take adequate care of his animal. Carry a small knapsack in which you have all the necessities: a small hoist for moving his heavy body, saw or ax for splitting up the carcass, a stout skinning knife and sharpening equipment, extra rope, and plastic trash bag to protect the innards.

It is important to get the hide off the animal as quickly as you have dressed it out. Open up the body well and let it begin to cool. lf possible, the carcass should be cut into quarters,
then hung high in trees so air circulates fully around the meat. A couple of temporary cheesecloth deer bags carried in the knapsack will afford protection from insects. If the meat has to be
backpacked out, boning will reduce the weight about forty percent; even then, it will take a number of loads. Elk meat should be hung in a cold room to age for a week or ten days.

This breaks down the muscle tissue and makes it tender. You can keep your meat in camp, even with relatively warm temperatures, by hanging it out during the nighttime coolness and wrapping it
well in blankets or old sleeping bags during the heat of the day. Cook in the same manner as a fine cut of beef, remembering that it takes a little less time and heat to cook to the same degree of doneness, Any of your favorite recipes for beef will prove doubly tasty when you prepare
it with elk!

To hunt this regal animal and tramp through his beautiful western lands is
an experience to be cherished. With sound game—management programs
and sportsman-like pursuit, we should look forward to continued outstanding
hunting recreation for ourselves and our offspring in many lifetimes to
follow. <——<<<

ARCHIVED BY
www.Archerytalk.com
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

0 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 5 (0 votes, average: 0.00 out of 5)
You need to be a registered member to rate this post.
Loading...

Published by archerchick on 08 Jan 2011

DIXIE WHITETAILS ~ By Roger Combs


BOW & ARROW HUNTING
October 1989

Dixie Whitetails ~ By Roger Combs
Mississippi abounds in deer, offering bowhunters plenty of opportunity at reasonable cost.

MISSISSIPPI IS not usually the first state that comes to mind when
bowhunters get together to talk about whitetail hot spots. Not a lot has been written about
the area which, in fact, abounds in the elusive game most of us spend hunting
seasons pursuing. Due to several factors, whitetail deer in Dixie, in Mississippi, in particular, are
doing well.They are plentiful, healthy, enjoy growing populations in most areas and, on some well managed private and public ranges, are producing trophy antler racks.

The state’s Department of Wildlife Conservation encourages enlightened game management on privately owned farms and clubs, including the necessary food crops and either-sex game harvesting. One of the most common and earlier symptoms of a dwindling food supply is a
decline in buck antler development. In fact, say Mississippi game management experts, when a deer herd has been above carrying capacity for several years, even older bucks may grown only spike antlers.

Many of the private areas of Mississippi are leased or owned by hunting or wildlife clubs, practicing modern deer management techniques. One such is the Pecan Grove Wildlife Club at Fort Adams.
Located in the southwest corner of the state, it’s just north of the Louisiana state line and on the eastern banks of the Mississippi River. The club is owned and developed by businessman George Haynes of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Haynes obtained the old 7000—acre plantation several years ago and has implemented programs to improve deer, wild turkey, duck and small game habitat.

My introduction to the club came as a result of an invitation from Haynes through the good offices of Bill Bynum, a successful bowhunter who is familiar with whitetails in the South. The state’s deer season for archery opened the first of October and ran until November 18 in 1988. Those who hunt with archery and/ or black powder are permitted to take up to five bucks per season, plus three does.

The regular firearms season opens the day after archery season closes and runs
until past the middle of January of the following year. If they wish, archers may hunt also during the firearms season with bow and arrows, but they must abide by the gun season rules, which include the wearing of a specified minimum of hunter orange outer clothing. Only bowhunters
and muzzleloaders may take the extra three does per season.

The Pecan Grove Wildlife Club lodge is located about an hour south of Natchez, Mississippi and about an hour north of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It is just northwest of the early settlement of Fort Adams on the banks of the Buffalo River. Both cities have frequent airline flights from and to any place. The club acreage includes access to Lake Mary and the banks of the Mississippi River for plenty of fishing opportunities.

I flew to Baton Rouge the day before opening day of the 1988 season and was met at the airport by George Haynes. During the drive to Fort Adams, Haynes outlined the club’s program for conservation and game management. All wildlife is left in its natural state. Deer food plots are
planted. as is millet for ducks, crimson clover for turkey and deer. Haynes has initiated a timber management system, selectively cutting certain areas to enhance hunting potential. Timber cutting thins out some areas, allowing more deer browse to grow.

Haynes also has taken steps to construct a number of water control structures on the property, with better hunting in mind. The club property is located along the banks of the Mississippi and Buffalo Rivers and, because of that, subject to partial flooding from time to time. When the property was farmed, the flooding brought silt and topsoil down, creating rich farm land. Flooding also helps to restock the many fishing ponds, lakes and streams in the area.

Lake Mary is one of the large ox—bow lakes at Pecan Grove. Ox—bow lakes, explained Haynes, are formed when the river, after years of flowing around a sharp bend, eventually floods through the curve in an effort to flow in a straight line. The original river bend is left isolated, leaving an ox-
bow—shaped lake. There are hundreds along a river as extensive as the Mississippi. Lake Mary is full of bass, bream, crappie and catfish, as well as a locally popular fish called sac—a-lair. On the way to the club lodge, Haynes and I spend an hour examining his concrete boat launching ramp and fishing dock recently installed on the lake’s shore. Crossing the Buffalo River and turning off the dirt road to the parking area of the lodge, one is struck immediately by the
fact that the building is constructed upon log pilings which raise it about twenty feet
above ground level. The guest rooms, large dining room and meeting room are all on the higher level. The meat processing area and recreation/ indoor archery range room are at ground level. Whenl naively asked about the height of the building, I was reminded that, at times, the Buffalo River floods, putting much of the property under the water.

Haynes and his staff have spent time surveying the property during all seasons
to determine the natural deer travel routes, feeding and bedding areas. In some places,
they have constructed rather permanent tree or free—standing stands to take advantage of the knowledge. Before opening day, the guides are out, making a final survey and marking the
route into the tree stand locations with red tape so hunters can find their ways in the pre—dawn darkness. Undergrowth is heavy because of the rich soil and the seasonal
rainfall. In some areas, access routes have been cut through the brush to enable hunters to make their way without becoming soaked while passing through the wet growth.

The lodge itself can accommodate up to a hundred people during the hunting season.
In 1988, we had about sixty hunters and guides in the place the night before opening morning. Rooms are comfortable, set up with double bunk beds and enough bathrooms to handle the group. The lodge also features a meeting or seminar room, a dining room large enough for hungry hunters and food as delicious as one can find anywhere. After supper before opening day, Bill
Bynum, who does work for Robbins Scents, spent an hour discussing scents and how to
use them in the Mississippi terrain. The rut comes later in this part of the country usually cooler weather does not arrive until late December » and the rut may extend into late January. October is a bit early for establishing mock scrapes, but Bynum said he was going to try the technique in a day or so. Bynum’s plan had to be modified some- what because of Mother Nature. It began
to rain hard that night and continued through most of the opening day. Any artificial scents would have been washed away. That heavy rain was to be the ending of the most of us for the first three days of the archery season.

The rain changed the standard routes and hot spots which had been scouted over
several weeks by guides at the Pecan Grove club property. Some of the lower pockets
were flooded and the deer were using different routes to and from bedding areas.
Nobody said bowhunting was supposed to be easy. Hunters may use the permanent stands
at the club or they may bring their own climbing and portable stands. Or they may
not use a stand at all, choosing to still—hunt areas of their choice. Some stands are within a few minutes’ walk from the lodge, while others require a four-wheel-drive vehicle drive of a half—hour or so to reach.

Daniel Littleton and his crew plotted out likely areas on the maps before opening
day and assigned guides and transportation to each hunter.
Those who had the longest travel time launched earliest in order to be on their
stands well before first light. The wise bowhunter will bring a small flashlight in
his day pack or pocket so as to easily follow the marked trail into the stand. The
unfamiliar terrain can be confusing, especially in the dark and rain. Guides will
offer to escort each hunter to the stand, but another human only adds to the amount of
scent left on the trail.

Hunting the Deep South in October is almost sure to be in rain, at least part of the
time, so a bowhunter is advised to bring lightweight rainproof camo clothing. The weather is warm. but if you get soaked and a breeze comes up, you can become chilled and remain uncomfortable during hours on the stand. Another Robbins product welcomed by all, was their mosquito repellent. As soon as the rain stopped, the temperature rose and large, yellow looking mosquitoes
found us on the stands. These suckers seemed able to penetrate even heavy cloth. The Robbins repellent was effective on all my exposed skin and eventually, I rubbed some on my camouflage sleeves and trousers. I had no trouble with mosquitoes after that.

After daylight, I was able to hear, but not see some of my fellow hunters as they apparently released arrows several hundred yards away. I learned later, as the truck picked each of us up for the return run to lunch in the lodge, that none had any more luck then. There were no deer taken
on opening day. We each returned to stand in the afternoon and remained until well after dark, but nobody scored. The following day dawned bright and clear, although there were still plenty of
low areas with too much water. The weather was cool and a warm jacket felt comfortable in the early morning. Later it warmed up a bit, but the day remained comfortable in full camouflage clothing. With the rain, walking and stalking quietly through the woods was easier, because everything underfoot was wet and soft. On the other hand, deer, too, move more quietly through
the same woods.

This day, my hunting partner was Richard Sapp of Bear Archery in Florida. As we were on our way along a path not far from the lodge to take up adjacent tree stands, we jumped two whitetail does which had been hidden in the underbrush. lf they hadn’t. we probably would never have
seen them, even from ten or fifteen yards away. Neither of us had arrows out of the quiver, so we did not have a shot, but their presence gave us encouragement. State game department officials oversee and approve or disapprove local hunting club activities, while offering advice to managers about how to improve the quality and quantity of deer and other game. Pecan Grove and other neighboring private clubs generally subscribe to the state’s progressive philosophy of harvesting a large percentage of does each year, until the quality of bucks shows improvements.

To over simplify the program, it boils down to reducing the number of females
and male spikes in any given year, the expectation being that the remaining does
will fill out the habitat by giving birth to more twin fawns. Theoretically, the next~
year fawns will be fifty percent males. As this serious culling continues for four to
six years, the buck—to-doe ratio and the quality of trophy bucks improves dramatically. The state encourages the practice by permitting three does per year during the archery and primitive weapons seasons, with some other special antlerless seasons in certain locations.

Good habitat is essential to the development of trophy whitetails. Some of Pecan Grove’s cutover areas have been allowed browse. Some nearby farms have acres of soybeans and com, which promote healthy growth among the deer herds. The club also uses mineral—fortified salt licks, proven successful for improved antler development.
In some areas of the South, the whitetail herds are not noted for their quality; just their quantity. Left unmanaged, some of these herds produce small deer, with a preponderance of females. Without hunting pressures, they soon eat and reproduce their way past habitat capacity. With progressive management, private hunting clubs are able to produce plenty of healthy
trophy bucks.

My equipment consisted of an older model Jennings Unistar bow, shooting Easton 2117 XX75 Autumn Orange arrows made up by FS Arrows (Dept. BA, 2852 Walnut, Unit 2,Tustin,CA 92680.)
I carried the arrows in a bow-mounted quiver from Jennings Archery (Dept. BA, 4600 41st Blvd., Gainesville, FL 32601). I also carried a pair of excellent light gathering binoculars from Ranging (Dept. BA, Rts. 5 & 20, East Bloomfield, NY 14443). Distances in the thick growth were
not long, but the five-power glasses helped pick out details in the dim light of morning
and evening. I carried the lot in a rugged Bow Guard case from Quality Shop (Dept. BA, Box
291, Dana Point, CA 92629.) That case has seen duty through many thousands of airline miles, through wet and cold boats and truck beds, without any damage to the contents.

Most of the growth in Mississippi in October was still predominately green, although there were some early signs of changing colors. I chose to wear the ASAT camouflage clothing pattem from Brigade Quartermasters (Dept. BA, 1025 Cobb International Boulevard, Kennesaw, GA 30144) because of its durability, lightweight and ability to blend in with most habitat. When wet, the ASAT material dries quickly and the design includes lots of pockets to carry extra gear up the tree.
Undergrowth was always wet, raining or not. I was happy to have on a pair of LaCrosse hunting boots (LaCross Footwear, Dept. BA, P.O. Box 1328, La Crosse, WI 54602) which never let in any water. They are rubber on the bottom, with Cordura nylon uppers. They are fast to lace and, with wool socks, my feet never got cold, no matter how rainy it was nor how inactive I was on the stand.

On an earlier mule deer hunt in the Nevada high country, I had good use from
a pair of Deerslayer bowhunting gloves. The Ridgewood Group (Dept. BA, Box 27, Rock Island, IL 61201) makes these gloves in either right or left-handed versions, in the tan Trebark camo pattern. The bow hand glove features an integral forearm guard. The palms and fingers are made of deerskin, with three reinforced finger tabs on the string hand glove. The ground floor of the lodge includes an indoor archery range lighted for night practice. Many of us availed ourselves of the facility. That, unfortunately, was the only archery shooting I was able to do on this trip. Bill Bynum, who has hunted here before, took a doe on the second day.

Just before dark that same day, I heard one of my neighboring tree standers let an arrow fly, followed by sounds of running feet that indicated a hit deer. When the truck arrived after dark, we all used our flashlights to follow the blood trail for what seemed like hundreds of yards, until the
returning rain washed the sign away. As happens sometimes, that was a deer we did not recover.
The fourth day of the season, the day I was scheduled to head back to the Baton Rouge airport, a taxidermist from neighboring Lafayette, Louisiana, Byron Latour, downed a small three—by-three buck. It wasn’t a giant wall-hanger, but would fill the venison larder.

When I was back at our California editorial offices, George Haynes called
from Baton Rouge. He said I should have stayed for the second week of the season,
as it opened up for the bowhunters. Overall, the season saw a sixty-percent success
rate for whitetail bowhunters. l’ll have to try again another year.

Archived By
www.ARCHERYTALK.com
All Rights Reserved

0 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 5 (0 votes, average: 0.00 out of 5)
You need to be a registered member to rate this post.
Loading...

Published by archerchick on 07 Jan 2011

WHITETAIL BASICS ~ By Charlie Kroll


BOW & ARROW HUNTING
OCTOBER 1989


WHITETAIL BASICS ~ By Charlie Kroll

Still-hunting is the purest form of the sport, but becoming a lost art.

HALF A CENTURY ago, when I first began hunting deer, the longbow,
wood arrows and single—blade broadheads were the only available choices
for an aspiring bowhunter. Hunting from elevated stands was illegal and still hunting, a ground—blind ambush or a group drive were the options of pursuit.
Still-hunting was then, and remains today, the purest form of the sport, placing the hunter and the hunted on more equal footing than drives or ambushes.

Today, however, still-hunting is all but a lost art. Why do I bring it up? Simply because
I believe it is to the advantage of the novice to give it a try. By doing so, one can learn more about what makes his quarry tick and about the balance existing between instincts and reasoning than
in any other way.

We all are taught that basics win sporting events. In football, it’s the basics of blocking and tackling. In basketball, it’s the basics of dribbling, passing and follow-up and in track and field,
it’s timing and pace that separate the winners from the losers.

Success in hunting also depends greatly on basics, but of a slightly different sort. The basics I refer to here are those governing the actions of the game, i.e., knowledge of animal senses of sight, smell and hearing and how critically these are employed. It is really difficult for the beginner to realize how honed these senses are in deer. The best way to find out is to devote some time to the one-on-one still-hunt, which is simply the attempt to discover game while slowly easing through the coverts, followed by a careful stalk to get within reasonable arrow range.

It takes some personal experience to fully comprehend the extreme acuteness of sight in an animal that can hardly distinguish a man at rest from a stump, yet can detect the slightest motion a hundred yards away across tree trunks, logs or brush and when every branch is swaying with the breeze.

To avoid the senses of sight and hearing requires not only reasonably quiet underfooting, but also acquired skill and care in moving, aided by eyesight almost as keen as that of the game.
When you begin to comprehend the sharpness of the eyes against which you are matched, you are still about as far as ever from understanding the nose of the deer. The idea that the animal can detect your odor a quarter of a mile away when no breeze is blowing is often rather astounding to the novice. Still more so is the idea that the slightest taint of human odor reaching that keen nose causes instantaneous reaction.

When a deer is alerted by sound or sight it may pause to assess the possible danger. But when man scent reaches its nose, it is gone; right now! It generally costs the beginner, as it did me, many bitter days of frustration learning that he cannot trifle with the nose of the deer.

Therefore, your first care in still hunting should be to constantly be aware of the direction of the wind, however light it may be. Pay attention fo the old adage of hunting high ground
early and low ground late in the day to take advantage of the thermal flows.

Cross currents may at time enable you to work within bow shot of a deer, but you can’t really rely on it, especially if the current tends to shift about, as it often does in hilly country. Use of a cover scent may be of help, but it is my studied opinion that if a deer can smell anything you have on, it can detect the human odor as well.

lt is almost as hard to realize the acuteness of hearing of a deer. Probably more deer are lost to the tyro through this than any other cause. The great majority of those that elude hunters, escape unseen and generally unheard. It takes long to learn that you cannot afford to crack even the lightest twig, or even let the softest snow pack too fast beneath your foot. You can hardly move
too quietly in even the wildest of cover.

There is a lot to be said for observing just how unalarmed deer move while
feeding and imitating those movements when some ground cover noise is unavoidable.
If you are in dense cover where you suspect deer are skulking or hiding, do not be misled by the fact that at such times they do not seem to mind noise. When deer hide it is because they know
what you are, but believe you cannot see them.

Some hunters believe that a day of blustering wind is a good one, providing you keep facing into it. It has been my experience, though, that such a day is a poor time to still—hunt because the
animals are highly nervous with watching and listening. The best type of day for this activity is a dull, overcast day, possibly with intermittent light drizzle, following an all-night rain.

One of my greatest bowhunting achievements was made years ago on just such a day, when I managed to get close enough to a feeding whitetail to completely unglue it by a tap on the
rump with the tip of my bow.

Incidentallly, if hunting on such a day, stick pretty much to the lower ground levels. Moisture causes air to settle and there is less chance of it carrying a message of danger than if you
were on higher ground. Of extreme importance to the still- hunter is that he sees the game before it sees him. Given two creatures in the woods, each in search of the other, the greater advantage lies with the one that happens to be still when the other one is moving within sight range. The best
time for this with deer is when they are feeding and moving, for they are nearly impossible to approach when bedded.

This is why early morning and evening are good, as then the deer are moving and feeding. Just after daylight is the best hour of all, as the animals have alternately fed and rested all night
relatively undisturbed, they are then as relaxed and unwary as they ever get. To take proper advantage of this, you absolutely have to be in their travel area, between feeding and bedding
grounds, before dawn breaks. I f you have to hurry to get there before daybreak, you might as well forget it. You will then have to go against the first law of the still—hunter: a snail’s pace.

You cannot movefast and you cannot move constantly and expect to see animals before they see you. Yes, there are certainly other considerations to be noted in order to achieve success. Among these are appropriate dress of a camo pattern blending with the general type of terrain hunted and of soft, noiseless finish; proper attention to camouflage of the face, hands and bow, some knowledge of current food preferences and knowledge of such signs as mbs, scrapes and
in-use trails.

Next to the difficulty of comprehending the acuteness of a deer’s senses is that of understanding how one looks in cover. Your ideas might come from seeing deer in a zoo or park, or from pictures. But you are almost certain to start out by looking for an entire deer, whereas you might better be looking for almost anything else. ln the woods, you seldom see more than part of a deer, at least to begin with. Concentration should be on horizontal lines and on color patches or spots out of place, plus slight movements such as that of an ear, nose, antlers or tail. To succeed at this
you need to do considerably more looking than moving.

When you are moving in cover, every step you take opens new avenues of vision. You must curb the tendency to see what’s over’ the next rise. If you don’t travel slowly you won’t see any-
thing there except perhaps the sight of a white flag waving goodbye. Again, the name of game is seeing the quarry before it sees you. Deer have good peripheral vision, but it is possible to approach one broadside, providing that you move slowly, directly toward it and only when its head is down. In such a final attempt to close within arrow range, avoid direct eye contact, concentrating instead on the spot you want to hit and remembering that whitetail usually signals a lift of the head by first wiggling its tail a bit. Of course, an approach from behind is the best one when possible, especially when the animal is moving into or across the wind.


It sometimes happens that a novice has the luck to run into a “foolish” deer or two on his first hunt. If he is successful, he will begin to think there is nothing to it. Then, of course, he may hunt
for several years with no repeat of his original success. Any bowman matching himself for several seasons against the whitetail deer will not only acknowledge the acuteness of their sensory defenses, but may come to believe that they have a sixth sense on top of all the rest.

Yes, still-hunting is the toughest way to go, but remember, if a kill every time out were the most important part of hunting, you wouldn’t be reading BOW & ARROW HUNTING. The still-hunt
is the most exciting, the most challenging and when success is finally achieved, the most satisfying adventure the lands beyond the pavement have to offer. <–<<

Archived By
www.ARCHERYTALK.com
All Rights Reserved

0 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 5 (0 votes, average: 0.00 out of 5)
You need to be a registered member to rate this post.
Loading...

Published by archerchick on 06 Jan 2011

Ground Attack ~ By Jeff Murray

BOWHUNTING WORLD
October 2006

GROUND ATTACK – By Jeff Murray

When it comes to getting close, your tactics toolbelt should include blinds.  No longer the cumbersome contraptions they once were.  Today’s innovative blinds are proving their worth with top guides and outfiitters.

According to recent Pope and Young records, about three-fourths of all
whitetail entries involve treestands. But as much as I love a “height advantage”
I find myself land-lubbing it more and more each year. In fact, I’m just about convinced
that the portable ground blind—which used to be an oxymoron I0 years ago—is as
effective as the portable treestand.

Have I lost my mind? Some of it. I know I’ve lost my narrow-mindedness, not to mention
a few staunch opinions. And I’m also losing some habits, such as fighting with treesteps
in my sleep; dreaming about falling out of trees, and nightmares about swaying in wind
and rain from dark-dawn to dusk-dark.  My new outlook is fueled by two key factors.

First, the latest portable designs are, well. more portable than ever. And second, we’ve
learned a lot about ground pounding from a decade of hardcore experience. We’ve
learned for example that blinds are ideal for turkeys. But blinds are equally deadly on
pronghorns, mule deer and elk. We’ve even learned that whitetails are susceptible to the
right blind at the right place with the right tactic.

Need proof? How about the 200—inch 5×5 buck that Mike Wheeler guided New Jersey
bow hunter Aaron Moore last year.   If that deer isn’t big enough for you, consider the 2003 monster (38 points, 307 5/8
harvested by 15—year-old Tony Lovstuen.
Yes, it was taken from a ground blind.

OLD VS. NEW

The first portable blind I hunted out of was an Invisiblind that Mark Mueller asked me to
field-test. Erection and disassembly were a little time-consuming, no doubt, but it was a
leap in the right direction. Mueller figured out back then that camo netting goes
with portable blinds like peanut butter & jelly sandwiches go with kids. He relied on the
netting mainly for concealing hunters inside and the ability to shoot broadheads through
the material. But the netting proved to serve another important purpose .

In 1995 I first heard about Double Bull Blinds and I got my hands on a lightweight
model the following year. This blind date was made in heaven. The pop—out hubs
locked rods in place that, in turn, stretched the walls of the tent-like structure neatly
into place. In seconds l was up and running and down ‘n’ dirty bowhuntin’. My new blind
was a constant companion in turkey country, and I was madly in love with it.

Shortly thereafter I discovered the “coiled” spring steel concept. Today, anyone can stow
away, say, on Ameristep Doghouse portable, even if an airline ticket is part of the hunt; the
blind’s dimensions are a mere 2×24 inches. And blinds keep getting better and better.
Double Bull now offers the Matrix, a 360-degree viewing and shooting blind that has all
the bells and whistles. Not to be outdone,  Ameristep is promoting the Brickhouse Half-
N-Half that features two complementary camo patterns on opposite sides, just in case the
scenery calls for flexibility. Underbrush incorporates  3-D leafy material that blends naturally
with surroundings and moves in synch with Natures wind currents; the Bowhunter spans 5×5 feet and weighs—what else?—5 pounds.
Then there’s a series of Excent (carbon-activated fabric lined) models from Eastman Outfitters to help deal with scent buildup.

GETTING GROUNDED

Blinds offer several distinct advantages. Most are strategic, but the one topping my list
is psychological: l’m addicted to eye-to-eye combat, with game being clueless to my
presence. I feel like the Invisible Man inside a portable. Other advantages include:
*Extreme portability (no treesteps, no ladders, no safety belts).
*Surprising scent—control (top models sporting a roof and four walls confine scent
with remarkable efficiency).
*No trees, no sweat (set up where you want, not where a tree says so).
*Deke out turkeys and deer with a well-placed decoy.

*Hunt aggressively while relaxing (ignore wind, rain, snow; relax in a folding camp chair or recliner).
* Hunt trophy elk and pronghorns near waterholes without a pick and shovel.
*Make a mule deer’s frontline defense- acute eyesight—his Achilles’ heel.
This is all possible if you follow the rules. Start with no flappin’. lf your blind flaps in the breeze, it will spook game. Period. So
make good use of tent spikes, but also make a discerning purchase and eliminate models
that are loose-fitting and baggy. Another bugaboo associated with ground blinds is the Black Hole Syndrome. Deer are
especially spooky when confronted with a small, dark object. Perhaps its because critters such as fox, coyotes and wolves prey out of
dens. Regardless, the best antidote is camo netting. Because it reflects sunlight, it replaces dark shadows with greens, browns and grays.
“I remember the day we finally saw the Iight,” recalled Brooks Johnson, of Double Bull
Archery. “We got a tip from Mike Palmer, a custom bowyer from Texas with a ton of experience
hunting whitetails from the ground. He told us about the netting, and over the years we’ve
continually improved ways to eliminate the dark openings on our silent windows.
Ironically, after removing black from the setup, the next critical step is adding black-
today, all Double Bull blinds are jet black inside, as are the carbon-fabric-lined models
from Eastman Outfitters and Ameristep. “If a bIind’s interior is camouflage material
and you wear camouflage clothing,” adds Johnson’s partner, Keith Beam, “you’re fine
as long as you don’t move. But the instant you draw your bow, deer will usually spot
you. We learned that from twin-blind setups we filmed out of. Nowadays, we always wear
black inside—we even customize the upper limb of our bows—because black against
black is virtually invisible. You’ve got to experience it to believe it ”
To that end, Double Bull offers a complete  line of “Ninja” accessories, including a black
head cover and a black fleece jacket. When  the weather is warm (a little greenhouse
effect can really heat up these blinds), a   Scent-Lok Base layer long-sleeve top is ideal.
This ultra-lightweight polyester garment  contains scent-eliminating activated charcoal
plus an anti-microbial bacteria fighter.   “You get a great one-two punch,” says veteran
bowhunter Tod Graham. “Invisibility plus  personal odor elimination. But you still need to
go the extra mile, scent-wise, on the outside [of  the blind]. For example, when hunting out West,
cut some sage brush and place it on the roof.   In farm country, fresh cow pies will do. In deep
woods, cedar and pine boughs are great.”

SETUPS FOR BLIND LUCK

How you set up a blind is as important as  where you place it. What works for one
species likely won’t work for another. Let’s start with turkeys. l recently asked Ameristep’s
Pat McKenna if their blinds helped beginners with gobblers. He sent me a stack of testimonials.
Consider that 15-year-old Ashely Cole   shot her first big tom with her father on a
Wisconsin hunt; Justin Temple scored on   his first tom in Michigan; Mike Gaboriault, a
disabled Gulf War veteran from Vermont,  followed suit. These turkey success stories
seem to have no end!  Set up a blind where turkeys are likely to pitch off a roost, and
return to it toward evening (where legal hunting hours apply). Or, find a travel route
connecting loafing and feeding areas. You’ll see for yourself if you watch a little TV and
let Ralph and Vicki Cianciarulo (Archers Choice), Mike Avery (Outdoor Magazine), or
the Scent-Lok gang take you along for the ride.   The antelope, according to guide and
outfitter Fred Eichler, is the perfect big game if species to take portable blind—hunting to
the next level. “From 10 years of antelope  guiding, l’d say you get the best of both
worlds—a good challenge, yet good odds if you do your homework.”
Eichler offers these tips for the prairies:

*When setting up a blind on a water hole or cattle tank, first determine the side
with the most tracks along the shoreline. To further tip the odds, pile up some
sagebrush on the opposite side to discourage antelope from drinking there. Even an
arrow in the mud with a flapping sock can redirect antelope to your side of the pond.
“*Wind can be a factor, but antelope usually rely more on their eyes than their noses,
especially where there is little human activity.  Although Eichler has harvested antelope
on the same day he’s set up his blind, its usually best to give them time to acclimate to the
setup—as much as four weeks, if possible.

Whitetails are the big leagues of the ground attack game. Start by mastering the
“50/100 Rule. Interestingly, in dense cover where visibility is limited to 50 yards or less,
it’s critical that the blind not be recognizable.  The best tack, according to outfitter extraordinaire Steve Shoop, is building a brush
pile during the off season, then sawing a hole inside and placing the blind within. This hides the blind, all right, but also gives deer
a chance to get used to the brush pile.

Popular TV host Jay Gregory tried blind-hunting last year and arrowed a fine whitetail. “If you’re lucky enough to
hunt an area with cedars, try this,” Gregory says. “Prune just enough boughs to wedge your blind up against the tree trunk. Then
place the boughs on top and in front of the blind. The scent of the fresh [cuttings] seems

to help, and cedars are usually thick enough to obscure the blind. I shot my buck on the
same day I set up my blind!”
Now for the “100” part of the 50/100 Rule.
Ironically, deer tend to ignore a blind when they can spot it from 100 yards or more.
Apparently, they eye it over and, if nothing moves and no scent alerts them, they consider
it a part of the landscape much like, say, an abandoned truck or tractor in a field. ln fact, wherever man-made
structures are common, ground blinds are ideal, according to a noted whitetail guide like Wheeler. Zero in
on windmills, abandoned buildings, farm machinery, center pivot irrigation stations, old tires, hay bales, silos, fences, gates—you
name it. “Deer are already used to something  different in their area,” Wheeler maintains, “and a blind just seems to fit right in.”
Elk are particularly vulnerable to a discriminating blind setup. A few years ago,  Nebraska buddy Doug Tryon shared a secret
mountain-top burn in southern Colorado where elk fed predictably on the lush vegetation. But they showed up only when the wind kissed
their noses, and it was impossible to get below them. So I came prepared and tucked a portable
blind into a clump of junipers. Blind luck!  Cows meandered within feet, and a raghorn wandered with in 10 yards. Soon a nice bull
showed up and took the whole herd with him, but here’s betting he’ll be there again this fall ….

Levi Johnson, from Winnette, Montana, guides elk for Flatwillow Creek Outfitters
considers a ground blind a top tactic for arrowing big bulls:
“Once our bulls gather cows,   there are too many eyes and  noses for the average hunter
to deal with. But setting up over water, especially on a  hot September afternoon,  can simplify a complicated
hunt. ln 2005, Mike Huff  and l watched a nice 300- class 6X6 steer his cows
into a steep draw where the wind was all wrong  for a morning hunt. So we backed out and returned in
the afternoon, set up our blind on a waterhole at the end of the draw and, in the scorching
100 degree heat, watched the bull jump into the pond with a cow and calf next to him.
They were clear up to their bellies when I shot the bull at 45 yards.
“Last fall, I set up my blind near a different waterhole on the second evening of archery

season. I’d tried in vain to hunt this waterhole with a treestand, but the wind was always giving me away. Well, I heard what sounded like
hooves pounding turf, and when I peered out of my window I saw about 20 cows and a big 7×7 heading straight for me. I let all of the elk
drink, and the bull was within easy bow range when my arrow found its mark.”

Johnson’s keys to hunting elk with ground blinds;

*Since elk don’t seem too bothered by blinds, don’t waste a lot of time brushing them in. In fact, you can hunt out of a blind
the day you set it up over a waterhole.
*Always stake your blind down no matter the weather. In Western states like Montana, it can be calm one second and a tornado the next.
*Open only the windows you intend to shoot out of, and leave the others shut tight; the less light inside the blind the better.
Stay calm and wait for a good shot.  When Johnson’s friends watched the video of last year’s hunt, they wondered why it took
him so long to shoot. The longer you let a bull relax at a waterhole, the better the results. Be patient. Resist the urge to leave the
blind for any reason. Stay put and stay tuned.
Mule deer, like the one whitetail expert Tod Graham is posing with above, can be had
for the right price The price is mainly scouting for details. “Glass fields early and late to
locate a worthy buck, figure out his bedding area with different winds, and take good
notes Graham says. “Once you see a buck use the same trail twice, you can kill him
with a blind. The third time’s the charm.  “I don’t worry much about cover, because
it usually doesn’t exist in good muley country.

Just put your blind where you can get off a good shot—even in the middle of a field.
Mulies must think it’s a hay bale the farmer has relocated because they don’t veer
around it. I remember telling this to my guide in Alberta last year. I’d suggested we
set up my portable blind on the downwind side of a wild oat field where a big buck

was hanging out with a bachelor group of six other bucks. The guide chuckled at my suggestion, but l got the last laugh when he
helped me drag 195 inches of muley antlers back to his truck.”
Drew H. Butterwick, Double Bull pro staffer and host of Art of Deception (Men’s Channel), loves bowhunting black bears out
of a portable ground blind. “Close contact is why we bowhunt, and a blind can put you in the heart of the action,” he says. “But blinds
are superior to treestands for bear hunting. It is easier to intercept ’staging’ bruins that
hang back from a bait as darkness  approaches. And you get a 360-degree view that usually allows you to see under tree
branches that would otherwise obstruct  your vision from an elevated stand. l also believe you can do a better job of judging
bears at eye level. Last and maybe not least, mosquitoes and blackflies can be kept to a minimum – the shoot through camouflage
netting on my Matrix model acts as bug netting.”

Final footnote; While bears don’t associate blinds with danger, they are inquisitive creatures and could do some
serious damage if you don’t remove the blind after each day’s hunt.

lf an African safari is on your crosshairs, Butterwick recommends stowing away a  portable blind in your luggage.“A moveable
pop-up blind offers many more options than pits and fixed setups,” he says. “The wind is always shifting, and swapping sides of a
waterhole really increases the odds. Portable  concealment can mean the difference  between no shot and a record-class animal.”

THE ART OF BLINDSIDING:
HOW TO SHOOT

Tod Graham hunts exclusively from ground blinds and has blindsided more than 20
Pope and Young whitetails. Learn from his proven shooting tips;
*Practice drawing your bow inside the blind to gauge how much clearance you need for bow limbs and arrows.
*Always double-check the gap between  the window opening and your sight pins. If you don’t rehearse the draw, you could end up
missing the window and shooting the wall.

Visualize where the shots are most likely to occur; you’ll probably be right more

times than not. Position your chair carefully; Graham likes to shoot at a 45edegree angle to the window.
* Practice shooting arrows out ofa blind, including through the netting, especially if you aren’t used to shooting from a sitting or —
kneeling position.
* Always use a rangefinder if time permits; depth perception is affected by the netting.

For ideal blind placement, avoid a rising and setting sun in your face. Also, setting
up in the shade improves your ability to see through netting.
Use a bow holder, such as the one Double Bull Archery markets, to keep your bow
in a handy position. (You may have to be quicker on the draw from the ground than
from a treestand)
*Practice shooting from inside the blind at different distances, angles and times of
day. Be sure to dress in hunting garb.  The dark interior of a ground blind reduces the amount of light available to your
sight pins. You may need a larger peep and possibly a light (check local regulations).
•Blinds can often accommodate two hunters. Practice together ahead of time to avoid the proverbial Chinese fire drill.

Archived By
www.ARCHERYTALK.com
All Rights Reserved

0 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 5 (0 votes, average: 0.00 out of 5)
You need to be a registered member to rate this post.
Loading...

Published by archerchick on 05 Jan 2011

Fun With Draw Length ~By Richard Combs

BOWHUNTING WORLD
October 2006

Home Bow Mechanic- Fun With Draw Length
by Richard Combs

Archers are often advised to let their sight pins “float,” or wander over ,
the bull’s-eye, and let the precise moment of release come as a surprise.
The subconscious, or so goes the theory, is constantly attempting to center the
sights on the target, and any conscious attempt to center the sights or time the
release will result in flinching, punching the release, target panic, or other accuracy-robbing problems.

This approach works very well for a great many bowhunters, but it is based on
the major assumption that it is impossible to hold a bow steady. Bowhunters are not machines, of course, and holding a bow immobile for any period of time, shot after shot, probably is impossible. On the other hand, it is certainly possible to hold a bow steady for short periods, or (if
you can’t buy the notion of complete steadiness, to at least minimize the size
of the wobble. Look at it however you like, but holding a bow steadier is a very good thing for accuracy.

A major factor in that steadiness is correct draw length. lf you find that you have a difficult time keeping your sight pin on a 3-inch bull’s-eye at 20 yards, and if you are not pulling a draw weight that is too heavy for you, there is a very good chance that the problem is incorrect draw length. More often than not, incorrect draw length means a draw length that is too long. The conventional explanation for this is that archers tend to stretch their draw lengths to get greater speeds. As a general rule, one additional inch in draw length generates almost 10 fps in arrow speed. Competitive 3-D shooters, in particular, often attempt to maximize speed to flatten trajectory, and even bowhunters who do not shoot 3-D competitively have been influenced by those who do.

No doubt there is some truth to all this, but over the years I’ve observed that beginning bowhunters, including those who have only a vague idea what 3-D shooting is all about and who are unaware of the relation between draw length and arrow speed, still have a strong tendency to shoot at excessively long draw lengths. For whatever reason, selecting the correct draw length
seems to be a learned and even slightly unnatural thing.

A long overdue trend in recent years has been to back off on draw length.
With today’s more efficient bows, many bowhunters-and some 3-D shooters—
have discovered that they can achieve as much speed as they want without resorting to longer draw lengths. In any case, smart hunters have always been willing to trade a little speed for greater accuracy. While it is certainly possible to over compensate and move to a draw length
that is a little too short, most top shooters agree that a too short draw length is
preferable to a too long one. How critical is it to achieve precision in draw length? The better shots of my acquaintance, including the most serious 3-D competitors, have a draw length tolerance of
a quarter-inch. Anything shorter or longer than that is immediately noticeable, and they will make adjustments.

Draw Length And Draw Weight
Holding the bow steadier is not the only reason the correct draw length is
important. We mal<e reference to draw length and draw weight as separate characteristics—-which they are—but they are not unrelated. It shouldn’t be surprising that the same draw weight will
be perceived differently at different draw lengths. imagine holding your bow at full draw from a position as far back as you can reach. A draw length that is too long increases the difficulty of holding the weight comfortably, which is one reason the bow is more difficult to hold steady at longer draw lengths. The difference is less noticeable in the case of a too short draw length, but holding bow at full draw from a position in front of the optimum anchor point is also
more difficult. And either position can increase the likelihood of the arm or shoulder problems that plague too many bowhunters.
Perceived draw weight aside, it is difficult to achieve proper and consistent shooting form outside the parameters of correct draw length is a much greater tendency for the string to slap the bow arm. For purely anatomical reasons, this can be a chronic problem for some bowhunters, but excessive draw length is often a major factor. For years I watched a hunting buddy struggle with the problem. He bought custom grips, purchased bows with very high brace heights, modified his stance to an extremely open position, and experimented with some difficult and unusual shooting forms. Finally he tried a draw length that was nearly two inches shorter and the problem disappeared.

Among the more pernicious inconsistencies in shooting form is the tendency to creep forward from the wall before release. Pros have come up with all sorts of antidotes to this, including creep tuning and stops on rests and cams. Clearly incorrect draw length will magnify the problem. Not only is it initially less comfortable to hold a bow at full draw when draw length is off, but the arm, shoulder, and back become fatigued more quickly at improper draw lengths. Fatigue is a major factor in creep.

WHEN THE RIGHT DRAW LENGTH IS WRONG
You might assume that draw length is draw length – that if your optimum draw length is 28 inches on one bow, then it should be 28 inches on any bow. That is conventional thinking, but the folks at Spot-Hogg are not very good at thinking conventionally, and as they so often do, they have a different idea. As Spot-Hogg’s Cabe Johnson recently observed, differences in axle-to-axle length can make a significant difference in optimum draw length. The reason is that shorter bows have a more acute string angle at full draw than do longer bows.

Assume for instance, that you draw your string back to touch the tip of your nose at full draw, with two bows one short and one long. The distance between grip and nock point may be the same on both bows, but the distance between the riser and the string where it touches the nose will be different because of the different string angles. The tendency will be to change the shooting form to compensate- to modify the head angle, change the anchor point, extend or bend the bow arm
more. Those adjustments will probably decrease the ability to hold the bow steady and increase discomfort, not to mention reinforce inconsistencies in shooting form. The bottom line is that,
contrary to conventional thinking, there is no “right” draw length for a given individual. The optimum draw length will depend in part on the bow.

Adjust Draw
Many—though by no means all—compound bow designs offer a range of draw length adjustment accomplished by moving the end of the string to one of several different posts on the cam. Often
the range is three inches, with changes in half-inch increments. With other bows, changing draw length requires changing modules on the cam. However these adjustments are made, they may
have slight effects on let off or bow efficiency, but any loss in these areas will be more than compensated for by the advantages of shooting at the correct draw length. In most cases the bow will have to be pressed to make these changes. Changing draw length will usually require that the bow be returned. (In some cases, simply pressing the bow will require that it be returned.)
For more precise adjustments, strings or cables can be shortened by twisting. Lengthening the string lengthens the draw, and shortening the string shortens it.

The opposite is true for cables:Lengthening cables shortens the draw and vice-versa. Manufacturers of modern, high quality strings usually warn against shortening a string more than a quarter inch or so by twisting, but usually this is enough, especially if done in conjunction with moving the end loop
to another post, or changing modules. One way to reduce the number of twists necessary to accomplish the desired change is to adjust both strings and cables. To shorten the draw length, for
instance, untwist the cable a few turns, then twist the string a few turns.

Draw Length Alternatives
Repeatedly pressing the bow and making adjustments until the precise draw length is arrived at can be a frustrating and time-consuming affair, and not every bowhunter owns a press. Fortunately, there are better ways to experiment with draw length. For starters, the length of many release aids can be adjusted. Almost all wrist caliper releases are easily adjusted. You might object that adjusting the release aid is not really changing draw length, and you would be correct. Shortening the length of a release aid does move the anchor point forward, though. In fact, it accomplishes
all the objectives of shortening the draw length, without the disadvantage of reducing arrow speed. I’m all in favor of maintaining, or even increasing, arrow
speed if it can be done without a downside. ln effect, achieving the proper
anchor point without shortening the power stroke of the bow is a free lunch.
The only caveat, of course, is that the release itself should not be uncomfortably short. Many bowhunters touch the trigger with their fingertips anyway, which is not the best form. In that case,
shortening the release aid is a “twofer,” providing a better anchor point and a positioning of the finger on the trigger that is less likely to contribute to punching the release or even target panic.

Some bowhunters looking for extra 10 fps or so of speed might find that by shortening their release aid, they can actually extend their draw length without changing their anchor point. Don’t need an extra 10fps of speed? Shorten the release aid, extend the draw length, and back off on the draw weight by five or six pounds. Speed will be about the same, but you’ll be pulling and holding significantly less weight.

Bowhunters who feel that their release aid is already as short as it should be can switch to a forward trigger design release. By using a release aid with a trigger farther forward, and much closer to the jaws of the release, it is possible to shorten the release without changing the position of the trigger relative to the wrist caliper to another to another shorter style of release aid.

A similar option is to alter the size of the string loop. (If you’re not using a string loop, you should be) As with the release aid making the loop shorter will move the anchor point farther forward, while making it longer will move it back. If a longer loop makes for a better anchor point, then lengthen the draw length by changing string posts or modules, or by untwisting the string a few turns then shorten the loop. Perceived draw length will be unchanged, but real draw length will be longer with a longer power stroke and more speed.

Finally, bowhunters shouldn’t overlook the effect of grip on draw length.
We’re talking an optimum range of quarter inch in draw length for most shooters. The difference between a wrist high grip, in which the riser touches only a small bit of skin between the thumb and forefinger, and a low grip, in which it is in contact with much of the hand, can easily make a difference of half an inch.

Archived By
www.ARCHERYTALK.com
All Rights Reserved

0 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 5 (0 votes, average: 0.00 out of 5)
You need to be a registered member to rate this post.
Loading...

Published by archerchick on 05 Jan 2011

Western Deer -Double Header ~By Brandon Ray


Bowhunting World
October 2002
Western Deer Double-Header
High Plains River bottoms Offer the Best Of Both Worlds In Trophy Whitetail And Mule Deer Hunting

Which do you prefer, Coke or Pepsi? Ford or Chevy? Realtree or Mossy Oak?
When it comes to hunting deer in many western states, you’ll face a similar selection dilemma, Whitetails or Mule Deer?

In many western states a deer tag is good for one buck of either species, but not both. Before you make a decision on which species to target, consider the landscape and the hunting tactics that work best. Time of year is another important factor.
Story and Photos by Brandon Ray

Over the past two hunting seasons I’ve had the good fortune to draw deer
tags in eastern Colorado and eastern Wyoming. The landscape is very similar in
both locations. Cottonwood trees with trunks as big around as tractor tires follow the course
of small creeks and rivers across the eastern plains of both of these western states. Head-high willows and Russian olive trees crowd the banks of the waterways even more. But
these life—giving riparian zones are surrounded by endless miles of rolling hills, fragrant sage
and yellow grasses that wave constantly in a strong western breeze.

For the most part, whitetails thrive along the river beneath the tall trees while the mulies do
just fine in the open sage and steep coulees. Tagging a whitetail in the brushy river bottoms
calls for stand hunting. During the November rut, calling and rattling will increase your
chances. lust a couple hundred yards away from the towering cottonwoods, spot and stalk
is the best technique to arrow a big mule deer in the open. Ultimately the question is: would you
rather sit and wait or make something happen?

In November, 2000 I decided to focus on rutting whitetails in eastern Colorado with the
help of outfitter Chris Cassidy at Alpine Outfitters. Less than one year later, in September of 2001, the focus would shift to wide-racked mule deer in eastern Wyoming. My host for that trip,
Jimmy Fontenot of Wildlife Connections, assured me that early season was a great time to shoot a big mule deer with a bow. Pleasant weather and seeing lots of bucks in the open sold me on the September dates. Both hunts proved that western deer hunting can offer something for any deer hunter.

WESTERN
WHITETAILS
The 2000 season marked my third year to bowhunt whitetails on Colorados eastern
plains with outfitter Chris Cassidy. Cassidy leases some prime properties on the plains and
he specializes in helping bowhunters score on big whitetails. I asked Cassidy, a man with 13
years of experience hunting Colorado`s plains for his advice on how to bow—kill a big whitetail in a western river bottom setting. “Hunting from treestands during the rut the first few weeks in November, is by far the best way to score. The bucks move into the river bottoms in search of does during the rut. This concentrates them a little more as they come in and move up and down the river corridors looking for receptive does.” Each year Cassidy limits the harvest of mature bucks on his ranches and encourages his clients to pass up younger bucks to let them reach their full potential. It’s a plan that pays off every year. Cassidy’s success with bowhunters on the plains runs right at 75 percent. with near 100 percent shot opportunities. Most of the bucks his clients shoot measure 135 inches or more. The biggest buck taken in recent years scored over 170 inches.

My November. 2000 Colorado whitetail hunt ended the same day it began. As good as that sounds, the hunt was far from easy. l spent about 12 hours in a treestand overlooking several well—worn trails before punching my arrow into a behemoth—sized buck in the waning minutes of last light. The waiting was made even more challenging because of the numbing cold. When l got on stand before sunrise the temperature was 10 degrees below zero. The warmest it got all day was 10 above zero. While the temperatures were bone-chilling, the rut was in full swing. Throughout the
day l watched several bucks chase does through the crunchy snow near my stand.

Late in the day. when l was about to climb down from my stand. I noticed movement to the south. A good buck was crossing a creek, but well out of bow range. l grabbed the grunt call, chipped the ice from inside the plastic mouthpiece and began giunting. loud. At first l couldn’t see the buck in the trees to even know if he had heard the sound, but then he appeared on my side of the creek, 150 yards away, staring in my direction. I let out another chorus of three deep grunts. He was coming my way. At 60 yards he passed behind a cluster of trees and I seized the chance to raise my binoculars and study his rack again. I could count 10 points. I dropped the binoculars and clamped
my release onto the bowstring. At 30 yards I jerked my bow to full power. He stopped for an instant, then started to walk again just as I let the arrow go. The arrow impacted with a loud CRACK! I watched through my binoculars as the 250-pound 10-point took a few steps, then slumped into the snow.

Stand hunting during the rut is a very effective whitetail tactic in any western river bottom. Set up stands in travel corridors and areas with lots of buck sign, scrapes and rubs, and be patient. Be prepared for long days and very cold temperatures and pack a grunt call and rattling horns to lure out-of—range bucks closer to your stand. That very tactic helped me arrow my personal best bow whitetail.

PRAIRIE MULE DEER
Outfitter Jimmy Fontenot has been guiding mule deer hunters in eastern Wyoming for the
past eight years on a 65,000—acre ranch. In those years of guiding, Fontenot’s bow clients
have experienced 100 percent shooting opportunities, and only one archer has left the
ranch without taking a buck. “A realistic goal for archers on my hunt is a buck scoring between 140 and 150 inches. A patient hunter might get a chance at a much bigger buck. Our biggest bow-killed buck scored about 180 inches.

“Optics are everything on this hunt. We start each morning glassing from the vehicle or a high vantage point. I like glassing from the truck at tirst light because it allows us to move quickly and cover more ground than if we were on foot. Once a buck is spotted we will watch him hed down then try a stalk. In the evenings we watch bucks come out of the ravines and coulees, then try to use
cover or breaks in the land to get close enough for a shot. On good days an archer will get one stalk in the morning and another in the afternoon.”

The first day of my September, 2001. Wyoming mule deer hunt was as good a of hunting as you could ask for. I saw 33 bucks ranging in size from young fork horns to a couple of Wide 4x4s that would make any archer drool. Early season means bucks are usually in bachelor groups and they are not nearly as spooky as they become later in the season. The bunched-up bucks are easy to
spot, spending lots of time in the open, but they are tough to stalk. Late in the afternoon
l attempted a stalk on a symmetrical 4×4 that we guessed would score about 160 inches,
but he was accompanied by six other bucks and I never got closer than 100 yards.

At noon on the second day of my hunt I learned a valuable lesson. You can’t shoot a
big buck if your bow is in the truck. Sounds simple, right’? Here’s what happened. From one of the main ranch roads l spotted a respectable 3×3 buck bedded in the shade of a row of willow trees. The tall willows lined a shallow ditch and provided the only cover for a quarter mile. The buck under the willows was too small to shoot this early in the hunt. but I decided to loop around with my camera and take some photos.

When I belly crawled through the sage and up to the lip of the ditch I got an unexpected surprise. Bedded less than 20 yards away and staring right at me was the same big -4×4 buck from the previous afternoon!
He was lying in a shallow depression that we couldn’t see from the road. I was aimed with only a telephoto lens and the buck obviously knew that. He stood for one long minute then casually walked out to about 40 yards and stood next to the 3×3 buck. I cranked-off a roll of film at both bucks. but wished for my Mathews bow instead of my Canon camera.

Finally. the two bucks galloped across the prairie. I spent most of the afternoon trying to
re-stalk that buck. but he was super alert and I never got within range. Lesson: Even if you
can see only one bedded buck, chances are good that during he early season he’ll have
at least one partner with him.

Late in the afternoon on day three I got a second look at old white-faced 4X4 buck
in a dark ravine. l passed this same buck on the first morning. but decided now that he
was plenty big enough. A short stalk and one long bow shot later and my tag was filled.
This time the camera stayed in the truck during the stalk and I was all business! The
buck’s live weight was about 225 pounds and his yellow-colored rack sported shreds
of dried velvet dangling off the beams. The date was September l7.

Western prairies might seem bleak and lifeless at first glance. with barely enough
cover to hide a jackrabbit. but find a stretch of tall trees and shallow water winding
across these plains and you`ll likely find bowhunting gold. Whether your passion is
rutting whitetails or early season mule deer, western waterways have something for
every bowhunter. The toughest part is deciding which species to hunt.

Archived By
www.ARCHERYTALK.com
All Rights Reserved

0 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 5 (0 votes, average: 0.00 out of 5)
You need to be a registered member to rate this post.
Loading...

Published by archerchick on 31 Dec 2010

Get Aggresive For Elk – By Jeff Copeland


BOWHUNTING WORLD
October 2002

GET AGGRESIVE FOR ELK
By Jeff Copeland
In the pre-rut, before the bugles begin and the weather is uncooperative, sometimes you just have to go get em!

My heart rocketed into my throat as the beautiful 6×6 strode from behind the brush broadside at just 25 yards. He was following a couple of cows as they fed toward the point of a ridge. I knew something had to happen quickly because the gentle breeze tickling my left ear would be swirling around the point of a ridge. I knew something had to happen quickly because the gentle breeze tickling my left ear would be swirling around the point that the cows were headed for; but for this moment, there were too many unobstructed eyes for me to lift my bow and come to full draw. In the past few years, I’d had this dream thousands of times, but on September 3, 1999, it wasn’t a dream. It was a reality

This was my first trip to New Mexico to
hunt elk with Ray Milligan and Milligan
Brand Outfitters. Our plan was to hunt the
first week of the 1999 archery elk season,
thinking that the weather would be warm and
dry. This would allow us Lone Star flat-landers to sit comfortably in a treestand overlooking the area’s isolated watering holes and
take our pick from the parade of bulls that would get thirsty in the evenings.
That plan looked good on the drawing board»—and it probably would have turmed out exactly that way had l been left out of the
equation. l firmly believe I have personally been responsible for ending more droughts than El Nino.
True to form, we arrived in the Milligan camp to mid-40—degree temperatures and a pouring rain that turned to sleet as
me day progressed. Rain was predicted as far as the forecast extended and we knew we were in for one tough hunt.
Needless to say, Ray informed us that sitting over a waterhole would be a waste of time.

One of the benefits of being an avowed weather jinx is that you learn to be a more adaptable hunter. If I hadn’t learned
to be adaptable, a dozen arrows would have lasted me through the entire decade of the ’90s. So,
as we sat around the dinner table that first night, I tied to be the optimist.
“Elk are smart, but they’re not whitetails,”
I told my hunting partners. “This country is conducive to stalking and it’ll be just like hunting exotics back home in Texas.
If we can find them, we can kill them.”

Topping a ridge at about 5 p.m. on the second day of our hunt, I
spotted a really nice bull herding two cows down the mountain in front of me.
This trio was eventually joined by about 20 additional elk on the edge of a
meadow. I glassed the bull with my Leica 10X42s as the elk began feeding in my direction.
The oak brush-covered ridge I was on ran perpendicular to the mountain that the elk came
from and bordered the meadow where they were feeding.

With more than two hours of legal hunting time left, and the elk totally oblivious to my presence while feeding in my direction, I
already had my tag on this bull and my fork in one of his juicy steaks. However, as is often the case, it wasn’t meant to be. A lone black
bear emerged from the brush between us, and the elk herd soon hoofed it back up the mountain, destination unknown.

Not quite sure what to do, I stayed put, cursing the bear until the sun fell behind the mountain where the elk had made their escape. Then, remembering the huge open valley that lay behind the ridge to my right, I
thought maybe the elk had dropped off into it to feed. As I eased quietly around the ridge glassing the draws and headers for brown fur and calcium, I finally reached the edge of the valley. Sure enough, the elk were there, feeding away from me at about 250 yards. With sunset (New Mexico’s end of legal hunting time) only five minutes away, I decided not
to risk pushing the herd out of the area.

The next morning my enthusiasm woke me up before Scotty Wilson, the camp cook, even sounded reveille. At daylight, though, I spotted my herd and they had already returned to the security of the oak brush-covered
mountainside and were browsing their way up toward the dark timber, where they would likely spend the day. Knowing the elk were gone until evening, I used the morning as an opportunity to familiarize myself with the terrain on the side of the ridge where the herd had been feeding at sunset the day before.

Bear or no bear, this time I had a plan. That afternoon, the sky was clear and temperatures had warmed a bit. I arrived at my perch atop the brushy ridge to see if I could spot the herd that I had put to bed that morning. Around 4:30 p.m., I heard a bugle and recognized the voice from the day before. Though I couldn’t see them, over the next hour or so, I could tell from the cow calls and
bugles that the herd was moving down the other side of the ridge again. I knew where

the herd was headed, and because I knew the lay of the land, I had time to get between them and where they were going. I gathered my gear and began slipping around the ridge to find my bull. As I cautiously eased through the brush, I spotted a mule deer doe and had to wait for her to feed into the brush so I could get by without spooking her. Once I was past, the bull bugled
again and I spotted a cow less than 100 yards away. Just as I had hoped, they were feeding on the ridge that ran above the big valley and the wind was quartering from them to me.

When I figured out exactly where the rest of the herd was, I dropped off into the draw and inched forward until I could just peel; over the edge of the ridge the elk were on. As I did so, I saw a cow, a calf, another cow, and the 6×6 bull come by at 25 yards. My Bushnell rangefinder was tucked into the
cargo pocket on my right pant leg and there was no time to retrieve it. The cows fed on the side of the ridge and the bull was about to follow. His head went behind a ponderosa stump and I came to full draw. He was walking, quartering slightly away when a cow called from behind him. As he paused to
look back, my subconscious shouted “50!’ while my pin hit the crease of his front shoulder and my Mathews Black Max sent the Easton A/C/C 371 streaking at 303 fps down a collision course with the bull’s heart.

At impact. the bull bucked and kicked with both back feet as he bolted 15 yards before
piling up near a downed pine. The rest of the herd never had a clue what was going on and I
had to wait for them to feed off of the ridge. When they were gone, I ran over to put my
hands on the bull’s massive beams. I sat in awe of his beauty as I looked through his tines
at the sun setting behind the mountains across the valley, and thought about all the times
before I had played this game of cat and mouse, only to come out on the losing side.
This was my first pre-rut elk hunt and it taught me a lot. In the first couple weeks of September,
there isn’t a lot of bugling like later in the month As the week progresses, you begin to
hear more bugles in the early morning and late evening, but still not a lot of roaring back and
forth like you hear in the peak of the rut. As a result, you may find cow calling is a lot more
common and effective in getting a response. From a half-hour after sunrise to a half-hour
before sunset, cow calls may be the only elk vocalizations you will hear.

Many hunters like to go elk hunting in the rut so they can hear the bulls bugling,
and I’ll admit I enjoy that spine-tingling whistle as much as the next guy. However,
as a bowhunter, when I go elk hunting, I like to kill a bull, and it has been my
personal experience that the early season is the time where I have the best chance
at that. I can hear bulls bugle on the Outdoor Channel in my living room.

The other big difference between hunting this time frame and the rut is that when a bull
answers your calling, he typically won’t be headed in your direction. In the early season,
you can listen for bugles to determine the areas holding the elk. If you cow call and have
a bull answer, chances are he isn’t coming to you, but he will stop what he is doing and look
in your direction. When you have a bull answer, don`t continue calling like you would during the rut.
Instead, try to home-in on the bull’s location, moving to where you think you will be able to see the bull, and decide if
he is the one you want to take. If you think you are getting close to the bull’s location but
you still haven’t spotted him, then it’s time to call again to see if he is still in the area.

One thing about hunting the Southwest during the first week of September is that typically,
the mature herd bulls are not the ones out gathering up cows. Usually, the younger,
satellite bulls gather cows and do the majority of the bugling that time of year. The big
boys are usually alone, but in the vicinity, thrashing brush, making wallows and generally
keeping watch on the younger bulls while preparing for the combat to come.

When you spot a decent bull with a herd of cows, it might be worth your while to glass
the surrounding country before setting your sights on him. Such was the case with a bull I
shot last year, on another trip to New Mexico with Ray Milligan. Once again the hunting
was tough but for totally different reasons. Last year, the Southwest was in a terrible
drought and wildfires were rampant. Fortunately, the area I was to hunt was out of the
bum zone, but it was hot and very dry.

Arriving full of anticipation about ambushing at waterholes, we were in for yet another disappointment.
The drought was so severe that ponds and water tanks holding the limited
water were continually visited by the numerous bears that inhabit north central New Mexico
—not good when you’re after elk or mule deer. The parched terrain made still-hunting
difficult and slow stalking more critical than ever. It was a tough hunt but there are lots of elk
in the country Milligan Brand has leased. I spotted several good bulls and actually passed
up shot opportunities at three different ones in the 240-265-inch class. I was determined to get
something bigger than the 280 I shot in 1999.

The last morning of my hunt, I decided to go back into an area where I had seen several
different groups of elk. By that time in my hunt, I figured if I couldn’t spot a good bull, I
might be able to till my tag with a cow so I could take home some meat. I arrived in the
area I wanted to hunt just as dawn was breaking. The air was cool and crisp and I heard
bugles in several directions as I approached the top of the ridge where I wanted to glass. Of all
the bugles I heard, there was one in particular that caught my attention. It was a deep guttural
growl, followed by an ear-piercing whistle that seemed to linger in the air for an eternity. I had
to get a look at the critter making this sound.

As the early morning light altered its way into the canyon I was overlooking, I began to
make out the silhouettes of elk. My Leicas focused in on a nice 6×5 that I had passed a
couple of days earlier. I knew he wasn’t making the sound that had piqued my interest.
When it got light enough to see well, I made a couple of cow calls. Just as I finished the second
mew, another bull answered. He was an old herd bull that was now thrashing brush
directly below me about 300 yards from the herd which held the 6×5.

When the 6×5 bugled, I cow-called and the old bull stepped out of the brush nearly
causing me to swallow my diaphragm. He was a massive 6×6 that would dwarf the bull I
shot the year before. To add insult to injury he looked in my direction and bugled in my
face just for good measure. As he walked into the edge of the meadow, the 6×5 quickly.
drove his cows across the valley, up the opposite ridge and out of sight over its crest, leaving me
and the big guy to fulfill our own destinies in the quiet New Mexico morning light.

After an hour of playing cat-and-mouse with the monarch as he demolished oak brush
and ripped apart pine trees with his long ivory tipped tines, I managed to get around him so
the wind was right. In another 45 minutes I finally got ahead of him and was waiting at full
draw when he stepped into an opening between two patches of brush. My arrow
found its mark and 75 yards later I was admiring the regal beast laying on the point of a ridge
with the sun glinting off his massive beams. In the early season, before the bulls really
get fired up, many times success can hinge on the weather. When the weather tums nasty
making waterholes ineffective, you can still fill your tag if you know what to do when you
have to go get ’em! >>—>

Archived By
www.ARCHERYTALK.com
All Rights Reserved

0 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 5 (0 votes, average: 0.00 out of 5)
You need to be a registered member to rate this post.
Loading...

Published by archerchick on 31 Dec 2010

TAGGED OUT – By Steven Tisdale & Brandon Ray


BOWHUNTING
October 2002

TAGGED OUT
by Steven Tisdale & Brandon Ray

To Shoot all five of the North American deer species: whitetail,
Coues whitetail, mule deer, Columbian blacktail and a Sitka blacktail,
during the course of any bowhunter’s lifetime, is a tremendous accomplishment.
To shoot all five deer species in less than a year, with three of the
five deer species taken on do-it-yourself hunts, would be phenomenal.
As one friend put it,”Now that’s the sort of thing you should write an article about!”

Texas bowhunter Steven Tisdale did just that during the 2000 hunting season. Tisdale, 37 years old
today is the owner of Collision King Repair Center, an auto body shop in the town of Lubbock.
He has been a bowhunter for 17 years. He is like most bowhunters,
Tisdale works hard all year at his business and spends his free time with his
wife and two daughters, but come fall he finds time to slip away on the weekends to
pursue his passion, bowhunting. While the dusty panhandle town of
Lubbock is hardly at the center of great bowhunting country, there is good hunting for
both mule deer and whitetails within a couple of hours drive of the city.

Tisdale’s first taste of success came on a mule deer hunt in eastern New Mexico.
Tisdale gained permission to hunt a private ranch in the rolling sand dunes and
farm country found on the Texas/New Mexico border. Here are the details of that hunt, and others, in his own words.

Mule Deer New Mexico and Texas

Looking out my pickup window at the sun sinking down on the horizon,
I calculated that I had two or three more areas left to glass before
darkness would erase the landscape. An unproductive early season
tag had been neatly folded in my wallet for the last three months and
I was eager for another chance during this late—season, archery—only
hunt. At the base of a tall sand dune, I ditched the truck like I’d done
several times already that afternoon. I climbed the sand dune and poked
my head over the top, being careful not to be skylined. I scanned to
the west and suddenly my glasses were filled.

With a 5×5 mule deer buck less than 150 yards away. I quickly ducked
out of sight and skirted the perimeter, making mental notes of the
buck`s last location.
I slithered through the short shin oak brush and cactus using the
dunes to flank an approach route. When I thought I was getting close
I eased into position and peeked over the closest dune. The buck was
35 yards away, broadside. I drew on him and released, but a hard
crosswind combined with me being winded from the stalk sent the
arrow off course, just grazing the buck’s back. The buck, not knowing
my whereabouts, turned toward me and dropped out of sight in a low
spot. In one fluid motion I nocked a second arrow and drew as the
buck came back into view, topping the sand dune in front of me. At 18
yards I put the arrow into the oncoming buck’s chest. He turned and
ran 75 yards and collapsed within sight.

The last 10 minutes worth of events soaked into my brain as my
heart pounded and sweat ran down my brow. During the past 15 years
I have had some dry spells pursuing big game with a bow. In my
twenties, it was sometimes almost more than my restless, impatient
soul could bear. Sometimes I would be on the verge of picking up a rifle, but an occasional animal taken would quickly bring me back to the realization that it was well worth the effort to hunt only with a bow.

During the drive home I pondered on what I would do for my next hunt, just as many bowhunters would do. I had set aside five days off of work for hunting in the month of January. Visions of thick-beamed, mouse—colored
Coues bucks chasing does in the colorful deserts of Arizona filled my thoughts. I had hunted the sneaky Coues whitetail of the desert Southwest off and on for the last 12 years without success. That would be my next hunt.

(ln addition to Steven’s January mule deer he shot a second, even
larger muley buck in late October on his deer lease in the Texas Panhandle. That buck was also taken by spot—and-stalk hunting in rugged, open canyon country. A 30—yard shot downed that second, wide 5×5 muley buck.)

Coues Whitetail Arizona
Thursday evening after work, I quickly went home, loaded my truck
with gear, kissed the wife and kids goodbye, and headed west. My
plan was to camp out and stay mobile until I found a good place to
aunt. It is common to see mule deer in the lower elevations before
getting into Coues country and that is mostly what I encountered for
the next three days. During the middle of the day I tried to gather
information on hunting areas from the local ranchers, arming myself
with forest maps, a smile and a friendly handshake. After several
encounters their response seemed prerecorded, “You’re trying to get
a mountain whitetail with a bow? Why don’t you go for a muley, lot
more meat and easier to hunt’?” At the end of day four, I made a major
move to an area I had hunted several years earlier—rough terrain and
a good walk in.

Once in the new location my memory was fuzzy at first. A familiar knob
overlooking lots of stalkable terrain Finally registered.
Yes, there it is. I unpacked my optics, got comfortable and began glassing,
picking the desert apart. The Zeiss were scrutinizing hunks of land-
one tree, one rock, one cactus at a time. Veteran Coues deer hunters
will tell you that glassing is the key to success. At the first possible
light let the binoculars be your legs, they say, reaching into faraway
shadows of pinions and brush. Be patient.

One spike buck and a few does was all I found that morning. Further down in a different bowl I saw one doe, then another and another. From a half mile away I watched several more deer filter out of a low spot in a far-away crease. I decided to investigate. When I reached the low spot where all those deer were coming out, I noticed a small natural pond with about a dozen ducks on it. “Could this be the only water source in this area?” I thought to myself. As I
approached the water’s edge the ducks lifted off. There were heavy trails
leading to the water with tiny hoof prints in the mud. Two sizable pinion
pines near the pond would serve as a makeshift ground blind. As I got situated
in my new ground blind the ducks landed back on the pond confirming
what I’d suspected. Water was scarce.

Throughout that day six different deer came in for a drink, including a small 6-point buck. They all left quickly after getting a drink, as this is a land filled with mountain lions and even an occasional jaguar. I had to be back at work the next day, so reluctantly I left my newly discovered hot spot. During the
10-hour drive home I schemed on how I could return to this oasis before the season ended.

I retumed the following Saturday night, slept five hours in my truck
then made the two-hour trek to the pond equipped with a backpack and_
material better suited for constructing a ground blind. I set up my blind,
trimmed branches, and dug out a seat in the ground. I draped camo
material to keep me hidden in the shadows. It was 40 yards to the water’s edge.

At 1 p.m., I looked up from my book to see a splendid solo buck
approaching the water maybe 75 yards away. His 8 point rack glistened in the midday sunlight. I eased my bow into the ready position, putting tension on the string. He lowered his head to drink while ever so slightly leaning forward. I knew he would not linger after quenching his thirst. I drew, anchored, and settled my 40-yard pin low at his shoulder. The arrow caught the buck solid. After a short recovery I was holding the most beautiful animal of the desert.

Columbian Blacktail California

The biggest dilemma I faced was using my vacation time for my remaining hunts without interfering with my 10 year wedding anniversary in September, My wife Lynn decided to join me on my trip to northern California to hunt Columbian blacktails. In mid August we flew to San Francisco, rented a car and drove north towards Jim Schaafsma’s awesome blacktail hunting operation. Along the way we made stops in Napa Valley to taste wine, sight see and even stayed at a bed and breakfast. I wanted to the trip to be special no only because of my blacktail hunt, but I wanted Lynn to enjoy the trip as well.

The first evening of hunting blacktails found Jim and I staring at a huge 5×5 buck bedded with a small forkhorn. The big buck was colossal in size, pushing the B&C minimums according to Jim. Jim has guided loads of bowhunters to record class bucks and he has personally taken many P&Y blacktails with a bow. A few years earlier, I even shot a decent P&Y buck on my first blacktail hunt with Jim.

The air was hot and steamy and my thin cotton shirt was sweat-drenched by the time I completed the stalk. I closed to within 30 yards but just as I was preparing for the shot the smaller buck saw me and they both ran out of sight. I spend the next several days relocating that same big 5×5 and
attempting stalk after stalk, but I was never able to get a shot. Columbian blacktails are more patternable than their mule deer cousins, similar to whitetails. They hang in the same area day after day. I never got the big 5×5, but I did have several opportunities at other big bucks, including a dandy non-typical that I missed. On the last day of my hunt I shot a respectable buck at range of 25 yards. The date was August 13, the last day of the season in the unit where I was hunting.

Bowhunting early season Columbian blacktails is tough for several reasons. First the temperature is hot and miserable which keeps deer movement to a minimum in daylight hours. The heat also makes hiking and controlling the scent tough on bowhunters. In addition , the , dry conditions make grass underfoot brittle and noisy. Very tough for stalking. When the hunt was over I was very pleased to have a decent set of antlers to bring on the plane ride home. Lynn and I left norther California with fond memories and hopes of returning sometime in the future.

WHITETAIL Texas
For the first day and a half of Texas’ archery-only season, I hunted three different stands. The 90-degree-plus temperatures had deer movement to a minimum. Just a few does were spotted, but no bucks. The scorching heat made me consider another option that had paid off in Arizona,
hunting water.

It was on the second day of the season that I made a midday trip to a waterhole. The plan was to erect a tripod stand in a cluster of hackberry trees near a beaten trail at the stock pond. The timing seemed perfect for a buck to quench its thirst.

By 4p.m. I was seated in the new stand with a slight breeze in my face. A full Scent-Lok suit and scent-eliminating sprays were used to increase my odds. In order to play the wind direction it was necessary that the stand be placed where the afternoon sun beat down right on my face. For this reason, I sat facing slightly away from the trail where the sun wasn’t directly into my eyes.

It was at 5:30 p.m. peering through the sun at the trail, that I first spotted a deer. Due to the blinding sun the buck had drifted into the waterhole undetected. By the time I noticed the movement, the buck was already at the pond, broadside, with his head down drinking. Immediately I knew he was a shooter. By the time I had swiveled my stand around to get in position for a shot, the buck was already leaving the water. Experience from past hunts had taught me that once a deer was finished drinking they wouldn’t stick around for very long. Time was quickly fading away. I jerked the compound bow to full draw and tracked the walking buck’s progress through the mesquites. When the big 8-point stopped in an opening at 33 yards, the arrow was on it’s way. Hit in the spine, the buck dropped immediately. A finishing shot behind the shoulder and it was over.

As I walked up on the fallen buck I was surprised at the rack’s tine length. The tines curved inwards and the beams were longer than expected. Small patches of velvet were still clinging to portions of the rack. The 135 inch, mature 8-point buck became my first ever P&Y whitetail from my home state. What I thought could take me months, had quickly ended on the first weekend of the season. Fantastic, only one deer species to go!

SITKA BLACKTAILS Alaska

It was on November 5th that my Sitka
blacktail hunt began on Prince of Wales
Island. My dad accompanied me on the trip,
which made this final leg of my deer season
even more special. l had two deer tags
in my pocket and my plans were simple.
Shoot the first respectable buck, then hold
out for a bigger buck.

The island was beautiful with rolling,
mountainous terrain and thick, dark forests.
Most of the terrain was so dense that glassing
and spot-and-stalk hunting was difficult.
The primary tactic was driving logging
roads, glassing into openings and along
edges, and trying a stalk if l spotted a buck.
Unfortunately, only does were spotted when
we glassed. Another popular tactic my guide
used was calling with a deer bleat in the
dark, damp forests. We called in several does
using this tactic, but never a buck.

Rainy, damp conditions plagued the first
three days of my trip. After three days of it l
was feeling like l would never dry off. Since
calling and spot-and—stalk hunting had been
only mildly successful, we resorted to still-hunting.
And so on November 7, at 11:30 in the morning, while
slowly cruising through the moss—covered timber, I
spotted a big deer and a glimpse of antler.
This was the first buck sighting of the hunt. At 25 yards, with the
buck broadside, I punched an Easton A/C/C shaft through the
buck’s chest. When I recovered the mature deer I was shocked to
see only one antler. In my rush to shoot I had only seen the buck
from the side, glimpsed multiple points and a thick beam, and shot.
His left antler beam was broken just above the base.


The following day, late in the afternoon,
I shot another buck while still-hunting. At
30 yards, I connected. Typical of Sitka
bucks, this one had a blocky frame with a
handsome cape and antlers stained the color
of rust. His hooves were also oversized. My
guide said that was an adaptation to walking
in the spongy, wet terrain. That buck had the
tip of his right beam broken off, but considering
the bad weather and tough hunting
conditions, I felt fortunate to fill both tags.
My single season deer slam was complete,
and with it I had lots of great memories.
What had started as a normal year of
bowhunting back in January had mushroomed into a full-blown,
year-long obsession of hunting deer with a bow. Every technique
and tactic was required in order to succeed.
There was spot-and—stalk hunting for
mule deer and Columbian blacktails, hunt-
ing over waterholes for whitetails, and even
still-hunting in rain—soaked forests in Alaska
for chunky Sitka blacktails. lt was never
about making a name for myself or trying to
set a record. It was just taking my stick-and-
string deer hunting to a new level. >>—>

Archived By
www.Archerytalk.com
All Rights Reserved

 

Bad Behavior has blocked 800 access attempts in the last 7 days.