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Published by archerchick on 31 Dec 2010

The Golden Rule – By Steve Flores


Bow & Arrow Hunting
August 2009

THE GOLDEN RULE
If you fail to follow this important hunting standard, then consider it game over.
By Steve Flores

I recall one season in particular
when I somehow managed to
outfit myself with all of the latest
gear. I had the most popular bow
on the market, the most effective
camo pattern, an ultra—light treestand,
and a truckload of confidence to boot.
Yeah, I was going to be a whitetail-
killing machine. Brimming with
optimism, I set out to do some
extensive pre-season scouting. After
finding a suitable location, I hung my
stand and counted the days until the
start of the season.

Opening morning arrived and it
wasn’t long before I was up to my
fanny pack in action. With a
substantial amount of does and
smaller bucks frequenting the area, I
just knew the approaching rut would
eventually lure an old “mountain
monarch” within easy bow range.
There was little doubt I was going to
fill my tag and be the envy of all my
friends. Or so I thought.

in agriculture settings, pre-season scouting can actually be advantageous, simply because most of the observations are done from long-distances. However, don't dismiss the need for up-close scouting in these areas, which should still occur during the off-season months.


Eager to taste success, I hunted
every day that I could, regardless of
weather conditions or phase of the rut.
As a result, my enthusiastic approach
quickly turned my “dream season” into
a living nightmare. Within a matter of
days, deer sightings dropped off the
map and I unexpectedly found myself
searching for greener grass. However,
any attempt to duplicate that initial
opening-day stand site only brought
about the same result—a promising
location that soon fizzled out, never
really living up to the hype. When the
season finally did come to a close, I
had little to show for my efforts other
than an unfilled tag and a look of
bewilderment on my tired, beaten face.

So, what happened? Where did I
go wrong? I mulled over those
questions for quite some time, deter-
mined to find the answers before
velvet was shed and another season
began. After much deliberation, I
realized the answer lied in one
irrefutable rule—just one. Consequently,
if I considered this rule in
every decision I made in the deer
woods, success would likely beat down
my door instead of darting away like a
flushed rabbit.

So, what is this “golden rule”? The
answer: Never let the deer know they
are being hunted. That°s it! Plain and
simple. Now, that might sound a bit
elementary at first, but it isn’t until
you apply this straightforward idiom
to your current hunting strategy that
you start to get an idea about just how
tricky it can be to live up to. However,
nothing will have a greater affect on
your bowhunting success than learning
how to master this one commandment.
Because, regardless of everything
else you do, the tactics you employ or
the rules you follow, if you break this
one, it`s game over.

POST-SEASON SCOUTING
The first mistake many bowhunters
fall victim to is ill-timed scouting
efforts. Even though intentions are
good, the consequences often lead to a
season that doesn’t quite live up to its
expectations. While the traditional
time frame for scouting seems to be
just prior to the start of the season,
there are many problems associated
with this approach.

First and foremost is the fact that
“pre-season” scouting more or less
sounds the alarm that hunting season
is near. After months of uninterrupted
behavior, deer are unexpectedly
bombarded with human intrusion into
sensitive core areas. This increase in
activity basically kicks them out of
their off season stupor and alerts them
to the fact that it’s that time of year
again. Soon after this initial disruption,
the start of the season brings
a legion of bow-toting predators back
into the area, further increasing the
likelihood that the element of surprise
will be lost. At that point, it won’t take
a very intelligent animal to figure out
it’s being hunted. On top of all of this is the
overwhelming urge to hunt your best stand
(which is usually your only stand)
right off the bat. As described
in the opening paragraphs, this ill-fated
decision will definitely have a
ripple effect on the remainder of your
season, just as it did mine. If you fail
to give yourself adequate time to scout
and prepare separate stands for the
early season, rut and late season, you°ll
be depending on one location to do it
all. The truth is, y0u’ll never pull it
off You will burn out (educate most
of the deer in the area) your one stand
site long before the best hunting even
begins.

Consider also that much of the
sign that is found during late-summer
outings does not accurately represent
the conditions you will face once the
season begins. Though promising at
first, a great deal of it will likely prove
useless as changes in food, available
cover, breeding phases and hunting
pressure all take their natural toll on
deer travel patterns and behaviors-
not to mention your success rate.
Without a doubt, the lion’s share of
scouting should be carried out in the
post-season, well before spring arrives
and everything turns green. Rubs,
scrapes, transition routes, heavy trails,
security cover and bedding areas are
not only much easier to locate, but
more accurately represent the game
conditions you will face once the
season starts. More importantly you
can scout as much as you like,
wherever you like, without fear of
educating/spooking the animals you
will be hunting later in the year—
specifically mature bucks.

COMING AND GOING
Without a doubt, a good stand
location is only as good as the route
you take to get to it. When choosing
your access route, keep one thing in
mind——the path of least resistance
often leads to failure. What I mean is
that we tend to choose the quickest
and easiest route to our tree stands.
The problem with this is that, quite
often, we end up using or crossing
numerous deer trails along the way
essentially announcing our presence.
This happens because, for the most
part, whitetails are lazy If given a
choice, they will usually pick the path
of least resistance when traveling from
point A to point B, as long as it keeps
them out of harm’s way Oddly
humans are much the same.

While some bow hunters might
cringe at the thought of walking
additional 15 to 30 minutes, or an
extra 250 yards to remain unnoticed,
nothing will improve their chances of
success more. Sure, nobody wants to
work harder than they have to, but if
you’re serious about keeping your
quarry ignorant to the fact they are
being hunted, you should strive to
take the best route to your stand—not
the easiest.

For example, even though they can
be rocky and take more time to
traverse, I routinely use erosion
ditches, or stream beds, to access
stands hung near ridge tops or in
valleys below Not only am I less apt
to bump deer in these areas, but also,
the steep bank effectively hides my
slinking human form. And if I happen
to be moving under the cover of
darkness, my headlamp will be less
visible to any deer watching from
nearby.

Even the type of light used to
navigate the pre-dawn hours can have
an affect on educating deer to your a
presence. Like humans who are color-
blind, deer are sensitive to only two
broad bands of light: short-wavelength
light (blue-violet) and middle-wavelength
light (green-yellow). For years, I used a
blue light to make my way through the
early morning darkness, assuming I was moving
covertly Man was I wrong. Nearly
every deer that saw this blue-colored
beam turned inside out; crashing away
at a break-neck pace. I never under-
stood that reaction until I learned
more about the makeup of a whitetails
eye and its sensitivity to certain colors.
Now I use a red-colored headlamp
almost exclusively; employing a
standard “white” light only when
needed.

UNDER THE RADAR
Certainly there are additional
“measures” you can take to ensure you
maintain the element of surprise in the
deer Woods. Although you’ve most
likely never considered these seemingly
insignificant details, they are commonly
to blame for making your presence so
easily felt. For instance, how often do t
you hunt the same stand on the same
day of the week, arriving and departing
at the same time of day -every day?
I’m guilty Like I said, we are creatures
of habit. Therefore, I have little doubt
believing this mannerism makes it easy
for whitetails to figure out what we are
really up to. The trick to preventing
this from happening is to occasionally
be unpredictable.

For instance, arrive late and hunt
the midday hours instead of the
routine morning time frame. You never
know when a big mature buck will
be up roaming around, assuming
everyone has called it quits for the
morning. Imagine his surprise when
the last sound he hears is the dull thud
of your arrow finding its mark.

Or, instead of mindlessly ambling
through the timber toward your
treestand, why not try stalking your
way to it? Quite often I find deer
naturally feeding or moving through
the area adjacent to my stands when I
creep in “real quiet like.” I imagine the
normal haphazard approach, so often
used, would send them running for
cover, alert to the fact that a human is
indeed in the area.

Also, if you happen to be on land
that is heavily hunted, it may be best
to avoid aggressive call tactics. \While
they may seem enticing, some mature
bucks will be hesitant to respond,
likely associating the sounds with a
previous life-threatening encounter
that left them wise to the common
trickery of the bowhunter. You may
think you’re simply not getting a
response to your calling efforts when,
in fact, you have tipped your hand,
made your presence known, and the
deer are reacting accordingly.

Recently though, a number of my
hunting buddies have experienced some
success with the “snort-wheeze” call-
most likely because this particular
sound hasn’t been done to death by the
majority of hunters—yet. While l often
carry a variety of calls with me just in
case, l am always cautious about when
and how I use them.

CONTROLLING ODOR
You may fool a mature buck’s eyes
and ears using the aforementioned
tactics, but l promise you this: If he
gets one whiff of your man stink, the
gig is up. ln a perfect world, the wind
always blows from the deer to the
hunter—always. However, in the real
world -yours and mine—the wind
shifts, air currents drift and thermals
rise and fall. In order to have any
chance of beating the whitetails
legendary sniffer and remaining
undetected, you have to have a solid
odor-control system.

Despite what you’ve previously
heard or read, l believe it is possible to
fool a whitetail’s nose. l have done it
on several occasions. However, it takes
a lot of hard work, and no single item
is responsible for the success or failure
of my-odor control system. Rather, it’s
a culmination of several different
variables working together to form a
perfect odor-fighting team,

One of the biggest misconceptions
surrounding effective odor control is
that activated-carbon suits are a
technological miracle worker. While
they are undoubtedly essential to the
integrity of the overall system, they
can’t make up for many of the
common blunders committed while
using them. For instance, I can’t tell
you how many times I have witnessed
well-meaning hunters wearing their
charcoal-impregnated suits at the gas
station or local restaurant, oblivious to
the fact that they have compromised
its odor-adsorbing capabilities,
rendering it useless for any immediate
hunt. What amazes me even more is
that these same individuals are often
the first to declare the ineffectiveness
of such garments. I totally disagree. I
have been using carbon-lined suits
since their inception and can say
without reservation that when cared
for and used properly they do indeed
work; again, not alone, but as part of
an overall scent-control system.

When I asked his thoughts on the
subject, Scott Shultz, president of
Scent Blocker/ Robinson Outdoors, `
had this to say about controlling
human odor: “During the hunting
season, each of us seems to develop a
routine of scent elimination that
covers everything we do, or don’t do,
to try and eliminate our odor. This
routine, or system, will result in a
certain degree of effectiveness, depending
on how well we understand
and attend to all of the little details, as
well as the obvious stuff.

“Additionally the effectiveness of
our routine is somewhat further
dependant on other varying and
contributing factors, such as diet,
temperature, exertion level, atmospheric
pressure, stand location, etc., etc.
Total or complete scent elimination
is absolutely possible. However, for
most of us, with our hectic lifestyles,
becoming 80 to 90 percent scent-free
seems to work well enough to give us
the extra time and extra yardage needed
to slip a good arrow in there.”

I agree. Although a big buck may
smell me, it has long been my belief
that a proven system will reduce the
severity” of my odor to the point that
he will think I am 200 yards away
when, in fact, I am actually 20 yards
away at full draw. I have routinely
watched this scenario play out as a
buck stands downwind, nose in the
air, trying to determine how close I
really am. With the reassuring flick of
a tail, he usually comes closer, giving
me the opportunity I need to close the
deal.

Without taking anything away
from the importance of post-season
scouting and proper access routes, I
will say that scent control will
definitely make or break your hunt.
While other factors influencing success
or failure seem to have areas of gray
human odor is not one of them.
When it comes to that subject, there’s
only black and White.

If you’re not finding the success
you hoped for or you feel that your
current hunting spot isn’t quite living
up to its expectations, it probably has
little to do with your failure to incorporate
the latest “how to” tactic into
your bag of tricks. Most likely your
unrealized dreams are a direct result of
one thing, and one thing only—you
broke the “Golden Rule.” <–<<

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Published by archerchick on 31 Dec 2010

MULIE MAGIC – By Zack Walton


Bow & Arrow Hunting
August 2009
Mulie Magic
Stalking desert mule deer is never easy, but the reward is well worth the pain.
By Zack Walton

It’s hard not to scream when you’re standing on a cactus wearing
nothing but socks. But after two straight weeks of practice, I was .
getting pretty good. I decided to put the pain in the hack of my mind
and continue to sneak forward. Knowing the group of` mule deer had
to be close, I tried to Focus on anything but the needles piercing my
toes. Just then, I was snapped back as to why was doing all this. I could
suddenly see the wide-racked four—point mulie reappear through the
mesquite. He was intently following two does.

The buck was obviously in full rut.
His large, swollen neck gave his body
the perception of being front-heavy As
he began moving around the group of
does, I couldn’t help but focus on him,
and while doing so, a doe had picked
up my location. The cagey “mule head”
bounded away taking with him she
and the others. It was developing into a
trend this trip. However, she went only
200 yards before settling down.
I began watching the group, trying
to anticipate their next move, when
the scene quickly turned into a
spectacular show Over the next few
minutes, I saw the large buck mount a
doe several times, finally breeding her,
square off with a smaller 3×4 and level
cacti and bushes just to prove his
dominance. The group had settled
down and grown in size when two
small bucks joined in on the fun.
With light fading, I laced up my boots
and began closing the distance on the
deer.

I had to skirt the group of deer to
get the wind in my favor by dropping
off the hilltop and circling them. I
stayed a couple-hundred yards away
and continued °°dogging” the group
until they disappeared into a small
draw By slipping into the depression,
the deer allowed me to get in front of
them without being seen, so I ducked
out of sight and ran down a wash to
where I thought the herd would go.

Shortly after finding my feet were
again full of thorns, I eased my head
above some rocks and saw big ears
moving every which way The bucks
were chasing does back and forth in
the confined canyon. What a circus.
Three different times I had a 20-inch-
wide 5×4 stop well within bow range.
“The deer don’t know you are here,
find the big boy? I kept thinking to
myself Soon enough, the wide four-
point popped out from behind some
quail bushes hot on two does. He was
easily twice the size of the does he
pushed in front of me at about 50
yards. I was hoping I had finally met
up with a large mulie about to make
his last mistake.

There is not another animal I have
chased more often, for longer periods
of time, than desert mule deer of the
Southwest. Every year I spend my
Christmas vacation in the high desert.
I have been going with my family for
the better part of two decades. And for
the past I5 years, I’ve bowhunted the
various animals that call the cacti-
infested area of Arizona home. This
past year was no exception and on
Christmas night my friend, Shawn
Wood, and I left to meet up with my
parents.

The holiday season is when I love
to hunt mule deer, because they are
more active and bucks are always
“twitterpated.” Bowhunting mule deer
during this window can be a blast.
Bucks fight cactus and each other.
Their I.Q.s plummet to that of a
stuffed animal, and they swell up like
a second-rate boxer after a few rounds
with Iron Mike. And the sight of one
classic desert giant, with wide, flared
antlers stretching from horizon to
horizon, is enough to bring you back.
I had my first introduction to these
big-eared desert dwellers 15 years ago
on the morning of my first bow hunt
for deer. Arizona allows hunters to
chase big game at the age of 10,
(two years before my home state of
California), so my first deer hunt was
in the Grand Canyon State. That

morning I found myself in the middle
of a group of mule deer and at the age
of 11, I shot my first deer with a bow.
I wish it were always so easy The
fact is, the mule deer in southern
Arizona are easy to hunt with a bow,
but difficult to kill. You can get within
150 yards with little effort, but closing
to within bow range is a minor miracle
every time. Throw in the fact that
when the rut starts, large bucks usually
will have between one and 20 does
with him—and you will have more
eyes, ears and noses to go through
than a plastic surgeon in Hollywood.
That’s when the challenge begins.
That’s the challenge I was faced with
that January afternoon.

The deer were running in circles.
“Wait for the buck to stop,” I told
myself When one doe stopped and
the buck lowered his head to sniff her,
I drew my Hoyt and settled on the last
rib of the quartering-away buck. I
remember thinking, “Constant
tension. Squeeze through.”
When the arrow struck, the buck
kicked his rear legs high in the air like
a bull looking to rid himself of a
cowboy Surprisingly, the shot did not
spook any of the deer, but as I scanned
the group, I could not find the buck I
had just hit. But he still had to be
there. The other bucks were still
chasing does, and the other deer were
feeding on cactus, all of this within
50 yards of where an arrow crashed
through the biggest deer in the bunch.
Finally, I found him concealed in
some ocotilio about 20 yards from
where I shot him. I could tell he was
badly hurt, but that I should put
another arrow in him. Control the
shaking. My second shot hit low as I
misjudged the yardage, but he didn’t
move. The next shot slid right under
the buck’s large chest and still, he
didn’t move. It was obvious
adrenaline was out of control now.
The other deer had spooked away and
here I was failing to put a second
arrow in the large buck right in front
of me. Somebody get me a bag to
breathe into. I told myself to calm
down and make the shot count and
the next arrow smacked home.

At impact, he busted through the
ocorillo for 100 yards before stopping.
The arrow had broken off from his
sprint, but I knew it had hit him
through the shoulder. The buck slowly
walked off stopping frequently I
watched him for 10 minutes before he
limped into a wash. Since the sun had
just set, I decided to leave the deer _
overnight and come back with some
help in the morning.

The night lasted for an eternity,
and after searching in the morning,
with help from my dad and Shawn,
we found the buck 150 yards from
where I last saw him. Both of the
arrows had penetrated the chest cavity
the first slicing the liver before cutting
through the bottom of the chest, and
the second hit both shoulders and cut
through the top of the chest.
The trip was a wonderful success,
as I had seen lots of animals and taken
a marvelous mule deer that was 26
inches wide and gross scored right at
the Pope & Young minimum. Along

with the one-horned buck I’d taken on
the last day of the December season,
and l had two archery-killed bucks in
difficult terrain. To make the hunt
more amazing, everyone in my
hunting party took animals.
My Christmas-time trip is a perfect
ending to my bowhunting season. The
high desert offers sunshine during a
usually cold winter at home and an
opportunity to hunt a different time
of the year for me. And with the right
amount of luck, l get to bring home my
last, and best present of the season. <—<<

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Published by archerchick on 31 Dec 2010

TUNDRA FUN – By Warren Anderson Jr.


BOW & ARROW HUNTING MAGAZINE
August 2009
TUNDRA FUN

Come along on this fun-filled journey in pursuit of central barren-ground caribou amid Canada’s Northwest Territories.

By Warren Anderson Jr.

I think caribou are fantastic animals; not many other species in North America can grow as much antler in such a short amount of time or cover the open landscape they call home faster than an Olympic track star. They inhabit pristine country and going to the Northwest Territories to chase them with a bow is an incredible challenge. They are also excellent table fare, yielding a flavorful meat that is tender and worth the effort. I had hunted caribou once before in Newfoundland a few years back, and that experience left me with a hankering to chase them again. So, in January 2007, my wife and I met with the folks from Peterson’s Point Lake Lodge at the Denver Sportsman’s Expo. After talking with the owners and some of their staff we decided to send a deposit and book a hunt for the first week
in September 2007. Although my wife doesn’t hunt, I was able to talk her into going as a non- hunter and sharing this once—in-a—lifetime experience with me. Some friends of ours had hunted with Peterson’s in the past and all gave glowing references. Although all of my buddies were rifle hunters, the staff at Peterson’s had guided several bowhunters and were well versed in the challenges that archery equipment poses.

We arrived in the town of Yellowknife in the Northwest
Territories via commercial airline, and then took a floatplane an hour and a
half north to camp. The Peterson’s camp sits on the shore of Point Lake,
which is a large body of water 70 miles in length, located just south of the
Artic Circle. The area is so pristine that the ice—cold water is safe to drink
straight from the lake. After cabin assignments and introductions with all
the staff and other hunters in camp that week, I headed down to the beach
to check my archery equipment.

I had been paired up with another bowhunter named Vince (the only
other archer in camp that week), and he also came down to check that his
equipment had made the trip without incident. I knew Vince had been to
Peterson’s a few years earlier and had not gotten an opportunity at an animal,
so we decided that he would have the first crack at an animal when we went
out the first day We shared a few stories, and I knew he would be a good
hunting partner for the next week.

On our first day on the tundra, we had great weather and spotted several
groups of bulls right off the bat. Our guide, Egan, helped judge the quality
of the animals and suggested that we could do better. That afternoon we
found a group of six bulls that made the grade, and Vince was on the chase.
He slithered into position as the rest of us sat in a boulder pile and looked on.
The way he crept to within range of these bulls, you would have never
guessed that he was a treestand hunter from Wisconsin who had never stalked animals in such open habitat. The caribou stood, sensing something was up, and Vince got his chance. The distance was a little closer than he had estimated and the arrow sailed harmlessly over the largest bull’s back.
We headed back to camp empty-handed, but with a great first day on
the books. That night in camp we ate like kings and shared stories of the day
Some of the other hunters had taken animals, so we listened to their adventures and admired their trophies.

On the second day of the hunt, we were again treated to great weather, a
gorgeous sunrise, no bugs and plenty of caribou. We each had a Pew stalks,
but no shots presented themselves. We also saw several bear tracks along the beach,
and that night, we had a bear visit camp. It had Pound the buried
freezer that the lodge used for storing eggs, peaches and jalapenos! Needless
to say after the surprise of jalapenos, we didn’t think the bear would be
back.

On the third day of our trip, my wife elected to stay in camp and relax.
We loaded into the boat and headed for one of the large islands on the
lake. \When we neared the island, we spotted two groups of bulls. After
sizing them up, we beached the boat and made our way to the top, over a
series of saddles and rock outcroppings. We slowly inched our way
around the numerous dips and peaks and could not relocate the target
animals. After getting the slip from the bulls, we were headed back to the
boat when a bull appeared out of nowhere and busted us. We were in a
little meadow crossing a boulder field when I heard Vince sharply say my
name in a high-pitched whisper. I froze and got our guide’s attention,
and when we looked to our right, there stood a good bull, with the sun
shining from behind him, illuminating his velvet-covered antlers.

Vince whispered, “Would you shoot that bull?” I answered yes, but
in our current situation, it seemed unlikely that I would get the chance.
After a few minutes, the bull moved off behind the saddle, and the chase I
was on. The bull busted us again as we were making our way to him and
trotted around another saddle. We stayed in pursuit, but at the next ridge
he had a cow and a calf with him. I was able to stalk within 30 yards and
get drawn on him twice but, each time, the cow or the calf was blocking
his vitals, preventing a shot. The group headed back in the
direction they had come from, and now Vince was back in the game.
Egan motioned for me to slip around behind them and cut off the escape
route while Vince crept close, trying for a shot. I hustled around several
knobs and lost track of both the bull and my two hunting partners. When I
eased up over the saddle and looked to my right, Vince and Egan were
motioning frantically that the bull was to my left. I was confused because
there was nothing but a large expanse of tundra, and I thought I should
surely be able to see a caribou in the wide open.

Just then, I saw his antlers bobbing from behind a large rock shelf and
knelt down to range the distance. When the bull took a few steps out
away from the rock outcropping that had concealed him, I drew and placed
the 30-yard pin in the sweet spot behind his front shoulder and triggered
the release. The arrow hit home with a thud, and I watched him tear out across the tundra and tip over. After some back slapping and photos, Egan caped the head while Vince and I packed the meat back to the boat. When I
returned that evening, my wife was happy for me, but a little sad that she
missed out on the whole experience.

That night, just before dark, the skinner was coming out of the meat
shed when he encountered a grizzly bear about 10 yards away. He had just
closed the electric fence and was reaching in to turn on the power, when
he turned around and saw the bear. Both he and the bear were startled at
the same time, and all he could muster to shout was, “Bear!” The skinner
made fast tracks for the guide’s quarters, and the rest of the staff came
piling out, shooting into the air to encourage the bear to move along.

As I watched the bear running out through the tundra, the owner of the
lodge walked past me and said, “I told that skimmer to keep the shotgun
loaded. I bet it will be loaded tomorrow.” He just kept walking back
to his cabin, as if nothing had happened. The skimmer was still shook
up the next morning and retold the story over a cup of coffee. He was in
no hurry to get out to the meat shed, and he took a good ribbing from all of
us before we headed afield.

On the last day of our hunt, my wife again elected to stay behind. I still
had my second tag in my pocket, and we spent most of the day trading stalks on different groups of bulls we found. In the early afternoon, while out on the lake, our guide spotted a lone bull in some thick cover. We beached the boat and tried to get the drop on him. We lost track of him in the tall
willows, and on our way back to the lake, we walked through a saddle,
when Vince and Egan froze. The bull had looped around and was sleeping
standing up when we came through the saddle. He had now spotted Vince
and Egan, but hadn’t seen me. Vince said they were busted, but if I thought
I could get the drop on him, for me to go ahead and do it.

I belly-crawled ahead to a small rock and ran out of cover. I was still
60 yards from the now-bedded bull, with no chance for a shot. I slid
backward until I had some cover and motioned to the guys that I was going
to go over the top of the ridge and come at him from the other side. As I
was sneaking around the knob, I felt the wind hit my back. Had I been
stalking a deer or an elk, I would have just headed back, but I knew that
sometimes you can get away with a bad wind on caribou. I crawled to
within 35 yards of the bull and waited for his next move. After about 10
minutes, he got up and started to feed to his right, which brought him to 30
yards broadside of my position. I drew the bow and slid the 30-yard pin
behind his front leg. When the arrow hit, he crow-hopped in a circle and fell
over dead within 15 yards.

We soaked in our final afternoon on the tundra as we worked on
quartering and skimming. We shared a few laughs and admired the orange
and red leaves of the landscape we were about to leave. It was a great way
to end a fantastic hunt. He wasn’t the largest bull in camp, but the stalk was
one that I will remember for a long time. As we said our goodbyes before
getting on the plane, my wife and I filled up our Nalgene bottles with our
last drink of the pristine waters of Point Lake and wished that the end of
our trip hadn’t come so soon. <—<<

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Published by bhowardoutdoors on 22 Dec 2010

Why Hunt?

I’ve been given the honor and opportunity to write a blog about something I dearly love and enjoy.  Who could pass up a chance to write a blog on hunting and fishing?  So with the pertinent task of coming up with something so special that it would send the public into a frenzy to read this blog, I began wondering; do I open with a short autobiography?  Well, that would certainly send everyone into frenzy, but not the type the I would like!

How about a few stories of hunting successes this season?   That will surely follow, and at the end of the blog will be a contact address for you to send information and pictures of your trophies. But for the first blog, I’ve decided to explain why we hunt, what we hunt, and why it is important.

Fred Bear, a man known as the father of bowhunting, once said “Don’t base the fun or experience of hunting on whether you get an animal or not.  The kill is way, way down the line.  You can enjoy the woods.  You can enjoy the companionship of the birds, and the fish, and the animals, the color of the leaves…”  It really holds true.  Some of my best experiences have been without the climactic shot to bring down the game.  Every fisherman remembers the ‘one that got away’, but may not be able to tell you anything about the three fish she caught two weeks ago.  The beauty of God’s canvas with you being an integral but non-invasive part of it, that’s really the goal.

As outdoorsmen, our targets are usually the majestic whitetail deer with a crown of bone, or we may hope to bring in the strutting tom eager to meet a new mate.  The trout may be fooled into attacking a cork with feathers believing it to be an unlucky insect.  All have garnered our passions; our unrelenting efforts in pursuit of the biggest and most beautiful of Darwinian challenges.  We have entered nature’s domain, and blended in and became part of nature.  We accepted the challenge and try to conquer nature in its own territory.

 We come up with reasons for hunting and fishing, such as nature tends to overproduce, or disease and famine will destroy more wildlife than hunters if we do not help balance the carrying capacity of the land. But really, what I have found goes back to what Fred Bear stated. I do not have the first dove I killed mounted on the wall. But I do have a fond memory of hunting with my grandfather and my father. I was using an old Ithaca 20 gauge side-by-side that my grandfather and father used as a child. I also have a wonderful memory, and fortunately, a wonderful picture of my son and I walking off a field in Eastern North Carolina with two tundra swan on our shoulders.  My son used the old Ithaca 20 gauge side-by-side that I used as a child.  Hunting is a bridge of generations.  It’s a constant with many variables.   It’s something we must protect, but we must not abuse.  This is why we do what we do and why we enjoy it so.

I look forward to sharing your hunting and fishing experiences, as well as thought provoking and entertaining insights through this blog each week.

 Bill Howard is a Hunter Education and Bowhunter Education Instructor , a Wildlife Representative and BCRS Program Chairman for the North Carolina Bowhunters Association, and an avid outdoorsman.  Please forward any pictures or stories you would like shared to billhowardoutdoors@gmail.com.

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Published by trutested on 17 Dec 2010

Dangerous Encounter

As a hunter there are certain hunts that just stay with you and actually drive you to get off your butt and hike the miles required to find the game your after. These memories stick with you and you remember what is the most important about the sport of hunting. Those little unexpected discoveries each and every day that you have to look for and be in touch with the energy of the outdoors to see but most of all, Feel! My Javelina season in the mountains near Ashfork, Arizona was the perfect theater for this moment to play out.

Joining me on this hunt was my boss Greg, Sam, and the mortgage guy Dave. We had obtained leftover tags after missing the original draw because of busy work schedules and downright forgetfulness. Luckily I found that all the tags were not drawn and even though the area is just not known for great populations of Javelina I had spotted a herd the year prior and had a good notion where to find some pigs. After finding out we had the tags I traveled up a couple weeks prior and scouted the area. I found some tracks in the area and felt like I was in the right place so I told the guys and in a couple weeks the hunt was on!
We entered the area after staying the night in Flagstaff at Greg’s cabin the weather decided to not lend a hand and a snow storm was on it’s way. We had to go home early that day after spending only a few hours in the field. No big deal good friends and not at work, no problem! The journey back to the cabin was an adventure to say the least! The snow really fell and gridlock was upon us on the I-40. The next day things were about the same and because the area I’d scouted was quite a ways from Flag we decided to try a spot Dave had heard about near Ashfork. I did not know the area at all but it looked promising lots of cover, cliffy mountains, caves the whole bit. We parked the vehicles and I headed out while Greg and Sam decided to sit water. I gave Sam my .223 because I wanted to attempt and harvest my pig with my bow. With the fellas at the water Dave went out on his quad to search for tracks and I set out on foot. After about 300 yards I topped out on a ridge and instantly spotted sign. Deer, Elk and javelina had been working in the thick junipers and I was feeling excited. I found a game trail and followed it for about 100 yard when I discovered a fresh lion track. Bah Bump, Bah Bump my heart thumped in my chest. This track was only about an hour old! I followed the tracks for a while but my senses came back to me. I have a bow! Not the best weapon to have when going against 150 pound of killing machine. So I go from kitty mode back to pig mode but nevertheless stoked to see sign of all the critters. I journeyed for probably another mile or so and came to a cliff face. I scaled down to the base and searched for sign found a skull of a javelina and decided to get above and check the base of the entire cliff from there. As I walked into a u-shaped part of the cliff I noticed a lion scrape at the base of the juniper. Holy cow! He is close by! I round the corner about 100 yards away and see motion in the thick brush believing it’s probably a pig I nock an arrow and go on a few steps forward. Again the movement and then it looks up and I see white on its chest and this is no pig! The lion who’s track I’d seen and scrape I’d just passed sat below me not 20 yards away. I froze! What the heck do I do now! He has me located and I have a damn stick in my hand! I kneel down slowly and try and gain control of my adrenalin my heart is pounding like a drum and I have to make a choice. We stare at each other for about 5 minutes the rock under my knee is creating some serious pain and I have no clean shot! Finally I have to move I draw back my bow and whoosh the Lion jumps 10 feet to the top of the cliff at the opposite edge and as quiet as a mouse runs away! What a moment! Did that just happen. I have hunted for 25 years and observed barely a tail of a lion and now I had just had one 20 yards away.! What a day my life as a hunter is complete! Bury me now cuz it gets no better!

As I returned to the place where my friends were, taking about 20 foot strides I recall the elation and great excitement. I couldn’t help but yell and thank God for that moment. My senses were wired and alive, I felt like I could do anything. As I pretty much screamed the story to my buddies they were in absolute amazement. To this very day that memory sticks with me like it was yesterday. So everyday when I awake and say you know I think I’ll sleep in or stay inside where it’s warm I’m reminded of what I could miss out on.

Thanks for reading God Bless

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Published by admin on 10 Dec 2010

TOUCHED BY THE HAND OF GOD by Ted Nugent

TOUCHED BY THE HAND OF GOD
by Ted Nugent

It was January 6, 2006, when 26 year old United States Marine Corp Warrior, Corporal Josh Hoffman, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, instinctively improvised, adapted and overcame. With his fellow Marines, he surrounded and captured the terrorists in Fallujah, held them at gunpoint and prepared for the next step in securing the Iraqi village from the hands of evil.
Out of the eerie silence in that God forsaken desert hellhole, a single 7.62x39mm round erupted from a nearby shack, the 139 grain full metal jacketed round slamming straight into the young warrior’s neck, dropping this brave man in his tracks.
Thanks to the Herculean efforts of his fellow Marines, Josh would survive his injury, receive a purple heart, and then head into the toughest journey and challenge of his life. Completely paralyzed, this dedicated sniper and avid outdoorsmen was told he would never run, jump, dance, laugh, smile, talk, shake hands, wave hello, hunt, fish, hike, or fire his beloved rifle ever again. It was all he could do to relearn how to inhale and exhale with the help of a ventilator to struggle through every day from here on out. It was a heartbreaking and graphic example of the tragic price heroes pay for freedom in this insidious war on terror.
How the hell I fit into all this superior human condition I will never know, but clearly God has blessed me with this holy connection that brings me into the lives of these very special human beings. Truly, I am not worthy.
As it turned out, Josh was a big fan of Uncle Ted rock-n-roll and our unapologetic celebration of American freedom and the hunting lifestyle on our Spirit of the Wild TV show. Dear Lord, how lucky can a man get? We were contacted by the Hoffman family when they heard about the incredible Liberator unit created by my hunting BloodBrother Pete Odlund of West Bridge Tooling up in Lowell, Michigan.
This amazing invention consists of a wheelchair friendly platform framed by a rail system that holds a rifle, pistol, shotgun or crossbow, and can be activated and controlled by a joystick or even a small “sip and puff” tube.
Pete and his wonderful family have dedicated themselves to helping charitable causes and handicapped individuals get back into the wild again for many years. His annual Hunt For A Cure Cystic Fibrosis fund raiser is always a record setter, and they are a perfect example of an American hunting family that just gives and gives and gives some more.
When Josh arrived at our little log cabin in the Michigan wilderness, everybody put magnum heart and soul into making him and his family feel welcomed and loved. Because of his terrible injuries, Josh hadn’t been able to speak or express himself in years, but we all saw a smile in his eyes when we explained how he could fire a sniper rifle once again with the help of The Liberator.
We set up some plastic gallon water jugs against the tall bank of our lane, and settled Josh into the unit, instructing him how to sip and puff the .270 into firing position.
As we all know, aim small miss small is tough enough when you can gently manipulate arms, body, head and fingers, but for a guy who literally cannot move, Josh taught everyone in attendance a whole new level of patience and perseverance. It was truly a beautiful thing.
We all wanted to grab the gun frame to zero it in on the distant jug, but knew that Josh wanted to do it himself. He hadn’t done anything on his own in three years, much less pulled the trigger on a sniper rifle.
But we’re talking US Marine Corp here, and Josh kept sipping and puffing till eventually those crosshairs on the small screen were solid, dead center on a jug, and with a final double puff, KABOOOM!
1 plastic Taliban head blown to smithereens, SIR!
I’m here to tell you, there wasn’t a dry eye in the forest that memorable moment as Josh lit up like a kid on Christmas morning, the biggest toothy grin spread across his handsome face and some pretty impressive noises to go along with it. His girlfriend Heather was so moved, she broke down, and I personally had to look away for a moment to compose myself.
Improvise, adapt and overcome. Semper Fidelis. Where there is a will there is a way.
We went on to blast more jugs that day with beautiful Angela Kline showing her amazing marksmanship skills, even though she has severe Cerebral Palsy. We also took a family of great young men on a hunt at the Knowlton’s Laguna Vista Ranch near Pearsal, Texas, with The Liberator where these four brothers, all with various stages of Muscular Dystrophy were able to Liberate a few backstrappers for the campfire.
If you know a special needs person who would feel the soul cleansing powers of the shooting sports, I can assure you The Liberator can make it all come true.
Please visit the two websites, Libertyworx.com and wbtooling.com to make it happen. It’s fun to be around when special people are touched by the hand of God. And by the hand of Pete Odlund, too.

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Published by admin on 03 Nov 2010

Nugent/Palin visit West Virginia

Nugent/Palin visit West Virginia by Frank Addington, jr.

Nugent/Palin visit West Virginia

In support of a candidate that is running for the US Senate from West Virginia for the Republican Party, Ted Nugent and Sarah Palin were in Charleston, West Virginia for the event. With the election just days away, GOP Candidate John Raese hosted the event to get voters excited about his run for Senate. The seat was vacated when the late Robert Byrd passed away earlier this year.

I went to visit Ted and Toby Nugent, although it was a quick trip in and out for them. Security came and got me and took my uncle and I to a van where the Motor City Mad Man was waiting to go on stage. We chatted for a few minutes and then I looked in the back seat and saw Todd and Sarah Palin. I laughed and told Ted, “You’re keeping good company today aren’t you?” and he grinned and replied, “You think?”

I briefly met Todd and Sarah Palin, had a quick photo with her and then they left for the stage. I took a seat and watched as the program got underway. A local band had played some good 1970’s rock and had spirits hight on this beautiful autumn day. Congress woman Shelly Moore Capito spoke, Candidate John Raese spoke, Mr. Raese’s wife introduced Sarah Palin. Former Gov. Palin gave a warm speech and high lighted God, guns, hunting, and the wise use of our natural resources.

Then came the Motor City Madman. I was amazed to again hear Ted’s version of the National Anthem played on his electric guitar. He gave a great speech which contained many “Tedisms”. He also touched on being an asset, God, guns, bowhunting and freedom. He clearly struck a chord with the audience. They responded warmly to his speech and gave him alot of applause.

As the program wound down, the crowd swarmed the stage to meet Sarah, Todd and Ted. I didn’t get to say “Adios” but Toby Nugent texted me awhile later and let me know they found the Hoyt hats I’d left in the van for them. One of his last text’s told me that Sarah had grabbed one of the Hoyt hats. I laughed and I hope to see a photo of her in that hat soon. Watch for it, it was a camo Hoyt hat.

I hope all of you will exercise your civic duty and go vote this November. Although it is the rut in many prime deer hunting locations, many have given their time and lives so that we have the right and ability to vote. So please, November 2, go vote. It’s the least we can do to thank those that have given so much.

Until next time, Adios & God Bless.

Shoot Straight,
Frank Addington, Jr.

www.frankaddingtonjr.com

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Published by admin on 07 Oct 2010

The Aspirinbuster visits Ted Nugent’s Camp for Kids by Frank Addington, jr.

The Aspirinbuster visits Ted Nugent’s Camp for Kids by Frank Addington, jr.

“Hanging out with Theo…”

When Dick Mauch, Bruce Cull, and Ted Nugent want you to do a gig, you do it. I was already coming to Ponca, Nebraska the weekend of September 18, 2010 anyway when Dick asked for my show schedule at Ponca. He was communicating with Bruce and made arrangements for us to leave Ponca in time Saturday afternoon to drive to Yankton, South Dakota for the Ted Nugent Camp for Kids event Ted was hosting that day.

The NFAA headquarters was the location for the event and the Eastons have supported this endeavor with the “Easton Sports Development Foundation Center for Archery Excellence”. Bruce Call and his staff run a first class operation. It’s a beautiful facility that easily handled the huge crowd of young people and their parents. I heard somewhere they had around 450 kids at this event. We got there as the closing ceremonies started and Bruce Cull was on stage. I was told we had a few minutes to set up. We were back stage and I quickly began putting together and tuning my Hoyt Formula RX recurve bow and getting my gear unpacked when I heard, “What’s up Aspirinbuster” and looked up to see my pal Theo standing there. He hugged Dick and Carol Mauch and the I went over to greet Ted. When Ted hugs you you can feel the energy and enthusiasm he has for life and those around him. We visited and then he left to go on stage and give the closing remarks. As usual he gave a teditorial talk and hit on major points about being drug free, living the good life, and hunting and freedom. I saw Greg Easton on the podium and a few other dignitaries.

Bruce had a net already in place so all I had to do was add my Hoyt banner and quickly get some balloons blown up, and find out who they were having toss targets for me. A volunteer stepped forward and we quickly reviewed what would go on. I heard Ted tell the audience something about a “mesmerizing” archery exhibition and I grinned. Only Ted Nugent could give an intro like that. Ted was presented with a custom built gun and then it was time for Bruce Cull to give my show intro. Ted had someone film my shooting and it should be on his show sometime down the road. I ignored the camera and went to work.

It was showtime! The audience gathered around my net and as kids held up cell phones to video and take photos of the show I did what I do. It was a great time and after the baby aspirin shot I invited the audience by a table to get an autographed photo. I ended up signing more than a few hundred photos that evening. Greg Easton had to leave early so I did not get to visit with him.

After the show, we said Adios to Bruce Cull and Ted Nugent and headed to the Black Steer for a fine dinner. Dick and Carol are fine supper companions. Then we made the hour long drive back to Ponca for a party at Tom and Bonnie Ferry’s home. That day I’d did set up the show at Ponca and did two shows, packed the gear and drove an hour or so to Yankton, set up again and did another show, and then packed the gear and drove back. By the time we were at the Ferry’s home, I was exhausted but enjoyed seeing everyone and catching part of the Longhorn’s football game on TV. Dick was still going strong! At his age (83) we should all his health and energy! He and Carol admired Tom’s trophy mounts and shared hunting stories with everyone. It was a fine day.

The Ted Nugent Camp for Kids was a huge success and the NFAA headquarters is a great place! If your travels take you near Yankton, please stop by and see the building. Have Bruce or his staff show you around, there are many vintage photos and other items of interest. It’s a great facility and a real showplace. I think that many youngsters were introduced to the lifetime sport of archery that day by the staff, Ted, Greg Easton and myself! By the way, if your travels do take you to Yankton, try dinner at the Black Steer. Nothing beats Midwestern corn fed beef!

Until Next time, Adios and God Bless.

Shoot Straight,

Frank

www.frankaddingtonjr.com

To learn more about the NFAA, visit: http://www.nfaa-archery.org/

For info on all things Nugent, visit: http://www.tednugent.com/

For more info on Easton, visit: http://www.eastonarchery.com/

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Published by archerchick on 17 Sep 2010

DEER- The Big Game Hunter’s Favorite By Jim Dougherty


BOW & ARROW -AUGUST 1980
DEER
The Big Game Hunter’s Favorite
By Jim Dougherty

About A Million years ago, we’re told, a primitive deer drifted across the great land bridge that
joined Asia to the New World along with the early sheep and many others
of our current big game animals. Just as the sheep evolved into four distinct
races, that deer evolved into two distinct groups, continuing to subdivide
until the race slowly covered what is now North America.

Today their widespread geographic distribution has made the deer the most populous
big game animal on our continent. Biologically there are currently eleven classifications of
mule deer/blacktail and twenty-seven North American whitetail groups.

As a category deer are so plentiful that anyone with even a slight outdoor
notion has a good opportunity to see them in the wild, just about anywhere.
For the big game hunter they are made to order: plentiful numbers, easily accessible and
economically feasible. Most “big-game hunters” are deer hunters, period! Deer cause more
pulses to quicken, energy and dollars to be expended, stories to he told and shirttails to be
cut off than all other big game critters combined. No animal can be hunted successfully
in so many different ways or places, provide such a variety of fine eating, keep more
taxidermists in business or cause more folks to clutch up than a respectable ·deer, and
as far as l am concerned, they are all respectable.

To most folks, deer are deer. Percentage wise few of the total amount of deer hunters pursue
both mule deer `and Whitetail, fewer still hunt blacktails, and a goodly portion have never
heard of a Coues; the sprightly desert Whitetail, or the remote Sitka blacktail, all individual
categories of deer recognized by the Boone & Crockett and Pope & Young Clubs. They are
all deer to be sure, but each has his own distinct appearance, environmental requirements, habitat
preference and whims of nature and temperament geared to remind us frequently of our human frailties.

Whenever, wherever hunters gather to tell war stories the talk most often revolves around deer hunting.
As folks are inclined to do, making comparisons about the biggest, best, smartest or tastiest is the
direction a lot of these chattering elbow-bending sessions seem to take. To the easterner the whitetail
is king, nothing is sharper, more magnificent or tougher to hunt. By comparison he thinks the
mule deer is stupid, a big-eared clod that stands around in the open inviting termination.

Northwesterners make good cases for the secretive blacktail, a close cousin to the big-bodied Rocky
Mountain mule deer, a look-alike that runs somewhat smaller and favors the thick canyons of
Washington, Oregon and the northern portions of California.

How opinions that the mule deer is stupid come into being escape me. Any animal that has been around for
thousands upon thousands of years taking the worst that man and beast can throw at him, generally
increasing in the process, isn’t stupid. The hunter who claims he is hasn’t hunted him overly much and has
been lucky when he did.

Each of the most huntable three —whitetail, mule deer and blacktail —- is a special product of its environment.
The mule deer ranges over relatively open country covering some distance from Summer to Winter while the
whitetail lives and dies in a closer, more intimate relationship with its home ground. The mule deer is easier
to locate visually than the whitetail be- cause of his living quarters, but the pattern of a whitetail buck can be
determined with a great deal of exactness. A hunter can pinpoint where he will be, sooner or later, yet not
actually see him aforehand. l am of the opinion that deer are deer when it comes time to hunt them,
and that strategies should be based on the country, time of year and weather rather than the animal’s supposed
intelligence level.

lf the whitetail is smarter than the blacktail, so be it. The blacktail is still going to be at the very top or the very
bottom of the area l plan to hunt, while the whitetail is going to be running some flat land somewhere.
l have found it quite difficult to stalk whitetails. I think this is as much because the country I have hunted
them in has not lent itself to stalking as for any other reason. Most whitetail hunting, done in the Fall when the
leaves are knee deep and noisy, when the woods are nearly bare so as to reduce cover, is not as conducive to
stalking as the aspen patches of a Colorado August.

Certainly there are exceptions. Deer are found most every-where and whitetails live in a lot of swell places
for the stalking bowhunter, but most of them do not. l have hunted mule deer in the desert, where the cover was mesquite
and greasewood and the ground sun-baked sand, where there were so few rocky areas that the deer hooves did
not wear down and they pranced about on toes that grew for inches and curled up like slippers on an elf.

You didn’t take up the trail and stalk muleys in that stuff, you laid in wait for them, like most whitetail hunters
do. The similarities between mule deer`and blacktails are many. In appearance they differ little. Blacktails are
generally smaller than the Rocky Mountain mule deer but not much different than a good many of the mule deer
subspecies whose ranges adjoin theirs. The Pacific Coast and Inyo mule deer that I cut most of my teeth on are small
deer, a big one dressing around llO pounds f`or the coastal type or some-what bigger inland. They are dark in
color with prominent markings.

Because the range of the mule deer has been expanding, the legitimate blacktail boundaries have been
changed from time to time by the record—keeping bodies to insure that sufficient separation is maintained for
purity’s sake. They will interbreed. While the blacktail is most often a small deer, as one moves further up the
coast they tend to get somewhat larger.

Most of my blacktail hunting has been done in California and lower Oregon. I have found that they can be
hunted, for the most part, just as I would hunt muleys in Colorado or Arizona, with a lot of looking and then
stalking in the more open range. In the West bowhunting for deer starts early in the year, as early as mid-
July in some places.

Colorado bowhunting, however, starts in August and most western bowhunting seasons are in full swing
by the first of September. What a hunter experiences at that time of year is a far cry from what he
is used to if he’s a whitetailer born and bred from the eastern shore. He’s hunting big bucks traveling together,
most still carrying racks in full velvet and spending a good deal of time in the open. They are creatures of the
high lonesome, coming off a hard Winter and a Summer of plenty. Their temperament is that of a gentleman
that would like to spend the summer taking things easy.

Take care that this impression does not lull you into a false sense of security. Check back with him in November
if you care to take notes on personality adjustments. I have spent many summer months with whitetails, and
their metabolism and attitude are much different from what it will be when the first frost of Fall lays its carpet.
In fact they act surprisingly like a mule deer during the same period of time. They’ll be harder to locate because
they frequent a closer environment, but when you do find them they most often will be in the company of
others, taking things easy and sunning their headgear as it matures It’s the quiet time for the whitetail, as it is
the muley, days away from the changing weather that will stir in him the inbred knowledge that life will change
and times will get tougher.

When it comes to hunting the three I have definite preferences. For the whitetails I enjoy the game of figuring
out where they will be and setting up for them. I have found that, for me, in most cases still hunting or stalking is
not as effective. I will see a good many deer on these jaunts — southern ends of northbound beasts — but I will not
bring many to bag. I do not think it is because I am inadequate as a still hunter. I think it’s because the country
during that time of year is against me. I’m inclined to see the whitetail as a more explosive critter, less inclined to
stand about when anything signals danger, but I have seen a fair share of them that must have been suicidal.

I recall a buck, one of the few that I have still hunted that let me shoot one over, under and right through. He
seemed quite interested in the affair – well, up to a point. My son, Kelly, nailed his last buck under conditions not
normally associated with whitetail behavior. Kelly shot his first arrow at forty yards and his last, the fourth, at
ten feet. Locating a good buck and putting a stalk on him is about as much fun as my heart can stand. It is my favorite
way of hunting mule deer and black-tails, easing slowly through the country in keeping with normal movement patterns,
stopping frequently to carefully look things over. It’s a challenge worthy of any bowhunter taking advantage of the
high ground and looking for hour upon hour, searching out the pockets where the bucks feed, putting them to bed
and trying to come up with a stalk.

Most blacktail/muley country allows this type of hunting. The ground cover is right for careful footwork, there is cover to
hide in, get behind, and use for your approach. The bottom line for all deer is the same: those last few steps of
yours, moving in for a shot — or those last few steps of his as he comes to the stand. That’s when the chips are down
and the hand gets played. No matter how it comes out, you’re a lot better off for having been in the garne.

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Published by archerchick on 06 Sep 2010

A Bowhunt On The Great Divide – By Norb Mullaney


ARCHERY WORLD – AUGUST 1986
A BOWHUNT ON THE GREAT DIVIDE – BY Norb Mullaney

It certainly wasn’t starting out very well.
The day was Sunday, September 18. I was
scheduled to catch a flight for Denver
early Monday morning with a connection to
West Yellowstone — destination, Rush’s
Lakeview Ranch, about 50 miles west of
Yellowstone National Park near the
Montana-Idaho line. On Tuesday we would
pack into a mountain base camp for a I0-day
combination hunt with licenses for elk, mule
deer and bear.

I had the flu! I hadn’t given in to a flu virus
in as long as I could remember, but
unquestionably, I had the flu! But Sunday
evening I was feeling better and Monday
morning I caught the plane, flu and all.

All seasoned air travelers are accustomed
to arriving at destination sans luggage. This is
to be avoided at all costs on a hunting trip.
Running down a bull elk and dispatching it
with a pen knife is a game for much younger
bowhunters than I. Seasoned air travelers also
know that if you have too much gear to carry
on your best bet is to check your luggage flight
by flight and transfer it yourself. Considering
the flu, it took a large cart, a sky cap, a few
bucks and a two—hour layover at the Denver
terminal to accomplish this. But I didn’t
reckon with the ingenuity of airline baggage
handlers. They put off my gear, every last bit
of it, in Jackson Hole and I arrived in West
Yellowstone with the insulated camo jacket I
was wearing, my camera and a small brown
paper sack that my thoughtful wife pressed on
me when I left Milwaukee. It contained
several Granola bars in the event my
flu-weakened appetite returned.

At the height of my frustration I met Rick
Bolin and Bob Stewart, two Ohio bowhunters
who were a part of this 10-day adventure.
They had driven over from Lakeview to meet
my flight. The fourth member of our group,
Glen Crisp, who had organized the entire
hunt, had arrived several days earlier and was
already in the high country after elk.
We left for the ranch with the airline’s
promise to locate my gear at Jackson Hole and
deliver it to Lakeview as soon as possible. I
got the distinct impression that it wasn’t likely
to be very soon though, since the next flight
wasn’t until Tuesday afternoon.

The Ranch
Lakeview Ranch was a surprise. Part of it
looks like a contemporary Montana ranch —
the rest is like something out of a Louis
L’Amour paperback executed in raw, fresh
western cedar — false fronts, hitching rails,
raised covered porches — the whole bit. The
Rushes, Keith and Kevin — father and son —
own and operate Lakeview Guest Ranch snuggled up
against the mountains that rim Centennial
Valley just north of the Idaho line.
From this headquarters they maintain more
than a dozen base camps in Montana and
Idaho. At dinner Monday evening we met our
guides, Jesse Willis, Bob Larson and Bud
Schwartz, all graduates of Rush’s Outfitter
and Guide School and selected by Keith Rush
for demonstrated ability, resourcefulness and
leadership skill.

We were scheduled to pack in about mid-
morning on Tuesday, but my fate was still in
doubt. My brown paper sack was a mighty
slim outfit for l0 days in the mountains. Tues-
day morning, as I watched Bob and Rick
ready their gear and the guides bring up the
saddle horses and pack animals to the hitching
rails, I felt as though the world was passing
me by. But I had reckoned without Keith, who
had engaged in a nose-to-nose telephone con-
versation with the airline baggage office. Just
as the Lakeview crew was bringing up the
horse trailers, a car rolled in with my gear
aboard. Frontier Airlines had driven it up
from Jackson Hole — a 300-mile round trip.
We saw our first elk while skirting the val-
ley en route the “jumping off” point. A some-
what confused yearling wandered out of the
near slopes and crossed the road just ahead of
our caravan. Bob and Rick bailed out for a try
but were never able to get within bowshot. I
did better with my camera ’s zoom lens, “bagging”
the youngster with a well placed 35 mm shot.

When we pulled off the road on the edge of
the valley and rendezvoused at the base of a
ridge, our guides set about transferring the
gear to the pack animals. It was during this
maneuver (and I use the word advisedly) that I
was impressed both visually and verbally
with one axiom of the outfitter’s code relating
to hard bow cases: “Don’t ask us to pack ’em
on a horse or a mule .” Our guides reluctantly
(but gracefully) agreed to pack mine in to the
base camp but would make no guarantee as to
its arriving in one piece or even aboard the
mule. A hard bow case is too long to pack fore
and aft and hence must ride crossways atop
the pack, making the mule look like a mountain-going Pegasus. Apparently Pegasus
avoided traversing mountain trails, particularly narrow ones with trees close spaced on
either side.

Base Camp
Our two hour ride to the base camp was
uneventful except for those of us who are
more at home in a desk chair than astride the
gentlest horse in the string. As he made a last
minute check before we headed in, Jesse had
observed, “If your knees hurt, your stirrups
are too short and if your tail hurts, they are too
long. If you experience acute agony in equal
proportions, then the stirrups are just right.
Was I ever “just right! ”

Glen Crisp caught up with us at the base
camp that evening. He and “ Goober,” another
Lakeview guide, has spent the previous week
at another camp on the Montana side. He
would spend the next 10 days with us. He had
a success story to relate. It went something
like this: “It was cool that morning when we left
camp. We headed in a different direction than
hunted on previous days. Goober had seen
two nice bulls in the area. This was my last
day in this camp and I had passed up several
chances at some nice bulls in hope of something better,
but now, down to the wire, I wondered if I’d been too choosey.

“The wind, which had been blowing the
night before, had quieted and the morning was
still. We left camp at daybreak and after an
hour’s ride, we tied the horses and started
working the ridge tops. I bugled at intervals,
but there was no response. My hope of locating
the two bulls faded with each passing call,
but there was always one more try.

“Then, about 9:30 a.m. there was a reply
that we judged to be about a quarter mile distant.
The preceding days had taught me to
work in as close as possible and not be afraid
to move. It reminded me a lot of turkey hunting in Ohio.
The old bull seemed to hang up a
lot like a tom and not be ready to take an active
part this early in the rut. The young bull
senses this and realizes that the sooner the
confrontation with the big guy, the sooner he
loses his lady friends: he’ll want to look good
in front of the ladies but won’t want to be hurt
or lose the battle. So he answers the challenge,
but as soon as you stand to move in, he
gathers his cows and takes off.

“On one occasion I had a 3×3 bugle in
reply and then run with his cows. I gave chase
and caught up with them after a couple of
hours. I moved in close and forced a response
from the small bull. I was 20 yards from his
cows and only 30 yards from him, and he had
little choice but to become more aggressive. I
bugled and grunted, using the small bull reed
call and grunt tube. He lowered his head and
started sneaking back toward me. I let him get
about 12 yards from me and then stood up and
waved my hands. (That was when I was being
choosy). The bull didn’t know what to do.
He finally took off down the mountain and his
cows went up.

“Back to the bull at hand. By now we were
about 100 yards from him, but were separated
by a small park. I pulled back, keeping what
wind there was as much in my favor as possible.
I moved six more times in the next hour
and finally managed to get within 35 yards of
the bull. I had worked down-wind and came
in on his left side, well concealed by the
brush. I called. He replied and started moving
toward me. I tried to project the sound of the
bugle and grunts to confuse him about my
exact location. I had located another bull close
in, but wasn’t certain which was the larger of
the two. But that morning it was first come,
first shoot.

Just then the bull stepped around a tree 15
yards out! I eased back my 65-pound Qua-
draflex and released the Graphlex 17-8. It was
a good hit. The arrow passed completely
through and lodged in a pine 10 yards the

other side of the animal. The Bohning Blazer
broadhead performed well. The bull went
down in about 45 yards. He was a nice 5×5
weighing about 800 pounds. As Goober and I
viewed my elk, I said to him, in all humility,
‘Well, that’s one down — let’s go join the
other guys and tag one in Idaho!’ ”
Glen left Goober and the elk at the ranch
that afternoon and headed out to join us. His
tale heightened our anticipation and set the
stage for the next 10 days. Little did we realize
then that it was to be primarily his stage!

We were field testing a number of equipment
items on this trip — Quadraflex bows,
Sagittarius quivers, Jim Crumley’s Trebark
camo clothing and Graphflex arrows. These
were planned tests. Certain other items of
personal equipment, including four posteriors
and eight knees, were also subjected to
rigorous field test procedures. This phase of
the tests, although unplanned, was inseparable
from our mode of transport. The test
results? When I rode, I hurt, but it did get
better as the hunt progressed.

Wednesday morning we rolled out well before light,
enjoyed an excellent camp break-
fast, and were mounted and headed up the
trail through the timber toward the ridge in the
dim light. At the top of the ridge we split up,
with guides Jesse Willis and Bob Larson escorting
Bob Stewart and me east along the
ridge; Bud Schwartz led off to the west with
Glen and Rick.

A mile or so along the ridge, in a loose
stand of pines, Bob Larson spotted an elk no
more than 40 yards ahead. It crossed the trail,
moving off to our right. Bob Stewart and I
slipped off our mounts and attempted a still-
hunting encircling maneuver without success.
We never had another glimpse of the animal.
We were unable to identify it as bull or
cow but regardless, the close-in sighting
could only be considered encouraging.
Further along the ridge the guides called a
halt. We tied the horses and moved across to
the brow of the steep timbered slope that offered
a panoramic view of Big Sky country.
Immediately to our rear an equally large section
of Idaho stretched off to the south.

We stayed there glassing the lower hillsides,
ridges and scattered meadows for several hours.
A small band of elk drifted in and out of sight in an
aspen-dotted meadow atop a small hill about a mile
northeast on the opposite slope. Our guides, Jesse and Bob, called
on their knowledge of the terrain and developed a strategy that sent
Bob Stewart with Jesse down the slope and up the valley while
Bob Larson and I rode eastward along the ridge to a position opposite the elk.
Once there we moved off the ridge and down into a large grassy area that
extended well below the timberline in an immense “V.” At the vertex
of the V a well-used game trail led up from the valley below and the aspens
beyond. Jesse and Bob speculated that if the elk moved out of the
aspens, they might well head up the trail and give me a shooting opportunity.

As it turned out, the elk moved out before
Jesse and Bob Stewart reached the aspens, but
they chose the opposite slope. The only thing
Bob and I saw come up that trail was a hot and
weary Bob Stewart.
We saw a great deal of that ridge during
our stay in the mountains. Glen and I huddled
under my space blanket beneath the low
branches of a pine on a cold, rainy and windy
day at the edge of a meadow that straddled its
top. The elk were using this area frequently,
but we saw none that day.

On another occasion, after a heavy rain
had made the normally difficult trail down to
camp a bit hair-raising, and the heavy cloud
cover brought on an early blackness in the
timber that rendered my night vision totally
inadequate, Jesse led the way off the ridge and
back to camp with my tiny flashlight. Moving
down that steep, slippery trail required supreme
concentration on my peripheral vision
(the best for night vision) just to make out the
faint blur which was the rump of the white
horse less than IO feet in front of my nose. My
greatest solace was that I was astraddle “Old
Deuce,” a mountain horse of many years experience
and a will all his own. Old Deuce
was my mount for most of the hunt by universal accord
a distinct tribute to his mountain wisdom, sure-footedness,
generally amiable disposition and a tolerance for damn near
anything on his back. Old Deuce would even pack
fresh meat, a task usually reserved for mules
in the Rush remuda.

We made it down the steep side slope that
night without serious mishap thanks to Jesse,
my fast-fading mini-flashlight and horses that
must have a strain of bat blood. There were
two minor casualties — Glen lost his cherished
trophy-taking arrow, and Old Deuce
slithered past a tree that put my Sagittarius
bow quiver to the supreme test and came close
to taking my bow arm off in the process. How-
ever, the Sagittarius was restored the next
morning by some judicious straightening and
still serves its intended purpose. If it could
handle that collision with the tree trunk and
survive, it’s a remarkably tough quiver. Perhaps
what surprised me the most was that I
hadn’t lost a single arrow!

On Thursday of the first week Glen Crisp
bagged his Idaho elk. It had snowed the pre-
vious night accumulating three to four inches
in the meadows and on the ridges. Glen was
hunting by himself, as he often did, working
the diaphragm and tube at frequent intervals.
Off to one side of the main ridge and part way
up the opposite slope in the heavy timber he
coaxed a response. The bull was a good distance
away but continued to bugle as hunter
and prey mutually closed the gap. Glen
worked his way up the slope keeping to the
best cover, confident that he now had an interested
and aggressive bull at the other end of
the challenges. He finally glimpsed the lone
elk at the edge of a small sloping meadow.
Fortunately, the immediate locale offered
excellent cover and he was able to ease within 35
yards as the bull moved along the edge of the
meadow, seemingly trying to pinpoint the
source of the challenge. The moment at hand,
Glen’s Quadraflex sent another l7-8 shaft on
its way. The bull never made it out of the
meadow. Glen led us to it early the next
morning with the pack mules in tow. Jesse and Bob
Larson skinned, caped and quartered the 6×6,
carefully separating the tenderloin for a spe-
cial camp dinner that Bob promised would be
worth remembering. Indeed it was!

That evening he cleaned the loin, sliced it
into half—inch thick steaks and liberally salted
each steak. Then he packed it tightly into the
base of a one-gallon glass jar and covered the
surface with aluminum foil. The jar was immersed
in the creek to a level well above the
meat and left for two days. Sunday evening
Bob pan fried the tenderloin slices and we en-
joyed some of the most delicious eating I can
remember. True, it may have been enhanced
by a day of active hunting, but it was my introduction
to elk tenderloin and one I will never
forget.

Several mornings we rode to the top of a
high ridge that commanded a spectacular
view of the surrounding peaks, ridges, slopes
and valleys. It was a great spot from which to
glass the clearings and meadows and several
sage-carpeted saddles that were favorite
haunts of mule deer and elk. Not only that, it
was a good jumping-off place because you
could slip down into the timber in any number
of directions to initiate a mile-or—more-long
stalk on observed game or still—hunt into
promising areas like the beaver pond in the
creek in the next valley.

It was a Sunday that Bob Larson led me
down the slope toward the beaver pond and
high enough on the opposite slope to spot 13-
plus mule deer grazing in four groups on an-
other section of the slope from the ridge we
had just left. The closest group was at least
1200 yards away — beyond the beaver pond
and above a healthy stand of aspens that grew
about a third of the way up the slope. We toiled
up through the aspens, moving from spruce to
spruce, picking our way through the sage until
we reached a run—off channel that led up-slope
toward the largest group of deer, By this time
we were within 200 yards of our objective and
the cover was getting sporadic. We could see
the mulies farther up the shallow draw, work-
ing in and out of the sage and higher brush.

We closed the distance to about 100 yards, but
at that point they must have winded us be-
cause they moved up-slope at a brisk walk. We
counted eight animals in the group as they
topped out on the ridge and faded out of view.
When we reached a vantage point that permit-
ted us to survey the slope, it was void of deer.
The other groups had also departed for parts
unknown.

On our way back to the ridge where we’d
left the horses we moved in on a young cow
moose browsing in low brush and small aspens
at the base of a slide. She was totally
unimpressed by our intrusion. She’d look and
browse, then casually look some more before
returning her attention to the vittles at hand.
As we worked up-slope to circumvent the
slide and the fault that appeared to have
caused it, she was still at it as serenely unconcerned
as a Holstein in a Wisconsin pasture.
On another occasion, several days later.
three of us rode down a timbered draw and
surprised a moose family of three — a sizeable
bull, a cow and her half—grown calf. They
were reluctant to leave the draw and herded in
front of us for a hundred yards or more before
the bull led them off into the pines. We knew
that the Rushes had a moose hunter in camp,
but he was hunting from a different base. He
had the license — we had the moose.

Jim Collin’s is Lakeview’s senior guide.
He is also the principal instructor for the Outfitter
and Guide School. Part way through our
hunt Jim rode into camp and informed Bud
Schwartz that his carpentry skills were
needed back at the ranch. Jim would join our
group as the third guide for the remainder of
the hunt. I had the privilege of hunting with
him and observing him in action for two days.
During that time we walked in on a group of
cows and calves, but had only a fleeting
glimpse as they faded into the heavy cover. A
couple of bulls answered Jim’s bugle, but they
weren’t aggressive and never let us get close
to them. Still, I came away from those two
days with a picture of a man who impressed
me as a true sportsman and conservationist
a lover of nature and wildlife. I don’t think
Jim noticed me watching as he reached into an
obscure crevice in the rocks on a high ridge
and extracted an empty beer can that he
tucked into his back-pack. He was cleaning
up the refuse left by someone who didn’t cherish
the natural beauty of that isolated wind-
swept spot as much as he did.

Late in the second week of our hunt Rick `
tagged a nice 4×4 mulie after a stalk that took N
him halfway around a mountain and occupied
the best part of a day. He kept after that buck
with dogged determination and finally maneuvered
the shot that brought him down. We
hadn’t seen many mulie bucks and Rick was
not about to let that one get away.

The Hunt In Review
One thing worth noting — Trebark camo
in the brown, gray and black pattern is an excellent choice for a western hunt. It blends
right into the sage and other brush and it is totally at home in the tall timber, offering the obscurity
that bowhunters want.

This chronicle would hardly be complete
without some mention of Homer — by far the
outstanding mule in the Rush’s remuda.
Homer is a piebald Missouri canary who, according
to the Lakeview crew, had a sweet,
amiable, and remarkably tolerant disposition
until, like the biblical Samson, Delilah in the
form of Keith Rush, parted him from his
crowning glory. Hormer’s flowing mane was
roached to enhance his mule like appearance.
Apparently Homer was greatly affronted by
this tonsorial violation and became unpredictably
cantankerous. If the remuda was missing
in the morning, it would be Homer who led
them off. He appeared to know every trick in
the book for shedding a pack and had a mind
of his own that never seemed to be in agreement with that of his rider.

While we had licenses for bear in both
Montana and Idaho and saw ample evidence
of their presence, we never did quite get
around to hunting specifically for the bruins.
Our guides quoted statistics that credited the
average Montana bear to be in the neighbor-
hood of 175 pounds live weight. Judging from
the height of the claw marks on bear trees
along the trails, these had to be the tallest and
skinniest bears imaginable. As I sat aboard
Old Deuce and looked at the claw marks, they
extended to levels considerably above my
head.

It seems to be a bowhunter’s nature to be
interested in what equipment is used in the
field by other hunters and how it performed
under conditions of the hunt. All four hunters
in our camp carried Quadraflex bows ranging
in draw weight from 60 to 70 pounds. Properly
set up, the Quadraflex is one of the best
performing round wheel compounds available,
with a rating velocity of about 205 fps. I
have found it to be a very forgiving bow, read-
ily tunable, and capable of great tolerance for
arrow spine and weight distribution. I have
used these characteristics to great advantage
in machine test work when it was desired to
shoot a wide range of arrow shaft sizes or to
compare the penetration of various broad-
heads of different weights.
The Quads performed well on the hunt.
About the only misadventure happened to
Rick Bolin’s bow. One limb developed a small
glass splinter from a nick early in the trip. We
worked it over with a fine file until the splinter
was blended out and he shot it after that with-
out problem.
Considering the unusual tolerance of the
Quadraflex, it is possible to select from a
wide range of arrow types. Glen Crisp elected
Graphlex 17-8s while I preferred the 18-8
size, even with a lower draw weight. Bob Ste-
wart and Rick Bolin used Easton aluminum
shafts which, if I recall correctly, were 21 17s.
The Sagittarius bow quivers adapted well
to the Quads, but it is important to select a
mounting system for these quivers that is
compatible with the bow in question. For
bows with conventional limb adjustment bolts
and associated washers, Sagittarius offers a
two-piece quiver with mounting brackets that
fit under the limb bolt washers. This system
provides an extra long span for the grip on the
arrows plus overall reduced weight of the
quiver — two excellent features.

I had equipped my Quad with a detachable
bow sling that was developed by Wayne
Carlton. It attaches with the quick disconnect
fasteners that are common on rifle slings.
This device proved very helpful when toting
the bow on horseback or on steep mountain
trails where both hands are required for
climbing or descending.
Our 10-day hunt seemed too short — at
least it did to me, since I returned empty
handed. While I was inexperienced with this

type of horseback pack-in trip, I felt that we
were in the hands of experienced, competent
and considerate outfitters who did everything
possible to make our stay a pleasant, memorable event as well as a satisfying hunt.
If you have a craving to hunt the Divide
Country with the expanded possibilities of a
two-state bag, you should certainly consider
Rush’s Lakeview Ranch. Their alternate pro-
grams for photography, snowmobiling, skiing, fishing or just plain dude vacationing
offer non-hunters in the family many adventure
opportunities as well.

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