Archive for the 'Hunting Stories' Category

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Published by archerchick on 23 Mar 2010

Eye Level Black Bear – By Rick Combs

Eye Level Black Bears – By Rick Combs

Bow Hunting World Annual 2004-2005

Bowhunting World Annual 2004-2005

The Scenario I had envisioned entailed spotting the bear in a clearing, mapping out a strategy, then hunkering down and executing the perfect stalk.  What really happened was more like this:  We spotted the bear at about 30 yards in a thicket of spruce and aspens just before it dropped out of sight into a small drainage, and my guide was shoving me toward it as I struggled to knock an arrow.

“Go! Go! Go!” he hissed. “That’s a good bear! That’s a good bear! That’s a good bear! Get up there!”

Half expecting the bear to have vanished, but fully aware it could just as easily be moving my direction, I began walking carefully toward the lip of the ravine, bow at full draw.  As I peeked over and looked down on the gradual slope, the bear was standing broadside 10 steps away.  He ran forward a few yards, and I thought he’d be in the thicket before I could get off a good shot.  But then, inexplicably, he stopped and looked back.

I won’t pretend to know what goes through an animal’s mind at such a moment, but at the time it appeared for all the world he was thinking, “Wait a minute, I’m the bear. I’m not the one who is supposed to run”  I swung the sight pin to the crease behind the shoulder, released the arrow, and watched the fletching disappear in the sweet spot.

The bear lunged forward, running further down into the ravine to a slough.  Crossing it on a log, he stumbled once, nearly falling in, but made it to dry ground.  Every bowhunter’s instinct after arrowing an animal is to keep it in sight as long as possible, but as I attempted to move forward and to one side to do that, my guide was tugging me away from the action, fearing that I was trying to follow the bear immediately.

That bear was not the first I’d seen on this trip, and it would prove to be far from the last.  While in some ways the reality of my close encounter with a BC black bear did not live up to my fantasy, in all the ways that mattered British Columbia bear hunt was everything I’d hoped it would be and more.

To begin with it was a spot & stalk hunt.  There is a lot to be said for baited bear hunting, beginning with the fact that in some areas, hunting over bait is the only feasible way to go about hunting bears. Hound hunting, too, has its following where legal. Man and dog have hunted cooperatively for thousand’s of years, and for more than a few hunters, enjoying that primal link is the main reason for hunting. My fantasy, though, was a spot & stalk hunt. I wanted to do it on the ground, eye-to-eye, so to speak, with the bear.

Pick The Right Outfitter

Nonresident hunters are required to
hunt with one of the 240 licensed guide-outfitters in British Columbia. Barring extremely bad luck (record late snowfall and low temperatures, a major forest fire in your hunting area), most any of them will show you bears, and your  chances of getting a shot at a respectable
bruin are excellent. Even the most experienced trophy hunter with very high standards has a relatively good chance at shooting opportunities for trophy black bears or color phase bears in
British Columbia. The real question is,
what kind of overall hunting experience are you seeking? Are you interested only in a remote wilderness hunt from a spike camp, or would you prefer to stay in a comfortable lodge with hot tubs and other amenities!  Either is available, as well as nearly every variation in between, from snug cabins to heated wall tents to bed & breakfast ranches.

Baiting bears is not legal in British Columbia, and though it is legal to hunt with hounds, spot & stalk hunting is far and away the most popular approach.
Still, “spot & stalk” is not a particularly specific term. At one end of the spot
& stalk spectrum, the hunter can hunt exclusively on foot in remote, fly-in or pack-in areas, scouting for sign and glassing mountainside, aualance chutes, or natural openings.

On the other end of the spot & stalk
spectrum, there is cruising logging roads on ATVs or in 4-wheel-drive vehicles.
Logging is a major industry in British Columbia, which means, that in much of the province there are miles and miles of dirt logging roads, not to mention clearcuts. Clearcuts and logging roads produce copious quantities of the fresh green growth bears love to eat.

Of course, logging roads and clearcuts can be hunted on foot. The vehicles, obvious advantage is the opportunity they afford to cover great amounts of territory in short order.

Yet another alternative is hunting waterways from boats. In the case of
both wheeled vehicles and boats,glassing the area and moving on.  If bears are spotted from vehicles, hunters exit and stalk on foot to within bow range.

I spent a great deal of time researching my BC black bear hunt.  With so many top-notch outfitters in the region picking one was difficult.  In the end, I settled on Brett Thorpe and Bowron River Outfitters.  My homework paid off.  Though I’m perfectly happy to hunt from a tent camp in a spruce thicket, I have to admit the picturesque setting of Brett’s cabins on a lake reflecting surrounding snow capped mountains was a factor.

Brett himself was a factor, too.  I think it’s important that a hunter “click” with his guide or outfitter, and I knew I’d enjoy hunting with Brett from the moment we first made contact.  An avid bowhunter himself, Brett is intense about hunting, and his enthusiasm strikes a spark with anyone who is passionate about the sport.  Though he is new to the outfitting business, having only purchased his BC hunting concession two years ago, he has years of experience as a hunter and a guide.  He spent several years guiding and videotaping hunts for well-known black powder hunter and outfitter Jim Shockey.  Depending on the needs and wishes of his clients, Brett will make use of wheeled vehicles on logging roads, hunt the nearby Fraser River by boat, hunt strictly on foot, or use some combination of these methods.

Short of references from hunting buddies whose opinion you respect, the Internet and email are  great places to begin finding an outfitter. They’ll provide huge amounts of data in a hurry at little or no cost. It’s a good idea to write out a list of questions and issues that you
feel are important. Without a written list, you’ll quite likely get sidetracked on  discussions of peripheral issues and forget to cover some thing essential. Make  sure you understand what costs are covered, and ask specifically  about any additional costs you are likely to incur.
Ultimately there is no substitute for more personal modes of communication, so after narrowing the field to several possibilities, you’ll want to make some phone calls.  And though you’ve heard it before, it bears repeating.  Get references from hunters who did not fill a tag, if possible.  Then contact the references.

How Stalkable Are Bears?
I hate to say “that depends,” but that depends. In my experience, hunting pressure is a major factor in stalking any species. I have greatly enjoyed spotting and stalking wild hogs in relatively remote parts of Florida, but have hunted them in other areas where heavy hunting pressure made them almost entirely nocturnal and all but stalkable.
On the flip side, wild turkeys are often regarded as unstalkable, but on a memorable morning in Wyoming, I followed a flock of Merriams with my camera, back and forth along a ridgeline, several times getting within 20 yards of the birds.

Hunting pressure in BC is relatively light.  Bears in remote areas are accustomed to being at the top of the food chain, and though black bears are rarely aggressive toward people, many of them are not easily intimidated, either.
The chief vulnerability of bears anywhere is their eyes;  they can see alright, especially movement.  Their sense of smell is excellent, and it is usually what betrays the hunter.  Their preoccupation with food, both in the spring when they’ve just come out of hibernation, and in the fall when they’re bulking up to prepare for a long winter, is another vulnerability.  In any case, the hunter who gets downwind and approaches carefully -using foliage and terrain for concealment, freezing when the bear looks up and moving cautiously when its head is down or hidden – should sooner or later get within bow range of a bear.  After that, it’s a matter of not coming unglued long enough to make the shot.

A few hours prior to the incident recounted earlier, I muffed my first opportunity:  a 40-yard shot at a good bear.  Forty yards is a long shot for me, but not beyond my range if conditions are right and I don’t have to rush.  The bear was up a hill and looking back at me, and my arrow went a good five inches to the right of my aiming spot.  Luckily a spruce tree intervened to prevent a gut shot.  I’ll blame the steep uphill angle, but I can’t deny pure excitement probably was a factor.

Reality may never live up to fantasies in all the particulars, but with a little homework to find the outfitter who will best meet your needs and desires, along with some planning and preparation, a British Columbia spot & stalk black bear hunt can be a reality you’ll look back on fondly for the rest of your life.

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Published by archerchick on 22 Mar 2010

Mulie Magic – By Steve Byers

Mulie Magic – By Steve Byers
September 2005

Bowhunting  trophy mule deer is no cakewalk, but every now and then it all comes together oh so sweet.

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

Bow & Arrow Hunting September 2005

The trek one makes to a true trophy animal can take many twists and turns. I have been on hunts where it can take weeks, sometimes months, for that one shot to happen. On the flip side of that is where Bruce Barrie’s hunt lies for mule deer and elk in western Colorado last season. Bruce hunted with my wonderful wife, Cassie, and me. As Bruce and I spoke on the phone countless times over the summer, I assured him that getting a nice mulie in the 160-plus range wasn’t out of the realm of possibility. (I think Bruce thought I might not know how to field-judge mule deer!) Our phone conversations consisted of me telling Bruce that I had just seen another 180-inch monster and him going “Really?”
I scouted a farm area near my home we call the “strip.” It consists of four large farms and is about 5 miles long and 3 miles wide. This area has turned out six “book bucks” in the past four years, with the smallest being a 161-inch 4×4. To see a group of bucks all in the 170s is not uncommon. I grew up hunting these farms as a kid, and I have had many encounters with some true giants. With only my family having access to bowhunt, we have gone on a very strict management program. We have decided on shooting only deer that we think will make it to 150 or higher. My summer scouting had turned up many “shooters,” and I was feeling confident we would get the job done. I felt like Bruce’s best chance at a buck would be on the ground doing some spot and stalk attempts.

Bruce was set to arrive in Montrose on Aug. 27, and I was sure his best chance at a “wall hanger” would be the first week of the season. When Bruce got here, he shot his bow to reassure that everything made it OK, and we went and got him an elk tag.

With the best time to hunt these bucks being in the evening, we would do some elk hunting in the mornings. I also have a ranch on the Uncompahgre Plateau, which harbors many elk and mule deer. We would spend our mornings chasing bugling bulls here. The evening before season started, I took Bruce on a short drive through some of the property we would be hunting. I have been after a large 3×3 on the strip for about five years now. Encounters with him are so common that my good friend Evan Baise began calling him “Pot Belly,” aptly named for his 350-pound frame. As we drove along the dirt road, I pointed out different fields where many large bucks had been taken over the years. When we approached a particular alfalfa field, I warned Bruce to keep an eye out for “Pot Belly,” because we had spotted him there all summer long. There he was, 40 yards from the truck, just feeding away. Bruce was amazed by the sheer size of this old mature buck. I urged Bruce to take him whenever the chance presented itself. Bruce laughed and said “Sweet!”

After a fairly uneventful first day, our second morning dawned with bulls bugling in a distant draw. We quickly cut the distance to about 400 yards of the screaming bulls. The bulls seemed to be heading toward a large ravine on a neighboring ranch. After setting up three or four times, we were nearing the fence line ourselves. I decided that we needed to get to a stand of aspens, near the lip of the large ravine . Bruce and Cassie quickly raced forward to set up, and when they got about 50 yards in front of me, I began cow calling. The bull responded with a low guttural roar from about 150 yards through the aspens.

Almost instantly another bull in the bottom of the ravine answered him. We were in the driver’s seat now! It seemed that the two bull elks were racing to see who could get to me first. I was pleading frantically with my cow call for the closest bull to come in. He responded by coming to the fence line about 30 yards in front of Bruce. When the bull jumped the fence, Bruce seized the opportunity and drew his bow. The bull was now 25 yards and nearing broadside. When the shot went off, Bruce’s setup was so quiet, the bull barely even moved. I assumed Bruce must have missed, so I took my cow calling into overdrive. I was so focused on watching the bull that I didn’t notice that Bruce had nocked another arrow. This time I watched as another arrow passed completely through the bull from only 35 yards this time. The bull stumbled stiff legged a mere 60 yards before expiring. Bruce had hit the 5×6 the first time, but an extremely quiet setup allowed a follow-up shot to be made.

I can’t begin to explain how impressed I was with Bruce’s choice of a broadhead, the 100-grain Turbo. I think it is one of the best penetrating heads that Barrie Archery has ever designed. After 20-plus years in the wapiti woods pursuing these beautiful animals, I can clearly say that the single most important aspect I look for is a broadhead that provides excellent penetration. With a large bull sometimes tripping the scales near 1,000 pounds, everything is bigger, so you need good penetration just to get to the kill zone.

It was time to shift our focus to chasing mulies the following morning. This for me, is bowhunting in its rawest form – you versus an animal with extremely keen senses on level ground. I cut my bowhunting teeth spotting and stalking mule deer, and I am proud to say that I am a much better bowhunter because of it. After blowing thousands of stalks, you become much more aware of the noise you may be making and things going on around you.

It was Aug. 30, a cool snap had hit, and we had a full moon. It seemed like everything was going our way. With a southwest wind, the game plan this morning was to slip south, with the wind in our faces, along the edge of a large marsh. Hoping to ambush a mature buck there, we set out. We quickly covered a mile or so, and as we were nearing a field edge , suddenly a large buck appeared 200 yards to our right. It was apparent that he was already aware of our presence. A mature 4×4 with good width and deep forks, I quickly judged him at 180 gross.

With the buck already aware of us, we decided to leave him alone and possibly look for him later that afternoon. We then turned and went straight east for a mile or two to a large draw. The west-facing slope of this draw is covered with a jungle of large cottonwoods and small willows, and I had seen many bucks in here all summer long.

To get to this draw we would be crossing the same field where we had seen Pot-Belly a few days before. We were both optimistic, it was still early, and we just knew good things would happen. We slowly crept our way to a large drainage ditch in the bottom of the draw. Just as quickly as we arrived, I spotted bucks, sky-lined by the rising sun. Bruce looked at me and said, ” What should we do?” I quickly replied, “I think we are in a good spot.”

Bruce must have thought I was nuts! These bucks were 300 yards away, and still showing no signs of coming our way, but over the course of scouting this draw, I had seen this same group of bucks work their way to the drainage ditch that we were now hidden by. There were six bucks in this group, and while not our largest, some showed potential. The bucks were just about parallel to us when they started down into the draw. we agreed that the largest buck might go 170 gross. I asked Bruce if he was interested in taking this buck and he gave me the combination head-nod and “Uh-Huh.”

When the bucks reached the bottom of the draw, tamaracks and willows engulfed them. We weren’t sure where they were when suddenly Bruce muttered, “Here they come.” All we could see were velvet-covered antler tips until they stepped out 30 yards from us. The big buck was the fourth to come out into the open, and he moved toward us slightly and then turned perfectly giving Bruce a quartering-away 25-yard shot.

As he drew his bow, all of the bucks peered at us. Luckily for us, there was a huge cottonwood behind us and there must have been a glare from the rising sun. With this glare in their eyes, Bruce reached full draw. When the shot broke, I could clearly see the arrow strike through the buck.

We hadn’t gone 30 yards on the blood trail when Bruce yelled, “There he is!” Bruce couldn’t wait to get his hands on him! With nearly 40 inches of mass, and 4-inch brow tines, this buck is truly magnificent! As a testament to the great habitat on the Strip, this was only a 3 1/2-year-old buck. They say give your bucks time and food. Well, I like to say give my bucks sweet corn and alfalfa, and me some time to hunt them!

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Published by archerchick on 22 Mar 2010

Bowhunter’s Bonanza -Ben Pearson’s National Contest 1970

Bowhunter’s Bonanza – March 1970
Five Lucky Hunters Win Trip To Fabulous Alaska In Ben Pearson’s National Contest

James Marcoux of Fox Lake, Wisconsin had often dreamed,
as have most bowhunters, of making a trip to Alaska for moose and caribou. Imagine the thrill experienced by Marcoux and four other men scattered across the United States when they learned they had won a place on Ben Pearson’s fantastic Bowhunters Bonanza.
Stanley Spilecki, New Britain, Connecticut; Al Miller, Rockwood, Pennsylvania; Dave
Pederson, Landing, New Jersey; and E.L. Knight of Pryor, Oklahoma all received word that
they would accompany Ben Pearson’s Jim Dougherty on an all-expense trip to a remote camp on the Mishik River, 160 miles west of King Salmon on the Alaskan Peninsula.  Winners were selected by a drawing after entering the Bonanza Contest.

Also accompanying Dougherty were three members of the famed Ben Pearson
Bowhunting Staff: Don Mclntosh of Billings, Montana; George Wright of La Crescenta,
California; and Danny Lloyd of Columbus, Ohio, Lloyd is also a Ben Pearson sales representative.

The week-long hunt was headed by guide Ed King of Naknek, Alaska who guided Dougherty to his record class moose and caribou in 1969 for the filming of Record Book Bowhunting – Alaskan Style recently released by the Ben Pearson Film Library.

Led by King, Dougherty and the Staff Members, the hunt was action packed from the first day
in spite of worsening weather that ranged from winds to 70 knots, rain, sleet and snow.
While not stalking moose and caribou, the group fished for salmon with marginal success in
the flooded Mishik River and hunted ptarmigan in the vicinity of camp.

In terms of hunting success the trip was fabulous with a 60 percent success ratio, three moose and three caribou for ten hunters. AII participants got good shooting, getting chased by several belligerent moose in the process and on one occasion literally tripping over a brown bear laying up on a caribou kill.

It was for all involved the trip of a lifetime into the last big game frontier, an adventure that will long live in the memories of those that found it was truly a Bonanza.

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Published by archerchick on 22 Mar 2010

Dream Buck- By Randy Templeton

Dream Buck- By Randy Templeton

September 2005

Here’s the story about a magnificent Illinois monster buck.

Bow & Arrow Hunting September 2005

When Dan Nordstrom of Coal Valley, Illinois. crept into the woods one afternoon last November, he had no idea what was in store for him. For sure Dan didn’t know what he’d see, much less shoot one of the largest bucks, killed by any archer in the state during the 2004 season.When Dan started bowhunting 14 years ago, he had a dream of someday shooting a buck that would break the 200-inch barrier. That dream became reality when a giant non-typical stepped into a clearing this past fall. Let’s take a look at the exciting events that led up to Dan scoring on this buck of a lifetime.

Post season Scouting Pays Off

“I spend a considerable amount of time in the woods during the post-season, and I don’t worry too much about spooking deer since the season is still several months away, and any intrusion will be forgotten Dan explained. ‘That’s why the off season is a good time to thoroughly dissect a piece of land. I typically search for rubs, rublines, old scrapes, bedding areas and trails that lead to and from feeding and bedding locations.”

In the late winter and early spring, Dan also spends time hunting for shed antlers. In fact, in the spring of 2003 he picked up a set with striking similarities to those on the buck he shot this past season” Although Dan said he can’t be certain, it’s quite possible the sheds are from the same deer or perhaps from another in the same gene pool.

In addition to scouting, Dan utilizes the post-season to clear shooting lanes or drop trees to create a funnel. By the time the season rolls around the deer are pretty much programmed to travel where he wants them. For example, if a buck is traveling just out of bow range, Dan says, dropping a tree in the trail can shift his travel pattern enough to put him within range.

Dan continued; ‘Late winter is also a good rime to identify potential locations for food plots. When planting time arrives in April or May, I’m ready to get started. I’m still experimenting with food plots, like clover, alfalfa and recently chicory.

“Several years ago I purchased 90 acres from a friend of mine who’s a logger by trade. The property is unique- there’s about 25 acres of creek-bottom marsh that borders 65 acres of hardwood timber. The big, mature trees were logged off, but it sparked a lot of new growth, and it’s gotten pretty thick since. It’s become real deer habitat.

“A couple of years later I bought an additional 10 acres that butts up to the other” Dan added. “That piece consists of 20 acres of pasture and 10 acres of timber. It might be only 120 acres total but it’s got a little bit of everything to offer in terms of habitat. When considering how the land is laid out, plus all the improvements I’ve made with adding food plots, it’s a hunter’s dream come true .”

Dan’s Bowhunting Strategy

“Face it, in the Midwest we’re not hunting Large-timber whitetails. The woods are typically small ranging from 25 to l00 acres. We have the upper hand after harvest, mainly because most of the deer are funneled into and concentrated in these small wood lots, and we’re able to take advantage of that. Our biggest challenge is getting to and from stands undetected. I do a lot of edge hunting to avoid burning out my timbers.

When it comes to hunting big deer I think we’ve all got different opinions on how to go about it. Likewise, I’m confident that we can all pretty much agree on what not to do. For example, if I already know there’s a big deer running on my property, it doesn’t make any sense to penetrate his bedroom or private area and risk bumping him out altogether. Throughout the summer and until the season starts, I stay completely out of the woods. Instead, I spend a lot of time glassing crops from a safe distance to learn where and when deer enter the fields to feed. “My favorite time to hunt whitetails is during the hard pre-rut, which begins about Oct. 25 and ends around Nov. 10 in Illinois. I think it’s the best time to identify a big buck’s pattern, which makes it possible to
close the distance.”

Scent Control A Must

Although I’d like to believe most hunters throw caution to the wind and take measures to avoid detection, Dan suspects that some hunters are more concerned about what the wind is doing at their stand, rather than what it’s doing as they go to and from it. The savvy hunters feel that it’s important to know and understand what the wind is doing all the time. Like many, Dan takes all the necessary precautions before a
hunt, showering with unscented soap and storing his outer clothes in a scent-free bag or container. Most important, Nordstrom claims that wearing a full-length Scent-Lok suit, rubber boots, and spraying himself down and gear with HS Scent-A-Way spray has been the key to bearing a whitetail’s keen sense of smell.

The Season Begins
Here is Dan Nordstrom’s account of the start to his season: “For years, my friend Dan Coons and I have always hunted together on opening weekend. We both try to put a doe in the freezer early so we can then concentrate on hunting a buck. As it turned out, Dan shot a doe
the first afternoon and I killed mine during the second. “l actually hunt several places, but to avoid burning any of them out too early, I typically spend the first three weeks of the season spreading out my days hunting different spots.

“On Halloween my brother, Mike, and my nephew, Ross Nordstrom, came in to town and wanted to do some deer hunting. I took them out and tried to put them on a deer, but it just didn’t happen. ‘A friend, Jonathon Lujan, was up from New Mexico that same week hunting with another friend of ours, Jeff Campagna. It was Nov. 1 and I remember it was raining that day. We all got together for lunch and sat around dis-
cussing whether or not we were going out. The rain let up a little, so I ended up going out that afternoon and it paid off.
“I gathered up my gear and headed for a stand along the edge of a small picked cornfield. About 3:40 that afternoon,
three big bucks entered the secluded corner on the far end of the field to feed. The deer seem to like that corner because
it’s isolated and hidden from any roads. It’s not unusual to see 15 or more does feeding there in the evening. During the pre-rut and rut, the bucks seem to hang around the edges and come out every so often to check on the ladies.
“Unfortunately, I d forgotten my good binocular. Using my small compacts it was difficult to tell just how big the bucks were, but one was exceptionally bigger than the others and definitely a shooter. “The bucks fed for a while, then slipped back into the woods using the same trail. I already had a stand set up close to where the biggest buck went in. In the worst-case scenario, I figured my longest shot would be 30 yards.

The wind was out of the northwest and if it stayed steady, I’d hunt the stand the next evening. If the buck came from the west again, the wind would be at his back, so chances are I’d get a shot off long before he winded me. “The next afternoon, I was running a bit late. When arriving, I quickly slipped into my Scent-Lok suit and sprayed down my outer clothes and gear with Scent-A-Way.

I made way toward the stand and arrived about 3:20. “After getting settled in I bleated a few times on ‘The Can.’ I normally do this because I think it has a calming effect on any deer that might have heard me walking in. Chances are they think it’s just another deer and not a threat.
“Shortly afterward, a doe and button buck cautiously moved through and began feeding. I don’t think they smelled me, but the doe knew something wasn’t quite right. It was exactly 20 minutes after climbing into the stand (3:40) when I spotted a buck walking up the fence
line. He was coming so fast I didn’t have a lot of time to look him over, but he was definitely a shooter! It looked like the same buck I’d seen the afternoon before.

“I got in position to shoot, but just two or three steps short of giving me a broadside shot, he stopped. Only a few seconds passed before he turned and started walking away. I quickly drew the Hoyt UltraTec bow and mouthed a murrp. The buck stopped quartering away, so I tucked the pin behind the last rib and punched the release. The arrowed buried itself to the fletching and the buck charged off with his tail tucked between his legs. I visually marked the location 50 yards away where I’d last seen him. Seconds later I heard a crashing noise that led me to believe he’d gone down.

“I waited maybe 30 minutes or so before climbing down to take up the trail. I went to where I last saw him, but didn’t find any blood right away.
With my binocular I scanned the area ahead and spotted his white belly just 40 yards further down the hill. I approached cautiously, but he was down for good. It wasn’t until I walked up on him and grabbed the antlers that I was able to grasp how big the buck reality was. I’ve been waiting a long time to shoot a buck like this, and words can’t express how I felt at that moment. This was the fourth buck I’ve shot that will qualified for the Pope & Young Club record book, but also my biggest to date and a dream season come true!”

One thing that’s interesting to note is the time of day Dan killed his deer. The giant came meandering down the same trail heading toward the
field to feed and check on the does at exactly the same time as he did the previous day. It goes to show that big bucks can be patterned and killed during the pre-rut.

After the mandatory 60-day drying period, Dan took his Warren County giant to Tim Talmsley and had it officially measured. The buck had 18 scorable points and gross scored 203 6/8 and netted 194 0/8 inches. There were a couple of deer killed in 2004 that scored higher than the Nordstrom buck, but from a personal viewpoint, none were nearly as impressive.

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Published by archerchick on 22 Mar 2010

80 Years With Fred Bear – By Bob Brandau

80 Years With Fred Bear – By Bob Brandau
March 1982

We’re damn lucky to have Fred Bear around.  In a time when folks tell us there are no heroes left, we only need look to Fred to know it isn’t true.
For the bowhunter, Fred has done it all. He’s taken world-class big game on every continent and built a career around his love for a sport. He stood and was counted as a conservationist when the word was still unknown to most sportsmen.

The John Wayne of the bowhunter’s world Fred attracts a crowd wherever he goes. Autographs, handshakes and flash bulbs are as much a part of his day as the sun. Yet unlike many other people in that position, his sincere smile never fades and his patience while listening to another
hunter’s whitetail adventure is unending.

His ability as a woodsman is equalled to or surpassed by his talents as a businessman, and inventor. Much of the archery tackle we use today is based on inventions cultivated in his fertile mind decades ago. Along with a few other adventuresome pioneers, Fred turned an obscure hobby into a national pastime and industry.

Starting in a depression torn 1933 in the United States, Fred slowly built his archery company from a garage in Detroit to the world leader it is today: His factory now produces products known around the world and employs about 350 people.

Fred’s cunning as a hunter and friendly nature have brought him many honors and thrills. He’s dined with royalty and dipped beans out a can with African bushmen.  Some of the adventures he’s had would seem outlandish even when printed in a young boy’s favorite book.

And of all the game Fred has taken through the years, what has been the toughest
to hunt? The whitetail deer.

“There’s no doubt about it, the whitetail deer is the smartest craftiest game animal a man can hunt with a bow,” he said- But what does Fred consider to be the toughest most dangerous game to chase with bow and arrow? Excerpts from the book, Fred Bear’s Field Notes, and an article printed in Outdoor Life in the early 1960s show that to be the African lion.

“Of all the “if-you-start-it, I’ll-finish it” game a hunter can go after with either gun or bow, the two big wonderful cats of Africa and Asia, the lion and tiger, head my list. There is something about them that no other animal can match, a mysterious, regal quality of fearlessness and arrogance and terrible power. In my book the man who kills either of them has reached the pinnacle
of the trophy hunter’s world.”

Fred said recently that the animal he had long considered to be the top hunter’s trophy also provided him with his most exciting and memorable hunt “Well, I had a lot of most memorable hunts, I guess. The most exciting of course, was when we were ambushed by a lion for half a night in Africa. I’ve spent a few nights in a tree with a grizzly down below and a couple cape buffalo have come close and then there were the polar bears. I guess you can call them memorable in terms of excitement.   In just the case of excitement my most memorable hunt would be the lion because in most of the exciting experiences I have had, the high point was over in a second or two. You knew you were either going to get in trouble or not. But the case of the lion went on for about six hours and that certainly was memorable.”

A short time after his encounter with the lions of Portuguese Africa in 1965, he recalled the story like this:

“I eased to my knees and picked up my bow. There were two lions, both big-maned males lying beside the wildebeest carcass.  Quietly as I moved, they saw me instantly, stopped feeding and stared balefully at the blind.

“One was broadside to me, with his head turned in my direction. The other lay
behind him facing us head on. I picked the closest one and drove my arrow for a spot
behind his shoulder.

“There wasn’t enough light to follow the arrow’s flight but the lion left no doubt that it had been hit. He ripped out a roaring blood chilling snarl and both animals sprang to their feet.   The rear one shot off to the left running in long bounds. The other curved hell-bent toward the blind, growling and roaring But when he was only yards away, he swerved off to the left and streaked past
within a few feet of us. The last we heard of him was an ear-splitting roar out in the gathering darkness.

“For another 10 minutes; there was dead silence, with five pairs of ears straining for some sound that would tell us where the lions had gone and what they were doing. When it was full dark one of the pair announced his return with a roar that came from no more than 20 yards away and rattled the very leaves of the blind

“One thing we knew for sure. If either lion was bent on revenge, our brush blind would no more stop him than a garden fence stops a hungry deer. He wouldn’t even have to smash through it. He’d come sailing over and the last we’d see of him would be his black silhouette against the faint light that still lingered in the sky.

“There was half an hour of agonizing silence. Nobody moved, spoke, coughed or even cleared his throat My legs were getting stiff and cramped but it was imperative to endure it without stirring. It was cold but no one so much as touched his blanket Tension and suspense filled the blind like fog.

The lion ripped the night apart once more with a long series of roars and snarls, again only a few yards beyond our barricade. I’ve heard bears, tigers and even elephants scream their anger and defiance, and any one of them can make the hair on a man’s neck stand up like porcupine quills. But I don’t believe any other sound that comes from an animal’s throat is as awesome and frightening as the roar of a lion close up.

Another half an hour went by, seeming like half the night.  Then the situation took a new turn.
A lion spoke up from half a mile away giving the half purring half moaning get-together call and another answered farther off in the distance. I had listened to those typical sounds of the African night before and thought them interesting and thrilling. Now they turned my blood to water. Our lion didn’t give us much time to worry about any other, however he let go another bone-shaking roar.

After a few minutes, the lion roared again. The silence settled down and nothing happened for an hour. At the end of that time, Luiz (one of the native guides) inched over to our side of the blind.
“Baas, I can hear lion eating,” he said. ” I think he feed on the dead one.”

We cocked our ears and sure enough we could hear the ripping of flesh and the clicking of teeth out there in the dark, 50 or 60 feet away.

For the first time we had something to go on. It was very unlikely that a wounded lion would be feeding and if this was the unwounded one, quarrelsome as he was, we were in less danger than we had feared. But if Luiz’s hunch was right by morning, the pelt of my lion would be torn and worthless.

“Will one lion really eat another?” I asked Wally, my guide. “Indeed they will,” he assured me.

By this time the tension in the blind had become too much for the native guides to bear, and they issued the ultimatum of either climbing the trees or going back to camp. Knowing that the trees would not support the three natives, and that any commotion was likely to bring on a charge from the lion, Freds party decided to make a break for it in the car.

Taking nothing but the guns with them, they piled into the car, stomped on the starter and knifed out into the African darkness.

“To my immense relief,” Fred continued, “the first thing we found when we went back the next morning was what was left of the python (shot the day before by Fred while making the blind). We agreed that it might have been the snake on which we had heard the lion feeding and our hunch proved good. When we picked up the blood trail of the lion I hit and followed it for 200 yards,
we found a magnificent cat stone dead since the evening before. Needless to say, I didn’t give the python another thought “My arrow had gone in low, back of a foreleg and ranged through both lungs, causing severe hemorrhage. A full-grown male with a heavy mane, he weighed 460 pounds and measured an even 10 feet pegged out.

“Looking back on those thrilling hours in the blind, with the lion growling and feeding in the darkness, I couldn’t blame the guides for not wanting to lion hunt again. But when I got back to camp, and I saw him reaching four feet above my head with the tip of his tail brushing the ground, I knew I wouldn’t trade that night for anything that ever happened to me on a hunt He was the greatest trophy I have killed, and he left me, as a bowhunter, no place to go.”

But Fred’s conquests as a hunter did not end after that long six-hour wait in a blind on the flats of Portuguese Africa He went on to down a polar bear, after three trys, 500 miles north of Fairbanks, Alaska and a 1,800 Asiatic buffalo in Brazil. Even today he is a familiar face around many campfires in the United States, offering a tale of adventure or two.

Anyone who has been lucky enough to hear Fred spin a tale has heard one of the masters. You may be sitting in an auditorium, but when the griz growls and the guide’s hands are skinned as he climbs a tree for safety, you can taste the adrenalin in your mouth. With the gestures of a magician.  Fred can tell a story that rivals those of Davey Crockett and Mark Twain. Those
who have heard his tales more than once may notice slight changes in “fact’ as he draws them together for the audience, but it doesn’t matter since the end result of excitement is always the same.

Fred is one the few individuals who has had the opportunity to hunt most of the game animals the world has to offer. He has hunted above the Arctic Circle, at the Equator and in lands untouched by modem civilization. Based on that experience, he said that if a hunter had only one “exotic” hunt to go on in his life, he should go to British Columbia or Alaska.

“Now, Africa is great,” he said, “but in British Columbia or Alaska you can drink from any stream you happen to run across.  The hunting conditions are much better and the terrain won’t be burned up like it is in Africa during the dry season when you hunt. The mountains, the snow capped peaks and trees-yes, that s what I’d recommend. You won’t see nearly as much game, but after all the kill is the anti climax. You go to enjoy yourself and to have fun in the outdoors with the birds, the bees, the animals, and the people.”

To say that Fred represents that last generation of the wild and free American hunter would be unfair. To say that his contributions to both bowhunting and conservation make him an outstanding American would be much more appropriate.

And although Fred’s tales of excitement are untarnished with the years, the role of the hunter has taken on an increasingly important duty. Today’s hunter, Fred said, should be more concerned with environmental issues. With the nation’s foremost conservationist Teddy Roosevelt, to serve
as his “idol,” Fred has taken a leadership role in backing sound conservation practices. People should take time out of their leisure hours to help promote conservation practices, he said
“Too many hunters today place too big an emphasis on the kill. When you read the stories, the emphasis is too much on the kill-instead of being in nature’s great outdoors,” he said.
“Too many people are uncomfortable in the woods. They don’t feel at home when actually they should be. The woods is a friendly place. Yes, the woods is big place to get lost in, or to get into trouble in, but the main thing when outdoors is to use good judgment stay out of trouble and have a good time.

“A downed animal is most certainly the object of a hunting trip, but it becomes an anticlimax when compared to the many pleasures of the hunt.  A period of remorse is in order. Perhaps a few words of forgiveness for having taken a life. After this there is a self-satisfaction for having accomplished a successful stalk and made a good shot.

“But a hunt based only on trophies taken falls short of what the ultimate goal should be. I have known many hunters who, returning empty-handed, have had nothing to say of the enjoyment of time spent in nature’s outdoors.

“I like to think that an expedition should be looked upon whether it be an evening hunt nearby or a prolonged trip to some far off place, as a venture into an unspoiled area. With time to commune with your inner soul as you share the outdoors with the birds, animals and fish that live there.

And  in another vein, if it is a lengthy trip, select your companions well. A hunting trip
is a great place to test the mettle of your friends.  “I feel like one of God’s chosen people, having had the experiences I’ve had in his great outdoors,” said Fred. <–<<

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Published by archerchick on 21 Mar 2010

Gila Miracle – By Eddie Claypool

Gila Miracle – By Eddie Claypool

September 2005

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

Every twist and turn haunts this bowhunter as he makes his way through the New Mexico wilderness.

Bow & Arrow Hunting September 2005

For the past twenty years I’ve been an impassioned, do-it-yourself elk bowhunter. Over this time, I’ve been involved in about every kind of situation imaginable – both good and bad. It seems that the bad memories stick in my mind indefinitely, while the good memories migrate to the back recesses of my mind. I think this is only a natural process since it’s the bad experiences that leave big scars, while the good memories are constantly being shuffled to the back of our memory by new, good times afield.

A few seasons ago, I went on a solo bowhunt for elk in the Gila country of southwestern New Mexico and made memories from both ends of the spectrum – incredible misfortune, followed by seemingly impossible. In the end, simple perseverance was the key to pulling something out of nothing. Let’s take a look at an outing that was one of the most bittersweet elk hunts I’ve ever been on.

High Hopes

I’d been coming to the Gila for a lot of years; I knew the resource and how to take advantage of it. I’d come alone for a reason – to hunt long, hard and effectively. Since I was on a mission to harvest an exceptional bull, I was willing to sacrifice the benefits of companionship in order to better focus on my self-centered goal…sometimes a guy has just gotta do what a guy has just gotta do.

Two days before the bow opener found me at a remote trailhead packing my mule(Runt) for a trip deep into the wilderness. Past Experience in the area had shown me a couple of remote ridges where groups of “bachelor” bulls liked to spend their summer while growing their massive crowns. I knew that if I could get into an area where such a situation existed, I could very possibly get a bull to respond to my calling. The element of surprise, coupled with the “virginity” of such unbothered bulls, could put a big bull in my lap fast – it had happened before.

As I headed down the trail, I was excited and my hopes were high. A long six hours later – with 14 miles behind me and almost 4,000 feet below me – I was dragging. Picking a spot for my camp, I began to get situated. After unsaddling Runt, I led my long-eared helper to a nearby creek so that he could get a drink. Hurrying along, in a split-second, I somehow manged to let a tree limb rake across my left eye. Knowing that I’d scratched my eye rather badly, I figured that I’d simply have to put up with some serious discomfort for a day or two…little did I know.

Sometime during the early morning hours, I awoke to a burning pain in my eye – I knew that something was seriously wrong. Now what? It was the day before the season opened, I was 14 miles from the truck (90 more to the nearest town of any size) and I couldn’t function! There was a battle going on inside me – the hunter side of me wanted to tough it out and go hunting, while the common sense side said that my eye needed immediate medical attention. By the time that day-light had finally arrived, I’d rolled around in my sleeping bag for long enough to know that I had to get to town and find out what the problem was- what a nightmare!

Deciding to leave my camp where it was at, I snapped a lead rope onto Runt as a new day dawned around me and began the long walk out. Seriously unhappy about the mess that I’d gotten myself into, I mulled the situation around in my mind. My eye was swelled so much that I could hardly see from it; it was six hours to the truck and another three hours to town! The question was, could even I get to town in time to get in to see a doctor today? Man, oh man, I sure needed too.

The Twilight Zone
Rolling into Silver City, New Mexico, at 3:30 p.m., one of the first places I saw was an optometrist’s office. It was open! Wheeling into a parking space, I jumped out and ran inside. Yes, they’d see me. The prognosis was this: I had an eye ulcer, probably caused by some type of bacteria that had gotten into the cut on my eye, and the condition was serious. I would be treated with antibiotic drops and pills, and if the condition hadn’t shown signs of improvement within 24 hours, I’d be sent to an ophthalmologist for further treatment. I would have to get a motel for the night, then come back for another check-up the following evening. This was more than I’d planned for. After all, I had a mule unattended, elk that needed to be hunted and a hunting trip budget that hadn’t allowed for all this extra expense. Could it get any better than this? Oh, yeah.
The following evening (the second day of bow season) I plodded back to the doc, praying for a release-it wasn’t to be. Things weren’t worse, but they weren’t noticeably better either. Doc said, “You need to come back the next day.” My head was spinning…could I leave Runt unattended another day? What if he’d knocked his water tub over the first day? Almost certainly, he had. I couldn’t believe it-what a nightmare! Finally-on my third day in town-the Doc finally saw what he was looking for-improvement in the eye. He would release me for three days, then I had to be checked again. Unbelievable, what a nightmare! How was I ever going to hunt elk under these circumstances? There was no way I had time to get back to my wilderness camp and get any hunting done! Well, maybe I could at least get back to my camp and pack it out to the truck. Maybe I could at least hunt from the road somewhere? So much for my original high hopes and dreams. What a nightmare.

And The Beat Goes On
Dashing back to the trailhead, I arrived at sunset on the third day of my “hunt.” Heading to the spot where I’d left Runt staked out, what should I find? No mule-only a rope, one end tied to a tree, the other end loose. Could it get any better than this? Oh, yeah.

After a mostly sleepless night, I set about searching for Runt the next day. I wanted to be mad at the mule, but the truth was, if one jackass had tied the other one up better, neither jackass would be in the situation that they were now in. After a full day of fruitless searching, I was in a mood, fit to be tied.

Late afternoon of the next day (the fifth of my hunt), I finally found Runt at an outfitters’ camp, about 5 miles down a trail into the wilderness. He seemed to be perfectly content socializing with his newfound horse friends. As a matter of fact, he didn’t seem very glad to see me at all- guess I was giving out bad vibes. I rounded him up and we headed back down the trail. Getting back to the truck at sunset. I picketed Runt, whipped up a meal on my Coleman stove then fell into the sack. Tomorrow was my doctor’s appointment-in that town 100 miles away-oh, joy! What a nightmare!
Noon of the sixth day of my hunt found me reading about elk hunting while sitting in the waiting room of the doctor’s office-man, was I ever praying. I needed a permanent release from civilization so that I could get into the woods-my shorts were getting in a permanent wad. Luckily, a short hour later, I was out of the doctor’s care for good. I headed back for the trailhead, Runt, and some wilderness elk hunting as fast as my old Ford could go-sadly, that wasn’t very fast.

When It Rains, It Pours
On the way back to camp that evening, I had two flats on my truck-simultaneously-and I only had one spare. I was starting to think that this elk hunting thing just wasn’t meant to be. Never had I been involved in such a non-ending nightmare-would this endless procession of pit-falls ever come to an end? And if it did, what kind of an end was that going to be? Feeling cursed, I wondered if I should just load up and head for home? Having never been a quitter, I reached deep inside for the perseverance to keep up the fight. If
nothing else, I’d go down while screaming defiance at the demons of defeat.

The following day, I finally got back on the road again, headed for camp and and Runt (I hoped). I’d long since forgotten what day of the season it was, but I knew one thing for sure – I didn’t have many more days left to work with. What should I do? Did I have the time to pack into the wilderness and start over, or should I simply day hunt into much more accessible areas? I felt the tug of my original dreams pulling at my inner being, so the matter was settled.

Going For Broke
Bright and early the next morning, Runt and I were to be found plodding submissively down an old, familiar trail.
This would be the third time that we’d hiked back and forth on this trail in the past 10 days. As of yet, the only positive to have come from all this hiking was that I was becoming much more mentally and physically tough. Now, if I could just combine this with some actual time spent hunting, maybe something good would come from all the fuss. After all, things had to go my way soon, didn’t they? Right….

Reaching my old campsite, things fell into place quickly. Grabbing my Mathews bow, I headed for the hills. Ah, it sure felt good to finally have the monkey off my back for a while. As I hiked for a distant ridge, I was finally at peace-things seemed to finally be going my way. Huh, those dark clouds coming in from the west surely weren’t a threat, were they? Wow, that one cloud sure looks like a monkey….

By the time I reached the 2-mile-from-camp point, I knew I was in for trouble. Boiling, black clouds were pouring in and distant thunder was starting to roll down the valley toward me. It just so happened that I’d forgotten to throw my rain suit in my daypack and I knew that my Scent-Lok camo would provide little protection from the rain. Since it was clear what was about to happen, I turned around and hurried back to camp. I’d no more than dove into my dome tent when the downpour and wind hit. For
the rest of the night-and well on into the morning-the storm of the century raged. I’ve never seen it rain harder or
longer-it was a genuine life-threatening flood. Everything was running water, including the higher flatter ground that I was camped on. Water in my tent, in my bag, water down the crack of my…well, you know what. I never thought the next morning was going to come. The next day was spent recuperating from the storm-everything I had was wet. Luckily, the sun came out midday and I was able to get almost everything dried out by sundown. To top it all off, it was a fact that I wasn’t going to be able to hunt the next day either because all the valleys and ravines were raging torrents’–I wouldn’t be able to get across any of them.

Going Out In Style
After another day spent doing nothing-with only two days of the season left-I was about to go blind-staggering wild. I was nearly two weeks into this trip, and as of yet, hadn’t spent a single day hunting! Loading up my backpack
on the morning of the next-to-last day of season, I finally headed out to do some hunting…I hoped.

By evening, I was in a vast trailless area that I knew for certain held elk. Toward sunset, a distant bugle drifted to my ears; Hurrying that direction, I closed the distance-but not before dark caught up with me. Throwing up my spike camp, I hit the sack, drifting off to the sound of near-by bugles. I hoped that tomorrow would be a good day.

At first light, I was within 200 yards of the belligerent bull-he’d sounded off all night, never getting out of earshot. Pulling our my bugle, I sent a challenge toward the hot-to-trot. A piercing scream came back immediately, shortly followed by the sound of breaking brush. Clipping my release on my bowstring, I slowly slid an arrow across the prongs of my rest. As my hand touched my face, big antlers came bobbing into view. As the big bull stepped briskly into an opening at 40 yards, I stopped him with a cow mew from the diaphragm
in my mouth. He’d do just fine-thump…the arrow left my bow. Center-punched, the big bull darted out of sight.

Later, as I knelt over the trophy, I had to marvel-this trip had been unbelievable! I’d endured everything that the
anti-hunting demons could throw at me, yet, after having hunted for less than 24 hours, I was tagged-out with a whopper 7×6 bull-I’ll take luck anytime! —

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Published by archerchick on 21 Mar 2010

Spring Turkey Tactics – By Randy Templeton

Spring Turkey Tactics – By Randy Templeton

MAY 2005

Fool Your Trophy Tom Using These Proven Methods

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

MAY 2005

Coming over the rise, he bellowed an eardrum-rattling gobble and strutted
for the decoy. It wasn’t long after two younger toms brought up the rear,
and it was soon perfectly clear which of the three was the boss gobbler on the ridge.

When the dust and feathers settled the big tom headed straight for the decoy but stopped
mid-stride and made a beeline for higher ground. At the time I couldn’t figure out what had gone
wrong, but I was soon enlightened when a mangy coyote came running over the ridge. I feared the jig was up and the hunt was over.

I continued to call and much to my surprise it wasn’t long after another tom answered my calls. It
sounded like the sarne tom that had been chased off. Evidently my assembly call was working.

Only minutes later I spotted the old gobbler’s head craning over the brush. The second he hit
the clearing he let out a double gobble and headed for the decoy on a dead run. At 20 paces
a Muzzy broadhead sliced through his vitals, putting the 25-pound bird in my game vest.

Most turkey-hunting gurus are sure to tell you hunting turkeys with archery gear is tough, but it also offers the ultimate challenge. Let’s take a look at several ways to improve your chances of tagging a trophy longbeard with your bow this year.

USE THE RIGHT GEAR
To be a successful turkey hunter it helps to have the right gear. Turkeys have excellent eyesight, so good camouflage is essential. Try to match your camo pattern with the surrounding
terrain and vegetation.

Likewise, the same can be said about concealment. The toughest part of killing a sharp-spurred
tom with a bow is getting drawn without getting picked off first. When I first started hunting these wary birds, popup blinds hadn’t been invented yet, my blinds then consisted primarily of brush
and burlap. Although I killed a few birds, it was nothing like today using blinds made by Double Bull Archery and Cabela’s.

A turkey’s vital area is not much bigger than a baseball, so it’s more important to be accurate than to shoot heary bow poundage. You don’t need to shoot more than 50 or 55 pounds to get adequate penetration.

Hit a turkey in the vitals or spine with a good, sharp broadhead and there’s a good chance they’ll go down immediately. I believe any broadhead will get the job done. I’ve killed birds with mechanical heads like the NAP Gobbler Getter and Spitfire, but also with fixed-blade heads like the Thunderhead and Muzzy 125.

LEARN TO READ THE SIGN
A good turkey hunter scouts heavily and knows where his quarry roosts and struts. A
week or two before the season opens, spend time glassing suspect roosting areas from a
distance during the last hour of daylight. Once you’ve located a roosting sight, then spend time glassing at first light and find out where the turkeys go when leaving the roost. On opening day, set up an ambush and waylay your bird.

You might also consider scouting the property on foot. The late Ben Lee (the well-known turkey call maker) once told me that a gobbler likes to roost close enough to water to hear his droppings splat. I’ve since realized there’s a fair amount of truth to that and I now look for roosting sights near waterways. If you find droppings and feathers beneath large, mature trees you can be sure turkeys are roosting overhead.

Differentiating between gobbler and hen droppings is fairly easy. A gobbler’s droppings
are elongated and often shaped like the letter ‘J,” whereas a hen drops compact piles or
wads. Droppings with a chalky appearance are generally very old.

Keep an eye open for scratch marks in the timber too. Turkeys scratch up cow pies and
turn over leafs and bark from trees searching for their daily intake of insects like crickets,
ants, grasshoppers and caterpillars.

One way to determine whether or not the scratch mark are old or new is to know when
it last rained. If it hasn’t rained recently and the scratch marks are sharply defined, chances
are the sign is fairly new. Likewise, if scratch marks appear washed out then they occurred before the last rain.

Also, look for tracks after a rain. You’ll find tracks near crop-field edges, creek/river- banks, dirt roads and other areas void of vegetation. If the tracks you find in a given area
are few, chances are you won’t find many turkeys either. Continue scouting until you find an area with more abundant sign.

Turkeys also like to dust in dry and powdery soil almost daily. They use the same
locations year after year, much like whitetails do with annual scrapes. Dusting sights are
typically shaped like a bowl and you’ll often find them near field edges, dirt roads and
sandy spots. While scouting, keep a keen eye open for a dusting bowl and you’re likely to
catch a tom frequenting it during midday.

CALL SPARINGLY
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a world champion caller, but I’ve learned enough to get the job done. For me, there’s nothing more exciting at the crack of dawn than to have turkeys gobbling their fool heads off from a nearby roost. In the early years, when a turkey gobbled, I called back.

The longer the conversation would drag on, the louder my calling became. On some occasions it
worked, but other instances the tom would shut up and move away silently. The point to be made here is that beginning hunters often make the mistake of calling too much or too loud. Either one could chase a wary gobbler off!

If you’ve got a few years under your belt, then you know an old longbeard has the knack for taking a fancy to one hen at a time. A wise old tom wont always come to any one call so learn to “talk the talk” on several types. It might be a mouth, slate or box call that coaxes in the tom, so be sure to carry a wide variety of calls.

THE RIGHT SETUP
Killing a turkey on any given day is a matter of being in the right place at the right time and using the right call. If you can’t set up in the right location you surely wont kill a turkey. Turkeys
like to strut in open lanes or green meadows, so avoid thick, gnarly timber ridges or tall grass fields.

Two seasons back I had trouble closing the distance on three old birds that liked strutting the edge of a plowed cornfield that was surrounded by a CRP field. I had scouted the area the week before and watched the toms work the edge of the field. The closest spot to set up was some 60 yards away.

For two days in a row I called the gobblers to the field’s edge, but they stopped short of my effective range.  On the third morning I moved the blind to a narrow green strip 10 yards away.
As the first hint of light gave way I let out a couple of soft clucks, and all three gobblers responded from their roost in unison. A few minutes later it was a fly-down cackle, several yelps,
clucks and purrs that brought the old sultan strutting into range.

PRESENTATION IS EVERYTHING
All gobblers have distinct personalities and some are pretty moody, so success could hinge on your call presentation. Take for example a turkey that continues to answer your call with a gobble versus one that gobbles every five or 10 minutes without any rhyme or reason. The tom that continually answers is the one that’s probably “hot to trot” and offers the best odds of shooting. There could be several reasons why the other tom is less talkative. For instance, he might be
call shy or he is with a hen.  Regardless, you’ll need to assess the situation and weigh out the odds.

The afternoon of opening day this past spring I had an o1′ gobbler hang up for nearly an hour before I was able to serve up the right combination of calling and persuade him into committing.
I set up my blind 20 yards from the edge  of a green strip bordering an untilled soybean field. To test the temperature of the birds in the area, I began with a few yelps and cutts.
Almost immediately a gobbler sounded off and within minutes he appeared along the edge of the field some 100 yards away. As I continued using the same series of calls, the tom moved
closer. Unfortunately, for every two steps forward he took one back the opposite direction. When I limited the calls to just yelps and purrs he began shaving off the distance.

At 25 yards I drew my bow and let the string slip free. The instant the broadhead hit the tom he flew straight into the air and then slammed to the ground in a heap.

IT CAN TAKE TWO
Every year the majority of hunters take to the woods alone. As the season grows long it’s not unusual for turkeys to become wary of anything that sounds like a single hen. In this scenario a call-shy tom is more apt to come into what sounds like more than one hen. Therefore, you might consider “doubling up” on a gobbler if you’ve failed alone.

Another twosome tactic is for the shooter to stay put while the caller continues to move away. This sounds like a hen moving away and has a tendency to give the gobbler the idea a hot hen is slipping from his reach.  When a bird consistently “hangs up” and you’ve made several fruitless attempts, you should pair up with a friend. This tactic positions the shooter in the general location where the tom has been hanging up.

BE PATIENT
One of the biggest dilemmas in turkey hunting is knowing what to do when a tom hangs up just out of range. More often than not there’s usually a barrier that prevents him from progressing all the way. In most cases it’s a barbed-wire fence or deep ditch.

Regardless of whether the turkey stops answering or continues to answer but won’t come in, the first thing I usually do is stop calling and wait 15 minutes or so. If the turkey doesn’t show, then I’ll move in the direction where he was last heard and call again. If the turkey continues to answer then there’s a good chance of killing him. If he wont answer after making a couple of moves then it’s probably a lost cause.

The odds of calling a tom away from a hen are slim but not impossible. I’ve done it a couple of times. I’ve actually had better luck scattering the flock and then calling the gobbler
back a few minutes later.  Like whitetail hunters, turkey hunters have a tendency to leave the
woods too early. Experience has proven that restless gobblers begin roaming the woods looking for hens or strut on hilltops in exhibition during the midday hours.

If you know or suspect a gobbler is “henned up,” you might consider waiting until late morning or early afternoon (in states that allow late hunting) to try calling. A tom will sometimes leave his hen midday to search for others, at which time he’s vulnerable to calling. On a couple of occasions I’ve called in the same tom later in the day that was non-responsive in the morning.

USE A BLIND
Although I’ve bagged turkeys with my bow by spot and stalking or ambushing them in various ways, erecting a blind is the best way to go. The type of terrain often dictates the best method for ambushing a gobbler. Let’s take for example gnarly dense cover. It’s nearly impossible to spot and stalk through it without alerting a bird. A better approach might be building a blind from the
natural surroundings or using a popup blind.

This reminds me of a big gobbler my brother Mark was hunting back in the 1980s. The old tom liked strutting along a fence line on top of a hill where he could see all around. There was a big pile of old wooden fence posts in the corner that Mark used to build a four-sided blind along the
fence line. The following day he killed the old bird at 20 paces.

Big toms aren’t pushovers and they don’t come running to everything that sounds like a yelping hen. To consistently tag a mature gobbler each spring you need to stay on top of your game. No single tactic will guarantee success, but a combination of the tactics mentioned in this article is sure to up your odds. <–<<

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Published by archerchick on 20 Mar 2010

Lore Of Elk Hunting – By Randy Templeton

Lore Of Elk Hunting – By Randy Templeton  May 2005

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

MAY 2005

I was some distance from my friend C.J., but even so I was sharing the excitement he was experiencing when the red-eyed bull came in silently to my calls. It was the second bull I’d called within range in just under an hour. The first didn’t show enough of itself to determine whether it was a legal bull or not. It was now just a matter of closing the deal with a well-placed arrow.

I’ll be the first to admit that I like shooting elk, but I also enjoy calling one in for a friend, especially for those that haven’t shot one. My first priority on this hunt was to call a bull for C.J. Davis, the PR director for Nikon. The season before he nearly had a solid shot at a fine elk but was betrayed in the final seconds by fickle winds.

I’ve been asked many times over the years what’s the magnet that draws me toward the mountains during the month of September each year? I’ve answered that question by simply saying that elk hunting is the ultimate high- altitude experience. Once you’ve spent a week in the pristine wilderness you’ll come back with an entirely different outlook on life. Let’s take a look at our exciting hunt and perhaps you’ll understand why so many hunters head for the mountains in pursuit of the mighty wapiti.

Saturday-Day 1
Our camp was tucked in the lower end of a canyon along a crystal clear stream rich with native brook trout. Once again we were using the outfitting services of Karl and Mona Maser of Ute Lodge. I’ve hunted the general area for 15 years and have killed an elk at least half of those years.

By 9 a.m. the packhorses and mules were loaded and we were at the trail-head. Arriving at our camp before noon, we unpacked our gear and rustled up some lunch. By 2 p.m. we were hoofing up the nearby mountain that I’d nicknamed “Hamburger Hill” after a movie I once watched. The canyon and surrounding mountainsides had fallen victim to a wildfire 10 years ago.

At first glance it doesn’t appear to be a place anyone would want to hunt, much less expect to see elk. However, it’s exactly why I’m drawn to the area. Hunting pressure is relatively low and the plush new growth attracts elk in numbers.

Arriving on the mountaintop by 3 p.m., we set up on the fringe of the firebreak where the first stand of green timber began. Fresh elk sign was plentiful, but week-old boot prints told the story that hunters had already been in the area. Not good.

My biggest concern was that the elk would be call shy, so I kept calling to a minimum. I’d gotten one bull to respond, but by the time I climbed to the bull’s general location he had
hushed. The remainder of the afternoon/evening was uneventful. As we descended in the dark, a bull (not big) bugled from the vicinity of where I’d just been.

Sunday–Day 2
The first morning we awoke to the ring of the annoying alarm clock ar 3:45 a.m. The skies were clear and the temperature was hovering around 40 degrees. By 5 a.m. we were climbing up the face of “Hamburger Hill” and 45 minutes later we arrived at the top.
I pulled out my Primos Terminator bugle tube and let out a couple of immature bull bugles. Almost instantly the deep-growling grunts of a herd bull echoed off from the mountain on the opposite side of the canyon. Even from that distance the raspy bugles of the king pin made the
short hairs stand up on the back of my neck.

My friend’s eyes lit up like a kid in a candy store. There wasn’t any chance of persuading him to stay put. I had been in a similar situation some years before and was quite confident the elk would
be long gone before C.J. could arrive. The sun was just beginning to peak over the eastern horizon when he took off down the mountain. I
elected to stay put.

Shortly after working my way around to the north face of the mountain, a bull responded to my calls. After 45 minutes of playing cat and mouse I had closed the distance to maybe 100 yards, but I still hadn’t laid eyes on the bull. It wasn’t long after the wind betrayed me ‘for the first time. The bull slipped off into the dark timber without making another peep.

A muzzleloader shot echoed through the canyon and the bull C.J. was chasing had gone silent. When arriving at camp I wasn’t all that surprised to learn that a muzzleloader hunter had slipped between C.J. and the bull. As it turned out, all C.J.’s efforts that morning were fruitless.

That evening, about an hour before dark I thought it was all going to come together when a mediocre sounding bull blasted out a bugle in close proximity.  We quickly set up and began calling. The bull responded and started shaving off the distance.

I caught a mere glimpse of a tan rump circling downwind.  We tried to make a quick move to avoid detection, but when the elk let out a screeching bark we knew the jig was up and
the hunt over.  We tucked tail and headed back to camp.

Monday – Day 3
The second morning brought on a heavy frost and temperatures approaching the 30-degree mark. By 5:45 a.m. we had reached the mountaintop and split up.  We both had bulls answering our calls that morning, but by 10 a.m. they had shut up.

The evening didn’t bring much excitement  Although two bulls were answering our calls, we were bitten again by the unpredictable winds.

Tuesday – Day 4

On Tuesday morning C.J. and I split up in order to cover more area. I had no more than made my first setup when a small 4×4 bull came running to the Primos Hoochie Mama call. Although he stopped perfectly broadside at 18 yards, I opted to pass on the opportunity with hopes of tagging something a bit bigger. My friend had a bull working his way, but it failed to show itself.

That afternoon we hunted the same area as the first day.  I had three different bulls answering my calls plus what was almost certainly another hunter. In all my years of elk hunting, I,ve only been called in once and found it somewhat embarrassing. I’ve since been a bit more reserved about rushing to everything that sounds like an elk.  We opted to stay put and saw no elk that evening.

About an hour after dark we heard splashing in the stream outside the cook tent and rushed outside with a flashlight,  I spotted movement in the bushes and not long after Karl appeared. Evidently, he had used a log to cross the stream, lost his balance and fell in. He was soaked from head to toe. As it turned out, Karl was our mystery elk hunter. Having hunted up the opposite side of the mountain range in the afternoon, he had two close encounters with 5×5 bulls. On one instance he stopped in a small meadow and not long after he began calling and a bull suddenly
appeared from behind. As Karl tried to get turned around to shoot, the bull spotted him and vacated the area. The second encounter was nearly the same scenario, but again
Karl was unable to get the shot off.

Based on the number of elk seen and the amount of fresh sign Karl found on the way up, we made a decision to hike over the mountain the next morning. Karl had recorded the coordinates of several park meadows on his GPS, including where he had the encounters with bulls.

Wednesday -Day 5
For the week we had a couple of close encounters and one shot opportunity. Our skimpy luck wasn’t due to our lack of effort nor because the elk weren’t there. There were plenty of elk, but the cards just weren’t falling in our favor.

The temperatures dropped into the low 20s that night, Leaving a thick layer of frost on everything. We took a different route up the mountain. After reaching the top we quickly moved toward a meadow where Karl had called in one of the two bulls. Moving from meadow to meadow, fresh calf-size rubs, wallows and droppings littered the landscape. Unfortunately, even though there was plenty of evidence of elk in the area, we failed to get a response.

Around noon Karl decided to begin hunting his way back down the mounrain. C.J. and I split up and hunted two meadows that were about a half-mile apart that afternoon.

About an hour before sunset two cows walked across the meadow and began feeding. I brought out the Lead Cow and Hoochie Mama calls and made a few chirps and mews. A raspy sounding bull answered almost immediately from the fringes of the far side. I continued using chirps and
mews, but threw out an occasional spike squeal to hopefully tick him off. I couldn’t see the bull, but heard him ripping up a tree with his antlers. The bull wouldn’t commit, so I decided to make the first move.

As I began skirting the edge to close the distance the wind shifted ever so slightly and the bull stopped calling.  Suddenly one of the cows let out a bark and elk took off running every which way.

A few minutes later I heard C.J. calling, then three distinctly different bulls answering him. This went on for nearly a half hour before they suddenly quit. At that point I was almost certain C.J. had connected. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

When meeting at dark, I was surprised to learn that he hadn’t seen or heard anything. As it turned our, he was set up too close to the edge of a fast-moving stream and the noise had drowned out all the elk bugles. The best I can figure is, the bulls had circled around and caught his scent.

Considering all the activity that evening, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out where we’d be hunting the following afternoon.

Thursday-Day 6
I was up early with renewed enthusiasm. We decided to hunt the north face of the mountain in the morning and the south side that afternoon. Just before sunrise the growling bugle and chuckles of a herd bull echoed off the canyon walls. I was almost certain it was the same bull we
had nicknamed “the chuckler” and C.J. had chased the first morning. Other than that, the morning was a bust.

Wanting to arrive early to our newly found honey hole, we made record time climbing to the top that afternoon. We quickly hoofed up the steep ridge where I heard the three bulls answering C.J. the evening before.

Shortly after setting up, a bull answered further up the mountain. To confirm the location, I bugled once and got a response back.  We hustled up the mountain to cut the distance in half. Alternating between spike squeals, cow mews and chirps, the bull answered almost immediately.
I moved back 30 yards from C.J. and called again. A stick cracked and suddenly a bull appeared
from behind a cluster of stubby cedar trees, maybe 25 yards from C.J. I listened for the shot but
heard nothing.

Within a couple of seconds, the bull swapped ends and split the scene. As he headed for higher ground I could see four points on both sides. Although most first-time elk hunters dream of shooting a record-book bull, C.J. was just hoping to connect on something legal. Unfortunately, in this instance he couldn’t tell if the bull was legal or not until it charged off.
No problem, I thought, we’ll just see if we can’t call up
another.

Continuing to work the mountainside, we had three other bulls respond. In one instance I thought the bull was going to commit, but for unknown reasons he shut up. About a half-hour before sunset we began working our way down and came upon a relatively flat shelf. There was
a lot of fresh sign and it looked like a great location to call up a bull. I moved back 30 yards from C.J. and put out a few drops of Mrs. Doe Pee’s Fresh Cow Elk Lure in two locations, both upwind and downwind.

Alternating between the Primos Lead Cow and Hoochie Mama, I made several cow calls and bugled once.  A couple of minutes later I heard a stick crack and then heavy foot
steps from above. I looked up just in time to see the antler tips and ran rump of a bull prodding down the mountain. Suddenly the bull stopped 30 yards from C.J. I felt the wind at the back of my neck blowing toward the bull, so I quickly pulled out my wind checker containing elk scent
and gave it a couple of squeezes.

I watched C.J. draw, but he didn’t shoot. Something told me that he didn’t have a clear shot,
so I made a few soft mews. About the same time the bull made one step forward, I heard a thump. Instantly the bull whirled around and charged back in the same direction.

Although C.J. felt the shot looked good, the results of a quick search of the area for blood didn’t paint a very promising picture. Blood was sparse and we didn’t find the arrow, which meant it might not have passed completely through. Like any other suspect hit, rather than make matters worse we decided to return in the morning. Temperatures had been hovering near freezing so we were confident the meat wouldn’t spoil.

Friday-Day 7
It was a restless night for both of us, but more so for C.J. I reassured him that we’d find his bull.

By 8 a.m. we had climbed the mountain and began our search. Starting where we left off it wasn’t long before the blood trail petered out. Rather than wander around aimlessly looking for blood, I flagged the last location and we started a grid search looking for blood. After an hour of fruitless searching, we split up. It was maybe 10 minutes later when I heard C.J. hollering, “I found him!”

I found C.J. sitting proudly over his first elk, a 5×5 Colorado bull.
Unfortunately our decision to leave the bull overnight had cost us part of, the hindquarters to the coyotes.
It took nearly three hours to skin, quarter and pack the meat to a location where Karl could get to it with the packhorses.

As mentioned earlier, my first priority on this hunt was to call in an elk for my friend. I was able to
accomplish that, plus I had an opportunity to shoot a 4×4, but I chose to pass. I’ll be the first to
admit that every hunt hasn’t ended with filling my tag, but for me elk hunting is more than that. The lore of elk hunting is spending time with good friends each fall chasing one of
the most elusive big-game animals of all. If I take home an elk, that’s just
icing on the cake. <–<<

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Published by archerchick on 20 Mar 2010

Early Bucks – By Steve Bartylla

Early Bucks – By Steve Bartylla  September 2005

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com


Don’t let non-rutting bucks intimidate you. Here’s the key to successfully ambushing these seemingly wary deer.

This is too good to be true. That was my first thought when one of the owners of the hunting outfit I was with confidently stated that I would leave Alberta with the opportunity at a 150-inch or better buck. Now, I could see that he hadn’t been exaggerating. There, 20 yards away, stood a clean 10-point that would measure somewhere in the 160s. Because I was shooting expandable heads, I was unable to cover the windows of my Double Bull blind with shoot through mesh. To safely conceal my movement, I would have to wait until the buck dropped his head.

As the buck pawed to reach the snow-covered alfalfa, seconds seemed to drag on for minutes. finally he dropped his head to feed and gave me the chance I was waiting for. However, what happened next is not nearly as important as the events that lead to this point.

An unexpected family matter had trimmed my scheduled eight-day hunt to merely three days. To complicate matters more was scouting land I’d never stepped foot on and a fresh snow that had erased the deer trails. The final kicker was that the rut cycle in Northern Alberta lags significantly behind the upper Midwest. The result was that despite the snow and cold temperatures, I’d be hunting non-rutting bucks still in their early-season patterns.

The first day of the hunt was interesting, to say the least. Because of my unfamiliarity with the area, I set a stand that provided the best view of a large alfalfa field. I reasoned the odds of a monster naturally traveling within bow range were slim, but I hoped this placement would allow me to spot and pattern a mature buck.

I also had an ace up my sleeve. With timber wolves being the greatest threat these deer would face, I was told that the deer found safety in numbers. To create this illusion, I set two Montana doe and a Custom Robotic Wildlife buck decoys out in front of my stand. To my amazement, this approach produced 21 different buck sightings in a single afternoon!

Though this group included several good bucks and one true slammer, the mission was not accomplished. As things so often go when hunting, the big boy entered the field from one of my stands blind spots. I was unable to narrow down his trail, and an overnight snowfall eliminated any chance of backtracking. However, I was closer than when I began. I knew it was very possible to take a mature buck off the field. With having already hung a low-impact morning stand in the woods with my scouting efforts.

The next afternoon was the true key. With no one location along the woods providing a view of the entire field, I did what I should have the first afternoon: I pulled the truck into some cover that provided a full view of the large field and strictly observed. As luck would have it, the mid-160s buck entered the field again just before dark. I was in business.

The next and final day, I did what I believe is one of the keys to consistent success on early-season bucks. I set up where my observations had dictated. I positioned myself where I observed the slammer entering the field.

With the morning hunt out of the way, I was ready to make my move. Having mentally marked a strategically positioned round bale the afternoon before, I made a bee-line across the field. After clearing the snow from the floor area, I positioned the Double Bull blind behind the bale and covered it with excess snow. Retracing my path across the field, I had managed to keep my disturbances to a minimum.

Later that afternoon, I followed the entrance path through the field back in. Thirty yards before reaching the blind, still 50 yards from the wood line I placed the RoboCoy buck decoy. It was my hope that any nearby deer would focus their attention on the decoy, pulling their eyes away from the blind. With some buck urine placed between it’s back legs, I entered the blind and settled in for the hunt.

Several close encounters with does and young bucks later, we return to big boy entering the scene. As I slowly raised my bow to shoot, tragedy hit. The inability to cover the windows in mesh and a perfect sun angle allowed for light to reflect off my bow. Just that quick, the buck’s head snapped up and he began staring a hole into the previously unnoticed blind. Freezing, not quite in position to draw and unable to move undetected, I knew the gig was up. Two explosions of snow from his hooves and he was gone.

As light began to fade, an eight-point in the mid120s strolled by the blind at 10 yards. i spent the closing minutes of my brief 2004 Alberta hunt watching his interaction with the RoboCoy. Though the hunt ended with an unfilled tag, I feel it beautifully illustrates the key to taking mature bucks that are exhibiting early-season behavior.

Find the Food Source

To begin with, consistently taking early-season bucks starts with identifying the best food and/or water sources. This is typically the foundation from which early-season tactics are built upon. The first of this groundwork can be laid in summer. One step in accomplishing this is glassing oaks. Doing so allows you to gauge the coming fall’s acorn crops. An oak tree doesn’t produce acorn crops each year. For one thing, it takes the acorns of most members of the red oak family two years to mature. Therefore if an individual tree produced last year, it isn’t capable of producing again this season. White oaks are able to produce fruit every year , but that doesn’t guarantee production. Droughts, untimely high winds, late frosts and insect infestations are just some of the things that can cause crop failure or low rates of production. Glassing oaks during summer can go a long way toward pointing you to which ones should be hunted in the fall.

As with the oaks, various factors can affect farm crops as well. For example, late-planted soybeans are more likely to still be in the highly desirable green state when season opens. Lack of fertilizing, heavy weed infestations, too much rain or too little all have adverse affects on crop production. A late summer inspection shows the health and maturity state of the crop. Simply put, each plant species has a maturity state at which it’s most desirable, and thriving crops have a lot more drawing power than ones struggling to produce. Summer inspection can go a long way toward showing the hunter where the big boys will be feeding when summer begins.

That proved helpful in taking my 2004 Wisconsin buck. A long east-west ridge paralleled valleys filled with corn and alfalfa. With the area yielding a nonexistent acorn crop, it was easy to determine that alfalfa, would be the best draw. After that, it was a simple matter of observing the buck and following his previous year’s rubline to a good ambush point. The third day of season the mid 146 4/8-inch 10-point was mine.

Find The Buck

As was the case with both the Alberta and Wisconsin bucks, finding them is incredibly important. The vast majority of off-season buck movement occurs between bedding and water and food sources. Without knowing a specific buck’s patterns, we must rely on blind luck. Furthermore, because bucks are moving so much less than when the desire to breed begins kicking in, placing our faith in luck is most often an endeavor wraught with disappointment.

Seeing a mature buck removes any doubt if there is one in the area to harvest. As obvious as that sounds, it’s amazing how many hunters don’t take the simple steps to determine if a buck meeting their standard is present. The easiest way to accomplish this is to observe the food source. In many situations, this can be done without having to leave the truck. In the case of both bucks, all it took was arriving before dark, pulling the truck into some cover and watching what came out where.

When the setting isn’t suited for vehicle observation it’s often impossible to perform in-field observations. When doing this, it’s important to keep the odds of being busted by deer to a minimum. Playing the wind, calculating the best route and observing from a distance are all helpful. Infrared trail cameras can also be helpful tools for finding mature bucks. Determining if a shooter is present can be as easy as placing it over a water hole or hopping the units around around the food source.

When covering food sources, I begin by placing infrared units in the areas that show the heaviest signs of feeding. If the food source is too large for one setup to do it justice, after a week or two, it can be relocated to cover another section. Commonly, a month is more than enough time to determine if and where a mature buck is entering the food source.

Nail His Trail

The “where” component is nearly as critical as the “if.” As already mentioned, early-season buck movement is rather limited. Because bucks aren’t roaming all over the woods it becomes more important to be sure that your stand is covering one of his primary trails. Obviously, both trail camera and observations can answer what trail(s) he uses most often. When relying on observations, be sure to mentally note a landmark that will later lead you to the trail. In the excitement of seeing a shooter on your hunting ground it becomes remarkably easy to not notice the exact trail he uses. Disciplining yourself to note a landmark before drooling over his rack increases the chances of of finding that trail later.

Another means of identifying a mature buck’s trail is by looking for fresh rubs. Rubbing activity is inspired by two factors. The first is to aid in the velvet shedding process. Next is the gradual rise in testosterone levels. During velvet shedding, young bucks don’t commonly exert the energy to truly rip up a tree. Shredded trees are more often the result of testosterone levels. Furthermore, the blood levels of testosterone in mature bucks rises higher and faster then their little brothers. Because of all that, well-worked September and early October rubs are good indications of a mature buck.

Though there are fewer rubs in early season, there are often enough to determine a mature buck’s trail. Doing so can be accomplished by circling the food source and following each trail a short way into the woods. Because many early rubs occur as the buck stages up just before entering the food source, following each trail no more than 100 yards is typically enough and also keeps our disturbances down.

Minimize Disturbances

Minimizing our disturbances is important. Ideally preparing our stands should be done during midday hours without leaving leaving tell-tale odors or signs of our stand preparations behind. The setting for the Alberta buck was ideal. With the buck trail located from a distance, I slipped in and prepped the blind with out stepping in the woods. With the wind blowing out into the field and the round bale hiding the blind, no deer could pick up on my intrusion until after they were already within bow range.

More commonly, some intrusion into the woods is often necessary. Taking odor control steps, proper timing and and keeping trimming low all will help. Another way to minimize disturbances is planning the best route in and out of the stand. Hunting in and near food sources is a productive early-season tactic. If pressure is kept low, it’s possible to intercept mature buck feeding activity before dark. Still the bucks don’t always cooperate and can certainly show up after dark. It goes without saying that it often takes more than one hunt to fill a buck tag. One of the primary reasons that a stands odds of producing go down with each hunt is because of sloppy entrance and exits.

When selecting routes, be sure to take the most low-impact choice, regardless of the extra effort it may require. Irrigation ditches, erosion cuts or any other feature that limits the chances of crossing deer trails and keeps our profiles low should be explored.

When a good route out doesn’t exist, having someone drive to the stand to extract the hunter is an option. In most settings, deer will be much more tolerant of a vehicle than a hunter walking through the field. Minimizing disturbances also includes simply hunting smart. Mature bucks are rarely tolerant of hunting pressure. This is particularly true early in the season. During this period food sources are commonly abundant. When safer alternatives are available, the incentive for a buck to subject itself to danger is minimal.

It therefore becomes important to employ sound-hunting tactics. It can be hard to stay away from a stand you know covers a mature buck’s trail. However, playing the wind and refraining from over-hunting stands is well worth it. The alternative is driving the buck from the area.

Early season can be a great time to fill a buck tag. Keying in on food and water is a great way to do it. After sighting a mature buck and determining his trail, it really comes down to keeping disturbances low and a bit of luck. The funny thing about most lucky hunters is that they do what they can to make their own luck. Following these guidelines may just help you become a luckier hunter and fill out early as well.

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Published by archerchick on 20 Mar 2010

Javelina Country – By Dennis Sturgis, Jr.

Javelina Country – By  Dennis Sturgis, Jr.  September 2005

This west Texas hotspot made the perfect bowhunting adventure.

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

The van’s headlights stabbed into the darkness as we turned off the blacktop. A gravel lane led to the  west Texas ranch house that would be our home for the next few days.   Numerous cholla cacti loomed up in the headlights along the lane.  The Cholla Cacti have a stick man appearance and they seemed to be waving hello as they flashed by.

My hunting partners were Rich Niblock and Darryl Quidort from Michigan, and Dale Karch from Indiana. Earlier in the day we flew from South Bend to El Paso. After renting a van we drove on to Marfa. The drive was uneventful other than Dale getting a friendly warning on speed from a state trooper. Dale and his wife, Sandie, own 3Rivers archery. Dale sent the trooper back to his cruiser with a new catalog. In Marfa, we picked up our groceries and continued to the ranch.


I’d hunted this area before and really enjoyed it. The mountainous desert terrain made for great spot-and-stalk hunting. The land is desolate yet beautiful and full of mystery. the town of Marfa is known for it’s ghost lights. These lights first appeared reported by one of the early settlers in 1883. Apparently they existed before as they were spoken about by the local Apache. The lights can be viewed at night and have been described in several ways. Generally they are viewed at a distance, but there have been isolated reports of tiny fireballs of light just outside and inside vehicles. More than one scientific study has been conducted with different theories presented. In the end, the source of the ghost lights remains a mystery. Good friends, miles of remote country, a healthy population of  javelina and a little mystery all added up to the recipe for a bowhunting adventure.

At the ranch house we met up with the other members of our hunting party. Eric Radcliffe. also from Indiana, had driven down since he wanted to see the country. Dale’s longtime friend, Dick boss from Colorado, was the final member of our hunting party. Eric and Dick had already been into javelina. They stalked a group that afternoon and Dick shot a nice boar. After unpacking and putting away the groceries, we hit the sack for an early start in the morning.

We rose early and dressed in hunting clothes. The typical cheerful pre-hunt chatter took place as bows were strung and quivers loaded. I listened to the bragging, teasing and equipment comparisons with a smile. It felt good to be in hunting camp.

Wayne Weimers, our guide, pulled in before daylight. Over breakfast, we discussed our plans for the day…and Dick’s snoring. One of the neighboring ranchers, Dave Williams, also drove up to help get everyone into javelina on the 116,000 acres we had available to hunt. At sunrise we shot a few practice arrows and prepared to head out. Dale, Eric and I jumped in Wayne’s Suburban to check out some brushy canyons to the south. Dale had hunted this ranch for javelins the previous winter and wanted to video the action this year for an upcoming 3Rivers DVD production. Today was my day to be cameraman.

On the way to a vantage point where we planned to glass, Wayne spotted some javies in the distance. They milled around, feeding in some prickly pear. We checked the wind and planned our approach. After making a wide circle to get the wind in our favor, we split up. Eric stalked to one side of the small group while Dale and I snuck to the other side. I tried to stay practically in Dale’s hip pocket as he edged nearer to the javelina. The warm sun felt good on our shoulders as we slipped through the cactus, and in several minutes, we sandwiched our quarry. The wind held steady, and we slowly closed the gap. Javelina backs appeared occasionally above the cactus. I pushed the record button when Eric Pulled his longbow to full draw and released an arrow. A fatally-hit boar flashed between the cacti and disappeared into a thick tangle of cat claw. Eric used a pair of hand pruners to wade in and claim his trophy.

We rode back to the ranch house to care for the javelina and grab some sandwiches for lunch. In the afternoon, Rich and I went out with Wayne. Although we had several stalks, a good video shot never came together. Arriving back at camp, we learned both Dale and Darryl had collected javelina. Eric set a nice stand for feral hogs and collected a nice meat hog.

On day two of our hunt, I videoed Rich take his first-ever javelina. Later Eric punched his second javelina tag. Eric also found a an arrowhead. Dave, the rancher, said it was made by the “old ones.” He said the last time it was touched by a human was 1,000 to 2,000 years ago.

Rich and I started day three out with a double on two huge javies. We skinned them out for full-body mounts. Wayne took us to a big rock overhang with an aqua-colored pool in front of it. The rock walls were covered with pictographs made by people who had hunted here long ago. We enjoyed setting around a campfire that evening, and Wayne prepared a delicious wild-game supper.

Our hunt passed quickly: each day was full of excitement. On our final day, we had to leave at noon to catch our flight out of El Paso. I was the only hunter not to shoot my second javelina. Wayne was insistent that we get my second javy. I told him I was perfectly happy, but I wouldn’t mind taking some photos of javelina sign. He agreed, commenting that we could hunt along the way. We jumped in the Suburban and drove to a part of the ranch that had good sign to photograph.

Wayne is a retired patrolman as well as hunting guide. I enjoyed listening to his stories. Between photo sessions, Wayne spotted a javelina. “Let’s go get him,” he blurted. After giving Wayne a quick video camera lesson, we stalked into the wind after the boar. The stalk was classic. Using cactus clumps for cover, we ended up 10 yards from the javelina. Wayne was right over my shoulder: I rose up and shot and arrow right over its back. I quickly nocked another arrow. The javelina stood about 20 yards distant now. I glanced at Wayne. He said “I’m on him.”

I shot again and groaned when my arrow bounced off a rock. I nocked another arrow. The javy was out there now but in the open. “I’m on him, I’m on him,” Wayne spewed. Feeling obliged to shoot: I took my time and shot again. The arrow arched out and centered the kill area. The boar ran 15 yards and fell over. “that was a hell of a shot!” Wayne exclaimed. “Well, it was a lot harder than the first two,” I answered, shaking my head.

At noon we drove back down the gravel lane toward the highway. I glanced at the cholla cacti again. They seemed to be waving good-bye, and I hoped it wouldn’t be too long before I could return.

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