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Published by archerchick on 21 Feb 2010

HIGH ALTITUDE MONARCHS – By Lon Lauber

HIGH ALTITUDE MONARCHS  Story & Photos By Lon Lauber

September 2002

Among the crags of North America’s steepest mountain country are two incredible bowhunting animals

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

I’ve had the good fortune of bowhunting all over the North America and nothing compares to hunting Dall sheep and mountain goats.  Dense alder thickets turn to scarlet tundra, then it gives way to craggy peaks.  Amongst those daunting spires you’ll  ever dream of hunting.

Let’s climb right into the ups and downs of bowhunting Dall sheep and mountain goats.  First, to build a solid foundation as a mountain game bowhunter, you must learn the senses, habits and habitat of sheep and goats.  Here’s a comparison of the two white monarchs of the north.

RATING THEIR SENSES
Dall sheep and mountain goats have excellent vision.  They live in wide-open terrain and rely heavily on detecting movement as their first line of defense. The difference in their vision is what they do once they see a human. In areas where either species is hunted heavily. they’ll turn and climb into the heavens upon the first sight of man.

However. in most sheep and goat habitat, hunting pressure is moderate to minimal. Depending on the individual sheep. they may bolt when you peek your head over a ridge. Or, they may act curious at first. The big difference is goats are almost always phlegmatic (slow to respond,).
So, a billy upon seeing you may just stand up and stare, gauging the potential danger. before sauntering up into cliffs.  Frequently. this will give you enough time to execute a good shot – even though the animal is looking at you!  Sheep are not as likely to stand around.

For example, after a week of scrambling up and down the hog-backed ridges of Alaska’s Kenai Mountains. I finally found a dandy Dall ram. He was nibbling lichens in stair step ridges. This terrain provided the ultimate concealment from his sharp eyes. I circumvented the mountain to get the wind and terrain in my favor. Hours later. I had stalked within spitting distance of this full-curl ram. His head was down feeding and a rock blocked his vision. I thought  l’d made the perfect stalk. But it was so steep; I was standing one foot on top of the other. Maintaining my balance was
tough: shooting an accurate arrow would’ve been impossible. I eased forward to better footing. The ram whipped his head up and looked my way. I Froze. Shortly his head was down feeding again. I was on steadier ground. Unfortunately, the ram must have seen movement with peripheral vision. When I drew in slow motion, he blitzd! In a flash of white hair and golden horns, my perfect stalk vanished.

Two days later, in a similar scenario -except I waited until the ram’s eyes were obscured by his horns-l killed a larger ram. I’m quite certain, in similar circumstances. a mountain goat would have stayed and taken the shot.

Both species have excellent noses. I’ve had sheep and goats head for the hills when a swirling breeze telegraphed my presence. One time, I remember glassing up five full-curl rams in a steep, rocky basin. l spent four hours climbing snow-and-ice-covered cliffs to get above and behind these sheep. When I finally had position, the wind shifted. It was drifting right down the canyon to the rams. It didn’t take long for them to catch a whiff of me and haul butt In a matter of minutes. they raced down the mountain, across a boulder-strewn glacier and up and over the opposing mountain.

In regard to hearing, sheep and goats have rather small ears on their body size (compared to deer, elk and moose). But they can hear sounds just fine. Once again, it’s a matter of how they respond. Realize gravity and the constant freeze/thaw action in their domain creates falling rock on a daily basis. If you tumble an occasional rock its no big deal. The biggest problem you’ll have with sound is a predator’s cadence. If you walk at a steady pace and rocks are sliding constantly. this sound alerts all mountain game. From their perspective, this is the noise of a traveling bear or wolf. If’ you tumble a boulder, just sit tight for a few minutes. I remember unintentionally kicking loose a mist of scree that cascaded down on a billy. He never even blinked. I killed him just a few
minutes later.

HABITS
Each species has similar daily routines. Understanding these routines will improve the odds of success.  Typically, mountain game spend the night in predator-free cliffs. At first light, they’ll rise, stretch a bit and then carefully study their domain.When all is dear, they’ll head for lush vegetation. Most of the time that’s at lower elevation than bedding areas. After feeding for several hours on sedges, grasses or low shrubs, sheep and goats climb back up to a safe ledge and chew their cuds. While ruminating, they may rearrange or change bedding locations. However, unless disturbed, they’ll be in the same general area for several hours. By mid afternoon, the white ones head for food again. By dark, they are in the safe confines of treacherous terrain. This outlines undisturbed mountain game behavior. However, hunting-pressured animals may stay in the cliffs for days without coming out.

Mountain critters live mostly in the alpine. Regardless, both species occasionally feed in alder and
evergreen thickets in the lower reaches of their vertical domains. Don’t overlook these areas when glassing habitat that seems void of game.

One time when hunting white rams in the Chugach Mountains, I had glassed the upper reaches of a mountainside. After glassing the cliffs, I glanced at the lower ledges. These were spotted with alders. Surprisingly, I found an old, black-horned ram feeding in alders next to a cliff. I had lots
of steep terrain to obscure my approach. Hours later, after a hair-raising cliff climb, I was precariously standing on a ledge just 20 yards above this old Pope & Young-class ram.
When he stuffed his snout into the alders for another bite, I quietly stepped to the cliff’s edge and zipped an arrow through his lungs. This is one occasion when glassing the lower, brush-choked canyons paid off

HABITAT
Dall sheep can be found in a variety of terrain, anything from rotten vertical cliffs to steep-sided mountains with relatively flat tops. I’ve even Found sheep in almost flat country.  However, escape terrain is always nearby. Goats on the other hand are generally on or very near cliffs all the time. In many regions both species live above steep,  thick  , brush-choked basins that require the ultimate in physical stamina. Busting up though Devil’s Club and alders only to break our into even steeper alpine will test your mettle.

The lateral moraine of glaciers is a good place to look for mountain game. These rugged corridors where the glacier has receded contains the youngest, most tender plant life in the area. One easy way to find productive habitat for sheep and goats is to apply for lottery drawing hunts. That way, the game department dictates the hunting area. This narrows down the research necessary to pinpoint productive habitat.  When studying maps, locate basins or stream drainages with several side canyons so you have alternative hunting areas. If you spook the only white monarch out of
a box canyon, all your effort is wasted. Learning to interpret topographical maps is paramount too. I recall planning out a hunting route by studying a map. After two days of climbing. I learned circumventing this particular mountain was impossible without tactical climbing gear.

HUNTING TACTICS
Most of the time sheep and goats will be easy to locate. Yellowish-white game on dark rocks is like looking for popcorn on a black carpet. Getting to them is the challenging part! It’s difficult because they live in open alpine where they can see for miles (except where steepness blocks their vision).
Especially glass into the dark shadows and every nook and cranny you can find. Frequently, you’ll catch just a glimpse of white hair or horn jutting our near a promontory.

Basically, there are two tactics for sheep and goat hunting. The most productive is spot and stalk. The second method is patterning undisturbed game. I’ve seen sheep and goat use the same general travel route in consecutive days but they don’t pattern like whitetails. Either way, you must eventually stalk to kill a mountain animal. Here are my preferences for getting within bow range of sheep and goats.

For sheep, I like to glass ’em up at long range with binos and size up trophy potential with a spotting scope. I’ll watch them for hours or even days if necessary before making a stalk. What I’m waiting for is the sheep to move into vision-blocking terrain that provides the best chance of getting within bow range. If that happens when they are grazing. fine. If a Dall ram beds in a stalkable area, I’ll go after him there. Regardless. I’m most concerned with concealing terrain. lf I start out on a stalk and realize it won’t come to fruition because it’s too open or the wind is iffy, I carefully abort the stalk. If you spook a ram, he’s likely to head for the next mountain range or spend a few days in rope-rappelling cliffs until he’s forced to greener pastures.

For goats, it’s a similar concept just more physically demanding. Sooner or later a billy will saunter into somewhat humanly traversable terrain.  When that occurs, get above and approach from his blind side. This is the chink in the otherwise impenetrable survival armor of a mountain goat. They are so confident they can out-climb predators; they rarely flee immediately-even if you’re within bow range. This is especially true if goats are on or near cliffs when they spot you. Furthermore, this arrogant climbing attitude-almost always prevents goats from looking up. ‘ Thus, if you can get above a mountain billy without being detected, you stand a good chance of killing him.

A few years ago I used this tactic to kill my biggest billy. He and two comrades were bedded on a small tundra-covered ledge just yards above 1,000 feet of vertical cliffs. From nearly a mile away, I mapped out the safest and most concealing stalking route. When I was about 400 yards away, I set up my spotting scope and determined which of the three billies had the largest horns. From there I crawled on hands and knees, utilizing a crossing breeze. I was in plain sight of all three goats for most of that last quarter mile. The billies never looked up or behind. At2 5 yards, just beyond a mogul, I could see the goat’s head and hefty shoulders. After several minutes of standing in view, the goat noticed my presence. Instantly, his hair bristled and he stood up and stared.
Looking dumbfounded he calculated what danger I posed. I’m certain no animal had ever
approached him from above and behind. His hesitance cost him his life.

SHOT PLACEMENT
On the grand scheme of things, picking a spot and killing a Dall sheep is very straightforward. Textbook shot placement, a third of the way up from the brisket and in the crease behind the
front shoulder, is perfect. Generally, sheep are not very tenacious. Any internal body hit should put them down. I know one guy who killed a big Dall ram by a broadhead cut to the “wrist” area just above the hoof. I’m not advocating sloppy shooting, I’m just saying that if you do make a marginal hit, do not give up.

Goats are tough as titanium nails! They have thick coats to insulate them
from their icy environs. Plus, billies have dense muscle and stout bone
structure.  Additionally -. they have a die-hard mentality. Understand a
goat’s vitals are more underneath his massive cliff climbing front shoulders
than behind it
.
For example. one teeth-chattering September evening, my partner shot a huge billy right behind the front shoulder and one-third the way up from the brisket. I was watching through binos and thought it was textbook shot placement. When the goat was still alive and standing in a vertical chute at dark, I was astounded. We recovered the billy from the bowels of that cavernous canyon the next morning. An autopsy showed the broadhead had clipped the back of one lung and completely impaled the liver. This shot placement on a sheep would have taken out both lungs.

However, with goats, I’d advise shooting tight to the shoulder or even better, take slight quartering-away shots.  This will undoubtedly angle the arrow into the vitals. Furthermore, will you be able to
physically recover the downed animal.  There is little sense in shooting a white monarch only to have it freefall over a 500-foot cliff with no human access.

One goat I shot tumbled several hundred yards down a rock ledge and slide area. Gravity eventually sent him to the glacier’s edge. It took about an hour to safely climb down and recover him. After killing one ram, he tumbled off a 200-foot ledge. Upon impact, he literally exploded. Forty-five minutes of cliff descending were needed to reach him. Hopefully these illustrations will alert anxious bowhunters to carefully approach mountain game hunting.

Sheep and goat hunting are financially, physically and mentally taxing.
However, if you ever get the chance to quit dreaming and actually hunt the white monarchs of the north, go for it. Both species are excellent table fare and unique trophies. Combined with
their awesome habitat it’ll be a breathtaking experience to say the least. <–<<

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Published by archerchick on 21 Feb 2010

NEWFOUNDLAND COMBO – By Joe Bell

NEWFOUNDLAND COMBO  – By Joe Bell
September 2002

Down to the wire best describes this bowhunting adventure for moose and caribou

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

With eight days of walking across inhospitable landscape.  Dean MacDonald and I were just about worn clean.  Besides that, it was 9:30 in the morning and the bush plane would arrive at 3:30 to take us back to civilization.  We were still an hour and a half walk from the lake’s edge where our boat was docked, and then we’d have another half-hour gliding the lake.  There simply wasn’t enough time to think about moose.

“We might as well start back,” remarked my trusty guide and good friend.

As we marched up a steep embankment, overlooking a wide basin we had glassed earlier with our binoculars, Dean turned and peered once again across the massive piece of mountain tundra,.  Essentially it was a giant land sponge dotted with trees and shrubs, water puddles and streams.  With a light snow falling overhead, the country looked dreamlike.  It was one of the most beautiful vantage points to look upon.

Seconds later, as Dean studied the landscape with his 10-power glasses, a blurry fleck caught his eye.  A tweak on the binoculars focusing dial turned doubt into positive affirmation.  “Moose!” There was not only one moose, but an entire group of about a dozen, including two nice bulls.

Simultaneously we glanced at our watches and stared each other in the eyes. My Casio wristwatch read 10:10.   “If we’re going to go, we better do it fast,” I enthusiastically announced.  “The pilot could always wait.”

Without hesitation, we double checked the wind and began our jog across the mile or so of bog.   I’ve hunted a few places where the spot-and-stalk bowhunting is on par with Newfoundland.  The country is plenty open, with just the right amount of cover and jagged topography to make it a stalker’s paradise.  Big game is plentiful too, which includes Canadian moose, woodland caribou and black bear.

Though moose are abundant in Newfoundland’s mountain country, they can be tough to stalk.  The moose usually hug tight to the dense spruce woods, making them difficult to approach.  During the pre-rut, however bulls can be called in close enough to give you goose bumps.

Black bear sightings aren’t all that common but I’ve seen enough to warrant a tag riding in my pocket.  Tags by the way are only $100 so it’s a no-brainer.

Really it is the woodland caribou that provide incredible stalking appeal.  In the past three seasons I have arrowed three nice woodland stags with Dean.  Every one was gorgeous big-bodied caribou with unique compact-size antlers.

But what makes woodland stags more attractive to the hunter is that they are more of a “roaming” caribou than one that migrates in masses.  Essentially, they behave like a meandering mule deer.  Woodlands are also hunted during the cool months of September and October where you’ll experience no threat from bugs.  You can’t say this for other caribou hunting.

On the first and second days of my 2001 moose and caribou combo hunt, Dean and I covered nearly 15 miles looking for an outsized woodland stag.  I was hoping for a giant stag, something that would well exceed my largest woodland that net scores 251 2/8 Pope & Young points. I simply love to hunt these critters, and trophy hunting them makes it all that much more fun.

During this intense hiking and glassing, we saw a good number of animals.  I counted six moose (two small bulls), one black bear, and nearly six dozen caribou.  Most of the moose and the bear were out of striking distance, but I had plenty of chances at caribou.  The largest stag we spotted wore nice antlers with immense double shoved points but lacked crucial heavy top points.  I simply knew the area held larger trophies.  Besides, it was only our second day on the tundra.

A unique stag was the author's first ever archery woodland caribou. Bell shot the animal after it approached within 10 yards, then turned and ran. It eventually stopped for a 35-yard shot.

But good times don’t always last this far north.  Constant weather changes simply occur, and by the next day high wind, fog and freezing rain plummeted the region, making sitting in one place and glassing tough enough, let alone trying to glass through the dense fog.  The animals didn’t seem to like the cold and wetness anymore than we did.  There was the occasional stag here and there, but we didn’t see anything eye grabbing.

The next day Dean and I came up with a hunting plan and headed for a far-off honey hole
destined to hold some super stags. It was a good 7-mile hike just to get there, 7 miles to get back and of course plenty of foot time in between stalks.  How’s that for foot hunting? Caribou may not be the wariest animals on earth but they demand physical ability

With us hunkered against a huge piece of granite, shielding ourselves fi:om the pelting wind and rain, Dean and I would step from the rock from time to time to glass what we could of the huge bogs surrounding us.

Constantly wiping our binocular lenses clean and attempting to see something other than solid white was becoming annoying.   Plus we knew the clock was ticking. Though my goal was not to shoot a big Canadian moose. I did want a bull on this trip. And time was running thin. We had three and a half days left to get a moose.

I’ve hunted with Dean for long enough to know he was thinking what I was’ “We better go after the first decent stag we see” I declared. “Don’t you think?” I said already knowing his response.

An hour or so later the fog rose just enough so we could catch a glimpse of a small herd of caribou. “There’s a stag  in that group.  He’s not a huge stag, but he’s not bad”‘ muttered Dean as the wind belted our sides.

We followed the caribou until they rounded a small hill, then I made my move.  I raced across the open at a hunkered jog.  Just reaching the hill, I spotted the tops of antlers including a mob of ear tips that belonged to the harem of cows accompanying the stag.  I dropped to my chest and slithered forward.  Dress in Gore-Tex rain gear, top to bottom, I was staying dry until the nearly frozen bog water seeped in from my sleeve cups and waistline.  With no cover at all I was nearly in the open. I would move only when the caribou bowed their heads.

As I kept slithering along, I came to a section of tanglefoot spruce – a heavy scrub bush responsible for more ripped clothing and twisted ankles in all of Newfoundland.  Trying to snake my way through these natural clinging vines with my hip quiver on was death.  I removed the quiver and laid it on my bow and pushed it ahead foot by foot.  This awkward traveling, along with the frozen water now tainting my body had me screaming for mercy.

An hour later, I had crept to 50 yards of the now bedded stag.  I slowly removed an arrow from the quiver, cleaned what brush and bog grass that I could from it and snapped it onto the bows string.
I warmed my  hands, “ranged” the distance with my Bushnell rangefinder, and slipped forward on bent knees.  As I did so, one of the cows picked me out.  I quickly and smoothly hit full draw.  The stag stood confused by the herd’s spookiness, and turned sharply quartering away.  I waited and waited, knowing the angle was wrong.

Eventually, he took one step to his left and I sent the Beman Metal Matrix shaft on its way. The arrow covered the 45 yards in a blink, hitting the caribou perfect along the last rib to angle forward into the chest. The stag bailed downward. I ran a few steps to catch a glimpse of what appeared to be a perfectly hit animal.

To my amazement the arrow. had skidded off  the animal’s ribs, shaving a line of hair from the last rib to the armpit, then embedded into the shoulder blade . I was dumbfounded.

I quickly made a half circle, got in front of the moving herd and eventually got a long shot opportunity to down the stag. From what we could figure. it must have been the sharp angle
(causing the arrow to fly tail left) and a faulty prototype broadhead that I was trying that caused the arrow to glance off the rib bone. He was a nice, mature caribou -a trophy for sure.

Over the next couple of days Dean and I did what we could to get a crack at a moose. We scoured the landscape with binoculars from prominent hilltops, took up position and called, still-hunted woodlots and even did a couple of drives. We had seen 11 moose up to this point, but only
one cow that walked within bow range.

So it came down to the last day. The last hour. The last minutes.

In that moment as Dean and I hop-scotched across the big bog, with puffs puffs of snow sheeting the sky, I had forgotten all about the clock. I was on a stalk of a lifetime!  Possibly it would end with my first archery moose.

Though Dean and I travel across rough country well together, our cadence on this particular stalk surprised me.  It seemed in only a few minutes’ time we were there . I could hear the moose.  By the sound of it, two bulls were issuing low grunts as they embraced in a minor sparring match.They were in the perfect place to ambush too – a deep sparsely wooded gully bordered by a small bog.

As we neared the gully’s edge, Dean fingered for me to move in front.  I peeked over the lip of the edge, saw a carpet of brown hair and antlers, and took a step back.  I drew my bow and crept slowly forward.  The 30-yard pin was just about to touch the bull’s chest when he darted away.  I swung until the bull stopped on a huge mound.  I quickly guessed the distance, aimed and shot.

The arrow flickered in slow motion as it arched above the bull’s lower chest.  It arrived high, square in the spine. The crunch of metal hitting bone was followed by an immediate collapse.  The earth seemed to shatter as I ran down the slope and issued a finishing arrow.  My first archery moose was stunning.  His 30-inch spread and nine points glimmered in the wet Newfoundland grass.  It was something I just couldn’t believe.  So good, so fast <—<<

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Published by archerchick on 20 Feb 2010

Two Is A Charm – by Kathy Butt

Two Is A Charm -By Kathy Butt
Those serious about tagging and archery bull will be sure to take a partner along

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

Any hunter who has experienced an up-close-and-personal encounter with a screaming, slobbering, pissing-all-over-himself bull elk will have a vivid memory of that encounter etched forever in their heart and soul.

There’s no doubt about it.  It’s quite addictive.  And it’s encounters such as the one I just described, that I look forward to each elk season with great anticipation.  In fact, I experienced one of those up-close encounters just this past fall.

It was during the second week of the New Mexico archery elk season when my husband, Foster, and I moved in tight to work a very vocal bull in the dark timber early one morning.  After making a mad dash up the wet and slippery mountainside, we caught a glimpse of the bull as he ran from one ridge to another.  And although this bull was extremely vocal, he was

playing hard to get. Actually, it after closing the distance for the third time that I finally was in th right position and ready for the shot as the bull came charging down the ridge ahead.

Foster had backed up behind me 125 to 150 yards and his realistic and urgent cow calling sequence was working like a charm.  The bull just couldn’t stand it any longer and came racing down the ridge ahead.  I drew my bow as he threw his head back and charged down the game trail into the open meadow 25 yards away.  He stopped broadside and looked in my direction, but it was too later.  I was sighted in, my top pin positioned low and behind his front shoulder.  I touched the trigger of my release and watched as the white fletchings of my arrow disappeared into the bull’s chest.

The 6×6 bolted up the ridge to my right and I bugled just as he reached the edge of the dark timber.  This was hopefully to confuse the bull, so he wouldn’t travel far before going down, but also to signal Foster that I’d shot the bull.  I was experiencing and absolute whirlwind of emotion, my knees were shaking uncontrollably, and I was trying to gain my composure as Foster carefully and quietly worked his way back to me.  Just as Foster arrived, we heard the bull crash in the timber.  The bull was down.  We faintly heard the bull taking his last laboring breaths, and tears were sliding down my cheeks as my hunting partner smiled at me and gave me a victorious thumbs up!

Thirty minutes later, Foster and I cautiously approached the bull. I couldn’t help but think of how other successful encounters such as this one confirmed what we’d known for many years-that teaming up with a hunter partner tremendously increases a hunter’s shooting opportunities.

There’s no question, teaming up with a hunting buddy and taking turns calling backup for each other can greatly increase your odds of calling bulls into shooting range, rather than you just calling solo. It doesn’t have anything to do with the vocal rate of today’s elk, for I believe elk are just as vocal now as when my husband and I first began hunting them back in the 1980s. But, I do believe that calling elk into bow range has become increasingly difficult, or let’s say perhaps more of a challenge now than when hunters first incorporated bugling and cow-calling tactics into their hunting strategies.

My husband and I have been running a private-land elk hunting operation in northern New Mexico since the mid-1980s and have discovered through our own personal experiences, as hunters and guides, that hunting with a partner, and having them call behind you as much as 50 to 150 yards, will increase your shooting opportunities by almost 100 percent.

The 6×6 bull mentioned in the beginning of this article is not the first bull my husband has called into archery range for me. Another prime example of how productive tag-team hunting can be is the day I called in a 5×5 bull for one of our guided hunters during the third week of the New Mexico archery season. This incident occurred just last fall. I was guiding a first-time elk hunter, Lance Rider, a good friend of ours from Tennessee, when we located a bull that seemed to be real excited. He was quite vocal and we didn’t hear or see any cows. Having worked a bull in this same area the day before, one that had a small harem of cows with him-particularly one very bossy lead cow that yanked the bull’s chain and convinced him to follow her in the other direction-I felt we should slip in as close as possible before making a sound. I explained to Lance that I was going to back up and call in hopes of pulling the screaming bull upwind of him.  I then told Lance to move in as tight on the bull as he felt he could without being detected. Then I told him to keep his eyes open and be ready for a shot.

This bull was ripe for the picking and our strategies worked like a charm. Lance was able to slip through the timber undetected, moving quickly and carefully while weaving his way through the shadows of the dark timber.  He hadn’t gone far before the 5×5 came charging in and was looking for the cows that seemed to be moving in the other direction. Lance was drawn and ready when the bull stopped 12 yards away to bugle. I was positioned almost 100 yards slightly to the right of Lance’s setup and couldn’t see a darned thing, but when the bull bugled that last time, I knew he had to be right on top of Lance.  Almost immediately I caught a glimpse of the bull running through the timber and heard him stumble less than75 yards from where I stood. Oh, what I would give to have seen the look on Lance’s face when that bull stopped and bugled right in front him!

Setting Up for Success
Using the proper setup is the key to not only calling a bull into range for the shooter, but is also crucial for calling a bull upwind and broadside of the shooter, which is what you want. And always check the wind before ever moving in to set up on a bugling bull and position the designated shooter in front of, not behind, a large tree or bush. Standing behind something, as well as shooting from a kneeling position, somewhat limits your shooting opportunities.

The caller should back away from the shooter’s setup a few yards, angle slightly to one side (upwind of the shooter) and then call. Move another 25 to 50 yards and call again, making noise as you move away. Elk make a lot of noise when moving through timber, so kick rocks, step on branches, do anything that will further convince a bull there are other elk in the area.

The shooter should keep a mouth diaphragm in his mouth in order to stop a bull for the shot.

Suggested Calling Strategies
Your elk-calling strategies will vary throughout the season and here’s what I ve found to work best during the various stages of the elk rut. Bulls aren’t very vocal during early September, so I’d suggest bugling only to locate a bull and then switch to using only soft cow mews. As the season
progresses and the first cows start coming into estrous, then use a bugle more, but still mostly to locate a bull. Even when we use a bugle call, my husband and I prefer to tone it down and sound like a young bull.

As the rut commences we then switch to using whinny, aggressive-type cow calls, calls which create a sense of urgency or pleading. And what we’ve found to be especially effective is to use two different types (brands) of these calls, making it appear as if there are two or more cows begging for company. This technique works especially well toward the end of the archery season. when the bulls are screaming non-stop. There are many styles available, including open-reed (mouth calls) and hand-operated mechanical-type calls, and most manufacturers offer instructional audio cassettes to teach the proper techniques for using them.

This demanding, whinny-type call may sometimes even entice the bull’s harem right into your lap.
No, it doesn’t always work, but on numerous occasions I’ve been able to get the cows all worked up. They come in to investigate the source of the call and the bull comes following close behind. The key to using this type of call is attaining the right pitch and the sense of urgency with which you apply it. I will also warn you that we’ve had black bears come to this call as well. In fact, we’ve had bears run in behind a bull on two separate occasions. So, be aware of that possibility.

As for bugling, we all enjoy sounding like the biggest, baddest bull of the woods, but throughout our years of guiding elk hunters, we’ve found it best to use bugles sparingly, mostly to locate bulls. There are occasions when a bull seems to respond well to bugles, and when it’s then, we keep the volume down and the bugle short. You’re more likely to call in a bull that doesn’t feel as though he’s going to get his butt kicked by a bigger bull, so keep your bugle weak and short.

If you plan on heading west rhis September to hunt elk, consider buddying-up for bulls. You’ll be amazed at how this tag-team hunting will tremendously increase your shooting opportunities. <—<<

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Published by archerchick on 20 Feb 2010

Staying On The Trail – By Randy Templeton

Staying on the Trail – By Randy Templeton

Here are some well practiced blood-trailing tips to help you on our next deer recovery

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

I’ve tracked down a good number of whitetails of my own and taken part in trailing numerous others for friends and fellow hunters over the years. The greatest majority of those animals were recovered, but for the few that weren’t it seems that the shooters had one thing in common: They couldn’t remember much detail after taking the shot. I truly believe the root cause for the temporary amnesia was more likely brought on by the sudden surge of adrenaline after releasing the string.

Prior to the sound of the bowstring dissipating and the first few seconds thereafter are often the most crucial moments in time that will assist you in effectively recovering an animal.

Rather than clutter these pages with information of little interest or value, lets look at some fundamental steps that I as well as others use to track down wounded deer!

CAPTURE THE MOMENT
I can’t express enough how important it is to identify where the arrow entered the animal. Also important to etch in your mind is the exact shot angle, the deer’s reaction and the line of sight in which the deer ran. The terrain looks much differently from your treestand than it does at ground level. So, it’s to your advantage to pick out a landmark such as a tree, bush, fence post or rock formation that will help guide the way to that specific spot.

After the deer have vanished from site, continue listening for familiar sounds like thrashing of leaves, sticks cracking or possibly a crashing noise that would indicate the deer went down.

ON THE TRAIL
After taking up the numerous blood trails I’ve come to understand that fatally wounded deer, like healthy deer, follow the path of least resistance

For example, it’s rare a wounded deer will travel up steep ridge inclines or cross deep ravines. such a deer is more likely to travel downhill until reaching flatter ground or cross in a saddle between ridges.

Wounded deer typically head for the security cover of their bedding area. Therefore, try to locate the trails on flat ground or those with downward trends that lead to areas of thick cover. Don’t walk on the blood trail itself but rather off to one side, otherwise you could destroy or cover up critical sign.

When you’re down to finding speckles of blood, it’s a good idea to hang surveyor’s tape or toilet paper in brush or limbs to mark the trail. With any luck at all you’ll pick up new sign that will lead to your deer.

NEVER GIVE UP
There’s no such ting as giving up when it comes to trailing a wounded animal. It’s time to dig down deep and put forth 110 percent all the way!

Even when the trail appears to have dried up, it’s your duty as a hunter to exhaust all your knowledge and resources. I say this because all too often I’ve been on a blood trail when a single piece of evidence surfaced that turned a seemingly doomed situation completely around. This was such the case for me this past season.

It was mid-November and the rut was underway. The stand hovered over the intersection of three pieces of property where several trails snaked through a coulee bottom and converged toward a damaged section of barbed-wire fence. It was the ultimate funnel, and every deer in the neighborhood seemed to be crossing there. Shortly after slipping into the stand that morning a pink

glow on the eastern horizon announced another perfect day to be in the deer woods. Maybe. a half-hour later a mature doe meandered across the grass field. A deep grunt and a flicker of antlers in the sunlight drew my attention toward a buck standing in a patch of multi-flora rose briars near the creek. The doe continued toward the fence, drawing the buck into the open. It was a nice eight-point and a shooter by my standards.

As good luck would have it she crossed the fence and the rut-crazed buck followed. At 25 yards I drew my Fred Bear bow. When he stepped into the clearing I let the string slip free, sending a Muzzy,tipped arrow toward the target. The shot looked good, but the buck barely flinched as the arrow blew through both sides and stuck in the ground 5 yards beyond. The deer looked somewhat

stunned at first, but eventually turned and walked away. Watching through my binoculars, the buck stood near a fence at 100 or more yards away and appeared to contemplate crossing. He then turned and walked along the fence to a section that  had been busted down by a fallen tree and soon disappeared. Mentally marking the spot, I sat back and waited another 45 minutes before climbing down.

Inspecting the arrow, the dark burgundy-colored blood indicated the broadhead had passed through the liver. Unless my eyes had totally deceived me, there was no way the arrow hadn’t taken out a lung too!

Following the blood to the fence crossing wasn’t a problem, but shortly thereafter I lost it when the deer trail forked three ways. Searching each trail, I failed to turn up one shred of evidence that would point me in the right direction. Considering the circumstances, I felt it was best to give the buck more time and return a few hours later with help. My brother, Tracy, and I were back on the scene by noon. After another hour of fruitless effort, we decided to try a grid search. Walking 20 yards apart we swept one small section at a time until the entire creek bottom had been covered. A hillside laced with multi-flora rose briars divided by another fence was the only thick cover left to search.

Searching the fence line. I found a faint deer trail leading to a sagging top strand of barbed wire. Much to my surprise, a tuft of white belly hair in the fence drew my attention toward faint blood on

a weed on the opposite side. Not more than 50 yards from that, I spotted the buck buried beneath

the briars! The liver/lung-shot deer had obviously doubled back and died less than 100 yards from where he was shot.

A heavy, bright red trail such as the one on the left indicates a major artery was severed. on the right Before taking up the blood trail, examine the arrow first and determine the type of hit and the severity. The animal may require more time and pushing too soon could result in disaster

THE NULL ZONE?
There’s been a lot of talk over the years, concerning whether or not a null or void zone truly exists

under the spine. Perhaps you’ve been told by another hunter or read somewhere about someone who shot a deer in the upper back and then saw the deer a month or more later apparently doing fine. I’d venture to say that in most instances the wound was superficial, whereas the broadhead didn’t sever the primary artery running along the spine or it didn’t penetrate the sealed portion of the chest cavity. I don’t believe there is such a thing as the null zone, but I do believe an animal is capable of surviving minor injuries to a vital organ.

SINGLE LUNG SHOTS
The previous statement begs an answer to a frequently asked question regarding whether or not a deer can survive with only one lung. My answer to this is yes! I say this because I have witnessed it more than once.

For example, many years ago during the gun season my friend Danny had just shot his first buck. While field dressing the deer, Danny found one shriveled lung and the other with a fresh 12-gauge slug hole through it. It was obvious the “one-lunger” had been shot the year before and survived to see another season.

Therefore, if you suspect you have only clipped one lung, I might suggest continuing to push the animal, especially if the arrow is still in the chest cavity. Chances are the broadhead will continue working around, doing further organ or artery damage in the process and improve your odds of recovery.

High-Lung Shots
A sharp broadhead center-punched through both lungs will have a good blood trail to follow and the animal generally goes down within 100 yards or so. However, as with a liver-shot deer, a high-lung shot can create similar problems for tracking. The animal doesn’t bleed much out of the gate and the majority of the bleeding takes place internally. Therefore, the lower chest cavity normally fills up first before it starts pumping out the top. Similar to priming an old water well, it takes a few pumps to fill the lower well shaft before water starts flowing out the spout.

My good friend and hunting buddy Craig Owens experienced the same scenario this past whitetail season. He shot a deer that was quartering away slightly to start with, but at the sound of the string twang, it lunged downward and turned at the same time. The three-blade Thunderhead broadhead entered the chest high, sending the buck racing to parts unknown, leaving virtually no trail to follow. It took a few hours of searching on his hands and knees, plus a grid search, to find the double-lung-shot deer that expired 150 yards from the hit sight.

Therefore, don’t assume the worst just because you didn’t find blood right away. Continue to follow up!

Shoulder Shots
I’d venture to say shoulder shots have one of the worst recovery rates, but also one of the highest survival rates. This is likely due to a whitetail’s amazing clotting capability especially when a vital organ or major artery isn’t involved. Similar to what you might learn in a first-aid course with regard to applying pressure to a deep cut, when a deer lies down on a wound the applied pressure helps seal it off. On more than one occasion I’ve seen shoulder-shot deer leap from their beds and flee without spilling any blood. Even worse is the fact that they wont bleed much (if at all) for quite some distance and it’s easy to lose the trail all together!

Although some may disagree, I truly believe a suspect shoulder shot warrants immediate follow-up to keep the wound open.’With any luck at all the broadhead will worm its way around and do further damage in the process and improve the odds of recovery.

Paunch Shots
Depending on whom you speak with, some claim a paunch shot is a non-lethal hit. Call it what you want, but there’s no doubt in my mind that a belly-shot deer is a dead deer!

Unfortunately, the biggest mistake hunters make is letting their eagerness to take up pursuit override all common sense. The old stand-by. rule of waiting a half-hour before tracking was never meant to apply to a gut shot.

It’s fairly easy to identify a paunch shot if you have the arrow to inspect. Typical to this type of hit, you’ll normally find green or brown stomach matter mixed with bright red blood on the arrow If unsure, give it the nose test. The stuff generally reeks with a foul-and-sour-smelling odor.

Depending on the exit wound the arrow and broadhead may be coated with a greasy fat or tallow, which is typical if it passes through the intestines and exits the belly.

In cases where the arrow wasn’t found, watch the deer as it walks away. If the deer is walking with it’s head down or hunching up with tail tucked between its legs, it’s a fair indicator of a paunch shot.

The minute,you identify this type of hit, mark the last sign and slip quietly out of the area all together. You have nothing to gain and everything to lose by pursuing the deer. Provided they’re not pushed, a gut-shot deer will generally bed down within 150 yards from where they’re shot On a

couple of occasions I’ve found a deer the following day that was still alive. Because of this, I always wait a minimum of 12 hours before taking up the trail!

It would be great if there were a dead animal at the end of every blood trail. Unfortunately, in real life it doesn’t always end that way. If an animal falls within eyesight, then obviously the task of tracking is a no-brainer For those that don’t, however, take a calm approach to avoid missing the small details that could point you in the right direction. Be persistent, and above all, never say never when it comes to recovering your game. <—<<

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Published by archerchick on 20 Feb 2010

Keeping the Challenge – by Sam Hossler

Keeping the Challenge – By Sam Hossler

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

No, not that one. We’ll get you a bigger one,” the guide was whispering in David Erich’s ear. Dave relayed the hushed conversation to me later that evening. I was sitting in a blind about 75 yards away watching events unfold in the forest at Paradise Ranch in Centre County, Pennsylvania.
It was the hunt of a lifetime for two Pennsylvania disabled hunters. and the whitetail buck Dave was told not to shoot would have been a real trophy on just about anybody’s wall.  In fact, I had the camera trained on the animal just knowing at any second the crossbow bolt would slice through the evening air at more than 300 feet per second and nail the biggest whitetail I had ever seen in the wild.

And I knew Dave could do it; I had watched him practice that afternoon with his crossbow. At 40 yards he grouped his bolts in a 2-inch circle every time.

You may think that’s not much of a feat but consider this: Dave is  paralyzed from the waist down plus in part of his torso which gives him no use of his fingers and very limited use of his arms. His wheelchair, which he must hunt from, is motorized and offers the left to right movement in lining up his bow. To gain or lower elevation his dad, Butch, a machinist, built a hydraulic cylinder into the bar that holds the bow (this is operated by two buttons that Dave can activate by hitting them with his hand). The crossbow is securely clamped into the bar that is attached to the cylinder and the trigger has been elongated so his hand can release the bolt by moving his whole arm slowly back.

According to Butch, each wheelchair is different and the mechanism musr be customized for each. This was a new chair for Dave, and Butch redesigned and rebuilt the shooting platform just before archery season this year. To his credit over the years, Dave has taken two does and a five-point buck with his crossbow up until this hunt. He said he went spring gobbler hunting once but all he saw was a gray squirrel.

Erich has hunted since he was in his teens in 1979, and the desire never left him, even after suffering a near fatal automobile crash while in the military. The accident left him paralyzed but he never gave up hope of hunting again. In 1992 he was well enough to try and with the help of his father found that even with his disability he still enjoyed the outdoors.

The other hunter, Gordon Sisler, was from south central Pennsylvania and had been disabled from birth.  Gordon has been a rifle hunter up until now and bought his crossbow when he heard he was picked for this hunt at Paradise Ranch. His bow is mounted on a cross bar by Velcro with no method of raising or lowering it. The release is triggered by a string he holds in his teeth and sets off by pulling his lips together. In practice his shots were somewhat off, due to his bow not held tight to the mount. However, Pat Strawser, his guide, felt his accuracy was plenty good enough for close,range shooting at deer. With two weeks of crossbow experience he was taking a dream hunt of a lifetime for whitetail.

Paradise Ranch is tucked back in the mountains of central Pennsylvania, just north of State College. Almost 1,000 acres of prime whitetail habitat is enhanced with extensive wildlife management. Only 4 years old, the ranch has already gained the reputation of producing trophy-size bucks and unparalleled comfort in the lodge for its guests. Trophy bucks were brought in
supplement the herd and the gene pool. Not only did they look for good genetic factors with the
bucks but with the does as well. Selective harvesting and a good gene pool have given them a magnificent herd.

Ernie Kramer, who heads up the United Bow Hunters of Pennsylvania disabled program, explained that they arranged a hunt in Alabama for 1999. It turned out both Erich and Sisler had been at the top of the list to go, however, Alabama doesn’t allow non-residents to use a crossbow, disabled or not, a disappointment all around. He then contacted Donny Beaver at
Paradise Ranch to see what a hunt of this type would cost. Beaver quickly donated two hunts for these disabled hunters. Kramer said the hunters were selected because they were wheelchair bound and used crossbows. Both Erich and Sisler fit the criteria.

Kramer has a database of 77 Pennsylvania disabled hunters and is looking to expand that. By receiving these hunts as donations the United Bowhunters of Pennsylvania were able to take the money that would have been spent and send donations to Hunt of A Lifetime, Physically Challenged Bowhunters of America and Buckmasters Disabled Services.

Kramer said, “I can’t thank Donny Beaver enough for his generosity” I arrived at the lodge just as lunch was being served by two lovely ladies who catered to your every wish. Then we went out to have some practice with the crossbows.

Along about 4 o’clock that afternoon, the two wheelchair accessible vans were loaded with hunters, helpers and equipment.  I rode with the guide. Uncle Phil Scheryer who would take Erich to his blind.

On the way I spotted a spike buck slinking away through the underbrush, and as we rounded a curve there were two bucks, a doe and a yearling at the edge of the woods.  One was a nice eight and the other a dandy six-point.  They definitely weren’t shooters at Paradise.

We pulled into a wide spot on the trail with the van right behind us.  A blind of fallen logs and branches was at the edge of the woods looking out over the trail and an open grassy area on the other side.  Maneuvering the wheelchair in position, branches had to be cleared away to give Dave a clear view.

Later I watched from the distance as deer began walking near Dave’s blind.  at one moment, two good bucks came out.  Unfortunately, neither gave Dave a shot.

The following morning, Dave got his chance and sent a well-placed bolt through a big buck.  The deer went less than 50 yards and dropped.  Gordon also had a shooter buck come within range that evening and made a good shot.  It was a great trophy for a first-time bowhunter.  No hunt could have had a happier ending <—<<

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Published by archerchick on 20 Feb 2010

Interview with the ELK EXPERT – By Bow & Arrow Hunting Staff

Interview With The Elk Expert  By B&AH Staff
If you’re looking for elk hunting wisdom, bowhunter Dan Evans of Plains, Montana has a lot to offer.

NOTE: With 16 record-book bull elk to his credit, Dan Evans – designer and owner of the famous Trophy Taker Drop-Away rest – is considered one of this nation’s most successful elk bowhunters, Even more impressive is that Dan killed his first archery bull in 1992, and most if not all of Dan’s big elk have come from public-land areas.  Given Dan’s success, we took the opportunity to survey his knowledge.  We asked Dan a variety of specific questions that should help you become an elk expert yourself.
http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

Bow & Arrow Hunting: Looking at your success at bowhunting elk, you’ve obviously done very well, especially at harvesting trophy-class animals. If you had to summarize your formula in how you approach hunting big elk, what would it be? Where should an average bowhunter start?

Evans: First off. you have to hunt where there are big bulls. To find good elk areas, surf the Internet, read magazines, talk to biologists and game wardens and even join a club like Garth Carter’s Hunter Services to keep up to date on the hot areas. Once you’ve found a good area to hunt,
spend as much time as you can there, Learning the terrain and the animals. There is no substitute for time. With enough time, sooner or later you’ll get your opportunity.

Second, once you’ve found a bull to go after, you must do what’s necessary to get within bow range of this animal. This means making the right calls when needed and staying mobile to ambush or tail a bull. You just have to improvise in each situation on what to do, but you must be ultra cautious by constantly monitoring the wind, mimicking sounds like a real elk would make, and simply being as stealthy as possible.

And last, but certainly not least, you should be fully confident in making the shot once it’s presented. I know too many guys that hunt smart but when it comes down to the shot, they blow it. Do what you can to work the bugs out of your equipment and mental shooting ability.
Remember that it really only takes about a minute to set up on a bull and make a killing shot. Make it count!

B&HA: How do you go about accessing trophy-rich elk areas?
Do you day-hunt away from the truck, or do you pack in
using your two legs, horses, ATV etc.?

Evans: I do it all. I day-hunt close to the truck or a four-wheeler and even
spike out every now and then. You have to remember that you don’t have
to be way in the backcountry to kill elk. In fact, I’ve shot every one of my
bulls within 5 miles of a vehicle. I really think a lot of hunters fail to hunt the
‘buffer zone’ which I classify as the areas 1 to 5 miles away from roads.
This is because most do-it-yourself hunters hunt about a mile or so lion
their trucks, and when going with outfitters, hunt areas well beyond 5 Miles
from the nearest road, This leaves a lot of non-hunted areas in between.

B&AH: Would you recommend hiring an outfitter if you’re limited on time or have little experience hunting elk?

Evans: Yes, time spent in the field is the key to taking big elk. If you don’t
have the time, then you should hire someone who does.

B&AH: What hunting technique do you prefer to employ when hunting
elk-calling, taking a stand, or spot and stalk? Also, do you often hunt alone
or with a buddy? If alone, are you still able to call effectively?

Evans: I use all of them. I’ve killed a lot of my elk by calling, a few by
taking a stand and by spot and stalk. I hunt almost exclusively alone. It’s
more difficult to call alone, but I make it work, plus I like the sense of
accomplishment I get from killing an elk all by myself. Really you shouldn’t
limit yourself to one hunting method.

B&AH: In preparing for an elk hunt, what would you suggest to our readers
on how to properly prepare? Is physical fitness all that important?

Evans: Being in good shape is definitely important. But, and this is a big but, being smart and patient is more important. You have to have mental stamina too. This is very important.
Honestly it comes down to being in the right place at the right time, and you need the right
mindset (mental toughness) to get you there. Remember – it only takes a couple of minutes to be successful on a two-week hunt, so don’t give up!

B&AH: Do you think bugling works well on today’s hard-hunted, call-shy elk?  If so, do you use a bugle just as a locator call?

Evans: My theory on calling is simple. If you can convince an elk you’re in fact an elk, it’ll work. If not, it won’t. You must call well enough to not leave any doubts in an elks mind that you’re artificial. I’ve been pretty successful at this by imitating the bull’s bugle and tone. But this only works when
I’ve done everything else right like getting close enough to entice a fight. I’ve found in most cases, big elk will move away from you almost always, so I continue to follow the bull until I can eventually get him turned. I like to close the gap to about 40 yards or so. This way the bull only has to turn back 20 yards before he’s in range. You have remember-hunting big bulls and small bulls are two entirely different things. A big bull is careful even if you sound like a real elk.

B&AH: Most serious elk hunters admit that cow calls when used properly can lure in even the most pressured elk. Do you agree? Also, when you use a cow call, how do you use it and can you recommend your favorite models?

Evans: Producing the right cow sounds at the right time will coax in a big bull, but it has ro be perfect. Otherwise, even a cow call wont do it. Elk have to believe it’s real. I highly recommend a smooth-sounding diaphragm call in conjunction with a raspy blow-through call. I have used
several different diaphragms by Larry D. Jones, Primos and Barry Game Calls; blow-through calls by Primos, Sceery, Carlton and Woodswise; and I use bugles by Prirnos and Barry Game Calls. My advice is to master the diaphragm call. When a bull comes in, you’ll need to stop him, and
you’ll need a mouth diaphragm to do this.

B&AH: What about calf sounds or other alternate methods, such as raking a tree, kicking a few rocks, or other common sounds elk often make when challenged by another bull?

Evans: When calling, I don’t try to be silent. In thick country, like where I hunt a lot in northern Idaho, the key is to make any sound an elk would make. I even sometimes pull grass out from the ground to imitate an elk grazing. Be noisy, just don’t do anything that doesn’t sound natural.

B&AH: Have you tried decoys?

Evans: I’ve tried decoys a few times, but so far I haven’t been real impressed. I do like the designs by Montana Decoy and plan on putting them to use this fall. If you use a decoy, make sure you can set it up easy and that it’s quiet.

B&AH: What would you consider the biggest mistakes most bowhunters make when hunting elk?

Evans: One, not watching the wind enough. Two, making too many non-elk-like calls. Three, expecting a bull to come to them. Four, not being in the right places at daylight and dark. And five, not being prepared to take the shot when it arrives.  When hunting mountainous country where elk
reside, you have to remember that the wind is constantly
changing-so keep an eye on it, always. Also, don’t make an elk sound (calling or tree-raking noise) if it doesn’t fit with the situation you’re in. And never expect a bull to come to you. Instead, move, and make something happen. Moreover, I can’t state how important it is to be in the woods at prime time-meaning at your specific ambush spot (wallow, saddle, meadow etc.) at light and just before dark. Most hunters time their hunt so they leave the truck or camp at light and arrive back at
dark. If being in the dark scares you, you’ll have to overcome it. And last, be sure you and your bow setup are ready to perform when needed. Do whatever you can to expose yourself to high-pressure situations by shooting in front of friends, competing in 3-D tournaments, and so on.

B&AH: What about shooting equipment? Do 4ou think light arrows and mechanical broadheads dispatch big elk cleanly? Or do you recommend medium- to heavy-weight arrows and conventional broadheads?

Evans: The bottom line is to hit what you’re aiming at, so, shoot the heaviest bow you can handle comfortably in  awkward shooting positions, like from your knees and butt. Regarding mechanical broadheads, I’ve killed five bulls with mechanical-type heads, but I’ve gone back to fixed-blade heads. I don’t like two-blades, and to get the penetration needed with a mechanical you should shoot a two-blade or a three-blade model with a small cutting diameter. Besides, I’ve had mechanicals deflect on impact and not always leave an entry hole. This is another reason why I’ve
designed the Trophy Taker rest. It allows you to shoot great groups using fixed-blade heads. In arrows, I recommend medium- to heavy-weight shafts.

B&AH: What does your personal hunting setup consist of?

Evans: I shoot a Martin Scepter IIXRG with Fury Cams, somewhere between 75 and 80 pounds of peak weight.  This bow is a great long-draw bow that’s 43 inches long with an 8 inch brace height. It shoots Easton 460-grain ACC 3/7l arrows, using a 725-grain head, at 285 fps. I use 360 Flex Fletch vanes with a strong helical, Winner’s Choice custom bowstrings made of BCY’s 452 material, and a tied-on string loop. I also use a bow quiver, Sims Vibration Labs products, my Trophy Taker rest and a prototype Trophy Taker pin sight (available next year). I prefer the Carter Lock Jaw 2000
release (open head) because I can adjust the trigger for zero travel. For most bowhunters, I recommend keeping arrow speed under 275 fps with fixed-blade heads. I can shoot a touch faster, but I constantly tinker with my equipment for perfect arrow flight.

B&AH: It’s obvious you believe in your Trophy Taker drop-away rest.  Do you think it has added to your success as well? If so , in what ways?

Evans: I’ve been using the rest for six years, and I’ve never had a failure. What I like best about this rest is that its simple, it tunes easy, allows for great arrow flight with any style fletching and nock twist, and its quiet-on the draw and after the shot. I designed it to have no “problem points,” like small screws, exposed springs and plastic construction. Plastic works for a lot of things, but I don’t want it on my arrow rest.

When it comes down to it, Dan attributes most of his success to spending plenty of time in the field. He'll hunt no less than seven to 10 days. This way he's assured he'll eventually get the right opportunity

B&AH: When preparing for an upcoming elk hunt, what does your shooting practice consist of?

Evans: I like to keep all of my arrows in a 6-inch circle on elk-size animals. So I do
what is necessary to shoot this accurately. I shoot in 3-Ds, shoot small game constantly
and I practice in my backyard from all different shooting positions. I also always sight my
bow in to my rangefinder. And I shoot broadheads as much as possible. This is absolutely critical.

B&AH: Taking into consideration all the elk you’ve bagged over the years, what would you consider an average shot distance using archery tackle?

Evans: Of the 17 bulls I shot with my bow, my average shot distance comes out to 34 yards. But I wouldn’t get hung up on averages. You should become as proficient at the furthest shooting distance possible. But remember, you must be 100-percent confident in making the shot before
you draw your bow. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t take the shot. I’m very proud of the fact that I’ve only taken shots I know I could make. Since taking my first elk in 1992, I’ve shot 18 bulls and recovered 17. And I’ve never missed a shot. If you prepare correctly and are careful, this kind of record is within every bowhunter’s reach. <—-<<

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Published by archerchick on 19 Feb 2010

Moose Madness – By W.A. Hughes

Moose Madness  by W.A. Hughes February 1977

W.A. Hughes is a part-time writer and a teacher in Chehalis, Washington
The Bloopering Bowhunter Finally Gets His Moose, Then Argues With A Grizzly For The Horns And Head!

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

February 1977

YOU MAY NOT believe this, but I’m one of those highly educated individuals with a long string of initials behind my name.  Each day I meet with troubled folks -many with serious problems – listen and offer advice.  Once out of the office, like Jekyll and Hyde, I undergo an almost schizophrenic change of personality.  No longer the suave, educated counselor, I return to being myself – a guy to whom funny things, weird things, unusual things happen as a matter of daily occurrence.

To be quite frank, I do a lot of dumb things, Things that would drive even the most macho individual right to the psychiatric crib.  But W.A. Hughes is accustomed to unfortunate incidents – he thrives on them.  Perhaps in some masochistic way even enjoys them.  My wife describes me as an accident looking for a place to happen.  Perhaps she’s right.

My Alaskan moose hunt was a typical example of the things I do.  My partner Ken Calluso and I drove practically nonstop to Alaska in his pickup truck.  It was a trip I’ll never forget.  You know Alaska has three seasons: dust and mosquitoes, damn cold, then rain and mud.  Well, we drove up during the dust and mosquito season, hunted during the damn cold and drove out during the rain and mud.  But it was super fun, and I’d go back tomorrow if I could talk someone into it.  You see I’m slowly running out of hunting partners.  I guess they just can’t take it, or else my deodorant just isn’t doing the job.

We drove three nights and four days to get up north, through a sea of grey-brown dust, flying gravel, flat tires, busted fuel pumps, cracked windshields and a few other minor inconveniences.

My left arm was covered with tiny white blisters where I got sunburned hanging my arm out the window.  I had bags under my eyes the size of a No. 10 can of peas, and my entire body was covered with little red bumps where AlCan mosquitoes and other tiny creatures fed off me when I went swimming or washed up in an isolated Yukon River.
My entire body looked like something I once saw in a Marine Corps training film of guys that had been indiscreet.

When we arrived at our destination on the Denali Highway in Central Alaska I felt as if someone had beat me with a club, but now was no time to slow down.  Calluso and I unloaded the Trail 90s from the pickup.

Calluso and I broke fast with a delicious meal of a Baby Ruth and a Snickers bar and took off on the bikes.  Now those bikes just scare the hell out of me.  I don’t know why I even ride one because every time I do, I have to replace all the skin on my knees and invariably end up picking little chunks of gravel out of my hands.  It might be that I just can’t control my emotions.

This time was no different, I know better –I don’t know why I do these things — but after the bike warmed up a minute I cranked the throttle full open like some care free kid.  The front wheel reared up in a wheelie and I rolled off the back over my pack and dropped all 256 pounds of my weight on a rather pyramid-shaped piece of quartz sprinkled with shiny pyrite.  Oh, the pain!

Calluso displayed his usual sardonic sympathy:  “Will you knock off the horseplay, Hughes?  Let’s scout this place out.”  That’s not really what he said, but this being a family magazine I wouldn’t want to embarrass the editors by printing a factual account of what my retired Marine partner really said.  Or what my reply actually was, for that matter.

Not to be put off by the aching part of my anatomy that later showed a bruise the size of a milk bucket, I picked up the bike only to discover that my kick starter was broken off – gone completely.  I searched but couldn’t find it.  No doubt it was kicked off into the brush by the tire.

For the rest of the trip I did encounter some difficulty starting the machine.  Fortunately there was a nub there to push and sometimes I’d just run along and kick the bike into gear.  Just another minor inconvenience that I’ve grown accustomed to

Five miles down the trail we entered a spruce forest in a beautiful park-like setting.  The ground was getting a little boggy.  As we turned a sharp bend in the trail, a pool of water about twenty yards across the hardpacked path.  Calluso braked his bike to a stop.
“Shall we walk them through?” he asked.
“Let’s hit it, Calluso.” I goosed the bike and hit the pond at about twenty miles per hour.  Well I mean to tell you, I goofed.  Although I could see the bottom of the pool and it was only about 6 inches deep, the bottom was mud-soft peat.

Halfway across, the back wheels spun out kicking up a comet of mud and water.  I eased back on the throttle and put my foot out to balance the bike.  Almost in slow motion, my foot sank ankle deep, then deeper.  The bike slowly tipped further and further until it fell over on me.

It was a beautifully sunny day, but that water was cold.  I squirmed out from under the bike and walked it to shore.  Calluso just walked alongside his bike and gave it a touch of throttle. No problems.  When he climbed back on his bike and rode down the trail he smiled, then he laughed until the tears rolled down his cheeks.  Lord was I cold, but I hung in there.

We rode fifteen to twenty miles back on the trail.  The country was beautiful.  Puffy white clouds dotted a pale blue sky.  Gentle rolling hills, covered with mattress-thick layer of moss and red-leaved wild cranberries, stretched out to the horizon.  Blue-green lakes speckled the tundra.  Spruce forests covered the valley floor.  A river, loaded with grayling and rainbow trout snaked its way across a lush green valley.

“Wow,” Calluso said  “The whole trip is worth the view.”
I sat on the soft tundra, my back braced against a six-foot spruce tree. “I can’t believe it,”  I hissed.  “Take a look down there.”  I handed Calluso the Bushnell lens and pointed to the far side of the valley.

Where the creek widened out to form a pool, two gigantic bull moose grazed along the edge of the pond, belly deep in water.  One was chewing the tender roots of a lily pad.  A small herd of seven caribou grazed on the side of the hill.

“This is it, Hughes,” said Calluso.  “Let’s go back a mile or two and set up camp, I don’t want to disturb this place.”

Early the next morning, which was August 20 and the opening of the moose season, we dressed full camouflage, hiked back to the top of the hill and glassed over the valley.  Almost immediately we spotted a brown speck on the valley floor.
“Put your glasses on him,” Calluso ordered.
“He’s a big one, Calluso.”  Was I excited.  My heart was thumping like a jackhammer, the muscles in the back of my neck were wire-fence tight.  I could swear a cannonball was lodged somewhere between my craw and stomach.  Even the little bones in my knees were doing the Watusi.

We talked it over for a few minutes and planned our stalk.  Calluso would follow the trail to the pool’s edge and try for a shot.  I would get above and behind the moose, but I never made it.

Halfway down the hill a bull with a fifty-inch spread of horns jumped out of its bed in a head-high stand of willow.  I didn’t have time to think about what action to take.  I drew, anchored the twenty-eight-inch glass shaft on my chin and released.

The razorhead sunk into the moose’s side nearly to the feathers just behind the front shoulder.  I snapped another arrow out of the bow quiver and missed a running shot about fourteen feet.

Now I was excited.  My hands shook so bad I had trouble getting another shaft out of the quiver and on the bow. “Settle down, Hughes,” I kept saying to myself.  “Wait it out.”  Well, I couldn’t take my own  good advice.  I took off through the brush like a D-12 cat.

When I’m in top shape I can run  about one hundred yards without risking a coronary, and that’s about how far I ran.  There was my moose –standing in the middle of the trail, head down, facing me.  I put the brakes on fast, set up and took a shot.  The arrow hit a horn and went straight up.  I whipped another razorhead out of the quiver, but didn’t need to pull.  The bull went down. “Whooopeeeee!”  I cut loose with a rebel yell that would have sent chills up the back of U.S. Grant.

Like a big dummy I ran over to the moose and guess what? He got up, staggered about two steps and went down again, right on top of me.  I couldn’t budge.

What do you do in a situation like this?  I lay as quiet as a church mouse and when the moose made a last valiant effort to get up, I rolled free.

“Hughes, where are you?” Calluso yelled. “I need a hand.”
“Over here Calluso.” I grabbed a tall birch sapling and shook it.  In a minute Calluso came into sight.  When he saw my trophy he turned all smiles and shook my hand.
“He’s a dandy,” he admitted. “Almost as big as mine.”

Well gang, the fun was over.  It took tow days to quarter the meat and hang it up.  We hauled it out of the brush a piece at a time on the back of the Hondas – but my luck held.

On the last trip for the head, horns and the ribs on one side.  I had a terrible shock.  It was all gone.  You didn’t have to be a mountain man to see what happened.  We found bear tracks in the soft mud down the trail.

I wasn’t about to give up that easy.  That set of horns meant a lot to me.  Fortunately the grizzly wasn’t difficult to locate.  That evening we saw a big mama bear with two cubs and the moose head.  From a long way off, we started hollering, yelling and waving our arms in the air.  Calluso blew the horns on his bike and we must have just scared the devil out of those bears as they took off fast.

Calluso and I rode the bikes down the hill as far as we could, grabbed that head and took off in the opposite direction.  Three hours later we were  at the Alaska Game Department check in station on the Denali.

When I explained to the biologist what happened he looked at us like we belonged in the puzzle house.  “You mean you shot this moose with a bow and arrow and then ran down the hill and took the head away from a grizzly?”  He handed back our license and turned to his paper work.

Why argue? Nobody believes the things that happen to W.A.Hughes <—-<<

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Published by archerchick on 17 Feb 2010

The Spring King – By Randy Templeton

The Spring King by Randy Templeton
April 2006
When bowhunting springs longbeards, use these tips to help boost the odds in your favor
April 2006

After gathering up my gear I made my way up the ridge in the pre-dawn blackness.  Once at the top, I placed a half-strutting tom and hen decoy near the field’s edge. then quietly sneaked into the timber and parked my rump against an ancient burr oak before first light, a low-volume owl hoot initiated a response from a roosted tom not more than 100 yards away.

As the sun began to light up the eastern horizon, I spotted several birds in a big cottonwood tree along the creek behind me. I hunted the general area two seasons before, so I had a good idea where the turkeys would go when they pitched dawn from their roost. My ambush was near the edge of a green strip where three gobblers had been strutting their stuff quite frequently. A couple of soft yelps lit up the woods with a string of gobbles, one right after another.  The best I could tell, there were at least three toms. maybe more.

After a few more purrs, clucks and yelps, I heard the turkeys fly down from their roost. Not long after, the gobblers came strutting along in the field. When they reached the crest ans saw the decoys, they picked up the pace and started running with their beards-a-swinging. As the lead gobbler (and biggest) spread his fan and danced his best jig in front of the decoy, I settled the sight pin and released the string. The Thunderhead zipped through the vitals, sending the hefty tom leaping into the air. When he hit the ground I ran to his rescue. He had a 10 3/4-inch beard, 1 2/-inch spurs and weighed 24 pounds. It was my second mature bird that spring.

Those who have bowhunted turkeys already know how tough it is to kill one of the spring kings, but you also know that it’s gratifying and a challenge well worth exploring. Let’s review a few basic tactics that could help you tag a longbeard with your bow.

A tom’s droppings are typically elongated and often shaped like the letter “J”

LEARN THE LANGUAGE
Of all the turkeys I’ve killed, I’ve yet to take any two under the exact same conditions or using the same tactics. In other words, there isn’t any set of rules or script to follow for killing a gobbler. Some days a turkey might respond to soft yelps and purrs. Other times they may come running at the first sight of a decoy, and other times they won’t.

The same goes for calls –not all are created equal. Some days it might be a box and other times a diaphragm or slate that strikes the fancy of an ol’ tom. Even the best turkey hunters have been made to look like a fool at some point in time by a wily old gobbler. It only takes on bad call to take you out of the game, so you should master more than one call and carry three or four. When the moment of truth arrives, you’ll need both hands free for shooting. If a turkey hangs up or you need him to take one last step, there won’t be time to use a slate or a box. With that in mind a diaphragm call is one you’ll want to practice using.

On a hunt in Nebraska with Cabela's this past spring, Mike Capps of Howard communications killed this beautiful Merriam with a Cabela's F3 broadhead

One of the first things that I learned about turkey hunting was that continuous calling got me in trouble almost every time. I would venture to say more birds have been killed that came to investigate soft calls than those that would shatter your eardrum. Through the school of hard knocks, I learned that it’s always better to start out using calls sparingly as opposed to bellowing out loud, excited repetitions. Remember, if you take the bird’s “temperature” using light intermittent calls and he doesn’t get fired up or cut the distance, you can always increase the volume and pick up the pace.

TAG TEAM CALLING
Anytime you’re able to draw attention away from yourself, the better the chances are of fooling an “old sultan” of the woods. Despite their differences in size, elk and turkey hunting are similar in many ways. One of my favorite elk tactics is tag-team calling with a friend, and it works very well on turkeys, too! For this strategy, one person is the designated shooter and the other is the caller.

With that in mind, the first thing on the agenda is to decide who’s shooting and who’s calling. To keep it fair, I usually flip a coin. Second on the agenda is to anticipate the direction in which the tom will come from. Third, find a tree or bush to set up behind that will conceal your movements when drawing. The caller sets up and calls from 10 or 20 yards behind or off to one side of the shooter. When the unsuspecting turkey struts into range, wait until he gives you a broadside shot or turns facing away to take the shot.

GET IN THE ZONE
Like the tom in the beginning, I knew where he had been strutting and made sure I was there when the sun came up that morning. The gobbler had been using a green strip of grass along a cornfield that hadn’t been tilled to strut his stuff. In fact, I’d seen him there twice the week before.

If time allows, it’s always a good idea to do some pre-season scouting. By scouting I don’t mean going out to your favorite spot and try calling a turkey up. In fact, calling before the season opens is probably one of the worst things you can do. The only thing you stand to gain from it is educating the birds before opening day. Like any other game, the element of surprise is your biggest ally.

Similar to deer, turkeys have certain locations where they hold up before feeding. They also use certain terrain features for entering feeding and roosting spots. Take for example, a point that extends from an oak-ridge flat. The point might also serve as a crossover to another roosting location or feeding area. Many of these terrain features are natural funnels that turkeys use going from feeding to roosting spots. When scouting, follow the outside edges of the timbered areas and look for tracks, droppings and dusting sites. If there’s a creek bottom with big cottonwood trees or perhaps an oak ridge with mature trees, look around beneath them for sign like droppings and feathers that would confirm turkeys are roosting above.

Because patterns can change quickly due to breeding activity or hunting pressure, the week or so before opening day spend the first and last two hours glassing to determine what’s coming out and when to the spot where you found fresh sign. Although strutting areas are typically found in open areas like ridge tops, field edges and logging roads, unless you’ve actually seen the turkeys strutting they’re pretty tough to locate. When scouting, look for sign such as tracks that appear to go both directions, droppings and wing-drag marks in soft powdery soil around field edges, dirt roads and such.

All too often, the toms that were henned up first thing in the morning start looking for other breeding hens around midday. In many cases, the toms leave the hens and head for their strutting zones. It’s for that reason you might spend time glassing during the late morning and early afternoon to locate strutting areas. If you find an honest to goodness strut zone, get there before the turkeys do and set up.

Although a single decoy will enhance a setup, multiple decoys can further increase your chances

SETTING UP
If you’re using a blind, get it set up (or build one) before opening day. If you know where to the turkeys are roosting, slip in under the cover of darkness and get within 100 yards or so and set up. If you’re hunting from the ground, then pick out a tree big enough to hide behind and conceal your movements. Be sure to clear all the leaves and debris away from the tree base. When you sit down, remember to position yourself in such a way that you can draw and shoot in the same direction the bird is expected to come from with minimal movement. For example, face your bow -grip shoulder toward the turkey’s approach route or decoy spread. In doing so, you’ll have a wider range to wing and shoot without needing to adjust. Set out one or two decoys to enhance the setup. From your scouting you already know where the turkey is going, so there’s no need to call very much, perhaps every 20 or 30 minutes is plenty.

PREPARING FOR THE SHOT
One of the toughest parts of bowhunting turkeys is getting drawn and shooting without getting picked off first. More often than not, the proper decoy setup can significantly improve your chances of beating the turkey’s keen sense of eyesight. When most toms approach, I’ve learned that they like to make eye contact, regardless of whether it’s another tom or a hen. Because of that, I found it’s better to face a decoy towards me or sideways rather than facing away. As a tom comes in to investigate he’ll eventually turn his read end in my direction, allowing me to draw and shoot.

Chances are, any shot you get won’t be from the standing position. So, long before the season practice drawing and shooting from the sitting and kneeling positions.

PATIENCE
Older birds that have survived a few seasons are usually hunter-wise and harder to kill. Although you’ll often need to be persistent when hunting wily birds, you’ll also need to show some patience, too.

I remember a time a few seasons back I’d been hunting an old tom for several days and anything that could go wrong, went wrong. I couldn’t sneak within range nor could I call him away from his hens, no matter how hard I tried.

Much to my surprise, one morning, the boss gobbler answered my calls with some real enthusiasm. Minutes later he flew down from the roost and landed just out of range from the decoy spread of two hens and a half-strutting  jake named “Bubba.” I refrained from calling too much and it wasn’t long before he strutted into range, spitting and drumming all the way. It was one time where a combination of patience and persistence paid off.

Bowhunting the spring king might be tough, but the rewards are well worth the efforts. Sound scouting and hunting strategies are the keys that unlock the door to success <—<<

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Published by archerchick on 16 Feb 2010

SOUTHWESTERN BIG GAME – By Eddie Claypool

Southwestern Big Game – By Eddie Claypool
April 2006
In the wide-open space of the desert southwest lies spectacular scenery and trophies to boot –all available to you during the off-season!

April 2006

As the cold winds of winter usher in the end of most bow seasons, many hunters hang their gear up for another year. The off-season doldrums set in, and the thoughts of most serious bowhunters turn toward hunt planning for next autumn. There is, however, an alternative to this course of action –an often-overlooked opportunity to extend your bowhunting efforts another full month. Look to the desert southwest, the land of sunshine and wide-open spaces.

Often viewed as desolate and foreboding, the southern regions of Arizona and New Mexico offer pristine country rich in history, flora and fauna; a land as big as your imagination, most of which lies i nthe public domain. Herein lies a whole new bowhunting horizon, one ripe for the picking for the wilderness adventurer. Our most elusive whitetail lives here, as do wide-antlered mulies, which rule over a vast domain that stretches from earth to the sky and from horizon to horizon. Throw in some “pigs”–Javelina, as they are most often called –and you have a mix custom made for the daylight-to-dark bowhunting action.

A decade ago, my first trip to the desert Southwest produced a very secure hook-set on me. The vast solitude of the country stirred an extreme feeling of freedom and adventure inside me — a world of unlimited and unanswered questions. In the land of the Apache, I soon came to understand how the Native American people prospered, and why they loved their homeland so dearly and fought so fiercely to keep it.

Every winter I longingly anticipate the chance to take my bow and arrows and quietly melt back into a time and place where the spirits of Cochise, Victorio and Geronimo still move like the wind. Let’s take a look at some of the logistics involved in pulling off just such an adventure.

GEAR UP
In relation to my outings, I place an emphasis on remoteness. In other words, when I hit the high-desert backcountry, I must be totally self-sufficient. The first item necessary in order to accomplish this is a dependable vehicle, one with good rubber on it, spares available and extra fuel readily accessible. A four-wheel-drive is recommended, and it’s a good idea to take some tire chains. A winch, or cable hoist and nylon strap can be a lifesaver also. Throw a high-lift jack in the mix to top off the deal.

Desert weather can fluctuate wildly from week to week. Commonly, you’ll enjoy endless days of sunshine, warmth and arid conditions, though seemingly out of nowhere, you can have repeated days of soaking rains and/or snow. When the desert gets wet, vehicular travel can literally come to a standstill; be prepared to wait such spells out in the comfort of a well-stocked base camp.

I take an elaborate array of gear for my base camp, including two large tents, propane stove, heaters and lanterns. Sturdy foldout tables and comfortable chairs make the cook tent a pleasant place to hang out in the darkness of a cold desert evening. If you can stand the noise and fumes a generator can supply electricity for many uses.

Long before leaving home, I prepare numerous large meals for my trip, vacuum packing all of them into single serving portions, and freezing them. I then line the bottom of an extremely large cooler with a block ice, place a sheetmetal cover over the ice then stack all my pre-prepared meals on top. Another medium-sized cooler suffices for all other miscellaneous cold items, including drinks. I also have a large dry-storage container well stocked with countless other food supplies, which I conveniently place in a corner of the cook tent. Also, I make sure my cook tent has no floor — there are many pluses to this. Such being the case, I am able to hang a solar shower from the frame of my cook tent, fire up a propane heater and take a shower in comfort. I take a piece of 2-inch thick corrugated rubber as a mat to stand on while showering, for obvious reasons. Be sure to take a large amount of water with you; I have a 50-gallon container neatly mounted on my ATV trailer. With such a setup, I’m able to eat well, lounge comfortably and stay clean for many weeks. Yes, I believe in good, long outings!

For my sleep/clothing tent, I use a long, wide, high-quality cot, sleeping pad and cold-weather goose-down bag, I place a small foldout aluminum table at one end of my bed and a 4×4-foot section of thick carpet on the tent floor beside my cot. A propane heater will be within close reach when I go to bed, so that I can light it directly from my sleeping bag in the mornings. I line one side of my living quarters with two to three large plastic tubs containing all my clothing, neatly and smartly arranged. Such a setup keeps the wheels turning smoothly from day to day.

Another big desert mulie shot by Claypool. This buck sports a 30-inch-wide mainframe that grosses 175 inches. Big mule deer are found in the desert

Okay, here’s where I am going to shame myself: I used to blaspheme ATVs, but now I own one – ha, who’d a thought it! Honestly, they’re very handy for maneuvering around the countless two-track roads that most desert areas offer, especially when things are wet. Even when Mother Earth is dry, an ATV can sure save a lot of wear and tear on your pickup truck. Just remember; Please don’t take them cross-country — that’s when their use falls into the classification of abusive.

THE GRAY GHOST
For a Midwestern Whitetail hunter like myself, the chance to extend my whitetail season by a month is an appealing thought. Throw in the fact that the climate in Coues (pronounced “cows”) country is much more hospitable, and the fact that Coues whitetails are the ultimate bow challenge, and you have a very tempting mix. Reasons enough to point my old Ford south many years ago.

From the get-go, I was led to believe that spot-and-stalk was the only way to effectively bowhunt Coues deer. Well, let me tell you this: Maybe such is the case for the died-in-the-wool western bowhunters out there (whatever blows your skirt up!), but as for me –a heartland ambusher– I’m here to tell you that there is more than one way to skin a cat. I’m talking about tree stand and/or ground blind hunting in rutting-buck travel corridors, and along scrape and rub-lines (Double Bull archery makes some extremely portable and effective blinds, perfect for just such applications).

In other words, what I’m saying is this: If you’re a good Eastern whitetail bowhunter (add a lot more hump-and-get-it to the mix), you can be a good Coues hunter too. Since the main difference between Eastern and Western whitetail hunting lies in the “size” of the land out west and the dispersion of the deer in it, you have to be willing to put in a lot of vertical and horizontal miles in search of deer concentrations. Then, once reasonable concentrations are found, narrowing down ambush spots can prove to be an even more daunting challenge. But then again, what more challenge could a hard-core bowtoter ask for?

Whenever I’ve done all that I can to place my warm body in a high-quality ambush spot, I make sure that I carry a lunch in my Badlands 2200 series backpack, along with my Scent-Lok clothing, and stay on stand all day. At this point, nothing else you can do will up your odds for success more than sheer time spent on stand. And honestly, I’ve found rutting Coues bucks to move just about as liberally during midday times as they do during the early-morning and late-evening hours.

DESERT MULE DEER
Last, but certainly not least, comes the opportunity to possibly cross paths with a mule deer buck whose antlers may be as expansive as the desert sky. Don’t kid yourself into thinking that all the big mulies live in the “traditional” haunts of the Rocky Mountains. Though, admittedly, finding a top-end buck in desert terrain can be like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack, certainly it can be done. Personally, I’ve taken a 30 incher and a 34 incher!

For desert mulies, concentrate on extremely remote locations; mulies don’t tolerate human intrusion well at all. Also, concentrate on foothills regions, but don’t overlook desert “flats” either. I’ve run across some real bruisers in the seemingly uninhabited cactus and mesquite country far out in the desert valleys.

During the rut, mature bucks lord over harems of does, constantly vying for breeding opportunities. This can make them extremely susceptible to approach, yet, on the other side of the coin, you’re dealing with the wariness of a large group of does. In such a scenario, I attempt to simply “hang out” near the rear of the herd, waiting for the boss to make a pass through the area. With patience and stealth you can expect a golden opportunity in time.

Claypool's firt Coues buck is also his largest --a 108-inch giant ambushed from a tree stand

Since spot-and-stalk is the usual tactic of choice, good optics and a flat-shooting bow are prerequisite for success. Here I rely on Nikon optics and a Mathews Switchback bow, which launches a Beman ICS 340 tipped with a Rocky Mountain Ti-100 at 275 fps. This rig –groomed with a Black Gold sight and rest — is a dependable nail-driver out to ranges farther than I feel comfortable mentioning. For just such times as this, a quality rangefinder can prove worth it’s weight in gold.

THE “OTHER” CHOICE
Finally, if you’re so inclined, “porkers” may be the order of the day. Javelina offer a different and unusual bowhunting break from the pull-your-hair-out daily grind of Coues deer hunting. With javelina, the key to success lies mainly in locating the little buggers. Chances are, if you find ’em, you can kill ’em. They don’t see particularly well, and they don’t have the ears of a mule deer. Their sense of smell, however is excellent,and they won’t question what their nose tells them. Stay downwind, and move slowly, and chances are good that you’ll pull a string on one.

Cover a lot of ground, looking for rootings and tracks in zones where desert flats blend into mountain foothills. Glass open hillsides at any time of the day for javelina, because they haven’t heard about the early morning and late-evening rule. When stalking them to within bow range, consider the use of fleece overboots to muffle your footfalls.

WRAP IT UP
Of all the do-it-yourself bowhuting trips that I make each year, I look most forward to my annual pilgrimage to the high desert. It’s hard to put into words why this is so, yet, suffice it to say that I consider this trip to be the “coming together” of a fine mixture of all the true ingredients of what bowhunting is all about –this trip is truly a smorgasborgh of experiences. From the day I arrive in this land of stark contrasts each season, I begin dreading the day that I’ll have to head home –that’s the definition of a cherished trip indeed. <—-<<<

In the wide-open space of the desert southwest lies spectacular scenery and trophies to boot–all available to you during the off-season!

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

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Published by archerchick on 16 Feb 2010

HI-SPIRIT-My Christmas Eve Buck – By Ted Nugent

HI-SPIRIT By Ted Nugent
My Christmas Eve Buck
April 2006
Enjoying a profound holiday ritual

April 2006

The icicles hanging from my mustache and beard were the real McCoy. No fake decorations allowed in my Christmas tree. And my Christmas tree just happened to be a towering white oak atop a majestic forested ridgeline bordering our stunning Nugent family Michigan swamp. Instead of a handmade angel on top, a frozen guitar player clung for dear life to the crows-nest branches way up high, trusty bow and arrow in hand, waiting for an American whitetail deer to bring our Christmas dinner on by –on the hoof. For, as usual, I was bowhunting on this frigid evening, celebrating the birth of The Creator’s son in the lap of God, doing my own little personal shivering prayer for peace and joy across the land.

The wiser members of the Tribe Nuge were just a shot away, snug around the home fireplace preparing a hot meal for the old hunter’s return, blue-spruce tree aglow in the corner of our home with celebratory decorations aglitter. With the 30-below wind chill numbing my inner bones, I could hardly wait for dark to take over the swamp so I could join them for a Nugent American tradition of grand Christmas spirit. Meanwhile, Old Man Winter was doing all he could to blow me clean out of my tree stand. Motor City MadMan indeed. Motor City NutJob is more like it.

But now he came, and a powerful, inner instinct overwhelmed the frozen wind and any thought of comfort. I could hardly believe my eyes that such a beast was approaching on this horrendous, brutal night. He was a great stag, and he was coming my way. I pushed and pulled on my frozen muscles in preparation to draw my bow as does and young deer crunched the icy snow below me, luring the old monarch into range. The magnificent buck paused every few steps to test the wind and my patience, and on he came.

As he turned his head to follow an old doe, I initiated my hunter’s prayer, my arrow coming back gracefully, like the Zen ballet of life and death that is, and in and instant, the razor sharp broadhead had sliced clean through the old boy’s vitals and it was all over except for the jubilation. He died in but seconds before me, tipping over in the pure white snow of the marsh, just 25 yards away. In astonished disbelief, I looked to the heavens and said another prayer of thanks, thank carefully descended my icy perch and proceeded with the stirring recovery of rituals of such a precious gift. The purity of my act was obvious to all who are honest about nature. Balance, biodiversity and perfect protein for the table were the irrefutable win-win-win of the occasion.

With the help of my family, we jubilantly dragged the amazing animal back to the barn and soon my frozen garments were replaced with a nice, warm, cushy robe, slippers and a scrumptious hot meal. The Santa Claus of fresh meat has landed.

The American Dream is truly amazing any way you choose it, but this hands-on outdoor conservation lifestyle of hunting, fishing and trapping keeps one honest to the cause and effect with the good Mother Earth and all her creatures and resources. The gorgeous spruce Christmas tree we so joyously decorated together was once again harvested from the thousands of various trees we plant each spring. The natural season of planting is as important to us as the natural season of harvest, and it means so much more to us knowing we personally plant thousands of trees for every one we utilize. Just as the thriving deer populations prove, a reasoning predator will always put more back than we take. The Christmas season is surely a time of giving, but the Nugents don’t limit such conscientiousness to a single time of year. We just go a little wilder at Christmas.

The mouth-watering, aromatically stimulating spread on our Christmas dinner table is not only delicious and invigorating, but also happens to be the healthiest food available to mankind. Our wild turkey is pure, organic food; the roasted venison haunch and mallards a testament to the perfection of God’s natural, renewable bounty. We do it every year, and will forever.

Watching my children grow up in such a spiritually connected lifestyle has served them well, and their integrity and quality of life is my proudest accomplishment. They are all giving, loving, caring, independent, resourceful, funny, clever, productive American citizens solidly in the asset column of life. Now with grandchildren at the party, the traditional Nugent family fun factor continues off-the-charts. Though the gift wrapping and unwrapping can be best described as a consumer orgy, steps towards practicality are being upgraded every year. We try to provide as many gifts to U.S. Military families as we possibly can, for but by the blood of warriors can any celebration take place at all.

We keep Christ in Christmas regardless of trends or the PC denial curse. We celebrate the gift of life, we celebrate American freedom, and we celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ.

Communicate and ask Uncle Ted directly at NugentUSA@cs.com or visit tednugent.com.

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