Archive for the 'Hunting Stories' Category

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

Published by sarah on 22 Dec 2009

My very first hunting trip in the pouring snow

The weather man is calling for a twenty four inch snow storm here in Roanoke county Virginia.   more snow than we will have gotten in fifteen years, also setting records for the month of December!  Anyways, i decide it will be fun to hunt in the snow and i should get to my tree stand before it starts snowing heavily.  As soon as i start walking into the edge of the woods i can barely see through the sno

windburn :(

 
windburn 🙁

w. i don’t turn back.  By the time i get to my stand already an inch and a half of snow has fallen and the steps are slippery climbing up.  im sweating and i should have lived in that last moment of warmth.  finally hooked in my stand i start to feel the snow flakes and wind on my cheeks.  windburn was in my future. my big fluffy NON-waterproof coat was starting to turn white and so was the rest of my clothing. i had to stand up to get some of it off before it all soaked in.  this turned into a routine.  an hour has passed and I’m colder than I’ve ever been in my life, and it feels like the temperatures dropping.  it hurts to look to my left; the wind and snow are hitting me harder than ever.  the next two hours were miserable.  i hadn’t seen a a squirrle  much less a deer and i was about to die so i lower my bow down and descend down the slippery steps once again.  up the hill i fell more times than i can count and next time i WILL dress warmer!

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

Published by admin on 14 Dec 2009

Blunders and Boo Boos Story and Photos By Judd Cooney

Blunders and Boo Boos
This long-time bowhunter has a few unfavorable experiences to tell about.
Story and Photos By Judd Cooney

cover

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com/

 The six-point bull was plum agitated at the infernal interloper (me) that was trying to cut in on his harem.  His deep-chested chuckling grunts and high-pitched bugles echoing through the quaking aspen and across the broad valley left little doubt about his attitude.  Tough and belligerent as the bull sounded, he wasn’t hesitating  as he pushed cows and calves up the slope toward the dark timber and their bedding area.

 Guide Dennis Schutz, my compadre Mark Peterson and I were a hundred yards below the elk when they crossed a small grassy park and headed up through a dense patch of aspen.  The heard was unaware of our trailing presence as we jogged through the dense timber to the edge of the meadow.  We were in time to catch sight of the last shadowy forms ambling over the aspen-covered knoll.  Mark and I quickly set up about 30 yards apart while Dennis stayed behind us.

 I squealed sharply to imitate a young bull and immediately switched to excited, pleading hyper-cow calling.  The sound of a raghorn with a hot cow was more than the herd bull could stand and it brought him charging down the hillside and into the open 100 yards across the clearing.  He responded to a couple of soft, seductive cow mews by trotting directly toward us, grunting and squealing as he came.  I was hoping he’d give Mark a shot but he’d pinpointed the sounds and ended up facing me at 10 yards.  I was backed into the shadows at the base of a spruce and knew he wouldn’t spot me unless I moved, so I waited him out.  When the frustrated bull turned away and started to circle I jerked to full draw, picked an apparently clear shooting lane at 20 yards and when the bull stepped into the open I sent my Phantom tipped XX75 on its way.  The ringing clang of my arrow colliding with a chest-high stump that stood there 300 yards just waiting to ruin my shot and the thuuunk of the arrow burying itself in an inedible, non-trophy aspen made me appreciate the good side of forest fires.  How the hell I could have missed seeing a 16-inch-wide slab of dead tree 20 feet in front of me defies logic.  But those are the bowhunting blunders that allow four-legged adversaries to win a disproportionate number of encounters and give bowhunters an excuse for blowing a perfect shot.

Blunders_n_Boo_Boos_3

 Catspaw Ranch, where I wounded a spruce stump and killed an aspen, is 20.000 acres of the most pristine quality elk hunting property in Colorado.  The ranch has a high elk population with many quality bullsand unfortunately too many trees for me to effectively bowhunt elk.

 Last fall, while bowhunting elk on Catspaw I called up and passed on a number of good bulls.  Several respectable five- and six-point bulls I seduced to within 20 yards or less and came to full draw.  However, I patiently held off waiting for a shot at a 320 bull or better.  Dumb!

 The last evening of my bowhunt my son-in-law, Mike Kraetch, tagged along to help me pack out my elk.  Nothing like confidence.  We parked the truck along a quaking aspen grove intending to move up the sloping valley side and catch the elk as they moved down to the lower meadows to feed.  It’s a lot easier to call an elk in the direction it’s headed rather than to try and turn it back to the country it just vacated.  We’d only gotten a couple hundred yards from the truck when we spotted an elk ghosting silently through the aspens a hundred yards upwind of us.  Even with binoculars we couldn’t tell if it was a bull or cow before it melted into the dense background.  At this point in the season a nice fat cow would fit nicely in our freezer as easily as a bull, so I moved a few yards ahead of Mike, knelt in the shadows of a low-branched spruce and wheedled a couple lonesome cow mews.  A bull answered immediately and within seconds a five-by-five materialized and started threading his way through the thicket of young spruce and fir.  He was 40 yards and closing steadily when I eased to full draw and swung with him.  At 20 yards he stopped behind some trees with his chest area centered in the V of two leaning dead trees.  I mentally thought, “How can I go wrong with everything but the kill zone covered by brush: as I released the arrow.  Yeah, right.  The solid whack of my arrow slamming into dead wood wasn’t nearly as infuriating as the snickering from my son-in-law oh well, I could always use the firewood.

 It’s amazing how many times in more than 40 years of bowhunting I’ve managed to hit various objects between me and the critter I’m trying to arrow.  I can recall numerous times my arrow hit the omnipresent “unseen object,” and flew harmlessly over or under a critter’s back or chest.  Danged if I can recall a single instance where a collision with a foreground object caused my arrow to ricochet into the kill zone or any other zone of a target critter.  Don’t seem fair.

 Elk have been my nemesis from day one and there have been a number of encounters where I would have gladly traded my compound for a 7mm magnum just to level the playing field a bit.

 I try to keep my bowhunting equipment simple, no sights, no release, a simple, easily replaceable flipper rest, etc.  The less technological gadgetry, the less chance that equipment failure can ruin a shot opportunity.  Not necessarily so.  I was elk hunting a couple of years back on a private ranch, with some spectacular bulls roaming the oak and aspen slopes, during the peak of the rut when a small equipment glitch turned the opportunity to arrow a huge bull into just another atrocious memory.

 I’d been working a monstrous six-point herd bull since shortly after daylight but couldn’t get him to leave his harm of delectable darlings for a vocal babe in the bush.  I finally just shut up and followed the herd from the lower meadows into the thick timbered benches where I knew they’d bed for the day.  When the herd finally stopped moving upward, I eased around on the downwind side and started a slow, careful stalk to get as close to the bedded bunch as possible.  It worked.  After an hour of meticulous moving I could see cows bedded 50 yards from me and soon glassed the agitated bull as he meandered among his ladies keeping an eye on them.  A perfect setup.

 I slipped into the dark shadows of an uprooted for and got ready for fast action.  The minute I squealed and started the intense sounds of a horny cow wanting and expecting immediate attention the bull broke from his harem and headed my way full tilt.  I jerked to full draw and instantly realized all was not good for killing this bull.  I was shooting carbon shafts with the pressure-fit adjustable nocks and in my excitement I’d probably overdrawn a bit or some such blunder and pulled the nock out of the shaft.  So I was at full draw with my arrow shaft hanging down off the rest and the nock firmly anchored in the corner of my mouth.  By this time the humongous bull had closed less than10 yards and was locked onto my camouflaged form.  He probably saw the smoke and flames coming out of my nose and ears as I debated how much damage a nock would do to an 800-pound bull elk at point-blank range.  I stayed locked into position hoping the bull would turn and give me a chance to let down, refit the nock and get a shot.  Ha!  Fat chance.  A vagrant swirl of breeze hit the bull’s sensitive nose with the force of a hurricane and he literally kicked dirt and pine needles on me as he whirled and got the hell out of there.  My hunting nocks are now epoxied into the shaft, the hell with adjust-ability!

Blunders_n_Boo_Boos_4

 Some screw-ups defy understanding or logic but still seem to favor the hunted and not the hunter.  I was hunting mule deer one fall by working down a ridgetop in some rocky canyon country hoping to catch a good buck moving from the alfalfa fields in the valley bottom to bed on the cooler high ridges. The sun had just started to gild the tops of the hills with its warm glow when I spotted a heavy-beamed 4×4 buck on the far side of a steep ravine working his way upward.  I was in perfect position to drop down ahead of him level with the trail he was following, and wait for him to pass on the other side of the narrow, deep defile.  The shot would be 35 to 40 yards across the canyon, a bit longer than I preferred but wide open with a solid dirt background so I wouldn’t even lose my arrow if I missed.  There were numerous huge ponderosa pines growing along the sides of the ravine so I slipped and slid down a gully out of the buck’s vision and crawled into a shadowed nock behind a rocky outcropping.   There were enough branches hanging down to break up the openness of the hillside and the morning breeze drifting upward made everything perfect for my ambush.

 When the unsuspecting buck passed behind a leaning ponderosa downhill from my position I came to full draw.  My full concentration was focused on the buck and when he was slightly past me, I whistled to stop him.  The second he paused in mid-stride I released, eagerly anticipating his faltering death run.  The buck jumped at the shot and then trotted nonchalantly up the trail obviously not in a mortal flight.  I immediately got my binocs on him and could see no sign of a hit.  I’d watched the fluorescent orange crested arrow zip across the canyon and the shot looked good, so what happened?

Blunders_n_Boo_Boos

 I couldn’t see a sign of my arrow sticking in the dirt bank and focused again on the buck figuring he was so dumb or tough he didn’t realize he’d been fatally shot.  I glassed him all the way to the top of the ridge willing him to lay down or fall dead.  No such luck.

 Fully befuddled I slithered and skidded down the steep slope to the narrow canyon bottom, determined to find out what happened.  As I started up the far side I glanced up the saw my arrow was hanging in mid-air over the canyon.  My well-placed shot had hit and split a thumb-sized pine branch hanging down over the chasm.  The shaft had driven almost to the fletching through the infernal, flexible branch before losing momentum and stopping in mid flight.  Far as I know both the ill-flighted arrow and the bewitched buck are still on that mountainside.

 Extenuating circumstances that exist at the time and may not be entirely controllable causes some blunders and screw ups.  Then there are those blunders and boo boos caused by a simple case of the stupids.

 Such was the case when I was hunting blacktails in northern California a couple of years back.  M.R. James, John Ruane (a long-time client and friend), Michael Bates (one of my bowhunting guides) and I were hunting a unique property bordering the Sacramento River that consisted of dense riverbottom thickets, impenetrable timber and blackberry-chocked creek bottoms winding through acres of lush walnut groves.  The walnut tree’s succulent leaves provided an irresistible attraction for the local blacktail deer.  The first evening we counted more than a hundred deer in the groves and a number of bucks that would make Pope& Young with ease.  The ranch had limited gun hunting for several years but had never been bowhunted during the early season.

 The outfitter had never guided bowhunters before and only had four tree stands on the 1,200-acre ranch.  The immovable stands left much to be desired as far as placement and it took us several days to figure out how to effectively hunt the visible yet elusive deer.  I’d located a well-used travel corridor and set up on it for several mornings and evenings.  I passed on several decent bucks hoping for a shot at one of the huge bucks we’d glassed each day.  I’d watched a huge buck feeding in a corner of the grove one morning and when he exited the grove to bed up I figured to be waiting for him that afternoon.

Blunders_n_Boo_Boos_2

 I slipped into the weed-grown corner early in the afternoon and plunked lazily down against the base of a tree downwind of the deer trail.  I figured it was early for deer movement so I was enjoying a can of soda with my bow leaned against a bush a few feet away, arrows still in the quiver.  One instant the trail was vacant and the next the blacktail buck of a bowhunter’s dreams was standing 10 yards away staring at me.  The monstrous five-by-five would have scored 140 or better and been well up in the record books and there I sat, flat on my butt, my bow out of reach and no arrow on the string.  Major dumb blunder.  Needless to say a buck that size doesn’t give you a second chance.  Be prepared.

 I’ve blundered so many times bowhunting whitetails that it would probably take a book to cover all of them.  I’ve hit a single strand of barbed wire at 20 yards, between me and a trophy buck.  A wire I could never hit if I tried.  I’ve drawn too soon on approaching bucks and had to let down to keep my shorts from creeping up around my neck choking me, altering the bucks in the process.  The next time under similar situations I didn’t draw soon enough and had bucks get so close I didn’t dare draw for fear of spooking them.  For every instance my timing is just right there are usually three or four times when it’s terrible and costs me a shot at a trophy animal.  Bowhunters are dealing with a whole deck of variables and few constants and what may be a major blunder in one instance may be just the right course of action on the next occasion.  Go figure.

 Boo boos and blunders are in integral part of the bowhunting challenge.  Unique experiences that can mature you into a more knowledgeable and effective bowhunter or make you take up bowling or golf.

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

Published by admin on 01 Dec 2009

Outsmarting a Wild Boar By Jim Cox

Outsmarting a Wild Boar
Here’s How One Bowhunter Got The Best Of This
Intelligent Animal – For His Dinner Table!
By Jim Cox

cover

 I stood on the bed of the pickup squinting into the morning sun.  The barley field I was watching stretched from my left to scattered trees on my right.  Focusing my 7X35 binoculars on a small herd of cows grazing peacefully among the trees, I estimated the distance to be about three hundred yards.

 I was almost ready to head back to camp for a much-needed breakfast when an unusual shape lying in a depression under one of the trees caught my eye.  At first I thought it was a small cow but as it lifted its head to sniff the wind I recognized the animal as the large boar I had seen for the past two years.  In both of these years, I had been so wary that I had never been able to get within two hundred yards.  I vowed that this time would be different.

 Quickly tucking the binoculars into the pouch on my hip, I checked the wind and figured I had a chance of navigating the terrain to get within shooting distance.  Keeping the wind in my face I began the slow process of crawling low in the open, duck-walking the gullies and running the tree line until I estimated that the tree I crouched behind was about thirty yards from the boar.

 I could hear the low grunts and knew that the animal was still there and was unaware of my presence.  Quickly fitting an arrow to the string of my Martin compound, I took a deep breath and slowly swung around the tree, coming to full draw as I turned.  My one thought was, “Don’t miss, don’t miss.”

 I missed.  Just as I released the boar stood up and the arrow hit between his legs.  I will never know how I nocked that second arrow but as the boar ran I found myself running parallel to him, again at full draw.  My shot was true, entering a little below center, behind the shoulder.  It was a killing shot but I would not risk losing this animal to the wilderness.  I released another arrow still on the run and brought down my largest boar to date.

Outsmarting_A_Wild_Boar

 For the last five years I have been hunting wild pig on the Harris Valley Ranch near Bradley, California.  This is a private range area open only to archery hunting.  The terrain of fields, wooded areas, meadows and desert affords an ideal habitat for the wild pig.

 Derived from the European wild pig, these animals are cunningly intelligent.  While their eyesight is thought to be poor they are able to discern movement from a distance.  The pigs’ sense of smell is acute and the scent of man on the wind is enough to send them running swiftly for cover.

 Wild pigs travel mainly at night, rooting for anything edible.  They love cereal crops and any root vegetables such as beets or turnips.

 Sexually mature at eighteen months, they reach full size in five to six years, with sows attaining weights of three hundred pounds.  Boars of over four hundred pounds are not uncommon.

 Unlike the vicious little javelina, wild pigs would rather run than fight, sometimes making false charges before fleeing.  The wounded animal is a different story, however, and extreme caution should be taken when following the blood trail.  The pig may act vigorously, slashing wildly with his tusks.

 Pigs do not have sweat glands and must protect themselves from sunlight.  If cover is not readily available they will make shelters by cutting long grass ands then crawling under it to form a protective canopy.

Outsmarting_A_Wild_Boar_4Outsmarting_A_Wild_Boar_5

 Like their domesticated brothers, the wild pig will find moisture and create mud holes or wallows, using them regularly until the sun bakes them dry.  If there are trees nearby the pig will rub the mud from his back on the tree trunk.  The height of these marks from the ground will give a good indication of the pig’s size.

Outsmarting_A_Wild_Boar_2

 I prefer to locate the animals from a distance with binoculars, singling out one pig and beginning a slow stalk.  But their habit of using regular trails to feeding grounds makes hunting from a blind or stand possible.

 A well-placed shot is essential because the hide and gristle on the front shoulders can be as thick as 2 ½ inches.  When hit in this area, the tissues close around the broad head and shaft leaving poor blood trails.  The wounded animal may then run several hundred yards making tracking difficult.  I try to place my arrow behind the shoulder at mid-shoulder height.  The broad head will catch the lungs and heart area and should result in a quick kill.

 Outsmarting_A_Wild_Boar_3

Because of the pigs’ stamina and tough hide it’s important to use the right equipment.  I use a Martin compound set at sixty pounds and 2117 aluminum arrows with Eagle broad heads.  I have found that because of the great penetration and large cutting area, the Eagle is ideal for wild pig.  I feel that using the right equipment for the game being hunted is essential; carefully choosing the right gear for the hunt has accounted for many of my sixty big-game kills with bow and arrow in the past few years.

 The best hunting times are early morning and dusk when the pig is active, although if there is no hunting pressure many pigs will remain active in shady or wooded areas until mid-morning before seeking cover.

 The liberal year-round season and the bag limit of one pig of either sex per day offer hunters an excellent way to sharpen hunting skills and put some delicious meat on the table at the same time.

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

Published by HoytFan221 on 29 Nov 2009

“Just a Kid” By Matt Eden

The 2009 archery season started in Colorado with my great anticipation. I had practiced for the past 3 years to be prepared and capable of responsibly hunting and taking my first Colorado Mule deer buck. I had practiced with a Diamond Edge bow set at 50# draw weight until early this summer. Then, I acquired my Hoyt Viper Tec with draw set at 60#, equipped with custom strings [courtesy of Mark Hershey], Cobra 5 pin sight, Ripcord fall away arrow rest, Carbon Express Maxima Hunter arrows tipped with Rage 100 g. Broadheads. I worked on a ranch all this summer to pay it off. It was expertly set-up and fine tuned at the Sportsman’s Warehouse in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

On the afternoon of September 8, 2009 I left my father and eased to my stand. I had observed deer from this area many times over the past 2 years of hunting with my older brother and Dad. I saw a buck on the hillside across from my spot of concealment. The stalk would require all of my patience and skills learned from years accompanying my family as they hunted. After 2 hours it was really getting late in the day when I finally worked within range. I had left my range finder at home. I was there. I felt it would be a 40 yard shot. I came to full draw and an easy release. This was a 150 class buck in full velvet. I would be really proud to take this animal as my first. I watched in disbelief as my arrow missed!

That was it! After 3 weeks of walking 4 to 5 miles each day that I hunted, a 2 hour impossible stalk, an easy draw and release. A complete miss! Was this how my season was to end?  Well, maybe I could connect again.

On Friday, September 18, about 4:30 PM, with good clear sky and warm, I again left my Dad and eased into where I would watch for THAT buck. I start my still hunt and at 5:00 I see a deer with horns out on the ridge. When he turns his head I realize this is NOT the buck I had missed 10 days ago! I begin my stalk and watch him settle down near the top of the ridge. I have to make a complete redirection to keep the wind to my advantage. I drop half way off of the ridge and circle. He is up on the top of the ridge, lying down and has not seen or scented me.

I am army crawling, using every caution to not be heard in the dry leaves as I approach the place that I last saw him lie down. I see the antlers! He is looking away. I get to one knee as he stands up and looks my way.

Am I busted?        Not yet!

He is watching in my direction! I set him up on my 20 yard pin just behind the shoulder and release. I smoked him at 25 yards! I mark the spot. I watch him move down the ridge in that “hunched up sway”. My heart is still pounding, even after 15 minutes. I have to go get my Dad! With his help I know we will track him down.

We pick up his blood trail and see him now 45 minutes after my shot. Dad encourages me to stalk closer and finish him. It is really getting late. I close to what I thought to be about 30 yards. I let my arrow fly. It hits a little high and away he goes! After waiting 30 minutes we try to track but it is just too dark. We will come back tomorrow and pick up his trail.

The next morning we search for his trail. We have to circle and circle and circle. We finally pick up a light trail and then THERE HE WAS!!

2009 Archery Deer

Our family’s taxidermist, Derik Rich, now in Texas will register it in P & Y at 183”

BOY, AM I GLAD THAT I MISSED THAT “LITTLE” BUCK!!!

Matt Eden

Woodland Park, Colorado

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

Published by sarah on 27 Nov 2009

Sarahs Second Bow Kill

me and my four pointer

me and my four pointer

my alarm goes off at 6:00am to wake up and head off into the woods behind my house in Bedford/Roanoke county Virginia. My dad still isn’t awake but i go ahead and start getting ready. once I’m ready to go dad still isn’t up so i tell him I’m heading out.
once i get to my stand the first sliver of orange over the mountains is starting to show. Three hours pass of miserable, freezing winds and i see nothing but woodpeckers. Finally i look over at the ridge to my right and see a deer running down the side. by the time i can stand up and raise my bow he is walking in from forty yards. thirty. twenty. i draw my bow with shaky hands. the buck fever was getting to me. deep breath. my glasses fog! i wait a few seconds for that to fade, and then i aim, and release. i see my arrow pierce into the four-pointers lungs. He rears back and runs about thirty to forty yards and falls. My second kill. i call my dad and tell him the good news. thank goodness for four-wheelers!

my name is sarah and im fourteen years old. when i get older i want to have a hunting show. i really am trying to get noticed. any tips or advice is appreciated!
thanks!

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

Published by admin on 18 Nov 2009

How To Plan A Successful Big-Game Bowhunt By Fred Bear

How To Plan A Successful Big-Game Bowhunt
Step-By-Step Guidelines And Advice
From A Bowhunting Master
By Fred Bear

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com/

 The object of any big-game hunting trip is a thrilling and rewarding adventure in the great outdoors.  Every hunter hopes to come back from a trip with meat and trophies, and certainly these add fulfillment.  But even without these end results a hunting expedition can be the highlight of your year.

 It is impossible to guarantee results on such an outing, regardless of how plentiful the game.  The vagaries of weather and the innumerable small adventures that can plague the bowhunter are completely beyond prediction.  Yet some of the best hunts I’ve ever had were nonproductive in terms of trophies, but made enjoyable by good companions, a comfortable camp and interesting encounters with wildlife in pristine surroundings.

How_To_Plan_A_Successful_Big-Game_Bowhunt_7 

Careful preparation is the best guarantee for a successful hunt.  The factors I consider most important are: a wise choice of companion(s); a productive hunting area; careful selection of a guide, if needed; proper preparations for food and shelter; plans made well ahead of time; and physical conditioning.

How_To_Plan_A_Successful_Big-Game_Bowhunt_3 

Your hunting companions may be of entirely different social and financial status than yourself, but their likes and interests should be the same.  You should know them well enough to be assured they are dependable as sportsman, not easily discouraged, willing to do their share and capable of accepting mishaps without complaint.  Nothing can ruin a hunt more completely than a hunter who is lazy argumentative or complains with little provocation.

How_To_Plan_A_Successful_Big-Game_Bowhunt_8

 For short hunts not involving wilderness country or pack trips, a party of two is ideal.  Each can hunt alone (the most productive method), yet share the companionship of the evening campfire and the chores of cooking and keeping the camp in order.  In addition, if one suffers an accident or onset of sickness, help is there.

How_To_Plan_A_Successful_Big-Game_Bowhunt_2

 On wilderness hunts, four hunters make a good group.  Each has a partner, and partners can alternate as desired.  The hunting territory can be covered more effectively and camp labors involved in an extended trip are lightened.

 Your planned hunt may be into a neighboring state, one of the Canadian Provinces, or Alaska.  The basic consideration is the game sought.  Never plan a hunt around the hope of getting a great variety of trophies.  Determine what species you want most and pick a region where it is prevalent.  Any other species should be considered as a lucky bonus.  Often, of course, one region will offer excellent chances for more than one species, examples being a combined elk and mule deer hunt in the Rockies, a moos and caribou hunt in Alaska, or a mountain sheep and mountain goat hunt in British Columbia or Alberta.

 If such exotic game as Dall or Stone sheep, grizzly, or mountain caribou is the object, a fairly costly trip into a wilderness area may be less expensive in the long run than several trips into more heavily hunted regions where the chances are slimmer.

How_To_Plan_A_Successful_Big-Game_Bowhunt 
 How do you pick the right area for the species sought?  One of the best sources for such information is the United States Interior Department’s Fish and Wildlife Service in Washington, D.C.  It publishes state-by-state game census figures, a brief study of which can give the nonresident hunter a good idea of where the species is most abundant.  Other good sources are the various state fish and game departments, or in the case of Canada, the Provincial Lands and Forests Departments.  The major hunting and fishing magazines often have special sections devoted to regional reporting on game abundance and the annuals published by both firearms and archery magazines, such as this one, contain useful information.  A state-by-state list of bowhunting seasons, for example, can be found elsewhere in this publication.

 If it is meat on the table and the enjoyment of a successful hunt you have in mind, then concentrate on states with high game population and hunter-success ratios.  If a trophy specimen is your aim, however, be selective as to the area you choose.  Excellent sources for this information are the books, Bowhunting Big Game Records of North America, from the Pope and Young Club, Route 1, Box 147, Salmon Idaho 83467 ($17.50), and North American Big Game (seventh edition), from the Boone and Crockett Club, 4400 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213 ($25).
 
 When writing state of provincial departments for general information, be sure to request data on licenses, hunting regulations and a listing of approved, licensed guides.  An excellent additional aid is the Denali Directory, issued by the National Rifleman’s Association, 1600 Rhode Island Avenue, Washington, D.C. 20036 ($2.50).  It contains hunting information and guide listings for each state along with season dates and license fees.

How_To_Plan_A_Successful_Big-Game_Bowhunt_9 

Many Western states, Alaska and Canadian provinces require nonresident hunters to have a guide.  Such a service is considered necessary to prevent game-law violations and to keep those hunters unfamiliar with the country from becoming lost.

 Even when not required by law, it often is a good idea to use the services of a guide in country new to you.  He knows the region, where the game is and the best way to get it .  Just as important, he does much of the routine camp work such as tending horses, cutting wood and cooking, thus leaving the hunters more time to concentrate on hunting.

 Write the guides you select, requesting types of hunts, services available, and rates.  Be sure to start this program well before your tentative hunting date.  Many of the best guides and outfitters are booked well in advance, often over a year.  In addition, many nonresident hunting licenses and game tags are sold out early in the year on a first-come, first-served basis.

 Printed or photocopied form letters sent out “blanket”-style to all the outfitters you can find is not a wise policy.  Such coverage may do more harm than good, leaving a bad impression with the more reliable sources.  Be somewhat selective and write individual, personalized letters.  This will convince the recipients that you are serious in your interest.  In these contacts, be sure to state our hunting preferences and ask for a list of references.  Any reputable outfitter or guide will be entirely cooperative in supplying names of previous clients.  Contact these hunters by phone or letter for first-hand evaluation.

 After narrowing the choice down to two or three outfitters, contact each one again, by telephone whenever possible.  Find out how much time will be devoted to the actual hunt, how many hunters per guide, what equipment you are required to bring.  If your party is small, will you be thrown in with other hunters?  Is the area accessible to the public?  And what weather conditions may be expected?

 Be sure to spell out your bowhunting requirements.  The majority of outfitters have had no experience in guiding bowhunters and thus may not realize how you wish to operate once the game is found.  Some may not even wish to guide you when they find that you hunt with the bow, possibly in the belief that the lower trophy-success ratio that is accepted by bowhunters will not help their promotional records.

 No matter how small your question may be, it is best to ask it in advance.  If the outfitter is slow to answer, or can’t answer, mark him off your list.

 Having accomplished this, you are prepared to hunt the game of your choice in the best area available with a person or persons thoroughly familiar with the region.  This alone will give you a great feeling of confidence.  But give and take between an outfitter and client is a two-way street, with trust and teamwork being absolutely necessary for a good hunt.  When all’s said and done, there is still some trial and error to be undergone in picking an outfitter.  If you book a guide and have a good hunt then you think he is great.  But another hunter may not be successful in getting the trophy he wants despite the best efforts of a competent guide, and may be bitter about the whole trip and about the guide as a result.

 An example of what can occur, even to highly experienced wilderness travelers, happened to be a friend, Raoy Torrey of Salmon, Idaho.  Torrey is a director of the Pope and Young Club, born and bred to the woods, and is himself a qualified big-game outfitter and guide.

How_To_Plan_A_Successful_Big-Game_Bowhunt_4

 A few years ago, Torrey and a companion, also an experienced guide, were contemplating a trip into the far north for a Dall sheep hunt.  They happened to run into a fellow in a taxidermy shop who was a registered guide in the Mackenzie District of the Northwest Territories.  He impressed them with his accounts of the country and after extended conversation they decided to book a hunt with him.

 When the time came, they flew from Idaho to the settlement of Norman Wells, a jumping-off place for access to the northern Mackenzie Mountains.  After they had waited there 2 ½ days for their outfitter to get organized, he finally rented the services of a local bush pilot to fly the two hunters some one hundred miles north to an unnamed wilderness lake, where he said he had a camp.  He stated that he would come in himself on a second flight.
 
 To shorten a trying tale, the hunters were dropped off on the lake shore but found no signs of a camp.  Furthermore, scouting revealed the entire area to be completely devoid of game and the lake without fish.  They spent 2 ½ weeks waiting for their guide, who never showed up.

 Two things kept them going.  Torrey had packed a mountain tent and small Primus-type stove in his duffle, and when rations got low they hiked many miles to another area where they succeeded in killing a small sheep.  Finally, a passing plane spotted the HELP sign spelled out in plastic letters alongside their orange tent and got them out.

How_To_Plan_A_Successful_Big-Game_Bowhunt_5

 This incident could easily have been tragic if the hunters involved had been less experienced and cool-headed.  As it was, they were out a substantial deposit apiece and fortunate to get out while still in good physical condition.

 And what happened to the outfitter?  Nothing.  Torrey and his friend would have had to stay in Canada for an extended period in order to locate and bring the miscreant to justice, which just wasn’t practical for them as they both had jobs to get back to.  They learned later that although the guide involved had been reliable at one time, they happened to tie up with him just as he was going out of business.  He shunted them off just to get rid of them, then disappeared, neglecting to tell anyone else of their whereabouts.

 So you see, bad experiences with guides can happen to anyone.  And it has happened to me, although under circumstances much less critical than in Torrey’s case.

 These good friends, a well-known outdoor writer and two other experienced woodsmen, invited me to accompany them on a spring bear hunt in Ontario.  One purpose of the week’s trip was to obtain promotional material for a motor company’s all-terrain vehicles.

 The outdoor writer had an outfitter lined up for us.  As it turned out, he had made several inquiries of guides for the proposed hunting region, from advertisements in outdoor magazines.  One of the answers he received was written with pencil on an of piece of butcher’s paper.  Aha, he thought, this fellow must be a real old backwoods type who seldom gets out of the bush, and proceeded to make final arrangements with him.

 Upon arriving in the village of Temagami, we found the “outfitter” to be a town dweller who knew little about the territory beyond it’s limits.  He had hired a couple of local Indians to do the guiding for us.  Well, there are woods Indians and there are town tavern Indians.  Our guides soon proved to be of the latter strain.

 One of them took us many miles up lake Temagami to a recently vacated lumber camp where black bear were supposed to be numerous.  There must have been a large celebration of some type the night before.  Our guide was in such bad shape that we had to run the boat for him.  After two fruitless days at that location, the guide said he’d take us to another lumber camp where he’d seen “plenty bear” just a week previously.  To get there we drove miles over a rough bush road, only to be stopped a few miles short of our goal by a heavy chain across the road.  Our guide couldn’t understand this sudden blockage, although a brief inspection of the lock and chain plainly revealed that it had been firmly in place for more than a season.

 One member of the party was dropped off in the afternoon on an isolated island in the lake – another great bear haunt and a good spot for an evening’s watch, according to guide.

 The evening turned into a black night, the atmosphere turned into pouring rain, and the island turned into an R&R area for mosquitoes.  The guide became involved in another celebration and forgot to pick up the hunter until the next morning.

 We finally called a halt to such proceedings and fired the outfitter, losing, of course, the one-third down payment in the process.  His final magnanimous offer was to sell us a couple of long-defunct bear from the town cooler – purchased no doubt from local hunters for that purpose.

 We were fortunate enough to make other arrangements that turned our trip into a successful one, but that’s another story.  Suffice it to say that we had really been taken in.  It can happen despite precautions.  I believe the most workable preventative is to plan a hunt early enough to obtain and thoroughly check out the outfitter’s references.

 
 If the plan is to hunt with an outfitter in a wilderness area, all of the major equipment such as horses, packs, tents, stoves, cooking gear and food, as well as a horse wrangler and cook, is gernerally furnished.  Sometimes the outfitter also furnishes sleeping bags, but it is best to take your own if you have one.  Your list will also include proper clothing, hunting tackle, binoculars and spotting scope, camera and film, toilet articles and a ditty bag with first-aid items, extra compass, waterproof match case, small notebook and pencil, and mending material for both clothing and tackle.

 Fundamental equipment for off-the-track big-game hunting, where the services of an outfitter or guide are not required, includes clothing, personal items, camp gear and food, a compass and map of the area, hunting tackle and a method of transporting it all.

 The tendency of beginning hunter is to take along many unnecessary items.  The veteran hunter goes light but right.  It is axiomatic that if a hunter can keep warm, dry and well-fed, the chances of his hunt being successful are increased.

How_To_Plan_A_Successful_Big-Game_Bowhunt_6 

The modern hunter camping on his own or with companions uses one of the several excellent brands of rigid pack frames for carrying his equipment.  The old scale of thirty-five pounds for the average man is a good one, with then pounds less for a woman or youth.  The backpacking bowhunter who is actually living in the bush will carry roughly two-thirds of his load in equipment and one third in food.

 Just a few years ago, food supplies either had to be fresh or canned, with three to four pounds of food and cooking gear needed per man per meal. The new processed foods shrink this to one pound per man per day.  One man in a party of four can carry all the food necessary for the entire group for a week without strain.  One man can carry dehydrated or freeze-dried foods that would be equivalent to packhorse load of canned and fresh foods, and with absolutely no danger of spoilage.  And, if the approximate balance of meat, fruit and vegetables eaten at home is maintained, the diet won’t be lopsided in any direction.

 In addition, of course, would be the hand-carried bow and arrows, a sturdy belt knife and small hatchet.  Late in the season when bad weather is likely, a small tent should be substituted for the plastic sheet.  And in some circumstances, depending upon season and terrain, a canteen and halazone tablets would be necessary.

 By all means take along a camera and notebook.  They may seem superfluous at first thought, but there is absolutely nothing like having a few photographs and field notes to later help recall the details of a hunt.

 The related subjects of making up menus, preparing foods, choosing campsites, proper clothing and footgear balance, map reading and emergency procedures are all important, but obviously cannot be covered in an article of this length.  Suffice it to say that all are important in planning for a hunt.  There are many excellent books that can be purchased or borrowed from a library covering all such details.  A few volumes I can recommend are Camping & Woodcraft, by Denise Van Lear (a Sierra Club book); Skills for Taming the Wild, by Bradford Angier; Complete Book of Hunting, by Clyde Ormond; Outdoor Encyclopedia, edited by Vin T. Sparano (an Outdoor Life book); Lure of the Open, edited by Joe Godfrey, Jr. and Frank Dufresne (a Sportsman’s Club of America book); and Backpacker’s Digest, by C.R. Learn and Mike O’Neal.  Additional sources of backpacking information are, “The Art& Science of Backpacking” from Himalayan Industries, 807Ocen View Avenue, Monterey, California, and “Enjoyable Backpacking” from Gerry Mountain Sports, Incorporated, Box 910, Boulder, Colorado.  Both are free for the asking.

 There remains one important aspect: physical conditioning.  If you re planning to hunt at higher altitudes than you are used to, or in particularly rugged terrain, this could well be the most important factor in the success or failure of your hunt.  Being in the best shape possible can be more important than skill with your bow, because if you can’t get to where the trophy animals live then you certainly can’t hit them.  Doing lots of climbing up hills or stairs, jogging in your hunting boots, working with wights, calisthenics and just plain running are all good conditioners.

 These are the basics.  There are few wilderness hunts that in retrospect can be said to be absolutely perfect in all details, even when the desired trophies are secured.  However, proper great experience afield and of smoothing off at least some of the otherwise rough edges in the process.

 Good huning.

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

Published by admin on 17 Nov 2009

Nearing the Zone By Thomas Hicks

Nearing the Zone
Get within a big buck’s bedding area for the perfect ambush.
By Thomas Hicks

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com/

 How often have you walked through your hunting area and become instantly pumped with anticipation as your eyes feasted on sign left by what has to be a huge buck?  But what follows is usually a long sit in your stand for days or even an entire season wondering where this illusive monster is.  But how could this be?  Why aren’t you seeing the deer making these enormous rubs and leaving behind such gigantic tracks?

Nearing_the_Zone

 Big whitetail bucks are elusive creatures, but they don’t possess special powers that enable them to vanish when the need arises and reappear only when danger has past.  And they surely don’t live in caves or climb trees.  So how do big bucks avoid us?  They simply spend daylight hours glued to cover.  In a place that has proven to be a safe harbor and has kept them alive through many hunting seasons.

 Safe Zones
 Armed with the knowledge that big, mature whitetails continuously bed in predetermined safety zones each hunting season.  I concentrate scouting and planning strategies accordingly.  Throughout the year and even while hunting I search for clues that may indicate where a trophy buck is bedding.  I try to relate any big-buck sign I find to where the buck is seeking shelter during hunting hours.

Nearing_the_Zone_3

 Of course, immediately after hunting season is a great time to locate the secure bedding areas of surviving bucks.  Snow can greatly enhance your scouting effort by producing the map effect.  Freshly fallen snow allows you to follow large bucks’ nighttime movements, hopefully leading you straight to his day-time security zone.  Without snow I still look for large tracks that may be entering and exiting thick cover.

 

 During springtime when bucks may not be so dependent on these primary bedding areas, I enter and investigate them, gathering even more information.  When examining bedding sites, I look for clues that a large animal is actually using the area for daytime hiding.  I gape for large single beds with many droppings compressed into one solid mass.  This large solid fecal material coupled with large-diameter bedding sign is sure evidence that a big buck is spending countless daytime hours in that area.  I spend a great deal of time scouting the area looking for these giant beds.  I stick to thick cover and walk on less conspicuous routes that are located downwind from main deer trails.

 With the amount of time bucks spend in these areas, chances are high for finding some good sheds.  Once found, these sheds provide valuable information and can help predict a buck’s trophy potential for the upcoming season.

Nearing_the_Zone_2

 Food Holds Answers
 I first look at the relationship between the secure bedding zones and any early-season feeding sites.  Knowing that mature bucks will seek out high-calorie foods in early fall, I key in on what high-calorie food sources will be available and located near bedding sites.  Mature bucks will feed during legal hunting hours as they gorge themselves for optimal weight gain.  Body mass will be their number one ally when they begin fighting for breeding rights.  Oak and beech trees located near a newly discovered bedding area will be like candy and offer great places to plan ambush sites.

 Nearing_the_Zone_4
 I also like to speak with area farmers to gain information on what agricultural crops will be growing in adjacent fields in the coming fall.  Cornfields in the right locations can act like magnets as deer move to them during the early-season feeding frenzy.  A stand set between a bedding site and corn or acorns can be well worth a hunter’s effort when it comes time to hunt.

Nearing_the_Zone_6 

Rutting Sign
 The second objective I home in on is scrapes and rutting sign located close to known big-buck bedding areas.  When rutting and breeding become the priority over feeding, the same rule applies when looking for ambush sites.  Mature whitetails will engage in rutting activity throughout their territory, but the majority of it will be done close to their safe zone during daylight hours.

 I look for primary breeding scrapes, which usually show up on the upwind edge of the buck’s bedroom.  These scrapes can be easily spotted in the early spring before spring foliage starts to grow.  Primary scrapes have plenty of trails leading both toward and away from them, resembling the hub of a wheel.  These scrapes are larger in diameter and have an overhead-licking branch.  The location is upwind from the bedding site for the following reason.  Resident does are familiar with dominant buck bedding areas and preferred daytime breeding crapes.  The bucks, on the other hand, strategically bed downwind from these scrapes for one obvious reason:  A hot doe visiting one of these scrapes can be easily detected.  A mature buck will respond quickly and without hesitation to breeding opportunities that present within the confines of their safety zone.

Nearing_the_Zone_8 

Where to Set Up
 Once you’ve found a buck’s “bedroom” and nearby feeding and rutting sites, there’s one thing left to do.  The final step is choosing optimal sites to ambush your prey.  For each setup, consider where the buck is when bedding, feeding or rutting in relation to your stand.  Try to imagine the buck in any of these three locations and pick trees for different wind directions, where he cannot wind you as he travels back and forth.  Remember that these older bucks have zero tolerance for even a whiff of their main predator, so be careful to pick and hunt stand locations only when the wind direction favors them.  I like to hand prune shooting lanes and approach routes in late spring and early summer.  I then vacate the area and don’t return until hunting time.

 Nearing_the_Zone_5

A couple of years ago, I located a large buck bedding in a small previously logged woodlot,  The new growth was heavy with thick berry bushes.  The woodlot had adequate feed on one end and rutting sign from the fall before on the other.  The only difficulty was that the woodlot was so thick it was hard to penetrate and find good stand locations.  I divided the woodlot in two and made plans to hunt each end during the upcoming season.  During the month of April, my son Stephen and I spent a couple of Saturdays braving the berry bushes looking for stand sites and then cut trails upwind that the bucks would use as they traveled between feeding and rutting zones.  The trails were also placed so the bucks would walk well within bow range.  This strategy took a little extra time and effort, but the result was well worth it.

 When we were done preparing, Steve and I had placed a total of six stands in and on each end of the woodlot.  Each stand was strategically placed for different wind directions.  We carefully plotted approach routes to each stand and agreed not to hunt any stand unless the wind was favorable.  That fall we both had our archery bucks by Halloween.  As I reflect back, the time my son and I spent together scouting and centering our hunting plans around the bedding area was almost as rewarding as the success we later enjoyed.  It certainly made our success much more meaningful.

 
 Bedroom Music
 A final tactic when hunting mature whitetails close to their safety zone is luring them in.  With the right setup and enough practice, older bucks will investigate realistic auditory and olfactory enticement (deer calling).  The main thing we must remember is to position ourselves in areas bucks will feel safe enough to move in during legal hunting hours.  Your number one objective should be to stay close enough to their bedroom but still remain undetected as you start your ruse.  A critical aspect you must realize is that dominant bucks are very territorial and they will not tolerate intruding bucks that may try to penetrate their safe haven.  These bucks will also be very vulnerable to any olfactory and auditory stimulation you deliver which suggests an intruding buck or estrus doe is in the area.

 Hunting mature whitetails in their bedrooms is very tricky business.  It’s critical that you remain undetected and keep the buck from knowing you’ve positioned yourself within the confines of his domain.  As you scout, remember the behavior of older bucks and stay close to their bedrooms when planning ambush sites.  Use the wind in your favor, and don’t hunt a setup unless the wind direction is right.  Start planning now and the results could certainly exceed your expectations.

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

Published by admin on 17 Nov 2009

Gator Gar Tactics By Mark Morrison

Gator Gar Tactics
Bowfishing for carp is fun, but if you’re ready to up the challenge and
go after something bigger, alligator gars present the ultimate bowfishing adventure!
By Mark Morrison

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com/

Ask any avid bowfisher which species they’d most like to harvest and the answer, without question, would be the prehistoric, monster-sized alligator gar.  After all, these freshwater behemoths can reach 8 feet in length and stretch a scale over 250 pounds, making even the largest carp look minnow-like in comparison!

 So, it’s easy to see why Bowfishing Association of America’s Vice President Mark Ellenberg and longtime bowfishing partners Jerry Carstens and Adam Keller frequently travel from their central Minnesota homes to Arkansas and Texas to experience tackle-busting aquatic battles with gator gar.

Gator_Gar_Tactics_3

 On their initial trip to southern Arkansas the trio teamed up with the BAA’s official ambassador of bowfishing.  Lance “Sully” Sullentrop to match wits with Ouchita river alligator gar.  Lance, who resides in nearby Monticello and knows these waters intimately, had the boys into big gar from the start.  While Adam and Jerry prowled the main river channel for gar.  Lance and Mark moved into an adjacent meandering cove to continue their search.  Minutes later, Lance spied a slowly cruising gator gar mere feet off the boat’s side and he instinctively fired a sharp Muzzy arrow into the fish’s broad back.

Gator_Gar_Tactics

 The solidly hit fish stripped Lance’s line and floated free of his bow and settled into the security of a deep-water hole.  Lance retrieved his float and line and gingerly played the fish until Mark was able to place a second arrow into the beast.  The tremendous fish wasted no time burning Mark’s line from his bow reel and sped away towing two large floats.  It took the two fishing archers some time to relocate the gar since it had fled into a deep channel and submerged both floats from sight.

 After a lengthy and nervous wait, the gar resumed its flight and the floats popped to the surface.  Mark quickly snagged the floats and carefully played the gar for a long, tiring 30 minutes until Lance was able to end the battle with a well-placed vital shot.  The gigantic gar spun the indicator on Lance’s scale to a jaw-dropping 180 pounds!  The next day Mark, Jerry and Adam teamed up to collect another hard-earned gar—a well-fed brute that pulled the scale to a whopping 130 pounds!

Gator_Gar_Tactics_2 

Getting Gar Ready
 Before embarking on a trip for gator gar you’ll need to update your current bowfishing setup.  Because big gator gar can splinter standard fiberglass fishing arrows like toothpicks, you’ll want to move up to rugged aluminum and glass laminated shafts like Muzzy Product’s Big Game and Penetrator arrows.  These arrows come rigged with cable and swivel systems that serves two purposes.  (1.) Most importantly, it keeps your reel’s line out in front of the bow, eliminating possibly injurious backlashes, and (2.) if a hard fighting gar should snap your arrow you’ll still be fastened to the cable and your fish.

Gator_Gar_Tactics_6

 Unless you’d like to see a favorite reel or bow yanked overboard by a fast-fleeing gar, I strongly suggest using an AMS Slotted Retriever reel.  This reel is specifically designed for use with a float that pulls safely away from the bow when a trophy gar darts to the end of your line.  This allows you to follow the float, and the fish, until you’re positioned for another shot, but it is capable of storing a large amount of fishing line, which allows fish hunters to take 20- or even 30-yard shots at gar.  No matter what style reel my bowfishing cronies and I use, we always replace the factory line with non-abrading gar-tough 400-pound test braided Fast Flight bowfishing line.

 Many times rolling or surfacing gar will present only fleeting shot opportunities, so carrying a fast-handling recurve bow is a smart choice.  If you choose to hunt gar with a compound bow, I suggest employing a round-wheel model or an inherently smooth drawing Oneida Eagle bow.  These bows cannot only be shot quickly, they also can be shot all day without fatigue associated with hard-drawing, extreme-cam bows.  Regardless of bow design, stick with a draw weight of 55 pounds or higher if you can easily handle it.  Gator gar have thick hides covered with glass-hard bony scales that will stop arrows cold fired from ultra-light draw weight bows.

 Sharp Points are Key
 Of course, bow poundage alone doesn’t guarantee adequate penetration on a gar.  Most often it’s the business end of the fishing arrow hat does this work and one of the best gar-getting points on the market is the Muzzy Quick-Release Gar point.   This beefy stainless steel head features non-yielding barbs and a surgically sharp Trocar tip designed for smashing through gar armature.  Plus, if you happen to dull the tip on an underwater obstruction, it’s a snap to install a new, inexpensive replaceable tip.

Gator_Gar_Tactics_4 

To accurately shoot gator gar you first need to spot ’em, so wear a quality pair of polarized glasses and a hat with a good sun-blocking brim (“boonie” style hats work great!) on daytime hunts.  Also, don’t forget to bring along a hefty gaff for dragging skewered gar on board and a baseball bat or similar tool for finishing off arrowed fish.  The last thing you want is a 150-pound fish with a nasty disposition and deadly sharp teeth wildly thrashing in the confines of your boat!

 Where to Go
 While gator gar are present in all the Gulf coast states, Arkansas and Oklahoma, the best bowfishing occurs in Texas, Alabama and Louisiana.  When researching a gar-hunting locale, look for impoundments, rivers and estuaries that flow to the Gulf of Mexico.  Rivers like the Brazos, Rio Grande and Trinity in Texas and the Mobile Delta region in Alabama are all popular alligator gar hunting destinations.  To further aid in securing a place to hunt gar, simply use the Internet and type in “alligator gar” and search the sites you find.  Also, check out the bowfishing forums on the Bowsite, (www.bowsite.com) and the BAA’s website (www.bowfishingassociation.com) as well as the Texas Bowfishing Association (www.prismnet.com/~timmckee/).

 

Calling and talking to area fisheries personnel in your prospective hunt area will also help nail down bonafide gar waters and hot spots.  Avid bowfishers living long distances from gar territory can also hire the services of qualified gator gar bowfishing guide.  Information and links to several guides can be found on both BAA and TBA websites.

 Boats are Needed
 Unlike bowfishing for carp and buffalo where it’s common to wade and hunt in shallow water, to effectively hunt gator gar you’ll need to employ a specialized bowfishing craft.  Not only is it much easier to spot gar from an elevated shooting platform, it is much safer than wading (in my experience) in waters that are also home to unsavory predatory critters like alligators and cottonmouth snakes!  The best time to stalk gator gar is at night, in a boat equipped for prowling the darkness (see boat set up sidebar).  During the hot summer months gator gar spend the bulk of their time loafing in deep water until dusk when they move onto shallow flats and up creek arms to feed.  Alligator gar can also be found in abundant numbers during the day, feeding and rolling in the fast water below dams.  In the spring, look for gator gar on broad shallow flats and in newly flooded backwaters as well as the previously mentioned creek arms.

Gator_Gar_Tactics_5 

Because gar spawn when the water warms during early spring, your chances of bagging a trophy are equally good when hunting day or night.  Regardless if you’re hunting rivers or lakes, during the day or after dark do your bowfishing in areas with a rich supply of gator gar food fish.  Their favorite prey is buffalo and shad and if you locate concentrated numbers of these, you’ve found an excellent spot to waylay a feeding gator gar.

 Alligator gar are shy critters and they won’t hesitate to sneak away from noisy bow fishermen.  We all remember fishing trips where our elders pounded into our heads the adage: “stay quiet or you’ll spook the fish!”  This rule definitely applies to gator gar hunting.  If you’re covering likely looking gar water with an electric trolling motor or anchoring among an active school of rolling gar you should keep boat noise to a hush.  Sometimes this can be the difference between just glimpsing a gar or getting a point-blank boat-side shot!

 Shoot Precisely
 And, when it comes time to take that long-awaited shot, make sure the gar is broadside or preferably, slightly quartering away so your arrow can find its way between the gar’s steely, overlapping scales.  Do not fire an arrow at a gar directly facing you, because it will skid off the gar’s armored hide and the fish will waste no time bolting for safer waters.

 You can bowfish for gator gar solo but smart bowfishers opt for the help an onboard partner affords.  This way, after a trophy gar is hit, one bowfisher can keep his full attention on tracking the float and maneuvering the boat around obstacles while the other readies for a second shot.

 Many bow fishermen are content plunking carp in backyard waterways, while others can’t wait to tackle new and varied challenges.  If you’re looking for the ultimate bowfishing adventure and don’t mind tangling with fish that outweigh most whitetails and can bite back, then alligator gar bowfishing is for you!

 To obtain quality gator gar-getting equipment, contact Muzzy Bowfishing Products, Dept. BAH, 110 Beasley Road, Cartersville, GA 30120; (770)-387-9300; www.badtothebone.com or from the bowfishing fanatics at Sully’s Bowfishing Stuff, 125 Westgate Drive, Monticello, AR 71665; (800)-447-2759; www.sullysbowfishing.com

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

Published by admin on 16 Nov 2009

Bulls in the Peak By Joe Bell

Bulls in the Peak

Bugling up elk during Colorado’s mid-September rut

simply epitomizes the rush of bowhunting big game.

By Joe Bell

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com/

 

cover         

We trudged along in the 7,500-foot elevation air, moving upward along an old two-track.  This trail would lead us to a good access point before we ascended to the high oak brush hills to intercept the elk.  It was still inky dark when we heard the distinct sound of elk antlers racking a tree.  The noise was coming just near the roadside.  We moved in to 50 yards and set up. 

 Kevin, a good friend and Bow & Arrow Hunting’s advertising director, was my guide.  Before he began his tenure at the magazine Kevin guided for Eagle Spirit Outfitters, the outfit we were hunting with, for several seasons.

  Kevin was at my rear, 20 or 30 yards back.  We waited for a bit, then I heard cow mews coming from Kevin’s diaphragm call.  It was still very dim, so I strained my eyes looking for movement.  The thrashing halted but then sliced the chilly air once again.  The bull wasn’t moving.

 I felt the desire to move, but with it still dark and my guide squeaking his mouth, I couldn’t move.  But this could be the easiest elk hunt ever, I thought.  I could creep up, wait for shooting light and arrow this bull.

 Moments later, the situation solved itself as the bull silently walked off.

 Over the years I’ve pursued elk off and on but never really seriously.  I did have a tough, unforgettable experience hunting elk on a drop-camp hunt a few falls ago in Colorado’s flattop wilderness.  After four days of wandering the alpine meadows and ridges, I got lucky, came across a rutting bull chasing three cows and fell in between.  The shot came fast, as they usually do, but I nailed the 6×7 bull with a 40-yard shot.  I was awestruck by the entire episode and became seriously hooked on the challenge of hunting elk.

Bulls in the Peak_2

 Last summer, after putting in for several premier out-of-state elk hunts, I came up empty-handed after the draws.  This directed me to Eagle Spirit Outfitters, which runs elk hunts amid some of Colorado’s best elk-rich areas.  The great thing about this outfit’s hunting areas is that permits are available over the counter!  Besides that, I’ve heard of Eagle Spirit’s excellent quality and success over the years, plus Kevin told me it was simply the place to go to hunt elk.  I was sold and I was “fit in” during the second week in September.

 Baffled by the bull’s reaction, Kevin and I continued our march up the mountain.  We could hear several bulls bugling in the distance.  With every step the sounds boosted our excitement.

 Following a well-beaten elk trail to a stand of aspens, we set up immediately as the bull responded to Kevin’s cow sounds.  The bull seemed as hot as they come, but to out disbelief, he hung up 125 yards out—only barely visible through the gap in the trees.  He was a nice 5×4.  Gosh, I hate when they do that.

  As cows shuffled around him, he galloped to the side and spun the females up the incline.  They were moving away from us.  But suddenly, we saw another bull, but this one was only a spike.  Then we heard another up the draw.  Was this one heading our way?

 Kevin and I hustled upward.  We chased and chased, but our effort proved useless.  Before we knew it, the temperatures were beginning to heat up and the prevalent elk sounds that surrounded us earlier on were all gone.  The morning hunt was over.

 We laughed and talked excitingly about the morning’s events as we drove back to the lodge.  The hunting was so exhilarating I felt numb.  I wish we could’ve stayed up there with the elk, but a warm breakfast did sound good.

I’ll have to say, for the most part, I’m a bowhunter who usually enjoys “roughing”it.  Meaning, I don’t mind a Spartan camp with a tent and no running water.  Usually, this kind of campsite brings you closer to the game, especially when you’re hunting backcountry animals like elk.  In fact, all my elk hunting has been done from rustic camps.

 That was until I came on this hunt.  We were staying in a ski-resort-type lodge that was nothing short of elaborate (really exquisite), with all the bells and whistles you could imagine.  These bells and whistles include full-time gourmet cook, cozy bedroom suites (one to two hunters per room) with our own bathroom/shower, and daily cleaning and laundry services.  How’s that for elk hunting!

Bulls in the Peak

But don’t let these fancy features fool you.  This outfit is all about quality elk bowhunting, first and foremost, and the main concern is providing you with a first-rate elk-hunting experience.  They just like to do it in style.

 In the next several days Kevin and I became a synchronized hunting team.  We got into plenty of elk, including bulls that would score in the 280s and 290s—fantastic bulls for this region.  We just kept having tough breaks.

  On one particular morning, we set up along a ridge top—on one side was all oak brush with a big pond down below, and the other side was aspens intermixed with dark timber.  Upon scaling the hillside, Kevin bugled and got a response—several responses from different bulls.  The sound of an entire herd of cows and three or four bulls grew closer and closer.

 Unfortunately the animals crossed 90 yards down slope, way out of effective range of my Mathews Q2XL.  First the cows passed, then two bulls, one a 4×4, the other a 5×5.  Once they were out of the clear, I scampered behind brush and dashed from bush to bush trying to sneak close.  All the while the bulls were shattering the mountain air with sounds of dominance.

 I was nearly within bow range when I heard the timber below come alive.  From the sounds, there were three bulls in the patch of aspens.  My breathing quickly sped up, and without notice out came a giant bull.  He was caked in mud from hoof to antlers, clearly the dominant bull of the pack—the herd bull.  His 6×6 rack glittered in the morning sun.  He would score near the 300 mark.

  With some other elk in the open, I couldn’t move.  As he walked out of sight, the others followed. Eventually, it was the fifth and last day of the hunt.  Jim Sanchez’s son, Jacob, 25, had tagged his clients out and would be helping Kevin guide me.  Jacob and his brother Joe are astute elk hunters, bowhunters themselves, who know this elk country like their own two hands.

 On the final day, Kevin, Jacob and I hiked along an old road in the early morning blackness.  We wanted to reach the base of the mountain before light.  The elk would be moving fast from the flats to high bedding areas.

Just before reaching the location, Jacob challenged a bull in the distance with his Primos Pallet Plate diaphragm bugle call.  The bull’s interest level seemed right, so we raced closer and set up.  When he didn’t come on strong, we moved closer again.  We were mimicking a real bull.

 Bulls in the Peak_3

It wasn’t too long before we spotted two bulls, one was a 5×5, the other a 4×4.  The bulls appeared to be in a sparing match—nothing heavy but surely ticking their horns together.

 Jacob signaled to follow and we moved quickly but silently until reaching the edge of a clearing.  Jacob cow called, and cow called some more.  The bull’s bugled back.  Jacob called again.

 “There he is,” Jacob whispered as the five-point bull darted up the hill away from us.  “He’s leaving.”

 Meanwhile, the other bull let out a throaty, raspy cry, “The other one’s coming!”  Jacob hissed.  “Get down!”

Bulls in the Peak_4

 Seconds later the bull appeared, about 80 yards away, and was coming straight on.  He sounded off then dropped out of sight in a small gully.  I quickly estimated distances all around with my eyes, and drew my bow.  I figured he’d come up near the 40- to 35- yard spot.

 About 10 seconds later, he popped into view, at about 45 yards away.  He blasted the air with a throaty roar.  I held and held as he stopped, bugled again and took slow steps forward.

Holding the bow for nearly a minute, I was beginning to creep at full draw, fatigue surely settling in.  I was on  my knees and out in the open.  The bull stopped, stared hard at my outline with glowing eyes and gave the look every long-time bowhunter knows.  It was now or never.  I knew if I let down, he’d surely swap ends and explode away.

With the bull facing me, roughly 35 yards away, I felt confident of placing the arrow in the soft spot below his thought.  I snapped the pin on the spot and shot.

I watched in a split second as the arrow flashed near my line of sight and smashed into the elk.  He barely staggered and walked off.  I loaded another arrow, but there was no chance for a second opportunity.

 A half-hour later, we were at the hit sight.  Strangely enough, my arrow was lying on the ground, coated only with a bit of blood and hair.  I felt utter disgust, as I knew the arrow had hit off center and glanced off heavy bone.

 We tracked what blood there was for 500-plus yards.  It was obvious the hit severed no arteries or vitals, surely a superficial wound the elk would quickly recover from.  In fact, we believe we heard him bugle again, while in pursuit of cows.

 The following evening we found ourselves on high ground, looking downward with binoculars at a dozen elk, including a couple fine bulls.  Knowing the elk were quite far and we only had very little daylight left, we ran as fast as we could to intercept the moving animals.  Jacob knew where they were headed.

 It’s amazing the amount of ground a hunter can cover when the pressure is on.  Eventually we find ourselves within near striking distance.  We crept silently through the noisy vegetation.  There were elk all around; we just couldn’t see them.

 “This way,” Jacob commanded.

 He’s right up there.  “Go as fast as you can!”

 I darted forward, dodged a bush here and there and spotted the bull.  I came to full draw as he stopped.  But there was no shot.  Twigs obscured my shooting lane.  I stepped sideways, but shooting opportunities at live animals come and go in milliseconds.  A millisecond had gone by and this one was gone.  The elk took a couple steps and entered the brush.

 Though I didn’t arrow an elk during my five days of hunting, I had an unforgettable time, plus I learned many essential lessons.  First, never take a frontal shot on an elk unless it is at point-blank range.  Second, there’s no such thing as an easy elk hunt.  There were many times I thought this “lodge” elk hunt on private hunting ground was going to be a cinch.  And three, no matter what happens, good or bad, remember, elk hunting during the peak of the rut is as good as bowhunting gets, so soak it in and keep it fun— no matter what.

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

Published by bpmmem on 02 Nov 2009

halloween weekend was great for me

primos can call brought him right in

primos can call brought him right in

5×9 14 point killed in northern missouri on Nov. 1st.  I climbed up in the stand at about 5:45 and let things settle down for a while and then a few minutes after good daylight i hit my primos original can call three times and this buck immediately came trotting down the hill right to my stand. I stopped him when he was about 10 yards away and let an arrow fly. My 85 gr. G5 Montec hit its mark and the deer ran about 150 yards and fell over dead, after crossing a creek that is about 20 feet deep but luckily it only had about 5 inches of water in it.  I dont know how this deer made it this far because when we field dressed it we found out that the arrow hit both lungs and part of his heart.  I know that dragging this deer was the worst drag i have ever had because the creek was about 5 feet deep earlier in the week and the banks were very muddy and slick, it took everything that me, my uncle and my cousin had to drag this deer up the bank of the creek.  The fact that the deer weighed about 200 lbs field dressed didnt help either.  But in the end it was all worth the trouble.

Does anyone know how you would score this deer?

 

Bad Behavior has blocked 2069 access attempts in the last 7 days.