Archive for the 'Hunting Stories' Category

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Published by ruin2it on 07 Sep 2008

Down to the wire…

 

I just got back from a bow hunting trip for antelope in Eastern Colorado, where I spent four days belly-crawling in 90 degree heat through sagebrush, grass, gravel, and cactus after some of the sharpest-eyed, fleetest-footed animals I’ve ever hunted. 

I had the pleasure (and good fortune) of hunting with two extremely knowledgeable and experienced bowhunters, Jerry Viera and the legendary Russell Hull.  From the beginning it was obvious that they knew what they were doing.  We had the standard antelope decoys with us, but we also had a cow decoy that Jerry and Russell had fabricated, and used successfully on other occasions to sneak within shooting distance of an unsuspecting buck.  They schooled me right away on the proper techniques for stalking our keen-eyed quarry. 

We chased several nice bucks around the huge cattle ranch all weekend.  On one occasion, after helping me find an arrow after my first of many missed shots, Jerry spotted a huge buck and decided to stalk him, crouching with bow in hand as he crept in his direction, then stopping and hunching over every so often when the buck looked his way.  To everyone’s amazement, the buck decided to take a closer look, and came right in!  Jerry scrambled to get an arrow nocked, and took a quick shot just as the buck decided that things didn’t look quite right, narrowly missing him.  What an awesome experience!  Watching from a distance, we thought the buck was going to walk right up to him!

One buck in particular seemed to be pretty attached to his home range, no matter how hard we pressed him, never running too far ahead, and always returning to roughly the same area after a chase.  One evening, we decided to try to see how close we could get if we just kept up with him no matter where he went.  Jerry shadowed him for five miles that evening before he finally gave up, but got a couple more shot opportunities while he was at it.

By the end of the trip, most of the bucks were pretty familiar with us and our truck, and would get up and run off when we drove within a mile.  We’d all seen some nice animals, even had shot opportunities, but just couldn’t make it happen.  It was getting to be pretty discouraging.  On the last morning, while Russell was hunting from his blind, Jerry and I decided to go after the “home range buck”, the one he’d chased for five miles the night before.  Things were different this morning, though, because this time, he had a doe…We took up the chase and tried to split him away from her.  Eventually we did, and it looked like we might have a chance at him.  He would stop every 100 yards or so and make a scrape, so he was definitely frustrated.  But the closest I could get was 92 yards, and he finally tired of the game and ran off at full speed.  It looked like our last chance was gone.

It was getting close to time to leave.  We had agreed to quit at 9am so we’d have time to pack up and drive back to Kansas.  On the way to pick up Russell, we spotted a buck along a distant fenceline.  I bailed out of the truck and hurried toward him, knowing this was our last chance.  Using the fence as cover, I was able to close the distance to nearly 75 yards without alerting him.   I crept closer, still apparently unnoticed.  I was inside 60 yards, still creeping.  He turned and looked at me.  I drew and released.  After a number of missed opportunities, and with just six minutes remaining on the last day of the hunt, I finally connected with a nice buck.  Talk about down to the wire!

I want to thank Jerry and Russell, and the folks at B² Outdoors who helped get my equipment ready for the trip, for providing me with such an awesome experience!  It’s one I definitely won’t ever forget…

                    

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Published by tuckr1205 on 05 Sep 2008

Fat Man’s First Archery Hunt!!!

     Well ladies and gentlemen, I am about to embark you on a hilarious adventure into my first bow Hunting experience!!  I had been hunting whitetails with a shotgun for about 10 years prior to meeting my best friend Pat.  Once pat and i started discussing whitetail hunting, he encouraged me to get a bow and he would teach me.  After being a little reluctant I purchased a used bow and began shooting the Summer of 2002.  Pat took his time and patience and taught me the ins and outs of bow hunting.  By Fall of 2002 I was ready to get into a tree stand, or so I thought.  Opening Day of archery season in 2002 Pat takes me to his hunting property.  280 acres of timber right in the heart of Whitetail Country in illinois.  mind you that Pat and his 4 other friends that hunt this property are all in between 5’10 tol 6’4 all around 175 to 225 pounds, and most of them can climb a tree like a Monkey!!!  Well at that time I was a phelt 6’1 340lbs, without any gear on. So the entire 2 hour truck ride to the Farm and I kept asking Pat, “you sure you have a tree stand that I can easily get into?”  He assured me that he had the perfect stand picked out for me and he guaranteed me a shot at a whitetail. 

     Well October 1st, 2002 we arrive at the property and get all our gear on and our bows and head to the woods!!!  after about a 1/2 mile walk Pat and I are standing in front of a huge Maple tree and Pat looks at me and points 30 feet up in the air, and stated “there it is the best stand on the property, I look at him and then back at the stand and there was no ladder or even screw in steps.  I asked him how in the world was I suppose to get in the stand, ” I don’t have wings!!” He stated” oh it is so easy, just take the branches all the way up, well mind you it is October in Illinois, it is 85 degrees, and the wind is blowing a brisk 25 miles per hour.  So he leaves me so I can make my journey into the stand.  He walks to his stand which is only about 150 yards from me and I begin my journey to the stand.  I hook my bow and backpack to the tow up rope and start out on the bottom branch, and thinking to myself that people at my funeral will at leaset know I died doing what I loved!!!!!  So I climb very cautiously and carefully, taking my time sweating and cursing the enire way.  25 minutes later I am on the branch right beside the tree stand, which looks about as big as a shoe box!!!!  I tip toe into the stand praying the lock on rusted 12 inch by 12 inch platform would hold my girth, as i bear hug the tree, like that was going to save me I finally make it onto the platform and into the 6 inch wide cloth seat, mind you I have now sweated off around 3lbs so I am a hefty 337lbs in a tree stand rated for 250lbs, not a good situation.  Once situated inthe stand and get my bearings, the wind started to pick up and with every gust the tree top swayed and so did me and my toddler chair i was sitting in!!!, so at this point I go to pull u my gear, which has my safety belt in the backpack, and I start slowly pulling my pack up to me, when about halfway up, you guessed it, caught up and wrapped around three branches!!!!!!!!!  There was no way in He!! I was clmbing back down this tree, so I did what any hot, sweaty, fat man would do and screamed as loud as i could for my bussy PAT!!!!!!!!  Who got me into this situation!!  Pat made the 150 yards through a cut cornfield in less than 10 secs and standing at the base of my treee, scowling at me, he stated”I thought you fell or was hurt!’  I told him I was not hur but I needed a little assisstance in getting my gear untangled before I just gave up on bow hunting and went back to the house for a chair and a beer!!!!    So I get my bow and safety harness and he gets back to his stand.  The enitre hunt I don’t care about deer, but I am focused and praying not to fall with each and every gust of wind!!!  SO finally around a half hour before sunset a yearling made her way to 20 yards a stopped.  I got to my shakey feet, drew back and had so much adrenaline goign that I shoot a foot over back, but what an awesome experience even after goign through all that misery, I was hooked!!!!

    At dark my buddy and mentor came back to get me and I was still in the tree, telling him all about the yearling and how awesome bow hunting was and trying to climb down the branches in the dark was more of a challenge then climbing up!!!  I get to about 10 foot off the ground and I am hanging by one branch and trying to find the other branch with my foot, my buddy Pat is trying the best he can to help me but is crying from laughing.  I finally get to tired to hold on anymore, mind you I am 340 pounds, and I tell him I am going to jump to get out of my way, by this time Pat is vapor locked and can’t peak and I look like the Biggest Man ever to be on a pommel Horse going for the Gold in the Fat Man Olympics, so after about three good swings to clear from the tree, I land on the ground with a thunderous roar and all my weight going forward and I ran smack dab in between to saplings on my knees and come to a halt as the two trees fall completely over!!!!  What a ride.  Well I hope I have visualized for everyone my first boe hunt as a fat man and hopefully some of you Plus Size fellas can relate to the tradegy of being a big man in the Hunting Woods!!!

 

Thanks for Reading

 

Tucker

11 votes, average: 4.09 out of 511 votes, average: 4.09 out of 511 votes, average: 4.09 out of 511 votes, average: 4.09 out of 511 votes, average: 4.09 out of 5 (11 votes, average: 4.09 out of 5)
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Published by swerve duo on 01 Sep 2008

UNDER PRESSURE!

I had waited 7 long years to draw a coveted bull elk tag for the sought after Anthro Unit and here I was; settled into a patch of sage brush next to a pond, slow breeze at my face, at full draw with the bull of a lifetime at full broadside less than 40 yards away and I am under pressure. But, no hunt starts out like this. 

Putting in on limited entry hunts in Utah can be a frustrating experience. Not expecting anything in the first couple of years, because you know it’s almost impossible with the number of applicants in most limited areas, the pressure is not that great. Then as years 3, 4 and 5 roll around, the pressure begins to mount. You wait in eager anticipation for the inevitable “unsuccessful letter” to end the pressure for the year. In 2008, the “unsuccessful letter” didn’t arrive. Instead another one did and the pressure went up a notch. The game was on! 

Pressure is not a new thing for me. I have been shooting archery for about 4 years. My husband and I participate competitively both indoors and outdoors year around. We compete in 3-D events, field archery and basically any venue that involves a bow and arrow. I have hunted the last 3 years, but had been unsuccessful in harvesting a trophy class animal. With all the shooting that my husband and I do, practicing wasn’t going to be a problem. That at least dropped the pressure down a little bit.

Once we found out I drew a tag in the Anthro unit, Rod (my husband) and I began visiting with a few friends that we shoot with at our local archery club. We learned that two of the guys had Anthro tags in the past and had taken extremely nice bulls during their hunts. They were very helpful with information and advice. Then as luck would have it, another friend, Jared, who had been with both of the other guys during their hunts, offered his help during my upcoming hunt. Great news… the pressure turns down a bit more.

About a month and a half before opening days of the archery hunt, Rod, Jared and I head out to this monster unit to do some pre-season scouting. Learning water holes, guzzlers and pond locations is a must because the best hunting in this area isn’t as you would imagine. It’s not in the quakies and pines but rather down in the cedars, juniper and sage. One good rainstorm can ruin an entire hunt where every low spot becomes a puddle and the elk scatter everywhere. Getting caught back up can be a nightmare you don’t even want to face.

The time finally comes, the many hours of shooting, shopping and loading the camper were past. It’s now or never. Rod gets off work and we head out to camp. Running late as usual, we are hookin it up the road. At least Jared was able to go up earlier in the day to look around and determine the best place to start in the morning. We are about an hour out of town with the sun headed down in the west. Rods phone rings, it’s Jared. I overhear parts of the conversation “BIG BULL HEADED TO WATER, HURRY!!!”  “WHAT??” “YOU’RE WHERE?” All of a sudden we are screeching to a halt at the side of the road, Rod jumps out and starts unhooking the camper while saying “HONEY, get your bow and stuff out of the camper, we have to make it to this pond up there before the elk do!”  That thumping in my chest as I race to the camper door is just a little more of the pressure to come.

A half hour up the worst road in the world brings us to our rendezvous with Jared, as we lay out the plan of “you go this way, I’ll go this way and then…. well just shoot the bull if he comes in!” I hurry and get into my scent loc base layers and pull on my ghillie suit, I’m ready to go. We are barely a ¼ mile from the pickup where we spot some cows down the draw, around 300 yards below the pond that we are headed to. Rod says “see the raghorn bedded there in the grass?” my heart pounds harder, the pressure is building again.

When Rod and I finally make it to the pond after skirting around the base of a ridge, being careful not to skyline ourselves, I have ½ hour left of legal shooting light. The wind is light and in my favor at least. As the light wanes and the sunset rapidly approaches, nothing advances toward the pond. Pressure wanes as a little disappointment creeps in. Rod and I leave the pond while there is a minuscule amount of light remaining to avoid busting any incoming elk in the dark. There is no moonlight. As we get back to the pickup, Jared is waiting there for us.  We quietly discuss tomorrows plan, Rod feels that if the bull didn’t come to water tonight, then there is a pretty good chance that he will in the morning since it appears to be a new moon. Jared and I agree. Cool, we have a plan, pressure eases.

We head back down the worst road in the world to retrieve the camper so we can beat it to death getting it to the location we plan to spend the next few weeks. A few hours and 15 miles later we arrive at the pre-determined camping location from our pre-season scouting ventures. As we are setting up, we notice a couple of new water leaks in the camper’s water system. A direct result of the road no doubt.  We put the parts back together that had rattled off from the road, fix the water system and cook up a couple of brats for supper. I finally put my head on a pillow sometime after 1:00 a.m. That 4:45 a.m. alarm is going to come awful early. I can hardly sleep.

4:45 a.m. BEEP BEEP. We are all half awake and trying to get moving. Finally, we are all in our scent control and camo heading down the road. Jared is going to drop us off at a knoll near the pond while he scouts a few other watering areas. We’ll walk in from there.

Rod and I begin moving quickly and as quietly as possible through the rye grass and sage around the base of a ridge to the pond on the other side. I notice the trail we are walking on is fairly beaten down. First potential error but no pressure, it’s too dark to really tell, maybe the bushes just grew apart here, great quiet trail though. As we come around the ridge to the pond I notice a really nice clump of sage brush right on this trail with a great shooting lane directly to the pond below. Potential error #2. I plop down near this bush and start getting into position, what a beautiful night. There is not enough cover for both of us so Rod moves laterally from me about 7 yards to another sage brush patch. We settle in. I’m ready for a nap.

Darkness fades, with barely enough light I range a few spots around the pond, 30-40 yards, the pressure wanes, I set my range finders down next to me just in case I need them again. 40 yards to the upside, things look good. I get an arrow out of my quiver and nock it… rattle rattle, broadhead is loose. Probably from the road beating, I wonder to myself if my sight is loose too, or maybe even my rest. That road was pretty rough. I reach out and tighten up my broadhead, do a quick check on my sight and everything else, it’s all good.  Wind is perfect, blowing very lightly down the draw. I am high enough above the pond that anything coming above or below would probably not catch any scent. I glance over at Rod, he looks to be settled in as well. We had agreed that he would be the “judge” and give me the “shoot” or “don’t shoot” signal. I have done this sitting and waiting before. No problem, no pressure now. We wait.  

The path the bull and first calf take to the pond

This photo shows the pond from just over 100 yards away

Shooting light is upon us and things are starting to happen. I am watching up the draw when suddenly here comes a calf elk headed directly at the pond. The calf trots right out into the water bucking and playing like a little kid. I am thinking “this is too cool”. The elk calf then comes around to my side of the pond and starts to drink. I decide I better pick up my bow just in case a lot of “eyes” close in soon. I realize my bow is laying right in the middle of this monster trail we came in on. I get a little tenser and as I scoot a little deeper into the sage bush beside me on the edge of the trail, the pressure builds.

As I sit with my bow ready and still watching the calf playing in the pond, I hear the sounds of rocks rolling and footsteps closing in behind me. I don’t dare turn my head or make any undo movement because of the calf in the pond or whatever is behind me seeing any movement. Potential errors #1 and #2 are about to come into play. I can hear the footsteps getting louder and louder. “OMG, I want to look, there is something coming down the trail that I am practically blocking. No sooner had that thought flashed through my mind when these two calves burst down the hill headed for the pond.  As I squeeze in tight next to the bush thinking “be the bush, beee the bush” the first calf’s foot barely glances the edge of my range finder that I left sitting by my side as he heads past me toward the pond. The noise of my range finder sliding brings the second calf to a screeching halt at a distance of less than two yards behind me. The first calf stops and turns to look back up at about the same time. The only thought going through my mind now is “BUSTED, I am BUSTED!”

I am frozen, being the bush and praying silently that when the calves blow, they won’t head toward anything else that might be coming to the pond. Time stands still. Right now I am sitting frozen trying to be a bush with an elk calf less than two yards from me staring at me. I know it is staring at me because I can feel it’s eyes boring right through me. If that’s not enough, I hear a bugle that is almost on top of me and a huge bull comes screaming around the hillside. He is coming into the pond from the same direction as the calf that is playing out in the water. I am about to blow up, my heart is the loudest thing I hear, the pressure is at a crescendo now and I can’t even turn to look at him, let alone blink an eye.

The first calf that came down the trail finally turns and heads to the pond, thank God, two less eyes on me. I really want to focus on the bull that is getting closer to the pond but the other calf is less than 3 feet away from me now. Everything seems to be moving in slow motion. I catch a glimpse of Rod out of the corner of my eye with his jaw to the ground and then the truly incredible happens. This calf which obviously can’t smell to identify what I am or see what I am does the unthinkable. I feel its muzzle touching and rubbing on my shoulder. My only thought now is “this situation is going south in a hurry, you have got to be kidding me.” It was like the calf needed to try to verify what I was or was not. Pressure, you have no idea!

The touch of my shoulder makes the calf move, not explode, but he moves back up the trail the way he had come. At least now I have a little breathing room although I can still hear him behind me. Maybe it is only my heart thumping out of my chest that I can hear. The bull by this time is at the bank of the pond that sloped into the water. He lets loose another bugle, glunking at the end as he slides into the water. He looks huge, I hook up my Sensation release and make ready to draw my bow calculating in my mind how far I think he is. I look over at Rod expecting to see the “yes” signal but instead I am getting a “NO”. I wonder, “maybe he’s not that big, ok, no problem, I’ll just watch him instead” I unhook my release and reach for my binos. I start to slowly raise my binos to get a better look because I hadn’t had a chance during all the “touchy feely” stuff with the calf. As I raise my binos I must have grabbed a piece of my ghillie suit and was lifting the suit at the same time. As I come loose of the suit, my binos come up too fast and I whack the end of my nock which sends my arrow down into the bush in front of me. “well, at least I’m not supposed to be shooting this bull” I think since I now don’t even have an arrow nocked and I know the calf is still about 10 yards behind me. At least that didn’t scare anything. I take another glance at Rod and my heart sinks, his head is bobbing up and down like it’s on a string. Oh my gosh I think, I don’t even have an arrow nocked and my friend is still hanging out staring at me from behind. Shoot the bull, yeah right. The pressure completely and utterly explodes.

Somehow, I decide to just go for it, the bull somehow is still in the water, his head is down. I pull another arrow from my quiver and nock it. Out of habit I hook up my release again without a thought and slowly lean out away from the bush into my beautiful shooting lane (elk highway) and get this gorgeous bull in my sights. I slowly draw my bow and start counting pins, 20, 30, 40. He is standing at roughly 35 yards broadside. All I can think is “don’t hit the shoulder.” I have no memory of triggering the release. I hear the thump of the arrow hitting but not sure where it hits as the bull whirls and explodes out of the pond, headed back the way he came from. I am trying to stand up to watch him and I can hear Rod behind me saying “get down, get down, don’t let him see you.” I quickly reach in my fanny pack and grab my call and let out a couple of cow calls, the bull stops running and slowly moves away.  As I sit back down, I see the bull for the first time in my binos and watch as he lays down in the tall grass just over a 100 yards away with only the top of his antlers visible.

where he lays down in the grass

This photo shows the bull where he lays down in the grass

The last 20 minutes had been the most surreal experience in my entire life. To top it off, the first words out of Rods mouth weren’t words of congratulations but instead what I heard was, “my God if I would’ve had the video camera we could have made a fortune whether you killed the bull or not.” Rods first “NO” he gave me was because he was afraid to raise his binos for fear of spooking the calves that were hanging around me. Once he got the opportunity while I was entertaining our new friends, he took one look at the fronts of the bull and knew he was definitely a shooter. 

Pressure, what pressure? My first archery kill and the monster is mine.

338 bull
Kris and Rod 
13 votes, average: 3.38 out of 513 votes, average: 3.38 out of 513 votes, average: 3.38 out of 513 votes, average: 3.38 out of 513 votes, average: 3.38 out of 5 (13 votes, average: 3.38 out of 5)
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Published by tim9910 on 21 Aug 2008

Preparations for Fall

By

Tim Hicks

It’s almost upon us, the time of year that brings little tingling feelings on the back of our necks. The excitement of finding a heavily used trail and seeing the beginnings of a great mast in the canopy above your favorite stands can be almost overwhelming.

That is of course, if you go out and do some scouting and put your efforts into being prepared for opening day. For many, they poke around a week before season, half-heartily throw up a stand, blow the dust off their bows and hope for the best. But for successful hunters, it began right about the end of last season. Unfortunately for us in northeastern Oklahoma, a blizzard hit the last weekend of archery season. And now, heavy downpours and heavier clouds of mosquitoes are keeping us out of the field. But it’s always a good time to stay on top of your game, shooting the many 3D tournaments of the summer, and just practicing out in the back yard help keep your abilities tuned. Passing the time by thumbing through the catalogs and magazines to see the newest gear and read about the great far off hunts of the past season can also thwart the onset of preseason blues. It’s a great time to drag out your hunting garb and make sure the off season didn’t make your clothes “shrink”. You should also check your hunting arrows and broadheads, refletching and replacing blades as needed. I usually start shooting broadheads a month before season so there are no surprises when that opportune moment presents itself come October. I like to scout and hang a trail camera to get an idea of the deer using the area I plan to hunt. Plus this gives you something to get excited about, even though the patterns will change before opening day. Talking with locals in the area you hunt is also a great benefit, they can tell you about the “big one” that comes to pasture each evening right before dark. Anything you can do to get the mindset and the blood pumping for the days ahead.

A great thing about September is the fact that here in Oklahoma, dove season opens. That gives us a chance to rekindle our hunting spirit, and form friendships with other hunters. It’s also a good time to meet new land owners, most are not objected to dove hunting on their property, provided you remember to pick up your spent shells and take care of their land. This can lead to a possible archery hunt in the future as some will see you are a good steward, and grant permission on their land. This is also a great time to scout, usually the action of dove hunting dies off, and you can walk the crop edges looking for good trails. Following these trails back and finding staging areas and hopefully some good stand locations along the route. Then you can hang a trail camera or two, and check out the quality of the local population. Walking in the fields also helps to condition you for the hunts ahead, but jogging or a regular exercise program is recommended. I don’t know how many times I have had everything ready, take a deer in the first couple days, and then nearly have a heart attack dragging him out. I always seem to find reasons not to prepare myself, and usually regret it soon enough.

The great thing about early scouting, as opposed to right before season, is the fact that you can march right in and turn over every blade of grass. I even check bedding areas that I would normally avoid like the plague closer to season. This gives the chance to find any new trails or feeding areas you may have overlooked last season. You can hang stands early and get shooting lanes cut, and maybe block a trail or two and hopefully funnel the movement in your direction. One of my favorite things is walking the fence lines on our property, noting the heaviest crossing route. I also tighten up the fence and then tie down the top strand to the next lower near that area of travel. This insures deer will continue crossing here, as using the easiest route is in their nature. Then I will place a stand 20 to 30 yards back in the woods from this site to avoid detection before they cross the fence. Once they have crossed a fence, it has been my experience that if they feel something awkward they typically won’t go back over the fence but run towards me. That is if they haven’t seen me or caught wind of a two-legged predator. I also like planting a fall clover or the like, giving the deer and turkey a different menu than the normal summer browse. Hanging a feeder or two in the area also works great, I don’t hunt within sight of them but it keeps the deer moving on a predictable route prior to the pre-rut. I have seen more bucks this way early on in the season than I ever have during the rut. I always want to be in the field as much as possible during the rut, but the buck sightings seem more like a chance encounter if they are truly chasing does. It’s just the excitement of knowing that huge deer can walk out at any given moment that gives me the drive to stay on stand as long as possible. But the early days are a great time to stock the freezer and get a good idea on the herd you are hunting. I had so many pictures and regular sightings last season, I named most of the deer in the area. Passing up several different four and six pointers, and a couple of does that still had twins with them. There are enough deer in the area I hunt that I try not to orphan little ones prematurely, and let the young bucks grow a couple more years.

As I sit here right now, I am ready to go stomping about in search of that perfect spot not remembering the chiggers and seed ticks until I am already covered with them. My pulse is quickening just thinking about that first morning on stand, watching the world wake up beneath my feet. It’s one of the best feelings in the world, a time when one can relax and be at peace, if only for awhile. But then I awake from the daydream, and realize there is three months left before season, and about a million things left on the “honey-do” list. But at least I have run through a beginning stage of mental preparation for the season ahead.

11 votes, average: 3.36 out of 511 votes, average: 3.36 out of 511 votes, average: 3.36 out of 511 votes, average: 3.36 out of 511 votes, average: 3.36 out of 5 (11 votes, average: 3.36 out of 5)
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Published by tim9910 on 21 Aug 2008

A god friend of mine Dean Cote with a nice mulie taken with a bow.

A good friend of mine Dean Cote with a nice mulie taken with a bow.

Christmas in November

By

Tim Hicks

“The bucks are chasing!”. This statement brings excitement to the hearts of hunters. Towards the last week of October, the doe’s begin showing signs of the forthcoming mating season, more commonly known as the rut. The bucks have rubbing, and sparsely scraping for awhile now, but more territorially and “practicing up” if you will. But now you start finding the sign post rubs, highly visible rub lines, and what may have been a twelve by six inch scrape a week ago is now the size of a four wheel drive tire, sometimes with several under the same tree.

This time, for me, is my favorite time to be in the woods. The chances of trophy buck encounters are better, albeit early or late in the day typically, and they can be coaxed in since the doe’s aren’t completely receptive to the bucks displays of “alpha male syndrome”. Setups are simpler, because the deer are still predictable and the odds are still in your favor. When it gets into this stage, I usually target food sources just as earlier on in the season, making a point to locate heavy mast white oaks if possible. This will congregate doe’s, and therefore also lure in bucks. The difference as compared to early October, is try and find out of the way food sources, because even though the bucks are starting to chase they still have their wits about them. They are just a little more curious and likely to investigate potential mates or threats to their territory. I use a different approach for stand placement also, by finding likely routes for deer to move from bedding areas to food sources. But now I look for cross routes running perpendicular to these main routes. I have found that more mature whitetails in search of receptive doe’s cross main trails in this way to pick up on the pheromones left behind and are able to cover several travel routes quicker with less risk of exposing themselves to danger. To find a likely candidate, I look for things like a ridge with either a bluff or extremely thick cover on one end. If one side of the ridge is extremely steep, and their backs are protected by the bluff or cover, the bucks can bed with their backs to the cover and can see or smell any danger approaching from the front or the other, less cumbersome side of the ridge. When you can find a sanctuary like this, you will also find an escape route. Somewhere along this route is the place to ambush them. The trick is getting in and setting up undetected, and not having your scent carried by the thermals all over the ridge. You can almost bet there is another escape route you missed. Scent control is paramount, and staying on stand for the long haul is the best way to succeed.

There are many other ways to attack “grand daddy tall tines” at this time also though. A lot of hunters have good success lightly rattling and using grunt calls. Decoying with a smaller buck decoy also proves highly productive. Just don’t go setup a decoy that looks like Michael Waddell just arrowed it in Pike county, and go banging horns together like there’s an all out war.

You will scare the acorns out of every buck in the region around the places I hunt. Don’t laugh, I have seen it done before. Be reasonable with your approach, even subtle, and use scents sparingly. I have no doubts that quality pheromone scents produce good results, but at the same time I don’t want to be targeted as a doe-in-heat while I am walking the woods. I have also attracted other things besides deer, I once had a bobcat trying to climb my tree near Copan, OK. That will wake you up real quick!

As this session passes by, then the real thing begins. For about ten days, it’s full on rut time. Bigger deer are breeding as many doe’s as possible, and chasing away younger bucks from potential mates. Getting their attention now can be tough, once they catch scent of a ready doe, it seems like it takes a Mack truck to pull them off the trail. If you hunt in an area with an abnormally high buck to doe ratio, they may be more willing to respond to scents or more aggressive calling, if they are having a hard time finding a mate. Bucks are known to move very long distances at this time, so you may encounter deer that have never been seen earlier in the year. One of the biggest deer I have seen in my life came through right before dark on the last couple days of black powder season. I had never seen him before, or any sign that he had been around. Later that year I heard a farmer talking about a huge buck that lived on his property, about five miles away. His description of the buck he saw in velvet sounded exactly like the one I saw chasing does. I did get a shot off at that deer, but missed clean. After he heard the shot he turned his head towards me raised it high, he was about eighty yards out and the size of his rack got me so rattled that I opened the wrong end of my speed loader and all the powder fell from my treestand. Luckily I always carry two, and the second made it all the way out of my pocket before it bounced of the stand and landed some twenty feet below me. By now he was onto me, and I had my worst case of buck fever ever. Anyway, back to the point, big buck sightings are a lot more common during this heavy rut period. This is why in my opinion, everyone gets so excited about it. I like the opportunity to chance a sighting at trophy deer as much as the next guy, but have found that harvesting one can be pretty much summed up by being extremely lucky. They are cruising around, their caution is pretty much thrown to the wind, and if you happen to have a stand by a place a doe leads him, then you just won the lottery. I typically find myself driving by check stations grumbling at all the nice deer hanging on the scales, while I drive to the house empty handed and still shivering from hours on stand.

Then, as this period grinds to a halt, it’s like someone hit a light switch. The bucks are exhausted from chasing and fighting, and not getting proper nutrition, that they lay up and can be hard to come by. There is always a few immature bucks still looking for action, but the ones we dream about are usually bedded down and staying close to their lair. Going back to the locations like you hunted in the first phases of the pre-rut, near his home on an escape route, is a profitable option at this time. If you hunt public lands, gun season has usually passed, and the deer are much more alert and harder to hunt. Throw in all the quail hunters, and you have a real mess on your hands. But that shouldn’t slow you down, late season bow hunting can be a very good time to be in the woods. There are less deer hunters in the woods, and if it is a hard winter, food sources are in high demand. There is also the so-called second rut, where some of the does that were not bred before come in heat late. It’s usually not very eventful, but has been proven to occur by wildlife biologists. I try not to hyped up about that, and just get back to basics. Find bedding areas, water sources and feeding grounds, then find the yellow brick road in between. This is a great time to stock up on venison and manage the herd a little. Unseasonably warm temperatures which we seem to experience a lot in recent years, followed by a strong oncoming cold front, can really amp up the action. As soon as the barometer starts falling, it seems like the deer are running around like people preparing for a hurricane. Then after it moves through and you get those “blue bird” clear sky days, with a high and steady barometer, someone flips that light switch again. I wish I could find that switch myself, I would rewire it so it’s on in both positions.

In closing, I just wanted to give you a run down on some of my theories and experiences with this time of year. I dream of it like every other red-blooded American with a bow in hand, and hopefully this will be the year. I killed my biggest buck to date during the peak of the rut, yes I was one of the lucky ones who happened to be crossing the same opening as a buck at the same time. And that time I had a rifle that luckily held its own bullets, so I couldn’t drop them!

The next buck to see my living room though, will be harvested by arrow. I take more pleasure and remember smaller deer harvested with a bow at ten steps, than one I dropped with a rifle at a hundred yards. So as the rut approaches your area, have your spots ready and pack a lunch. I’ll be on stand from daylight to dark, and I don’t want to be the only one freezing and cramping up out there! Good luck on your hunts this winter, and remember to harvest a doe or two if you have the tags. It will help ensure a balanced herd for years to come, and more chances at a trophy for yourself or your kids. Hope to see you out there!

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Published by Benchleg01 on 21 Aug 2008

“Murphy’s” first Archery Elk

 

It was still dark when I softly closed the door on my old beater nissan pick-up truck and started up towards the ridge above me, the fog was so thick that I had only about twenty yards visibility. I had bedded down a monster bull (7×7) on the back side of the ridge the previous night, and was hoping to find him this morning. I was “still hunting” my way up through the middle of a two year old clear cut, and as luck would have it, my Ol’ pal “Murphy” was hunting with me.

I had not gone more than one hundred yards up the clear cut when I heard a noise off to my right, I slowly hunkered down and looked over my right shoulder, I could just barely make out through the fog, two Cow Elk at twenty yards and they were looking right at me. I slowly faced forward again and as the fog rose I could see another Elk directly in front of me, I pulled up my range finder and ranged him at seventy yards,  (25 yards beyond my comfort zone) it was a 5×5 bull, Not the monarch of the forest I had bedded down the night before, none the less he was a respectable “Freezer Pet” for a meat hunter like myself.

The fog was lifting fast now and I could see that there were Cow Elk all around me, I had sneaked right into the middle of his harem and he was not sure what to do about it. The “Lead Cow” was not sure what was going on either but she did not want any part of it, she turned an trotted directly past the Bull, headed for the timber line gathering the rest of his Cows as she went. I had not moved a muscle after rangeing the Bull, and I watched them as they hit the edge of the timber, and instead of dissapearing into the thick reprod, they turned, went up the ridge line, and bedded down on a small knoll just below the top. Three of the bedded Cows were positioned such, that they could cover every approach from below.

I very slowly backed out the way I had come in, this satellite bull and his harem were now bedded between me and the Ol’ Monarch bull; it was time for a new game plan. After about ten seconds of extensive and extremely agonizing soul searching, I decided that a “Rag Horn” in the freezer is better than a “Monarch” in the bush, and on the bright side….I can always horn hunt next year.

With Murphy hunting the same bunch of elk that I was, I did not feel comfortable attempting to stalk them up the middle of the clear cut; too many eyes to observe me. By the same token, the reprod was only about 25′ tall and thicker than the fleas on a dogs back, also not a good choice. After studying the approach very carefully through my binoculars, I finally decided to sneak up the edge of the timber line on the South side of the clear cut, using the stumps and root wads as cover.

Two of the Cows were looking my direction initially, I had to wait untill both were looking elsewhere before I could cross the open ground of the fire break to the saftey of the first stump. After that it was just a matter of moving quietly from stump to root wad to snag when they were not looking. After two hours and approximately 800 yards I was pinned down in a position directly below the the knoll the Elk were bedded down on, I was a little nervous as there was a 40 yard stretch of ground with no cover in front of me and I could only see two of the Cows.

I was trying to decide how to proceed when the Cow directly above me stood up, I ducked back down behind the root wad thinking that I had been busted. The fog was still moving in and out sporadically and what slight breeze there was was in my favor, as it was still fairly cool and the thermals were moving downhill. I peeked around the root wad in time to see that the Cow above me was gone and the other was just vanishing around the back of the snag that she had been bedded down at.

It was now or never; I crossed the stretch of open ground to an old snag that had been pushed over and left lying at the edge of what I took to be a small bench. I dropped my pack, removed the quiver from my bow, took out two arrows, knocked a muzzy 100 grain 3 blade broadhead, set my Parker Hunter Mag beside me at the ready and began to scan everything in front of me with my range finder.

I heard noise from above me and to me left, I set my range finder down on my pack, and peeked out around the left side of the root wad. It truly does not get any better than this; the Elk had dropped down around the timber side of the knoll, The Bull was leading the way and he would pass directly in front of and about 30 feet above me at approximately 40 yards.

I quietly slithered back over and picked up my bow; I came to full draw while still on my knees and hunkered down behind the log. When I heard the Elk passing directly in front of me, I slowly raised up bringing my bow to shooting position in the same fluidly smooth motion, I was in perfect form, my sight pin tucked in low and tight behind the front shoulder with a perfect, slightly quartering away broadside shot. Enter “Uncle Murphy”. It was a cow Elk filling my sight picture and not the Bull. They had traded places after I had ducked down.

The 5×5 Bull was about two paces behind the Cow and quartering to me, not a shot that I would take. I had a decision to make and not a lot of time to make it. I could wait, and hope that the Bull would take a couple of steps and give me a broadside shot before the Cow came to her senses and bolted, or I could flex my shoulder muscles and put this freezer pet where it belongs, in the freezer!

Just before I heard the Cow give her alarm “bark”, I recalled the words of my late father. “Horn soup don’t stick to your ribs the way Backstrap does”. So I flexed my shoulder muscles and sent out a dinner invitation, in the form of a Beman 340 ICS Hunter, and she graciously accepted my invitation with no reservations.

They would not leave after the shot ! they would not leave after the shot.

Its almost like he can not believe that he is still alive.

She dropped where she stood, and rolled down to me.

She dropped where she stood, and rolled down to me.

The Moral of this story is, If you are going to hunt with “Murphy”, you have to be prepared to change plans in mid stream without losing your game.

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Published by Benchleg01 on 17 Aug 2008

My first Archery Elk

my-first-archery-elk

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Published by NTYMADATER on 16 Aug 2008

Non-typical hunting story

Non-Typical Hunting Story

 

It was November 17, 2007 the first day of Virginia’s firearms deer season; however, instead of carrying a rifle I had my bow.  This would be the first year I decided to hunt with a bow exclusively.   I was in my favorite tree stand situated in a perfect funnel.  It’s a small strip of timber about 60 yards wide bordered by a river to the south and a large open field to the north.  It connects a bedding area to the east and a stand of white oaks to the west.  Since my stand is in the middle of the funnel every deer that comes through will pass within bow range of my stand.   Thanks to my Mossy Oak camouflage a deer has never seen me in this stand.  At least not until it was too late.

This particular morning I had a north wind so I used my hip boots to wade the river coming in from the south thus keeping the wind in my face.  I was situated in my stand one hour before sunrise in order to let the woods settle down from any disturbance I made coming in.  Several deer passed by in the darkness unaware of my presence.  The way this stand is situated it is practically windproof.  Especially with the upward pull of the morning thermals.  I have hunted this stand for several years and I have never been winded.  I can thank ScentBlocker to some extent but knowing how to use wind direction and thermals is also an important role in staying undetected by a whitetails keen sense of smell.  Thermals can best be defined as the movement of air as it is heated or cooled.  In the morning air is being heated and it rises.  The opposite happens at sundown.  The air is cooled and it is pushed down.

When it finally got light enough to see several doe groups started to file past my stand.  There was also a young fork horn and a six pointer that ambled by.  I almost picked up my bow when a nice 8 pointer came by but I was waiting on one particular buck that I had been hunting for 3 years.  The first time I saw him was as a 3 year old 10 pointer.  Over the next couple of years he added more mass and several sticker points.  I had only seen him with my own eyes 2 times in 3 years.  Every spring I would question all the local farmers to see if they had seen “my deer”.  Everyone knew him because he was the biggest deer around. 

Around eleven o’clock the action started to slow down.  I relaxed a little and started to think about what I had packed for lunch.  Then I caught movement coming from the east.  I immediately got my binoculars up and tried to find the source.  It was a deer a big deer by itself coming my way with its head down.  I never actually saw his rack but I knew it had to be “my buck”.  So I stood up and prepared to make the shot.  If he continued on his present course he would come by my stand at 20 yards.  He was on a trail that had given me several shot opportunities over the years.  As he disappeared into a cutout I knew the next time I saw him he would be within bow range.  It seemed like it took forever for him to close the last 50 yards but the woods were quiet and the leaves were dry so I could hear him coming.  I actually thought why is he making so much noise.  He was moving slow very slow for some reason. 

When his head finally popped up over the bank my heart sank.  It was a doe.  Then I saw why she had been making so much noise and moving so slowly.  She was dragging her left back leg.  She had apparently been wounded.  Of course when I saw this it was obvious that I was going to take a shot.  My heart started to race again. When her head disappeared behind a bush I drew my bow.  She cleared the bush and paused for a second to rest.  Looking through my Red Hawk peep I settled my 20 yard pin behind the front shoulder and squeezed the trigger.  I watched as the Slick Trick tipped Easton disappeared right where I was aiming.  You would be surprised how fast a mature deer with a wounded leg can move especially after a double lung hit.  I watched as she ran down the hill and expired. 

I sat back down and waited thirty minutes expecting someone to come by trailing a wounded deer.  I was hoping it was a young kid looking for his or her first deer.  It wasn’t exactly how I had imagined the day would end but it was still rewarding especially if I had allowed a youngster to find their first deer.  After climbing down and finding my arrow I followed the blood trail even though I had seen the deer fall.  As I rolled the deer over and prepared to field dress her I realized why no one had showed up.  The wound wasn’t from a bullet.  She had clearly been hit by a car.  I could still take solace knowing I had ended what was sure to be a long painful death.

I never did see “my buck” but there is always next year.

8 votes, average: 3.25 out of 58 votes, average: 3.25 out of 58 votes, average: 3.25 out of 58 votes, average: 3.25 out of 58 votes, average: 3.25 out of 5 (8 votes, average: 3.25 out of 5)
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Published by atm7819 on 15 Aug 2008

Wow!

“Wow!”  As the sun begins to light up the early morning sky I scan the field in front of me for the big buck that I am expecting.  I know where he feeds, where he sleeps, when he travels, and every inch of his massive rack.  Unfortunately, this has not helped me so far this season.  I have passed on several nice bucks waiting for him.  Today, on the last morning of archery season will probably be my last chance.  All the hours of work and preparation have lead me here, to this spot, to this moment, to him.  Suddenly, I catch some movement at the edge of the field to the left of my stand.  The wind is perfect and somehow I know it is him.  I reach for my bow without even seeing him.  No need for a rangefinder.  I have played this moment out in my mind a thousand times.  I know where he will head, I know where he will stop, and the yardage is ingrained in my mind.  Turning my attention back to the field, I panic.  He is moving too fast.  At this rate he will pass through my shooting lane within 10 seconds.  I attach my release and raise my bow.  Suddenly he stops.  I have seen this image in my mind every night for the last year.  Every scouting trip, every seed planted, every morning or evening in the stand has been for this shot.  Miraculously he is standing in the exact spot I had envisioned, twenty-five yards, quartering away.  He seems to be waiting for me to take the shot.  Thwaak!  The arrow flies true and he goes down before he crosses the field.  “Wow!”  At this moment, everything slows down and I am able to feel His presence.  I begin to realize that this as close to Heaven on earth for me as I can imagine.  God touches people in different ways.  He is able to “personalize” our blessings.  He knows me and He knows you.  Every time in my life that I have had one of those “wow” moments, He was there.  It could be something as simple as catching a bass, hearing a turkey gobble, or making a perfect shot on a monster whitetail.  It could be something incredible like making that first eye contact with the woman you will someday marry or the first time you hold your newborn baby in your arms.  Our God blesses us everyday of our lives.  Sometimes we just have to slow down enough to realize it.  “Wow!”

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Published by Scott M on 08 Aug 2008

Thank you Mr. Lincoln

This is my first time posting to Archery Talk Articles & Blogs, so I thought I’d put this story out there.  I’ve had a couple editors take a look at it but no takers at this point.  Enjoy!

 

I don’t normally consider myself a superstitious person, but when it comes to deer hunting, all bets are off.  I’ve got my favorite flannel, and a usual routine that I like to follow.  I pack up early and check my gear often.  Sometimes good karma is almost as important as the license.  So I try to have a positive attitude, and be as prepared as possible.  Prepared enough to have a good day, without looking like an Artic expedition.

Like most hunters I feel that proper preparation leads to good outcomes.  So when I’m packing up for a day a field, I make sure that I have all the necessary items.  Being prepared means having everything I’ll need from the beginning of my hunt to the end.  Including all of the items I’ll need, should I be successful.  Often if I get to the woods and realize I don’t have a pen, mentally, my day is shot.  All hunters are great at coming up with excuses; mine tend to revolve around poor preparation.  As if not having a pen, or a piece of string is some kind of jinx that keeps the animals away.

The 2007 deer season was no exception to this.  Like most hunters I packed my field bag, and vest a good two days prior to the season.  After checking and double-checking my gear, I finally placed all of it in the vehicle for safekeeping.  While running some last minute errands I came across a head’s up penny lying on the ground in front of a grocery store.  Being within 18 hours of the start of the deer season, I had to pick it up, hoping for any bit of good luck for tomorrow.  As I slipped the coin into my wallet, I laughed to myself, thinking that this was a little silly, but what’s the harm.

I went about the rest of my day, not giving it too much thought until I was bagging up some leaves at my house.  I completed my yard work trying to clear my mind, as well as my yard, so that I could relax and enjoy the season opener, tomorrow.  As a cleared the yard I came across another head’s up penny, lying on the front step of my house.  This was just too much, so I
laughed out loud as I placed my second “lucky” penny into my wallet.

I felt that my “lucky” pennies were just too foolish to tell any of my hunting partners.  Knowing them, if I did tell them about my pennies, I’d never hear the end of it.  So I decided to not tell them.  Everyone knows there is certainly enough pestering to go around in the deer woods, and my pennies would be just too easy of a target.

As with most other hunter’s, I barely slept the night before the season.  Finally giving up the struggle, I got out of bed around 4:15am.  I showered, dressed, and went downstairs to have some breakfast, and watch the weather forecast.  Saying that the weather here in Northwest PA was less than ideal would be an understatement.  We had fog and rain forecast for the entire day.  Undeterred we made the 35 minute drive to my cousin’s property where we always spend opening day.  The property is small, but we’ve had good success on the opening day.

We believe the success comes as a result of the property bordering French Creek. There are many natural funnels on the property and the deer use these routes to escape the hunting pressure on either side of the creek.  When opening day roles around we usually see a deer or two, but sometimes they are on the run and don’t give us much of a chance.

The day progressed just as usual, with some shooting on either side of the creek, but no deer through our spot.  By 9:15am my hunting partner Joe, left his tree to push through a brushy area that usually hides a deer or two.  I remained at my favorite tree hoping that Joe, and other hunters, would push the deer my way.  With the rain falling steadily I knew it would be hard to hear any deer approaching.  About 9:45am I glanced over my right shoulder in time to see a heavy antlered buck slipping past me at less than 20 yards.  The wet leaves had hidden his approach, and he has about to crest a small slope.  If he made it to the crest my shot would be unsafe, because his body would be sky-lined and I knew that multiple homes nearby could be in my line of fire.  Before reaching the top the buck looked away from me.  As he looked away I swung my gun and body into position to make the shot.

The Marlin 30-30 cracked and the deer bolted over the crest of the hill.  I worked the action and then made it up the slope to try and get a glimpse of where the deer ran.  Just outside of my wood lot are two fields separated by a road.  All together the two fields span about 250 yards. Even with such a great distance the deer was out of sight by the time I reached the spot he was standing when I shot.  Since I was pretty sure he was hit well, I began the search for blood.  The steady rain we had all morning made finding blood, a lost cause.  Knowing the deer had to cross a road, I searched up and down the road for tracks, which might give me a clue to the deer’s location.

Having no luck finding tracks or blood on my own, I then got my hunting partner Joe on the radio, and told him I needed his help in locating a downed deer.  From his location it took him about 20 minutes through wet golden rod, to meet up with me.  Of course this was the longest 20 minutes of my life.  While I waited I searched with binoculars the field edges, hoping for a glimpse of a white belly or antlers.  When Joe arrived, I went over the shot and the deer’s possible location.

The field across the road was bordered by thick brush and golden rod, so I knew we could have a long search ahead of us.  The most direct line would lead the deer into the woods at the south end of the field.  I entered those woods at the nearest point, while Joe walked the field edge searching
for sign.  After we covered the nearest portion and did not finding any sign, I began to lose heart that I had even wounded the deer.  I quietly hoped to myself that I missed clean, and we wouldn’t have a long messy recovery.  As I continued on the south end of the field, Joe crossed the field to begin checking the north side.  Shortly after reaching the field edge, Joe hollered across the field to get my attention.  I began crossing the field and from Joe’s body language, I could tell there was a deer down in the brush.  My spirit lifted as I made the quick walk across the field.

His antlers were larger than I remembered, with a standard eight-point rack and a two-inch kicker on the right G2, making him a nine pointer with a fourteen inch inside spread.  He field dressed out just north of 180 pounds.  He was a massive animal, but not unlike deer we had harvested here in the past.  The area is heavily agricultural, with plenty of woodlots for cover, so deer tend to be heavier, than average.  We made quick work of the field dressing, and let him hang for a short time, while we recounted the story.

I never fail to be amazed at how far and fast a wounded deer can run.  This deer had crossed almost 200 yards in the same time it took me to cover twenty.  It just goes to show, in bad weather conditions, you have to take every necessary step to recover the deer you may have wounded.

We loaded him into the van, and made the short drive to our favorite meat market.  After I filled out the order form, I placed the receipt into my wallet.  Upon opening my wallet, I realized, I still had my two “lucky” pennies that I had found the day before.  I laughed out loud, as I thought to myself, “Sometimes superstitions really do payoff.”

 

 

 

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