Archive for the 'Hunting Stories' Category

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Published by archerchick on 10 Feb 2011

Whitetail Fever~ By Larry Weishuhn

Bow And Arrow Hunting
February 1990

Whitetail Fever By Larry Weishuhn

Making A Video Of A Big Buck Hunt Involves Unforeseen Problems


IT ALL started out as one of your typical South Texas days. The
rut would begin as soon as the weather turned a bit cooler.
Bucks were moving well enough and each day brought sightings of ten or
more mature bucks. But we were simply not seeing what I knew was there.
For nearly a week, the mid-December weather had been warm and windy. On
some days. the wind blew so hard a bow-hunter would have had an extremely
hard time determining windage on a forty-yard shot. To make matters worse,
one of the hunters soon would have to return to Las Vegas and chameleon
from bowhunter to businessman.


Dave Snyder was getting a bit anxious for a shot at a decent whitetail. Holder
of the world`s record nontypical Coues whitetail, former typical mule deer
world record and numerous other Pope and Young record book heads. he was
about to run out of time. To make matters still worse. Snyder`s friend.
Peter Shepley. was not going to let him forget about the missed shot, albeit a
nearly impossible one to have made at a Pope and Young buck a few days


Through it all, Dave contended his legendary Snyder luck would hold and. in the end, he would
succeed. Pete Shepley. bowhunter extraordinnaire and founder of Precision Shooting
Equipment. Inc., along with Dave Snyder and the PSE Adventures inVideo crew, Mike
Bingham and Mike Behr. had joined me on one of the ranches I manage for Max and
Carolyn Williams. The primary purpose was to produce a video and to enjoy hunting a
big whitetail. Neither Snyder nor Shepley ever had hunted the brush country of South Texas.
When I met them at the airport, they were anxious to try our legendary South Texas whitetails.


Prior to the arrival of my guests, Jim Jordan, who works for PSE and is based
in San Antonio, had come down to help me do some scouting. The first morning
he came back from the brush he was babbling about the bucks he had seen,
the mountain lion that had walked out in front of him, then just stood there, the
wild hogs and javelina. He went on and on. Jordan, a friend for numerous years,
is usually pretty calm and coherent. Something had him excited, but we finally got him
settled down during lunch.


“You aren’t going to believe this! I saw no less than fifteen bucks this
morning that would easily make Pope and Young. One was the biggest buck I
have ever seen in my, life. He had at least fourteen typical points and was
well over twenty-four inches wide with tines that looked as long as his legs!”
Jordan explained. ‘”He’d rank near the top of the book. He never paid any
attention to me. He simply looked my way, then went on about browsing his
way through the brush. Then I started walking back to the pickup and just as l
got to the trail, out walks this mountain lion! l`ve never seen anything like


My first thought was to act like all of what he had seen was a common, every-
day event — which it was not. Now, with time running short, we had
Snyder scratching. Having established where the major travel lanes were, we
had erected tripods just off of the trails allowing for reasonable shooting distances
and in positions where the camera-man could record any action: In the last
couple of days, Snyder and one of the cameramen had seen approximately ten
bucks, including some that were tempting. But in each instance. the camera
angle was wrong or the deer moved out of position, preventing the taping of the
shot. All this did not help.


Having been involved with various video programs, I am of the opinion that
anyone who takes an animal in a fair chase situation with a bow and while on
camera. deserves to be listed in a special record book. Hunting whitetails with a
bow is a difficult proposition. but add a cameraman who dictates when you can
or cannot take a shot and it becomes something just short of an impossibility!
Snyder`s last day arrived much sooner than we wanted. but with it came cooler
temperatures. After dropping the hunters at their camera tripods. I turned my
attention to checking whether the bucks had started coming to rattling horns or
grunt calls. Since I had no intention of taking a deer until our hunters had filled
their tags, I left my PSE bow in the


Concealed under the overhanging branches of a mesquite tree near a
scrape I had found earlier. I softly clicked a pair of antlers together and
grunted on my Haydel grunt call. Immediately. a buck charged into
view, stopping mere inches from where I was hidden. A quick evaluation of
antlers, up close and personal, left little doubt he would score well above the
Pope and Young minimum. I only hoped our guests were doing as well.


After the buck tired of our game, I walked deeper into the pasture to check
out some scrapes. Deer were moving, does were feeding and bucks were
checking on the estrus condition of the does. Occasionally, I caught a glimpse
of a buck chasing a doe and frequently saw a 6—month—old forlornly looking for
mama, a sure sign the rut was in full swing.


Later that-morning, I picked up Pete Shepley who had seen several bucks. He
described most as being good young bucks or those that simply stayed just .
out of range. Approaching Snyder’s hideout, we found him just starting to track a blood
trail. About an hour after sun—up a . young buck had walked out right in front
of him. Glancingr over his shoulder. Snyder had gotten the “go ahead and take him” signal
from the cameraman.


The animal had moved forward just as he had released. but the blood trail
indicated a lethal hit. About a hundred yards from where we picked up the
arrow. we found the buck. The Snyder ~ luck had held! How big was he’? Well, as
Snyder put it. “He- ain’t book. but he`ll eat good!” With the successful bowhunter on his
way back to Las Vegas. Pete Shelpey and I got serious about finding him a
good buck. The rut was just starting to .get serious and each day we were seeing
more and different bucks every time we hunted. It would only be a matter of
time before things would fall into place: bucks. camera angle and success.


During the days we hunted together, I came to learn quite a lot about Pete Shepley,
the engineer, the bowhunter and the man. Shepley hunted extremely hard. leaving
well before daylight and returning after the song of the coyote had put the
day to rest. His time. too. was running short: pressure was on. I suggested Pete
hunt early. come into camp for awhile, then go back out just before noon. In
years past, I had seen and taken several good bucks during mid—day, especially if
there was a full moon during the rut, which was now the case. Pete’s morning
hunt produced some deer, but not of the right sex.



In camp, we discussed mid—day hunting. The “we” included not only Pete
and me, but Ron Porter, an old friend and hunting compadre, who is the
southeastern supervisor for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.
On numerous occasions, Ron and I have taken good bucks during siesta time. We
finished our coffee and made ready to continue the hunt.


No sooner had I dropped Shepley where he could still hunt his way back
to the deer stand than I spotted a good eight·point buck Shepley must have
seen him at about the same time, because he immediately nocked an arrow
and began his stalk. The buck was completely unaware of the bowhunter’s presence
and obviously was more concerned about checking his scrape than any
impending danger. As is sometime the case, the buck was so strongly in rut, he
cared little about anything else.


From a distance, through my Simmons binoculars, I watched the game
unfold. Each time the buck dropped his head to smell a set of tracks made by an
estrus—approaching doe, Pete moved a few steps closer, using what brush there
was for cover. The buck seem oblivious to everything going on. With slow
deliberate moves, Shepley inched closer and closer to the buck. When about
forty yards separated the two, I watched the hunter come to full—draw, hold for a
second, then release. Ilost sight of the arrow in flight, but could tell by Shepley’s reactions
he had scored a solid hit.


I waited but a few minutes before walking over. He had made a good hit.
The arrow had entered in the lung area immediately behind the buck’s shoulder
to exit on the opposite side. After a brief consultation, we decided to follow the blood
trail. At the site where the buck had stood, we found a few brownish gray hairs, a spot
of blood and just beyond, the blood-covered arrow. The moist sand made for ideal
tracking conditions. Within a few steps, we found bright, foamy spots of blood; a
few steps farther, a solid blood trail. It took only a few more steps to find the
downed buck. In all likelihood, if the folks at PSE’s new Arizona facility were
listening, they could have heard Pete Shepley’s yell!


The buck was mature and close to record-book quality. At that moment,
record book or not, the trophy of trophies lay before us.Did Mike
Bingham, cameraman, get it all on tape? I guess you will just have to see the ·
video to find out. It’s called, “Whitetail ever,” and concerns that malady many
of us suffer; it’s cured only by countless hours of hunting whitetail deer!!!

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Published by Mathews_ArchZ7 on 10 Feb 2011

Its about that time again…

What does everyone have for a set up…. Spring Gobbler season is fast approaching us.

Im not even using a shotgun this year, I think im gonna take my Mathews Z7 for a spin and see how it goes.

So let me know what everyone is using for a set up.

– Mathews Z7 with Easton FMJ 400 and the American Broadhead Company Turkey Tearror

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Published by archerchick on 09 Feb 2011

The Buck And The 120-Pound Longbow~ By Richard Palmer

August 1981

The Buck And The 120 Pound Longbow ~ By Richard Palmer

DUSK WAS fast settling in, as I stood perched on a limb, fifteen
feet off the ground. My eyes strained the dim light looking for the movement
of big game. Suddenly, like a wrath from the mist, an approaching deer.

Moving farther out on the limb, I got in position to shoot. I could barely
see the spikes the deer carried. The buck drew closer and stopped broadside
about fifteen yards away. With a mighty surge of muscle, my shoulder
pulled back the 120-pound longbow. My string fingers touched the corner
of my mouth, releasing death and destruction, as the mighty longbow lunged forward.

I have been involved in archery since the age of 4, and have been an
avid bowhunter since the inception of legalized bowhunting in my home
state of New York and neighboring Pennsylvania. For fifteen years I competed
in archery tournaments, retiring when the era of gadgetry came into
being. I shoot a 120-pound longbow of my own design and manufacture. I
use this heavy bow for hunting, as well as in my practice sessions. I use heavy
three-eighths-inch shafts tipped with 160-grain two-blade broadheads when
hunting. This combination will penetrate even the heavy bones of a whitetail deer.

To date, close to thirty deer have bitten the dust.
Halloween dawned bright and sunny, the traditional day when witches and
goblins and wily critters roam. I’d been bowhunting steady for two weeks,
and hadn’t seen hide nor hair of a buck. There were plenty of does around, but
I was holding out for one of those horned critters.
My hunting territory for deer is located about fifteen minutes drive from
where I live in Elmira, New York. The land belongs to Mount Saviour Monastery, where live
a small group of brothers dedicated to a religious life of self-sufficiency. They allow public hunting
by permit only and charge a small nominal fee. Of the many areas in New
York state I’ve hunted, this has to be the most productive for deer. Over the
years I’ve bowhunted there, I’ve managed to garner eleven of the wily creatures.

The monastery property comprises over a thousand
acres of rolling cultivated fields and timbered off woods;
just the type of terrain in which the elusive whitetail flourish.
The deer sometimes are so thick that the monastery
will return part of the permit fee if a bowhunter takes a deer.
The reason is that the deer get into the cornfields,
reducing the corn production considerably. The brothers use
the field crop to make silage to feed their milk cows.
one of their few sources of income. So you can understand
their anguish, when they find thirty or forty deer in their
cornfields every evening. From talking to Brother Bruno,
who issues the permits, I understand that they sometimes
help in doing the driving for the gun hunters who come up later in the season.

When purchasing a permit to hunt on their property, a map
and instructions are issued. The detailed map shows
property boundaries and terrain features. Areas of no
hunting are written in, so there can be no error on the part of
the hunter, as to where he can and cannot hunt. Portable
tree stands are preferred, as they cultivate their woods for timber.

I managed to leave work early and get over to my brother, Ken’s, house, a
few minutes past four in the afternoon. He was there already, having just arrived
home from work himself. We left for the monastery a few minutes later,
full of expectation. It was a beautiful fall day, with the sun shining and the leaves in all their
varied colors; the kind of day that makes you want to be in the woods.
While enroute, we discussed what area we would be hunting that afternoon.

Upon arrival, we each headed for our own preselected spot. Ken headed for
an old logging road in an area the deer cross frequently, on their way to a
large lush green field. I headed for a large shaggy bark tree, located in a
small clearing. This tree has a deer run on each side and is used primarily late
in the afternoon. During the day, the deer bed down in a deep gorge nearby.
Toward evening, they head uphill using the runs in the area of my tree,
as they head toward their various feeding areas.

I already had seen does come by on the different afternoons I had sat in
this tree, but I had resisted the temptation to shoot one, waiting instead for
a buck. Over two weeks had gone by and I decided that this afternoon I
would take what came: buck or doe. It was peaceful sitting in this big
old tree, contemplating thoughts serene. Occasionally looking up at the
sky, I’d count the numerous vapor trails left by the big jets on their way
to strange places. I thought to myself, what a life this is, to be able to go out
on a fabulous day like this and commune with nature.

During my reverie, I would look around occasionally. Sometimes I
found even this too much effort, as the sun and warm day tended to make me
feel lazy. A day like this should be enjoyed to its fullest. Looking to my left,
I suddenly was awakened from my lethargy. Standing broadside about
fifteen yards away, was a large doe. Slowly I got up from my comfortable
resting position and carefully inched out on to a large limb. I had my bow
in hand, nocked with a 700-grain wooden arrow, tipped with a Hill broadhead.

Moving carefully into shooting position, I started my draw. The upper
limb of my longbow hit a branch that I hadn’t noticed, so I moved farther
out on the precarious limb. I looked down and noticed I was quite a way off
the ground. I really wasn’t aware of the height, though, concentrating only on
the deer. Starting my draw again, I caught something on the bottom limb this
time and, in trying to carefully extricate the situation, I made some noise
that caught the standing doe’s attention. She looked up casually at first
and as I got the lower limb free, I caught the upper limb on the loose dry
bark of the tree. Exasperated, I tore the upper limb free; anything to get
the shot, but this was too much for the doe. and with a bound, she was into
the safety of the pines.

I couldn’t believe it. After two weeks of continuous
hunting, a perfect opportunity presents itself and I
blow it. I was standing there on the tree stand, mumbling
to myself, when I noticed brown movement coming
down the same trail the doe had used. As the deer
drew closer, I could see horns.
Moving farther out on the limb, I knew what it’s like
to be a tightrope walker. The limb I stood on was only
about six inches in diameter and here I was shooting
a 120-pound longbow that’s heavy enough to down an
elephant and takes two average men and a boy to pull.
What if in pulling the heavy bow I lost my balance and fell?

These thoughts were running through my mind. as the deer approached.
The buck drew broadside to me and stopped only fifteen yards away, about
where the doe had stood. All thoughts of falling from the tree vanished from
my mind. replaced by a dream state, as I saw the buck standing there. Perched
on that limb high off the ground, suddenly cool and methodical, my only
feeling was one of intense concentration as I prepared to make my shot.
With a smooth yet powerful pull the heavy longbow came back and my
fingers released the shaft. The heavy three-eighths-inch arrow hit the buck
in back of the left shoulder just below the center line, completely penetrating
the deer. The buck bounded away into the safety of the pines, only about fifty
feet away.

I gathered my gear from the tree and climbed down. Walking over to where I
had hit the buck, I found my arrow lying on the ground. It was saturated
from end to end with blood. I knew I had made a liver hit, which is always
fatal. Having shot close to thirty deer over the years, many of them with this same
identical hit, I knew my deer would be only a short distance away. Here’s
where experience comes into the picture. Hitting the deer is the easy part; finding
them is another story. I learned long ago that if the shot is good, the
search should be short and easy. Score a poor hit and you’ll be on your hands
and knees all night long looking for blood.

In addition to big game hunting, I enjoy hunting squirrel and pheasant with
the longbow. I have managed to shoot these difficult game species using only
the bow and arrow. Using heavy blunts, I am able to knock pheasants out of
the air. In 1978 I competed in the World’s Flight Championships held at the salt
flats in Wendover, Utah. Shooting a 133- pound flight bow, I came in second in
the professional class with a shot of 890 yards, one foot, one inch. Again in
1979, using a heavier flight bow of 145 pounds, I managed to garner a second

I have been training to break the bow pull record and hope to make an attempt
sometime in 1981. My training includes pulling on heavy bows up to 220 pounds
in weight. This tied in with weight training, has made me, I believe, one of the
strongest archers in the world. I met my brother at the car, and told
him I had made a good hit on a buck, showing him the bloody arrow.
“I figure the buck will be lying some-where in the pines, not far from where
I hit him,” I said.

We stowed our hunting gear and got out the searching and deer cleaning
equipment. We usually take everything so we don’t have to bother coming
back for something we might need. This usually consists of lights, toilet
paper, a sharp knife, small saw, drag rope, a plastic bag (for heart and liver),
and a pencil and string for filling out and attaching the deer tag to the carcass.
By this time, dusk was well on its way, so we turned our lights on and returned
to my tree. I had marked the spot where I had found the arrow, with a piece of
toilet paper. So it was only a matter of minutes to line out the direction the deer
had headed. We then walked into the pines and started looking for
blood. Side by side, we moved forward slowly, scanning to the front and both
sides. I had just moved to my left, when my brother yelled out, “There he is up
ahead. Moving to where I could see, the spike buck was lying on the pine needles.
He appeared to be peacefully asleep, but I knew it was forever. He had traveled
only about a hundred feet before expiring.

I gutted out the deer, placing the heart and liver in the plastic bag I had brought.
With the small saw, I cut through the pelvic bone to better open up the lower
cavity and allow it to air out. After we had drained the carcass and I had cleaned
my hands and cutting equipment, we started dragging deer back into the car.

Driving home with a deer always gives me a certain feeling of elation
that only a successful hunt can <—<<<

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Published by archerchick on 09 Feb 2011

The Magic Bowhunt ~ By Jim Dougherty

Bow And Arrow
April 1974

The Magic bowhunt ~ By Jim Dougherty
The Shooting Of An Unidentified Record Trophy And The Making Of A Man

IT TAKES, I guess, a longish
time for the process of completely
growing up to run its course. One way
or another you’re at it for a long time.
With kids it seems a phenomenon that
takes an uncommon amount of years.
There’s always something you can’t do,
’cause you’re not old enough yet.
I imagine Kelly has felt this way for
quite a few years, but he seemed to
accept it with grace and went about
doing the things he was old enough to
do, biding his time. Not that he hasn’t
done a fair amount for a lad who, just
as bird and deer season came in this
Fall, wrapped himself around year
number 14. Anyhow, it was exactly
then that Kelly reached a growing-up
stage and got himself trundled out of
school, onto an airplane and off to
Texas for his first real big game hunt.
Looking at it from a parent’s point of
view, it was just as much a growing-up
situation as a matter of turns based on

As camps go it was my favorite
kind, set tight in a clump of sprawling
oaks that offered both shade and wind
protection, built neatly around a giant
center fireplace kept company by a
week’s supply of aged, fragrant wood,
tended constantly by a fine Mexican
lad named Chano. It bordered a deep
creek bed, gouged deeper by late summer
flood-stage rains, and at night
around the centerfire you could see
green eyes flicker and hear the clickty- clack o
f whitetail hooves on the rocks
as they slipped up the draw.

It was nice to be there, balanced on
your heels around the fire with a plate
of pepper—spiced pinto beans on your
knee, in the company of men who
would let a boy join right in. We were
all tuckered from the day’s activities.
Kelly and I had made a double connecting
flight that coordinated perfectly
in that all airlines were operating an
even hour-and-a-half late. The others
had spent the day attempting to waylay
the wily buck who, in spite of
impending rut, seemed to be pretty
much up to par in the mental
mechanics department — save one who
chose the wrong time and place to
run afoul of Brad Locker.

Locker’s encounter with the buck
was tonic for enthusiasm. Prior to the
sashay, Locker had never loosed an
arrow at a whitetail buck or any other
four-footed beast. He was acting as a
guide-transportation service, an
apprentice for a forthcoming stint as a 4
full-fledged leader of hunting clientele
on the Y.O. Ranch during the gun sea-
son. Locker was promptly and reasonably tagged “Rookie.”

The rookie had deposited others of
the band at spots they felt held the
key to personal success, and in the
pink turquoise, late Texas afternoon, .
he took a reconnaissance bump around
the landscape, checking out. gamey
little pockets for- present and future
operations. He was filling his memory
bank with the information that guides
need when he ran into the buck.

Locker’s first arrow caught the
buck cleanly, depositing him neatly on
the grass within a double handful of
paces y— a tidy piece of work for which
he was toasted soundly around the
snapping fire.
In the waning light, as Locker was
solidifying his step into the world of
bowhunting, Kelly and I were bouncing
furiously across the landscape with
Wally Chamness, seeking an appropriate
location to hunt at dawn.
lt was dark when we finished putting up stands.
I feared we were too
hasty in selecting a location, though
there was sufficient sign to indicate
good possibilities and enough visibility
to read the situation better at dawn,
when movement should be at its peak.

Texas has an uncommon amount of
deer. The Y.O. Ranch, which lays but
a short ride out of Mountain Home in
the Texas hill country, is stacked with
them. There’s a respectable smattering
of black buck, axis and fallow deer, a
goodly number of sikas, several types
of sheep, the biggest Spanish goats I
believe I’ve seen, and more turkeys
than the state of Texas probably consumes
on Thanksgiving. And that’s
only a partial list of the exotic game

It’s difficult to remember where
you are when a pass through a draw
kicks up a band of aristocratic gentle-
men turkeys or an onyx, and not even
in Africa did l get chased by a belligerent
ostrich. Looking up into mean,
steely eyes bracketing an armor piercing
beak has a tendency to put
things into new perspective, like the
worm’s point of view in the robin

The business at hand, though, was
hunting. The overcast morning had
brought a chill. The swirling clouds
held a hint of rain that passed as the
morning grew into day. The blinds
were not much better than such hasty
organization could provide, but the
morning’s observation gave hints to
patterns that could be exploited, and
by mid-day we set about the job of
turning this information into an action

Our concern was Kelly, and we
selected a spot at the center of a
wagon wheel pattern of deer activity,
placing his blind at the hub in a moss
and lichen-covered oak that provided
as comfortable a position as any tree is
likely to produce.

Youth most often is marked by
impatience. Time never passes quickly
enough when one is encumbered with
classes and books, minding younger
brothers or taking care of the yard.
Concentration and total attention are
traits that oftentimes, if not always,
you are convinced are not possessed
by any junior member of your house-
hold. Yet, give a kid a rod, reel and a
place to use it; put him in a blind over-
looking a carefully laid set of bobbing
decoys he helped get in shape, accompanied
by his own shotgun and dog,
and y0u get the total attention and
patience of a Cheyenne buffalo scout.
Kelly is the calmest of the brood
that Sue and I attempt to ride herd on.
Few things get him excited or uptight.
In reflection, l can only recall two
times when he appeared nervous.

Twice in 14 years ain’t too bad, but
maybe he’ll get human as he grows

There were five hours ’til dark
when we finished the blind, and the
calm one announced he would just as
soon stay there as do anything else.
Optimism once beat as strongly in my
breast, but that was so long ago it’s
hard to remember. Chamness and I decided
to bounce to the far end of the
Y.O., shortening our spines in order to
look over a new piece of land that
might contain a lonesome exotic.
That the vehicle made it to that
distant pasture is worthy of note,
testimony to the sturdiness of modern
machine, since neither of us could
stand full upright for days to come.

Somewhere in that desolate stretch of
ground, that the Schriener forebears
would have been well advised to leave
to the Comanches, we ran afoul of a
strange critter that observation convinced
us was a one-of-a-kind specimen
and therefore a world record, providing
it was real and didn’t eat us.

After a stalk of infinite skill, aided
by a substantial wind and enough
cover to hide the entire Rose Parade, I
knocked the beast colder than a peeled
egg, after placing a forty-five yarder
six inches over his back. However, one
is entitled to be nervous when collecting
an unidentified world record. In
case you are curious, it was later established
to be a cross between a Spanish
goat – notorious lovers — and a
Corsican ram.

In the pure black of an October
Texas night, we beat our way back to
camp with the feeble help of one head-
light. Ah camp, with its generous, life-
giving warmth snapping crisply from
the social fire. I announced that I had
destroyed an Unidentified Walking
Object, modestly tossing in that it was
also a world record since there was
only one. Then I noticed that the
sprawling oaks were festooned with

four antlered whitetail bucks, cooling
nicely in the gentle breeze. –
I uttered something truly keen,
“Did someone get a deer’?” Those who
had pointed out their possession with
pride, recounting bits of the drama as
they did. Simple arithmetic, the most I
could ever handle, proved that one
more buck than was being vigorously
claimed hung in the shadowed oaks.
Then Wally and I noted that everyone
was looking our way with varying degrees
of cat-that-ate-the-canary expressions
and that he who batted .500 and
learned to net his own bass had a large
smear of blood, presumably not his
own and therefore ceremonious, neatly
centered on his forehead and running
down the center of his nose. Of
my number two son I inquired, “Did
you get a buck“?” Always articulate, he
replied, “Sure.”

It was a once-in-a-lifetime moment,
properly done up to jazz the old man.
The show was put on by a bunch of
folks who were every bit as pleased as
the boy, who was enjoying one of his
finest and forever most-treasured
moments. The celebration was worthy
of the occasion, not only for him but
for the others who had taken their
first deer with a bow.

In the friendly light of the great
fire, while steaks sizzled merrily in
their seasoned juices, Kelly recounted
how the buck was the third that came
by his stand in what seemed a mass
migration of does and fawns. The first
he “just blew up on.” The second,
which came some time later, was
missed because he missed. The third, a
sleek four-point, came close after the
second and he “really concentrated?
The result was a stone—dead deer at his
feet and he, not sure in a positive way
what to do next, sat in his tree, the
deer there before him, until his ride
arrived in the purple shadows some
time later. He seemed surprised when I
told him my knees shook, too, and
that when they no longer shook, I
would give it up to those whose knees
properly did.

We left the Y.O. a couple of days
later, Kelly with his buck, I with mine.
It was a wonderful place and special
people. In the company of men, in
that friendly oak—covered camp, a boy
learned some and grew up some. It was
a magic time for a boy, the kind that
makes growing up worthwhile. <—<<<

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Published by bowhuntr15 on 08 Feb 2011

Lucky the Tree

My Memory of Lucky the Tree:

My name is Alex and I’ve hunted for 11 years, being able to successfully fill my freezer and share blessings with church members and friends. Happy the 2008-09 season finally came around, I could not wait to hit the woods hard that first opening week hoping to finally harvest a wall hanger. Little did I know that this year was going to be an emotional roller coaster. My wife Alex (yes, we have the same name) and I had scouted hard during the off season and had spotted a great bachelor group and thought we had patterned them well. During one of our scouting trips, we looked for a good tree to prepare. While my wife was helping me prepare shooting lanes, she found a rack of a non-typical 20 yards from “our” tree. WHAT A MOMENT and what a sign of what was to come! We ended naming that tree “Lucky”.

On opening day, I was able to leave work early, pick my wife up, and try to beat the rush of hunters. Thank God we were there early, because there were some hunters that had not done their off season “homework” and looked like lost kids. We had to “shoo” them off and hoped they had not bumped all the deer to the next county. We finally settled in at about 12:30 p.m. and got our bows ready. At the base of Lucky, I set up our blind. When 5:00 hit, deer were moving. It looked like a hunting show. A few does came out first and were using the trail we’d seen. Then, 30 minutes later, a shooter (130 class) finally stepped out, and wouldn’t you know it, it stopped right at a lane we had not cleared well. A few vines covered his vitals. I maintained drawn for what seemed forever. Sweat was seeping like never before, and I could almost hear my pulse! My wife ranged him for me at 22 yards – 3 yards inside my strong comfort level. He finally spotted us, new something was not right, never took that one step and blew right out of there! My heart sank. I told my wife why I couldn’t shoot and quickly got out of the blind with my pruners, and snipped those vines.

15 minutes later, more deer started coming out. We were waiting for the right one. Well the right one finally came. A trophy. A spike buck finally walked the same steps the 130″ class did. Stopped exactly on the same spot. He was about to start walking, but I threw a short grunt, he looked our way. My beautiful wife released that arrow and made a perfect shot with the Rage!!! Her first deer. Her first buck. Her first experience and understanding of the “THE FEELING”.

Later that week I had several encounters off my stand on Lucky. It was on October 8th that I harvested a beautiful buck, too – the Rage. I’ve harvested more deer since then. My wife skipped the next year because of her pregnancy, and on Feb. 24, 2010, my son Marko was born!!!!

Hunting is a big part of my life, but only because of my wife’s support. We plan to teach our son about the outdoors, and that it’s not the size of the rack that’s most important, but moments like these – that mama and I shared that led to her first bow kill, down to how we “met” Lucky the Tree. The spike she shot, her first deer, is literally……, our millennium buck. That experience was the trophy for me. That was the “wall hanger” in my heart. I will NEVER forget October 1, 2008.

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Published by archerchick on 08 Feb 2011

Hunting Staging Areas ~ By Dan Brockman

Bow And Arrow Hunting
August 1990

Hunting Staging Areas ~ By Dan Brockman
Look For These Productive Spaces Between Feeding And Bedding

MY SON, Jeremy, was 6 years old and
showing some interest in hunting. I don’t
know if it was the hunting which interested him, or the
chance to spend more time with Dad.
Since it was only about the second week of
Wisconsin’s long archery season, it would
be a good time to take him along. The
weather was mild and even if he did fidget
and spook the deer, I still had a long
season ahead of me to find a good buck.
The plan was to take him to a farm
about two miles from home where I had
permission to hunt. The farm has a good
deer population and plenty of hunting

Earlier that year, I had found a
three—trunked maple which would easily
hold two tree stands and happened to be
growing within bow range of a couple of
well used trails. In fact, I had hunted
from that particular tree just that morning
and had let a small buck and a couple
of does pass within bow range. It
looked like a good place to take Jeremy
on his first bowhunt.

Just after getting settled into our stand
that cool, cloudy September evening, we
began seeing deer. The fourteenth deer
to come by us that evening was a six-
point buck that took an arrow through
the lungs as he passed at fifteen yards. It
wasn’t the big buck I had in mind when
the season opened, but with Jeremy
there on his first hunt, it was a special

A week later, a friend of mine hunted
from the same stand and shot the fourth
deer he saw, a good—sized adult doe.
The following year, the stand produced
many sightings, but no shots were taken.
In the past three years, that stand has
been hunted about twenty times by me
or friends, with deer sighted often within
good bow range, on all but two or three
of those hunts.

This isn’t the only stand I hunt, nor
the best, but it does share something
with my most productive stand sites: It
is in what I call a “staging area.”
It’s common knowledge that deer and
most other game often bed in one area
and feed in another, with trails or travel
areas leading between the two areas.
Most hunters know that an effective
hunting tactic is to set up along these
trails, particularly for the bowhunter.
The trick, though, is knowing just where
along these trails to set up. This is
where the staging areas come in.

A staging area is an area where a deer
can securely observe the activity in and
around a feeding area before entering.
The staging area is usually about fifty
yards wide and located near the feeding
area, but the actual size and exact location
will vary, depending on terrain,
cover and hunting pressure. It may be
only ten yards wide or it may be 150
yards wide. The staging area may be
tight against the feed area, or it may be
a half—mile away from it. A staging area
often has fairly definite boundaries and
usually the staging area has thicker
growth than the surrounding area. A
deer wants to be able to stand in the
staging area and remain hidden while
still being able to scent and/ or sight-
check the feeding area.

Staging areas are often used as
nighttime bedding areas where the deer
can periodically return overnight to rest
and chew their cuds. In the morning, as
the deer head back to their bedding
areas, they will often spend some time
in the staging areas, usually arriving
there just before first light.

Typically, a staging area has a lot of
brush and small trees, but not so much
as to severely limit visibility. Remember,
they want to be able to see out
While the trees may be thick, there will
seldom be heavy ground cover such as
thick ferns or briars. Many of the staging
areas I’ve found are typified by
young saplings interspersed among
mature trees. These saplings serve three
C0ver.· This is the m0st important
asset 0f the small trees. The deer can
stand still among the saplings and
remain virtually invisible while observing
what is going on in and around the
area they are approaching.

Food: Normally, as the deer mill
about in the staging area, they will feed
on available food sources such as
mushrooms, acorns, leaves and other
Rubbing trees: This, I believe, is
more a consequence of the area and
activity taking place there than it is a
The other identifying characteristic of
a staging area is the deer trails. You’ll
often notice that the trails from the feeding
area to the bedding area will funnel
down into the staging area, but within
the area, individual trails may be difficult
to find. This is a result of the fact
that the deer often leave established
trails when in a staging area and mill
about, leaving either faint trails or a
confusing array of trails.

It can be easy to confuse a staging
area with a bedding area. At times, a
staging area may serve as a daytime
bedding area. Although often subtle, a
bedding area is usually thicker, with
more ground cover and is secluded by
some feature of the topography. A
daytime bedding area will have deer in it
during the daytime, whereas you’ll
generally only see deer in a staging area
in the evening, early morning, or over-
night. A staging area is located between
the feeding and bedding areas, usually
close to the edge of cover.

Since deer use a staging area as a
place where they can observe the
activity of other deer in and around the
feeding area, you’ll see a definite
increase in buck activity in a staging
area during the rut. The bucks can stand
in the staging area and observe any
activity in the feeding area. They can
also short-cut any does heading for the
feeding area and harass them for a
while, rub the small trees in the area,
make scrapes and spar with other bucks.

Just as the rutting period begins, you’ll
see a flurry of sparring and rubbing
activity in the area. Remember, most of
the deer in any given area pass through
the staging area. It works a bit like the
community center.
The past couple of seasons, I’ve spent
a few days each fall in another staging
area I found on a pre-season scouting
trip. After leaving the field edge, I
followed the trails, rubs and scrapes
back through almost forty acres of
mature oaks, maples and aspen to the
area I was searching for. There lying
tight against the property line fence, was
an area about eighty by one hundred
yards which had been planted with a
scattering of red pines. The area held all
of the ingredients of a good staging area.
Although more than three hundred yards
from the field edge, the open hardwoods
between and a slight elevation advantage
allowed ample coverage of the surrounding area.
There was a good, thick bedding area three hundred
to five hundred yards behind and there were plenty
of small trees for cover and rubbing.
The pines had been planted randomly
among the many trees and varied in
size from about six feet to twenty feet
tall. The fact that the pines were there
wasn’t too impressive; what was
impressive were me many rubs and
scrapes in the area Of the couple hundred
pines, there must have been rubs
on forty percent of them.

Once you`ye found a staging area and
determined where the deer are feeding
and bedding in relation to it, as well as
where they’re traveling through, it’s time
to plan how to hunt the area. The most
important consideration when planning
on hunting a staging area is the wind
direction in relation to where the deer
will be when you enter and where they
will travel when you are in the area.
A deer’s sense of smell is its best
method of defense. Once they’ve detected
human odor inside of their personal
“danger zone” the gig is up. They may
not spook outright, but they will be
cautious in their approach for many
times after. Once deer are alert to
human presence, they become highly
wary and careful. For this reason, you
must play the wind to your best ability.
In most situations, a tree stand will be
your best method for hunting a staging
area. Whether gun or bowhunting, a
tree stand holds many advantages for
the hunter It can put you above ground
level air currents; you can get out of the
deer’s direct line of sight; you have the
added safety advantage of being out of
the path of others shooting. You’re also
shooting safely into the ground.

To realize the scent and sight advantages
of a tree stand, you must place it
high enough. In my opinion, anything
under twelve feet elevation and you’re
better off on the ground. I prefer to hunt
with the platform of my stand in the
eighteen- to twenty-six-foot range to try
to get some control of my scent and be
well out of the line of sight. If you think
a stand under ten feet is keeping you

above the deer’s nose and eyes, you are
either hunting simple deer or you are
extremely lucky. If either is the case,
then you aren’t seeing many deer.
Regardless of the height of the tree
stand, safety should be a primary concern;
always wear a safety belt.
Returning to the aforementioned area
in October, I found it littered with fresh
tracks, droppings, browse sign and a
scattering of early rubs. A crooked
white oak standing within twenty yards
of heavily used portions had an ideal
location about twenty—two feet up to tie
in my MKM rope—on stand. Once the
stand was in place and a couple of
shooting lanes cleared, I left the area so
it could settle down a few days before I
would hunt it. Careful not to overhunt
any of my stands, I returned to the area
once or at the most twice a week
through October and into November.
The area was hot! As the season progressed,
the rubs and scrapes in the area
multiplied with every visit. I saw does, I
saw bucks, I saw bucks chasing does, I
saw bucks chasing bucks. After passing
up many shots at small bucks through-
out the fall, I finally shot a spunky six-
point in the last days of the early

Last year I returned to the area early
in October and the second night there a
fork-horn and an eight-point tried to
amble by me. A Rocky Mountain
broadhead pushed by seventy-five
pounds of Pro Line power zipped
through the eight-point and a short trail
led to the end of my Wisconsin archery

One of the biggest advantages of hunting
staging areas is that they are productive
throughout the fall. Early season,
pre-rut, rut, late season, even during
pressure times, a staging area can be
productive. In fact, staging areas are of
the few which will be productive during
pressure times, such as during the gun
season. Since the deer are accustomed
to using the staging area as a secure site
where they can observe what is going
on, they will often head there when

Of course, as feeding and bedding
areas change according to seasonal
changes in cover, so do the staging
areas. A staging area in September may
not be used in October. Likewise, an
area you find this year may not be used
next year. As in all other deer hunting
tactics, you must have a regular, active
scouting program to stay on top of what
the deer are doing and remain a consistently
successful hunter. Don’t fall into
the trap of using staging areas as your only
hunting tactic. A good deer hunter
has many methods in this game plan,
varying them according to what the conditions
dictate. Once you learn to identify staging areas,
you’ll probably find yourself using them as your primary
hunting tactic and doing it successfully,

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Published by archerchick on 08 Feb 2011

Blacktail Deer Strategy ~ By Larry Jones

Bow and Arrow Hunting
August 1990

Blacktail Deer Strategy ~ By Larry Jones
Oregon’s National Blacktail Hunt Is The Place To Try Several bowhunting Methods

I SPOTTED a doe fifty yards away. Blacktail are quick to detect danger
and she bounced over a log and disappeared into a vine maple thicket. It didn’t
matter that she had seen me. I was committed to taking a blacktail buck on video.
A mile from the tree where I’d just set up my Loggy Bayou stand, the cameraman
and my son, Steven, were trying to get a kill shot on video. I had chosen a tree that
overlooked a spot where two trails crossed. The mud in both trails was cut and gouged
with deer tracks. The bucks were in rut and there was plenty of deer movement. Now
that my stand was in place, as soon as Steven bagged his buck, I’d be ready.
I carefully eased each foot down as I moved toward the spot where the doe had
bounced out of sight I pushed some broken fern aside and eased in front of a huge
stump. I slowly scanned the vine maple thickets that skirted the old—growth timber.

I saw a leg move and a doe appeared. She weaved right, then left, moving like a
dancer as she made her way through the vine maples. She smoothly dipped under a
windfall and walked onto the open timber trail. I noticed his gray muzzle first, as a buck
followed. He was hot on her heels, head low, nostrils flaring, sucking in her scent.

It would have been an easy shot They walked within ten yards of me. His three—by—three
rack would have easily made the minimum for the Pope & Young Club record book.
l was really enjoying this. It was a typical cool, moist November Oregon morning. A gray
mist drifted through the huge old—growth firs. Dew dripped from their crossed and intermingled
branches. Lime green moss was in sharp contrast with the evergreen canopy, as it waved in the breeze
like strands of uncombed hair, This was a beautiful stand of untouched timber, but I
knew by the blue and pink ribbons dangling from low brush and limbs, it would soon be cut and logged.

l had just figured out the travel routes of these blacktails. Once the timber was logged, I’d have to change area or strategy.
This has happened to me before and, because the habitat had changed and some-
times hunting pressure increased, l’ve had to use a variety of strategies to hunt
blacktails. When l swapped stories with other hunters during Oregon’s recent National Blacktail Hunt, I found they had used different
tactics and strategies to bag blacktails. In fact, a whopping forty—one percent of the hunters who entered the hunt took deer.

Randy Spanfellner of Molalla, Oregon, took a Boone and Crockett Club qualifying
buck that green-scored 132%. Spanfellner took his buck by rattling antlers. He was
walking an old skid road that he knew eventually would lead him into a super blacktail area.
He decided to conceal himself among the trees along the road and try rattling antlers.
He smeared some Buck Stop doe lure onto his hat and clashed the
antlers together. Moving only his eyes, Spanfellner watched a few minutes and
rattled again. The monster buck appeared and Spanfellner was able to hit him squarely from eighteen yards.

Neil Summers, the hunt director for Oregon’s National Blacktail Hunt, used a
different hunting strategy to bag a four—by—five Pope & Young Club record book blacktail. Summers waited for fresh snow to
blanket the upper peaks, then drove logging roads looking for concentrations of blacktails. He drove until he found an area
that had a lot of deer tracks. He even saw a couple of bucks cross the road, so he was sure it was a super spot. Summers then
used the melting snow falling from tree branches to cover his sound. He moved slowly through the area, carefully watching for deer.

Within an hour, he spotted a big-bodied buck courting a doe. Summers crept to
thirty—five yards, then decided to use the ” Summers shooting strategy.” He nocked
an Easton 2317 camo shaft, tipped with a Thunderhead 125 broadhead, drew his
eighty—five—pound High Country compound bow and launched his arrow into
the snow under the buck. Summers claims he does this to give the animal a chance. I
think he just missed. Summers must be lucky or good, because the buck didn’t
even flinch and gave him the second shot.

His arrow struck home and, after a short tracking job, he tagged his trophy blacktail.
Another friend of mine, John Higgins, uses trees as an ambush tactic. Higgins doesn’t use a tree stand, he uses forty feet
of nylon rope, a safety belt, climbing spurs and a folding wood saw. He carries these items in his pack and, when he finds some
trails that are cut up with deer tracks, he considers the direction of the wind, selects a tree and climbs up. Once in the tree,
Higgins attaches his safety belt and pulls up his bow and pack with the nylon rope.

The rope can also be criss—crossed and woven between trees for a place to sit. He
removes limbs with his saw so he will have a clear shot. Higgins has had great success
using this system. Higgins states, “The reason I’m successful is, I don’t make a lot of racket
putting up a tree stand and I can quietly climb a tree without disturbing deer. If l see deer
using a nearby trail, I just untie my rope, climb down and change trees.”
Higgins` system works, but not everyone wants to sit on a limb all day. Higgins
toughs it out and, during the last two years, he has proven his strategy on blacktails by
bagging a buck each year.

Tom Crowe and many other hunters use the spot and stalk method to fill their
tags. Crowe bagged a pure albino blacktail buck on his November 1988 bowhunt. He
was on the Pearson Spoilers team and was hunting the Evans Creek Unit. Their team
strategy was to drive logging roads and glass the edges of timber and clearcuts.
Once they spotted a buck, they would stalk it for a shot.

Crowe said he first thought the albino blacktail was a goat. His partner, Curt
Mendenhall, looked it over with his binoculars and decided it was a deer. They
moved closer and, after they were positive it was a deer, Crowe made a careful,
deliberate stalk, which ended in a thirty-yard shot. Crowe took his trophy on his
birthday and is having his spike buck mounted, because it’s rare to find a pure
albino of any species.

Reed Peterson, who came from Arizona to hunt blacktail, enjoys calling game. He
studied deer calling and the first morning of his hunt he made the sound of a fawn
bawling to bring a two—by—two buck to within fifteen yards of his tree stand. Peterson, a
good friend of mine, was on my team. I told him the contest wasn’t important.
What was important was having a good time hunting blacktail deer. Peterson
passed up the forked horn and during his hunt called in several more deer. One day,
Peterson sat next to an opening in some bushes. He used a deer call to make fawn
bawls and rattled antlers. After several sequences, he called in a doe with a three-
point buck in hot pursuit. Good luck was in the buck’s favor; Peterson never got a
shot at him.

I did a lot of calling myself and, two days in a row, I called deer to my tree
stand. Both days doe came in with bucks l following Several years ago, Bob McGuire
and I were hunting whitetail deer in Ohio. McGuire is an excellent whitetail hunter
and he has used his voice to call in does and bucks. He said, “You can’t call in a buck when
he’s tending a doe.” Well, I made a simple statement, “Why don’t you call in the doe? The buck will
follow.” McGuire got a big grin on his face and said, ‘Why didn’t I think of that?”
“I guess it’s too simple,” was my response. The same calling strategy works on blacktails. ’

My son, Steven, used tree stands, rattling and grunting to successfully call in
bucks. Steven and I find that rattling from a tree is the most successful way of taking
a blacktail buck as he comes to our call. Otherwise, the thick brush allows the buck
to detect us before we see him. The height of our stand lets us see the buck sooner and
we can quietly wait for the right opportunity for our shots.
A couple of years ago my good friend, Dwight Schuh, took the biggest blacktail
buck during the Oregon Bowhunters’ first National Blacktail Hunt. Schuh had used
a deer call and rattling to bring in several bucks, but, because ofthe brush, he wasn’t
able to get a shot. The next day, he located an area that had rub trees and lots of deer
tracks. He set up his tree stand, climbed in and waited an hour before rattling and calling.

Schuh felt if he waited, any buck within hearing would forget the noise he
had made while setting up his stand. He called and rattled several times. After an
hour-and-a-half, Schuh saw a big—bodied, heavy- antlered buck approaching and quietly waited.
The buck stopped broadside twenty-five yards away. His shot sent the arrow through both lungs
for a quick kill.

Hunting blacktails is challenging. When choosing a hunting strategy, pick one that
will work for you. If you can’t sneak quietly through brush, use a tree stand. If you
like to glass for bucks, you can spot and stalk. If you like to fool them by calling and
rattling, try that. Whatever strategy you choose, you` re going to have a super time
when hunting blacktail deer. >>>—>

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Published by archerchick on 08 Feb 2011

Hunt The Soft Mast ~ By Don Kirk

Bow and Arrow Hunting
August 1990

Hunt The Soft Mast- By Don Kirk
Little Known Whitetail Foods May Attract Large Trophy Bucks

I AM AWAKE five nights a week
devising new ways to take bigger
and better Whitetail bucks. Except
when filling out income tax
forms, boning up on how these
animals live, move about, forage and
breed is my only diversion from thinking
about hunting whitetail.

Acorns long dominated my bowhunting
strategies. Being an Easterner, this is
understandable. But these marble—sized
morsels are an unpredictable food
source. Their relative abundance ebbs
and flows from year to year. It took too
long for me to discover how the many
alternative foods used by whitetail when
hardwood mast is scarce can be used to
my advantage.

It is impossible for whitetail hunters
to know too much about what this
quarry dines on. Wildlife researchers
have identified more than six hundred
items in these animals’ diet. One area
many whitetail enthusiasts know too little
about is other important whitetail
foods, especially the so called soft mast
food group.

Acorns, the fruit of the widely distributed,
diverse oak family, are what is
referred to as hardwood mast. Although
usually less important to whitetail than
acorns, buckeyes, pecans, walnuts,
hickory, beechnuts and chinkapins are
other examples of hardwood mast.
Generally, hardwood mast is summarized
as nuts.

The soft mast food group is more
loosely defined than that of the
hardwood category, although many trees
that are hardwoods produce fleshy, soft
mast. The soft mast category includes
such easily recognized items as wild
grapes, persimmons, peaches, apples and
plums. It also includes lesser known
items like fungi — mushrooms — eaten
by deer, plus legumes such as soybeans
and corn.

Many hunters mistakenly believe the
rut is the only primary behavioral pat-
tern worth considering when formulating
whitetail bowhunting strategies. The mt
is the most driving force in the animals’
life cycle, but it is short—lived. Other
longer, seasonal patterns also exist and
even coincide with the rut. Do not
overlook the fact deer are cyclic, or
seasonal, feeders.

During the summer and winter
months, the whitetails’ food intake is
relatively modest. Socalled feeding
binges are uncommon at that time.
Feeding activity greatly accelerates during
the spring and fall months. The need
to recoup body weight following the lean
winter months explains their increased
interest in nourishment during spring.
Building up body fat reserves to help
them endure the rigors of winter is the
impetus for autumn preoccupation with

Deer require diversity in their diets,
almost as much as humans. When
acorns are available in large numbers
during autumn, they account for fifty to
eighty—five percent of a whitetail’s daily
intake. When consuming soft mast, like
ripe persimmons or apples, these
animals may not get the same hefty shot
of protein or fats obtained when foraging
on acorns. However, they do receive
many otherwise difficult—to—find vitamins,
as well as complex carbohydrates
whitetail can easily convert to energy.
Soft mast food covers an incredibly

diverse group of whitetail foods. Contrary
to what many hunters believe, soft
mast augments the food needs throughout
the winter and they are not important
just during the summer and early
autumn months. Identifying the key soft
mast sources and ones used only
incidentally by deer is not simple. Many
of the soft mast foods utilized by deer,
like the beefsteak fungus and oyster
mushrooms, are scattered and considered
incidental to their diet needs.

Other types of soft mast food are
unknown to many hunters. During
autumn, deer eat large quantities of still-
moist, freshly fallen leaves of the flowering
dogwood for the digestive roughage
they provide. When available alongside
the brownish-colored leaves of oaks and
hickories which are high in bitter, tannic
acid, dogwood leaves are much preferred
by deer. Their deep scarlet
coloration gives a clue to the dogwood
leaf s sweet, high—sugar content.
Although they relish dogwood leaves
when feeding on acorns during the fall,
the location of these trees appears to
play only an incidental role in deer feeding

Many times, soft-mast-producing
plants are only locally important as deer
foods and easily escape notice by
bowhunters. Other soft mast feeding
areas, like a soybean field, are easily
identified by everyone. Cultivated grain
fields certainly concentrate deer, but so
do wild grains. However, success taking
deer from these open expanses requires
special tactics, different from those
available to long—range rifle hunters.
Bowhunters must identify travel routes
to and from these often heavily utilized
feeding sites.
During early winter, the seed—filled
heads of the green amaranth —— a tall,
weedy-looking plant commonly found in
cut·overs, along fence rows and sessionary
fields —— is a favorite deer forage item.
Sometimes referred to as wild wheat,
this widely distributed plant is cultivated
by natives of Central America, who
grind the seeds into flour.
Other sources of soft mast, such as
old apple or pear orchards at abandoned

homesteads, or a backwoods hollow that
is full of fruit-burdened wild grape vines,
can exert a strong concentrating force
on these animals. Whitetail, like
humans, have a sweet tooth. They are
drawn to the fragrant aroma of ripe,
fallen apples on the ground. It is not
uncommon for whitetail to overeat high-
carbohydrate sources of soft mast.
However, when this occurs, they get
rumen overload — or what some old-
timers call “bloat” among domestic

Acknowledging the deer where you
hunt possess remarkably diverse food

lists is the first step to understanding
how to take advantage of the soft mast
factor. In most instances, the importance
of specific types of soft mast is
either localized or important as a food
source for only short periods of time. It
is not uncommon for these two factors
to occur together.

Additionally, the abundance of acorns
where you hunt plays an important role
in deer shifting feeding emphasis from
hardwood mast to soft mast. During the
fall, acorns are the key to building body
fat content for winter. Poor hardwood
mast production forces deer to rely more
on soft mast. Even when acorns are
abundant, soft mast plays a key role in
their feeding, especially where early
bowhunting—only seasons occur.
A few years ago, I was hunting within
bow range of three large, acorn-laden
white oaks. While scouting the area, I
was impressed by the number of large
elderberry bushes that still held their
pungent, bluish-black fruit.
The elderberries would probably have
escaped my notice were it not for
Joann, my wife and photographer. For
years, she has been on a wild edibles
kick, making everything from fiddlehead
stew to her own maple syrup.
Hunting during the first morning near
the white oaks, I did not spot any deer.
At noon, I spied three white throat
patches milling about the dense elderberry
bushes, Although they were within
rock—throwing range of a ton of acorns,
the deer preferred to nibble at these
sweet, little berries.

Once located in significant numbers,
soft—mast—producing flora like elder-
berries, wild grapes, blackberries and
other similar plants can be counted on
to produce fruit season after season.
Called perennials, these plants are either
dormant during the winter, like deciduous trees,
or they will return the
following spring, unless a force such as
forest cutting or plowing changes their

Once the soft, moist flesh of their fruit
becomes dry and hard, many varieties of
soft mast are ignored by all but the
hungriest deer. Others, however, such as
wild rose hips. the bluish·black berries
of common greenbrier or the fleshy blue
berries of the sassafras tree, are
available over most whitetail range for
extended periods of time and they are
out during the hunting season. Such soft
mast items feature thick outer husks
able to retain moisture until spring.
Regions typically sport forests com-
posed of similar species of trees, while
local soft mast plant life varies considerably.
The varieties of soft mast are
maddeningly diverse. One key to solving
the soft mast dilemma is staying alert to
what type forage is locally available
where you hunt.

“Fine—tooth comb” scouting is needed
for acquiring this knowledge. For
instance, a field planted the previous
season in deer food crop, such as
soybeans, may this year lay fallow or be
planted in a crop that is less appealing
to whitetail. Change such as this completely
alters the local soft mast factor
of the preceeding years.
Other sources of soft mast are more
predictable, but they are usually
localized and require scouting to dis-
cover. These include where groves of
persimmon trees are found, or the location
of hillsides covered with tender
honeysuckle, which deer love.

When scouting, the three keys are to
stay alert for soft mast areas, to locate
signs of where berries, fruits or buds
have been nibbled off and the presence
of hoof tracks and droppings. The freshness
of the sign helps in estimating the
current utilization level of this feeding
site. The degree of feeding at a site
enables you to determine how important
this food source is at that time.
Prior to and during the rut, the importance
of knowing what the does are
feeding on cannot be overstated. This is
where quarry will spend considerable
time during the hunting season. It is true
that bucks do not forage much during
the breeding season, but one of the best
ways to locate a trophy-class buck is to
first identify where the does are likely to
spend time.

Does reveal their estrous condition to
bucks, but it is the buck that seeks out
ready-to-breed females. Does choose
where the game will be played. It is
usually near her family group’s bedding
and/ or feeding area. Figuring the soft
mast factor into your strategy can help
you solve problems in projecting elusive
deer movements that stump many archery

Does are more challenging to scout
than bucks. They do not leave telltale
rubs or scrapes, indicators of the presence
of a jumbo antlered buck. Determining their
movement patterns includes
following game trails to bedding sites
and exploring forage areas for droppings
and hoof marks. Doe tracks differ only
slightly from those left behind by bucks.
The most reliable difference to distinguish
the sex of the trackmaker is that
the buck often leaves a dragging mark
behind his track.
When a locally utilized soft mast
source is pinpointed, it is hunted much
the same way archers locate around
oaks dropping heavy crops of acorns.
Do not locate a deer stand any closer to
their food source than necessary to
accomplish a clean kill.

If you are using a tree stand, locate as
high up the tree as possible; at least fifteen
to eighteen feet. When the soft
mast you are hunting over is a field,
such as corn or soybeans, locate your
elevated stand a few feet inside an
overgrown fence row.
Scent use confuses many deer hunters
first discovering the soft mast factor.
The inviting aroma given off by wild
grapes, corn, apples, soybeans and other
soft mast partially enables deer to locate
these edibles.

Many manmade scent manufacturers
have expanded their lines of deer urine
and gland scents to include fluids mixed
to imitate many of the most widespread
soft mast items. In this writer’s opinion,
attempting to mask oneself or lure deer
in by using food scents is risky.
Using manufactured food scents differs
from using whitetail urine and gland
scent products. Deer scents are tricky
business, even when using high-quality
deer urine or gland scent products. They
are effective under a narrow band of
conditions, such as applying buck urine/
tarsal gland mixtures to pre—rut scrapes,
or spraying doe estrous urine on cotton
balls when the rut is in full swing.
Deer behavior during the mt generally
is predictable. Manmade food scent
products, on the other hand, vary greatly
in terms of quality and how well they
match local bowhunting conditions.
Using a soft mast food scent such as
honeysuckle at the wrong place or time
can alarm deer. Soft-mast-imitating
scents sometimes work, but sex scents
are more effective in masking human
odor. When used at the right time, they
are less likely to give the wrong
If you are overlooking the subtle soft
mast factor when formulating your deer
bowhunting strategies, think again. They
may not be the most important deer
movement factors around, but like the
old saying goes, every dog has its day.

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Published by archerchick on 07 Feb 2011

What You See…Is What You Get! By Roy Hoff

October 1973

I AM WRITING THIS in an effort to be helpful
to the countless bowhunters who travel each year
a couple of thousand miles more or less to bag a deer,
perhaps with braggin’ size, rocking chair antlers, only
to return home and explain to the ever lovin’ how come
he got skunked. I was a member of this nationwide
group of buck-missers until about ten years ago, when
I came to the conclusion there was just no way I could
meet a trophy buck on his own terms and in h·is wild
habitat and come out a winner.

Know what I did? I joined the clan who hunt from
tree stands. This select group all are of the opinion
that using a bow and arrow really is hunting the hard
way. After ten years of figuring all the angles, bagging
a trophy buck deer still is no cinch. But when I learned
to hunt from a tree stand, Lady Luck started looking
my way and with a pleasant smile.
I built my first tree stand on the Wilcox Ranch
in 1960. The site was in a big cottonwood overlooking a
forty-acre alfalfa field. No stand could have been more
comfortable, and as safe as the roof of the nearby ranch
house, but for efficiency, and putting me on an even
footing with the big Utah bucks, it was a total loss. I’ll
tell you why.

I selected a tree with a beautiful view of the field.
I found soon this could be placed last on a list of necessary conditions.
This blind was immediately abandoned except for morning hunting. The field was in a
canyon. Deer, bedded on the canyon walls, could see
everything that was going on in the stand and, of course,
bypassed the spot at a considerable distance.
Lesson number one: select the site for your tree
stand so that the game can not look down through the
branches. All the area round the stand should be well
below eye level of the hunter and well above that of
the deer. Unless you make noise, the chances are a deer
will not look up into your tree. But if he approaches
your tree from any direction which places you eye level,
you might as well return to camp.

I strongly believe that of the deer’s senses, sight
is his best alarm signal. If you can see a certain movement
at a hundred yards, I’d venture to say a deer can
see the same movement at five hundred yards. I am
mindful of a lesson in the Boy Scout manual: If a
person becomes lost in a forest and hears a plane,
he should vigorously shake a young aspen or the limb
of a tree. Rescuers can spot the movement.
On opening morning of the hunting season, as

I make my way to a previously prepared stand, I probably
resemble a junk collector. I carry a gunny sack
over my shoulder in which are: pillow, down jacket,
mittens, large-size plastic bags, binoculars, raincoat,
apple and some Tootsie Rolls. The latter item may
be kids’ stuff, but you’d be surprised how good they
taste when you’re real hungry, even those which were
left over from last year. Another item which is always
good for a laugh is my piece of carpet for the floor
of my stand, to deaden the sound if I shuffle my feet
when a deer is nearby.

When night closes in, I put everything back in the
bag and tie it down for the night. Yes, even my bow. I,
of course, cover the fletching of my arrows with a
plastic bag as a protection from morning dew or rain.
My hunting partners look at me with tongue—·in—cheek
like I was cracking up. I explain to them when I am
returning from my blind at night or going to it in the
morning, it’s too dark for any possible shot. When making
this same journey in daylight, if I were to see a
deer I would pass up the shot. I can’t with any confidence
guess the distance of a shot, and foregoing the
shot would preclude any possibility of a bad hit.
If a bowman hunts from a tree stand, he will
fin·d there is a lot more to the sport than flinging arrows.
He will have an opportunity to see wildlife and
observe much in their kingdom he never previously
realized existed.

Often I have had a bird alight on a limb a few
feet from my nose. Keeping absolutely still, not even
blinking my eyes, I have watched the antics of these
winged creatures. It has often been humorous as a
feathered species cocks its head and curiously ex-
amines the funny—looking nearby object which was
not there the last time this roosting place was visited.
Every hunter knows creatures of our wildlife
kingdom have ways and means of communication. One
afternoon, while sitting in my tree stand on the Wilcox
Ranch in Utah, I had a fascinating experience of observing
a deer family tableau of communicating evidence
of danger followed by a signal that all was clear.
I had climbed into my tree stand shortly before
four -in the afternoon. I knew from past experience
that the chance of seeing a deer before sundown was
extremely remote. But I also had learned that it is
a good idea to arrive at your stand early, get settled
down and give any deer who has spotted you a chance
to convince himself you mean no harm.

To help resist the temptation of looking around
or glassing the area to see if a herd of bucks is approaching,
I take a·long a favorite sporting magazine
and catch up on my reading. After reading two or
three pages, I glanced ahead while turning the page. To
use an old hunter’s cliche, there, on the far side of the
alfalfa field, a herd of deer had appeared as if by magic
There were four bucks and five does, all with their
noses in the feedbag. It was a sight to quicken the pulse
of any bowhunter. It would have taken a patient and
expert stalker to climb down out of the tree, make a
huge circle and approach the herd from the wooded
side of the field. It was a cinch I didn’t have the qualifications.

I continued to watch the feeding animals
with considerable excitement and fascination.
Suddenly the scene was changed. All heads being erect
with eyes focused toward the sound of a jeep engine starting.
Later I learned the card game had broke;
up and for something to do to kill time, Waldo Wilcox loaded the
hunters into a jeep pickup and headed for Cherry Meadows,
a distance of about ten miles up Range Creek Canyon.

The deer held their position until they saw movement
of the vehicle coming toward them. They quickly
dashed across the ranch road, use a draw for a short
distance, then topped out on a small hogback where
they could get a commanding view of approaching
The four bucks immediately laid down. The does
sort of messed around, nuzzling the ground and making
like they were doing the chores. Several minutes after
the sound of the truck was lost in the distance, all the
does started making their way back to the field. The
bucks, mind you, continued with their siesta. To me,
I imagined one buck, probably the boss of the outfit,
issued a command something like: “Okay, gals, let’s
get with it! Take a run down to the field and see what
gives with those hunters who just passed by !”

The does, upon reaching the road, looked first
up, then down the canyon. Perhaps two minutes later
all five of them walked nonchalantly into the alfalfa
and started grazing. They paid no more attention to
the road or vehicle.

Suddenly, as if the boss buck had wirelessed to
see if the coast were clear, all the does, as if at a command,
turned toward the mountainside and walked
slowly single file to the top of the hogback and joined
the apparently dozing bucks. Whatever means of communication was used it didn’t take long.
The does turned around and started down the hill. The bucks then
got up and joined the procession. When the herd, led
all the way by the does, reached the road they did not
hesitate to look up and down it for possible danger.
They crossed without hesitation, walked a few feet
into the meadow and immediately resumed feeding.
As a sort of epilog to this episode, two of the
hunters, upon their return to the meadow, spotted the
deer and made a successful stalk, Hank Krohn bagged
a buck and Milt Lewis a doe. Doug Easton got some
shooting, but no hits.

I highly recommend hunting from a tree stand.
Before I go into details of construction, I want to
emphasize two conditions: right at the top, as most
important, I want to stress the safety angle. Most any-
one could sit on a stool and watch the birds indefinitely.
But seeing a deer and with quickened pulse take a shot
at your quarry, you could easily step too far or lose
your balance and fall to the ground seriously injuring
yourself, even fatally. So, be a sissy like me and wear
a safety belt of some kind. I merely tie a length of
nylon rope around my waist, with the other end wrapped
around and tied to the tree. If you ever have need
for this device, I’m sure it won’t be very comfortable,
but most assuredly will save your life.

If climbing a ten-foot ladder gives you cold shiv-
ers, then hunting from a tree stand is not for you.
Next would be the comfort part of tree stand
building. My wife, Frieda, has often called me an ol’
wiggle—butt, because I never was able to sit still in a
cramped and uncomfortable position.
Construct your stand so you can occasionally
stand up and shake the kinks out of your lower extremeties.
I don’t mean like a jack-in-the-box, so your
movements might be noticed by a big buck bedded
on a nearby hillside. Even with the luxury of a pillow
I find a brief respite from sitting, about every half-
hour, is a real pleasure.

There are a number of portable stands which have
been advertised in Bow and Arrow magazine. I personally
like Ron’s Porta-Pak. It comes with shoulder
straps, so you can back-pack it into the woods. Best
of all, for me, it comes equipped with a canvas top
seat. Remember, there will be times when you will
have to spend hours in a confined area, and the less
you move around, changing positions, the better off
and more successful you’ll be.

If you are going to hunt within a day’s drive of
your home, I’d suggest you go on a scouting expedition
a week or two before opening day of season.
Look for tracks and other signs of the species of game
you’re going to hunt. For brevity of this article let’s
presume you are going deer hunting. Search for a
spring or other watering place where tracks indicate
the game has been visiting frequently.
Now we need a tree-—one we can climb into and
out of with safety. The tree should be within four
to ten steps from a waterhole, or used deer trail. This
so that when the deer puts in an appearance, you can be
on the alert and not move an eyelash until your game
is almost directly beneath you. This is what makes
tree stand hunting so popular. A deer cannot see you
draw your bow and loose the arrow.
A word of advice: practice shooting nearly straight
down. You will find it a lot more difficult than you
think——even using a sight. Talk your club members
into setting up one tree stand target. Use it for a
novelty event if nothing else. Upon arriving at my
tree stand, I never fail to shoot a few practice arrows,
picking certain spots where I believe a deer might
appear. I have found that a twenty-yard setting will
suffice for anything around the tree, even for an actual
distance much farther.

Let’s say we found a pine tree which was just
what we were looking for. It was forty or fifty feet
high and eighteen inches in diameter. The first limb
was ten feet off the ground. Being in a national forest,
we would not be permitted to nail climbing blocks to
the tree or build a stand of a permanent nature. We
would install a portable stand and use a rope ladder
to climb up to it.

To be sure, there are many ways to climb a tree,
an·d many different kinds of trees, each presenting
a particular problem in climbing. One time I was privileged
to hunt on the Walking Cane Ranch in Texas.
The land was covered with millions of scrub cedars.
All the equipment a hunter needed in this area was:
hammer, saw, two or three nails and a one—by—six two
feet long. No devices were needed to climb these cedars.
There were lots of limbs from top to bottom. After
reaching the top, the hunter would saw off a couple
of feet from the main trunk, then nail on the board for
his seat. An added pillow was for luxury.

In all of our western states, forests are composed
of pine, fir, hemlock, aspen, cottonwood and many
other species. Personally, after I have located a good
spot for a stand, I search for a tree with a natural
opening in the foliage about the right height for a stand.
This precludes the necessity of pruning many branches
in order to see out and get an arrow through. Often
a hunter will find where lightning has struck a tree
and gouged out an opening ideal for locating a stand.
Photographs accompanying this article will give
you a good idea of how to set up housekeeping in some
tree and make like an owl. It was my dream to present
a photo of me drawing a bow and aiming at a live
deer. Sort of having my cake and eating it, too. But
I found this chore more difficult than I thought. Deer
are narrow minded and uncooperative.

One photo depicts what looks like the real thing.
Here is how the shot was accomplished. About ten years
ago, I was hunting in Rock Creek Park, near Monte
Vista, Colorado. My hunting partner was Ernest Wilkinson,
local taxidermist and founder of the Piedra
Bowhunters Club. In his display room I feasted my
eyes on a life~like full mount of a f·our—by-four mule
buck deer.

Last summer en route to Colorado for a bear hunt,
I dragged this picture out of my memory file and stopped
by Ernie’s place to sort of say hi. It took a little
arm twisting, but within the hour we had loaded the
mount into a van, driven to a spot in Rock Creek Park,
where we had long ago hunted deer together, and
set up a realistic shot of Ernie sitting on a tree stand
with bow drawn and aiming at the one—for~twenty spot
on a trophy buck.
Don’t build your stand in the top of the highest
tree. When the wind blows you’ll wish you hadn’t, and
you might get seasick! I’d say the minimum height
should be ten feet, with a maximum of thirty. Remember,
the higher you climb, the more difficult it is to
get in and out of your stand and hoist your gear to

and from. For the latter chore I use a hundred—foot
length of quarter-inch nylon cord.
I recommend you be in your stand about half
an hour before daylight. This will give time for any
body odor lingering below to dissipate. Al-so any deer
who have been alerted by the noise you made getting
to your stand will have settled down and figured that
Whatever caused the disturbance had disappeared.
Hunting from a tree stand can be really exciting
at times. You may spot your deer at a considerable
distance and then observe it slowly making its way
toward your stand. I guarantee it will raise your blood
pressure and increase your heart beat! Have an area
picked where you are fairly sure of getting a good hit,
then wait until the ·deer reaches that spot. It will be a
bit rough, but wait him out.

“The greatest hunting thrill of my life was waiting
for a record—class buck slowly make his way to a spring
near my stand. He only had to cover two hundred
yards, but the way he picked his path, hesitating at
every step, it must have taken him two hundred minutes
to reach the spot where I planned to loose the arrow.
I forced myself to turn my eyes in another direction
from time to time s·o I could not see him and to better
hold back the buck fever which was creeping in. Even
though my bow arm was a bit on the shakey side, the
arrow flew true to the spot, and I had the further
thrill of seeing the big beauty go d·own for the count.
Th·is experience took place on the Lamicq ranch in
the high country, back of Grand junction, Colorado.
John, as an outfitter, is a firm believer in hunting from
a tree stand. Annual kill success of his clients tend·s to
prove this is the only way to go. Much of the Lamicq
property, owned or leased, covers the tops of several
huge ridges. Needless to say, ·if a hunter is thinking of
bagging a trophy buck he’d better go topside.
Ecologists complain that tree stand-s are ugly and
spoil the natural wilderness of a forest. I will admit
some I have seen are an eyesore, but I have been as-
signed to a tree in a certain small area and have had
difficulty finding the tree with the stand in it. The
hunter does not have to chop off limbs with reckless
abandon, even if there were no objection. If you leave
chopped-off limbs scattered around the foot of your
tree stand, forget it! Deer know when things are not
as they were yesterday and sense danger.
A word of caution: check your game laws. There
are a couple of states which prohibit hunting from a
tree. There also are several states which prohibit hunting
except from a tree stand. <——<<<<

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Published by archerchick on 12 Jan 2011

Buddy System Bowhunting ~By Joe Byers

Bowhunting World October 2005



Friends and family add spice to stick-and-string hunting. You’ll cover more ground, hunt more effectively, and double your fun afield.

I Fully Expected To Die
Dreading the crushing jaws of a savage brown tear. I clutched
the handle of my .44 Magnum pistol, thumb on the hammer,
finger on the trigger, throughout the night. Dozing occassionally,
I tried not to think of the 1,000-pound beasts splashing
about in the salmon stream less than 50 yards away.
“How come I have to sleep next to the entrance of the tent ?”
I complained to the outfitter.
“Don’t worry,” he said, having fun with my fright. “Bears
don’t always come through the doorway.”

That first night on Kodiak Island was the most harrowing
of my life. Fortunately, I had invited Bill “Bump” McKinley,
a high school acquaintance to join me. During the next seven
days, Bump and I developed a bond that has lasted nearly 2O
years. At first, our relationship was based on mutual dependence.
We shared equipment, helped pack game. explored unknown
mountains, and for a brief time became “mountain men of old.”
Today, we share treestand secrets, black bear hunts (now with
much greater confidence) and everything involving the outdoors.

Buddies Increase Effectiveness
Bowhunting is often a solitary, secretive sport. An archer may
slip softly to a treestand, spend the day in simple solitude and
gaze thankfully toward the setting sun. relishing the peace and
tranquility of a day without telephones and the stress of modern
life. Most treestands don’t have a shotgun seat because two fellows ,
hunting side by side create more movement. scent. and create
a dilemma—who shoots first? The most effective tactics for
whitetail deer dictate a solitary, well camouflaged, scent-free
hunter waiting silently at a prospective crossing.

Treestand hunting may be solitary, yet a buddy system approach
can make you more effective for whitetails and other game. Plus,
you’ll have lots more fun. Scouting is far more effective in pairs,
since discreet sign is much easier to find with four eyes and two
perspectives. Having a friends ear at local sporting shops and tuned
into general deer hunting discussions can pay big benefits. When
your phone rings and your bow-bud explodes with the news of a
big buck seen crossing the road or missed by a disgruntled archer,
you have a starting place for a trophy buck.

For example, African hunter Steve Kobrine and Jeff Harrison,
the urban deer specialist from Frederick Maryland, became
friends five years ago. Kobrine raises Nyala in South Africa and
only gets to hunt a few weeks in the states each fall. Kobrine put
Harrison onto his best stands, encouraging him to hunt in his
absence. Harrison reciprocates with the latest information and
best places to hunt when his buddy returns to the States. lnternational
bowhunting buddies may be the extreme, yet each per·
son is a more effective hunter in the process.

Many archers begin a hunt together and then head toward
separate stands. The advent of portable radios allows one
hunter to converse with another. lf he gets a shot, he can summon
his friend to help begin the trailing process. Working in
tandem, one archer can search while the other holds or marks
“last blood.” While one person searches for sign, the other can
watch ahead vigilantly in case a second shot is needed.
Once recovered, a buddy can be a tremendous assistance in field
dressing the animal. Positioning the animal, managing knives,
gloves, and gear, is greatly aided by a buddy. Dragging the beast to
the nearest access point is physically and emotionally easier.

Taking this a step further, most state laws require that a deer
carcass be retrieved in its entirety. A buddy will allow you to
hunt places less likely to be visited by solo archers. Steep terrain
and long distances are two hurdles that tend to develop
greater age structure (and bigger racks) in whitetail deer. Having
a buddy share the exertion can pay big benefits. Should you
both get lucky, you make two trips.
A buddy system improves your chances on most game
taken by calling, stalking and decoying, With turkeys, predators,
moose, and a host of other game, four eyes and legs are
better than a single set. After spotting a bedded muley buck,
having a friend provide hand signals can be invaluable. Ante»
lope decoying is exciting sport and much easier if a friend holds
the decoy. Will Primos, as evidenced in his video series, has
honed the buddy system for calling elk to a science. (Truth V
l Big Bulls is the latest.)

“Every animal has its own characteristics,” says Primos. “Bull
elk are often concerned about being blindsided by another bull,
and they protect their flanks. It wants to see the movement
of a cow, and in real thick places will hold up to look for the
calling animal. We like to have the caller 75 to 1OO yards
behind the shooter. Elk usually don’t circle like whitetails.
There is so much competition for cows that bulls come straight
in. This system has worked great for us and will increase your
success rate by 100 percent. Let one person do the calling and
the other do the shooting. It has worked wonders.”
A hunting buddy can make you a more effective hunter and
provide that extra impetus to embark upon a trip of a lifetime.
CIA “agents” (Central Iowa Archery, that is) Ray Neil and Craig
Wendt practice and shoot tournaments regulariy. They answered Africa’s call
together, having the time of their lives. Wendt saw five species of big game his
first afternoon and had two rhinos under his stand the second.
Talk about hunting stories!

Perfect Practice Makes Perfect
A person who has been bowhunting 10 years may have years of experience
or one year of experience IO times. When we practice, tune, and hunt
alone, we tend to do the same things the same way, year after year. Having a
hunting buddy, especially one who is comfortable making suggestions, allows
you to gain from his knowledge as well. I have hunted with headnets for many
years, primarily to cover the shine on my face. Once while hunting with Bump
on a minus-20-degree day, he explained how keeping his face covered with the
headnet had a dramatic warming effect. Since then I’ve carried a headnet in cold
weather and wear it, often over face camo paint. As you expand your hunting
circles, small tips and tactics from friends will increase your effectiveness.

Practice, like exercise, can be boring. Realistic 3·D targets pump up the
volume, yet the enjoyment of these figures can be improved through interaction.
Buddies add pressure and anxiety elements that are often missing from effective
practice regimens. Competitions inevitably evolves between shooters
Whether it’s the prestige of winning or the burden of paying for the Coke round,
practicing with buddies adds realism and greatly magnifies the enjoyment of archery.

Tuning, judging arrow flight, estimating distance, learning your effective range
and many more elements of bowhunting, will improve dramatically if undertaken
in an interactive environment. Also, you will stick to your practice schedule more
consistently with motivation from a friend. When you promise to shoot early
on Sunday morning, you’d better keep your cell phone on or face a raft of good
natured kidding next time.

Maybe you and your buddy will agree on the best bow, arrows, and broadhead.
Probably not! Much of the fun and enjoyment of archery comes from
analyzing and debating the elements of gear. Since each piece of equipment
will function according to the user, there may not be a “right” answer. In the
long run, this debate helps you and your buddy understand gear, how
it works, and why.

Of Stick, String, And Heart
My friendship with Bump had an air of predictability. We were about the same
age, grew up in the same town, and both loved to hunt. However, friend-
ships and special hunting relationships can spring from unusual or accidental
circumstances, even with rifle hunters. “l first met Dale Earnhardt in l992
at a hunting lodge in Michigan where l was filming whitetails,” said David
Blanton, producer of Realtree’s Monster Buck series. “The Realtree TV show
had just started, and l was getting deer behavioral footage. The guys at the
lodge mentioned that Dale was coming in to hunt. l had heard the name and
knew that he was a racer, but l didn’t know much about NASCAR or Dale.

That evening, l was working in the basement of the lodge when he
walked into the room. ` “‘What are you doing,’ he asked with sincere
interest. ” I’m logging deer footage,” l said with a welcoming glance.
He pulled up a stool, and l soon found out that he had come down here
to escape the hustle of the lodge and the attention people were giving him.
Dale was in the public spotlight, and he didn’t like that. He tolerated it, yet it
was not something he craved. He came down for some peace and quiet.
We talked into the wee hours of the morning about where he lived, the fence
he put up to raise deer and about deer hunting. l really saw how much he
loved deer. l think the fact that l was not in awe of him as a racer was the
reason we hit it off so big from day one.

“l will be hunting in the morning” said Dale as we finally headed up stairs.
“Why don’t you bring your camera?” We started by rattling deer. He was
intrigued by how we set up our equipment. That I could move around in
the woods quietly. He appreciated that. He started rattling and l had a grunt
call. It was his first grunt call experience, and he was surprised what it could
do. He was amazed. l ended up filming him killing a deer. and then we went
our separate ways.

“Two years later, he called me at work. We began hunting together and going to
North Carolina and to film deer. We always had such a big time together.”
Blanton continues, “Our relationship was centered around hunting. He didn’t
have many close relationships in life where he didn’t feel like he was being
used because he was a racing star. He felt very suspicious. It was racing but
deer that brought us together. l spent time at his place at North Carolina where a
very deep friendship develop. It continued through the years, and we hunted together
in Texas, Mexico, Michigan, Iowa, Utah, and each spring we hunted Georgia for turkeys.
I always gave Dale his room because he hunted like he drove – with very little patience,
wide open. That didn’t go hand in hand with video taping. There were times when Dale
and I really disagreed. He tried to hut like he raced, with little regard for the camera. We
clashed several times, but the fact that I was not in awe of him strengthened our friendship.
Dale always wanted to tell me about priorities in life. He’d call me up and say, “David, how much you been traveling?” knowing that it was fall and I travel a lot. He’d always talk about
keeping my family first. “Don’t let your career become more important than your family” he’d advise, asking in particular about my wife, Ginger.

He was such a genuinely thoughtful person. A very few people knew that outside of his family.
We talked about family and life while hunting. Dale was the first close friend I ever lost suddenly.
l wasn’t able to tell them good-bye. l treasure and value the conversations that we had in
treestands from Texas to Michigan to Mexico so much now. I will never forget the simple
conversations about family, God, and life in general. So many things we talked about that were confidential at the time and still are. Dale was a true sportsman, and so concerned about getting young people involved.

Little Buddies, Big Benefits
In our nation are millions of young girls and boys who yearn to explore the outdoors and will consider archery “very cool.” Each of us is a potential role model for archery and hunting. If
you demonstrate the fun, excitement, and enjoyment of the conservation ethic the youth of America will look up to us and bowhunting.

Girls’ Clubs, Boys’ Clubs, Scouts, 4-H and dozens of other youth groups welcome
speakers and/or a modest shooting-demonstration. The chance to nock an arrow or
just pull back a timber longbow is a big thrill to a child. When doing archery demonstrations at outdoor camps, I always put the target (balloons are great ) at “can’t miss” range. I remember
one second-grade girl who was very hesitant about pulling the bow, then exclaiming “Wow! Now I know what I want for Christmas.”

Introducing youngsters to stick and string is important, yet they need that special buddy
treatment to get them started. I grew up in a working family where my dad taught school all day long and farmed half the night. l don’t remember ever having a game of catch in the back yard,
yet we had and still have good times afield. Some sons have personal conflicts with their fathers, yet the hunting denominator creates a solid foundation in their relationships. lIve never been
able to persuade my dad to pick up a bow, yet we often hunt together when he totes a rifle or shotgun, and l a compound. We have driven non-stop 45 hours cross-country to hunt elk
dozen times, frozen in treestands. and told and relived the related adventures
countless times.

Closer Than You Think
Don’t overlook the lady who shares your life. Your best friend of the opposite sex
could be the best bowhunting buddy of all. Your relationship will elevate to another
level once you share the thrills and excitement of the outdoors. Brenda Valentine,
Kathy Butt, and countless other female archers have shattered all of the depend-
ency stereotypes. These gals can hunt!

Even Mom can get into the act. Frank Lindenberger, a taxidermist and
ardent archer from Pennsylvania, convinced Mary Ann, his mother, to join
him on a safari in South Africa with Ken Moody Safaris. “Exhilaration is an
understatement,” she said as she described her first day in a bow blind.
“The adrenaline flows, the heart palpitates and the breathing accelerates. all
the good things about hunting.” At times Ken and Mary Ann sat a blind
together, sometimes laughing so hard they worried about scaring game.
Finally, bowhunting buddy systems have a “big-picture” benefit. Americans
take bowhunting for granted, yet in most of Europe and England, hunting with
archery gear is strictly outlawed. Animal rights activists hate hunters of all sorts,
and often employ backhanded litigations to reduce or eliminate bowhunting
options. By working together in conservation and bowhunting advocacy
organizations, we can assure that the conservation heritage we enjoy
today will be preserved for future generations.

Bowhunting buddies come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and genders.
Extending the hand of friendship to a novice, fellow archer, even a stranger
may change both lives in unimagineable ways. Remember: Arrows fletched in
friendship always group tightly.



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