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Published by archerchick on 10 Jan 2011

Let Your Eyes Do The Walking ~ By Dwight R. Schuh

Bow & Arrow Magazine
Bowhunter’s Annual 1979

Knowing Where To Look Is The Real Key To Efficient Spotting Of Game.

FROM HIGH ON THE cliff I could see two men hunting slowly across a sagebrush flat. Then the buck appeared between me and the hunters. He moved cautiously toward the head of a shallow canyon where the men would soon cross. Obviously, he had them spotted.

Just beneath a low rim the big four-point stopped and peeked over. For ten minutes or more he stood motionless, watching the hunters approach from a hundred yards away only to pass within thirty yards of his position. Surely his antlers were in their view. But they didn’t notice, and continued past the buck and across the flat.

When the hunters were well beyond, the buck slipped back under the rim, sneaked some distance
away from them. then trotted onto the flat, following the very route the men had just come from. I
couldn’t help but laugh. Mule deer are stupid?

I also had to reflect on this drama. Frequently, I’d hunted this country the way those hunters were
doing, covering as much ground as possible, looking for deer out ahead. I figured the more ground covered the more game seen, and the more game seen, the better the hunting. But this episode impressed on me the folly of that philosophy. How many big bucks had sneaked away from me? And how many times had I seen deer racing away I through the woods or across the sage flats, deer that had seen me before I’d seen them? Many times, that’s for sure. And just as sure, none of those deer had ended up on a meat pole.

A deer that sneaks away or is running full-bore is no game for the bow and arrow. Generally, to get a good shot a bowhunter must see an animal before it sees him, and his best bet for doing that is to stay in one spot and to look.

A moving hunter just sets himself up to be spotted. The less moving and more observing a bowhunter does, the better his chances for seeing unspooked game, an advantage that not only gives him time to plan a good elk but time to size up antlers and body condition as well. It gives him time to size up the overall situation, too, a point I’ve learned the value, of many times. In one
particular instance, I’d watched a dandy three-point buck bed in high sage.

In a hurry to get a shot, I went right after it without looking further. The stalk looked easy, but
about a quarter-mile short of my goal, two forked—horn bucks boiled out of the sage at my feet.,Of course, their snorting and stomping spooked my quarry. With more time
spent observing, I’d have seen them and could have planned
my stalk along a different route.

Finally, an emphasis on eye, rather than leg, power can save a hunter a lot of energy and can make him much more efficient. With his eyes, he can cover more ground more quickly, more quietly and more thoroughly than with his feet, I’ve spent days sneaking and peering over rimrocks, looking for deer bedded at the base of the cliffs. In three seasons of this, not once did I catch a buck there although deer beds were thick. Finally, frustrated, I went to a point overlooking a stretch of cliffs and settled in to watch.

The first day, three bucks walked across the flat above and picked their way down the rim. They bedded in the shadows at the base of a cliff. An hour later, knowing exactly where they were, I walked right to their position and collected a forked horn. I’d~.scored finally, because I’d
found an efficient way of hunting this country. I’d saved myself many more miles of fruitless walking as well.

The same game—spotting principles apply to all hunting situations, whether still-hunting through thick woods, watching from a stand, or spot-and-stalk hunting desert country. The differences are only a matter of degree.

The biggest advantage over game a hunter can give himself is to look for animals that are moving and are in the open. That may seem obvious, but a lot of hunters haven’t caught on.

“Ninety percent of the people who hunt here head out from camp to hunt about 8 or 9 o’clock,
just when they should be calling it quits for the day,” the manager of a bowhunting area told me. “And they’re returning to camp in the afternoon about the time they should be heading out to hunt.”

His point was that they were missing the prime hunting times of the day. Beyond any question, the first hour of daylight in the morning and the last hour in the evening are
the best times for spotting game (with exception of antelope which area active throughout the day).
As an example, during the 1977 season, my wife and I were perched on a desert cliff before daybreak. As the dawn glow slowly lightened a broad sage flat below us, we began to make out deer. By the time the sun came up, we had twenty-eight bucks in plain view. They were scattered all over, moving and feeding. By 8a.m. they’d vanished. A latecomer would have sworn the flat was barren. But we knew better. The bucks had just settled into the high sage for the day.

Another time, one August, we were overlooking a brush patch surrounded by dense oak trees. The parched California foothills looked lifeless. But at 6 p.m. the sun dipped behind a ridge, flooding the brush with shade, and within fifteen minutes, blacktails began slipping from the
oaks. By 6:30, a half-hour before sunset, We could see six large bucks and a number of does, all in the open.

In both cases, we could have blistered our eyes all day, scouring the brush for deer. Most likely we’d have seen none. But during the prime times, early and late, the deer were as easy to see as cows grazing a grassy hillside.

Certain weather can give the same advantage that early and late daytime periods can, because under some conditions, deer and elk may feed all day, making them easy to spot. Although game animals normally seek shelter during windy, violent storms, they’ll often be active and feeding preceding and following such storms. And on heavily overcast, drizzly days I’ve had excellent success spotting both deer and elk throughout the day. In fact, I’ve taken two elk that were feeding in the open during midday downpours.

Some hunters believe they have an advantage during breeding seasons because animals in rut supposedly for stupid things, but I don’t agree. Bucks or bull elk may indeed be less cautious at this time, but the real advantage is the fact that, rather than bedding all day, these animals
are active and moving, often in the open, making them much easier to spot than under normal conditions. In most regions, deer rut in November and December, elk in September. If seasons in your area are in progress at these times, take advantage of them.

In some cases, the later the season the better the game-spotting conditions. In western Oregon, for example, the early bow season is in September, the late season in November. In September, jungle—like foliage limits visibility to a few yards, but by the late season, leaves have fallen. A
hunter can see farther into the brush and actually can spot deer moving on adjacent hillsides, an impossibility earlier.

Snow is another advantage in late-season hunting. Not only are animals often more concentrated by snow but they’re the most visible against a white background.
Dan Eastmen, an Oregon biologist who’s spent years surveying deer, told me he felt knowing where to look was the real key to “efficient” spotting. His point was that a person can’t go into the field with wide-angle vision, looking at any and everywhere and expect to see much game. He has to concentrate his looking on habitat roost likely to hold animals.

Foe example, deer may use different slopes under various conditions. During dry season and hot weather, they’ll concentrate on north and east facing slopes where moisture lasts longest.

This is particularly true in dry country. When I first hunted desert mule deer, I spend days looking for bucks and nearly dropped my teeth every time I saw one, the occurance was so rare. Then Dan Herrig, a wildlife biologist who’d spent months observing desert bucks, set me straight.

“In this country during the Summer, I spend my time watching north slopes.” Herrig said ” A north exposure holds moisture longest and It’s shaded and cool. I look under trees, and in the shade at the bases of bushes and rocks. That’s where the bucks will bed.

Taking Herrig’s advice, I began seeing more deer than I’d dreamed existed. Up until then I’d been looking everywhere, and probably ninety percent of the country I looked at held no deer at all. Of course the preferred slope depends on the weather and season. During a cold spell, deer may move to a warm south or west facing slope. Picking the right are is a matter of judgement. Herrig offered another bit of advice that has paid off for me.
“Deer have traditional bedding areas.” he said “They’ll come back to the same places year after year.”

Under several juniper trees in a steep canyon he pointed out deer beds that had been worn two and three-feet deep from constant use by deer. Such beds. are especially common in steep, rocky terrain where bedding sites area at a premium. A hunter who knows the location of these traditional areas can expect to observe deer there consistently.

Food and cover are, of course, are major influences on game distribution. Vegetation and terrain that supply these basics will vary considerably from one region to another, but the principle is the same everywhere. For example around extensive new clearcuts or in open desert or grassland, areas with plenty of feed animals may congregate near pockets of good cover. In forested wilderness, on the other hand, climax vegetation generally guarantees a surplus of cover, but forage often is scarce. Here a hunter should locate and concentrate spotting efforts on areas where game animals will feed.

Prehunt reconnaissance of an area is a good idea, but not only to look for sign verifying the presence of game, but also to plan your hunt. In open country find cliffs, hilltops or other observation points that overlook feeding or bedding areas. In denser country, pick places for stands near clearings or well-used trails where visibility is good, or outline still-hunting routes from which you can observe promising habitat.

Keep two things in mind as you plan. First evaluate prevailing wind direction. If you try to observe country from the upwind side, animals will vacate before you ever see them.

Second, consider the sun. In dense canyon bottom this may not be a concern, but in open country, it’s vital. Without reservation I say never hunt or glass toward the sun. With that bright light in your face, you can see next to nothing. In the morning glass or still hunt from east to west and vice versa in the afternoon. Have alternate observation points and hunting routes in mind to make this possible and to compensate for changing winds.

The one essential equipment item for all game spotting is binoculars. Nobody can hunt as efficiently, under any conditions, with bare eyes as he can with binoculars.

That’s because binoculars not only magnify detail, but at close range, the isolate it. The, closer you focus, the shallower the depth-of-field, so that only objects in the plane of focus are sharp. If you’re focused for thirty yards an antler tine at that distance will stand out strikingly from
that blurred brush in front and behind. Binoculars also gather light, a real advantage early and late and on dark days.

During serious hunting, you’ll use binoculars constantly, probably several hours a day, so they have to be handy. To mak sure mine are, I have put an elastic band on them. , I hang the glasses around my neck then slip the elastic around my chest. The elastic band holds the glasses snug
against my body, but it stretches enough to allow bringing
them to my eyes.

Cheap binoculars are a waste of money. They’re often poorly aligned and
will make you cross eyed and dizzy. Good glasses start at about $100.

In open country 8x or 10x binoculars are good, but for all-around use, 6X or 7X are probably better. I’ve been more than satisfied with my Bausch & Lomb 7X35s.

A spotting scope is invaluable in open country where visibility is great. For the money, l think a fixed-power scope of 15X or 20X is the best buy. Variable power, say
15x-60x is fine under ideal conditions, but often, heatwaves cause such distortion that magnification over about 25x is useless.

High-power, optical equipment must be held solid. Binoculars of 7X, for example, magnify every movement you make by seven times. You won’t see much more than blurry scenery if you’re standing, holding binoculars with one hand. Use a tripod. or sit down, wrap your hands around your glasses, rest your elbows on your knees, and brace your hands against your forehead to form a solid glassing position. With a spotting scope, use a tripod.

To glass efficiently, be systematic. Whether you`re inspecting a brush patch at thirty yards or an open canyon face a mile away. divide the area into sections and cover it thoroughly from one side to the other.

l use two approaches to game spotting. One is to glass once, slowly and meticulously. from one side of an area to the other, trying to make out every detail the first time though. The other approach is to cover the country rapidly, going over it several times. Generally, the second
approach works better for me. My thinking is that if animals are in cover, I probably won’t see them, no matter how long I stare at one place. But if I’m hunting during a prime time when animals are active and moving, they’ll sooner or later work into a position where they can be seen easily. Even if I overlook animals the first, second or third times, I’ll eventually spot them if I cover an area enough times. Besides, rapid glassing seems to cause less eye strain than staring for a long period at one spot.

Game spotting takes time. A quick once-over won’t do. If l`m observing open country where visibility may be a mile or more, I glass for two or three hours from one position. In dense forest, of course, where visibility is thirty yardis, nobody is going to stay in one place for three hours.
There, a few minutes from each position may be long enough. Probably more important in dense country than absolute time is the ratio of time spent moving to
observing. A moving hunter won’t see nearly as much as
one who’s motionless, and he’s much more likely to be
spotted himself. Most good still—hunters agree that they
spend no more than a quarter of their time moving. They
spend the other three-quarters stationary, studying the
brush ahead.
The old cliche about “practice makes perfect” definitely
applies to game spotting. During my first years of big-game
hunting, I felt blind. My companions always spotted deer
before I did. But with experience, I’ve learned to make out
detail, and now the sight of a deer’s leg, an antler tine or a
flicking ear catches my eye immediately. My vision is no
better. Practice simply has put meaning into these details.
Practice is the only way to develop spotting skill.
And this skill is at the heart of productive hunting.
Whatever your circumstances, you’ll have little success
hunting with the bow and arrow if you can’t spot game
animals before they spot you. And rarely will you if you’re
hunting by leg power alone. If you’ve found yourself leaving
lots of tracks across the landscape but seeing less
than your share of game, get smart. Sit down, get out your
binoculars and let your eyes do the walking. <—·<<<<

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Published by archerchick on 10 Jan 2011

Howard Hill Big Five Longbow~Bow Test ~Sam Fadala

August 1980

Howard Hill Big Five Longbow – Bow Test

HOWARD HILL was a legend long before his passing in
February of l975. He was the man who started my
generation shooting the bow and arrow. And we all began
with some form of the longbow, however humble the particular model happened to be.

We young enthusiasts sometimes had the great good luck
of catching Mr. Hill in one of his short films. For a quarter,
our parents could get rid of us for about a half-day at the
movies, with a cartoon, sometimes two, a main feature and
a serial calculated to keep us in suspense and to return next
Saturday to see how Flash Gordon made out against the
evil forces of Space.

In between the feature and serial, we often had a “select-
ed short subject.” Sometimes they were dull, and l suspect
that an educator in the community was bribing or threatening
the theater manager to slip these in. But one afternoon,
the short was anything but dull. It was Howard Hill himself,
doing things with a bow that didn’t seem possible to us.

The gang was already into some form of archery, but it
was Hill who drew us away from the horrible mismated
archery tackle to balanced tools. My first bow, in fact, was
an oleander limb whacked off of my grandfather’s hedge, a
stretch of packing twine for a string and milkweed reeds for
arrows. Self-bows were next. They were often lemonweed,
and not all that bad, but too thin of core and too flat of
limb. They only cost a few bucks to buy and arrows for
them were twenty-five cents. Mine drew around twenty-five
pounds. I still have it.

The yew bow was a romantic and suitable model. But
back in these carefree days of the twenty-five-cent movie
in the l950s when this writer was a ripe IO years old we
began to tune in on the Hill archery song the handsome bows
with matched equipment to go with them, longbows. By
way of definition, these bows were indeed long, certainly
sixty inches and more often sixty-six inches and more, and
they were thick of core and narrow of limb with graceful
tips to nock the string.

The Howard Hill Company of Hamilton, Montana, is and
has been offering a replica, as it were, of the Hill-style bow,
and the particular model which crossed my hands for a test
run was their top-of-the-line Big Five model. The Big Five,
according to the literature and information given me by Mrs.
Betty Ekin, friend of Howard Hill and, along with son Craig,
operator of the Howard Hill Archery Company, was patterned
after the famous “Sweetheart” bow of Hill’s.
This top-of-the-line model is the one I preferred to test,
as I try to do with all companies’ bows. The construction of
the bow is per Hill’s design. That is, the core is bamboo.
Anyone who looks into the older books referring to Hill’s
bows will recall that Howard preferred bamboo for his limb
laminations. The current Hill Company has followed suit
and is still using the particular bamboo which Hill deter-
mined was best. Those of you who may, perhaps, flyfish,
may be familiar with the “temper” and action of the more
expensive “split bamboo” flyrods. The same criteria of
action and resiliency which make a flyrod “alive” also make
the longbow feel alive in the hand.

The specific type of bamboo, of course, is important as
all bamboo is not created equal. Hill reportedly took a trip
to Japan in 1960 in order to find and ship home a specific
species of bamboo he found most suitable for his needs, and
I am told that the Hill Company still uses this species in the
bow’s construction to date.

Obviously we are speaking of the heart of the bow when
we talk bamboo. This heat-treated bamboo, which of course
has been split into thin lengths, is then laminated together
to form the thick, but narrow core of the true longbow type.
As a simple matter of rule, I noticed that the Hill’s bows rank
according to number of laminations, the top of top-of-the-line
Big Five having four strips of bamboo, the Tembo with three
and the Half Breed with two. I cannot say that the bows with
only two laminations or three, are not fine-shooters too, because
my previous tests show that they are; however, the price being
reasonable anyway, the Big Five is surely one to look at as
a bargain.

The Belly and face of the bow are both backed by glass on the
Big Five, in this case, Bow-tuff, a brand with which we are all
familiar. The riser is Bubbinga hardwood, another material we all
know well. Though not an elaborately beautiful wood, Bubinga is
a sturdy and entirely suitable in the longbow. The traditional longbow
riser is going to sport a handle of tanned leather anyway, covering
most of the wood. The shelf of the bow consists of a small hunk of
very hard tanned hide which is tucked underneath the leather handle.
Another piece of hide is used against the side of the handle
where the arrow would make contact.

Shooting off the shelf is, of course, standard practice
with the longbow, and it sometimes bothers those who have
not tried this type of bow. It should not. Shooting off the
shelf works fine. If a very special arrow rest were attached to
the bow, there is no doubt that a few foot-seconds of speed
would be picked up, but shooting from the shelf offers fine
control and very easy handling of the shaft from nocking to
controling during the holding of the bow at fulldraw. l prefer
to shoot off the shelf with a longbow and will not attach
a rest to one.

The nocking ends of the bow are traditionally pointed and
very lean. And, contrary to the way things might look,a long-
bow tends to remain strung admirably well. l have never in
my life had one become unstrung in the act of shooting, in
fact, and I have shot a good many longbows. There is an enforcer
strip of glass laminations on both ends of the Big Five.
This is a sandwiched piece of glass that tapers thin.

The final finish of the bow is excellent with the exception
of a couple places where it looks as though there was an
epoxy run, or lumping of final liquid finisher. The widest `
part of the limb is about 1 1/4 inches. That will i seem slim to
anyone used to the limbs on a compound, and it is also
quite narrow as compared with the recurves of the Fifties
and Sixties that were sold primarily over the counter. It is a
matter of what fits where, and the narrow limb on the long-
bow is a plus factor, The core, that is the thickness of the
bow as viewed from the side upward from the riser and down
from the riser, is thick, in this case about seven-sixteenths-
inch at the widest measure.

The particular longbow that I elected to test turned out
to be a draw weight of sixty-four pounds thrust at twenty-
seven inches pull. I would have preferred a seventy-pound
draw at twenty-eight inches; however, I did overdraw the
bow by one inch in the test so that I ended up with a force
of sixty-seven pounds. This was close enough, as I do like to
keep all my test bows within a range of about seventy pounds
pull. Overdrawing is not the best practice in the world, by
the way, but for the few shots I had to fire over the chronograph
screens, plus less than fifty darts tossed at the targets,
the bow was not in any sense harmed.

All in all, those are the physical characteristics of the
Howard Hill Company’s Big Five longbow. However, the
reader may be curious about the name itself. As already
stated, the Big Five is a direct copy of the old Sweetheart
bow of Hill’s, and it was that bow which went on the famous
safari after the “big five” of Africa. Hill took three elephants
on that trip, I am told, firing four arrows for all three
from his 115—pound bow. Back in the Fifties, when the feat
was fresh, wild stories flew all around the archery world that
Hill had used a 150-pound bow and so forth, but it was the
II5-pound model that did the trick, firing special forty-one-
inch arrows.

Hill’s bows were set up for a twenty—eight-inch draw, I do
believe, and that has been considered a standard for many
years. While Hill was not a weight lifter, he was a powerful
man who had a good set of arms on him, However, he apparently
credited his ability to totally master the eighty,
ninety and one hundred-plus-pound bows to building up to
them. Naturally, a whole different set of muscles apply to
drawing the bow, and I have seen many a strong man shudder
and shake trying to draw a bow of far less than eighty
pounds pull.

Hill did not advocate going to heavy bows that were not
manageable by their owners. Of course this is correct, but
we should not misconstrue the statement as some have. Hill
was not in favor of sticking with a light bow just because it
could be easily mastered. He elected for the heaviest bow a
person could shoot with comfort. That means, he wanted us
to build into our bows, finding a place where we could
master a given poundage.

In shooting the longbow, it is difficult to explain how
to aim one. I have never had any luck trying to tell some-
one how to hit a target with a longbow, although Hill at-
tempted to teach a split-image design of aiming. I am not
certain that is what he called it, but the term seems to be
correct. Simply, a longbow is fired-pretty much the way
we toss a rock. A rock has no sights. And yet I’d bet that
no one reading this would have any trouble coming pretty
close to a tin can at ten feet, thirty feet, twenty yards;
even much farther. And·we have darn little practice at
rock throwing, too.

Since there are no sights on the longbow (although
there certainly have been sights on some longbow models
out of the past) it is best to grab up the bow, nestle the
hand comfortably into the leather grip without choking
the grip down, and then moving the bow around a bit to
get the feel of it. Remember, the entire mass weight of the
Big Five is only one pound and six or so ounces.

The bow can be held without undue strain in the bow-
hand, by the way, as the handle wedges back into the palm
just as with any other bow type, and this is the best way
to shoot, without choking down on the grip. The same
anchor point the archer uses for his compound may not
be fitting for longbow shooting, although I find no problem
using the same point. The left arm is somewhat crook-
ed in drawing the longbow and the archer leans into his
work, rather than standing straight up. The bow is usually
canted, or tilted off to one side, which not only aids
in maintaining the arrow balanced on the shelf, but also
allows for the head to be bent a little, too. The bending
of the head puts the eyes in line with the shaft and the

All I can say is that something unconscious soon takes
over and the archer is popping arrows into the target butt.
I like to think l keep my eyes on the target and not the
tip of the arrow, but I am told by smarter men than l
that the eye does dart back and forth from target to
arrow tip. I am not going to consciously try to discover
whether it does or not. `

The fistmele on this bow will be terribly small by the
standards of the old recurves and the modern compounds.
In fact, shooters may have trouble with this, sometimes
turning the riser so that the string snaps into the arm.
Naturally, it is wise to use an arm guard But the shooter
should not try to make the fistmele dimension wider. It
will normally slow the bow down and decrease the cast
and sometimes upset the arc of the arrow. The fistmele
is properly short, and on my test model it was only 5 3/4
inches from the back of the riser to the string.
The riser is standard on the Big Five. That is, it points
inward to the hand as per normal/average. However, Hill
did use some models which were reverse handle. I have
such a bow and I am forever asked “Why did you string
your bow backwards?” It is not strung backwards. The
handle is fitted that way to offer a different type of grasp
for the hand.

In stringing the Big Five, I used my stringer. That
makes sense to me. I never did care for the step-through
method, because even with a stable-limbed longbow, a
twisted limb is still a possibility. There is also the push-
away method, and that works all right. I may not have
developed the particular muscles necessary to master
the latter, and with my own seventy-pound longbow, I
have a hard time stringing it with the push-away, so I
have gone to the stringer. Sissy, maybe, but it works.

Hill Company has suggested the stringer too, incidentally.
As for arrows, the plain old cedar shaft is still mighty
good in the longbow, but I have successfully fired all
types of materials. The quick recovery of the cedar shaft
is hard to beat. Remember, the arrow has to, in fact,
dart around the riser of the bow and then spring back
into the line of arc. Therefore, the resilient cedar shaft
is a good one. I was surprised to see the true all·graphite
shaft work well, too. The shaft was a Lamiglas, which
is not part graphite, but all graphite.

Only these two arrows were used for shooting, as I had a
dozen of each around. The cedars were trimmed to twenty-
eight inches from the inset of the nock to the very tip of the
arrow and then the arrow was drawn back until the tip rest-
ed full on the shelf.

As for the Lamiglas arrows, they were left full length as
they are so very light anyway, and contrary to what we might
think, the longer pure graphite arrow is stronger than a short-
er pure graphite arrow. At least, this is what I am told by an
engineer who is in the business. Therefore, I have left my
graphite arrows at a full thirty-one-inch draw. With my favorite
compound I have trained myself away from the long 31 1/4 inch
draw I used to have, down to a more useful twenty-nine-inch draw.
I like a twenty-eight-inch draw in the longbow. We sometimes get
carried away with getting our equipment tuned and forget that we
can tune ourselves, too. Our bodies bend. And we can change a
draw length to some degree. It is no trouble to relax into the longbow,
lean into it, bend the elbow and enjoy a nice twenty-eight-inch draw
and the resulting lighter stiffer arrow.

The cedar arrow attained a velocity or 176 feet per second (fps).
This arrow, however, was a shade overweight for
the bow, being an Acme premium cedar in 70/75-pound
spine. l might have gotten the bow to stabilize well with a
65/70 spine, or even a 60/65 for a target arrow, though the
latter would probably be overcome by a heavy hunting head.
The Acme 70/75 weighed 497.5 grains.The stiff and ultra·light
pure graphite Lamiglas shaft
earned a starting velocity of 192 fps, this arrow weighing
only 434.2 grains. The stiffness and lightness seemed excel-
lent out of this bow, however, and it is a tribute to a good

The nocking point was set on the bow by testing, not by
measuring first and then arbitrarily setting it, l simply put
the nocking point so that the arrow was perfectly horizontal
to start with and I moved the nock up on the string just a
little at a time until l was rewarded with a stabilized flight
out to forty yards and beyond. The greatest shooting I did
with the bow was at forty yards.

The arrows were, as per necessity, feather fletched. A
plastic vane will hit the shelf and toss the arrow askew. The
feathers simply fold back on the shelf and allow the arrow
to continue on its path. Unlike the testing of a compound,
the bow was shot “out of the box.” In other words, tuning
was not questioned. The longbow can be tuned, of course, by
changing the weight of the string, or by switching string
length to change fistmele. In short, by manipulating the
variables one at a time and checking arrow flight. Arrow
swapping is in itself bow tuning. But that is another story.

A glove was used, not a release of any kind. That’s nothing
new for me as l use a glove for all my testing, feeling that I
want to know the performance of the bow in the hunting
field as I would use it there. The glove will indeed slow down
the arrow to a small degree, however, and in all fairness this
should be pointed out. I have, in some compounds, picked
up several feet per second by going to a release, but usually,
in an overall contest, a smooth good glove won’t be that far
behind the velocity delivered by a release mechanism.

The newcomer to the longbow, especially the compound
shooter, should relax and enjoy this addition to his sport.
I call it an addition because I shoot both compounds and
longbows. And he should not go too heavy in draw weight.
It’s unnecessary for the most part when targets and deer-
sized game is going to be the main use of the bow. A fifty-
pound longbow will give a lot of pleasure, and when the
shooter builds up to it, a sixty or seventy will do a great
deal of work. If an archer is dedicated enough to spend
time in the back yard, he can build up to a lot of weight
and handle it well. Men of slight build can do it. I have a
shooting acquaintance who is small of stature, yet he fires
an eighty-six-pound longbow with ease and control. Unfortunately,
this peak can be lost if practice is forsaken. You’ve
got to keep in shape.

At the beginning of Winter, l am pretty strong with my
own seventy-pound longbow. By the beginning of Spring,
when Winter has denied me much shooting time, I’m pretty
bad. l should have an identical longbow to my seventy-
pound model that draws about forty-five or fifty to build
up with for the start of the new season each year, or move
to a civilized locale where shooting all year long is possible.

The Howard Hill Company Big Five bow sells, as this is
written, for $l79.95 plus F.E.T. (Federal Excise Tax) and
shipping. A letter to the company at N.W. 219 Blodgett
Camp Road, Hamilton, Montana 59840, will bring a price
list, plus a little catalog of the Howard Hill Company’s bows
and products, as well as some interesting information on
Hill himself. The company also sells arrows, gloves, arm-
guards, strings and other supplies to accompany the bow, all
in the traditional Hill format. And they also offer a few
books to help the archer, such as The Complete Archery
Book by Hochman and Longbow by Hardy.

The longbow, unlike the over-the-counter recurve, has
continued with a rather large following. It’s history is an
extremely interesting one, and a very long one, with no end
in sight, which is the way we would hope to have it. It is
good that an archer can select from different bow styles,
compounds, recurves and longbows, giving him that much
more scope to make his sport that much more interesting.

– Sam Fadala

All Rights Reserved

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Published by archerchick on 10 Jan 2011

The Tree, Buck Fever and Me~ By Jim Dougherty


The Tree, Buck Fever and Me ~ By Jim Dougherty

Does an experience bowhunter ever feel the effects of buck fever? Dougherty still does, and he’s glad that he does!

SOMEONE ASKED ME recently, toward the end of the last season, if I still got leg—wobbling nervous when big bucks and I happened to cross trails.
He assumed that because I had taken quite a few deer, among them some
highly respectable bucks, that perhaps the malady of buck fever was a thing
long gone. I was reminded by the question of an encounter not quite a year
old and used it as the base for my

It was A morning as clear and stiff as plate crystal when I wormed my
way into a favorite old oak, at the juncture of a bulge in the woods where
it gave way to the yearly Spring urgings of a creek bank. The Tree, and I
call it that with respect, was losing its battle with parasites and age but still
provided cover in a natural cup formed by a uniform four—way separation of
its trunk some eight feet high. From the almost natural fortress it covered
the intersection of four major trails. More important, it was to the thick—set
little bulge that big bucks on many days herded their does with just plain
sex on their minds.

There comes a time within each season when nothing else will do but to
spend the days in The Tree. This time historically has been the middle of November, and I know that sometime, something is going to take place here that I do not want to miss.
With the first breaking of day I was brought to rigid attention by the sound of approaching game, nature’s clattering signal provided by the ankle-deep leaves. It reminded me again how
extremely important one’s ears be- come when hunting from a blind.

My bow was hanging from the convenient broken stub of a once sturdy branch. The arrow was nocked, held in place by an arrow holder, a piece of equipment I consider as important as
the bow itself. I planted my feet firmly, grasped the bow and brought the string to my shooting hand with a positive, carefully controlled move.

The rustling in the leaves grew louder and then, in the morning’s gray gloom,
a round-sided, roly-poly doe slid into view less than ten yards from my hideout. Caught up in anticipation and suspense I slowly let out the breath that I had gulped down involuntarily when I
knew I was about to be visited, relaxing somewhat as I enjoyed the lady searching among the leaves for the bountiful mast crop that recent frosts and winds had allowed to shower the
floor of the woods.

The doe’s glands at her hocks were black and she carried her tail with
those cute come—on little motions a gal uses to capture a guy’s attention. The
lady was not alone, for somewhere on her back track, either very close or
soon to be hot on her trail would be a buck, I started gulping breaths again,
hoping to still the sound of my own breathing in order to better read audibly what might be behind. To my right some thirty yards was a well used scrape, one of four in a
twenty—five-yard square area. All about the creek bed and across the long
grassy flat I crossed to reach the bulge signs of individual bucks were evidenced by the rubs they had made on the little cherry trees and the bigger cedars. It has been said that age classes
of bucks can be determined by these rubs; that the bigger the tree the older and stouter, and therefore more desirable the buck. I do not know this to be fact, but I feel it is true.

On occasion I have watched bucks go through the routine of rubbing and there does seem to be a correlation of tree size to age class or rank in the hierarchy of the resident buck herd. I have not necessarily found this to be true of scrapes. One of the biggest bucks I have ever pursued (unsuccessfully so far) leaves runty little scrapes when his qualities are considered. I know they are his because I’ve watched him do it, otherwise I would never be convinced. Conversely, what he does to a cedar tree is awesome to behold. and I suspect that the mauling they take is often fatal. Cedar trees in my part of the country are hardy rascals, and he picks on the bigger ones.

The doe continued her prowling for nuts, drifting by me lazily without a
care in the world. Only once did she flick her tail quickly and punch up her
head for a long look-see of the area. Soon she was almost lost to my view
although still quite close, the thicket of the bulge and the faint early light
almost swallowing her up. I could mark her location by the rustling of leaves and. in the sharp quiet of the morning the occasional sounds as she chewed up an acorn. She was now to
my right. As the minutes passed I could see parts of her occasionally and noted that she was working with apparent purpose toward the scrape.

Minutes later she was there and her entire personality changed. No longer was she the relaxed lady of the forest. With her entire body stretched taut as the string on my hunting bow she advanced to the scrape, neck fully extended in a line that ran through to her tail, now fanned out and flickering but held parallel with her back. She investigated the scrape with her nose for some time, then quickly squatted and urinated, whether in it or by it I could not tell. The ritual completed she suddenly pranced off into the gloom of the woods, stopping only once before lost from sight.

There was no question in my mind that sometime during the course of this day I would have a chance at one of the four truly good bucks inthis area. Maybe I would not get a shot, but certainly I would see the big one or his slightly smaller brothers; that would be good enough. A chance begins to move in the right direction after game has been sighted.

Such situations do not, as a rule, begin to fall into place for the hunter who haphazardly takes to the woods and jumps into the first likely looking tree. They are the result of patient observation, of considerable scouting and numerous errors in judgment. The Tree and I had met five seasons previous, but before it all fell together I had hunted the area incorrectly on many days before I realized the significance of the thicket in the bulge and all the ingredients that made it a hot spot.

Once in the thicket, visibility is significantly reduced. Game can be in your lap without warning when the wind is blowing lightly, reducing the important sense of hearing. I learned the hard way that being ready was of the utmost importance when hunting here. Do not be misled, a deer can be too close. If you’re caught flat-foot you have to pay the piper.

I replaced my bow on its convenient natural hanger and relaxed, but
only slightly. I could reach the bow with a movement of less than six
inches of my bow hand,—its weight would swing the string to my fingers
and by straightening my knees I could be ready to shoot through any of the
openings by simply turning my feet encased in rubber-soled boots. My bow
quiver was removed to provide total clearance and reduce the possibilityof
unnecessary noise. I was as ready as can be and charged to the bursting

A chunky fox squirrel ran through the overhead branches. At the first
rustle I started,·then relaxed and paid him no further mind. Only last season,
while watching a pair race with incredible abandon and agility through the
same branches a big ten point caught me cold. I had looked down, and he
was there, not twenty feet away. I could not move and, in short, he ate
my lunch. The lesson learned was clear, on those perfect mornings during the rut one’s mind and attention should not wander from the main objective. To do so was to invite disaster.

I was mid-point in shifting my weight for comfort when I picked up the unmistakable rustle of a deer traveling purposefully through the leaves.
From left to right it was coming, and my mind and body knew instinctively
it would be a buck.

What a buck he was. Like a thoroughbred bird dog he came at that purposeful trot, bulging neck low to the ground as his keen nose coursed the trail of the doe. He was the fourteen-pointed King of the Creekbot— tom, albeit two of the points branched from the long tined number two
point making him less than perfect in the score department, but symmetrical nonetheless. His mind and attention never wandered. He coursed the trail in a mile-eating gait, his heart and head
full of lust, and he went by The Tree so quick that my bow, while up, never rolled over the eccentric hump, he was past, leaving me at an awkward half-draw. Such moments are the height of excitement, and anxiety. What happened over the next twenty minutes was the epitome of all things that make bowhunting a most rewarding, and frustrating, pastime.

Within scant seconds the buck had passed from sight, hardly hesitating at the scrape. With a crashing commotion the doe hurtled into view coming in my direction, stiff legged, tail twitching with a provocative air designed to drive the most aloof of bucks wild.
The fourteen pointer was not aloof — he was in full, love—struck pursuit. Where the rest of the deer came from I do not know but, as though the commotion in the forest was a signal, another fine buck appeared on the scene and amidst the chaos two yearlings
bounded about, dashing in and out of the thicket. For fully ten minutes all the deer raced in a circular pattern through the thicket, around The Tree. The second buck was a dandy twelve point, less than perfect in conformation, although I am not a perfectionist when it comes to twelve point bucks.

But my eyes and heart were set on the bigger buck. There were lulls in the race when all involved stopped for a breather, all save yours truly poised in The Tree, bow up and half out, drawing hand firmly in place, turning slowly on the quiet rubber soles to follow the big buck’s course.
The two bucks never clashed, the smaller staying close but never totally entering the race. The big buck had served notice once, stalking bullishly to a scrubby little oak he quite literally demolished it amidst much growling and pawing. Three times his trotting pursuit of the fine old doe brought him within mere feet of my spot. The bow at full draw became a physical enemy itself, but a clear good shot was never quite offered.

I became aware of the increasing rustle of trembling leaves on The Tree
almost subconsciously. The branches that swept out from my spot reached
as far as ten feet, sloping down from years of age toward the ground. As yet
the old girl had not given up all her leaves to the urgings of Fall. As I became aware of the almost violent shaking it occurred to me that, as yet on this crisp clean morning, not a breath of air had stirred. The stirring was caused by the involuntary trembling that began in my knees, relayed down my legs to the soles of my feet perched less and less firmly on the main branches that gave birth to the now offending vibrations. Much worse, that same shattering vibration was racing
up through my chest in a violent attempt to strangle me.

Now the battle took on new dimension, a war with nerves and the fickle
racing of the doe. Would she lead the buck to a clear path for my arrow before I was reduced to inept shambles.

Buck fever, if that’s what you choose to call it, takes many strange
forms. In answer to the question, my story is stark answer, I am not immune
to such emotions and hope I never am. Big bucks, be they muleys or whitetails, blow my composure more than any other wild thing. The fine line between being able to remain somewhat
functional and totally wasted is in direct proportion to the length of time I am faced with the target before I have to react.

I spend countless hours developing a place to lie in wait for a big buck
whitetail. If he shows suddenly and I am ready then the odds are on my
side; if he diddles and dawdles in his approach the odds slip dramatically to
his side of the ledger. Ihave tried all sorts of tricks in an attempt to climb
into my mind and sort it out when such an event is in the making. I talk
to myself, I close my eyes, I ignore the buck, I try never (it’s impossible) to
look too much at his headgear. None of it really works, for in the framework of your head, banging kettle drums and cymbals sound the clanging message that He is coming. I am reminded of a darn nice Oklahoma buck my number two son took this past season. We placed his stand
after patient observation of a thicket the bucks were using. On the second morning the snapping of a twig advertised the approach of game and Kelly turned to peek over his left shoulder.

A matronly doe was being prodded into the thicket by a buck with headgear far better than Kelly had ever had close. His heart leaped up between his ears and it seemed to become unusually warm. He solved the problem by relying solely on his ears, never once again looking.
“No way was I going to look at him again,” he said. As the rustling in the
leaves grew louder Kelly drew his bow, and when all seemed right and the
strain of sixty-five pounds began to tell he pivoted, found the buck’s chest and popped him all in one motion at fifteen feet. The buck collapsed on the spot. So, too, did Kelly.
In The Tree the shaking of the leaves did not abate as the buck tried to close with the doe. She would allow him to come close, then dash off on a wild plunge through the thicket. Huffing, puffing and growling deep in his chest the buck would follow, stopping occasionally to shake his head or hook a low hanging branch. Eventually the pattern shifted, the big deer were gone, the two yearlings still pouncing about trying to figure what were the changes that had taken place amongst
the old folks. I suspect the yearlings. fawns of the year actually, belonged to the doe. They would be pushed aside until after the courtship was consummated, and then perhaps they would
all join together until the following Spring when new responsibilities would cause her to chase them off to fend for themselves.

The incident was over for now. For almost a half hour I had one of the best whitetails I’ve ever seen within twenty yards. I had witnessed an interesting, exciting ritual among our most
popular and elusive game animals. For the entire time I was at full, muscle-straining alert, and I had been subjected to a satisfying attack of the malady called buck fever.

Satisfying? Sure it was. I was dishrag limp and feeling more alive than I had in months. Hunting, for man, is a natural and emotional thing. We are the ultimate predator, but we are human and should experience emotion unlike the dispassionate killing for survival as done by a coyote or cougar. I marvel at the man who tells me he feels none of the tremblings in knees or the shortness of breath, and I feel sorry for him.

Yes, I still get leg-wobbling nervous when big bucks and I cross trails. I did the following morning when I caught the twelve pointer mid—stride and watched him go down in ten short yards. Sometimes the ol’ fever gets me. and sometimes I beat it. I hope it
never changes. <—<<


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Published by archerchick on 10 Jan 2011

The Majestic Honker ~ By Midge Dandridge

BOW & ARROW Magazine’s

The Majestic Honker ~ Midge Dandridge

THE GREYHOUND bus was nearing my final destination at Red Bluff, California, where l was to meet Dan Patten and Jim Dorsey. The last time that l had been there was some time ago, when l hunted wild boar. At that time Dan and Jim had invited me to come back and do some
duck hunting during their season, which always had a good reputation for producing some fantastic shooting. Numerous times I had planned to return for the duck hunting but it
seemed that something always came up and it was repeatedly postponed.
But nothing was going to interfere this time, and I was almost there.

As I gathered my gear at the bus station my attention was drawn to the
sky. The weather conditions were typical of duck hunting- cold and wet. It
was ideal weather for ducks and, as if to prove my theory, flocks of birds
came soaring by, flying in their usual V patterns.

Dan and Jim soon arrived and we loaded up for the short drive to Dye Creek Preserve, well known for its excellent hunting of deer, boar, dove, quail and ducks. This hunting paradise
is located in Northern California, and consists of one hundred square miles of rough, rocky terrain. Being one of the largest working cattle ranches, I had watched the ranch hands as they
perform their rituals on roping and branding.

The deer migrate to the ranch each Winter, and hunting can fluctuate according to the weather high in the surrounding mountains. The sooner it starts to storm, the sooner the herds of
deer start their migration. It was at this ranch that I had been able to take a very respectable wild
boar a few seasons ago. During that hunt we saw many deer and an abundance of other wildlife.

There were even a few ducks seen. It seems as though many of them stick around,
for the feed is plentiful and the weather does not always force the birds to continue on farther south. The first morning of the hunt we went to a pond that had recently been giving the
hunters an abundance of good shooting at mallards and pintails. I had decided on this first morning to take my trusty Remington Model 31 with me, and after a few hours in the field I had
my limit of birds and was looking forward to the next day when I was going to try my hand at taking waterfowl with my bow.

It had always been a desire of mine to attempt t0 take some kind of bird
with my bow. Just prior to this hunt, I had gone to the Wasco area, which is
near the Kern Wildlife Refuge, to try my hand at taking some mud hens, My
son Jeff went along and when we arrived at our spot we could see a good
size flock on the pond.

These awkward flying coots are a good way for someone to learn just
how to judge flying birds, how to lead a bird in flight and, very early in the
season, can become a tasty dish on the dinner table. This, however, is not true
as the season moves along and they begin to feed in the muddy waters.

Jeff’s plan was to spook the mud hens toward me, and with the 200mm
telephoto lens on my Pentax he would snap photos of my attempt to meet
one in the air with the Easton Game-Getter. The first flight was on its way
and, as I observed them coming closer to me, it looked as if it would be fairly
simple to release the arrow to meet the oncoming bird.

I quickly found that this was definitely not the case! I flung arrow after .
arrow as they flew over, trying to make adjustments each time, figuring
each arrow that was lofted would be the one that would connect. Foiled!
After nearly an hour and a half of this it was time for a conference.

A quick mid—morning snack and a cup of warm coffee and we trudged
out to the field to try once more. This time, on the very first bunch that flew
over, my Easton arrow connected. One prize in the bag. It was quite a sight
and a thrill to watch as the arrow moved skyward and met its quarry in a
successful hit.

Later that afternoon we tried again, and thank goodness there were plenty
of coots in this area or I would have been as skunked as in the early morning hours.
This time a long flying flock came over, and I know that the only reason the arrow met its mark was that
the mud hen committed suicide. It must have been a curious bird, for he
flew out of his way to meet my arrow. Thus ended my first bowhunting
experience with a flying object high in the sky. I estimated that I had probably shot hundreds of arrows as gauged by the soreness in my shoulder. In any case, I shot a lot of arrows and was
thankful that we had brought a good supply of them, and also that we were in a large field where we could find them fairly easily.

When Dan, Jim and I arose that second morning to hunt the ducks, I took
my trusty Jennings Model W compound bow. The bow’s weight was set
at forty-six pounds, and my arrows consisted of Easton 1820 GameGetters. I also had along numerous odd-ball colors and sizes of other arrows that I had accumulated over the years.
I brought plenty of them along for I knew that many would be lost in the tall weeds that grew along the banks of the ponds we were to hunt.

As we climbed aboard the Toyota four-wheel—drive the rain was coming
down pretty good. We had rain gear on and I knew it would be pretty difficult
for me to shoot my bow with the heavy rubberized camo rain jacket. I planned to take it off when we came to an area that we were going to stalk so it wouldn’t foul me up. We had to cross a small river to get to the particular spot we were going to hunt this morning. It had rained more
than we thought it had because the river was much higher than the previous day. Dan questioned whether or not we should even try to cross it.

We decided to give it the old college try and slowly ventured forth. I would estimate that the river was about seventy-five yards across but as we edged out toward the center, the other side
looked more like a mile away. The Toyota was doing real well until the current caught us in midstream. The vehicle started to slide off to the right and my heart jumped to my throat. I was in the back seat and I knew by the looks on Dan’s and Jim’s faces that we were in some kind of trouble. Dan fought to keep the car from tipping over, but by this time we were almost afloat. My hands gripped the roll bar and even though it was extremely cold that morning, I began to perspire.

All Dan could do was try to keep the Toyota from rolling over until the
tires could grip the rocks. We slowly crept onward drifting downstream for
what seemed a lifetime, until we caught more shallow ground and the
car made it to the other side. None of us had said a word during all this, and
we didn’t say much even now. Words at a time like that aren’t necessary. I
think every muscle in my body had tensed up as I’d been mentally and
physically trying to drive the car myself. When we reached the other side I
breathed a huge sigh of relief. Dan and Jim did the same.
Settling down with a cup of hot coffee, we talked about the game plan
for our hunt. Dan and Jim both had their shotguns; I had my bow. We were
going to do some jump shooting on a few of the ponds that were on this side of the river. No one else was hunting this morning so we had the ponds to ourselves.

As we crouched along a canal bar; to the first pond we could hear and see a good size flock of birds circling overhead. We hid behind some tall weeds
to let the birds overhead work and settle down onto the water. The ducks
were calling back and forth, and I eased up so that I could watch their
usual ritual, casing the area before deciding all was well. Finally they set
their wings and slowly came to rest on the water.

As one who enjoys just watching the birds work a pond, I have more
than once nearly forgotten what I was there for in my enjoyment and plea-
stare of their beauty and grace. We indeed to each other that now was
the time and quickly moved over the bank. The guys were going to wait for
me to take the first shot with my bow before they did any shooting with
their shotguns. Of course the pond exploded with ducks flying everywhere
as we came into sight, and my first arrow sailed into empty space with a
perfect miss. The pond was loaded with ducks and I quickly nocked another arrow to have this one miss also, although not by too much. Still a miss is a miss whether it’s by a fraction of
an inch or ten feet.

Dan and Jim had held off as long as they could and now they let go with their shotguns. Both are excellent shots, and three nice pintails fell from the sky. Remembering what had happened when Jeff and I were mud hen shooting, I was not discouraged. We gathered the fallen birds, and set off for the next pond to try our luck there.

Again we crouched low in the tall surrounding weeds around the pond.
We could hear what seemed to be a good sized bunch of ducks in the
water and decided this time to try to stay hidden in some small patches of
weeds along the bank. In this way maybe I could hit one while it was
still in the water, or at least have a little more aiming time before they all
burst in the air. At the release of my bowstring the one nice, huge mallard I was aiming at
decided to duck under the water for some juicy tidbit. Thanks a lot you **%T**/ bird. My arrow went right where he had been an instant before!
Again the birds took flight and I was able to get in one more bowshot before the guns cut loose. More birds fell, but not with an arrow. Well, at least the guys were doing some successful shooting.

We spent most of the morning hitting each pond with these tactics, but each time my arrow failed to connect. The guys were getting close to their limits so we decided to start back to-
ward the ranch house. The rain had stopped some hours ago and the river had receded enough
that we could cross quite safely. But the clouds were building up again and
soon we would have some heavy rain. We did not want to be on the other side of the river when that happened so the guys suggested we cross now and hit one more pond that they knew
of before we headed in for the day. This particular pond was quite a walking distance from the dirt road we were on. We pulled the Toyota over and I grabbed a handful of arrows;
the guys, a box of 12—gauge number 4s. It took us about fifteen minutes to
make our way to the pond. Once we were within close range, we could hear a familiar sound — geese!

It was fairly early in the season for them to be on their migratory way. Once in a while one or two would be seen, but we could hear what sounded like many more than just a couple. Great, I said to myself, I had never been successful in taking a Canadian honker. I had come close a couple of
times, but never achieved success. At this particular moment I was wishing for my trusty Remington Model 31 in my hands, and not my Jennings bow. We decided to split up. Jim would go to the left of the pond, Dan would go to the right, and I would come up over the middle. As I waited for the guys to get in position I could hear the geese.

An instant later I could hear other geese calling. There were more in flight somewhere else. Most of the time geese can be heard before you see them. I flattened against the bank, not moving, and could hear them coming closer and closer. I knew that Dan and Jim would do the same, for they were experienced waterfowl hunters and would let the birds on the ground act as decoys for the others. Sure enough the birds already down called, letting the ones in the air know just where to come. Within seconds I could hear their wings as they passed over me and
landed in the water on the other side of the bank.

My heart was pounding with excitement as I tried to picture these magnificent creatures setting their wings to a perfect landing. Boy, I wished I’d had some good cover to watch as they
soared in. What a sight to see!

I raised slowly from my position,
noticing that Dan and Jim were positioned and ready to go also. It was
now or never, and over the bank we went. What a sight! There must have
been at least twenty-five or more of these huge birds in the water, and at the sight of us they began to out. I drew a bead on the one nearest to me. He was almost airborne and when my arrow hit him he had just cleared the water. I had never really expected to hit one of these birds. and when this one’s wings folded and he hit the water not moving, I was dumb founded. I was accomplishing something that I had never even dreamed of -a Canadian honker with a bow and

There was no chance for me to get in another shot. The great flock of birds were in the air going out each end of the pond. The sound of Dan and Jim’s shotguns went off and I could see that Dan had dropped a double while Jim concentrated his over/under on one bird. “Wanted to make sure I got one, you know one bird in the hand, quote, unquote,” he said.

As I walked out into the pond, I retrieve my prize, I knew that this would be one hunt that I would always cherish.

As I look at this most majestic of waterfowl, it is still hard for me to believe that he fell to my arrow. It was.
truly, a moment to remember.<—-<


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Published by archerchick on 09 Jan 2011

The Inside Edge ~ By Mark Hicks

Bowhunting World
October 2006

The Inside Edge by Mark Hicks


The best place to hunt a field may not be along its edge, but at least 20 yards from the edge, farther back in the woods. Here’s Why.

The first truly big buck l ever saw while hunting crossed 20
yards from my treestand more than 3O years ago. lt was a
symmetrical 8-pointer with a wide spread, tall tines, and
heavy mass. Looking back through the years, l believe it would
have easily netted 140.

l had found the buck’s rubs scouting a point of hardwoods that reached
into a pasture in south Ohio. A cluster of several trees, up 6 inches in
diameter, bore scars. A distinct deer trail lead to the point along the
wooded side of the pastures fence. l figured this was the buck’s travel
route and l hung a stand in a tulip poplar within easy bow range of the
trail. l was in that stand every evening during the last few weeks of October.
On weekends, l was there mornings and evenings. l would never spend
that much time in any stand today, but l was just getting into bowhunting
and was greener than a corn sprout. l would have gladly shot the first
whitetail that stepped into bow range. Two does entered the pasture
before dark on three or four evenings, but they never offered a shot.

It was a balmy, overcast morning early November when l saw the 8-pointer.
l heard it grunt, turned my head and then watched the grand animal cross
behind my stand as it altenately sniffed the ground and scent-checked the wind. My
treestand didn’t allow me to shoot in that direction, and l knew nothing then about
calling deer. l could only watch in awe the buck slowly passed out of bow range
and out of sight. l can still see his bone white antlers glowing in the dim woods.


Sat Up Farther Back
I missed my chance at that buck because I made a mistake that plagues many
hunters today. I had set up for a shot along a field edge when I should have
been farther back in the woods along what I call “the inside edge.” Yes, slews
of whitetails are shot every year from treestands situated along field edges.
But, most of these deer are dropped early in the season when bucks are more
interested in food sources than female companionship.

Field edges become less productive as bucks enter the pre-rut and rutting
phases and begin searching for does. Any buck intent on finding a hot doe isn’t
likely to waltz into a field, though it may quickly cross an open field to see whats
shakin’ on the other side. A smart old buck on a mission normally won’t enter
a field until after his nose tells him that an estrus doe is feeding out there.
Instead of walking into the field or around its perimeter, a mature buck typically passes
by 2O yards or more back in the woods. Here, it can stay out of sight
and scent-check for does from a safe vantage point. The route the buck travels
during this reconnaissance is the inside edge, and you’ll often find rubs and scrapes here.

Though you may find rubs and scrapes anywhere along the field’s
edge, these are typically made after dark when bucks feel safe enough to venture
into the open fields. Since a buck must travel downwind
of a field to scent-check it, this is where you should look for the inside edge.
First, determine the predominant wind direction. For example, the predominant
wind in southeast Ohio where l hunt is from the southwest. Therefore,
l look for an inside edge near the northeast corner of a field.

l hunt the northeast corner because this is where a buck travels a diagonal
route as it cuts across the wind. This lets the buck scent-check the field efficiently
with the shortest traveling distance, The buck comes closest to the field at
its northeast corner, which makes this the ideal place to intercept him. Set
your treestand about 2O yards down-wind from the buck’s path. This puts
you at least 40 yards from the field, depending on how far back the buck”s
inside travel edge is situated. A stand back in the woods also offers
better concealment. Most of the leaves have fallen when the rut gets under»
way. When you’re perched in a bare stand along the edge of a field, a buck
is more likely to spot you. A treestand hack in the woods breaks up your outline
and helps you go undetected.


Pay Attention To The Wind & Routes

What do you do when the wind changes direction? Iowan Rick White, a member
of the Hunters Specialties pro staff. stays away from the inside edge rather than
tipping off a buck to his stand location. “I’ll hunt a different stand around that field
where the wind is to my advantage, or l hunt a different area altogether,” White
says. “You get only one chance at a big buck and you don’t want to blow it by
hunting with a bad wind.”

Even when the wind is right. “White takes precautions to avoid spooking
deer on the way to his stand. He takes the shortest, quietest route possible
that keeps him downwind of deer and their bedding areas. If the best approach
is to cross the field, White generally hunts an inside edge in the afternoon
only during the early season. By crossing the field in the morning, he would spook
any deer feeding there. During the peak of the rut, when bucks are pushing does
around, White will gamble on crossing a field for a morning hunt.

When he searches for an inside edge, White looks for buck sign associated
with intersecting trails, bottlenecks, pinch points, or some terrain feature
that funnels deer past a particular tree. “I usually don’t get back in more
than 2O yards or so from the field,” White says. “I want to be close enough
that I can see what’s happening in the field. That way, I might notice another corner
where deer are coming into the field.”

Before bucks get into the pre-rut and rutting phases, they often use inside
edges as evening staging areas before they enter fields after dark to feed.
White took advantage of this tendency during an early October hunt in Iowa.
At 3 p.m. he climbed into an old fence line oak 5O yards from an alfalfa field.
From this vantage, he could see the field and well over 100 yards through
the stand of mature hardwoods.

An hour before dark, does started to filter through the hardwoods, browsing
and feeding on acorns as they headed to the field. About 30 minutes later, White
spotted a dandy 10-point buck casually feeding on acorns l5O yards away. He
rattled lightly with his rattle bag, followed up with a few mature buck grunts
on his Hunter’s Specialties Tru Talker, and the buck came right to him. “He wasn’t
looking for a fight, he was just curious to see what was going on,” White says.
“That’s typical early in the season.” The buck came down the fence that
lead to White’s tree and never tried to circle downwind of him. “Early in the
season, bucks often beeline it straight to the sound,” White says. “They’re more
cautious during the tut and usually in downwind then.”

White smoked the buck with his Mathews compound at 15 yards. It scored
137 4/8. Had White set his stand on the edge of the alfalfa field, he might not
have seen that buck back in the woods. If he had called to the buck from the field
edge, it probably would have been leery of coming near the field before dark.
And, even if the buck did respond to a call from the field edge, it would have
approached from White’s downwind side and may have winded him.

Missouri bowhunter Alex Rutledge, another member of the Hunters Specialties pro staff,
also takes advantage of inside edges downwind from fields. He stresses
that mature trophy bucks are nocturnal and don’t appear in these areas until the
last 30 minutes of daylight. If you’re on a field edge at this critical time, the
bucks will be crossing behind you. “Most bucks travel into a cross-wind well back from
the edge of a field,”


Rutledge says. “If the cover is thick a buck may pass within 5O yards of the field. If it`s
a wide open woods, the buck may scent-check the field from 100 yards
or more away.” Big tracks, clumpy droppings, and rubs tell Rutledge where a buck
is crossing along an inside edge. After he finds what he’s looking for, Rutledge places
treestand downwind from the buck’s trail. When he’s hunting hilly terrain,
Rutledge never sets a stand in the bottom or along the side of a hollow.

“The wind constantly swirls in those draws,” Rutledge says. “lf you set a stand
there, you’re going to get winded. I always set my stand on top of a hill, or
close to the top where the wind direction is more consistent. A lot of bucks
cross over the ends on points, and that’s a great place to catch them.”
A point overlooking a field may not strike you as an inside edge, but that may
very well be the case if you hunt whitetails in hill country. Rutledge has taken bucks
from such places that were crossing 125 yards downwind from a field.

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Published by archerchick on 08 Jan 2011

Calling In The Elk~ By Doug Kittredge

Calling In The Elk ~By Douglas Kittredge
“Successful elk hunting has little to do with luck.”
Standing about five feet at the shoulders, from eight hundred to over one thousand pounds, a mature bull elk can challenge any bowhunter.

Fortunate is the man who
hunts elk with a bow. His season comes at a time when the few available odds can be in his favor: weather rare ly severe, fewer hunters roaming the woods, early Fall rains to dampen his
footsteps; but most valuable, this is the time of the breeding period, or rut.
This is the period when even the cagiest of bulls puts aside his normal caution for the more important matter at hand.

There was a time when elk were extremely common animals, found in
great herds roaming the plains of the West. Because of market hunting pressure, the turn of this century saw the herds decimated to only 40,000 animals. Fortunate for today’s hunters,
the elk is an adaptable animal and has shifted habitat from exposed open plains to sheltered mountain forests where they now thrive in ever increasing numbers — literally an elk explosion by some states’ reports!

Though in ancient times some ten subspecies of these magnificent animals roamed North America, today, there are but four, and of these our hunting is directed primarily to the .
Roosevelt .and the Yellowstone varieties.

The true name is wapiti, from the Shawnee Indians. “Elk” really belongs
to a different animal, the European moose. Standing about five feet at the shoulders and from eight hundred to over 1000 pounds, a mature bull elk is a formidable creature, particularly when a bowhunter, previously acquainted only with deer, suddenly confronts one at close range. Such a
large target is mighty deceiving, making him seem much closer than he really is.

The mating season, or rut, probably does not actually start until mid
September, but bugling often is heard much earlier, starting in the latter part
of August in some areas. Cows do not breed until their third year; however, bulls participate at age two and often account for the majority of actual breeding in their younger years as the
older herd bull becomes more involved in chasing harassing competition away
from his harem.

As the rut progresses, the bulls become increasingly preoccupied with
their activity. They pay less and less attention to what is going on about
them. I’ve spoken with knowledgeable elk hunters who tell tales about elk do-
ing almost stupid things — perhaps walking right in toward a waiting hunter,
nose to the ground and sun at high noon. Or just standing there shaking
his rack from side to side while the archer excitedly lets fly arrow after
arrow. The height of the rut usually occurs toward the end of September
and lasts into the middle of October. During this time pugnacious old bulls
gather together their harems, consisting of perhaps only a few to more
than twenty cows. Smaller bulls are driven from the herd and the herd bull
becomes ready for combat as he plays his role in this yearly ritual.

Now is the time for the bowhunter to take advantage of the situation.
The smaller bulls hang around the harem, looking for opportunity to cut
out an amorous cow while the herd bull has his attention drawn elsewhere.
Challenge is given in musical notes, unique to this animal. It is a full-chested
effort that many outdoorsmen acclaim as the most exciting sound in
nature. Beginning on a low note, the call rises up the scale in three or four
tones to peak in a clear bugle held as long as the air supply lasts, then fades
abruptly into a series of almost hiccup type savage grunts. No two elk sound
exactly the same. The larger, mature bulls usually can be determined by
their coarse, deeper calls, while the young animals make with a thin, high-
pitched whistle. As the older bulls become increasingly upset, their calls can
transform into a chilling scream, lacking almost all musical qualities, even
becoming nothing but a series of deep- throated grunts. Many successful elk
callers attempt to reproduce only this grunting part of the call, feeling it does
more to arouse a challenge and has less chance for slip-up by making a false-
sounding note.

The courting efforts take their toll on the condition of an active bull elk,
burning off most of his accumulated Summer fat, scarring his neck and
bruising his chest through wounds from other rivals’ horns. He enters the
threat of coming Winter in badly weakened condition. It is reported
that a weight loss of three hundred pounds is not uncommon among herd
bulls during the rut.

An elk is an impressively antlered trophy. The immense antler display
begins to bud forth in May and continues growth into the first of August
when the blood vessels constrict and the horn growth hardens, soon to be
rubbed and polished to a magnificent fighting tool. The yearling bull grows
only spike horns, measuring ten to twenty inches in length. Each year the
bull grows a new set of antlers. By the time he reaches three years old, this
growth starts to become impressive, being more massive and up to five
points on each side. From this point the antler growth becomes larger and
heavier each season. A mature bull sports a head dress of six, seven or
even more points on a side, weighing fifty pounds or more. It is little
wonder their neck muscles and bones are so massive!

Elk thrive on browse, grass and forbs. Preference changes with availability
and the season of the year. During the Fall bowhunting periods, grass
fills most of their needs. They tend to be early morning and late evening
feeders, spending their midday in secluded, shaded bedding areas. Most
beginning elk hunters misjudge the speed of travel of a browsing elk herd.
It is almost impossible to keep up with using normal pussy-footing tactics.
They average better than one mile per hour and tend to browse in a straight
line, heading into the wind. Thus, a better technique calls for rapidly circling
the animals at a fast trot, dropping far enough to one side to keep
noise of travel from being important. The hunter should either get out in
front of the moving quarry to position himself in a hidden location, letting
the herd move to him; or be able to sneak in directly from the side.

Rarely is it a bull that is boss of the herd, rather it’s a wise old cow that
has her eyes, ears, and nose poised on what goes on about her. A bark-like
call acts as a warning of any danger, with headlong flight soon to follow.
As with many herd animals, elk often panic and stampede en masses, taking
their cue from other animals in the group whether they themselves have
seen a real danger or only imagined it. Such stampedes usually end quickly,
as soon as cover is reached, and the hunter can rapidly circle again to catch
up with the group. However, some elk movements are remarkable in distance
traveled. It is not uncommon to have spooked animals travel five miles or
more, going farther than just the next drainage cover.

During archery seasons, elk usually are found at the higher elevations
where they can take advantage of cooling breezes. They are restless animals,
perhaps because of the huge amount of food required. I have seen some
daily movements involving over eight miles of travel from feeding area to
bedding ground undergone on a daily basis. Elk water at least one time each
day and they may travel some miles to get to it. Rare is it that good elk habitat
does not contain an ample supply of this important liquid relatively closeby.
Their daily movements involve a pattern of feeding, watering and resting.
They tend to browse uphill from the bottomlands during the early morning hours, bedding in the cool thick timber during midday, resuming the browsing late in the afternoon,
moving in a downhill direction until after dark. Elk do feed during bright
moonlight periods of the month and most hunters feel their chances of success
are better during the dark phase of the moon.

Elk are bothered by hot weather. At times, they may seek bedding far out on an open point where refreshing breezes make life more comfortable and free of flies. High winds put elk
down into the safety of sheltered canyons where they can hear approaching
danger more easily. In heavily hunted areas, elk quickly become aware of the
pressure and either completely leave the area for more remote parts, or they change their habits such that they rarely leave the thicker-timbered hillsides, rarely being seen out in the
open. During such times, a patient hunter stands a chance of getting into the action by lurking high in a tree overlooking a well-used main trail or hidden water hole.

Successful elk hunting has little to do with luck. The hunt must be planned in detail. Six states account for eighty-five percent of the elk taken: Colorado, Wyoming, Oregon, Washington, Montana and Idaho — with Arizona and New Mexico becoming more popular with knowing bowhunters

First on the planning agenda should be writing the Fish and Game Department, c/o the capital city.of each state in which you are interested. Request information on expected season
dates, license costs, regulations and any suggestions as to possible hunting areas you might consider. If the name and address of the state bowhunting organization, or of individual hunters is available, it is a wise plan to contact them as well. Working out the details of a successful elk hunt takes time, so start well in advance of the season opening.

Hunting elk is an expensive undertaking, even when hunting without a paid guide or outfitter. There is no guarantee of hunter success. In fact, doing it the hard way with bow and
arrow puts the odds against you about nine to one. With increasing hunting pressure, decreasing available habitat and more restrictive hunting seasons, the best chance for success lies with booking a guided hunt through a reputable outfitter, Such a man should be able to put you in an
area where game is known to be, saving you the days of pre-season scouting. He also arranges for handling of the meat once you have an animal down — no small matter in the steep, remote areas most elk prefer.

Finding a suitable outfitter for a bowhunting experience can be highly frustrating. Most guides would rather hunt with a rifleman, as it makes their job many times easier. A number of
them look down on bows as ineffective for hunting these tough animals.
Frequently a bowman can be put in on game, only to have the wind shift so
he doesn’t get his shot, it becomes a miss, or there is a branch in the way.
Unless the guide is well acquainted with the quirks of hunting with bows,
he can lose patience with the hunter and his enthusiasm actually can
diminish the hunter’s chance for success.

The larger outdoor magazines contain sections devoted solely to listings
by the outfitting fraternity. Many Fish and Game Departments have published
listings of registered guides in their state. Write as many as you can. Not
only ask for their brochure, rates, and other pertinent information, but specifically request information about their capabilities of guiding a bowhunter. It is wise to request a minimum of three recent clients’ names as references. A phone call to a reference is worth many times that of a letter, for it gives a chance to listen to the tone of voice, or any hesitancy in giving an answer. Try to find out how the man felt the hunting conditions to be. Did game abound in the area? What
was the competitive hunting pressure from others in camp and other camps
in the area? What about the terrain and the weather? Did the guide perform as expected? And most important: Would he return to hunt with this particular guide again if he had the

Beware of any outfitter who makes fancy promises and fills his camp too full of hunters. Good guides rarely guarantee anything other than a good hunting experience under conditions
of fair chase, particularly when hunting an animal as elusive as an elk, with a bow. The top guided hunts have a single guide with a maximum of two hunters, and though admittedly more
costly, the best arrangement is one guide to a single hunter. Over half a dozen hunters in a single camp begins to spell overhunting of the area. You also want to know what flexibility you
might have in relocating the camp should the game not prove abundant or move out of the area.

Top guides and outfitters are much in demand, often being booked solid a
full year in advance. If you find this the case with the guide of your choice,
ask if he might be able to suggest another he considers capable, but perhaps not so well established. Though a quality guided hunt provides better chances for success, many of us cannot afford the bucks required. The well—conditioned, properly-prepared,
do it~yourself hunter still can have a good crack at this wily game. Begin setting up your plans by
writing for hunting maps of the area you have decided on. The Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management both publish such material. Topo maps are another vital addition and may be
obtained from many sporting goods outlets.

Consider how you are going to maneuver around in the hunting country. In most areas a four-wheel-A drive vehicle or a horse will be needed, though more and more backpackers
are going after elk. Elk hunting demands equipment that is in dependable, first-rate condition. Though archery seasons usually are blessed with fine weather, it can change overnight to an early season blizzard. Most hunters take more gear than they need until they learn how to
plan for all eventualities without duplication. I like to allow for a layered type of clothing outfit that provides a minimum amount of covering should the temperature be in the seventies,
yet I can keep adding another shirt or pair of long johns as needed to provide
warmth down to ten degrees or so. Nothing beats a good sleeping bag, so if money is to be saved, do so elsewhere and pay a little more for a sound night’s sleep. The same applies to boots, tent and backpack. Remember that elk inhabitat mountainous country and the smooth soled boots used by an Eastern whitetail hunter
don’t apply.

Being in shape physically is easy to say, but all too few of us really prepare for hiking the high mountain country where chances for elk will be best. Probably the inability to move around easily in hunting country accounts for more unfilled elk tags than any other single thing. Considering the
cost and effort most of us expend to hunt elk, it behooves us to prepare a bit in advance.

Start by paying a visit to your doctor. Tell him what you plan. He might
want to give you a brief examination, then offer his advice for an exercise
program you can follow a few months before the hunt. A couple of months
before the season I like to begin jogging or walking a few miles each day,
at a speed fast enough to work up the heartbeat and get my wind to puffing.
If a horse is part of the hunting plan, regular riding a few weeks ahead of
time can make the whole trip more enjoyable. Plan to be in the hunting area
several days ahead of time. Western elk areas tend to be at high altitude where
acclimatization can be a major help.

As most bowhunting seasons occur during the rut, the majority of hunters
take along some form of elk call. Over the years, these bugles have been fashioned from just about every type of plastic tube, bamboo, metal gas pipe, rubber hose, or modified reed calls.
Exactly imitating a bull’s bugle is difficult, if not impossible. I don’t believe I have ever heard a man-made call which sounds exactly the same as a real elk, and many of those on the market are
at best but a faint imitation. Accordingly, most hunters will acknowledge that the elk herds are becoming Wage wise” to the human efforts of trying to sound like a bull. In some areas, it is
rare for the elk to bugle at all, other than for a short while during height of the rut. In most areas. a poorly executed bugle will announce the hunter’s presence, instantly silencing the whistling bulls, putting the herd into flight, or at least on wary alert.

Correct use of a good bugle can save a lot of miles of walking. When an
answer is received, it shows the location of the elk, assures you of being in elk terrain, and that you can slow your travel and begin use of your hunting skills in working in for a shot. Though bulls will come in to an elk call, it has been my experience that more likely they will answer, then move the; gathering of cows out ahead of the: getting away from what they believe
to be a rival, challenging bull. I suggest moving in on the answering bull using a circling movement
watching to keep the wind in your favor and moving at the pace of a fast walk or trot. Don’t be too concerned about noise, just try to get out ahead if the elk as quickly as possible. Don’t
call again for about ten minutes. If the bull calls again before the ten minute; are up, try to decide if it is the same bull that first answered your call and he is moving toward or away from you. If toward you, hide in a position where you think you will be able to get a clear shot. Wait a minute or two before making another call, perhaps shielding your call behind your hand or shoulder to sort of muffle the sound and eliminate giving it true direction.

Keep your calls short. Don’t call too often. Try to let the bull make all the moves. He may continue coming in even though you don’t answer him again, and by staying silent you eliminate any chance of a poorly made call alarming him. I like to make a grunt
by sucking in my breath behind the flat of my hand, but unless you know
what you are doing, you can choke up and ruin the whole thing.
I found that the quickest way to learn how to call up elk was to spend a
few days in the field, after the close of the regular season, to try calling. Most
archery seasons close just as the rut is really beginning to hit its full peak. Arranging your schedule to allow a few extra days following the season can work wonders in polishing up your
technique. Here is a time when you can experiment with anything and failure won’t matter,

First crack of morning and just before it is too dark to hunt legally are the prime times for calling. Some hunters even go out well after dark, leaving their bows behind, to make a bugle or two directed into canyons or up mountainsides where they hope an answering hull will indicate a new
place to try hunting. Except during the height of the rut, most elk terminate their bugling shortly after dawn. In working through your selected hunting country, when no elk are known to be close by, try to cover as much ground as possible, looking for fresh signs of droppings or tracks. Make
a bugle every fifteen or twenty minutes during the first hour or so of morning and the last half hour of evening.

Keep your eyes peeled for spring fed areas in small alpine meadows
where elk may be wallowing in the mud. An elk wallow is an important
part of the rutting ritual Here the bull will paw, dig and urinate, until he has a sloppy quagmire in
which he`ll roll around much like a domestic hog. Such wallows are used year after year.
There is a strong, distinctive odor in the wallow area during the rutting season. Frequently an alert hunter will recognize this unique smell when pussy-footing through the woods, signaling him of animals in the area long before they actually come into view.

This scent of elk is a good one to help mask the human odor. I like to step on fresh droppings as I come across them, squashing them well into the soles of my boots. I also rub some
onto the cuffs of my pants. One elk hunter told me he ties an old sock to his belt. In the sock he puts any fresh droppings he might find, a little of the odorous mud from a wallow, the
scented dark urine spot from a fresh elk bed he comes across; anything that
is strongly elk scented. Then he dips his sock in such water seepage as he may come across, letting the resulting mess slop around against his leg, splattering his pants and the trail around
him. There is a certain air about him, but he doesn’t smell of man!

An elk’s best protection is his nose. The careful hunter must pay strict attention to keeping the direction of wind movement in his face. Hunting clothes never should be worn near a campfire. Cigarette smoke is a no·no. Care must be taken not to slop gasoline when gassing up the transportation buggy. Don’t consume strong coffee first thing in the morning…it
exudes from the skin much like eating raw garlic or onion.

Barely second to his nose are the elk`s eyes and any movement spotted will bring his immediate attention. Noise seems to be the only place where there’s a bit of a chink in his armor — perhaps because an elk is pretty noisy himself — but just let the sound be foreign to the woods, such as
a clink of metal or a rubbed thump of a bowstring, and he’s all ears. The lean, red meat of the elk is absolutely the best there is. No moose, sheep or deer I’ve ever had quite equals the flavor. Because the animal is so large and the insulating qualities of the heavy hide so good, elk meat spoils easily. By the very nature of the bow and arrow where there is a time lapse in between shooting the animal, then finding his carcass, time is against us.

The man who hunts with a bow must be prepared on the spot to take adequate care of his animal. Carry a small knapsack in which you have all the necessities: a small hoist for moving his heavy body, saw or ax for splitting up the carcass, a stout skinning knife and sharpening equipment, extra rope, and plastic trash bag to protect the innards.

It is important to get the hide off the animal as quickly as you have dressed it out. Open up the body well and let it begin to cool. lf possible, the carcass should be cut into quarters,
then hung high in trees so air circulates fully around the meat. A couple of temporary cheesecloth deer bags carried in the knapsack will afford protection from insects. If the meat has to be
backpacked out, boning will reduce the weight about forty percent; even then, it will take a number of loads. Elk meat should be hung in a cold room to age for a week or ten days.

This breaks down the muscle tissue and makes it tender. You can keep your meat in camp, even with relatively warm temperatures, by hanging it out during the nighttime coolness and wrapping it
well in blankets or old sleeping bags during the heat of the day. Cook in the same manner as a fine cut of beef, remembering that it takes a little less time and heat to cook to the same degree of doneness, Any of your favorite recipes for beef will prove doubly tasty when you prepare
it with elk!

To hunt this regal animal and tramp through his beautiful western lands is
an experience to be cherished. With sound game—management programs
and sportsman-like pursuit, we should look forward to continued outstanding
hunting recreation for ourselves and our offspring in many lifetimes to
follow. <——<<<


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Published by archerchick on 08 Jan 2011

Hunting’s Greatest Thrill~ By Fred Bear

BOW & ARROW Magazine’s
Hunting’s Greatest Thrill ~ By Fred Bear
Why waste a good part of a a day’s hunt by not hunting?
The deer are there somewhere, waiting to match wits with you.

Hunting from A blind or tree stand may be the
most effective way to get a deer, but it is not the only
way. Getting close to your wild animal on your own, where
the odds are are definitely not in your favor, is by far the most
challenging and satisfying way to hunt.

Frequently the beginning or even intermediate
bowhunter: will mention luck when asked to assess the
reasons for a particularly successful season in the woods.
Such a tendency is common when hunting for whitetail
deer one of the most consistently difficult quarry to take
with the bow. However, luck does enter into a successful
bowhunt only if we conceive of it as opportunity made
available Having been presented with a situation where
deer are present, proper use of the opportunity will depend
upon the hunter’s accumulated skills.

The bow and arrow as a still—hunting arm has many
handicaps outstanding because of their direct correlation
with the opposing instincts of deer. First, and most
important is the short range of the bow, making it
necessary to approach well within the protective screen of
the game’s senses in order to obtain a reasonable shot,
coupled with the considerable motion created in shooting.
Finally, the noise of the bowstring travels faster than the
arrow and affords an alert animal time to get out of its way
if it recognizes danger in the sound.

In still-hunting deer with the bow and arrow these
must be taken into consideration, individually and
in various combinations. The instinctive faculties of the
game and the inherent shortcomings of the bow create a
chain of never-ending problems. The still-hunter must
locate undisturbed deer before his own presence is
detected, penetrating the game’s innate barriers of sight,
scent and hearing, in the effort t0 get within bow range
without being seen, smelled or heard.

For those who haven’t tried it, this whole business often
seems like an impossible feat. Too many firearms hunters
hesitate to try the bow, thinking it too difficult and time
consuming to learn and carry out. Actually this is not so.
With very little initial guidance, the skill of shooting a bow
can be mastered quickly. Except for the short range of the
bow, hunting from blinds or stands is little different from
rifle hunting.

Still-hunting, while certainly more difficult, can be
combined with the waiting game to add interest to those
periods when bedded game makes a stationary position
unfruitful. Many hunters may feel they are too awkward to stalk a
deer, but that, too, is not plausible reasoning. Anyone can
do it simply by slowing down to a super-controlled pace
and concentrating on seeing, rather than just l00king.
There’s a difference.

lf you have done your homework — scouted the hunting
area — you should know approximately where deer bed
down during the midday period, and thus the places most
likely to be productive for still-hunting. Your tactics will be
adapted to the animal’s behavior. Unlike the mule deer, the
whitetail spends much of its time in or on the edge of dense
cover. This is true whether they inhabit our southern
hardwood forests, northeastern cedar swamps, or river
brakes of the midwest.

You’re out there in the first place to take advantage of
the finest season in the woodlands. Why waste a good part
of it by not hunting for half of each day? The deer do not
hide in hollow trees or go down badger burrows. They are
out there somewhere, waiting to match wits with you.
In many areas of whitetail habitat, mast provides a
plentiful and favored fall diet. With the advent of October
winds and rain, acorns will begin to fall. Squirrels
contribute to the bounty by cutting them down. From then
on, some deer can be found feeding on the freshly fallen
nuts at any time of day, bedding right in the open oak
groves between meals if not disturbed. Still-hunting in
stands of oaks can often produce a good chance for a stalk
on deer intent upon filling their stomachs. At noon I once
eased up within thirty feet of a young buck that was busy

If not in oak country, or in seasons of poor acorn crop,
the still-hunter should concentrate on covering such areas as
the sunny slopes along ridge tops, heavy jackpines or tree
plantations, poplar thickets, balsam groves and willow or
alder swales bordering streams or ponds. These are the
generally favored midday bedding locations for the
whitetail. Once you have found where the deer are resting,
by moving very slowly and being very alert, you may be
able to slip up on a whitetail. At any rate, it’s fun trying.

When moving through such cover a certain amount of
noise cannot be avoided. This does not, however, make it
impossible to get close to deer. The secret is to move along
slowly, with a pause after every three or four steps. This is
the way a feeding deer moves. While in heavy cover, travel
on deer trails whenever possible. These are not only quieter
going, but lead you to where the animals are.

The direction you approach and move through various
coverts should depend on prevailing air currents. A deer’s
nose furnishes its sharpest sense, and the bowhunter must
keep his scent from the animal. Consequently move either
into or across the breeze direction whenever possible. even
if this means a sizeable detour to get downwind. Some
insurance in areas where the air currents are fickle may be
had from a little deer scent on the boots and clothing.

Soft-finish clothing is also important to the still-hunter,
as is flexible foot gear with soft soles such as crepe rubber
A small occasional noise will not ruin an approach, but a
steady sound pattern will immediately alert the game. And
of course complete camouflage including the face, hands
and bow is certainly helpful.
Patience is really the key to successful still—hunting.lf
you go very slowly and pause frequently, chances are you’ll
do well. But the moment you get anxious and speed up the
pace, something’s likely to go wrong.

When moving, each step will open up new avenues of
vision. Very seldom will you initially see an entire deer.
Look for spots that look like parts of a deer’s body. Train
yourself to spot and examine every bit of unusual color or
outline in the woods. These could turn into part of a
bedded or feeding deer. The important thing to remember
is that you must curb the tendency to see what’s over the
next hill. If you don’t travel slowly you won’t see anything
over the hill except possibly the sight of white tails waving
goodbye. To gain the advantage, you must see the deer
before it suspects your presence, and that advantage can
only come with cautious, slow steps. If hunting correctly,
you’ll spend more time motionless than you will moving.
When you do move. take short steps. By doing so you
remain balanced and can freeze instantly in mid-step when
the occasion demands.
I had the privilege of knowing and hunting with the late
Bill Loomis of Newaygo, Michigan. Bill was a skilled
bowhunter and taught me some valuable tricks. One of the
things I learned from him was that in still-hunting, if you
accidently jump a group of deer and they disperse in
different directions, hide yourself near the spot where they
were alerted. Possibly in a half hour or so some deer will
return, hoping to make contact with the others, and you
might have the chance to get off a good shot.

When you are within sight of undisturbed deer, the final
approach or stalk is employed. Have you ever watched the
hands on a clock? You don’t see them move, yet they
change position. I once saw a bobcat stalking a grouse and
it’s progress reminded me of the clock hands. This principle
should govern your close-range stalking, and it can get you
within bowshot of a bedded or feeding deer, even if you are
partially in the open.

Perhaps the greatest deterrent to success during a stalk is
in concentrating on one deer, thereby overlooking others
that are in the area. Deer are seldom alone; You should
constantly be checking for others bedded or feeding
nearby. There is nothing so disconcerting as to be almost
within easy range, only to have an explosive snort from one
side lift your neck hair and send the white flags flying.

Speaking of flags, it is well to remember that a feeding
deer will invariably switch its tail just before raising the
head to look around. Keep an eye on the tail and when it
switches- freeze.

Do nor attempt to stalk a deer from behind a large tree
or dense cover unless you keep its head in view at all times.
If you don‘t you’ll never get away with it, for you are
unable to determine when the animal is looking in your
direction.. I’ve tried this more than once, only to be
frustrated by an eye-to-eye confrontation when, in
preparing to shoot, I leaned out to one side of the cover.

While it is true that, due to eye position, deer have good
peripheral vision, it is still possible to approach an animal
standing broadside, providing its head is down in feeding
position. But again, one must move like the hands on a
clock, watch the tail, and be prepared at every instant to
freeze. Move straight toward such a- deer; it is less likely to
pick up movement than if you progress laterally.

Of the few times you do manage to close within your
range, let’s say thirty-five yards, it does not necessarily
follow that you should shoot immediately. After all, you’ve
put a lot of time and effort into the stalk and one good
shot is worth any number of mediocre chances. What is the
best possible shot? It’s certainly never at a running deer,
nor is it at a deer that’s alert or tense. The best possible
shot is presented by a standing animal, broadside or
quartered away, relaxed, and with its head down.

And what if your slight approach movements are
detected by a deer, unsure of just what it has seen, but
determined to stare at the object in question until it is sure’?
Well, all I can say is that nine times out of ten your
patience will give way before the deer’s. Furthermore, it is
tensed like a compressed spring and ready to explode. Your
best chance then is to slowly ease up. the bow, slowly draw,
and if the animal hasn’t moved before you reach your
anchor, touch it off.
Don’t be disappointed though, or even surprised, if the
deer is gone either at the first movement, or before your
arrow gets there. Rare indeed is the deer bagged by a
bowman when the animal was looking at him. But, the
thrill is there and it’s all part of the game.

Occasionally while stalking, a deer will jerk up its head
to stare in your direction, but obviously unsure of whether
it has seen anything unusual. Such an animal will swivel the
ears around and may stomp hesitantly with a forefoot. In
this instance it is best to freeze in an attempt to wait it out.
But beware — don’t make a move when the animal finally
lowers its head, for it will invariably raise it again
immediately, hoping to catch any intruder off—guard. It
may go through this maneuver several times. Hold your
tree-trunk pose until the deer actually starts to feed again
before resuming the stalk.

Although still-hunting can be done by partners who are
used to working with one another, for the most part,
particularly in western-terrain, still—hunting is a loner’s
game. One hunter makes half the noise and movement of

Rainy or extremely damp weather is a favored time for
the still-hunter due to the additional cushioning of noise
and slowing of scent spread by the abnormal moisture
content in the woods. When hunting in damp weather, stick
generally to the lower ground levels. No matter what time
of day, moisture causes the air to settle and would carry a

message of danger to your quarry should you be on higher
ground. If hunting on a day wet enough to require a rain
jacket, wear it under your camouflage jacket. This will
muffle noise otherwise accented by brushing against limbs
or in the act of drawing the bow.

One of the greatest thrills I ever had while hunting
occurred on a drizzly morning after an all—night rain
Although quiet underfoot, the woods were noisy with
water dripping from the leaves. Having spotted a lone doe
busily browsing along and not alert, I managed to close the
distance between us to the length of my bow. The
explosion that came when I tapped her on the rump was
something to see, and made up for all the times I had
similarly jumped in response to an undetected deer’s snort.

The prime period for the still-hunter occurs during the
madness moon. When mating season is under way, for a
period of two or three weeks those desirable bucks are
likely to be encountered any time of the day. Further, they
are less alert than usual and easier to approach, although
this is not to say they are pushovers by any means. During
the rut you do not have to look specifically for a buck
Find the does, keep them in sight, and a buck is bound to
show up. But never underestimate your quarry. The does
never lose their alertness and the bucks, even when preoccupied
with lovemaking, don’t turn into complete
A schedule favored by many bowmen is a stand or blind
from first light to l0 a.m., still—hunting until 4 p.m., then
resuming an ambush until dark. But while early morning is
a prime time for occupying a blind or stand, the hour after
dawn is also my favorite time for still-hunting. After
feeding undisturbed all night, deer are much less wary, on
the move toward bedding grounds, feeding slowly as they
go, and keeping their heads down more than at any other
time of day. lf you can find an area where old trails or bush
roads intersect the travel zones between feeding and
bedding grounds, stealing along these at first light may offer
excellent chances.

Just prior to or directly following a storm, any kind of
storm, deer are on the move and therefore provide another
excellent period to hunt through known feeding areas.
There is a time in still—hunting when you must throw
caution to the winds. I have often spotted feeding deer,
observed which way they were headed, then dropped back
out of sight and ran widely around to set up an ambush. In
assuming such a stand, you must be patient. If you have
circled successfully and have found good cover, it often
seems as if they would never get there. You begin to have
doubts, thinking they have probably switched travel
direction. But wait a little longer. As sure as you start to
move, there they will be. Sometimes this ambush works out
and as often it doesn’t, but in this type of hunting a 50-50
chance is a good one.

In late Fall when most of the leaves are down and
tempered by frost, deer make almost as much noise as you
do while walking, especially the bucks who tend to drag
their feet. So do not despair when the under footing is like
cornflakes. Just move as the deer do, very slowly and with
frequent pauses, and concentrate on observing them from a
distance, beyond the range of your sound.

The taking of a deer by this method is especially
satisfying, and rightly so, for you have pitted yourself
against your quarry on its own ground. A successful
still-hunt is the culmination of experience gained during
many attempts. And when at last you’ve made a final stalk
pay off, you’ll know beyond a doubt why this is
bowhunting’s greatest thrill. <—<<<


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Published by archerchick on 08 Jan 2011

Scoring in Bedding Areas – By Steve Bartylla

October 2006

Scoring in Bedding Areas by Steve Bartylla
Is Hunting Bedding Areas Too Risky? Not When You’re Armed With The Right Tactics

I was in a jam. Intending to spend much of the season on the property,
I’d invested several weeks into stand preparations. However, due
to an unanticipated twist of events, I’d have only one day to hunt
the tract. Needing to pull a rabbit out of my hat, l knew right where I’d go: to
the heart of a doe bedding area. Several hours after first light, the
rabbit emerged. With the unmistakable sounds of a chase approaching my stand,
l grabbed my bow and got into position. Tearing through the location where
does had been bedded a half hour before, The adult doe was on a mission
to lose her pursuers. With a mature 10 point mere feet behind her, both deer
blew through, and there was no chance of stopping them.

Forty-some yards behind, the nice 8-point followed. As he stopped in my shooting
lane to sniff the bed of a departed doe, l swiftly positioned the 30-yard pin and sent
the arrow into flight. A kick and explosion of energy later, all
that was left was following the good blood trail to where he lay. Hunting
bedding areas had allowed me to score yet another good buck.

When Bedding Areas Are The Only Way To Go
Hunting buck bedding areas is a risky endeavor. There are no other areas in a buck’s
home range that it knows better or is less tolerant of disturbances. Sure, bucks
will typically tolerate being bumped from a bedding area once or twice, but anything
more than that will likely cause them to relocate their core area. However, there are
times and setting where the risk of hunting buck bedding areas is worth it. A prime
example of this occurs when chasing heavily pressured deer. In this setting, the bucks that survive
their first few years do so by becoming predominately nocturnal.

Even in this setting, bucks are rarely purely nocturnal. Instead, outside of the rut
most of their daylight movement occurs in or very near to their bedding areas.
These safety zones tend to exist in isolated pockets of comparatively less pressure.
More often than not, they require extra effort to get to. Some common examples
are remote areas, sections blockaded by swamps or water features, and pockets
fenced off by challenging terrain. Another example is areas that are
simply overlooked. A buck I harvested on some heavily hunted public ground
was a great example of this. Because the patch of nearly impenetrable woods
was merely a half-acre in size, as well as being bordered by a dirt road and surrounded
by a large grass field, the scores of other hunters focused on the area’s
bigger timber. A quick scout of the area revealed that the tangle was where a
good buck called home.

Having selected a tree along the edge during the scout, I slipped in for the
hunt hours before first light. Well before shooting light, I spotted the 10-point
chasing a doe in the tall grass. When light finally came they headed for the tangle to
hole up for the day. Luckily for me, I was waiting for them. To illustrate how easily
accessible this overlooked location was the arrowed buck was nearly hit by a truck
as it made it’s last run to die on the other side of the road.

Even on land that receives moderate pressure, hunting buck bedding areas has it’s time. Frankly, anytime bucks minimize their daylight movement hunting near their bedding areas is the most consistently productive stand hunting approach. Two common examples of this occur during the decreased movement period of the October lull and the early portion of the post-rut. Stiff winds, unseasonably warm temperatures and storms also tend to reduce daylight movement. Under those scenarios, slipping in close to the bedding area can be the best option.

Keys To Hunting A Buck’s Bedroom

Regardless of what inspires the hunter to make the move, being consistently
successful at hunting buck bedding areas requires staying undetected. Luckily
following several guidelines helps. The first involves selecting a stand
location as close to the bedding area as possible, without alerting the buck to
the hunter’s presence. This distance is going to vary due to many factors. The
buck`s field of view, the level of noise made approaching the stand, wind directions
and the risk of spooking other deer must all be factored into the equation.
Woodsmanship and common sense must be used to determine the approach
distance. When in doubt, it’s always safer to err on the side of caution.

Next, the stand must be prepared .in a way that doesn’t blow the deal. When
that involves scouting and prepping-stands during season, everything should be done
the first time in. Scouting with a stand can be a pain, but repeated trips in only increases disturbances.

Minimizing disturbances also mean refrain from trimming shooting lanes, going;
during midday, performing the task silently, cutting odors and not lingering
longer than necessary.

When possible, prepping stands during the off season is a better choice. This timing allows the buck the opportunity to accept the hunter’s intrusion into his core area. However, because pressure bucks are true survivors, disturbances should still be kept to a minimum. Finally, because hunting bedding areas is a high-risk venture, these stands can easily be over»hunted. Even with great access and departure routes. as well as religiously playing the wind, buck bedding areas shouldn’t be hunted more than once every five days. Further more, targeting them during light rains has the advantage of inspiring otherwise nocturnal bucks to move earlier, as well as reducing noise and washing away odors.

Don’t Forget Doe Bedding Areas

Hunting bedding areas shouldn’t be focused solely on buck bedrooms. Doe bedding areas are also great locations. During the peak scraping, chase and breeding phases, bucks routinely cruise
doe bedding areas. With one pass of the downwind side, a buck can check the readiness of the does inside. During the chase phase, bucks commonly crash the bedding areas them-

At this point, the nearness of breeding and high testosterone levels inspire many mature bucks to dog almost any doe they encounter. As was the case in the beginning of this article, stands placed within doe bedding areas are good choices during the chase phase. The trick to pulling it off is setting the stand downwind, yet within shooting range of the bedded does. Because does are typically less nocturnal than mature bucks, getting into stand 30 minutes before first light is most often enough to beat them in. After that, it`s a matter of remaining still and waiting for the chase to begin.

For the other prime phases, a less risky placement is best. Stands placed approximately 20 yards from the down-wind edge provide the best coverage. With this placement, bucks skirting as much as 40 yards downwind are within easy range.This is also a good location to pull out the estrus scents. Because bucks are already searching for hot does, the percentage of positive responses is comparatively high. Therefore, scent drags and strategically placed scent wicks are both good choices. Furthermore, placing estrus wicks 20 yards to either side of the stand can draw downwind bucks before they hit the hunter’s odors.

Hunting a bedding area can be a high-risk endeavor. However, it’s the one location that can produce when no other will. By taking steps to minimize disturbances, many of the bucks I’ve harvested prove that these techniques can be well worth the calculated risk. For a comprehensive guide to cutting edge stand hunting methods, check out Steve Bartylla’s new book.

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Published by archerchick on 08 Jan 2011

How To Make A Custom Fit Bow Mitt – By C.R. Learn

October 1989

HOW TO Make A Custom Fit Bow Mit ~ By C.R. Learn

Say goodbye to cold bow hand with this quick easy project

OLD weather hunting can be invigorating;
it can also be damned cold. The idea of stalking deer in
snow is a good one since you really know what the game is
and you can tell how fresh tracks are. If you get a good shot in
the vitals, you have that blanket of white to aid in tracking.
Here the real problem of snow/ cold weather hunting is keeping warm.
We have sophisticated materials that are also made in camo colors so
you can keep the body shell and head warm. My problem.
one often heard from other hunters, is keeping the hands
warm. I have tried all types of gloves and the best for warmth
are wool. They also are the worst for holding onto your bow.

A glove on the bow hand is a must since that hand doesn’t
get much movement to keep up circulation. I took the bow mitt
idea seriously and scooted off to the yardage store for some
materials. I knew I wanted a nylon—type material that had
some waterproofing and some fake fur for the fuzzy warmth
factor inside. I also needed some Velcro for fastening the unit
together. A few dollars lighter in the pocket, I walked out with some
coated pack cloth — nylon used for making backpacks — and
some artificial wool shearing It looks like a sheared wool, r
but is all synthetic. A real wool hide will run you about sixty
dollars today and the synthetic costs a fraction of that.
I obtained some one-inch-wide Velcro strips for the unit
and started on my layout. l always make a pattern from paper
or, in this case, some single- sided cardboard.

The first dimension was the wrap over the bow and back to
the wrist. A few Cuts starting with an obvious oversize section and I stabilized on a piece
6% by fourteen inches. This allowed the cardboard to fully
wrap the hand on the bow and come back to the wrist, front and back.
It was wide enough to cover the hand as well as the
top and bottom of the grip area. The second part to get sized
was the wrap section that would attach to the wrist to hold the
mitt on the hand. I made it shorter and cut a section four by
twelve inches that will be attached to the longer and larger bow section.
That’s all the pattern you need and you can modify it if you have a larger riser section,
shoot open—handed or want more room.

The pack cloth was placed on the table and one section cut
for the wrap and one for the wrist. The artificial wool shearing
material was cut in the same manner, without too much fuss
for size and tight cutting procedures. The wife had what she called
batting; fluffy cotton- looking material used in blankets and padded
clothing. She I suggested it would give added warmth and she was right,
again. I laid out a section of the batting and cut two pieces as before to add to the mitt.
At this point you need a sewing machine and a few minutes
to sew it together. I always modify as I start to sew to make the project as
simple as possible. I bought an old White Rotary sewing machine years
ago to make some camo shirts. I found that many people are afraid to try something
different and the mention of cutting and sewing a shirt scared them. Since that time. I have
sewn many miles; the largest project was a ten—by—thirteen-foot wall tent.

The machine lets you make things like this mitt that you
can’t buy. If you are afraid of your macho image. you can
have the wife make this or have a tailor do it. You will be
shocked at the price a tailor or seamstress will charge for
this little item, though. Do it yourself and have the fun of making
the entire project. Start the sewing by laying the two pieces on
the machine with the outside areas facing each other. You will pull this
inside out to finish it, so you start backward. Sew three sides
and pull the unit out, forming a large pocket. Stuff the batting in this
pocket, making certain you have it even in the corners and try to
keep it as flat as you can. It does move, so you can place it
where you want it. With the wrist section, put outside faces together, make
another pocket by sewing three sides and pull it right—side out.

Stuff this with a same—size cut section of batting and you are
almost done. The next phase is to close the raw edge, the one
you stuffed from and you have a finished product with all edges
sewn closed. Sew the mitt section and the wrist section together to make
a weird looking offset that placed the wrist section an inch longer
on the left when looking from the pack cloth side. You can
place it anywhere you like. Take the Velcro fuzzy -female side — and sew one on
each end of the wrist wrap on the wooly side. I sew this all
the way around, since it can pull off if not sewn tight. This will wrap over
and mate with the hook —male.

Velcro section you will sew on the end of the mitt section. Cut an equal three-inch length
of hook material and sew it on an angle from the far end. angling toward the outside of the
mitt section. Sew this around all sides. You will also sew the
batting in place so it won’t shift when you make this Velcro
addition through all the layers. You have just completed a bow mitt that will keep your
bow hand warm while hunting. I made one last winter and took it to Arizona while javelina
hunting. The mornings were on the frosty side in January and the mitt not only kept my
bow hand warm, but had an added advantage I hadn’t anticipated. My bow hand gets
tired of gripping the bow as l tramp over hill and wash looking for pigs. All I had to do was
relax my bow hand. The bow slipped down and was held in place by the Velcro tight closed
mitt. It couldn’t fall off and l had a chance to flex and move that bow hand to reduce

This mitt was too warm for me. By the time the sun was up.
I had to take it off, because my hand was a bit too warm, l
opened up the bottom of the mitt to allow air to circulate
and it worked great that way. It is really simple to put on.

Hold the longer wrap with the wooly side up. Place the
bow you plan to carry in that section. Pull the long gip wrap
over the bow handle and fasten it to the wrist wrap using the
upper tab. The mitt is attached to the bow at the upper grip
area. Place your hand on the riser and grip the bow as you will
carry or shoot it. Pull the other loose tab over the bottom of
the wrist and up to the mitt section using the angled section of
Velcro hook to close that section. The mitt is now closed
over your hand and grip area. You can make it tighter or looser
by adjusting the Velcro tabs. You should be careful of the
upper mitt section and be certain it doesn’t cover your arrow
rest. The front of the mitt should be below the shooting area
where the arrow will move across during draw and release.

This is easy to adjust and after a few shots you will ignore the
mitt and just use the bow normally. When not using the mitt, you
can wad it up and stuff it in your pocket or your day pack. When I
was finished using it in the morning. l opened it up flat and placed it
inside my shirt next to my back as a kidney warmer.

lf money is no object, you could purchase a shearling hide
and make the mitt from real wool. I’d really prefer that myself. but for the price l’ll use the
synthetics. <—<<

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Published by archerchick on 08 Jan 2011


October 1989

Dixie Whitetails ~ By Roger Combs
Mississippi abounds in deer, offering bowhunters plenty of opportunity at reasonable cost.

MISSISSIPPI IS not usually the first state that comes to mind when
bowhunters get together to talk about whitetail hot spots. Not a lot has been written about
the area which, in fact, abounds in the elusive game most of us spend hunting
seasons pursuing. Due to several factors, whitetail deer in Dixie, in Mississippi, in particular, are
doing well.They are plentiful, healthy, enjoy growing populations in most areas and, on some well managed private and public ranges, are producing trophy antler racks.

The state’s Department of Wildlife Conservation encourages enlightened game management on privately owned farms and clubs, including the necessary food crops and either-sex game harvesting. One of the most common and earlier symptoms of a dwindling food supply is a
decline in buck antler development. In fact, say Mississippi game management experts, when a deer herd has been above carrying capacity for several years, even older bucks may grown only spike antlers.

Many of the private areas of Mississippi are leased or owned by hunting or wildlife clubs, practicing modern deer management techniques. One such is the Pecan Grove Wildlife Club at Fort Adams.
Located in the southwest corner of the state, it’s just north of the Louisiana state line and on the eastern banks of the Mississippi River. The club is owned and developed by businessman George Haynes of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Haynes obtained the old 7000—acre plantation several years ago and has implemented programs to improve deer, wild turkey, duck and small game habitat.

My introduction to the club came as a result of an invitation from Haynes through the good offices of Bill Bynum, a successful bowhunter who is familiar with whitetails in the South. The state’s deer season for archery opened the first of October and ran until November 18 in 1988. Those who hunt with archery and/ or black powder are permitted to take up to five bucks per season, plus three does.

The regular firearms season opens the day after archery season closes and runs
until past the middle of January of the following year. If they wish, archers may hunt also during the firearms season with bow and arrows, but they must abide by the gun season rules, which include the wearing of a specified minimum of hunter orange outer clothing. Only bowhunters
and muzzleloaders may take the extra three does per season.

The Pecan Grove Wildlife Club lodge is located about an hour south of Natchez, Mississippi and about an hour north of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It is just northwest of the early settlement of Fort Adams on the banks of the Buffalo River. Both cities have frequent airline flights from and to any place. The club acreage includes access to Lake Mary and the banks of the Mississippi River for plenty of fishing opportunities.

I flew to Baton Rouge the day before opening day of the 1988 season and was met at the airport by George Haynes. During the drive to Fort Adams, Haynes outlined the club’s program for conservation and game management. All wildlife is left in its natural state. Deer food plots are
planted. as is millet for ducks, crimson clover for turkey and deer. Haynes has initiated a timber management system, selectively cutting certain areas to enhance hunting potential. Timber cutting thins out some areas, allowing more deer browse to grow.

Haynes also has taken steps to construct a number of water control structures on the property, with better hunting in mind. The club property is located along the banks of the Mississippi and Buffalo Rivers and, because of that, subject to partial flooding from time to time. When the property was farmed, the flooding brought silt and topsoil down, creating rich farm land. Flooding also helps to restock the many fishing ponds, lakes and streams in the area.

Lake Mary is one of the large ox—bow lakes at Pecan Grove. Ox—bow lakes, explained Haynes, are formed when the river, after years of flowing around a sharp bend, eventually floods through the curve in an effort to flow in a straight line. The original river bend is left isolated, leaving an ox-
bow—shaped lake. There are hundreds along a river as extensive as the Mississippi. Lake Mary is full of bass, bream, crappie and catfish, as well as a locally popular fish called sac—a-lair. On the way to the club lodge, Haynes and I spend an hour examining his concrete boat launching ramp and fishing dock recently installed on the lake’s shore. Crossing the Buffalo River and turning off the dirt road to the parking area of the lodge, one is struck immediately by the
fact that the building is constructed upon log pilings which raise it about twenty feet
above ground level. The guest rooms, large dining room and meeting room are all on the higher level. The meat processing area and recreation/ indoor archery range room are at ground level. Whenl naively asked about the height of the building, I was reminded that, at times, the Buffalo River floods, putting much of the property under the water.

Haynes and his staff have spent time surveying the property during all seasons
to determine the natural deer travel routes, feeding and bedding areas. In some places,
they have constructed rather permanent tree or free—standing stands to take advantage of the knowledge. Before opening day, the guides are out, making a final survey and marking the
route into the tree stand locations with red tape so hunters can find their ways in the pre—dawn darkness. Undergrowth is heavy because of the rich soil and the seasonal
rainfall. In some areas, access routes have been cut through the brush to enable hunters to make their way without becoming soaked while passing through the wet growth.

The lodge itself can accommodate up to a hundred people during the hunting season.
In 1988, we had about sixty hunters and guides in the place the night before opening morning. Rooms are comfortable, set up with double bunk beds and enough bathrooms to handle the group. The lodge also features a meeting or seminar room, a dining room large enough for hungry hunters and food as delicious as one can find anywhere. After supper before opening day, Bill
Bynum, who does work for Robbins Scents, spent an hour discussing scents and how to
use them in the Mississippi terrain. The rut comes later in this part of the country usually cooler weather does not arrive until late December » and the rut may extend into late January. October is a bit early for establishing mock scrapes, but Bynum said he was going to try the technique in a day or so. Bynum’s plan had to be modified some- what because of Mother Nature. It began
to rain hard that night and continued through most of the opening day. Any artificial scents would have been washed away. That heavy rain was to be the ending of the most of us for the first three days of the archery season.

The rain changed the standard routes and hot spots which had been scouted over
several weeks by guides at the Pecan Grove club property. Some of the lower pockets
were flooded and the deer were using different routes to and from bedding areas.
Nobody said bowhunting was supposed to be easy. Hunters may use the permanent stands
at the club or they may bring their own climbing and portable stands. Or they may
not use a stand at all, choosing to still—hunt areas of their choice. Some stands are within a few minutes’ walk from the lodge, while others require a four-wheel-drive vehicle drive of a half—hour or so to reach.

Daniel Littleton and his crew plotted out likely areas on the maps before opening
day and assigned guides and transportation to each hunter.
Those who had the longest travel time launched earliest in order to be on their
stands well before first light. The wise bowhunter will bring a small flashlight in
his day pack or pocket so as to easily follow the marked trail into the stand. The
unfamiliar terrain can be confusing, especially in the dark and rain. Guides will
offer to escort each hunter to the stand, but another human only adds to the amount of
scent left on the trail.

Hunting the Deep South in October is almost sure to be in rain, at least part of the
time, so a bowhunter is advised to bring lightweight rainproof camo clothing. The weather is warm. but if you get soaked and a breeze comes up, you can become chilled and remain uncomfortable during hours on the stand. Another Robbins product welcomed by all, was their mosquito repellent. As soon as the rain stopped, the temperature rose and large, yellow looking mosquitoes
found us on the stands. These suckers seemed able to penetrate even heavy cloth. The Robbins repellent was effective on all my exposed skin and eventually, I rubbed some on my camouflage sleeves and trousers. I had no trouble with mosquitoes after that.

After daylight, I was able to hear, but not see some of my fellow hunters as they apparently released arrows several hundred yards away. I learned later, as the truck picked each of us up for the return run to lunch in the lodge, that none had any more luck then. There were no deer taken
on opening day. We each returned to stand in the afternoon and remained until well after dark, but nobody scored. The following day dawned bright and clear, although there were still plenty of
low areas with too much water. The weather was cool and a warm jacket felt comfortable in the early morning. Later it warmed up a bit, but the day remained comfortable in full camouflage clothing. With the rain, walking and stalking quietly through the woods was easier, because everything underfoot was wet and soft. On the other hand, deer, too, move more quietly through
the same woods.

This day, my hunting partner was Richard Sapp of Bear Archery in Florida. As we were on our way along a path not far from the lodge to take up adjacent tree stands, we jumped two whitetail does which had been hidden in the underbrush. lf they hadn’t. we probably would never have
seen them, even from ten or fifteen yards away. Neither of us had arrows out of the quiver, so we did not have a shot, but their presence gave us encouragement. State game department officials oversee and approve or disapprove local hunting club activities, while offering advice to managers about how to improve the quality and quantity of deer and other game. Pecan Grove and other neighboring private clubs generally subscribe to the state’s progressive philosophy of harvesting a large percentage of does each year, until the quality of bucks shows improvements.

To over simplify the program, it boils down to reducing the number of females
and male spikes in any given year, the expectation being that the remaining does
will fill out the habitat by giving birth to more twin fawns. Theoretically, the next~
year fawns will be fifty percent males. As this serious culling continues for four to
six years, the buck—to-doe ratio and the quality of trophy bucks improves dramatically. The state encourages the practice by permitting three does per year during the archery and primitive weapons seasons, with some other special antlerless seasons in certain locations.

Good habitat is essential to the development of trophy whitetails. Some of Pecan Grove’s cutover areas have been allowed browse. Some nearby farms have acres of soybeans and com, which promote healthy growth among the deer herds. The club also uses mineral—fortified salt licks, proven successful for improved antler development.
In some areas of the South, the whitetail herds are not noted for their quality; just their quantity. Left unmanaged, some of these herds produce small deer, with a preponderance of females. Without hunting pressures, they soon eat and reproduce their way past habitat capacity. With progressive management, private hunting clubs are able to produce plenty of healthy
trophy bucks.

My equipment consisted of an older model Jennings Unistar bow, shooting Easton 2117 XX75 Autumn Orange arrows made up by FS Arrows (Dept. BA, 2852 Walnut, Unit 2,Tustin,CA 92680.)
I carried the arrows in a bow-mounted quiver from Jennings Archery (Dept. BA, 4600 41st Blvd., Gainesville, FL 32601). I also carried a pair of excellent light gathering binoculars from Ranging (Dept. BA, Rts. 5 & 20, East Bloomfield, NY 14443). Distances in the thick growth were
not long, but the five-power glasses helped pick out details in the dim light of morning
and evening. I carried the lot in a rugged Bow Guard case from Quality Shop (Dept. BA, Box
291, Dana Point, CA 92629.) That case has seen duty through many thousands of airline miles, through wet and cold boats and truck beds, without any damage to the contents.

Most of the growth in Mississippi in October was still predominately green, although there were some early signs of changing colors. I chose to wear the ASAT camouflage clothing pattem from Brigade Quartermasters (Dept. BA, 1025 Cobb International Boulevard, Kennesaw, GA 30144) because of its durability, lightweight and ability to blend in with most habitat. When wet, the ASAT material dries quickly and the design includes lots of pockets to carry extra gear up the tree.
Undergrowth was always wet, raining or not. I was happy to have on a pair of LaCrosse hunting boots (LaCross Footwear, Dept. BA, P.O. Box 1328, La Crosse, WI 54602) which never let in any water. They are rubber on the bottom, with Cordura nylon uppers. They are fast to lace and, with wool socks, my feet never got cold, no matter how rainy it was nor how inactive I was on the stand.

On an earlier mule deer hunt in the Nevada high country, I had good use from
a pair of Deerslayer bowhunting gloves. The Ridgewood Group (Dept. BA, Box 27, Rock Island, IL 61201) makes these gloves in either right or left-handed versions, in the tan Trebark camo pattern. The bow hand glove features an integral forearm guard. The palms and fingers are made of deerskin, with three reinforced finger tabs on the string hand glove. The ground floor of the lodge includes an indoor archery range lighted for night practice. Many of us availed ourselves of the facility. That, unfortunately, was the only archery shooting I was able to do on this trip. Bill Bynum, who has hunted here before, took a doe on the second day.

Just before dark that same day, I heard one of my neighboring tree standers let an arrow fly, followed by sounds of running feet that indicated a hit deer. When the truck arrived after dark, we all used our flashlights to follow the blood trail for what seemed like hundreds of yards, until the
returning rain washed the sign away. As happens sometimes, that was a deer we did not recover.
The fourth day of the season, the day I was scheduled to head back to the Baton Rouge airport, a taxidermist from neighboring Lafayette, Louisiana, Byron Latour, downed a small three—by-three buck. It wasn’t a giant wall-hanger, but would fill the venison larder.

When I was back at our California editorial offices, George Haynes called
from Baton Rouge. He said I should have stayed for the second week of the season,
as it opened up for the bowhunters. Overall, the season saw a sixty-percent success
rate for whitetail bowhunters. l’ll have to try again another year.

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