Published by admin on 01 Feb 2010
Quiver Quips / Bow and Arrow Hunting Magazine
Published by admin on 01 Feb 2010
Quiver Quips / Bow and Arrow Hunting Magazine
Published by admin on 28 Jan 2010
African Blind Date
Join this bowhunter on his first trip bound to Africa
as he goes face to face with the trophy of a lifetime.
By Paul Hantke
IT OCCURRED TO me as I pushed a cart overflowing with equipment cases and duffel bags through the Jan Smuts airport in Johannesburg that I was on the blind date of my life.
I had accepted an invitation from Sangira Safaris to come to South Africa for a three-week hunting and photo safari, but I knew nothing about the company or its principals other than that it was a new venture by two relatively novice professional hunters.
Not only was I sailing into personally uncharted territory on the other side of the globe, but also the adventure had been arranged, booked and inaugurated into action in about five weeks. Normal planning for a trip like this should take months, but the wonders of e-mail and a need to get there quickly made it all happen.
Haste was in order, because, as it was, I arrived in the first week of September, which is well at the end of winter for that half of the world, and almost too late for hunting. The rainy season, or springtime, brings everything to a halt.
Summer in South Africa is the off-season for hunting because it is way too hot. Not to mention, during the summer vegetation has grown lush from the rainy season and many game animals are virtually impossible to see or pursue.
So there I was that morning with a cart full of gear. (As Staff Editor for the Y-Visionary Outdoor Group, I also had firearms and lots of other stuff for field testing in addition to my archery gear.) Things got better immediately as I was greeted by my hosts, Tinus Van Heerden and Stoffel Botha, proprietors of Sangira Safaris, Tinus has a background in the military Special Forces, while Stoffel was a federal police investigator, but both grew up “in the bush.”
Their professional skills in bush craft and hunting would show later, but I was immediately taken by how friendly and down-to-earth both fellows were, and their excellent English made it easy to quickly make friends. We off-loaded the cart full of stuff into the back of a new 4×4 Crew Cab Toyota pick-up and we were on our way to “the bush,” which varies considerably as you move around South Africa.
First stop was the bush veldt outside of Thabazimbi, which means “mountain of iron” in Tswana. Mountain of Iron is the world’s largest deep-pit iron mine that is serviced by the most amazing (and scary) road you have ever seen.
Our hunting grounds were on a private farm of immense proportions in the valley north of Thabazimbi, which flattens out and looks much like south Texas, with thorn bushes instead of mesquite. The ground there is level with a couple of inches of soft silt over hard earth, and the thorn bushes grow so thick it is often impossible to find a path through them.
Arriving about midday, we had lunch and then headed out in the old Land Rover hunting buggy. Our drive took us along the first fence line for several kilometers, and then we turned into the middle of the property.
I had been warned by a couple of old Africa hands that the animals there were especially hard to see due to their superior camouflage. “All your North American skills and instincts will need to be re-programmed,” I was assured.
They did not lie, and I found myself frustrated because Stoffel or Tinus would point out game that I simply could not see. I could see and agree with the specific tree they were supposed to be standing beside, but I couldn’t make out the animals themselves. It was interesting but not fun.
In spite of my handicap, the fellows managed to show me gemsbok, impala, red hartebeest, dukier, kudu, and blue wildebeest, all in a two-hour drive. We were, in fact, looking for a specific old bull in one of the blue wildebeest herds that the landowner wanted to cull.
We managed to find the old bull and I grabbed my bow and set out on a stalk with Tinus. You don’t get to be the old bull by being stupid, and that cagey wildebeest played hide and seek with us for awhile from abut 150 yards out before he darted for parts unknown.
In the truck, on the way back to the farmhouse, Stoffel suddenly grabbed my shoulder and pointed into the bush. “Look at the size of that kudu!” he exclaimed. Everyone else looked and had the same reaction. “What a monster!” I, of course, saw only movement in the brush. After several attempts, the big kudu was ruled impossible to stalk for the day.
Dinner that night was a South African “Braai,”their version of a good old charcoal grill, and was well received after the long day. It had been decided over steaks and libations that Stoffel and I would head out to a “hide” next to a waterhole the following morning where I might get a chance to stick a warthog.
We were dropped off early the next day, and I literally had to look around carefully to find the hide, which only protruded about three feet above ground level. The interior of the hide is dug out some three feet deep, and a rough wooden bench is you only seat. The brush walls are lined inside with a tarp to prevent the detection of movement inside, and there are a few tiny viewing holes punched in the tarp. A “shooting slit” that was about three inches wide and extended about two feet up from ground level was positioned well over to the side.
We began our vigil, hoping to get a chance at a warthog once the sun heated up the bush veldt and the animals made their way to water.
I had along my High Country Ultra Force bow and was shooting Game Tracker’s Carbon Express 300 arrows tipped with the company’s new First Cut broadheads. A sight check the afternoon before showed the bow was dead on.
Stoffel and I spent a long and unproductive morning in the hide, eventually drawing pictures of animal tracks and playing tic-tac-toe in the sand at our feet. We were a scant 25 yards away from the waterhole, so all this was done in virtual silence.
Our only visitors were Lourie birds and two female kudos, who came in and drank, then laid down just a few feet from us, testament to the camouflage and proper upwind positioning of the hide.
It was some seven hours before we heard the old Land Rover grinding its way to our position for our pre-scheduled midday pick up. Once aboard, we weren’t more than a few hundred yards from the hide o our way out when trackers and professional hunters alike all pointed in the same direction. “Kudu!” they exclaimed, “and warthogs too!”
Once again I saw only gray shadows in the brush that I presumed to be kudu, but I could make out a couple of dozen warthogs moving with the shadows. We stopped the truck and two female with piglets ran across in front of us and disappeared into the thickest on the other side of the trail. I don’t know if it’s the Disney influence, but I find the sight of warthogs on the move quite humorous. The pigs and their babies drew a smile as they passed.
Next came a moment of pandemonium wherein our trackers, Joseph and September, exchanged lots of information in several different languages with Tinus and Stoffel, the gist being that the kudu and the warthog were apparently moving together, and more than that, it was thought they would circle back and resume their trek to the waterhole we had just left.
“Do you want to go back, or do you want to go have lunch and try again this afternoon?” was Stoffel’s question to me. “I came to hunt,” was my reply, and September turned toe Rover around, dropping us off short of the hide so we could stalk in while they left by a different route.
It was another two hours before we began to get any action, and then it was all from female kudu coming quickly into the water and then moving aside into the shade from the taller trees near the waterhole.
Stoffel kept watch at the peephole, occasionally updating me on the scene while I fiddled with my equipment and thought about what I was doing.
I eventually decided that my many months of work and practice made me feel comfortable with a shot out to about 30 yards, any further that that and I’d have to pass.
I was at the peephole when the bull walked in, and I’m sure my jaw dropped just a little bit when I first saw him. He stood nearly six feet tall at the head and was sporting a set of spiral horns that had to be over 40 inches tall.
“There he is!” I said excitedly, but quietly, as I got out of the way of the peephole so Stoffel could see. I was jut making the decision to reach for my bow when Stoffel stopped me, “Take it easy,” he said, “all the vitals are right behind that spot.”
We watched the young bull come warily to the waterhole, testing the air with nose high. Stoffel pointed out a place bhind the animal’s shoulder where the markings made an oval. “Shoot for the center of that oval,” he said, “all the vitals are right behind that spot.”
For a second all I could think of was the Gary Larson cartoon of the deer with a target on his chest and his deer buddy saying, “Bummer of a birthmark, Hal.” It was an interesting mental juxtaposition, but I quickly regained my focus.
“The young one!” I whispered. “How much bigger can those things get?” His answer came back in the same hushed tones as he pulled me back to the peephole, “How about this one?” Stoffel asked.
Almost seven feet tall at the head, I quickly saw the big kudu Stoffel was referring to. The trophy was walking right into the water.
He sauntered to the waterhole and gave the young buck a shoulder to signal him to back off, then he turned broadside to me and began to drink.
I stepped back from the peephole, eyes and mouth wide and heart hammering already. I don’t remember what I said, but it was probably not printable anyway. I picked up my bow, nocked an arrow, set my string release, took a deep breath, and moved forward to fire.
That was when I discovered that the slit was too close to the wall for a proper elbow-out posture when firing. So I folded my arm down, concentrated on my bow-hand hold, my cheek weld and the fiber-optic 20-yard pin that I had placed just at the top of the oval in the markings.
I ever so gently touched the trigger on my release and was very happy to see the yellow-fletched arrow center my target. Right about then I realized that I had just heard Stoffel saying, “Are you going to shoot?”
The big kudu hunched up, spun around once, and took off. A few minutes later and about 100 yards away we found the big guy. The broadhead had cut a path through heart and lungs and stopped on the inside at the offside shoulder.
We measured the horns with a steel tape right after I took the kudu, and they ran out to 54 ¼ inches. A more professional measurement was taken with a steel cable after the head and cape had spent three days in the cold room, and the set still measured 52 ¼ inches.
As I understand it, the kudu will qualify for both the Rowland Ward and the Safari Club International world record books.
Published by admin on 27 Jan 2010
Narrow Your Zone
Knowing Every Square Inch of Your Hunting Turf
Is the Key to Setting Up On Big Bucks
By Greg Miller
I’ve managed to arrow a mature buck during each of my home state’s past three archery seasons. Now I’m sure some of you reading this would just naturally assume that I spend all my time bowhunting on huge chunks of exclusively private ground. No doubt some of you also harbor the illusion that my home state of Wisconsin is literally overrun with large racked, hog-bodied whitetails. In your opinion then, knocking over three big bucks in three consecutive years is no big deal.
But the simple truth of the matter is that I don’t have exclusive access to huge chunks of prime big buck habitat. And with the exception of a handful of countries in the southwestern part of the state (where very strict trophy deer management policies have been in place for more than a decade), Wisconsin definitely isn’t “overrun” with big bucks. In fact, when compared to the bordering bordering states of Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota, my home state of Wisconsin actually runs a distant fourth in big buck production.
The truth be known, the single biggest key to my string of successful seasons has to do with my intimate familiarity of the ground I’m hunting. As my brother Jeff told me recently, “You’ve been bowhunting that area since you were just a kid. You know what the resident bucks are going to be doing and exactly where they like to walk at all times during the season. You must admit, that is a big plus!”
Familiarity Spawns Success
I can’t argue with Jeff’s assessment of my run of successful seasons. He’s right. I am extremely familiar with the area where I’m currently bowhunting. And as my brother stated, I’m also very familiar with exactly how the deer in my hunting area relate to their home range during all parts of the season. It’s a situation that has paid huge dividends the past three seasons for me.
If I see prospective trophy whitetail bowhunters making one mistake more often than any other it’s that they spread themselves way too thin. In other words, rather than becoming intimately familiar with a few areas, they gain only a slight understanding of a bunch of areas. Sure, they might have dozens of stand sites at their disposal. But it’s highly doubtful any of them will be in the right spots. Trust me, this type of approach is not conducive to a high success rate on mature bucks.
My personal success rate on big deer rose considerably the day that I quit making uneducated and irrational guesses about the animals I was pursuing. More specifically, I quit guessing as to where the bucks I was hunting were bedding down. I also quit making assumptions as to where those deer most preferred to walk when traveling about their ranges. (For those bowhunters who don’t already know, being in possession of these two bits of information can dramatically increase your chances of filling your tag.)
Downsizing is the Key
I learned years ago that it’s much easier to gain an intimate familiarity with your hunting spots if you concentrate all your attentions on only a few areas at the most. As I noted previously, many bowhunters fail to achieve consistent success rates on mature bucks simply because they spread themselves too thin. Instead of limiting their scouting and hunting efforts to just two or three spots, they attempt to expand their horizons to include five, six or seven (or maybe even more) different areas.
Of course, I always hear the same argument in support of such an approach. A bowhunter I chatted with recently expressed this argument perfectly. “A person can never have too many good hunting spots,” the guy stated. Well excuse me for saying so, but yes you can! In truth, having too many good hunting spots can actually be detrimental to your chances for success. (I’ll explain later.)
Okay, so now that I’ve made my point about less being better, it’s time to talk about how you decide which two or three of your precious hunting spots you should keep. In most instances it’s merely a matter of applying a bit of logic to the situation. You’re surely going to limit your attentions to those two or three areas that you feel harbor the most big buck potential. Rock-solid evidence, like an abundance of big buck sign and /or consistent sightings of mature animals, does help considerably when attempting to narrow down your options.
But I’ve found that another factor sometimes play a huge role in my final decision as to which areas I’m going to hunt. That factor is the location of the areas in relationship to my home base. Personally, I’ll shy away from hunting a great area that’s a long way from home in exchange for hunting a fairly good area that’s just a few miles from my driveway. Why? Because I’m able to spend a lot more time walking, scouting, observing and hunting those spots that are closer to home. Remember, the more time you spend in an area, the more familiar you’re going to become with that area. And that’s exactly what we’re talking about here!
A couple years back I arrowed a 140-class nine-pointer during my home state’s archery season. That buck is a perfect testament to the positives of hunting close to home. Due to a pressing business commitment, I could stay on my stand only for an hour on that fateful morning. I shot the buck about 20 minutes after daylight and had just enough time to track and recover my trophy before having to head out for my appointment. Had my hunting area been any further from home I wouldn’t have had time to even hunt that morning, let alone track and recover a wounded deer.
There’s another interesting fact about my successful hunt that bears mentioning. I harvested the nine-pointer from an area that harbors very few trophy-sized whitetails. Along with intense pressure during gun season, the area sustains an over-abundance of antlereless dear. Neither factor is conducive to high numbers of mature bucks. However, it seems there’s always at least a couple large racked deer running around in my hunting spot. My intimate familiarity with the area keeps me supremely confident that I’ll eventually get a chance at one of those deer.
To this point the information I’ve put forth in this article pertains only to those bowhunters who already have secured a number of hunting spots. However, everything I’ve said also applies to those individuals who are in the process of searching for some prime hunting spots. If I could offer only a few words of advice to such people it would be, “Start small and stay small!” Depending upon the size of the areas you’re considering, I’d highly recommend selecting no more than three different spots on which to concentrate your attentions.
But selecting your “new” hunting areas is only the beginning of the process. Personally, I wouldn’t even consider walking into a prospective hunting area without first thoroughly studying topo maps and aerial photos of that area. In addition, before heading into the woods I slowly drive all the accessible roads that border my newfound area. An incident that happened to yours truly a number of years ago was an embarrassing reminder of the importance of doing this.
I was scouting a big woods area in northern Wisconsin when I came across what appeared to be a virtual big buck honey hole. The ground was littered with steaming fresh scrapes, and at least a half-dozen four to six-inch trees had recently been rubbed clean of bark. Amazingly, all this sign was concentrated within a relatively small area. I quickly picked out and prepared a spot for my portable tree stand, then headed out of the woods. I didn’t bother doing any further scouting of any kind. That proved to be a terrible mistake!
I returned to the spot the very next afternoon and quietly put up my portable stand. Two hours slipped by, and “primetime” was rapidly approaching when I heard a sound I couldn’t initially identify. Then I realized that someone was operating an ATV somewhere off in the distance. At first I couldn’t tell which direction the off-road machine was heading. But a minute later I’d pinpointed its exact line of travel. The damn thing was coming straight toward my position!
Initially, I was irate that someone would be irresponsible enough to drive an ATV through the woods on public forest land. But my anger disappeared almost as soon as the machine came into view. Unbeknown to me, and just far enough from my stand site so that I couldn’t see it, was a brand new logging road. In fact, as I discovered later, loggers had punched the road into the area just a couple days earlier. Had I done my normal thorough scouting job I would have noticed the new road. And I would have known that the buck responsible for all the fresh sign had already relocated to another part of the forest.
My experience with the ATV makes a very important point. Gaining an intimate familiarity with your hunting areas is important for a reason other than learning how the deer relate to those areas. You’ll also gain an understanding how other hunters are utilizing the areas. Of course, this may not be a concern to those who do all their bowhunting on private property. It’s a different story, however, for those of us who still do a fair amount of our hunting on public lands. In my opinion, figuring out what other hunters are doing is equally as important as figuring out what the resident deer are doing.
While I am a strong proponent of downsizing for deer, I’m always quick to add that the approach can cause problems for some hunters. The most obvious of these problems has to do with keeping your hunting areas “fresh.” Having fewer hunting areas means you’ll have fewer stand site possibilities. But regardless of how much a person downsizes his hunting efforts, I remain convinced that they can still find enough stand sites to ensure that they won’t burn out a potentially good area(s). Or, they can come up with a system that allows them to continue to hunt their spots hard, yet keep the deer guessing.
My son Jake and I have what I consider the perfect system for hunting our two chosen spots. Several times during the week we hunt farmland area near our home, but on weekends we hunt a big woods area in the northern part of the state. This “system” ensures that we don’t put too much pressure on either of our areas. Just about the time the deer in one spot catch on that they’re being hunted, we pull up stakes and disappear for a few days.
More Isn’t Better
Earlier in this piece I mentioned that having too many good hunting spots can actually be detrimental to your chances for success. How is this possible? Simple. The more good spots you have, the greater the tendency to second-guess yourself. My observations would indicate that people who have dozens of great setups are always struggling to figure out which one they should hunt. And when they finally do make a decision, they invariably end up second-guessing themselves. I once bowhunted with a fellow who fit into this category. The guy just couldn’t shake the feeling that while he was sitting on one stand a monster buck was walking by one of his other stands.
Unbelievably, he would sometimes relocate three times during a three hour hunt. Talk about spreading yourself too thin!
As I mentioned earlier, trusting totally to guesswork won’t put you within range of many trophy whitetails. Without a doubt, this is the biggest perk of limiting your scouting and hunting efforts to just a few areas. You’ll eventually learn the everyday habits of the deer you’re hunting. Remember, mature whitetails are notorious for using only tiny slivers of all the available cover out there. What’s more, big bucks don’t always leave behind evidence (rubs, scraped, etc.) that they’re frequenting a particular spot. Often, the only way to pinpoint these places is by spending time observing deer activity in your hunting areas. The more you watch, the more you’ll learn.
Don’t Ever Stop Looking
Just prior to writing this article I did some post-season scouting on a 400-acre chunk of ground I’ve been bowhunting for better than 30 years. Now you’d think there wouldn’t be anything left to learn about a tract of land after all those years. You’d be wrong. In fact, I found that I fully believe is going to be a literal big buck hot spot. The spot is located a mere 75 yards from a logging road I walk when traveling to and from a distant stand site. I’d never bothered to check it out simply because I’d never actually seen any signs of big buck activity near that section of the logging road. Hey, even I still make some basic mistakes once in a while!
There was a time in the not-so-distant past when I believed that a person couldn’t have too many good hunting spots. I’ve since learned that there definitely is a danger to having access to a large number of quality hunting areas. Spreading your efforts over a bunch of different areas almost always means that you aren’t doing justice to any one of them.
Published by admin on 25 Jan 2010
Proven Bruin Tactics
When going up against a big, wise bruin, you better
have more than a few tricks up your sleeve.
By Bell Vaznis
The site intrigued me. It was situated at the confluence of two streams, a natural crossing for black bears, and well off the beaten path. It was also dark under the canopy of spruce and fir, even on a bright sunlit day, which gave me the willies whenever I replenished the bait. Indeed, the five-inch front bad tracks in the nearby mud indicated a mature boar was raiding my cache of meat and pastries every other night or so, and the last thing I wanted to do was to come face to face with him in the poor light.
I hung a portable stand crosswind to the pile of logs covering the bait after one of his visits, and even though I was anxious to free an arrow, I waited for the bear to get used to the new setup before climbing on board. It was the right decision, for the first night I hid aloft, the big bear circled cautiously downwind of the bait site, and once satisfied all was safe, committed himself to the offering just before dark.
I waited for him to present a quartering-away shot, and when he did, I came to full draw and released a vaned shaft at his vitals in one fluid motion. The Pope and Young bruin let out a deafening roar upon impact, and immediately fled the scene with his stubby tail tucked between his legs like a scalded dog.
His efforts were to no avail, however, as he was already dead on his feet expiring less than 50 yards from my stand.
Some bowhunters today erroneously believe that taking a trophy black bear over bait is a cakewalk. After all, they protest, all you have to do is wait next to a pile of donuts for one to show up! I usually break up laughing at these “experts,” for 99 times out of a hundred they have never even seen a bear in the wild much less tagged one with a bow!
You see, if the truth be known, taking a trophy bruin with a bow and arrow over bait is no gimme, especially in those heavily wooded sections of the United States and Canada where black bears are so often found. Why? Because big black bears are smart—very smart. Once a mature black bear knows you are after him, your chances of seeing him are almost nil. In fact, most woodsmen rate only the wolf as more difficult to catch flatfooted in the wild. It is no wonder then that the black bear is America’s number two big-game animal!
A mature bruin, however, is not invincible. Bowhunters who pay attention to detail, might, just might, bet a shot at the trophy of a lifetime. Here are a dozen or so tips to help you in that quest.
Hire a Good Outfitter
If you have your heart set on a record-book bruin, then Canada should immediately come to mind. Although big bruins are arrowed every year in the States, the Canadian provinces offer you well-managed populations of gargantuan bears in wilderness settings. Not to mention, most of these bears have never seen a human before!
But to get a crack at one, you must go where the biggest males abound, and then book with an outfitter who specializes in the 400-plus-pound specimens. Price is often a good indicator in this regard; expect to pay around $2,000 for a quality hunt.
To get started, dial toll-free 1-877-8 CANADA, and ask for a list of outfitters from the province(s) you are most interested in. To date, I’ve arrowed several trophy bruins in Newfoundland, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.
Walking the Line
Some outfitters will turn over an active bait line to you and then let you set your own stands, or offer you a couple of hot bait sites with stands already in place and then let you decide where you want to sit. Whatever the case, it is imperative you examine as many bait sites over the length of your hunt as possible to help you determine which site(s) have big bears nearby.
What should you be looking for? For starters, I look for front pad tracks five or more inches in width, indicating a probable Pope and Young bear, and large diameter droppings. A Boone & Crockett bruin, for example, will leave dung the size of a Coke can on nearby entrance/exit trails.
Mature bruins also like to circle a bait site before committing themselves to the set-up. Look for freshly crushed vegetation and faint pad impressions just within sight of the bait—a dead giveaway to the 400-pound chocolate bruin I arrowed in Saskatchewan a few seasons back. His entrance trail would have been easy to miss if my guide and I hadn’t been actually looking for it.
When comfortable, black bears will also sit on their haunches or lie down near the bait to feed giving you yet another opportunity to judge their size. Get on your hands and knees if necessary, and look for a flattened area of matted, broken or bent-over plant stems.
Can’t find a bear track? Spread cooking oil, grease or even just water near the bait site to help soften the soil. The oil/grease will also go a long way towards attracting even more bears. Put some grease on the trunks of nearby trees, too, to help lure bears to the bait site, and then gauge any fresh claw marks found on the tree’s trunk for size.
Of course, don’t overlook a big bear sighting within a half mile of a particular bait site. You can bet your plane ticket home that a bruiser knows exactly where that bait is, and unless spooked, will eventually visit during legal shooting hours.
Other Trophy Bear Sign
Keep in mind that a boar’s home range typically overlaps the home ranges of several sows. He will therefore only be able to visit a bait site once every two or three days. Unless you find sign to the contrary, a site that is pounded every day is probably being hit by a subordinate bear, maybe even a sow. I’ll take a bait that is being hit sporadically over one that is being devoured nightly any day!
In addition to size, color can also denote trophy quality. Black bears, for example, can have red, cinnamon, blond and chocolate hide as well as the very rare white. Look for hair caught on nearby tree trunks, brush or even a length of barbed wire left purposely near the bait for clues to coat color. There is no finer trophy in the world than an off-color record-book bruin!
Eliminate Sows and Cubs
Locating big bear sign around a particular bait site is one goal, but you also want to avoid hunting a site routinely visited by a sow with cubs for obviously reasons. How can you tell there are cubs about? They usually destroy a baited area leaving it look like it was hit by a tornado. Look for small tracks and small diameter droppings to confirm your suspicions, and tidbits of food scattered all over the place.
Don’t however, abandon a site if it is being visited by several sows, as evidenced in part by a plethora of medium-size tracks. Black bears breed in the early summer, and such a site can be a magnet for jumbo boars looking for a sow in heat. You may only get one chance at a particular boar under these circumstances as he will not likely return once he hooks up with a sow. Size him up quickly, and take your first killing shot.
Watch Your Scent
There are two schools of thought concerning scent control. One, keep your body, clothing and all equipment as scent-free as possible by using rubber boots, charcoal suits and deodorizing sprays. Or two, since the bears already associate the bait with humans, do not make any effort to control your odor. In fact, you can even leave an article of clothing behind in the stand to help desensitize the bears to our stench. Both schools have their merit.
It is not uncommon for a bear to return to bait site after being shot at. In fact, even superficially wounded bruins have been known to return in a day or two. Why? In part because they did not associate the sound of the shot or the pain inflicted with that of a human. Bears are always fighting, and scratches and cuts are a normal part of daily life. Once a bear knows he is being hunted, that is he associates humans and food with danger, all bets are off.
That is why I refer to keep my presence at the bait site a secret. I avoid spreading fresh scent about by walking too close to the bait pile, and I always try to sneak in and out of my stand without causing a disturbance. I especially avoid crossing any bear trails. You can never be too careful in this regard!
Underestimating a bear’s intelligence can easily lead to tag soup at season’s end. Pick a tree with a large trunk and many branches to disguise your silhouette, and then arrange it so you can shoot sitting down in full camo. I like to be no more than 20 yards from the bait and 12 to 15 feet above the ground to help insure a one-shot kill.
Bears may have poor eyesight, but they are not blind. Any blob that looks out of place arouses their suspicions, and they can spot motion faster than an alert whitetail. Anything you can do to stay out of sight, and to reduce or conceal unwanted movements, is to your benefit.
A Bear’s Nature
One of the biggest mistakes neophytes make is shooting the fist bear that comes to the bait. There is a social hierarchy among bears, and no place is this more evident than around a bait site. Sows, yearlings and young boars often feed first in the early evening followed by bears higher on the ladder with the big boars feeding last, when they feel it is safest.
A subordinate boar will generally announce his arrival by purposely snapping a twig, thereby warning any bears already on the bait that he is nearby. Bears subordinate to him will generally melt back into the forest in anticipation of his arrival. The snapping of a twig also serves as a safety device for him. The last thing he wants is to do is surprise the Alpha male at the feeding site. He knows from past experience that he is no match for the dominate bruin.
Therefore, if you see a bear acting nervous around the bait site, you can bet he fears a bigger bear is nearby. Experienced bear hunters will pass on the nervous bear in hopes a real jumbo will soon materialize.
Never Give Up
Once you are convinced a mature bruin is in the vicinity of a particular bait, plan on hunting that bait for the duration of the trip. Unless you have educated him to your presence, a big bear will eventually come in for a look-see during daylight hours. I once sat over a bait for two weeks waiting for a Boone & Crockett bear with seven-plus-inch front pads to return. I finally saw the mystery bear on my last night in camp, a roly-poly 675-pound spring behemoth with a head the size of a basketball. He never took his eyes off me, however, cleverly shielding his body with a “head-on” stance. I never did get a shot at him even though I sat only 15 yards away without a twig between us!
Once a bear knows you are on to him, he may be impossible to kill. There are, however, a few tricks you can use to lure a big bear back to the bait site. A honey burn, for example, can send a cloud of sweet smoke into a bear’s lair that most bruins find difficult to resist. Simply pour a pint of honey into a pot, and fire it up with a can of Sterno. It will first steam and then boil before erupting into a volcano of thick smoke. We took three fat bears on spring evening using this technique.
What can you do if a bear hangs up just out of range? More often than not the bear has figured out you are on stand and is waiting for you o leave so he can chow down in safety. (I told you bears were smart!) The trick here is to quietly erect a second stand downwind of his staging area in the middle of the day, or have a buddy set up another stand near the bait and then leave one-half hour before nightfall.
The first time we tried the latter, the ruse worked like clockwork. “Thinking” I had left my stand early, the bruin waltzed into the bait site before my buddy had driven out of hearing range, presenting me with an easy broadside shot. This plan has worked so well over the years that we always pack a couple of extra lightweight portables with us to bear camp.
As you can see, tagging a record-book bear means hunting in areas they thrive, and then interpreting the sign they leave behind correctly. It also means learning to play cat and mouse with them around the bait station. In fact, only then will you realize just how smart a mature black bear can be. Let the games begin!
Published by admin on 22 Jan 2010
When the Wind Blows
Sometimes silent, always invisible, the wind can
be your worst enemy or your best friend.
By Bob Grewell
Each year there are bowhunters who figure out the travel habits of a big buck lurking in their hunting area and eventually get a shot at him. There are other bowhuwhunters who accomplish the same, but for some reason never catch a glimpse of the big trophy. Why is this? Well, of course, it could be due to a number of things. Maybe the unlucky bowhunters made too much noise while sitting on stand, and deer could hear them before venturing within sight. Or maybe they put their stand in the wrong place. But if I was to bet on it, I would probably say the luckless hunters forgot to monitor the wind currents surrounding their stand, giving deer a “heads up” to their whereabouts.
Deer Rely On It
It’s a fact. Our preparations and stand locations are principally affected by wind direction. It’s probably the number one element that sends hundreds of patient bowhunters home empty-handed each fall. Recently, while bowhunting eastern Ohio, I was reminded of how important wind can be to every hunting setup.
Where I was hunting, a dense tangle of greenbriers and saplings wrapped around the side of a steep hill. Halfway up this slope, my carefully positioned tree stand was erected close to a trail that wound through this horseshoe-shaped bedding area. The time-worn path provided deer easier access from a low-level stream bed that connected to an alfalfa field on the hilltop. Water at the base, bedding cover in the middle, food on the peak—you couldn’t ask for better deer habitat. On days the wind was to my advantage, I was in a tree downwind from an obvious fence crossing.
On that particular day, however my hopes were extremely high, mostly because the rut was escalating and extremely high, mostly because the rut was escalating and deer activity was increasing. The late afternoon sun was unusually warm, so I took my time moving to my stand. I reached the edge of the briar tangle just as another bullying wind gust blew off my hat. Disgusted, I began to wonder if I would in fact see deer because unruly wind makes deer skittish.
Pulsating wind had me constantly searching the landscape. At one point, I was slowly rotating my head when I spotted a six-point casually making his way up the hillside. As he scaled the steep incline, he stopped frequently to nose the air. I felt safe because I had pre-planned the stand placement so that a wast wind was blowing across the trail, toward me. He stood for several minutes, scanning the area and smelling air currents. When he finally committed to crossing the fence, he made on leap. After his feet hit the ground, he nosed the wind then investigated a natural scrape 12 yards from my stand. I wasn’t interested in shooting the buck, but I was curious of his peculiar behavior.
The deer’s nostrils flared constantly. He smelled the ground, surrounding foliage, and methodically tested wind currents. His reliance on the wind impressed me, as his damp, black nose purposefully searched out odors carried by the wind. It was as if he were wired to an internal timing mechanism that induced him to sample the wind every 30 seconds.
The buck eventually bedded down alongside a tangle of briars not 30 yards from my stand. I was hoping his appearance would provide a “comfort zone” that would attract other deer. The hillside shelf appeared to be a staging location where he waited for darkness before traveling uphill to the open alfalfa pasture. As he laid down, his back faced the wind. This posture enabled him to scent potential danger behind him (upwind). Then, he could watch and listen for intrusions in front of him (downwind). He frequently rotated his head to inhale the wind. With my binocular I could see his face clearly. He intermittently closed his eyes. It was amazing how he moved his head to smell wind gusts while his eyes were closed it was obvious his nose never stopped working, even as he cat-napped.
Long before darkness, a doe entered the scene. She was approaching at a reluctant pace, walking into the wind. The buck hadn’t been able to smell me because my stand position was perfect. But, from where the doe stood, she scented me with the help of a prolonged gust of wind. Her alarming snorts indicated she didn’t like my presence. She scrambled and jumped the fence, racing across a weedy opening. The startled buck exited a different direction.
As you can see from my experience in the woods that day, deer rely heavily on wind currents to detect danger. So, as hunters, we must learn as much as we can about the wind, where it comes from and how it blows.
Where Does It Come From
As the earth warms and cools a turbulent of air currents and generated that produces the byproduct of wind. Wind thermals typically move upward during the morning as air is heated by the sun. During the evening, when the earth begins to cool, air currents fall. Thus, vertical-moving air masses rise during the morning and descend in the evening. This is important information to know when determining placement of morning or evening stands.
But, you don’t have to be a magician to understand and use wind to your advantage. Bowhunters do need to realize, however, where wind is coming from in relation to deer activities, and where it’s going so deer don’t pick up your scent after you’ve put up a stand. Timing the wind is based on logic. But, we often become so wrapped up with every aspect of bowhunting, we overlook the importance of wind direction and how this invisible atmospheric condition affects us.
Three seasons ago, while hunting an oval-shaped creek bottom during early-November, I was able to use the wind to my advantage to arrow a nice buck. At the time, the rut appeared to be in full swing. I wasn’t in my morning stand more than 15 minutes when a doe materialized from a corn field on the opposite side of the lengthy weed field. Suddenly, I caught a glimpse of the buck pursuing her.
I could hear faint grunting, so I played my grunt tube and slapped my rattling racks, attempting to draw him away from fleeing doe. After my third overture he stopped and looked toward me. I hit the racks again and he shunned the doe, trotting toward me. Fortunately, a steady west wind blew in such a manner that my scent wasn’t transported toward their activities. More importantly, a deep, wide creek was directly behind me. If this buck tried to circle and walk into the wind, it would be difficult for him to smell me without crossing the creek.
As he came closer, he moved along the water barrier, but didn’t cross. Nosing the wind, the buck took a course beside a narrow band of trees and foliage at the edge of the field. Ears laid back, grunting seriously, he walked within 10 steps of my tree stand. I had previously dribbled doe urine on the ground as a scent post in anticipation of distracting a buck long enough to draw and release an arrow. And it worked!
He stopped, lowered his head to decipher the odor, and I made my move. He flinched as the arrow blew completely through both lungs. When he started to bolt, I immediately grunted twice with my call. He abruptly stopped and looked back toward me. I remained motionless as he stumbled across the open field before laying down only 80 yards away. I was thankful the wind didn’t change directions. Only a week before I couldn’t use the stand because a different wind direction would have carried my scent across the field.
Monitor It Daily
Using the wind as an ally begins before we enter deer habitat. Become a student of weather by monitoring daily conditions so you’re completely aware of current wind directions. Weather radios will help you retrieve this vital information. A radio’s portability also allows you to carry one afield and monitor weather at your convenience. Television and radio weather reports should always be checked before going afield, but don’t solely rely on these weather reports. Once you’re afield, you need to double-check wind conditions.
Reviewing wind direction is a continuous process. Watch the movement of leaves and small tree branches, as well as tall grasses. If it’s a blustery day, check the direction of your steamy breath as you exhale. I use one stand close to a rural home where I can view the drift of chimney smoke as it rises from their fireplace. Cat whisker string silencers move freely in the direction wind pushes them. If you tie a short piece of dark-colored thread to your bow, it will move with the wind, even a slight breeze. A small butane lighter will show the direction of wind currents precisely, too. Some hunters carry a squeeze bottle with a scent-free powder and occasionally puff small amounts into the air, watching the direction the powder floats. This method works very well.
But, any time the wind is in your favor before climbing into a tree stand, basic bowhunting rules still apply. Make certain all your clothing has been de-scented. Equally, cleanse your body with a de-scenting soap to avoid contact with human related odors before going to your stand. Even when you’re downwind and deer aren’t as likely to smell you, hunters need to stay as clean and as scent-free as possible.
Wind Is Ever-Changing
Location, location, location—it’s instrumental in allowing you to hunt undetected. When selecting a tree to ambush deer, there’s no strategic spot that’s fool-proof. No one stand site produces every time because wind isn’t constant. It’s imperative to have more than one location available. This enables you to switch whenever wind direction changes. This tactical change is beneficial, especially when ever you’re hunting different types of landscape. Flat, open farm ground is typically subjected to one-directional wind currents for several hours at a time. If there are no landscape contours creating obstacles and the day is exposed to a specific wind, breezes will flow in the same constant direction. That is, unless there’s a weather change.
Conversely, hilly and mountainous terrain will fool you. Valleys, rock structures and heavy woods might alter wind direction. The wind can blow from a westerly direction on a hilltop, but as it sweeps down into snaking valley, wind currents will follow these twisting and turning landscape features. Wind will weave its way along and around uneven landscape features, too.
There’s not much that compares to going one-on-one with a mature whitetail buck. Whitetail are elusive, cautious, and seem to have an invisible sensory ability that alerts them of our presence. They create a superb challenge because this ally makes them capable of avoiding the best hunters. One often wonders if they don’t have magical abilities. That is, until we understand their unseen partner: wind. It can be your friend or your enemy, it just depends on how you exploit it.
Published by admin on 21 Jan 2010
Not only does building your own arrows save money,
but it can greatly improve the quality of them.
By Mike Veine
I’ve always been a stickler for details, and that panache for near perfection is readily apparent with my bowhunting equipment, especially my arrows. I’ve been building my own arrows for 30 years. I save $10 or more per dozen by building my own and I have fun in the process. I also use premium components, and by following proven techniques my arrows are always the best they can be.
A few years ago, a friend of mine was bowhunting for whitetails from a ground blind when a good buck presented a high percentage, close-range shot opportunity. At the shot, the buck recoiled and scampered away a short distance before stopping to look back at what had scared him. The buck then snorted an alarm and ran away unscathed.
Baffled, my friend recovered his arrow and upon examination he was shocked to see that all of the vanes had torn loose. In fact, all the arrows in his quiver suffered from the same malady. He had just purchased those rather expensive, new, carbon arrows from a discount sporting good store and had not shot them yet. Because they were the same model and size as the ones he had been shooting, he just assumed that they’d be OK. His lack of attention to detail cost him dearly. Savvy bowhunters that properly build their own arrows can avoid such a disaster.
Shaft Selection and Cutoff
Bulk shafts are typically purchased by the dozen, which is where the main savings comes in when building your own arrows. Depending on the manufacture, raw shafts are typically sold in 34-inch lengths. Unless you have exactly a 34-inch draw length, then you’ll need to size the shafts by cutting them off.
Shafts can be cut off using two different methods. The cheapest, and the one I mostly use, requires a shat cut-off tool that functions like a pipe cutter. These tools cost $20 to 30, but will only work on aluminum shafts. The cut must be perfectly clean to provide proper alignment of the insert or bushing. After cutting my shafts with such a tool, I then smooth off the end that was cut off using a jig made from scrap 2×4. The jig has several holes drilled through it to fit various sized shafts. The holes hold the shaft straight while I lightly file the end until it’s smooth and flat. I then use a dremel rotary tool to ream out the interior of the cut to remove any burs.
For carbon arrows you’ll need to use an electric arrow cut-off saw. Those saws also work great on aluminum shafts. An electric cut-off saw represents the largest investment that an arrow builder might consider. The A1-Arrow Saw made by Apple Archery Products is a good saw that retails for about $115. I’s sometimes wise to get together with a few friends, pool your funds, and buy one together. I just take my carbon shafts to an archery pro shop to have them cut. Even with a cut-off saw, though, the edges sometimes must be smoothed out using a dremel tool.
Inserts should fit snugly and must align perfectly. I prefer aluminum inserts like the ones made by Easton. For aluminum shafts, I use Bohing Ferr-L-Tite hot glue. Screw an old field point into the insert and then clamp onto it with vice-grips. Using a small propane torch, heat up the insert and the end of the shaft. Apply a small amount of the glue to the insert and then push it into the shaft until seated fully. Before the glue cools and hardens, wipe the excess off with a rag. Installed in this manner, the inserts can be rotated for broadhead alignment or removed by simply reheating them.
Carbon shafts require the use of an epoxy to adhere the inserts. I’ve used Bohning’s AAE Epoxy, which is a flexible adhesive ideally suited for inserts and bushings on carbon shafts. Once inserts are installed, screw n a broadhead and spin test it. I use an arrow straightener for this function, which will also check shaft straightens in the process. Spin the shaft by quickly rolling it and if the head wobbles at all, remove the insert and install a new one. With carbon shafts, this process must be done before the epoxy sticks.
Vanes or Feathers?
Bowhunters have been debating the virtues of feather fletching versus plastic vanes for as long as I can remember. I started out using feather as they provided more forgiveness off the crude arrow rests used in those olden days. When tests evolved to allow total fletching clearance, I switched over to plastic vanes and haven’t looked back since. Vanes are just about impervious to the weather and much more durable than feathers. Feathers are also much noisier in flight and the racket made from brushing anything against feathers has been the undoing of many bowhunters. I may take some flack for this, but unless you’re having arrow flight problems, I recommend using quality plastic vanes for bowhunting.
Many top archer use feathers. Scott Purks, one of the country’s best 3-D archers, prefers feathers even with his Mathew’s bow equipped with a drop-away rest. He says, “Feathers are kind of a pain, but they seem to shoot a little more accurately, especially at extremely long ranges.” Feathers are lighter than vanes, which equates to slightly faster arrow speeds.
When you build your own arrows, you can pick and choose from various fletchings. I prefer vanes that are very thin and flexible. Because arrows will be smashed in bow cases and otherwise bent and folded, vanes that pop back to their original shape are especially desirable. I’ve been using Easton vanes for many years and have been very happy with them. Bohning, Duravane, Arizona, Sims Vibration Labs, Flex-Fletch and others also make high-quality vanes.
Fletching color choices are virtually limitless and arrow builders have the ability to mix and match what ever colors they desire. Some bowhunters prefer colors that blend in. For them, camo fletching is available. Years ago, I used olive-drab fletchings, but today I prefer bright-colored fletching and florescent nocks so that I can watch my arrow flight better. Red and orange colors are my favorites as they provide good visibility, yet they still blend in with the fall woods as the leaves turn colors. Bright colors also make it easier to find arrows on the ground.
Most bowhunters use either 4- or 5-inch fletchings. As a rule, use longer fletching on larger-diameter shafts. For skinnier shafts, 4-inch or smaller fletching usually work best. It often pays to experiment though for optimal broadhead flight.
A fletching jig is required for proper fletching alignment o the shaft. I recommend a single arrow-fletching jig, which will ensure identical fletching alignment on every arrow made. I’ve been using the same Jo-Jan Mono Fletcher for as long as I can remember, and it works great, costing less than $40. Bitzenburger, Cabela’s and Bohning also offer quality fletching jigs.
When purchasing a fletching jig, you’ll have three options: right helical, left helical and straight fletch. Most bowhunters prefer a right-helical fletching. Right helical means that if you look down the shaft from the nock end, the fletching will angle to the right. Right helical will spin the arrow clockwise. Feather fletching users should be aware that the wing of the feather must match the helical direction. For instance, right-wing feathers require a right-wing helical fletching jig. You can also choose from three-fletch or four-fletch models. Most bowhunters use three-fletch arrows.
Ron Quick builds custom arrows at Outdoorsman (317/881-7446) a full-service archery pro shop in Greenwood, Indiana. Ron says, “Cleaning the shaft thoroughly before gluing on the fletching is the key to making them stick properly. We fist soak both aluminum and carbon shafts in acetone prior to fletching them. After that we go over the shaft with a Scotch Bright pad and water. The final cleaning step is wiping the shaft with denatured alcohol. Be warned, though, that acetone and alcohol are both highly flammable liquids.” Bohning offers a product called SSR Surface Conditioner specifically designed to degrease and prepare aluminum or carbon shafts for painting and fletching. I use acetone, but I just put some on a rag and then wipe the shaft with the stuff.
Quick added, “After the alcohol dries we glue on the fletching using Bitzenburger jigs. We just started using the new Bohning Fletch-Tite Platinum glue and love the stuff. It will glue any type of fletching to any shaft material, even the slippery carbon ones. Some of the quick-set glues that we have tried have not held well to graphite.”
For release shooters, place your fletching in the clamp so the back of the fletching is 3/4-inch from the end of the shaft( not the end of the nock). Finger shooters should use a 1-inch spacking. I set my fletching jig for a five-degree right helical, which is a common setting for a bowhunting arrow. I lay a very small bead of Fletch-Tight glue down the length of the vane and then gently press the vane in place on the jig.
With Fletch-Tire glue, I wait about five minutes before removing the fletching from the clamp, rotating the shaft and then repeating the process for the next fletching. It takes about 15 minutes for the glue to harden completely and that’s when I apply a small dab of glue on the from and back of each vane for added durability. After the fletching are installed, check for any excess glue that may have bulged out along the edge of the fletchings. I use a scalpel to trim away any excess.
Just about every one of my shooting sessions results in damaged fletchings. Arrow maintenance is another good reason to get into building your own arrows. If I had to take my damaged arrows to the pro-shop for repair, I’d go broke in a hurry. I remove my fletching with a dull knife. However, for those that need a special tool for everything, Cabela’s, Saunders and Norway offer fletch strippers. Bow & Arrow Hunting Editor Joe Bell really likes the Zip Strip model by Norway Industries.
After scraping most of the glue off the shaft, I then go over it with coarse steel wool and then follow the same procedure as described earlier for cleaning the shaft prior to applying the fletchings. Incidentally, for small tears in the vanes of my practice arrows, I sometimes just use a little Super Glue to reconnect the tear. The next time I replace a fletching on that flawed arrow, though, I replace the cobbled vane.
Dipping, Cresting and Wrapping
Dipping, cresting and wrapping arrows allows archers to customize their arrows. Adding a personal touch to your arrows is fun and the colors and designs one can create are limitless. I personally don’t bother to dress up my arrows anymore, although I’ve experimented with dipping and wraps in the past. Before cresting, dipping or wrapping, it is highly recommended to clean our shafts using the same procedure used prior to gluing on fletchings. In fact, dipping and cresting is typically done prior to installing the nock and fletchings.
I’d recommend buying a cresting kit like the one offered by Bohnng. Their kit contains everything needed to create personalized arrows including a motorized spinner to rotate the shafts for painting. Bohning also sells an instructional video for customizing your arrows.
Arrow wraps are also available through Bohning or Easy-Eye. Wraps are stickers that are rolled around the arrow shaft to create designs. Buying and applying wraps is much easier and cheaper than cresting arrows, but the degree of personalization is limited to the wrap designs available.
Dipping arrows is nothing more than painting the end of the shaft under the fletchings. Most bowhunters dip their arrows in paint to allow better visibility of the arrow when shot at game. The proliferation of video taping of bowhunters has certainly increased the number of bowhunters dipping their arrows. It’s much easier for the camera to pick up arrows dipped in brightly colored paint. White is the color choice of most pro videographers.
As a final step in the arrow building process, I apply a light coat of silicone to my arrows. This serves three purposes: First, it causes water to bead up on the shaft and run off. It also allows the arrow to be drawn over the rest with much less friction and resulting noise. Lastly, the silicone may enhance penetration.
Building your own arrows allows you to experiment with different components, helical settings and other arrow nuances to fine-tune your setup for optimal performance. It’s a lot like a rifle reloader working up a particular load to perform best in their firearm. Arrow builders fine-tune their load as well, but we just go about it a lot quieter.
Published by KurtD on 14 Jan 2010
This section of Archerytalk is just for Blogs and Articles.
Published by admin on 22 Dec 2009
Dip Your Own Arrows
It’s Only Minor Trouble And Your Shafts Can Carry
Your Favorite Colors!
By Steven Barde
Dipping Arrows is one way to add color to the shaft, make it more individual and in hunting, easier to find. There are several ways of adding color. Some spray the shaft, which can be messy, some prefer to paint it on but the easiest and perhaps the best method is to dip the shaft full length in a tube. The dipping insures a complete coating, smoothly applied, while the end result is even and has no runs or blemishes if done properly.
Any lacquer designed for wood will work well. Some automotive lacquers can be used but many of these have a different base and it may be hard to find a thinner that works. If the lacquer and thinner won’t work together, you will get blisters, and in some cases, the lacquer won’t adhere to the wood but will run or peel off. If you plan to use a lacquer you’re not sure of, try a small amount and use some parts of a shaft for testing. Some combinations will work even against the rules but it is best to test first. The wood lacquers and thinners are easily obtainable.
If you buy one pint of lacquer, get at least one quart of thinner, since the solution used for dipping is thinned a great deal. If you plan to do quite a bit of dipping, add to your list of purchases some retarder, to prevent the thinned lacquer from drying too fast on the shaft causing runs and blobs, and a silicone additive. The silicone gives the lacquer mixture a high glossy finish and makes the lacquer flow smoothly during dipping.
Mix the lacquer and thinner to the ratio you desire. Most use a mixture of two parts thinner to one part lacquer. Add one eighth part retarder, if you plan to use it, and a few drops of silicone additive. A little of the silicone does an excellent job. Some archers prefer to use a thinner solution and mix three or four parts thinner to one part lacquer. The thinner the solution, the more dipping is required to get a good high gloss finish. Put the solution into a bottle that can be tightly capped and shake well.
If you haven’t tried dipping before, the two parts thinner to one part lacquer works well and requires less dipping. The more dipping and polishing that is done, the higher the gloss on the finished arrow. You also will need your dip tube, (see Nov.-Dec. 65 issue), some 0000 steel wool to take the hair grain of the shaft, and a rag. Stretch a line from two supports, preferably a line with a twist, to hand the shafts on while drying. Some archers use household clothes pins, some use electrical alligator clips but carpet tacks have proven best for many archers to hold the shafts to the line while they dry.
When selecting your arrows for dipping, the edge of the grain, which is the side with the finest lines in it, should face the side of the bow, since the edge grained side of the shaft is the strongest part. If you don’t have a method to mark this grain side, it is hard to find after the shaft has been dipped.
By using carpet tacks, you can put the tack in the grain side of the shaft and the little hole left is easily found when it comes time to nock the dipped arrow. The line or raised edge of the speed nock goes in line with the hole left by the carpet tack. One other advantage of the tack is that there is less handling of the dipped shaft. When using the alligator clip, the clip is just hung over the edge of the line, the same as the carpet tack.
When you use the clothes pin, it is necessary to dip the shaft with the fingers and hold while attaching the shaft to the jaws of the clothes pin. In this step, you will get covered with lacquer if you dip too high on the shaft. These are a few of the ways to hand the shafts to dry but the final choice will be the one that works best for you.
Select the shafts you intend to dip and lay them in place. Take a damp rag and wipe each shaft. This will dampen the wood and raise the hair grain. Cut the nock taper on both ends of the shaft prior to wiping. The reason for cutting the nock taper is that it allows the lacquer to drip from the end rapidly, and when the nock is applied to the dipped shaft, there is no holiday of bare wood where the nock taper has missed the edge of the nock.
After wiping, allow the shafts to dry about thirty minutes. When they are dry, apply the carpet tack or other holding device and dip the arrow in the tube, pushing it to within an inch or less of the top of the shaft, but slowly. A line attached above the dip tube will let the drops from the dripping shaft fall into the tube instead of on the ground or mat. When the drops have almost stopped, place the dipped shaft on the drying line and proceed with the next shaft, and so on, until all shafts have been dipped once. Allow the dipped shaft to dry at least two hours. The drying time will vary with humidity and temperature.
Remove the dry shafts from the line, take a piece of your steel wool and rub each shaft to remove the hair grain that was brought up by the damp rag and lacquer. After steel wooling each shaft, wipe them with a dry rag to remove the steel particles and dust, revers ends and dip again. Apply the tack or other holding device, dip, drain and hang to dry. For most hunting shafts, two dips will be enough with a two part thinner and one-part lacquer solution. Allow to dry for another two hours. If the color is still too light, steel wool, wipe down, reverse ends and dip them again.
Some colors cover better than others and some lacquers are thicket than others. The best thickness of the mixture is determined after you try a few shafts. If the lacquer runs too slowly and causes runs down the side of the shaft, it is too thick and needs more thinner. If the lacquer is too thin, it will run rapidly. If you like to use a thin solution, it will work but will require more dipping to get the desired finish. The solution that works well in dry Arizona will not work the same in humid Florida, sot he proper mixture must be determined by the number of dips required to give you the best color and finish for the climate you live in.
After the shaft has been dipped and you have the desired color and finish, remove the tack and lightly steel wool the finished shaft to remove any roughness, place the shaft in your arrow rack and you are then ready to nock the shaft and fletch.
The nock should go with the speed nock ridge in line with the edge of the grain of the shaft so the arrow will have the strongest part of the wood bearing against the side of the bow. The edge may be determined by the previous use of the carpet tack or by cutting the opposite end.
Remember the best solution is one that gives you the best results. If you want to experiment with different colors and lacquers, try them, but be sure the lacquer and thinner mix together and do not form bubbles or blotches.
Recently I decided to try a new color for hunting. I wanted a bright orange, almost international orange, but couldn’t find it anywhere. I went to a paint store and after checking the lacquer, added some bright orange from one of the new color mixing machines and shook it up. When this lacquer and thinner were poured into solution, I didn’t know what to expect so I tried a few shafts. The dealer said the color mix would work with anything but I was doubtful.
These shafts came out beautiful! They are a brilliant orange, the color I wanted, and there were no runs o blotches to mar the finish. These shafts have been easy to find and have stood up well with rough use.
If you decide to experiment like this, go ahead, but try a few shafts first before gambling all your undipped shafts. A garage or any open place where the dust and dirt can’t bother the wet shafts will work well. Dipping is fun, inexpensive and the colors and results are left only to your imagination.
Published by admin on 16 Dec 2009
Archers of Antiquity
This Bow Has Been Under Development For Some Six Thousand Years,
And The End Is Not Yet In Sight!
By Col. Robert H. Rankin
Although the bow is one of the oldest of all martial weapons, we are fortunate in that we do have some idea of what even the earliest bows were like. We are fairly certain that bows were being used in warfare as far back as 400 B.C.! Pictures of these bows and those of later eras are to be found in bas reliefs, carvings and paintings in Egypt, Mesopotamia, Palestine and other sections of the Middle East.
Yet there is some doubt as to just where the bow originated. Some military historians believe that the Semetic peoples, who thousands of years ago come out of the Arabian desert and spread throughout the Middle East and along the north coast of Africa, invented the bow.
Incidentally, the bow is of particular interest to military historians inasmuch as its introduction made possible for the first time the tactical element of surprise, as well as attack from beyond range and from behind cover. In addition, it greatly reduced the possibility of retaliation. All of these are important military considerations in any age. In fact, the bow was directly responsible for the introduction of armor and it was one of the few weapons actually to revolutionize warfare, itself.
The simple bow was, of course, the first type to be introduced. It appeared as early as 4000 B.C., possibly earlier. The earliest representation of the composite bow is to be found on a 2000 B.C. Bas relief commemorating an Accadian (Babylonian) victory over the Summerians.
In discussing composite bows of any era, it is interesting to note the words of an Arab writer of the fifteenth century, A.D., who wrote:
“The structure of the composite bow is not unlike that of man. The human body is made up of four basic elements- bones, flesh, arteries and blood. The composite bow has the same four counterpart elements: Wood – its skeleton; horn -its flesh; tendons – its arteries; glue – its blood. Man has back and belly. So has the bow. And just as man can bend forward but is likely to damage himself by bending too far backward, so with the operation of the bow.”
Composite bows were, of course, complicated and difficult to make, so their manufacture and use was restricted to the more civilized peoples of ancient times.
From evidence which comes down to us through the centuries, we know that the bows were not braced until just before use. To brace the bow, the string was fastened by means of a loop to one end of the bow. This end then was placed on the ground and the bow was bent by arm until it was possible to attach the loop on the other end. Several interesting pictures of this operation exist.
Bows were used both in open battle and in the attack and defense of fortified positions. The war chariot, introduced sometime around 200 B.C. By either the Hurians or the Hitties, was used principally as a mobile fore platform for archers. Chariot bowmen usually carried a quiver at their side suspended from a strap which passed over the shoulder. In addition, one and sometimes two additional quivers were attached to the side of the chariot within easy reach of the archer. Mounted archers carried the quiver at the side or on the back, as did the foot archers. As an exception, some early Egyptian paintings show dismounting archers with bundles of arrows at their feet.
From the number of bas reliefs, paintings, et cetera, which have been preserved for thousands of years, showing archery practice, it appears that great importance was attached to archery training. Apparently the novice had to develop basic skills with the simple bow after which he progressed of the composite bow.
Quivers usually were made of leather, metal, wood or of a combination of these. Assyrian quivers were unique in that they had a fringe – covered opening to prevent arrows from jostling out.
Although most composite bows were of the conventional pattern, triangular composite bows also were used, the arms forming a 120 degree angle. Many of the painting of the time of Rameses III of Egypt (1192-160 B.C.) show these triangular bows in use. Just how such bows compare with the conventional pattern is not known, although it would seem that from their basic design they would not be as efficient.
Sometime during the 800’s B.C., the ends of the bow were turned back in a so-called duck’s head pattern. This served both as an ornament and as a means of making the ends of the bow string more secure.
The ancient archers of the Middle East used what would later be called the “Mediterranean Release.” The tips of the first two fingers were used to draw the string back and the arrow was held between these two fingers. The string was drawn back to the point of the shoulder, with the bow held at arm’s length in front of the body.
Although the early Greeks used the bow extensively, it was practically discarded later, the Greek warriors apparently preferring close combat tactics. The Romans did not regard the bow with favor. They placed reliance on various forms of the javelin and their wicked short double-edge sword. Interestingly enough, however, the Athenians developed a highly efficient body of naval bowmen. During the Peloponnesian War (431-404 B.C.), these specialists were used with great success against the Spartans.
From the early beginnings noted above, the bow would continue, in one form or another, to be a decisive weapon in warfare for many centuries to come.
Published by admin on 16 Dec 2009
Checker That Bow Handle
You Can Add Beauty And Accuracy To That Bow
With A Few Tools And A Lot Of Patience.
By Tommy L. Bish
One of the most irritating and distracting occurrences that can happen to a nervous archer during a tournament shoot or it hunting session is to have the handle section of his bow become as slippery as a greased hog, allowing that hold to slip just when that all important shot is about to be released.
Some shooters have wrapped their bow handles with black friction tape or adhesive, others have eliminated the slick surface by wrapping the handle with leather strips.
In the majority of these cases of “applied preventatives,” they look like …!
To wrap a beautiful bow with tape or similar foreign material in order to prevent hand slipping is unnecessary. There are methods of improving both the bow’s appearance as well as your shooting potential.
For several hundred years the art of checkering has been applied to wood and metal surfaces. In some cases this checkering is executed solely for ornamentation, while in others, it is strictly for utilitarian purposes. Checkering on a pistol grip or rifle stock is put there for the purpose of providing a better gripping surface for the hands.
I suppose that there are hundreds of bows in existence that are adorned with checkering, but to date, I have yet to see my first one. I do not claim that my idea of checkering the handle section of a bow is original, but I can attempt to disclose a few hints on just how this jov may be done by the novice on his own bow at minimum expense.
The first requisite is to have reasonably good eye sight; second is the ability to concentrate solely upon a tedious, precision-type job with unlimited patience!
The tools necessary for the job are few. The ones I utilized in preparing this article are those produced by the Dem-Bart Company, of Tacoma, Washington. Those tools are precision made and are highly efficient in turning out professional type work, providing they are properly used. They are available in most gunshops and are inexpensive when one considers that they will last literally a lifetime, periodic replacement of the dulled cutting heads being the only requirement to return these tools to service. The set of tools shown on these pages are something like fifteen years old and still as efficient as thy were when brand new.
All checkering tools are classed by size as to how many lines they will cut to the inch. The tools best suited for a bow handle, to my way of thinking, are those that cut sixteen lines to the inch. While this size tool will create larger diamonds that the eighteen, twenty or twenty four lines-to-the-inch tools, they will prove to be the easiest for the amateur to handle in his first attempt at checkering.
The components of the sixteen-line tool set are classified as 2-16, 3-16, and 4-16. In addition to this three piece set, you will need an S-1 tool which is necessary for getting into the tight corners during the “cleaning-up” operation when the checkering job is almost completed. You will also need a B-1 bordering tool and a three-cornered Swiss needle rifle, the latter bent slightly on the pointed end. A soft-lead pencil and a bench vise will complete the tools required.
The beginner, after assembling the necessary tools, should obtain a piece of seasoned walnut or some similar wood that has been smoothed on one side for the purpose of laying out a simple design on which he can practice the use of the tools. It is best for the beginner to draw a simple, straight-sided design, then completely checker and border this design before attempting to tackle the job of working on his pet bow. Practice makes perfect, and this especially applies to the use of checkering tools. Perfection comes only after long practice with these particular tools.
After considerable practice in handling the few tools necessary for a good checkering job, the amateur then may lay out a simple design on the bow handle, itself. This is possibly best achieved by grasping the bow just as you normally would in shooting, then trace an outline, with a soft lead pencil, completely around those sections of the hand that actually contact the bow. It is this outlined area that should receive the checkering treatment.
Following this sketching of a rough outline of your hand, the bow then is placed in a bench vise having jaws protected with either felt or cork. Here the outline is retraced and refined into a simple design that will add to the bow’s beauty when finished. Next, take the Swiss needle file in hand and lightly scribe this penciled outline until you have a V-shaped slot completely around the design. This slot created by the needle file now replaces the previously penciled line and will act as the master outside guide line for the checkering tools. This line means stop for the checkering tools so don’t over run it. In the final phases of the job, this slot will be utilized to guide the bordering tool in its final outlining. To overrun this guide line will result in unnecessary “touch-up” work.
The checkering tools are so designed, that if properly used, they will cut perfect little diamonds in perfect alignment, providing the workman has used the tool properly and has used common sense in his design. Too, the cross-cut, which actually forms the diamonds when the cutter is passed across other lines at a fifteen degree angle, must be made carefully. Care should be taken to make certain that the cutters are clean by occasionally brushing them with a bronze suede brush. This assures that none of the tiny diamonds are chipped out due to a clogged checkering cutter.
A well layed out design will produce a matting of hundreds of tiny, sharp, peaked diamonds upon the surface. This can be accomplished only if three things are kept in mind: First, the angle of the cross cut must be compatible with those that they cross in order to form perfect diamonds. Second, cutting heads of the checkering tools must be kept clean. Third, the checkering, itself, must be kept free of wood dust and cuttings by brushing often with an old tooth brush. If these requisites are followed, a beautiful, professional appearing job will result.
The cutting heads are used with a short, gentle stroke on the first cutting, then this stroke is lengthened as the cut is deepened. With each stroke of the cutters, gentleness of touch is absolutely necessary. Otherwise, the small diamonds being formed under the cutters will be torn loose and a sloppy job will result.
After checkering of the necessary area, it is finished off by following the initial guide line around the outer perimeter with the bordering tool. This tool will add “that finished look” to the checkered area by outlining it with a bead-like border which is finally touched up with the use of the Swiss needle file. The “V” slot mentioned earlier is now utilized as a guide rail for the bordering tool.
With the final bordering completed, the entire area is given a thorough, but gentle brushing with an old tooth brush, or some similar brush, to rid it of wood dust and cuttings. A mild dressing such as lemon oil is then applied to the raw wood. Never use a thick dressing such as varnish or lacquer on checkering as this tends to fill in the slight cuts forming the diamonds, rendering the checkering ineffectual for a better holding surface on the bow’s handle.
It was found, during the course of checkering the illustrated bow, that the Bubinga wood in the riser and handle section was much harder than any used in gunstocks but in spite of the cutters being slightly dulled by the ordeal of cutting this iron-like hardwood; plus slicing through sections of laminated glass used in this bow’s construction, they still cut perfect diamonds.
To prevent having to replace your cutting heads, I would suggest that you lay out your design so that it will eliminate the possibility of having to pass your cutters over the glassed sections where possible. That laminated glass is murder on any type of metal cutting tool, including a metal cutting hacksaw or bandsaw.,
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