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Published by admin on 16 Dec 2009

Archers of Antiquity By Col. Robert H. Rankin

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

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 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.

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 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.

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Published by admin on 16 Dec 2009

Checker That Bow Handle With A Few Tools And A Lot Of Patience. By Tommy L. Bish

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

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http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com/

 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.

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 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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Published by admin on 14 Dec 2009

Deep Freeze sophisticated layering approach. By Gary Simms

Deep Freeze
When conditions get bitter cold, fight off the chill with this
sophisticated layering approach.
By Gary Simms

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http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com/

 After five years of wearing T-shirts in November, the 2000 season produced a great opportunity to once again revisit the notion of staying warm.  I had almost forgotten what it felt like to have the inside of my nostrils freeze on a hard inhale.  That’s something that sticks with you—that’s cold!

 I spent the coldest part of last fall hanging from trees in central Kansas.  The Rocky Mountains were the nearest feature taller than the local elevator with any hope of deflecting the northwest winds, and they were 500 miles away.  The wind slammed me without letup for nearly the entire 12 days of my hunt.  With the temperatures in the single digits most mornings and rarely getting above the teens during the day it would have been a miserable time had I not luckily included a couple of pieces of clothing in my gear bag.  Actually, the items were incidental but they proved to be indispensable and opened my eyes to the importance of cutting the wind.

 I hadn’t packed enough clothing for such exposure, but I had brought along a lightweight fleece-lined nylon-shelled jacket and a pair of lined nylon sweatpants for casual wear.  After a couple of days I started wearing the jacket and sweats under my insulated camo outerwear.  Immediately, I was hunting in comfort for the rest of my trip.  I then spent a cold week on the plains of eastern Colorado in late December using the same system with similar results.

 After those hunts I began to study the many pieces of clothing on the market that could replace my crude system.  Things have really changed since the last time frigid temperatures forced me to take a closer look at the mail order catalogs.  Here are some of the great new products and concepts that I’ll be putting into service next time the mercury hits rock bottom.

Cutting the Wind
 Wearing windproof materials is one of the smartest things you can do if you want to stay warm (along with protecting your head).  In late fall and winter it is the wind that really makes for a cold and miserable experience on stand.  Anything you can do to cut it will keep you much warmer and will do it with less bulk.  Any of the modern waterproof membranes such as Gore-Tex, Dry Plus and Omni-Tech are also windproof.  Of course, you can also choose garments made from Gore’s Windstopper to achieve the same goal.
 
 Clothing made from laminated micro-fiber is becoming very popular but it is  not  a good choice for cold-weather hunting.  In most cases the fabric becomes stiff and noisy when the temperature gets below about 15 degrees.  The glue used to secure the synthetic fleece is what causes it to become stiff.

 I spoke with Van Larson from Due North Apparel about facemasks and headwear.  At the time, I was looking for a facemask lined with Windstopper, but Larson warned me away from that line of thinking.  According to Van, the head is the body’s thermostat and to work properly it relies on natural evaporative cooling.  When you impede the process by using a windproof membrane, the head reportedly loses its natural ability to sense and set the body’s temperature.

Creative Solutions for your Head
 The only part of your body that you should strive to protect better than your midsection is your head and neck.  An enormous amount of heat leaves the body through this area.  There are traditional solutions such as knit or fleece facemasks, neck gaiters and stocking caps that will do a good job, but now you also have a new option that serves double duty by actually warming the air before you breathe it.  The benefits of this are obvious.

 The now Polar Wrap Exchanger facemask received great reviews from my buddies that tried them last winter.  The system is fairly simple and intuitive; it works like a heat exchanger.  The facemast captures heat and moisture from your breath when you exhale and uses the energy to warm and humidify the air that comes into your lungs when you inhale.  Any facemask will do the same thing to a lesser extent, but the Exchanger absorbs more of the heat and moisture from your breath by passing it through a system of channels before it exits the mask.  Your next breath enters through the same path and is warm and moist by the time it reaches your mouth.  Not only does this preserve body heat, but it also prevents dehydration during a long stand session.

 I spoke with Myles Keller about the system and he marveled at how well it works.  Myles is one of the most hard-core late-season bowhunters that I know and if Myles says it works you can bet that it does.

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Don’t Forget the Feet
 I had a chance to test a unique system of cold-weather foot protection this past fall and came away very impressed.  The boots were from the new set of hybrids that have made their way onto the market in only the past two years.  They aren’t pack boots but they aren’t walking boots either—they are a little of each.  They are characterized by thick, lightweight Thinsulate insulation but with the fit and appearance of a walking boot.  Not only were they warm, but they also made walking very easy.  I’ve never liked walking long distances to reach a stand while wearing conventional pack boots.  The fit is often sloppy and the foot can move around inside the boot easily.  This makes it tough to climb ridges and steep banks comfortably, silently and safely.  These new hybrids, however, made the hike to and from the stand a real pleasure.

 The boots I tested were Deer Stalker  Extremes from Rocky.  They feature 1,600 grams of Thinsulate insulation and Gore’s Gore-Tex Supprescent fabric.  Supprescent reduces odor while making the boots waterproof and windproof in the process.  Other examples of this style of boot include the LaCrosse Gamemaster 1300 with 1,300 grams of Thinsulate and a comfortable leather walking boot design, and Cabela’s 1200 Gram Cordura Boots that feature 1,200 grams of Thinsulate in a durable, affordable Cordura design.  Another example is the RedHead 10-inch Leather Boot with 1,000 grams of thinsulate.

 I sized my boots so they would be slightly loose with a single pair of socks so that I could test a new Polartec bootie from Due North Apparel.  The bootie incorporates ComforTemp to help control temperature.  The material stores heat when your feet are warm, such as when you are walking, and gives it back when you sit immobile on stand.  Under it I wore only a thin polypro liner.  I never once experienced cold feet even though the wind chills hovered around 20 degrees below zero each morning.  That was a first for me.
 
 Conventional pack boot are also a great choice if you don’t have far to walk to reach your stand. Tinmerland’s 12-inch Iditarod Mukluks are extremely warm and waterproof.  LaCrosse’s Ice King boots are rated for minus 100 degrees and are also available in all-rubber design for maximum scent reduction.  Rocky’s Kenai are all rubber to protect your feet down to minus 100 degrees and reduce human scent.  Their Barrow features a rubber bottom and leather uppers and are for comfort rated to minus 135 degrees.  Field tested under arctic conditions, Sorel’s warmest pack, the Alaska, features ThermoPlus 100 inner boots and is comfort rated to minus 100 degrees.
 
 Make sure you buy boots with a little room to spare.  Most manufacturers don’t recommend a lot of bulk inside their boots.  One polypro liner under a medium-weight wool sock will get the job done nicely.  If you wear pack boots with removable liners it is well worth the money to buy a second pair of liners.  You will be surprised by how wet they can become from sweat as you walk to and from your stand.  The extra pair of liners permits you to swap them out at midday if you go back to the vehicle.  At the very least, make sure to remove your liners and insoles at night so they can dry thoroughly before the next morning’s hunt.

The Ultimate Layering System
 For expertice in layering using today’s high-tech materials I relied on input from Steve Culhane, Cabela’s Product Manager for Big Game Clothing.  Steve makes his living choosing the best new clothing systems to include in the catalog and his tried virtually everything.  I offered a typical cold-weather scenario: Nebraska in late December.  It’s 10 degrees on the thermomerter with a 20 mph wind causing the wind chills to bury in the double digits below zero.  It is a stand hunt with a falf-mile walk to and from.  Here are Steve’s recommendations for such a hunt: 

 “First, I’d pick the best underwear I could find.”  Steve said.  “In the Cabela’s line I really like the Polortec Power Stretch underwear.  It is thick and creates lots of dead air space close to your body.  I recommend the bib for really cold conditions, covered on top by the full-zip jacket.  The material stretches so it doesn’t affect your range or motion and has a slick outer surface so it doesn’t bind with other clothing making it easier to draw your bow.”

 A similar product in the Bass Pro Shops catalog is the RedHead Expedition Weight Polartec Fleece Thermal.  Other thick, long underwear systems will also work well in this application.

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 Over the long underwear Steve recommends a thick layer of fleece.  “Fleece is perfect for this layer,” he said.  “It is lightweight and offers great insulation as well as moisture wicking.  From our line I like the Fleece Layering Pullover for the upper body.  I wouldn’t use Windstopper on an inner garment because it won’t  breathe as well, but if you will also be using it as an outer garment on milder days Windstopper here gives you more versatility.”  A similar product in the Bass Pro Shops line is the Scent-Lok Pullover.

 Over everything, Steve likes a heavy bib and parka constructed with plenty of insulation and a windproof membrane.  In the Cabela’s line he suggested the Whitetail Extreme system.  The outer shell on this clothing is warped (brushed) polyester that is silent even in cold temperatures.  Don’t overlook the importance of wearing a bib instead of pants.  Bibs eliminate cold spots that can occur when wearing pants.

 Personally, I’m a big fan of vests because they offer insulation for your core but don’t restrict the movement of your arms as you draw your bow or climb down from your stand at the end of a long cold day.  When things are particularly cold I like a thick vest like the one made by Winona /High Caliber (800/851-4868) that I’ve worn for years.  It is a combination of wool and fleece that is both thick and large enough to keep me very warm while fitting comfortably over any combination of underwear.  In the Cabela’s line, Steve recommended the Berber Fleece Outfitter Series Vest.

When It Gets Really Cold
 Under the toughest conditions, almost any cold weather system needs help.  That’s where the over-boots, hand muffs, neck gaiters, electric socks and even body blankets find their application.

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 Heater Clothing (920/565-3273) offers a unique product for the cold weather hunters.  The Heater Body Suit is basically a poly-fill sleeping bag with legs.  The bag closes up tight around your neck and zips easily down the front allowing you to slip your arms out for the shot.  Shoulder straps hold the garment in place as you shoot, preventing it from flopping down and spooking game.

 Icebreaker Inc. produces two great items designed specifically to relieve cold hands and feet.   Boot Blankets zip on over your regular boots to add a layer of thick Hollofil insulation where you need it most.  They will keep your feet toasty in the coldest conditions.  I wear them regularly when sitting on stand for extended periods, and they permit me to endure at least 15-degree colder conditions.

 Ice Breaker’s Handblanket is a thick Hollofil hand muff held in place in front of you by tie straps that go around your waist.  You can stick a handwarmer inside to keep your hands warm with only thin gloves.  For more information contact Icebreaker Inc., Dept. B&AH, P.O. Box 236, Clarkseville, GA 30523; (800) 343-BOOT.

 A new over-boot system introduced this past winter appears to have a lot of potential.  The ArcticShield Boot Insulators (877/974-4353) are less bulky than Boot Blankets and constructed with a layering system that includes patented Reflek-Tek that reflects body heat.  The pair weighs one pound and can be rolled up for storage in a pack.  If we have cold temperatures again this fall you can bet I’ll be testing a pair of these.

 Investing in warm clothing is one of the few ways in which you can actually buy-up your odds for taking nice buck.  For every extra minute you can stay on a cold stand your odds for success increase:  the better the clothing system, the longer the hunt.  You’ll not only be a more successful hunter but you’ll also enjoy it more.

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Published by admin on 14 Dec 2009

Blunders and Boo Boos Story and Photos By Judd Cooney

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

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http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Published by admin on 08 Dec 2009

After The Rut Bow and Arrow Hunting Magazine

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Published by admin on 08 Dec 2009

40 Years of Archery & Bowhunting By Joe Bell

40 Years of
Archery & Bowhunting
By Joe Bell

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 At only 30 years young, I felt absolutely honored and somewhat tickled to be the editor of the oldest bowhunting/archery magazine title in existence, a title that has been going for 40 years strong.  Four decades is simply a huge lump of time.  I was watching TV the other night and noticed Wienerschnitzel, the fast food giant, is celebrating its 40 year anniversary.  Imagine that, a bowhunting publication that’s been around as long as the hot dog.

 Of course I’m kidding, but to put it more realistically, the compound bow only dates back to the late ’60s and early ’70s.  In 1962 when the first issue of Bow & Arrow was being put together, “wheel bows” were nonexistent and so were replaceable-blade broad heads.  No one hunted with release aids.  And there certainly weren’t any carbon arrows around at that time.

 Taking a further look into the old, pre-’70s issues of Bow & Arrow, I found myself entertaining a world of nostalgia.  I looked at antique-like ads of recurves from various companies like Ben Pearson, Bear, Browning, Darton, Colt, Damon Howatt, Wing, Hoyt, Herters, Sanders and Shakespeare.  Some of these companies are still around today.  I saw an ad for the Bitzenburger fletching jig.  It looked basically unchanged from today’s model.  Of course, Easton’s aluminum arrow ads decorated the back inside cover of  Bow& Arrow.  MA3s, Zwickeys, Cougars, Ace Expresses, and a few others, apparently were a hunter’s choice in hunting heads.  Looking at the bylines, Jim Dougherty, Doug Kittredge, Fred Bear and Chuck Kroll, to name a few, were the prolific writers of that age.

40 Yrs of Arch and Bwhnting 

Two authors in particular and for which I hold a soft spot for, Jim Dougherty and Fred Bear, as they’ve done in modern time, inspired, educated and thrilled Bow & Arrow readers of that era.  As they told about hunting various big-game critters with their crude stick bows, visions of dangerous bears and hot-tempered African buffalo and cats emerged right from their written phrases.  It is hunting romance at its best.

 You’d think a lot has changed in archery and bowhunting since the ’60s.  But then again, a lot hasn’t.  The equipment of today sure seems more sophisticated.  But even the recurves of the ’60s and early ’70s showed the unique elements and lines of brilliant engineering, as today’s products do.  I even noticed some of the bows in ads had bridge-style risers and off-center grips, tricks today’s bow engineers use to make compounds shoot better.  Target archers are still lining up in Vegas, as they did then.  Bowhunters, too, (at least it appears that way by all the grip-and-grin trophy photos) appeared to be just as dedicated and hard-core as they are today.  So what has changed?

 For one, we’ve lost some great hunting, whereas we’ve gained some too, considering the explosion of whitetail dear populations within the past few decades.

 I couldn’t help but become at least a bit saddened after reading stories in these old issues about bowhunting Spanish goat, merino sheep and wild boar on the  Channel Islands, which are located off the coast of Southern California.  Sadly, hunting is on longer allowed on the once great bowhunting islands of Santa Catalina and Santa Cruz.  Ridiculous reasoning has abolished it.
 Only a few years ago I recall hunting both of these places.  Fortunately, in my teens I was routinely able to walk the rocky slopes of Santa Cruz and hike the cactus-studded hillsides of Catalina.  It was these places where I carved my big-game bowhunting teeth.  Sadly it is no longer available to cherish and enjoy.  Now, I can only reminisce about the good old days of bowhunting there.

 I guess this is what the 40-year anniversary of “The World’s Leading Archery Publication” is all about.  Reminiscing.  It’s about looking back at how such a great sport has reached such astronomical proportions today.  It’s obvious: bows and arrows provide a challenge, fun and recreational pastime few can let go of.  This is the essence of Bow & Arrow’s 40-year celebration.

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Published by admin on 08 Dec 2009

High Spirit: Celebrating Thriving Wildlife By Ted Nugent

High Spirit: Celebrating Thriving Wildlife
Recent Pope & Young banquet spurs
many thoughts.
By Ted Nugent

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 My eyes virtually bugged out of my face, little rivulets of drool forming at the corner of my trembling mouth.  I hyperventilated.  My heartbeat and pulse thumped like a hyper speed metal rock’n’roll double bass drum from hell, and the hair on my arms and neck quivered and rose to the occasion.  The sheer outrageous sea of hornage before me was beyond my wildest big-game dreams.

 Along with hundreds of families from around the world, I was staring at four walls covered with the most beautiful, stunning mounted heads of the world’s largest deer, elk, moose, buffalo, caribou, antelope, muskox, bighorn sheep, cougar, grizzly, polar and black bears ever seen in a single setting.  This was the 40-year anniversary of the Pope & Young club’s bi-annual trophy awards recording session, and a grand celebratory spirit consumed the Salt Lake City Convention Center.  The Spirit of the Wild glowed all around.

Celebrating Thriving Wildlife

 Numerous world records had once again been broken, and we all knew why.  Since the inception of scientifically based wilkdlife management began at the insistence of hunters in the late 1800s big game populations have improved exponentially year after year.  What a world record elk irrefutably represents is certainly the biggest, baddest, healthiest specimen of its time in more than 100 years, cut and dried.  Literally.

 The evidence is inescapable.  Record-book deer, elk, bear, moose, buffalo, antelope, caribou, cougar and others proves conclusively that this incredibly disciplined, ultra selective trophy hunting community performs the ultimate benefit for wildlife populations.  In order to qualify for the Boone & Crocket, Pope & Young  or various state record-keeping organizations, a big-game animal must be healthy and almost in every instance, very old.  And in the animal world, very old equates to being beyond breading capability or providing any tangible benefit to the herd.  In most cases, older male specimens are banished fro m the herd and go off on their own to die a slow, agonizing death by starvation or being eaten alive by other predators.

 It is interesting to note as well that most older critters that would set world records are never encountered by hunters and vanish without a trace.  I am glad that so many are taken by hunters not only for the thrills and challenges of the hunt and the food they provide the hunter’s families—plus incredible sums of revenues generated via these hunts— but mostly importantly for the valuable data they have provided over the years for further and better management information.  Even in death, these majestic beasts benefit the wild, their species and mankind.  Celebrate the Great Spirit!

 Like The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF), Ducks Unlimited (DU), The Federation of North American Wild Sheep (FNAWS), The Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), Whitetails Forever, Pheasants Forever, The Grouse Society, Quail Unlimited, Trout Unlimited, the Mule Deer Association and so many conservation organizations dedicated to these precious renewable wildlife resources, it is very easy to see why wildlife is thriving in North America like nowhere else in the world.  Even in the face of dramatically dwindling habitat, game and non-game species are doing great because these hunting organizations’ hands-on understanding of real wildlife needs and conditions drive us to manage habitat and harvests accordingly.

 Many wildlife lovers outside the hunting community join us in this glowing success story.  Even the famous TV personality Steve Irwin, “The Crocodile Hunter,” states quite emphatically in Scientific American magazine, that “habitat destruction” is the most important issue facing his home county of Australia, here in America and the whole wold today.  Those who actually walk on the wild side know this truth.  I repeat, wildlife habitat is where our air, soil and water quality come from.  Everybody should be helping these hunting organizations.  If intellectual truth instead of emotional hysteria motivated everyone, they would.

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 Those ignorant souls who criticize and condemn trophy hunters are absolutely full of baloney.  First of all, most trophy animals are taken by chance, as a rare lucky encounter with an outsized beast coincidentally comes together for some fortunate hunter just out to hunt.  And in virtually every case, dictated by laws and standard hunters ethics, all the valuable meat is utilized way before any head is taken to the wildlife artist taxidermist.  The facts are clear.

 With literally thousands and thousands of entries every year into many record books around the country, these staggering numbers occur every year, but only represent a minor fraction of the overall annual harvest of all species.  That reality adds up to an amazing dynamic truth just how renewable these resources truly are.  Isn’t it ridiculous that anyone believes there could even be an anti-hunting argument?

 You would have to be pretty dam stupid to deny more than 100 years of consistent evidence.  But then there have always been stupid people.  I can only hope that they wake up and smell the wonderful, gargantuan field of roses that shine before them.  I often wonder just what they are trying to accomplish.  I guess weird will always be weird.

 Meanwhile, I am going to continue to support all these great hunting/conversation groups.  They work tirelessly throughout the year raising millions and millions of dollars, donating by millions and millions of hunters across the land, all for the continued benefit of wildlife and wildlife habitat.  It is truly the greatest success story in the history of the world.

 When I travel to Africa, for example, it is so very obvious how it all works.  Where I see thriving populations for elephant, rhino, hippo, lion, leopard, cheetah, cape buffalo, kudu, eland, sable, gemsbok, giraffe, warthog, impala, zebra, wildebeest, nyala, reedbuck, klipspringer, blesbok, bontebok, tssessebe, duiker, steenbok, and all those fascinating wild creatures, it is always on wild ground where legal hunting is an ongoing business.  Conversely, where I see no wildlife at all, there are goats, cattle, vineyards, golf courses and “No Hunting” signs.  Intellectually, the choice is ridiculously obvious, unless of course feeling good is more important than doing the right thing.  As a hunter who lives with these awesome beasts.  I will continue to dedicate my life to educating and motivating people to do the right thing.

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Published by admin on 08 Dec 2009

Deer Hunting With A Pioneer Tips From An Old-Timer

Deer Hunting With A Pioneer
Improve Your Bowhunting With These
Tips From An Old-Timer.

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http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com/

 Years ago, I became acquainted with one of bowhunting’s legendary, but retiring and thus little-known, pioneers.  His name was Jim Ramsey and he lived above the Bonito Valley in Lincoln, New Mexico.

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 Ramsey had grown up among the Apache Indians and had learned from them the art of making archery tackle and using it for hunting,  Especially, he perfected their process of flaking obsidian for arrow ans spear points and became the finest practitioner of the art I have ever known.  It was from him that I obtained the supply of large chipped obsidian lance points that have since been used as the centerpiece of the Pope & Young Club’s “Ishi Award;”  their highest honor.

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 Jim Ramsey also made up a work display for the then-new Fred Bear Museum, showing all the tools, raw materials and steps involved in chipping heads, including a large number of beautifully finished arrow points.

 I had the opportunity to visit Ramsey in his hillside Lincoln home, which was itself a museum of miniature.  From him, I learned a great deal of valuable hunting lore.  He had slain more deer with his homemade bows, arrows and chipped heads than most people ever see.  I asked him to jot down some of his hunting notes when he had the time and I later received some of these from him.  I was glad to have them, for not too much later Jim Ramsey quietly passed on the the Happy Hunting Grounds.

 What follows are Jim Ramsey’s comments on his bowhunting techniques, given to me some twenty years ago.  They contain a great deal of interesting information and some novel tricks he used, many of them forerunners of what is common today.

 “Here in the Southwest, deer inhabit vast areas of the country and the various places where these fine big-game animals are found are often amazingly diversified and dissimilar.  The big, fine mule deer may be found from the high altitudes of the mountains, way up around ten to twelve thousand feet were moisture is plentiful.  They’re also down in semi-barren desert foothills of scant rainfall, in the spreads of the ancient lava beds and even on down onto the more broken and rougher plains country.  The lower elevations, however, are mostly home to the smaller whitetail (Coues) deer of the Southwest, especially in the cactus/mesquite areas.

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 “Regardless of where I bowhunt for deer, there are certain practices I like to follow as much as possible.  Deer are not so much concerned about the invasion of their haunts by a creature whose body scent strongly suggests a vegetable diet as they are over some comer who reeks with the warning odor of devoured flesh.

 “Considering this, I prefer to prepare myself in advance for hunting by not eating meat for at least a couple days before I go out.  But, I do eat plenty of vegetables and fruit, especially apples.  After arising from my bed in the morning, I like to take a good bath, but in soapless water so I’m fresh and clean with all possible body odor eliminated.  I say soapless, because most soaps leave lingering odors quite foreign to the natural outdoor smells in the haunts of deer.

 “Then I dress from the skin out in clean, fresh clothing.  As an added precaution, I like to allow everything I might wear or use on the hunt to lie through the night on evergreen bushes or other fragrant vegetation common to the area to be hunted.  Just laying them on the ground and covering them with mine straw or dead leaves helps a lot, provided there is no dampness to harm the equipment.  Not only are my clothing, socks and shoes treated in this manner, but also my bow, arrows, quiver, arm guard, hunting knife and any rope I may carry along.

 “Soiled, sweaty clothing worn on a hunt is a dead giveaway to game.  So are bloodstained garments that have been previously worn while dressing or handling game.  Clothing that has been slept in is especially bad, though most hunters camping in cold weather, myself included, are at times guilty of sleeping in at least some of the clothing worn in the daytime.

 “I don’t care to carry along a lunch that might give off a telltale odor; perhaps just a few apples.

 “While camping, I prefer to sleep on the ground with a bed of leaves, pine straw or tips of evergreen branches.  A good comfortable bed can be made this way and your blankets soon take on the fragrance of the natural bed material.

 “It’s a mighty good idea for the bowhunter to get out in the area he intends to hunt and camp for a few days before the hunting actually starts, living close to nature.  This gives him an opportunity to make leisurely reconnaissances of the area and appraise hunting conditions.  Besides, if he’s from lower country, it allows him a little time to become accustomed to the altitude before any arduous hunting starts.

 “The hunter should try to lend in as much as he can with his outdoor environment and, even if it does seem a bit farfetched, to become, in a way, just another creature of the wild places.  This advice is prompted b the various experiences gained from the more than fifty years I have hunted with the bow.

 “Most often, people arrive at their intended hunting area in a closed car.  Their clothing, hair and body reek with the odors of food, tobacco, gasoline, motor oil and probably the perfume from soaps, cosmetics and aftershave lotion.  Hunters do not notice these odors.  But, to the weary deer, what a distasteful contrast it is to the pure and natural ozone of their haunts.  It’s quickly noted by these and other creatures of the wild places.  It all adds a discouraging handicap to hunting, especially bowhunting.

 “After I am ready to go hunting, I avoid anyone frying bacon or other meat, as the odorous smoke settles on hair and clothing and clings tenaciously there, warning game.  I do not smoke, for an animal can detect tobacco scent a long way off.  I, myself, have often been warned of other hunters in an area by catching the drift of their smoking.

 “I prefer to wear outer clothing that blends in well with the natural surroundings, but I want it to be of material that will not be noisy when brushed by twigs or branches.  To prevent the cuffs of my trouser legs from flapping loosely and catching on brush.  I draw each one down and pin it in place with a large safety pin.  I don’t like to wear an ordinary hat when hunting in the brush.  I used to prefer wearing a head band of brown or greenish cloth about four or five inches wide, but I am getting a bit bald and the top of my head shows up like a reflecting mirror.  Now I sew a crown of like cloth onto the head band.  In colder weather a dark color stocking cap works well.

  “If I’m not familiar with the country and game conditions where I intend to hunt, as soon as I get a camp site settled, I get out and do some quiet scouting.  I try to learn which canyons have streams of springs in them, or if there are any stock tanks in the vicinity.  At any such places, I check to see if deer have recently been coming in to drink.  I learn if they have been using regular routes over well defined game or stock trail or have just come and gone haphazardly.

 “As I scout, I check for the types of vegetation deer like to feed on during that season of the year and also note places that might be favored as bedding grounds.  I try to learn how the breezes blow over the slopes and up or down the valleys or canyons.

 “Considering deer depend more on their sense of smell to warn them of danger than their sight or hearing, I always try to hunt against or across the wind, except when I may find it advantageous to slip into a brushy draw or canyon head and go with the wind to flush game onto open slopes.

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 “When hunting during the early morning and evening, if the wind is right.  I try to stay between the sun and the game.  I have learned this offers me quite an advantage.  A fine way to determine direction of faint breezes is to keep a feather tied to the upper loop of the bowstring.

 “Having learned from many experiences that the unexpected usually happens when one is least prepared for it.  I try to be alert and on the lookout for game wherever I may be, even if it’s unlikely deer are around.  Game will sometimes appear suddenly at the most unexpected time to place.  This is especially true when other hunters are in the area.

 “I often use cover scents, but prefer natural odors over man-made concoctions.  I like to crush and rub fresh sage, juniper or pine needles on my clothing and I rub my boot soles in any fresh animal droppings I come across.  In addition, skunk scent has for a long time been my old standby.  Deer are well acquainted with the smell of skunk and seem to be attracted to it.  It may be the smell appeals to them, but I have seen times when it appeared to have angered them.  Often, when deer come across a dead skunk, they will paw and stamp the carcass as if in anger.  This may be because deer, while feeding on the ground, have had their eyes sprayed with the skunk’s stinging fluid.

 “To handle such scent, I use a small, wide mouthed glass jar with a tight screw-top lid.  I fill it with rags or cotton and apply fifteen to twenty drops of the pure essence I have secured from a skunk I have killed, or from one of the trapper’s supply firms.  I carry the jar in a padded belt pouch.  When hunting, I loosen the lid about halfway.  If I want to hunt from a blind, I find a place of concealment near a well-used trail or crossing and place the open jar about ten paces back of my blind so the breeze will carry the scent over to me and onto the trail or crossing.  If shooting from a tree stand, the jar, or some moss with the scent on it, can be placed in an open space within good shooting range, so a passing deer will stop in the desired spot.

 “I usually prefer to still-hunt and stalk deer, so I carry my partially opened jar on my side.  One may get himself scented up a bit this way, especially on damp days, but the fun and success this trick affords will make it worth the trouble.

 “On the inside of each hind leg of a deer, just below the hock or knee, is a large musk gland.  This area has little or no hair on part of it with stiff, dark hair around its edge.  These glands seem to serve as a sort of radio set by which deer send scent messages to one another.  When hunting, if I can get these from the legs of a recently killed deer, I rub the musk on my trousers or on my boots.
 
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“If suitable cover is not close to a deer trail, deer can often be lured from the trail, deer can often be lured from the trail by dropping pieces of apples or other deer tidbits such as acorns along a course the hunter desires the deer to take. “A sneaky trick I have found useful is the ‘odorous arrow gambit.’  It works best when deer are feeding or traveling int the wind and I’m behind them, but without sufficient cover to work up on them.  I take a field arrow and wrap a piece of an old sock, well stunk-up with human odor, snuggly around the forend, holding it in place with a rubber band.  From cover, I shoot the arrow high over the deer so it will fall to the ground beyond.  The sound of the arrow may turn them back toward me.  If not, they will soon scent the human odor on the arrow and may come slipping back downwind toward me, their attention mostly centered on watching their  backs.  I have more than once had deer come right in close to me using this trick.

 “If I decide to still-hunt a lava flow area, such as the ‘malpais’ west of Carizozo, which is some five miles wide and extends down the valley from the crater about thirty miles, I carefully scout around the many grassy and brushy depressions, working as much as possible into the wind.  Lava bed deer contrast sharply in color against the blackish rock and are easy to spot unless the animal is bedded in brownish grass or brush.  Nearly all shots are rather close, since a hunter will usually be quite close to a deer when he discovers it.  And, since most of the vegetation, except for scattered old juniper tree’s is quite low, there are not many overhead hazards to deflect an arrow.

 “Mostly, the wind blows across the lava beds in an established direction.  When it blows quite hard with a lot of noise, deer are reluctant to get up from their beds which are sheltered in depressions.  This brings the hunter close in.  Since shots are short, he arrow is not overly affected by high winds.

 “All volcanic areas of the Southwest are not like this and thus do not present the same hunting conditions.  For example, the Cochiti Canyon country north of Albuquerque consists mainly of extremely steep mountains of volcanic material.  Some of this country is heavily timbered and much of it cut and broken by steep-walled canyons.  Deer hunting here is done just about the same as in any of the forested areas of the West.  The Gila Wilderness area of New Mexico is another volcanic country, mountainous and forested and an extremely good deer area.

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“Binoculars are extremely handy in such country.  Bedded deer can be spotted from a distance and an appropriate stalk planned beforehand.  Feeding deer are more easily located, also.  Whenever I come to the crest of a ridge, I always peer over cautiously, usually through a bush or clump of grass.  Deer grazing on a hillside generally graze uphill.  By maneuvering cautiously, a hunter can often get above feeding deer and let them come up within easy shooting range.

 “Whenever I’m out hunting I always pay particular attention to all the various little sounds, especially the calls of birds or other animals.  A slight rustling sound may be a deer easing out of a bed and slipping away.  A red squirrel barking and fussing may lead one to a deer.  Ravens are apt to be concerned about a dead or wounded deer, so when I hear these black denizens calling to one another in their strange raven talk.  I give a stealthy look-see.  A bluejay or scrubjay squawking at or scolding something, prompts me to learn the objects of his ire.  Such woodland busybodies can give the alert hunter a lot of good hints— and, of course, will often scold at him the same way.

 “I well remember one day years ago when hunting along the base of the Capitans, I heard a bluejay fussing at something along the trail I had just covered.  I went back and got the opportunity to shoot two fine wild turkeys out of a flock that had come in after I had passed
 “Just this past deer season, while hunting among the scattered cactus and scrub juniper on a ridge, I noticed a flock of small birds fly up from the ground about thirty yards ahead.  I looked sharply and caught a glimpse of something grayish brown in the low brush.  I thought it to be just a jackrabbit, but to make sure, I eased behind some bushes and saw it was a fine buck.  Evidently, he had just come up out of a canyon, for he was standing there looking down into it as if he expected other deer to follow.  As a result of my heeding the warning of the startled birds, I was able to make an easy, clean kill of the big mulie. 

 “When I’m stalking a deer and the cover is poor, I watch carefully as it feeds.  When it switches its tail I freeze in place, knowing this is the sign it is about to look up.

 “During rutting season, buck deer will often stay in areas where there are domestic cattle.  A hunter should be on the lookout for such places.

 “Well up on many of the more forested mountains of the southwest are rather open grassy, meadowlike areas scattered over with fir trees, grayish old aspens, patches of young aspens and a variety of plants.  Deer love to feed in such places and, during the summer, bucks like to bed there.  But during hunting season, if such areas are readily accessible to hunters, the deer will hide out in the thicker surrounding timber or down in the brushy, tangled rocky canyon heads.  About sundown, they will emerge to feed in the upland meadows, returning to thicker cover shortly after daylight.  By waiting in cover or in a tree stand near the edge of such an open grassy area, an archer has a good chance for shots at deer emerging from the canyon heads at dusk.  Sometimes these uplands are enveloped in fog, making it damp and quiet for still-hunting.  But one should carry a compass to keep from getting turned around, as it can happen easily in drifting fog.

 “Sometimes the fog turns to sleet that comes rattling noisily down.  This is also a great time to be out since the sound of your progress is covered  and visibility and odor drift are somewhat negated.  When big fluffy flakes of snow are falling thickly over the mountains, hunting is usually good, too.  Just after such a storm, before the snow becomes crusty, is an excellent time for still-hunting.

 “Farther down the mountains, where pinyons, juniper and scrub oak grow, are other populations of deer.  But when hunters in any numbers invade such areas, the deer promptly move up into those brushy, rocky canyons and rockslide slopes.  An archer who has the patience to quietly work around through such fastness is pretty apt to get chances at some of the better bucks in the area.

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 “Whenever I’m sneaking quietly through thickets and hear a deer get up with a snort of dash off a few jumps, then all is quiet, I remain perfectly still.  The animal may sneak away, but the chances are it’s not quite certain what disturbed it and is curious to find out.  If I feel it’s standing out there looking and listening.  I crouch and look under the brush for sight of its legs while keeping a lookout farther up for antlers or ears.  I especially watch in the directions where the breeze is carrying my scent.  I’ve had bucks silently and suddenly poke their heads over bushes upon catching my scent, allowing me fine close-range shots.

 “A word of caution when hunting n any of the dry areas of the Southwest where it is usually windy.  Be careful of fire and of your smokes if you have to smoke.  It’s a terrible letdown to return to mountain areas where you’ve had many happy hunting experienced, only to find the forest burned away and only scorched and blackened stubs in the canyons and on the slopes.

 “Happy hunting.”

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Published by admin on 01 Dec 2009

The Making Of A Cedar Shaft Modern Product From Oregon’s Coast By Sam Fadala

The Making Of A Cedar Shaft
The History, Construction And Uses Of This Ancient But
Modern Product From Oregon’s Coast
By Sam Fadala

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The handmate arrow for the compound bow has been the aluminum shaft, and with good reason.  Aluminum is a fine arrow material, and the company responsible for turning out the bulk of these arrow shafts has been responsible, honest, and innovative.  While the aluminum arrow maintains the kingpin, there are, however, some alternative types that have been seeing more play lately.  Most of these are space-age inventions, such as the graphite, or improvements on old designs, such as the stainless steel arrow.  Another, however, is an ancient arrow material – cedar.  These wooden arrows were around from the start in America, as the Northwestern Indians, Coquille and others found cedar to be superb as a shaft material.  It was then.  It still is today, and for many reasons.

Contrary to popular notion, it still is a highly useful arrow material, not only in the longbow, for which it is aptly applied, but also in the compound.  The tree that yields these arrow shafts is found only along the coastal areas of Oregon, near Port Orford country, and the arrow has long been known as the Port Orford cedar type.  Speculation holds that the first cedar trees to grow in this area were begun as seedlings thousands of years ago, carried to Oregon on the Japanese current.  Japan is the only place that has an abundance of these trees and that country uses the wood for building as well as countless other applications.  America uses its cedar primarily for arrow shafts and by-products of the arrow industry because the wood is so well suited for this, while not being particularly excellent for construction.

 One of the main attributes of the cedar arrow is cost.  Shafts can be purchased in quantity and fine, straight arrows are then handmade by the archer at a fraction of the cost that finished products bring commercially.  This pastime is great fun, as well as money-saving.  As long as there are tree squirrels and rabbits to be hunted, where arrow loss and breakage is high, the inexpensive cedar is going to stay around.  On varmints, especially those which inhabit rocky terrain, such as rockchucks and ground squirrels, the cedar is again a wise choice.

 But if an arrow won’t shoot right in a bow it is of no value no matter the savings.  Fortunately, this is not the case with cedars.  They do shoot.  Today, there has been some misinformation of their construction and use, and many compound bow shooters, in an attempt to save on arrow costs, have tried cedar only to discard it as unfit for their type of bow.  No.  This does not work.  It hardly works with aluminum when a broadhead is going to be used, let alone cedar.  The cedar shaft should be selected right at the draw weight of the bow.  If a compound is sixty pounds at twenty-eight inches, a sixty-pound arrow should be selected.  If any doubt as to proper spine exists, then a cedar shaft over the draw wight of the bow should be chosen, not under.  It will still be a very fast arrow.  Because of the straight-up stance of the archer shooting a modern compound, draw length has increased over the past decade, and with longer arrows in use, it is even more important that the cedar be picked for good stiffness of spine.  It won’t shoot well if it is too light for the compound bow.

 Performance will be more than adequate.  Out of a PSE Citation, sixty pounds at a twenty-eight-inch draw, a sixty-five-pound spined cedar shot at 213 feet per second on the chronograph.  An aluminum 1816 beat it by only one fps, or 214.  A Browning Nomad set at sixty pounds, twenty-nine inches, fired its cedar sixty spine arrows at 205, almost exactly what it got with aluminum.  Out of a Cupid seventy-pound bow, thirty-one-inch draw, the seventy to seventy-five spine cedar reached 213, whipped only by a graphite shaft at 229.  The big Jennings Arrowstar, seventy-pound, thirty-one inches, shot a seventy to seventy-five cedar at 243 feet per second.  And the Schultz-made longbow surpassed 200 fps with cedars.

 While cedar is not a replacement for the great aluminum shaft, it sure is a nice alternative, especially when a lot of field shooting is to be done.  With a good jig, such as the Bitzenburger, absolutely excellent cedar arrows can be turned out swiftly.  It’s easy.  A shaft is cut to length first.  A model-making saw such as the X-acto is perfect for this.  A tool that resembles a pencil sharpener forms the nock end of the arrow.  The nock is glued in place and then fletching, usually feather, but vanes will work well, too, is installed with the jig.  On the business end of the arrow, it can be reduced in size with a tenon cutter and a switch-a-point may be added, or a cheap empty .38 Special cartridge case for plinking and small-game hunting.  Naturally, for the longbow the arrow will probably be a fist-line choice, so a broadhead may be fitted on a taper, or the Bear switch-a-point may be installed so the same arrows can be used on the range and in the field.  (More information on cedar shaft construction can be found in “How to Make an Inexpensive Small-Game Arrow,” BOW& ARROW’S Bowhunter’s Annual No.2.)  The Coquille Indians didn’t have it so easy.  They had to split the cedar stick with wedges first, then whittle it down with a shell knife and smooth it with sandstone, fitting stone or bone heads by hand.  Their arrows were made the length of the shooter’s arm, and as big around as his little finger.

We’re luckier.  Our cedar shafts come to us out of the box, normally in 11/32 size, but more and more in 23/64 for the really heavy bows.  The white cedar we purchase is light in weight, strong and long lasting.  A plant that produces thousands upon thousands of such shafts for the archer is the Rose City Archery Company of Powers, Oregon.  The company began in Portland in 1939, and since Portland is known as the City of Roses, the firm called itself the Rose City Archery Company.  In 1946, however, the factory moved to be closer to its wood source. 

 The Rose City company has received awards for environmental concern due to the nature of their business.  First, unlike the Japanese, who cut green cedar, the Oregon arrow shaft makers never cut a living tree.  Only deadfall and fire-kill wood is used.  This allows the continuance of the living tree, which is good for the company as well as the general public.  In an attempt to conserve energy, a successful measure has been taken by Rose City.  They use all of their sawdust to both heat their plant during the winter months and dry the cedar as well, while supplying about a third of the world’s arrow shafts.

 The operation is efficient.  Run by three men, Ben Crabill, Noble Adamek, and Jim Adamek, the y produce from three to five million shafts per year.  One person can grade up to 40,000 shafts in a single day at peak speed.  They use only the superior wood for arrows, too.  And since this practice would cause a terrific waste of cedar, Rose City has started a sideline they call their Monterrey Tub.  This is a beautiful planter bucket coming in four sizes, and it uses up the cedar that is not suited for arrow shafts.  Only straight grain, with no knots, becomes arrow material.  The Adameks are natives of the Oregon country, and as youngsters often visited the archery company, never thinking that one day they would be running it.  Noble took his college work in business administration, which has applied very well, and Jim has a masters in economics and his Ph.D. In engineering.  The latter has been especially useful because all of the machines in the plant had to be designed from scratch and Jim understands their workings.

 The process for getting a smooth, straight arrow shaft from a cedar tree has several stages.  First, the felled log is trucked to the Rose City property and cut into bolts.  The bolts are cut into squares.  The squares are cut into boards and the boards are dried for up to several months.  Then small square lengths of wood are cut from the boards to about arrow diameter, normally 11/32 or 23/64 and sometimes 5/16.

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The square lengths of wood are then conveyed into one of seven dowel lathes, entering as four-sided, but emerging round, smooth and polished as well.  The lathe cutters are only good for about one hour of this hard duty before they have to be re-honed to sharpness again.  Only the straight shafts will be kept, and a machine does this operation, too, discarding shafts that are not true.  These will not be thrown away either, but will be sold as plant supporters.  Then the shafts are graded for spine, again by a machine.  And finally, they are packaged up and mailed out to various companies, either to be resold to archers who will make their own arrows, or to be manufactured into painted arrows by a professional archery concern.

 Cedar shafts will last a long time, some figure between two hundred and three hundred years, unless they hit a rock, of course.  Storage usually is the place where good cedar arrows get warped.  The arrows should be stored in a fairly dry place, even if they have been heavily painted.  A rack made of two flat pieces of wood with holes for the arrows is a good way to keep the cedars straight.  The two pieces of flat wood are separated by about twenty-two to twenty-six inches and held together by a couple of struts.  It looks like a box kite in shape.  The arrows are thrust through the holes on the top flat section, and then down through the corresponding holes on the bottom flat section.  A middle section can be used if an archer wishes.  The flat sections of wood can be about one-half-inch thick, and are all drilled at the same time so that the holes match up.

 The Port Orford cedar arrow has been around for a long time, and it looks like it will be with us for some time to come.  They are not replacement arrows for compounds, nor will they necessarily outdo the modern types of shafts.  But they certainly have their place.  In shooting the longbow, they are first-line equipment.  In shooting the compound they can serve as first line, or as backup arrows on hunts, practice arrows, small game darts and varmint takers, all at a price that is very affordable and can give you some do-it-yourself fun in construction.

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Published by admin on 01 Dec 2009

Outsmarting a Wild Boar By Jim Cox

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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