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Published by archerchick on 09 Dec 2011

Sneak & Peek Whitetail Strategies ~ By Bill Vaznis


BOWHUNTING WORLD Xtreme 2004
Sneak & Peek Whitetail Strategies – By Bill Vaznis

6 steps to arrowing a buck from Ground Zero

There is no doubt about it. Still-hunting whitetail bucks with archery tackle is the most
difficult way to bow-bag a racked deer. You must not only move quietly through his baliwick,
striving to see him before he sees you, but you must also learn to sidestep that incredible sniffer of his
before he hightails it to parts unknown. And, if that isn’t enough to worry about, you must
also learn to stay low and only take high percentage shots at relaxed animals.

Impossible, some say, but over the years I’ve learned that if you have a plan for the day’s hunt,
your chances of scoring will soar dramatically. Indeed, walking aimlessly about the deer woods in
search of a buck will surely leave you empty-handed by season’s end. Here are six still-hunting strategies
guaranteed to get you a crack at a racked buck this fall.

EARLY-SEASON Food Sources
Opening day can be your hottest day afield, especially if you know where the bucks will be feeding that evening.
You can start by glassing suspected strongholds from a safe distance in the late summer and early fall. The better
bucks always seem to be popping up at the last minute in out-of-the way clearings adjacent to doe feeding areas. Old mowings, grown over pastures, deserted vineyards and abandoned apple orchards are all good places to begin your search. You’ll need to
stay until the last scintilla of light yourself, and then scan the shadows with a
good pair of light gathering optics, like
my Nikon 8x 5Es, for a glimpse or these
secretive critters. In Learning the general whereabouts
of several mature deer at this time of the year is half the battle to filling a tag.
However, you’ll need more information before you can get close enough for a
ground shot, and you do that by some midday scouting. You will want to keep
your presence as secret as possible, so wear your knee»high rubber boots and
be careful what you touch. The season’s first rubs and oversized tracks should
give you some good clues as to where the bucks are bedding and the routes they
are using to reach early fall food supplies.

The good news is that they are on the clock now making their feeding
bedding routines quite predictable. In farm country, I like to start the season
off by pussyfooting through these feeding grounds. l also like to work ravines
and fingers of brush that lead to the edges of active agriculture. Other good
routes include hedgerows, creek beds, fence lines and irrigation ditches that
bisect large fields of standing corn. Also really good are the edges of small wood lots
and brushy meadows that border overgrown openings and green fields of alfalfa, beans or peas.
In big woods or wilderness areas,
prime early season still hunting routes include gas lines, power lines and other
rights of way, edges of the clearcuts and creek beds. And if there is a good mast
crop, try the ridges just above beaver dams, two to seven year old clear cuts
and river basins.
You’ll be surprised how close you can get to these early-season bucks as long as
they have not been disturbed by your previous scouting forays, I’ve passed on
racked bucks three out of the last five years on opening day by simply working
the cover surrounding their preferred early season food supplies.

Transition Zones
A second strategy is to still- hunt around and through a
transition zone. These openings in the forest, once devoid
of vegetation, are now likely to support finger to wrist sized saplings, raspberry
and blackberry briars, goldenrod, staghorn sumac, dogwood, hawthorn
and various grasses instead.

Old farmsteads are good spots to begin your search for these
early season and pre rut magnets, which can be in the form of
grown over pastures and long abandoned crop fields. Other good
places to check out include dilapidated beaver dams, natural slides,
clear cuts and two or three year old burns. The best part is that
many transition zones can be found adjacent to a brush riddled
apple orchard, a transition zone itself or mature stands of nutbearing oak,
hickory or beech trees.

The better transition zones are not close to active agriculture, however, but
instead are located near or en route to a buck’s preferred bedding grounds. In
fact, “good” transition zones can be a half-mile to a mile or more away from an
alfalfa lot or large corn field in farm country, or a big woods feeding area
such as the banks of a river or the periphery of a swamp,
Typically, a racked deer will leave his early-season or pre-rut daytime
bedding area late in the day and enter a transition zone to munch on goldenrod,
leaves, various plant stems, etc.

There is plenty of cover here, and, feeling safe, a buck will linger here for some
time. Then using a ravine or even a nearby stand of open hardwoods as a
conduit, he will time his departure so that he arrives at a large opening at or
near dark.

In the morning he will again pass through this transition zone, or another
one nearby, and linger for a bit until bedding down soon after sunrise. He may even bed down in the
transition zone.

However, do not still-hunt these areas more than once a week. Be careful what you brush up against, and always wear a cover scent on your feet. Fox or skunk seems to do the trick most of the time. Once a buck knows you’ve been snooping around, he will avoid that particular transition zone – often for the remainder of the season.

PRE-RUT Food Sources

As the urges of the rut begin to take ahold, you will find bucks spending the predawn hours on patrol looking for the years first estrous does instead of heading directly to their bedding area by pink light.
As a result, normally nocturnal bucks are late getting back to their preferred bedding areas.
Indeed, seeing a racked buck an hour or
so after sunrise is a sure sign the prerut is in full swing.

A good strategy now is to still hunt
known, food sources that are on the beaten path, Not the edges of open
alfalfa plots for even standing corn, for
example, but abandoned apple orchards, or ridges laden with acorns.
hickory nuts, and beechnuts that lie
well above the valley floor.

These late morning food sources
must offer plenty of cover in the form of
thick tangles of uneven terrain if you
expect to catch pre-rut buck off guard.

You are not likely to catch a buck out in
the open as you might expect to do later
on when the rut really heats up.

Spring and Summer scouting trips can help you locate these much desired
food sources. If you know the where-abouts of an apple orchard or can find
one on a topo map, Check it out several times during the growing season to
keep tabs on the upcoming harvest.
And, while you are there, take note of
prevailing winds, deer trails, old rubs
browse lines as well as their juxta position
to suspected nearby bedding
areas for future reference.

Oak, hickory and,beech ridges can
be monitored, similarly. Simply peer
through your binoculars at the upper
most branches on and off during the
summer and see which trees have the
best crops. This and any knowledge of
what particular trees the deer seemed
to prefer in past season will go a long ways
toward developing a still-hunting strategy once the
pre rut is underway.

Scrape Lines
Another hot pre-rut
strategy is Still-hunting
along a fresh scrape line. Indeed, I have
tagged several bucks this way, including a 9-pointer
that grossed in the mid 140’s. I took that buck at 30 yards,
but shots can be

much closer. In fact, I arrowed a wide racked 7 pointer at 3 yards one
morning as he fed on acorns along a well worked scrape line in upstate New
York. I’ve also had several other close
encounters along scrape lines that left
me shaking as the buck disappeared
back into the thick stuff.

The best time to sneak along a scrape
line is the very next time you expect
the buck to return. You can generally
determine when the buck will freshen his
scraped line by examining nearby racks,
rubs and the debris tossed to one side of
the scrape

If debris is tossed toward a nearby
crop field, then it is safe to assume it was
remade by a morning buck. He will likely return
to the scrape lined in the wee hours, whereas a scrape line coming out
a stand of thick pines a half mile away
wouldy indicate the buck freshened the
scrape line in the evening soon after he
left his bedding area.
You must always keep the line of
scrapes in view are still hunting.

Last fall I caught a tall-tined 8-pointer
flat footed as he worked his evening
scrape line. I dropped to one knee,
nocked a broadhead and then watched
as the buck moved steadily toward me,
freshening one scrape after another.
Unfortunately, a thick stand of dogwood
blocked my view just as the buck was
about to hit his last scrape,

A few long seconds passed before I
realized the buck had already scooted
past me and was now staring at my quivering
form some 40 yards distant. He
snorted when we made eye contact and
then hightailed back into the heavy
sewer. I never did see that buck again,
and the scrape line was abandoned.

Grunt Tube

One advantage with a grunt tube is that you can easily use one with any still-hunting strategy.
For example, I will periodically blind call when I think
I am in the vicinity of a deer. You must
be ready to shoot on a moments notice.
I got caught flat footed myself a few years
back after I imitated a young buck with my variable grunt tube;
immediately a fat 8point through the goldenrod and
stood looking for me 6yards off to my right. By the time I
managed to nock an arrow, he wandered off.

You can also lure a buck that is about
to walk past you into bow
grunt of a young buck seems to work best
but you must call loud enough for him to
hear you. If you get no response, call louder.
Once you have him coming, nock an
arrow and crouch down for the shot.

My favorite call, however,is a fawn
bleat. I use it whenever I stumble
in order to help mask my clumsiness. Fawns
are always making noise in the woods,
and I hope my renditions relax any nearby deer.

Over the years I have used a fawn
bleat to lure several bucks into bow range
You can use it by itself or with a doe bleat
or a tending buck grunt. One year in Iowa
I doubled up on a fawn bleat and
called a doe to me that had a “booner” in tow.
I started to shake a bit, thinking I was
about to arrow, the buck of a lifetime,
but a sudden shift in the wind scared both deer
away from me.

Late Season
Still hunting whitetails in the late season with archery tackle is
no walk in the park. For starters, there are fewer bucks afield, especially
if your state has a lengthy firearms season. And, to make matters more difficult,
these remaining bucks are not only quite skittish, they have also taken refuge in
places most hunters can’t penetrate, such as steep hillsides thick with downed timber,
deep swamps and that bane of all of us -posted land.

The key to locating a racked buck or two now is on available food supplies.
In farm country, corn fields and wind-swept alfalfa lots are two favorites. If
undisturbed, they can easily draw bucks from a mile or more away. In heavily
wooded areas, south facing hardwood ridges, hardwood river bottoms, creek beds,
swamps and clear-cuts attract the most deer, especially if there is adequate thermal
cover nearby. Long-forgotten apple orchards are another favorite.

Your job now is to sneak and peak these feeding areas with caution by using terrain features
and all available cover to your advantage. keep your mind that the colder temperatures, the more
likely the bucks will be bedding nearby. If the temperatures plummet to single digits, you
might even catch one feeding in the middle of the day.

The biggest impediment however, is snow. A fresh snowfall can help muffle your forward progress, and
it may help you locate a racked buck or two more quickly. But when a crust appears, still-hunting can be
a most demanding adventure. Here’s what you can do.

Evening hunts are more productive to sneak into your own trasition zone adjacent to a preferred late season feeding
area an hour or so before dusk, and wait a half hour or so for things to calm down. Then by taking only one
or two steps at a time, slip forward, keeping your eyes and ears sharp. Don’t plan on still-hunting more
thank 50 to 100 yards under these conditions.

The good news is that when the snow is load and crunchy you are more likely to hear a deer breaking
through the icy crust first. The bad news is you will not be able to move once you hear him, and that means
he might just saunter by without giving you a clear opportunity. In the world of the still hunter such occurrences
are nothing new.

The only consulation is knowing that bucks general whereabouts for next fall.
>>—>

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Published by archerchick on 08 Dec 2011

Alberta Double Header – By Bob Robb


Bowhunting World October 2003
Alberta Double Header – By Bob Robb

Eye-popping whitetail racks and massive mulies in the Canadian Rockies foothills

Shivering silently in my treestand, I watched as the sun went down on the final day of my hunt, while grasping onto my last ray of hope that enough time might remain for a shot opportunity to present itself.
After all, a hunt is never over until it’s over—right?

At this point, the fact that I had not even drawn the bow was really immaterial to me. In six days I had seen a herd of nine mule deer bucks on four different occasions, and the largest four would have scored
in the 150 – to l75-inch Pope and young range.

One day they were as close as 90 yards to me. On three different afternoons I had seen “shooter” whitetail bucks, two different 8-pointers 1 estimated to score between 140 and 150, and one absolute hog of an 8-point buck that I am sure wou1d have pushed the 160 mark. That monster came within 65 yards of my stand, but it was too dark to see
sight pins when he approached.

Combine all this with the fact that we’d shot the coyotes to bits (see accompanying sidebar), and you understand why I was a1ready eager to return here to hunt the fie1ds and woods north of Ca1gaiy A1berta.

Just then, I turned my head to the right. Standing between the trunks of two thick pines, silhouetted against the green alfalfa, was a staggering whitetail buck. The deer had tall, thick-webbed beams, large eye guards,
and a total of 10 well-defined points. He was at least a 160, and I wanted him.

There were problems, however. Like the fact that he was 100 yards away, the sun was already below the horizon, and he would never feed along the field edge close enough to come within bow range before my light Was gone.

Realizing this was not the time to be timid, I lowered my bow on the pull rope, I unsnapped my safety harness, and scrambled down the tree. I unhooked the bow, nocked an arrow, and headed in his direction with the
wind in my face — trying to be as quiet as possible, yet not going so slow that I would completely lose my light before I got there.

Despite my good intentions, my light did run out before I got there. When I spooked the deer, he was feeding in the thick brush only 35 yards from me. He bounded off into the dark timber, stopping maybe 60 yards distant. I could see him plainly using my binoculars, but couldn’t
without the aid of the light-enhancing glasses. So close, and yet so far.

Now, looking back, this was one of those bowhunting experiences I remind myself that if a guy feels he just has to kill something, he should be toting a rifle. The big buck and I stared at each other for 30 seconds, then he whirled and bounded off into the thick, black timber, taking with him the final, fleeting memory of one of the coolest and most fulfilling deer bowhunts I have had in a long time.

Deer Hunter’s Mecca

Alberta needs no introduction to serious whitetail hunters. Though it has been somewhat overshadowed in recent years by the upper Midwestern
states, this prairie province continues to produce many whitetail bucks each year with eye popping racks. It has also become one of the best places around to find large mule deer bucks. One of the great things about Alberta, is that you can hunt both mulies and whtetails on the same hunt picking up tags for each.

For the traveling bowhunter, the key is finding an outfitter
who has access to excellent land, works hard for his clients, and
also understands the unique needs of bowhunters. On my previous
Alberta hunts, I have been with fine outfitters—but only if
you`re a gun hunter. When it came to bowhunting, they didn’t
have a real clue how to set up close-range shots.

Chad Lenz of Savage Encounters is my kind of outfitter. Young
and aggressive, Lenz earned the nickname “Savage,” first through
his take-no-prisoners personal bowhunting style, and later as a
guide for mountain game in the Northwest Territories. The man is
locked and loaded when it comes to bowhunting, totally focused on producing quality shot opportunities for all his clients.

Lenz hunts about 150 miles northwest of Calgary, an area at the base of the eastern foothills of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. This is sparsely-populated country that combines hilly and swampy terrain with the good cover of large pines and aspen that help guarantee its ungulate inhabitants can reach maturity. The area is also farmed heavily
covered with large alfalfa and wheat fields,sliced with timber stringers, and dotted with large sections of both mature and cut-over
woods. Can you say “ideal deer habitat ?”

Lenz has lived and hunted here for more than 30 years, giving him the
advantage of local experience when it comes to understanding
the habits and haunts of local game. He also has excellent relationships with many of the areas large landowners and is able to obtain permission to hunt lots of land that is off limits to others.

“We offer standard hunt packages for a wide variety of big game,
but we can and will customize any hunt and combine any species
to fit a persons individual needs and style,” Lenz said. “We also
limit the number of clients to keep both the quality of the hunt and
the amount of personal service we provide to the maximum.

Whitetails, Mulies – Or Both?

Alberta is renowned for its large whitetail deer, with many
mature bucks tipping the scales at well over 3OO pounds, and
Lenz’s area is no exception.

“We have Whitetail bucks in the 130- to 200-inch class, and our clients
usually see a couple of these giants each week, along with several smaller bucks and lots of does,” Lenz said. “All of our Whitetail hunts are conducted from tree-stands or ground blinds, hunting crop or
timber country.

“Most people are aware that Alberta is a real sleeper for great
mule deer, and our area has some bombers” Lenz continued.
“Most of Alberta is on draw for mule deer, and with limited pres»
sure and great habitat, the result is a good number of older age»
class bucks. We have mule deer in the 140 – to 200 – inch class, and
our clients usually see large herds of deer. Most of our mulie hunts
are conducted by stalking or stand hunting near cropland or large
blocks of timber.”

On my mid-October hunt I saw a fair number of mulies and
lots of whitetails. One bachelor herd of nine mulie bucks contained
five animals that would easily have exceeded the Pope
and Young minimum of 145 inches, and the top three would
have pushed the 170 mark. And each day I sat in a treestand
near an alfalfa field, I saw at last one “shooter” whitetail that
would have made the record book with lots of room to spare.

A Great Week

As you probably remember, the fall of 2002 was marked throughout North America by unusually warm weather, and central Alberta was no exception. I encountered a couple of days of sleet and hard rain, but generally the days were quite mild. Deer were moving primarily at dawn and dusk, spending the days bedded in thick stands of timber or large cut-over blocks.

Guide Kris Brophy placed me in a stand along the field, then
later in the hunt we moved one additional stand to try to intercept
deer on a different approach to the field. Brophy, in his early 20s, has already stacked ’em up as a bowhunter, and his skill and enthusiasm
helped make him a superior guide.

Each afternoon I saw at least one exceptional buck. One day it was a l40-
class, 8 – pointer, the next day a young 10 – point that would have bumped l50. One day it was a pair of good bucks, one the aforementioned l60-class, 8-point, the other a l45ish 8-pointer, traveling with
four smaller bucks. They came within 65 yards of my stand but it was just too dark to even think about a shot.

On three different days I saw the herd of mulies in the field Brophy and Lenz had told me about. I could have taken shots at a couple of the smaller bucks, but was hoping one of those bruisers would venture close enough. Naturally, that never worked to my favor, but it was still quite a thrill to see them at less than 100 yards.

In addition to the deer, from this stand I saw a herd of elk (and heard two different bulls bugle), a small moose, and many, many coyotes. On two different days I watched as coyotes came into the field mid-morning and lay down, catching some warming rays while I watched, undetected, 200 yards away.

My friend Jake Kuntz, who works with his father, Al at their Minnesota·based hunt booking agency, Al’s Worldwide Adventures (6l2-433-5366, www.alsadventures.com) showed us all how to get it done the final day of his hunt. Jake had been chasing a small herd of mulie bucks around for days, sitting a treestand or trying to sneak up on them. He hadn’t had a a good break until the last morning, when he able to sneak within 25 yards of a 4 x 4 and make the perfect shot. It was
Jakes first-ever mule deer buck, an accomplishment to be proud of.

I’ll Be Back

The one thing I told myself when this hunt was over, was, “Man, you could have just as easily punched both your whitetail and mule deer tags on really good bucks. The cards just didn’t play out right. Next year, though, my luck has got to change!”

I have always believed that if you are hunting bigger than-average game, the first thing you have to do is locate the place where there are some above average, mature animals. This is one such place. Before I left
to return to the states, Lenz I discussed a
2003 deer hunt. I’m already packed.

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Published by archerchick on 08 Dec 2011

Make Bucks Hunt You~ By Mark Hicks


Bowhunting World -October 2003
MAKE BUCKS HUNT YOU – By Mark Hicks

When it comes to hunting whitetails from above, it can be said with some degree of
certainty that the most intense physical and mental labor it takes place long before you
pick up a bow. While scouting, you can burn some serious boot leather while actively hunting for
travel routes, feeding spots, and bedding areas. Then there is the laborous search for
rubs, scrapes, tunnels, and trees you hope will put you within bow range of a sizable buck.
Once you actually climb into a stand and nock an arrow, you embark on the comparatively
passive, sit-and-wait phase. You must stay alert,of course, focus your
concentration, and overcome a covey of butterflies should a shot present itself. But the
next move is largely up to the buck. Or is it?
More and more consistently successful trophy whitetail bowhunters take an
aggressively active approach once aloft. They aren’t content to wait and intercept
bucks going about their normal, daily movements. To improve the odds, these hunters
know you can make bucks hunt you.

Senses and Scents
Bowhunters make bucks hunt back by
appealing to their senses of sight, hearing, or smell, or by arousing two or all
three of these senses. The primary tools
include scents, calls (including rattling),
and decoys. Granted. there is nothing
new or earth—shattering to these methods, but some hunters just seem to use of
these tools to greater advantage, while others spook more deer than they attract.
Lessons from skilled and successful
hunters can vastly improve your ability to use the tools at your disposal. Eddie
Salter, a member. of the Hunter’s Specialties Pro Staff, practically lives afield and
hunts whitetails across North America. In
the past four years alone, he has tagged
nine Pope and Young bucks. The largest,
from Iowa; scored 165;

In many instances, scents have been a
deciding factoring Salter’s successful hunts.
There’s no question, scents work to
your advantage, but using them improperly can send a buck into the next county.
“After several bad experiences, I realized I was contaminating the area with
human odors when I put out scents,” says
Salter. “My scent was putting off the
deer, not the deer scent itself.”

Though Salter always wears rubber
boots. and religiously buses scent eliminating soaps, detergents,and sprays; he
determined he was carelessly touching limbs and branches with {bare hands
when applying scents. He was raise
kneeling near to his mock scrapes, leaving human scent on the ground. a I
“Now I’m careful not to down or
touch anything when I use scents,” he says.
“I wear rubber, gloves to keep in my hands
from contaminating anything, and also to
prevent the scent from getting on me.”

Salter said he employs scent mainly
during and after the rut, specifically ;
Primetime Premium Doe Estrus doe-in-
heat urine and Primetime Dominant Buck
Urine. He doesn’t use sex—related scents
before the rut, because he claims they can
scare away does and smaller bucks. But,
as much confidence as Salter has in the
use of scents really are not his first priority
when he scouts, even during the rut.
“First I find a major food source and .
select, stand sites that intercept deer
moving to and from the feeding area?
Salter said. “Then, I look for fresh bucks
sign away from food sources. If I find a
place that’s really tom up and has several
scrapes, I’ll make two or three mock
scrapes there and lace them with doe
estrus and dominant buck scent.”

Beyond that tactic, Salter avoids other
mock scrapes and hunts near food sources.

Should he hunt two or three days without seeing a
worthy buck, he checks his mock scrapes. If they haven’t been
disturbed, Salter continues hunting food sources.

“But, if every bush and tree around one of my mock scrapes has been shredded
by antlers, I know I’m in business,” says Salter. “That tells me I’ve made a dominant buck mad, and he’ll be back
looking for the intruder. Now he’s hunting me.”

In this scenario, Salter responds by setting out three fresh mock scrapes within bow range of a tree stand.. He
figures three scrapes, spread about, are more likely to be winded by the buck
and bring him close. This ploy has yielded him trophy whitetails.

Sound Advice
To take advantage of a buck’s sense of hearing, Salter always has a grunt call
handy on stand. He grunts to any bucks he sees crossing out of bow range, and
also reports excellent success blind- grunting. When calling blind, Salter makes
a few serie sof short deep grunts
every 15 to 20 minutes.

“I make doe grunts more often than ,buck grunts,”,says Salter. “Doe grunts
get a buck is attention without rousing his hackles. He comes in more
relaxed. Doe grunts also don’t spook does and young bucks like a deep buck
grunt can.”

If he sees a buck in the distance that isn’t headed his way, Salter said he makes one or two doe grunts.
If the buck stops and begins coming along, he usually lets the game play out. It is only when a buck starts
moving away that Salter feels compelled to grunt again.

“Call too much when a buck is coming your way, and he’ll
know something isn’t right.” he said, “Keep quiet and be patient.”

Salter has turned around a number of reluctant bucks by following
doe grunts with buck grunts. he uses an adjustable call that allows him to change the grunts pitch
by applying linger pressure to the reed.

Rattling Dividends
West Virginian John Jezioro relies on a grunt tube and rattling antlers. He`s
learned through experience that rattling can pay off big time, but he’s also
discovered that it doesn’t work everywhere. Throughout his teenage years,
Jezioro banged antlers together while hunting West Virginia’s Appalachian
hardwoods. Despite his diligence, he failed to.rattle—in a single buck.

“West Virginia has far more does than bucks,” says Jezioro. “With so many
does around, a good buck is less likely to respond to rattling because he doesn’t
have to fight for companionship?
When he attended Ohio University, in rural and whitetail-rich southeastern
Ohio, Jezioro brought his bow and rattling antlers with him. Big bucks were a
little more common there, and the buck-to-doe ratio is balanced to the point
where bucks must regularly compete. By the time he graduated with a major
in chiropractic science, Jezioro had also eamed a minor degree in antler rattling.
Though he’s back living in West Virginia. Jezioro continues to hunt his old
Ohio haunts, a convenient two-hour drive from his home.

Jezioro took one of his highest scoring Buckeye bucks at the end of October
while rattling blind. That morning his rattling antlers lured two big bucks into a
large thicket on the end of a point and prompted them to fight. After a short but
intense battle, Jezioro arrowed the loser. Fortunately, the defeated buck carried the
bigger rack. The 10-point netted 152.

“A lot of hunters get caught off guard because they rattle continuously,”
Jezioro said.”Deer don’t fight that way. They lock horns, pause for a breather,
and then go at it again. Rattling without pauses doesn’t sound natural; It also
keeps you from detecting an approaching buck until it’s too late.”

Before Jezioro rattles, he grunts a three or four times. If there is no
response after about 12 minutes, he tickles the antlers together softly for 15 to
20 seconds, and then pauses about 10 seconds while intently watching for
deer, He repeats this procedure several times over a two minute period. Then
he waits 15 minutes or so and rattles it vigorously for about 20 seconds to imitate
two bucks in fierce combat. He waits at least a full 20 minutes before
presuming the sequence.

Seeing is Believing
Tom.Harkness, a real estate manager from Illinois, adds the allure of sight to his hunting
by using deer decoys, He believes scents and will pull whitetails closer.
but the sight of other deer can convince a normally cautious buck to completely
drop his guard. As a result, Harkness has taken seven Pope and Young bucks in
Illinois over the past 10 years.

“My first hunts with decoys didn’t work out,” says Harkness. “More than
once I’ve had bucks stare at my decoys 15 to 30 minutes. I tried grunting, but it
didn’t help. The bucks would stomp their hooves trying to make the decoys
move, and eventually leave.”

Success came quickly when Harkness added Tail-Waggers to
his decoys. This device makes a decoy’s tail swish every eight
seconds. This little added movement was enough to change a
wary buck into a sap that offered Harkness a close shot.

On that hunt, Harkness’ basic setup consisted of three decoys,
all within bow range. He placed a bedded doe so it was looking at a
small buck decoy standing beside it in the background,
he placed a tail-wagger rear decoy, which is the rear half of a deer, on
the edge of thick cover. The young buck decoy and the butt section both
featured tail waggers.

Harkness embellished the setup by placing two tarsal
glands from a previously- harvested buck on sticks; on
either side of his tree. The glands had been frozen to keep
them fresh.

After only two hours in, this stand, he saw a huge
buck in the distance, feeding on acorns. Harkness
grunted and the buck began feeding in his direction,
gradually working downwind.

When the buck came close
enough to view the decoys, its hair bristled. The heavy-antlered bruiser
crab-walked diagonally toward the decoys as the mechanical tails
swished in calming reassurance.
From there the buck circled around.

Harkness” tree, stopped six yards to one side, and snorted and wheezed. The little buck
decoy responded by flicking it’s tail, as if to say, “everything is just dandy!”

“At that point he could sense the buck was about to charge in and flatten my
decoy,” says Harness. “I should have waited for a better shot angle, But my
heart was pounding so hard I just couldn’t wait. The bucks attention was so
glued to the decoys I couldn’t have
spooked him if I tried.”

Harkness managed to keep his wits about him and made a perfect, clean
shot. The buck’s typical 10-point rack buck grossed 177 points and netted 161
3/8, making Harkness another convert
to the ever-growing “Make Bucks Hunt You” club. >>>—>

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Published by archerchick on 08 Dec 2011

Opening Day Whitetail Tactics ~By Bill Vaznis


Bowhunting World 2003

Opening Day Whitetail Tactics – by Bill Vaznis

The key to early-season action is food. Lush alfalfa fields, cornfields, and other crops are where the deer are now!

What is the absolute best time of year to ambush a trophy buck? When asked, most bowhunters would probably cast their vote for prerut or the peak of rut, when bucks are really on the move and not totally mindful of their environment, 24/7. Others might even opt for the late season, when they have a chance to catch a weary buck leaving his sanctuary
to search for food just before nightfall.

However, there is an increasing legion of devoted disciples who know that
you simply cannot pass up hunting on opening day if you’re truly intent
on taking a big deer with a bow.

When my pals and I first began bowhunting for whitetails, we always put in for mid-November vacation time, when we hoped the breeding season would be in full swing. Granted, we’d see a lot of bucks during those weeks, but their exact whereabouts on any given day were, like their behavior, difficult to predict.

One morning a buck might pass just beyond range, but we wouldn’t see him again for the rest of the season. And, if we didn’t get a crack at a
good buck then, we knew we were likely to lose those racked deer from the
herd to firearms hunters, leaving fewer bucks to pursue in the late season.

As a result of our failures, we began to focus on the prerut, when a buck’s travel patterns are somewhat predictable, especially around rubs and scrape lines. Even so, this still only gave us 10 to 14 days to locate a good buck, precious little time to gamble away an entire seasons efforts, even if you add the peak of the rut into the mix.
Like others who have played this game for many seasons, we finally were
struck by a good dose of deer-hunting reality.

We asked ourselves, why concentrate all our efforts on the prerut and peak of the rut? Like most deer hunters, we watch for deer and deer sign early in the vyear, paying particularly close attention to terrain features and ground cover that attract and hold deer — at least until the heat and biting insects of summer finally drive us from the woods.

Even during those months we cruise backroads in the early morning and late evening hours, glassing meadows and fields for feeding deer.
All it took for my buddies and I to lengthen our time afield and increase
our success was to change our attitude about the early weeks of the season.

I’m now a firm believer that getting serious about early season can really increase your chances of waylaying a trophy. ln fact, the opening morning and first afternoon can offer you the yery best odds for a bruiser buck. Doubt my words? Then read on.

First-Day Deer

The first year I seriously hunted during the early season , I caught a fat buck flatfooted as we both worked through standing corn, taking him 20 minutes into the season with a single arrow through the heart. The fact that he ignored my kneeling form and paid no attention to me as I took the l4 – yard shot is indicative of early·season bucks. Since then I have caught several racked bucks unaware as they went about their business on opening day, including two dandies sparring at sunrise!

What makes deer extra vulnerable on the first day of the season? That’s easy— first-day deer have not been spooked, pressured, scared, jumped, jolted, pushed, or otherwise harassed by humans since the end of the late bow season. As a result. it can take them a critical extra second or two to react before fleeing the scene. They’re also fairly predictable in their daily routines, which is generally centered around food
during those weeks, rather than chasing and breeding does.

“Arrowing a buck on opening day is still no easy task,” cautions ]eff Grab, big-woods specialist and co-owner of North Country Expeditions. “If you want to punch your tag early in the season, you
have to first know your hunting grounds like the back of your proverbial hand, and that means plenty of postseason and spring scouting. There is no such thing as spending too much time in the woods.And even when that is all said and done, you still have to go to ‘summer school,’ and learn to scout long distance.”

Early-season hunting means even earlier-season scouting, like in July when a buck’s antlers are already showing promise. I like to slip into strategic locations, like a knoll overlooking a known feeding
area, and glass for bucks as they emerge to feed in the late evening, or retreating at first light. I pay particularly close attention to secluded feeding areas adjacent to those preferred by yearling bucks and
family groups of does and fawns, as this will likely be where a mature buck will hang out to feed.

When you locate such a spot, you’ll find the buck will feed there
daily, and you can almost set your watch to his comings and goings.
It’s important to scout on the sly, as you don`t want to disturb the deer and their daily routines. This means staying downwind of any high·priority locations, as well as donning full camo dress. Quality binoculars are a must, as the very best bucks can often appear only in low-light conditions. Swarovski, Burris, and Zeiss are among the best, with the new Nikon 8×32 SEs getting my nod for their extraordinary ability to turn dawn and dusk into broad daylight with a simple
twist of the focusing ring.

Nikons new 14 – power, image-stabilizing binoculars can easily be carried into the field and hand held for a steady look at distant deer—a remarkable feat considering the beefed-up magnification. I used a pair of StabilEYEs last fall, and found them more practical than a high-
resolution spotting scope for keeping tabs on big-racked deer.

“Once you have the general location of several bucks pegged, it’s time to sneak in and do some on-the-ground scouting,” says Grab. “It’s important to wear scent-free clothing and rubber boots to help
make sure your human odor does not drift into known concentrations of
deer—and even then try to do your reconnoitering in the middle of the day, preferably for only an hour or two during or just before a rain shower.” Grab also believes in preparing several treestand locations, ground blind ambush sites, or still-hunting routes without putting any
stress on the deer herd.

Even with many hours afield, locating a mature buck is never easy, especially in thick summer foliage. More often than not, these bucks bed near feeding areas, and, as a consequence, do not travel much during daylight hours.

When l have a good hunch a mature buck is lurking nearby, I’ll stay put until the last glimmer of light fades from the scene. Several times l have seen bucks arise from their daytime lair only to begin feeding area. Upon first glance, such spots appear somewhat out of place, like
somebody was there with a weed whacker or a lawn mower. This is really a secret staging area where a lone buck will feed on secondary food sources until late in the evening. You can bet your last broad-
head that a buck is bedding within a stone’s throw of this “safety zone,”so be quiet and watch the wind while you’re in
the neighborhood.

“So far, so good,” says Grab, “but you must be extremely careful you don’t undo all your hard work at the last minute. Once the velvet has been removed and the buck’s antlers are hard-boned, I stay as far away from my hunting turf as much as possible.”

At this late point, Grab emphasizes that he won’t scout the area from a distance, sneak around feeding areas and travel routes at midday or even hang treestands. “I do everything I can to make my first day afield a surprise attack, and unless bad weather prevails or any of the bucks I have been watching are harassed by dogs, bird hunters, or other
bowhunters, I expect lots of action opening day.” .

Mistakes To Avoid

The biggest mistake early-season bowhunters can make is to traipse about
their deer woods erecting stands and cutting shooting lanes the last week or so before the opener. Even spotlighting, where legal, should be avoided. No matter how careful you are, you will invariably put pressure on the local herd, and they will adjust their daily routines accordingly.
When opening day arrives, it’s important to be totally prepared and avoid sloppy mistakes that can come from months of hunting downtime.

Maybe we don’t walk quietly in the woods, or don’t pay close enough attention to wind direction or available ground cover as we do after weeks of the routine. And if that isn’t bad enough, we`ll forget our safety belts, binoculars, and even our face masks! In effect, we
don’t have our act together yet, and as a result we make mistakes and errors on opening day that we might not make later in the season.

Remember, just because “your” buck is going about his daily routine oblivious to your intentions doesn’t mean he’s stupid. All it takes is one dumb mistake on your part, and he’ll hightail out of
your life forever. Last summer, I watched several record-class bucks feed on a farm I bowhunt regularly in upstate New York. One buck, a heavy-beamed 8-point, always entered a hayfield through an overgrown pasture, an ideal ambush site for a still hunter. On the first afternoon
of the regular season I began sneaking and peeking my way through the pasture. Unfortunately, the buck caught me trying to slip through a small opening, did a double take at my crouched form, snorted, and then vamoosed. Although I saw him cross a road more than a mile away during the peak of the rut, I never again spotted him on the farm.

But, had I waited for the prerut or peak of the rut to get a shot at him, I may not have seen him at all. One thing’s for certain: come July I’ll be glassing for velvet bucks, trying to learn as much as possible about the local herd , hoping for another chance at him on the next season opener. These days, instead of several weeks of howhunting,
I have several months to enjoy the sport. What a way to stretch the season!

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Published by archerchick on 05 Dec 2011

ELK ~ Run Silent, Run Deep ~by Bob Robb

Bowhunting World Oct 2003

Elk Run Silent, Run Deep ~By Bob Robb

 

There were bulls bugling at several  stations of the clock as l crept; along a wide trail near Steamboat  Springs, Colorado, last September. It was hot and dry, and walking the trail was the only way to move silently into the light breeze. Using my  binoculars to scan the thick brush carefully before each step, I eased  along, ears and nose and eyes on Red Alert. Suddenly a bull bugled just above me, not 60 yards away. lt was a Pope & Young class 6×6 bull that had not yet risen from his morning nap.

At 4:00 in the  afternoon, it was time for him to get up and move. Crouching behind some trail side brush, I watched the bull get up, move, 20 yards, and start raking a tree. That gave me the opening l needed  to slide to the left, and ease up the slope.  At 35 yards stopped, and when me bull lifted his head t0 bugle my arrow greeted  him. He never knew what happened.

This was not the first time I had slipped into bow range of a mature bull
elk without calling. I learned long ago that a poor caller like me is
better off with a sneak attack than trying to trick a bull to come to a
call, when the odds were he wasn’t going to come no matter how good a
caller I was.

Each season, more and more bowhunters are figuring this  out. They are
learning to use their calls to locate bulls, then sneak in  on them on cat’s feet. When they get close, they might use some cow calling. to stop the bulls for a shot, or to move him a few yards into an opening. In this gane silence is truly golden.

Strategy of the Pros

The “Run Silent, Run Deep”  approach has been used by several bowhunters for many years with great success. Perhaps the most graphic example is the world record bull bowhunting legend Chuck Adams arrowed in M0ntana in 2000. Adams stalked the bull as it moved toward a bedding area, herding his cows and never calling at all. Another elk hunting legend, Arizona’s Randy Ulmer, has taken more whopper bulls than one man should be allowed using the same method.

“My system is based  on the ability to travel light and fast, locating a herd of elk with the type of large old, bull I am interested in, then being able to stay with them and “stick-and-move” quickly and quietly to get into position for a shot” Ulmer said.

The Importance of Scouting

Ulmer is a big believer in  scouting, locating the kind of monster bull he wants to hunt.If he finds a herd of elk but it does not hold the size bull he’s after, he makes a note of it and moves on in search of the next herd.

“If you want to kill a true giant bull, there is no use wasting your time hunting a herd that
doesn’t have one.” he said. ” I know that sounds pretty basic, but there are a lot of hunters they’re searching for the ‘bull of the woods’ who spend too much of their valuable hunting time where one simply does not live. Most guys don’t spend enough time scouting – or because are from out of state, don’t have the season – and they end up spending a big chunk of their hunt simply trying to find a herd of elk.”

 

Why You Should Not Call
“Even if you are the best caller in the world, I have found that it is generally the younger bulls that come in, but old bulls don’t.” Ulmer said, ” If the big studs come at all, they get to a certain point  – usually somewhere between 70 and 100 yards – then stop and will not commit to come in any further. I believe that’s because at this point they are looking for another elk. If they don’t see one they get very suspicious and simply won’t come. At seven, to 10 years of age, they’ve seen a lot of elk hunters and they are not stupid. They also often will turn tail and sneak out of there. I also think the bigger bulls can tell the difference between people calling and elk calling. These old boys are going to sneak in, take a peek, try to get downwind of the caller, and try and smell what;s there. Sure there’s always the odd bigbull that gets killed by bugling or cow calling, but that’s the exception, not the rule.”

Hurry Up, Slow Down

 

When he’s located a herd of elk and it’s time to move in  on them, Ulmer, a fitness fanatic, noted that he uses two speeds. “There is very fast, and there is very slow, and no medium speed in my elk hunting,” Ulmer said. “When I’ve spotted a herd and i may have to circle them to get ahead of their line of travel, l go as fast as I can go. That can mean jogging for miles. Once I’ve gotten into position however, it becomes a slow, meticulous still-hunt stalking game.
” What happens is this,” Ulmer continued. “In the morning the elk have reached thick brush or their bedding grounds, and they  slow down. They’re a little nervous themselves, looking, listening, and smelling for  danger. You now have to stalk them like you would
a bedded mule deer buck, which in my mind is the most difficult of all western
game animals to  stalk and shoot. If you’ve happened to get ahead of them
and the herd is moving past you it is also a tough deal. The lead cow always
comes first, and she is always suspicious. Then the other elk file by, and they
are wired-up too. The bigger bulls always come last. That means you have
to beat all these other elk first to get your shot.

 

Ulmer’s Ideal Scenario

 

“Here’s my ideal morning scenario,”Ulmer said. “I’ve found a big bull and l have watched him and his herd go to bed. Now l have to make a decision. If  I
think there is so much hunting pressure in the area that  someone else may stumble by and bump him, l’ll go ahead and try and  stalk him. This is very hard, though, and l try and avoid this if  I can. There are just too many other elk around to make it a high-percentage
game. However, if he is in an area where there is little hunting pressure, l will
back off, take a little nap and relax, and about 4 p.m. or so l will get up and move into a spot 150 yards downwind of  the bull. and wait. Typically, a couple hours before dark the elk will get up, stretch, and nibble around. The bull will usually let out a little growl or soft bugle, and once l hear that l know right where he is. I try  and stay patient, because now is
the best chance to get him. After his quiet day. that bull is usually lazy and relatively unwary.

“At some point before the dark the bull will generally nib a tree, and this  is
when they become very vulnerable,” Ulmer said. “`Nomally they tend to  rub
for somewhere between lO to 15 seconds, then stop for up to 10 minutes, look
around, maybe call a little, but not move much. Then they’ll rub again, and stop again. This can go on for maybe 15 minutes at the  most, and now is when you have make your move
without hesitation. I line-up on the bull, try and get a quartering or complete butt-at-me
angle, and when he is rubbing his tree, I run as  fast as I can right at him. The second he stops, you have to stop. When he starts rubbing again,you run again. Before you know it you can be within good shooting range of him and get your shot off without him ever knowing you were there.”

 

If he catches up the elk herd and gets in tight to them in the thick cover,
this is when Ulmer may use his diaphragm call. “Big bulls like to get into the thick
stuff as  quickly as they can in the morning, and that’s where you catch up  with them,” he said. “lf you can slip-in close enough in this type of  cover you usually
just get a quick shot opportunity as they pass through the thick brush and small trees. When I see the bull coming l’ll draw my  bow and wait for him to get
into an opening, then I’ll blow sharply on my cow call to stop him. Almost
always the bull will stop, turn, and look right at you. 1fyou’re already at full
draw they will almost always let you release and watch the arrow all the way
in, and not jump the string like a deer. However, if they see you draw they’ll
run, so you have to be ready to shoot when you sound off on your call.”

 

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Published by archerchick on 05 Dec 2011

James E Churchill: Bowhunting’s Last Modern-Day Mountain Man – By Mark Melotik

 

 

 

Bowhunting World Xtreme 2004

James E Churchill: Bowhunting’s Last Modern Day Mountain Man – By Mark Melotik

Most bowhunters I
know, myself included, are far from what
you would call avid historians, but there
are exceptions—one of them being an inexplicable attraction
for many of us, to the 1972 Robert Redford movie Jeremiah Jolmson. The
main character may be fictitious, but
was plausible enough that he just might
have existed. When he wasn’t trapping
beaver, bobcats and marten for a living or
dodging surprise Indian attacks in the post
Civil War mid-19th Century, good ol`
Jeremiah was otherwise living life to its
fullest, chasing elk, deer and moose in the
pristine, unspoiled Rocky Mountain West.
Many avid bowhunters I know seem
to form a kindred bond after viewing
Johnson’s adventures. I found this exact,
well-used videotape atop a VCR owned
by an Ontario black bear outfitter some
years ago, and later found the film was
also the favorite of a whitetail outfitter
I visited the next fall down in Illinois.
Over the past several years I’ve been in
the company of many others who have
shamelessly confessed the same.
Maybe it’s my fascination with the
savagely independent outdoor lifestyle
of the vintage western mountain men
that first drew me to the writings of Wisconsin’s
James E. Churchill—someone I
came to know through his adventure
laden stories in magazines like Fur Fish

Game and Outdoor Life, and someone I
considered a true modern day mountain
man. Indeed, Redford’s deft portrayal may
have set the bar, but Churchill, to me,
seemed every bit as skilled and fearless. Of
course, it didn’t hurt that he lived in my
home state and also loved to bowhunt.
I was a sophomore in a Milwaukee
area high school back in 1987, when the
May issue of Outdoor Life arrived, holding
the story “We Took To The Woods.” In it,
author Churchill described how he had
suddenly up and quit his citified desk job
based in the all»too·populated southeast
corner of Wisconsin, From there he led his
wife, Joan, son Jim Jr., and daughter Jolain
to a true “Live-off-the-land” lifestyle in the
far northeast comer of the state——a lifestyle
that featured plenty of fishing, trapping.
and big woods bowhunting. I didn’t merely read the article, I devoured it.
Churchill’s plan was to become a full
time freelance writes which he did, but fir?
there was a cabin to build—by hand—on
the family’s newly acquired 40 acre parcel
located just west of the city of Florence. By
no mere coincidence, the Churchill spread
lay in the state’s least-populated county.

The Move Northward
To prepare for the move, the Churchills
had scrimped and saved to buy the land,
and set aside enough cash to make it
through that first rocky year—barely.
The unexpected high cost of installing
electricity and digging a well on the
property almost broke the family, but the
lack of a house payment and the family’s ingenuity got them by. Churchill
and his son Jim Jr. who then went by
the apt nickname “Trapper”—kept
themselves busy stocking the family
larder with more than 1OO snowshoe
hares that first year. There were also
plenty of sweet»tasting brook trout in
area lakes and streams, as well as meaty
northern pike, and plump bluegills.
It was very near the quaint A·frame
cabin, during that first fall, where Churchill
would arrow his best-ever whitetail buck,
a true northwoods brute sporting nine
thick tines and a burly body that dressed
nearly 2OO pounds. James Churchill would
bag a buck by bow virtually every year
since, according to Jim Jr, now 48, who still
lives in the Florence area with his own family.

That 1974 hunt is one of Jim Junior’s
two favorite bowhunting memories of his
woods wise father.
“Dad was hunting this area where two
small marshes had a brush strip between
them, in the center of a stretch of big
hardwoods,” Jim Jr. said. “the two marshes
had that little bottleneck between
them, and there was a faint deer trail
right down the middle of it. He knew
there was a big buck in there. On previ»
ous hunts, he saw the deer a couple of
times off in the distance, but one night,
everything was just right. In came the
I buck, and it ended up being a pretty fair
shot for a recurve—but it was a good
one. At the shot the deer took off running, and did a complete circle around the
treestand, and literally came right back to
where he had shot it. It died right there.
It was just a beauty, with a nice wide
spread. When I came home that night, we
went back out there and got it, and it was
just a neat time. It was the very first deer
we had gotten here, and it was a dandy.
I don’t think he ever got a bigger one.”
Jim Churchill was also very fond of
black bear hunting, which he did occasionally
with a bow in hand, but more typically with a muzzleloader, rifle, or camera.
His son Jim Jr. knew he didn’t have
to travel far for outstanding bear hunting.
“In Wisconsin, you can’t draw a bear tag every year, but dad was always
around them, I think he got his biggest kick taking photos of them. Most of
the bears he shot were on his 40 acres. I’m
sure there were some that were 400 plus
pounds. I’ve seen a lot of bear, and I know
how easy it is to overestimate them, but
some were well over 400 pounds. One
thing about bear, you might get a crack at
the big ones once a season, but they could
be pretty wary, Did dad like bear hunting
better than deer? That’s a tough call,
because I would say that he’d rather take
photos as much. or more with bears—but
he’d rather hunt for deer,”

A Natural Woodsman
What made Jim Churchill a great
bowhunter? No one knew him better
than his son.
“He just had a lot of knowledge of the
woods,” Jim Jr. said. “He was very
patient -very patient—always trying to
figure things out. His general knowledge
of the way deer acted in a certain area, he
had a really intuitive nature m to what was
a really good buck stand. In gun season, he
and I, we might only see three or four
deer the whole season, hut if you saw one,
chances are they would have horns—he
was just good at that. He’d never see a lot
of deer in a season, hut they typically had
horns on them. A lot of the time, he
would see a certain buck on a hunt, and
then would hunt for that deer exclusively.

But, he’d hunt smart. He didn’t want
to spook it out of the area, so he’d hunt a
particular stand only if the wind was night.”
Of course, Jim Churchill chronicled
his many adventures tor a variety of magazines, whose readers he took along every
step of the way. Churchills nonflashy,
matter of-fact writing style never seemed
to be with the tact that he was a pioneer
when it came to off beat tactics, such as
bear bowhunting with the use of canoes,
bowhunting snowshoe hares in winter,
and north country predator calling, all of
which were featured in Bowhunting World
in the early 1990s.
One of the best outdoor photos I’ve
ever seen was a shot Churchill had taken
with the help of a remote control camera.
The wily woodsman had located the
haunt of a particularly large bobcat, and
for the shot to work, he would need to call
the cat to a certain, predetermined spot.
With the use of a raven call—imitating
the regular, raucous crows the scavenging
birds make when dinner is located—the
plan came together like clockwork: in
the forefront of the frame you see the
back of the large, inquisitive tom, sitting
and facing Churchill, with weapon in
hand, in the background. He’d tripped the
remote camera at exactly the light instant,
and bagged the bobcat in the next.
What many didn’t know about this
rugged “been-there, done-that” Journalist, is
that he actually worked with a partner,
receiving a good deal of typing and editing
help from his devoted, supportive wife, Joan.

“When we first moved here, for four
years, l always did Jim’s typing—he would
type it up and l would edit it,” said Joan
Churchill, who still lives in the same rustic A-frame cabin the family built in `74.
“We worked together most every day.
When computers came along, it was wonderful. We wrote every manuscript together,

and all of his 13 books. It was a really good life. I have no regrets moving up
here. I can go out on our porch and drink
my coffee, and it’s so peaceful and quiet.
If you hear a car you know it’s coming to
my house. I’ll live here as long as I can.”
Joan described her husband as an
energetic man who was always on the
go—looking for material for his next
feature article or book, always eager for
his next outdoor adventure.
“He was compelled to write,” Joan
said. “He wouldn’t have been able to
live in the city. l know he needed to be
in the wilds. For 13 years, we lived in
Racine [Wis]. He grew up in Tomah,
[Wis.], out in the country. He was a fish
out of water living down in the cities—
around too many people.

“The move was great for the kids.
Our son really enjoys it. Our daughter
Jolain—she left for awhile—and l wondered

if she’d ever be back here. But
today, here she is, living very near here,
with her own family in [Michigan’s]
Upper Peninsula. So it was a great move
all the way around. Jim had 28 years of
doing what he wanted to do here. You
can’t ask for more than that. We were
married 47 years, and for the past 28
years, we lived the way we wanted.
“Jim was a planner, he wasn’t a rash person,”
Joan continued, describing their
unique back country lifestyle. “We didn’t
have a mortgage, because we built the
house as we could. Not that there weren’t
lean years; we didn’t have an awful lot of
money, but we managed fine. We were
never snowed in, because we had a tractor
with a bucket, and then the town started
taking care of the road. But that first
winter, we burned wood, and we didn’t
have the wood cut for the whole year, like
you should have, so you had to go out and
cut it every day—that was pretty tough.
The next summer, Him and Jim cut the
wood in the spring and let it dry out good,
and we had no problem after that.”
Joan Churchill also remembers how
Jim’s freelancing career paid off unexpectedly
one winter, during a stretch
when money was especially scarce.
“Christmas was coming, and we didn’t have any extra money, so things
were looking pretty tight. Then, we
received a check from Fur~Fish·Game
just one week before Christmas—I’ll
never forget that.”
One Last Hunt
Interestingly, after nearly 30 straight
years of life as a full-time outdoor
writers span that included Jim
Churchill bagging a Wisconsin buck
virtually each and every fall—Jim
Junior’s two favorite bowhunting memories
stem from his dad’s very first hunt
at the family’s Florence home——and
also, his father’s very last.
“That last fall, he had seen this
deer—a nice 9~point—while driving
into a spot to do some grouse hunting,”
Jim Jr. recalled. “So he started scouting
around for it. In that first week of the
bow season, he was having trouble with
his shoulder. He was having trouble
pulling his bow back, but he went ahead
and hunted anyway—he would have
hunted with a spear if he had to.
“He was hunting from the ground at
the time, and sure enough, here that
buck came, down a trail, not 15 yards
away, but dad couldn’t pull his bow back.
He had to let that buck walk on by.
“Then his shoulder got better, and
he stuck with hunting the trail that big
buck was running on. He saw it again in
October, about the middle of the

month, and then it was the last week [of
the early bow season in November].
The shoulder was feeling much better,
and he was again hunting on the
ground—he didn’t use a treestand the
last few years, but he was a deadly shot
out to about 35 yards.
“The trail that buck was using traveled
through some short, thick balsams,
about 6 to 8 foot tall. Eventually he
heard something coming through there,
got a glimpse of it and sure enough, it
was that same buck. He ended up arrowing
it right behind the front shoulder. He
called me up to help track it. It went
about 150 yards, but you could see right
away it was dead in its tracks.
“Maybe that memory is so great
because it was his last buck with a bow,”
Jim Jr. remembered. “He died in 2002,
and that hunt was in November of 2001.
That buck was a dandy. Body wise, it
wasn’t quite as big as that first~year buck,
but he hunted hard for it. l think it did
bother him that he couldn’t get that bow
back during that first encounter. But
then, he would have been out there even
if he couldn’t pull a bow back at all.”
Avid big woods bowhunter and Journalist James E. Churchill passed away at
age 68, on May 29, 2002, at his back-
country Florence home. He was preparing to be treated for cancer when a
blood clot took him suddenly. That was
a blessing, according to his wife Joan—
she knew that her husbands energetic,
always~on-the-go lifestyle wouldn’t have
meshed well with an extended hospital
stay or lengthy incapacitation.
l didn’t know the man personally, but
I’d say Joan got it exactly right. When
you’re a true Mountain Man—even one
of the modern»day variety—there are
always new trails to be blazed. Few ever did
it any better than James E. Churchill.  >>>—>

 

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Published by archerchick on 05 Dec 2011

Extreme Tactics For Monster Elk ~ By Chuck Adams


Bowhunting World Xtreme 2004

Extreme Tactics For Monster Elk – By Chuck Adams

On September 24, 2003, Chuck Adams defied all
odds by bagging yet another monster elk—the fifth in a row gross
scoring over 370 record·book points. Chuck’s ’03 giant is a symmetrical
6×6 with main beams over 60 inches, an inside spread over 60 inches,
and average tine length over 18 inches. With a green gross score of
423 and a green net score of 412, this bull has a chance to eclipse
Chuck’s own Pope and Young World Record from 2000. P&Y panel
judging will occur in early 2005.

What follows here are exciting details about this huge bull plus
specific tactics Chuck uses to locate and shoot oversize elk like this one.
was scrambling down a near-vertical slope when the accident; occurred. Pine
I needles gave way underfoot, and I fell on my butt as I skated toward a cliff 50
feet below me.
The wild ride ended after I smacked a four inch pine, pinwheeled upside-down,
and collided with another small tree. I hugged the trunk like a long»lost friend, my
body aching but my bow miraculously still in my fist. My feet dangled over a five foot ledge.

Seconds later, the bull I was after bugled just below. I saw antler tips first, and
then the animal sauntered into view. At less than 20 yards, he looked immense.
But fortunately for me, my first really clear look showed massive beams and long
brow tines but little else to write home about. I say “fortunately”, because I could
not have shot my bow to save my life.
The bull’s rack had seven points on the left and eight on the right, but main beams
were short and tine length petered out near the top. The mature but only moderately large monarch climbed higher and veered directly beneath me. Shooting distance, had I been able to shoot and had I wanted to shoot, was less than ten yards.

After the elk disappeared, I dug in my heels, scooted away from the edge, and
crawled uphill to safety. Unless you’re dead, things can usually be worse. I was
tickled to still be in one piece with no broken bones and a promising elk season
ahead of me.
The very next day, I saw the monstrous bull I finally shot three days after that.
I had found a great elk area—a place I’d never hunted before with fresh sign and
enough undisturbed animals to allow a quality bowhunt. How I found the place
is a story in and of itself.

In Search 0f Extreme Habitat
My guide and I have hunted together for years. We are friends, we think alike,
and we dearly love to chase big elk. So after seeing a number of so»so bulls in
places we’d hunted in times past, we decided to pull up stakes and try new ground.
We weren’t interested in ordinary elk, and we knew that somewhere there had
to be a brute.

I looked at topo maps for hours with specific things in mind. I passed over
places with classic alpine elk habitat, because I knew there’d be other bowhunters
there. I was looking instead for corncob»rough, extremely steep ground on the
ragged edge of known elk»producing places. Modem elk are expanding their range
in many parts of the West, and I wanted to find a spot where elk hunting might
not yet be popular.
My 2000 World Record elk had lived in such a place—difficult to penetrate, even
more difficult to hunt, and just enough off the beaten path to not be hammered by
guns or bows. A truly monster bull elk is at least six years old, sometimes eight
or ten. Very few animals reach ripe old age
without having a hideaway with light hunting pressure.

Some bowhunters believe the best elk
are found on private, expensive guided
ground. It’s to think the grass is greener
in such places. In fact, some archers have
told me they assumed my biggest elk have
been taken in pricey outfitted areas where
hunting is easy.

No so. As a matter of fact, I believe that
places frequented by outfitters might be
the very worst spots for genuinely huge
bulls. Serious, hard»hunting outfitters
know every inch of their private leased
ground, and they tend to keep elk age in
such places lower than it needs to be for tip-
top antlers. One very successful elk outfitter
recently told me he deliberately harvests
bulls at about five years of age. He
explained that most hunters are tickled
with a 330 or 340 elk, and added that he
made more money by managing for nice elk
rather than extraordinary elk. Savvy outfitters
concentrate on the bottom line, not
World Record antlers.

If I wanted a decent 6×6 bull and had
the money to spend, I might bowhunt such
a place. Quite a few privately owned elk
properties in New Mexico, Wyoming, Colorado, Montana, and other
states will consistently produce record·book bulls in the
290 to 320 range. A few will yield even better elk.
But for truly huge old mossbacks, I
prefer offbeat pockets not routinely hunt»
ed by guides. Such places are often public
land or private property where free trespass
permission can be obtained.

Covering The Ground
The place my guide and I circled on my
map on September 20 was typically untypical
elk habitat. It was dozens of miles
from known and popular hunting places,
but close enough to hold at least a few
elk. It was murderously steep, with contour lines almost overlapping on the map.
Although I’d never been there, my guide
told me the general area had been heavily clear cut decades earlier, with nasty
timber-choked draws surrounded by wide·
open country. It did not look like elk terrain,
he said, and we probably would not
see other bowhunters. He said we could
probably get permission to hunt sections
that were not public land—an important
factor for elk success. When bulls rut,
they move with track shoes on. You can-
not score if you are stuck on one isolated
square mile of real estate. You’ve got to
move, and sometimes move quickly, over
mile after mile of rugged habitat.

When I first saw the new country on
Sunday, September 21, I was not impressed.
It was indeed open by elk»hunting standard,
with ancient pine stumps littering yellow»
grass hillsides. But slopes were cratered
with sudden pockets of timber and brush,
and deceptively deep canyons knifed
downward off the peaks.

On the second ridgeline we hiked, I
found a string of sap-oozing antler rubs
and piles of fresh elk droppings. Just over
the top, out of sight from an old road, was
a giant gorge with trees as thick as dog
hair. Loggers had taken the easy trees and
left the difficult ones behind. Despite a
severe drought in the West, stem»cured
grass was knee-deep under the trees. Somewhere below,
a stream bubbled merrily
over rocks.
Here, tucked out of sight, was a little
piece of elk heaven.
As if on cue, a bull growled deep in
the draw. It was the single, throaty rumble
of a wild elk that didn’t want to be
chased. . . just the sort of elk I love to chase.
The bull never made another peep, and it
was late in the morning, but I went after
him anyway. My trusty guide was lurking
a safe distance behind.

Going Strong All Day
Covering ground in the elk woods does
not only mean looking at plenty of places
with maps and vehicles. It also means
hiking long distance, both to scout and
to hunt.
Here I was, slipping downward
through very thick trees, late in the
morning with daytime heat settling into
the canyon. I do not believe in penetrating elk-bedding zones, because
bumped animals don’t always come back.
But the bull sound below me had been
too tantalizing, I had not yet seen a really large elk despite days
and days of hunting, and I just wanted a peek.

I got my peek in spades a few minutes
later. The pungent barnyard odor of elk
suddenly hit my nostrils, and then a big,
amber-colored cow exploded from her bed
directly in front of me. Suddenly, the
whole hillside was churning with elk
hooves and dust. I ran to a nearby point,
poked my head over the edge, and spotted
colossal elk antlers twisting downward
through the trees. The bull was hot on the
heels of eight females, hazing them like a
cutting horse after cows. Seconds later,
with the vision of giant antlers burned into
my brain, the small herd vanished beyond
a ridge.

I could not believe my eyes. This
bull was definitely larger than my 2002
elk, and the one in 2002 had officially
gross scored 377 2/8 and net scored 368 4/8
The back “whale tails” on the rack I had
just seen were immense, the main beams
dropping downward on both sides of the
rump. The spread looked impossible-
the widest I had ever seen on a live elk
or in a picture. As I compared my snap
impression with the World Record I had
taken in 2000, I kept coming back to a
startling possibility. This elk might be
just as big!

As my guide and I tramped the high
ridges the rest of the day to look for sign
and orient ourselves to the area, I kept
second·guessing my judgment. As I report»
ed in a 2001 issue of Bowhunting World,
bull elk scoring over 400 points are incredibly rare.
I had said then, and I kept telling
myself now, that seeing two such bulls in
a lifetime was impossible. Despite several million elk harvested in North
America during the past l0O years, fewer than
three dozen typical bulls had officially beat
the 400 inch mark.

We covered ground all day long, and
walked all the next day as well. We did not
hear or see so much as one elk during those
20·plus hours. There were pockets of fresh
sign, but not a lot of animals in the area. It
didn’t matter to me. At that point, I was
only interested in one elk-—the whopper in
the deep, dark canyon.

Refining The Game Plan
On Tuesday, September 23, I saw the big
bull again. It was mid-morning, and we
had just about given up on hunting. Glassing distant slopes had turned up one
raghorn 5×5, two spikes, and one cow.
just as we dropped our binoculars and
stood to leave our prominent perch, ell;
began streaming from a cut in a mountain
half a mile away. At the rear was a huge-
bodied bull with ivory·tipped antlers.
Even from 800 yards, the bull was unmistakable. My guide was flabbergasted The animal was a true rump scratcher, and all the tines were
long. I was beginning to believe that lightning just might strike twice
in the same place.
Before we could get anywhere close, the bull and his eight-cow harem
vanished in the very same canyon were I’d seen them two days before.
As many readers of Bowhunting World know, I prefer not to call elk.

Calling is certainly exciting, and young bulls certainly respond to well
practiced bugles and grunts. But old, hard»hunted bulls are wise.
I suspect they recognize the voices of other real elk in their area, and I know
they move away from imitation calls. You simply do not live six or eight
years by charging every bugle and grunt you hear.

The bulls I hunt don”t even call much themselves. They know from
past experience that mouthing off can be hazardous to their health,
Only when pressed by a rival bull or an overly aggressive pipsqueak do
they bother to answer back.

Such elk require you to refine your game plan. Call only to locate
bulls from a distance. Be quiet and stalk through heavy cover that trophy bulls prefer.
Dog the edges of elk herds, Sooner or later, the big
guy just might swagger into bow range. Never, but never let him know
you’re there. You should stay out of sight and out of his mind—a total
surprise to the bull when your arrow smacks him through the chest.
Going For The Shot

I hiked the mountainside downwind from the elk bedding canyon
till dark on Tuesday. Elk seldom move much before dead dark in
warm weather, and it was certainly warm. But my goal was not
shooting an elk that day, anyway. It was learning terrain so I might set up a shot
tomorrow.

First light on Wednesday morning
found me crouched on a knob near the
bottom of the mountain. A long slash of
wide»open ground stretched upward to the
top….a slash I now knew by heart. With
luck, the bull might push his cows across as
he had the morning before.

Bingo! Three elk appeared high on
the slope where the ones had been the day
before. My heart leaped. . .and then I
relaxed. These were small bulls, not the
macho kind capable of holding cows.
The trio wandered out of sight. Seconds later,
a string of cows appeared a little lower down.
Hot on their heels was the
massive bull.

I ran 125 yards like a madman, scrambling up an open cut that rose sharply I
toward the elk. Out of breath and shaking from excitement, I peeked beyond a bank
of dirt. Here came the cows, mincing along a narrow trail beaten into the hill,
They were barely 2O yards away! I ducked, nocked an arrow, and buried
my shoulder in the near-vertical slope,

Only my eyeballs moved as the females
slipped past me on the upwind side. I could
see the shine of their noses, the glitter of
their eyes, and the delicate flutter of their
eyelids. As the eighth cow moved past
and disappeared, I tensed to take the shot.
Nothing. No antlers, no sound, and
not even any dust, I waited as endless seconds plodded by,
Still no bull, Far uphill, a squeaky bugle erupted from
a patch of timber. Suddenly, polished
antlers appeared much closer above a hill.
They glittered like the mouth of hell as the
giant bull strolled out well above the cows.
I groaned, drew my Reflex bow, and tried
to estimate the distance over the arrow. It
was now or never, and I was determined to
make it now, When you think you can
make the shot, you should go for the shot!

The bull stopped and whipped his head
uphill, gawking toward the elk that had just
called. I guessed 45 yards, planted my sight
pin, and let the bowstring go. Half a second later,
the shaft hammered home with
a meaty, satisfying thump!

The bull staggered ahead, but he did not
go far with a broadhead through both lungs.
I had my elk, and I was thunderstruck by
the size of the beast.

Extreme hunting in an extreme elk
area had paid off with an extreme but very
makeable shot. The animal was also
extreme——extremely big and extremely
exciting. My guide and I rough scored
him well over 4OO points, and even after
half a year, the antlers still unofficially
score nearly three inches larger than my
current P&Y World Record.

Only expert panel judges can sort out
the fine points of officially measuring tines,
assessing main beams, and determining
exactly where the inside spread should be
taped. Half a dozen P&Y points can magically appear
or vanish in one serious measuring session, so l do not know for sure
how this animal will stack up.
But I do know he’s big. That bull
stunned me to my boots when l first laid eyes
on his antlers, and I’m still in awe of his
heavy headgear today. The memories of the
hunt and the thrill of wrapping my hands
around those massive beams are the things
that matter most. >—->>

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Published by archerchick on 05 Dec 2011

Lovin’ Fightin’ Elk – By Ralph Ramos


BOWHUNTING WORLD Xtreme
2004 volume 53, no.6

Lovin’, Fightin, Elk ~ By Ralph Ramos

With today’s call-shy bulls and early
archery season hunting pressure,
bowhunters need hard-core team efforts to produce trophy public land
bulls. These team efforts may include a combination of modern elk cow
calls, decoys, and resonating bugle tubes. But creatively putting them to
use with rattling is what works best! During my 15 years of experience
guiding elk hunters in New Mexico with San Francisco River Outfitters, I’ve
been blessed in harvesting over 120 bull kills in team efforts afield. In the
past seven elk seasons, l have employed my creative elk-calling techniques for others. And they work. My client hunters have multiple opportunities at shooting bulls on an average three-day hunt. Because of creative
calling, out of ll hunters, we average killing nine bulls in any dry or wet

season. Dur average kill ratio is one bull harvest for every two days of hunting.

I witness at least one live elk fight every two sea-
sons. But none stand out as my very first elk
brawl. I remember distinct evening bugles, popping back and forth at each other, as these hulls
walked downhill off the same ridge and headed
toward a marshy meadow. Suddenly I heard a
cracking, popping, loud noise throughout the canyon.
It sounded like many baseball bats banging against each other
at full swing, coupled with muffled moaning and furious breathing.
Two massive bulls fought with their heads down, locking
horns, pushing, shoving, swinging heads and antlers at each other.
Upon witnessing this and subsequent elk fights, l began to
notice that, as we walked out of the battle zone, we would continue
seeing and hearing multiple bull elk in the area after the
real fight ended. Perhaps these area bulls came in hoping to
see a fight, but the brawl was over.
This type of elk fighting and rattling reminded me of high
school students running towards a fray, hollering, “Fight,
fight!” in the school yard when a dispute occurs. Naturally,
these young bull-students like to see the sparring between two
warriors in battle. This intrigued me to try simulating a rattling battle in areas where bulls are bugling.


Rattling & Cow Talk In Action
Arizona elk enthusiast Ron “The Rattler” Way strongly
believes in rattling. He carries a large set of 6×6 antler sheds,
rattling in several bulls per season. Because it is so uncommon
to draw an elk tag in Arizona, Ron practices his method by
going out on friends’ hunts, rattling and refining his technique
for when he draws a permit.

The first time I saw Ron and his rattling technique, he helped
me produce a 340 class Pope & Young 6×6 bull. It took just 45
minutes.l even passed up three opportunities at young bulls, holding out for a herd bull as the elk approached the rattling noise.
First, Ron told our calling party what to do when the rattling
began. “The bulls will start bugling, walking toward the direction of my rattling,” he stated. “Select a bugling bull that interests you and move in towards the bull. Be aggressive. Don’t expect
bulls to come in all the way into my rattling; you need to stalk
the live bugles. Normally, bulls will come in from all directions
and hang up around 50 yards from my rattling. Get the wind right
and move on in. The key is to try to intercept a bull as he
approaches the battle. If you don’t like the bull you see, don’t
stop hunting. Approach another bull’s bugle, and keep working the area for more action. Remember, be aggressive!”

As soon as Ron began to rattle, we heard at least 10 bulls
in the area start bugling toward the ruckus. Amazed, l quickly stalked into the closest bugle for a setup. After the first elk
walked by heading toward the rattling noise at 20 yards, I quickly had my two callers, Joe Sellars and Jerome Sanchez, produce
lovesick excessive cow mews. Because elk are both lovers and
fighters, I knew we were onto a new technique, simulating what
naturally happens in the elk world. Give elk a loud battling
brawl and sweet cow talk, and you’ll get immediate results!
As Ron continued to rattle, bang and clash those huge 6×6
antlers, l continued to move in, jogging to the next closest
bugle. Jerome and Joe followed, trailing me about 30 yards.
They cow talked in multiple tones, as if they were my satellite cows. Mimicked cow talk, battling bulls brawling, and live
screaming bulls filled the surrounding area.
The next bull we called in during the rattling session seemed
to prefer cow talk over the battle. He approached Ron’s rattling,
but changed his mind as if he were advantage of an opportunity to steal the ladies, who belonged to a fighting bull.
At this point we had moved about 300 yards from Ron’s
rattling, still hearing his antlers clattering clearly. The young
6×6 bull came within 20 yards, stopped and stared past me as

another bull snuck in between Joe and Jerome. I decided not
to shoot at this particular bull, as he only allowed a front-end,
quartering-toward»me angle shot. I passed up this unethical shot
and quickly moved in on another bugle. Morning bugles continued
all around us. Meanwhile, 20 minutes into the setup, Ron
continued rattling — what energy and endurance his arms had!
Finally, as I approached another bugle, I spotted cow elk mov»
ing toward my right into the cedar trees. I quickly figured by the
bugle’s location that it could be my herd bull following behind
them. Instantly, I closed in, jogging toward the bull as he
walked through a cluster of trees. For a moment his cows separated
from him to my right.I kneeled down — steady, at full draw
with my PSE bow — selecting a possible shooting lane as a 340
class bull approached, bugling from my left side.
]oe and ]erome continued producing excessive cow talk a good
80 yards behind me while the canyon clattered with echoes from
Ron’s rattling. My top sight pin steadily settled behind the herd
bull`s shoulder as he not only walked in, but stopped between
brush and two cedar trees in the only available shooting lane.
I don’t even remember squeezing my Scott Little Goose trigger as I released my shot. The Carbon Force arrow, tipped with
a Rocky Mountain Ti»l00 broadhead, plunged forward through
both lungs, leaving a remarkable blood trail to follow for a quick
recovery. As we posed with my trophy 45 minutes into the hunt,
bulls continued to bugle at a distance. What a wonderful
bowhunting experience!

Rattling & Calling How To’s
Find Your Battling Antlers
My preferred antlers for rattling
includes at least one large 320 class
6×6 shed as a base antler and a broken antler
— minimum of three points from the bottom
antler base or spur — as the second shed. This
broken antler allows you to swing with more
force, clashing both sheds together furiously
to create a faster, more aggressive rhythm,
Furthermore, less weight on the broken antler

shed means less fatigue on your arms and upper body during a rattling session, helping you produce a true battling noise.
Elk antler sheds may be purchased from antler furniture
shops. However, many elk hunting enthusiasts prefer to indulge _
in a favorite pastime and look for shed antlers in the field. People comb the woods as early as February. They’re more likely to
find world class bull sheds during this early shed season when
the larger bulls loose their antlers before younger satellite bulls.
Because the impact from jumping a fence often causes elk to drop
their antlers, I like to get out and walk fence lines. Antler shed
hunting not only allows people to be outdoors, but offers the
chance for some valuable scouting and exercise for a new year
of hunting. Remember, sheds may be found anywhere, even while
you’re hunting, so keep your eyes open.


Scouting, Season
Considerations

Rattling requires some pre season scouting to determine where
bulls are hanging out (as Ron did during previous hunting seasons). Our rattling
and calling technique is successful during early season archery hunting when bugling is slow, but Ron
found that it works better when the bugling picks up during
the later part of archery season. Multiple bull bugles are easier to locate.
assisting hunters as where to set up for a rattling
session. He would rather set up in an area where he can
already hear two bulls bugling rather than none at all.

Entice With Rattling
Once you have located bugling bulls, set up down»
wind to begin your rattling session. Try to set up
above or level with the elk bugling when you start to rattle.
Elk tend to hang up. They don’t come in as easily if you call
them downhill. First, bang the antlers abruptly and aggressively
against each other. Clash your antlers together six to seven
times, creating a continuous loud, thundering, popping bang.
Let all bulls in the area know that a fight has just begun. When
it comes to drawing their attention, the louder, the better!
Continue clashing, rubbing, and creating clatter for IO to
15 minutes. Once you have started a rhythm for a fight;
bang the antlers two or three times loudly with greater force,
just like the loud, thundering bangs you created at the beginning of your session. This needs to happen at least every three
minutes. Real bulls tend to back off from one another and
approach each other for a second, then a third round, creating
loud antler popping banging sounds.
Be patient, hang in there and rattle for 30 to 40 minutes.
Remember you are trying to simulate a loud aggressive elk fight.
It at all possible, get a friend to call as you rattle. Focus on
vocal calling with bugles and cow calls to add flavor to your
simulated elk fight. I like to imitate bugles and groans with a
resonating tube such as the Primos Terminator bugle. If a caller
is not available, carry a bugle tube to produce these groans and
bugles yourself during the middle of the rattling session.
Rattling takes a physical toll on your upper body; upper~body
strength and endurance are musts. If an additional caller is avail»
able you might even switch roles from caller to rattler and vice
versa. The important thing is don’t give up. Whether rattling
or making vocal elk calls, keep up the noise to keep bulls
interested. Bulls normally bugle as they approach giving up their location, but
silent bulls sometime come in, so don’t let your guard down.

Enhance With Cow Calling
Most importantly, the
hunter taking the shot should have an
additional caller producing cow talk
behind him as he moves in toward elk that are approaching the rattling fight. This caller should follow the shooter, staying a minimum of 20 yards behind. The
cow talk will help entice a bull to walk by the shooter, giving the shooter a good shot.
Even with a supporting calling and rattling party the shoot»
er should have a diaphragm mouth call ready at all times and call
while moving in toward the bugling bull. Another reason to have
a mouth call ready is to stop a bull. As he walks by toward the
rattling light, a sweet cow chirp may stop him for a better shot.
Once your rattler has begun rattling and live hulls are walking toward the battle, begin your calling, producing lovely
tones of a female elk. Mimicking multiple cows and calves

with excessive cow talk works extremely well during the rut. Use
different elk calls simultaneously non~stop as bugling bulls
approach. Once you start the excessive bursts of cow talk,
don’t stop until the bull comes in running past the shooter.
I like to place all my elk calls in front of me when calling to
keep them within a hands reach. l imitate varied tones of cow talk,
starting with diaphragm cow calling, then shuffling the open
end of a bugle tube in and out in front of my mouth rapidly. This
“shuffle” of volume produces the “near and far sounds” of mingling
cows in a herd. Next, swap to an open reed call, using it without
a bugle tube. Try to vocalize one cow in heat by producing a loud
hyper heat call once every three to four minutes. The greater your
variance of cow sounds, the better your chance of calling in a bull.
These types of sounds are best created with Primos elk calls such
as a sound plate diaphragm, single and double reed calls, and — the
most user friendly — a “Hoochie Mamma” push and squeeze call.

Elk hunting is an ongoing mental and physical challenge. There is no question that elk have become more
educated game animals. To remain effective, hunters need
to make changes. This is why l strongly believe in creative methods outlined in this article. Don’t forget to combine these methods with in depth scouting, physical
conditioning and conducting year round homework —
they are essential. No matter what, mere is nothing
that is more enjoyable than the rush of calling in a
bugling bull elk!

the Author
Ralph Ramos is a prostaff member for Primos Hunting Calls, PSE
Archery Products, Rocky Mountain Broadheads, Scott Releases, and
Montana Decoys. A New Mexico native and guide for San Francisco
River Outfitters (www.gilanetcom/sfroutfittersl, he guides elk hunters
in the “Land of Enchantment? He presents elk calling seminars
throughout the Southwest, educating hunters on creative calling
and rattling techniques as well as his x—zone method. Ralph also
owns Ramos Hunts & Video where he produces hunting videos. To
book an elk-calling seminar, purchase his hunting videos, or just get
simple advice about elk hunting, contact Ralph at (505) 526-4514 or
email him at rramos@mh.lcps.kl2.nm.us.X

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Published by admin on 22 Sep 2011

Archery’s loss Heaven’s gain… Dick Lattimer passes

Straight Shot
with frank addington, jr.

Archery’s loss Heaven’s gain… Dick Lattimer passes

I got sad news this evening via email from my friend Dick Mauch. It seems that we have lost another member of our archery family with the passing of Dick Lattimer around 3AM on the morning of Tuesday, September 6, 2011. Dick was a great man and did so much for the sport of archery. Most everyone knows how close Dick was to the late Fred Bear, whom he worked for over 20 years. Although he handled advertising and PR for Bear, he and Fred seemed to me to have a close knit bond like a father-son relationship. He helped usher in the boom in archery the sport had in the 1970’s by promoting the Bear campaign, “Become a two season hunter.” When you saw Fred at a public event in the 1970’s until his passing, Dick was usually at his side camera and notepad in hand.

In addition to a career at Bear, Dick was also heavily involved in AMO, and authored at least four books, one on space, one on Jesus, and the two books, “I remember Papa Bear” and “Hunt with Fred Bear.” He was also involved with the Archery Hall of Fame and other archery related organizations. Although I never met her, his emails to me often mentioned his wife Alice, who survives Dick. We had a running joke because I often did summer shows in Florida, and Dick & his wife would be in Indiana for the summer and then in the winter when I did the Indiana show Dick and Alice would be back in Florida. I would often tease Dick for avoiding me and my show. It became a running joke. Dick had a great sense of humor.

In the coming days I am sure there will much written about this fine man. He is an archery Hall of Fame member and did so much for our sport. I am reminded of the story about the great western actor Ben Johnson. Johnson won an Oscar for his role in “The Last Picture Show” before John Wayne won his Oscar for True Grit. Yet even while Johnson had an Oscar, and at the time Duke did not, Johnson often had roles that had him playing John Wayne’s sidekick. One reporter once asked if that didn’t bother Johnson being such an accomplished actor and yet playing second fiddle to Wayne, Johnson is supposed to have replied, “Somebody has to hold the horses….” That was Dick Lattimer. He never seemed to mind helping shine the spotlight on Fred Bear, Bear Archery and the sport of archery. He was always behind the scenes, running a camera, video camera, or banging out words on a typewriter. In my book Dick was as good as they come.

I thanked him a just a few years ago for not running me off as a kid when I would bug Fred at shows. He could have and yet never did. As a matter of fact, I still have an envelope of photos Dick sent me of Fred and I at an event. He mailed them to me a few weeks after the show. During the event, my parent’s and I had attended a big fancy private party Fred hosted in Atlanta during the SHOT SHOW. We stayed till the end and walked down the hall as Fred and Dick left the party. I snapped a photo of the two of them walking down the hall together, the hero and his trusty sidekick. Now days I view them both as heroes. I see that it was Dick who often was behind the scenes helping steer the media and image of Fred and Bear Archery.

His eulogy “It was quiet in the forest” that he wrote and read at Fred’s service was one of the most beautiful eulogies I’d ever seen. Although I didn’t attend the service, he sent me a big packet of stuff shortly after Fred’s service which had a copy of that eulogy in it. He was thoughtful like that because he knew just how much I loved and admired Fred. Dick was often selfless and always thinking of others. Anyway, perhaps that’s a fitting end for our friend Dick, because once again the crow has come to tell us of the death of that giant Bear’s great and trusted friend. The Forest is again quiet.. So long Dick, we’ll miss you. Thanks again…….. our sad loss is now Heaven’s gain.

Frank Addington, Jr.

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Published by archerchick on 08 Jul 2011

Turkey Grand Slam ~By Stan Chiras


BOWHUNTING WORLD
June 1989

TURKEY GRAND SLAM ~ By Stan Chiras

A Novice Tells How It’s Done

I had just started hunting these magnificent birds last year and already I was hopelessly
addicted. Most turkey hunters will tell you there is no cure, and their wives will agree! I was no exception. The desire to get the Grand Slam came as the result of simply wanting to do a lot of
gobbler chasing in my second season. It seemed reasonable to let that chase take me to
places where the different species of turkey called home. The problem then became
one of “how to” and “how to afford it all! ”

?

I could scratch out the time, for my occupation would let me mix travel and sales
calls, with frequent returns to my home base in Wyoming. I began calling friends,
trying to locate good spots to hunt. Being a bowhunter, I didn’t really want to lessen my
odds by hunting areas that the guns had pounded. I came up with some areas that sounded good and made me feel fairly confident of success. Nonetheless, I contacted some guides as back-ups, telling them that I wanted to first try hunting alone. My feelings are that if someone else locates and calls the bird for me, I am little more than a shooter and the essence of the hunt is lost. Besides, guides cost money and it would cost enough getting from one place to another.

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I spent the winter planning. Every detail, from equipment to travel routes to photography was studied, pondered and finalized. My plan was to get licenses in seven states and try get my four birds from them. I spent countless hours crouched in my living room practicing sitting still, calling and even aiming at gobblers on videos I had rented!


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My bow, a High Country Trophy Hunter, was tuned from wheel to wheel. I broke in
several spare strings and set up my Amacker Banjo sight to hit dead on from five to 25
yards. I shot day after day, until I could hit the fist-sized vitals of my turkey target every time
within that range. I was detemined to shoot 4 within 25 yards where my skill level would make
me confident of a clean kill.

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Every morning, before leaving for work, I would step out the door and take one, and only
one shot. There are no warm-up shots at turkeys and I expected no follow-ups. If the shot
was true, my day was off to a great start. If it was errant, I felt like a toad. Eventually all my
arrows hit the mark, the result of practiced concentation and an awful lot of desire.

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My bow was short enough that I could shoot while sitting, which greatly reduced
critical movement which had cost me shots at a couple gobblers during my first season.
That, coupled with 65 percent let-off made what I considered the ultimate turkey weapon. I
would be able to draw when my quarry’s vision was obstructed and hold for a long time if necessary.

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The last thing I did was shoot the bow set at a shorter draw length than normal for me. The
bow came a little shy of my draw and quite by accident I learned it could help. Since I’m no
student of target archery, I hope it will suffice that with the slightly shorter draw I did
not suffer from any creep and it was very easy to find a consistent form. Whatever, I was
shootiing much better than I ever had before and that`s the way to start a hunt like this one.

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A personal commitment was made as well: I would be more patient than I had ever
been my life in every circumstance I encountered. Secondly, I vowed to be persistant.
I would not quit until I dropped from exhaustion and there wasn’t a turkey season open in
the entire country. (It’s very interesting to note that three of the birds were taken on the
last day of the hunt after my hopes had been well dashed. I doubt I’ll ever give up early in
my life again!)

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Conditioning is necessary because turkey hunting can be very strenuous, both physically
and mentally. There are times when you get on a gobbler in a hurry and cross ravines or penetrate thick hillsides as though they weren’t there. Other situations are stealth, either in stalking into an area to set up or sitting still for hours on end. Both as s lot easier to do if you’re in shape.

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Still, other times will find the turkey hunter down and out and in need of a psychological lift. Perhaps the birds are not gobbling, or they come in silently and you muff the set-up. Sometimes they answer your every call for two hours and then simply walk off gobbling into the woods. At times like these, you have to find a way to make the most of the encounter. A hunter who tends to say “I almost got one in today and sure learned what I might want to do with the next one,” will find
himself ready to go the next morning. You can’t let those turkeys get you down! They’re
just teaching you a little humility.

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Wyoming Merriam’s

My first bird dropped to my Zwickey-tipped XX75 within five minutes on opening day in the Black Hills of northeastern Wyoming. As I nestled into some brush I had scoured. three gobblers were calling to the hens and each other. (As I was to learn with all my subsequent hunts, it is often best to be there on the first day, when the birds are ready and not yet fully aware of the dangers afield.)

The Wyoming Merriam’s turkey responded quickly to my call. Two gobblers came in and I shot the second, a bird with a 9 1/2 inch beard that weighed 18 pounds. He took my first arrow at 22 yards through the vitals and caught a second well-placed shaft moments later as insurance. It proved to be unnecessary. He made it over a rise and into a draw before expiring. I took the quick, clean
kill as a good omen for the hunts to come.

?

The next weekend found me in Montana, searching for another gobbler and hoping my
luck would continue. I just shook my head in mild disbelief when my evening yelping
located a gobbler. A likely looking clearing would be my morning hide. Daybreak found
me nestled against a large cottonwood tree, hoping for the best.

?

Have you ever seen something in the semi-darkness and had your eyes play every trick in
the book on you? Well, there I was, waiting for the fun to begin, when a subtle “spitting”
sound caught my attention. I stared into the uncertain landscape, sure I heard a tom drumming.
It had to be a gobbler, but it was much too early for one to be on the ground and I had not heard anything fly down. I began to pick out a dark spot in front of me, at a range I couldn’t determine. In the low light the spot seemed to appear and disappear, than move. I would have to wait.

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Meanwhile, the birds in the nearby trees began to gobble and my attention shifted to them. It seemed like mere minutes later when the object I had tried to make out on the ground was a clearly identifiable gobbler. He was strutting back and forth about twenty yards in front of me. I froze. Arrowing gobblers is far more complicated than getting one in range. Their eyes are
very sharp and detect the slightest thing out of place. Movement is simply impossible. Where a deer might just wait an extra second and even shrug off something if it doesn’t move again, a turkey just leaves. There are no second chances.

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Let a turkey hear you and the scenario is the same. They teach you in a hurry that one mistake is all you get. The challenge is getting your bow to full draw, aiming and shooting before they know you are there. My mental conditioning was the most valuable asset for the hunt I had and discipline
was the key. If the bird could see me, or other birds could. there was no sense in doing anything. It would seem a shame to just let a gobbler walk off. but often it was all I could do.

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Desperation attempts are a waste of time on turkeys. They only educate the birds to your
presence and lessen your chances of success for the next day. I waited for this bird to turn, facing dead away from me, when his fanned tail would effectively block him from seeing me. He
turned. I drew. I could hardly see the dual pins of my sight and a quick sighting on the brighter horizon enabled me to set in and make the shot. The arrow struck home, sending a solid “whack”
back to my ears. He turned again, stared directly at the source of the sound and caught
my next arrow squarely in the breast. My second bird was down.

?

A second Merriam’s with good technique; no mistakes so far on this venture! My shooting had been perfect. Both birds were done for the first arrows, but a second shaft conveniently laid next to me had struck home both times. Had they been really needed, they would have done the job. The practice and planning were paying off.

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l thought of several setups for taking turkeys during the planning stages for this hunt. The trick is to get them in and be able to make the motion of the shot undetected. The easiest way to do this is to park yourself against a very large tree in a woods with lots of other trees in front of you. When the bird passes behind one you`ll have a chance to draw. When he steps out the shot is yours.

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Another way to fool an old tom is to draw him past you with the aid of a decoy. Try to set yourself up facing away from the bird as you call, although the urge to turn and look him over can be almost cruel! If you call and the bird comes in, sights the decoy and then approaches it, a shot at a fanned bird facing away can be your reward.

?

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Remember to anticipate the spot you expect the bird to be and then position yourself for that shot. Right handed archers will want the bird to the left of the way they are facing, nd the opposite is true for lefties. There is nothing more depressing than being unable to shoot because of body position.

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Rio Grande

My Rio Grande bird had to be taken by another method. I was hunting a ranch in west Texas almost devoid of trees suitable for the turkey hunter to “fade” into. To make matters worse, the birds were concentrated in large flocks. Not once did I call in just one gobbler. Usually they came with hens, or jakes or even other gobblers but the number of birds was rarely under ten. That’s a lot of eyes to deal with! I had to resort to a makeshift blind.
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I carried some camo netting for just such a predicament. After calling in bird after bird to amply let them wander off I decided that it was time. A ravine that was scattered with small cedars made a perfect location for my barrier. I draped the netting between the cedars and leaned boughs up against the whole affair. A huge gobbler that had already come in on three occasions in the previous five days was my target. I hoped my blind would let me get a shot at him on my last day.

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My luck seemed to turn, because that was the only morning that I did not call a gobbler in. Perseverance would have to be the key: I decided to stay behind the netting for the entire day. That afternoon the gobbler showed up, all alone for the first time. He was history. I was sure of it.
The bum just ignored my calls. To this day it makes no sense. Eventually he wandered off into a brushy hillside. I was devastated. Since I was due to head for Florida in the morning it seemed the slam was over. I sat there and pondered my plight well into evening.

Almost miraculously, a group of six jakes came up behind me shortly before sunset. I
decided to take one, since a gobbler wasn’t likely to make an appearance. They came in
and circled my calling, offering me a head-on shot at the lead bird. The blind worked perfectly. If only I had used it earlier in the week. The arrow caught the bird off center by an
inch. But I celebrated too soon. The jake was nowhere to be found. I had to cancel my flight
to resume the search in the light of dawn. As luck would have it, I found the bird in the morning darkness while I was sneaking in to set up for another hunt (Texas allows you two spring birds so I was going to try for another before looking for the jake). Later I passed up a shot at two gobblers with medium-sized beards because I failed to recognize just what they were at first. I guarantee I will never do that again. Round tails are not jakes.

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Osceola

I gathered up my dog (who was patiently waiting in the car on all my hunts), the bird
and a bunch of gear and headed off to central Florida for what I expected to be a very tough
bird to get, the Osceola. I wasn’t disappointed, for not only were they tough to hunt, they were scarce as hen`s teeth. The practical problem of needing to make a living meant I would have to return home in only three days. It was difficult to feel confident with so little time to get to know the
area and find birds.

An important element for success on any hunt is scouting. I would rather spend three or
four days of a seven day hunt scouting, and hope my preparation would yield positive results later, than just plow in and hunt fret day one. The second night of my three precious days finally found me watching a long-bearded gobbler go to his roost. The next morning I sat against a pine tree next to the cypress swamp that held the gobbler. I almost wished this turkey wasn’t so impressive, for
not getting him would be like missing a Pope and Young buck. I said I almost wished it, mind you; I wasn’t complaining.

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He gobbled in the heavy mist of morning, a mist that was really a fog. First two hens
came down and immediately wandered off. Soon he would follow. He had to, for I had no
time left. He landed exactly where he had taken off from the night before. My decoys
were placed next to the edge of some pines and I was motionless next to one of them. He
ignored my decoys and began to wander off. Knowing full well that this old boy had gotten
that magnificent beard by letting things come to him, I decided to purr and cluck very softly.
He gobbled and fanned. With the fog and this cautious Osceola gobbler and a hunter relying
on his instincts for what to do next, the moment was pure magic.

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He hung around in front of me for a while and then just disappeared. A few purrs, ending with only slightly louder clucks carried out from my call. I kept it up for a minute or so, hoping my adversary would come back. Then my prayers were answered as he appeared off to my right, very near the spot he had flown down to. It was perfect for a left-handed shooter. I wouldn’t have to shift position at all to aim and shoot from the sitting position.

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Things looked very good. He was interested and coming in slow and deliberate. The
fog had him wet and his fan looked pretty bad, but do you think I cared! He was the lord and
master of this little piece of paradise and I had been invited for the show.The gobbler got as close as 15 yards and must have decided that the decoys should have moved by now. I was sure he would leave. It was time to act. I had strung some camo netting around me, about six feet out, to break my outline. If he turned I would draw. He did, and so did I, except he had turned straight at
me. I froze and luckily he did not notice my movements through the fog. The net had done
its job.

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It seemed like forever, but he turned away, with his fanned tail blocking me from his
sight. This time I got to full draw and came down on my target. He turned sideways and I
once again thanked my bow for its high let-off, as I had to wait for him to settle down
before letting the arrow f`ly. It struck with a solid whack, indicating a pretty good hit.
Then he surprised me and flew to the top of a nearby pine. He was history though, and I
knew it.

?

A short time later he came down, while I patiently waited in silence, not wanting to risk
spooking him into the thick cypress swamps nearby. His beard was over ll inches and he was
a true trophy. Now the heat was really on. With one bird to go there was no turning back and my confidence level was soaring. An urgent pressure to succeed was overshadowing my thoughts.
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Eastern Turkey

Earlier I spoke of the planning that went into this venture. It is one of the most important factors for success, for you simply can’t get them where you can’t find them. Unfortunately, I hadn’t given enough thought to the order I was hunting the different species. I should have started with the eastern, gone after the Florida next and the other later. The reason? It’s easy for me to say now: The eastern turkey get the most pressure and react quickly, making things very tough for the
hunter, especially the bowhunter. I haven’t said much about my calling because it isn’t that good. I rely primarily on a box call and stick to a limited vocabulary of yelps, clucks, purrs, cackles and Cutts. Since I feel a little inexperienced I tend to call less often and more softly, hoping to convince a bird with the coy approach. Turkey hunters have told me a lot of things about calling and it seems many different approaches work. I think the secret lies with the birds themselves, for some days they come in like hungry wolves and other times they plan the classic “you come to me” game.

A quick trip to the Black Hills of South Dakota, since I had a tag to left to fill there. I wanted to sharpen my calling and hunting skills before going after the much respected eastern gobblers.
as with the other two Merriam’s, I found a bird the first evening out and setup in a likely opening the next morning. A whole bunch of birds came in, including five gobblers and quite a few jakes. They strutted about in front of me, offering no chance to draw with all those alert eyes on call. My only recourse was to wait for them to leave and hope a gobbler would be among the last to go, thus offering me a shot

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The last bird was fanned out and strutting across to my right. When he crossed behind a large cottonwood, one of several in front of me, I came to full draw. He stepped out and the arrow smacked home , hitting him in the wing butt. After waiting a while, I crept up a small rise, expecting to see him on the other side. What I saw was a red head and a blur of feathers as he rocketed off to some distant brush. I was baffled. The arrow had hit just where it was supposed to so he should
have been down. I decided to wait a while longer and sneak up on the brush.
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When a hungry coyote showed up and I decided to pass up the shot, it turned into a
godsend. The canine hit the turkey’s trail and immediately raced off to fetch the bird. I figured
it would be easy to follow and make the coyote give it up. But it didn’t go quite that
way. The gobbler came bursting out of the thicket and flew up to a treetop about a quarter
mile away. Now all I had to do was to wait for the bird to expire.
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After awhile I decided that he wasn’t coming down so a stalk was in order. Luckily, the
wind picked up making the bird face into it just to hold on. It also covered the sound of my
approach. I had never shot up in a tree before and decided to simply aim dead center, hoping it would be good. The arrow centered the gobbler and he was mine.

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On To The East

I got busy trying to locate birds in New York, and acting on a tip from Charles Alsheimer, called in a super gobbler. I didn’t get the bird but felt extremely good about having
called up my first eastern. Charlie later showed me a thing or two about cackling and
purring on a diaphragm which helped me make major strides in my calling. Unfortunately, hordes of hunters moved into the area that weekend and the birds went silent. I decided it would take a few days to calm things down and headed off to a farm in West Virginia, about six hours away, to try anew. I had learned a lot about these birds. They
are the ultimate survivors, fleeing at the slightest miscue. Their eyes are absolutely
unforgiving, their ears superb and their gobbles were incredibly enchanting.

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Several days of rain had put a damper on my spirits, although I kept at it every day until the noon stopping time dictated by law. Somehow the last day of the hunt snuck up and promised to be the first clear day of the week. It was now or never. A tom had gobbled
just before noon the day before in a beautiful little hollow, but refused to come to my pleadings. I would try to take him. I found it was best on all my hunts to try to set my tactics for the morning the night before and then just spend the night dreaming about the wonderful
things to come.

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I was beginning to feel like the real master of myself, more than I ever had in my life. My
mind was full of constant rumblings about the value of planning, practice, patience and perseverance (my four P’s). I slipped into position an extra hour early, as I had done on the two previous last day hunts. I was going to kill that bird, I was positive. If only one had gobbled that morning . . .

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I called three times that morning, from my hide nestled in the corner of the hollow. Since
moving was not part of the day’s program, I settled in on my Komfort Turkey pad for the
long haul, which passed all too quickly. The season would end at noon. At 10:53 my last
soft yelps of the morning broke the still air. Again, nothing.

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If you had been there you would know the feeling I cannot describe as a bird came from
under a shady tree, just across the hollow from one very shaken turkey hunter. He
strode into the bright sunlight and stared directly into the woods that held me. This was
one of the infamous ‘”silent gobblers” we have all heard so much about.
He dropped into a depression and I grabbed the bow I had foolishly put down an
hour earlier. As it turned out, I could have eaten lunch during the amount of time it took
him to reappear. Fighting the urge to rise up a little and peak to confirm his whereabouts became a difficult task, but I held firm. He appeared, still looking at my location.

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He began to scratch about and feed in the closely cropped pasture, practically in my
lap. He noticed my decoys which I had partially concealed in some bushes off to the uphill
side of my hide. I was six or seven yards into the dark forest and it felt safe. Yet he continued to scratch about, glancing at the decoys from time to time. There was no strutting,
only feeding stares. The whole time he was facing directly at this archer and offered abslutely no chance for a shot. I kept telling myself that my Grand Slam was right in front of
me and all I had to do was wait for the right moment.

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He was about 20 yards out. The shot should be a piece of cake. I glanced down to
make sure the arrow was on the rest and nothing was going to get in my way when I pulled
up. Much to my dismay, I noticed some debris on the sight and there was nothing that could be done about it. I would have to ignore it when it came time to aim.

When he finally turned away and put his head down to feed I acted smoothly and
quickly. I arrived at full draw and decided to wait for him to go through a cycle of checking
the area for danger as he had been doing between each series of scratches. He seemed to
take forever to drop that periscope (as I had come to call their heads in frustration many
times before) and I once again thanked High Country for that let-off. The pin was cluttered
with leaf matter that made aiming less than ideal.
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After 26 days of hunting and a string of success, I began to crack. Pressure had been
an integral part of the challenge all along. It made the hunts very serious matters and
added to the enjoyment. But now I couldn’t stop the pin from circling the bird. To top it
off, he took a step forward and it seemed like he would just walk away and I would be frozen there, like a fool. I was screaming at myself to
get it done.

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The arrow struck the bird, who was quartering away, dead center. The force of the 75
pound bow drove him several yards across the field. I’m not sure I remember releasing too
well. It just happened regardless of what was going on in my worn-out mind. I’d like to
think that all the practice had paid off. The gobbler flopped down the ravine and
into the woods. He was done though, for I had seen the strike. I slowly made my way over to the edge of the woods and spotted the magnificent creature. It was clear that he was expiring and, as with any game animal I have ever taken, I backed off to let him spend his last moments in peace. He never knew what hit him and my presence would only add terror to his end. I was happy and sad in a way that I can’t describe but I think a lot of you know
what I’m talking about.

?

It was over. I fell to the ground and just lay there, thinking. My eastern wild turkey was a
few yards away in the West Virginia woods. I didn’t have to get up at 3:30 a.m. tomorrow
and I wasn’t sure I liked that for the sunrise had become a special time filled with anticipation
that each day would be better than the last. I guess they had been.

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