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Published by archerchick on 08 Jul 2011

Muskox with a Bow~By David Richey


Bowhunting World
Febraury 1990

Muskox with a Bow~ By David Richey

The bull was big… and close Ikey Nanegoak, my Inuit guide,
had spotted the muskox bull two miles away across the frozen
tundra of the Northwest Territories. Even at that distance the
animal looked massive.

We parked the snowmobile two miles away and began a methodical
stalk through the frozen rock formations to a boulder only 20 yards from
the unsuspecting bull. The animal was close enough for a bow shot but
we first had to size up its horns and boss to see if it would make
the Pope and Young club record books. The bull’s right horn was massive
We green scored the right side, including the bony boss, at over 65 inches.
Now if the bull would only turn and give us a peek at the left side.

Five minutes later the bull swiveled around the paw at a new patch of snow
for the lichens below, and the left horn was a bitter pill to swallow. It was
broken off eight inches back from the tip, and badly broomed like the horns of a full curl
bighorn ram.

“Too bad,” Ikey said as we started figuring deduction points. “If both horns would have
been equal that would be a new world record muskox.”

My muskox hunt had begun the day before with a grueling sled ride behind Nanegoak’s.
Yamaha snowmobile on a 90-mile journey across frozen Queen Maude Gulf to an
isolated trappers shack at one end of Victoria Island. The island, north of the northwestern
mainland portion of the Northwest Territories (NWT), is one of several NWT islands that
support good muskox herds.

My experience with winter is in Michigan is heavy snow and occasional temperatures
that plunge to zero. It couldn’t prepare me for an April hunt on an Arctic island where the
thermometer often registers 70 degrees below zero.

Snow squeaked underfoot and my nostril hairs froze instantly in the minus 40-degree
temperature as our snowmobile and sled skidded to a halt on Queen Maude Gulf. We’d
just begun my muskox hunt, and four hours after departing from Cambridge Bay on Victoria
Island, we had troubles.

It wasn’t serious yet, but anytime hunters have problems in cold weather, the complexion of
the hunt can change in a moments notice. A whiteout had washed across the barren Gulf, and
robbed us of all visible landmarks and our sense of direction. It was impossible to see the faint
snowmobile track leading across the gulf toward the island shack we would use as our hunt
headquarters.

Conditions can rapidly change in
the arctic, and seconds later the whiteout had
disappeared and was replaced by bright sun-
light.
“Hurry. We go fast, and find the snowmobile track,”
Nanegoak urged.
I didn’t need further encouragement. The
idea of being stranded on the ice when the
bottom fell out of the thermometer is enough
to get anyone moving quickly, despite the
bulky caribou skin parka, skin pants and
mukluks.
We found the old trapping shack two hours
later and just before daylight passed into the
nothingness of an arctic night. The all-white
arctic rock ledge holding the trappers shack
stood out like a sore thumb in the landscape,
but the bone-chilling cold made it look as inviting
as a palace in the tropics.
Nanegoak and l unload food and survival
gear — including an emergency radio -— from
the 24-foot sled that had beat my backside
nearly raw over 90 miles of frozen Queen
Maude Gulf and Victoria Island`s wind-swept
island rock. The sled had pounded its way
over pressure ridges and rocks, and the snow-
mobile had broken a ski en route to our island
shelter.

A quick supper, some quiet conversation
and an hour of listening to Inuits talking on the
radio provided our evening entertainment.
Eight hours of deathlike sleep rallied me
around for the next day ’s hunt.
The day dawned clear, cold and bright, and
with a cherry-red sunrise gave high expectations
of seeing my first muskox. Nanegoak,
from Bathurst Inlet, was making breakfast as I
scratched rime from the tiny window for a
look at the barren landscape.
An arctic white fox was nosing around
near camp, and with two quick shots my cam-
era recorded his image on film. We quickly
ate our breakfast of bacon, eggs, toast and tea,
and began the hour-long process of getting
ready to hunt.

It’s not easy donning caribou skin parkas
and mukluks over other clothing. The skin
garments were tight fitting, and my antics of
pulling on this highly effective Eskimo garb
reminded me of an old lady pulling on her
girdle.
“Today, all I want is to see a muskox,” I
said. “Just get me close enough to a few animals
so I can see what they look like. I want to
gauge just how long the chest hair is, and the
exact location of the heart and lungs in that
massive chest.
“If we find a trophy animal today I’ll hunt
tomorrow. I’d like a rubberneck tour of the
island to see its wildlife and landscape. I don’t
want my hunt to end the first day.” Nanegoak
speaks excellent English, and he promised a
tour that would show me white fox, Peary caribou and muskox.
My butt bounced against the hard wood
seat of the sled as Nanegoak’s snowmobile
pulled me along at 15 miles per hour. Several
white foxes scuttled away through nearby
rockpiles, and Peaiy caribou bounded over
the frozen landscape like youngsters hopping
down a sidewalk on Pogo sticks.

Two hours later I saw what I’d traveled
thousands of air miles to see — muskox.
Nanegoak spotted the first herd nearly two
miles away, and they looked like black lumps
of coal against the snow-covered island rock.
“We’ll stalk closer for a better look,” he
said. “We can get to within 100 yards, and
you can study the animals before you start
hunting.

“Maybe one of the bulls will meet your
requirements. If there’s a big bull in that herd
we can come back tomorrow and stalk him
again. He probably won’t be too far away unless
some wolves move in and chase them
away.”
The stalk went without incident, and
brought us to the close-up vantage point described at the beginning of the story.
“Much of the time muskox horns are
nearly identical Nanegoak said after we discovered
the broomed left horn. “He’s the
largest muskox I’ve ever seen. He’s big, but
with the deduction points he probably wouldn’t
score 100 points. Let’s look for another herd, and maybe we can find something
rnore symmetrical.

Muskox are considered an arctic oddity. It
is neither an ox nor does it exude musk.
Rather, it is a close relative to the bison.
We studied the bull for several minutes. As
an ethical bowhunter, and one concerned with
making a clean kill, it was my wish to determine
the depth of the chest and the length of
the chest hair. An arrow shot too low would
sirnply cut hair from the brisket and allow the
animal to get away. Or, even worse, an arrow
improperly placed may wound the muskox.

We finally left the muskox and walked for
a half-mile before talking. Nanegoak proceeded
to explain the Inuit’s position in guidng muskox
hunters on the arctic islands.
“Muskox thrive on many arctic islands
and in some parts of the mainland Northwest
Territories,” he said. “‘They grow long hair
which offers insulation from extreme cold,
and that hairy pelt enables them to survive
temperatures that can drop to minus 70 degrees.

“These animals are an important food
source for the Eskimo people. Robes are
made from hides, and the meat is eaten. We
treat trophy bulls with respect and these animals
are the only ones we allow sportsmen to
hunt. For our purposes we prefer to eat cows,
calfs and immature muskox bulls.”

Nanegoak said paying hunters may only
take the hide, head, horns and 50 pounds of
meat from their kill. The Eskimo people use
the rest of the meat leaving nothing to waste.
My April hunt, just before the muskox
season ended, came as winter was ending its
six-month grip on the arctic. Even so, Victoria
Island’s evening temperatures plummeted
to minus 40 degrees and only reached IO degrees
below zero during the day.

Our sole consolation that evening was the
trappers cabin. It was snug and warm, heated
by a propane cookstove and a kerosene heater.
The sun had lost its feeble hold on the day’s
warmth, and as it plunged out of sight the temperature
dropped 20 degrees in as many minutes.
Dawn breaks like thunder in the arctic.
The sun popped over the eastern horizon of
Queen Maude Gulf, and one minute it was
dark and the next the world was bathed in
bright sunshine.

“Ready to go hunting?” Nanegoak asked
as the breakfast pancakes, eggs and sausage
were shoveled down. “Today we’ll find other
muskox, locate a big bull and try to get close
enough for a shot. If we have any luck we’ll be
back by dark with a fine trophy bull.”
I wiggled into my parka, pants and mukluks after
dressing in wool pants and a down
jacket. A wool stocking cap kept my ears and
head warm. I was ready.

Nanegoak was warming the snowmobile
as I double checked my Oneida Screaming
Eagle bow. I chose the bow for this hunt be-
cause it is less apt to freeze and snap in the
bitter cold temperatures. Wood bows with
wood or fiberglass limbs may shatter when
used in very cold weather.

The bow performed flawlessly, and I
screwed Game Tracker Terminator Double
Cut broadheads to my 2217 Easton shafts.
Now, all I had to do was to stay warm until we
spotted a muskox herd.
We cruised the seemingly barren island
until we found the muskox. Northwest Territories
law forbids getting closer than two
miles to muskox by snowmobile. If we spotted
some animals we’d have to stalk on foot to
within bow range.

We would ride for 10 minutes, approach
the top of a hill and park just below the crest.
Ikey and I would sneak up to the ridge and
glass for muskox. Two hours passed before
we spotted a muskox herd.

“No big bulls in that herd,” Nanegoak
said after glassing the animals. “There are 14
small bulls, cows and yearlings but nothing of
trophy size. Let’s go back to the snowmobile
and try another area.”
The sharp-eyed Inuit spotted another herd
three hours later. He pulled the snowmobile
and sled to a halt below a windswept ridge,
and studied the herd intently before giving me
a thumbs-up sign.

‘“There’s one big bull in that herd,” Nanegoak said.
“The big one is with a smaller bull,
and they are 200 yards from 12 other muskox.
Get ready, and we’ll go on foot from here.
Stay low, and we’ll follow this ridge line until
we reach that rock pile. Then we’ll move to-
ward the animals, and you’d better pray that
another rock outcropping is there to provide
cover. Grab your bow, and let’s go.”

He led me on a slow stalk toward the herd.
It was easy for the first mile but then we had to
crouch low and run from boulder to boulder to
reach a shallow depression that offered good
cover. It gave us cover for another half-mile.
Nanegoak suggested we rest for a moment
behind a huge boulder while he crawled to the
top of a ridge to check the big bull. He wiggled
through three inches of snow to glass the
muskox, and several minutes later was back
wearing a broad grin,
“We’re still a half-mile from the bull and
he’s big,” the guide said. “His horns will
score at least 100 Pope and Young points, and
perhaps a bit more.

That was great news. The minimum score
to enter a muskox in the prestigious Pope and
Young scoring competition is 65 points. Any
animal over 90 points is a trophy to be proud
of, and a bull that scores above 100 points is
exceptional .

We began a rock to rock stalk that took 30
minutes before we crawled within 50 yards of
the big bull. Now the big and the small bull
were only 100 yards from the herd as they
slowly fed toward that direction.
We had run out of cover. We stalked as
close as we could without moving into the
open, and now the bull was close, but still too
far away for a bow shot.
“Can you hit him from here?” Nanegoak
asked as he apparently read my mind. “It’s a
long bow shot but it may be tough getting
closer.”

I practice shooting my bow year-round,
but most of my shots are at 30 yards or less.
I’m competent at that range but never practice
at 50 yards simply because I prefer getting
closer or not taking a shot.

“It`s too far,” I said. “We either have to get
closer or find another bull in an area where we
can stalk to within 30 yards.”
For me, the thrill of the hunt lies in the
stalk and knowing a good shot can be made.
Wounding a big game animal is a sin, and the
thought of a 50-yard shot was something I
wasn’t prepared to try.
Nanegoak thought about the problem before his fact lit up.
“Old Eskimo trick,” he said. “We’ll walk
slowly and as close as possible until the
muskox turn, and then we stop. I’ll move
slowly across in front of them, and as they
watch me, you move closer. Just move slow
and quiet, and move only when they stare in
my direction.”
We moved slowly out from cover, and I felt
as exposed as a nudist in church. We began
walking toward the two bulls, and when they
sensed our movement their heads turned our
way.

We stopped and stood motionless for 30
seconds. Nanegoak began walking slowly
across in front of the bulls, and they looked
his way. My mukluks made little sound as I
eased forward, a step at a time, in a completely
exposed stalk.
The guide would move, and the bulls
would face the moving man. Then it was my
turn, and soon I sensed that slow movements
didn’t disturb the animals. I sneaked to within
30 yards before determining that it was time to
draw and shoot.

My Screaming Eagle came to full draw,
and the 30—yard pin snugged down low behind
the front shoulder of the big bull.
It was a good hit, and 20 seconds later the
bull lurched off on a short run. It staggered
and fell after running only 50 yards. The Double
Cut broadhead had done a good job of
cutting through thick hair and hide, and the
bull was dead within 30 seconds of the hit.
It was a thrilling hunt. The kill was anticlimatic
compared to the unique open-ground
stalk, spending several days with my young
Inuit guide, and learning more about myself
and the land I hunted.

Make no mistake about it: Muskox hunting
is not for the faint hearted. The weather
during an arctic winter is brutally cold, and
all bowhunting equipment must function
properly. And one costly mistake can jeopradize
the life of a careless hunter.

However, in this day and age it is a hunt
where sportsmen have an excellent chance of
scoring on a Pope and Young record-book animal.
The animals are majestic in their all-
white environment, and both the hunt and the
terrain is fascinating.

Now, my 100 6/ 8-inch record-book
muskox is mounted life size. It reminds me of
a wild and free land, and the stark beauty of
the arctic environment is forever etched in my
memory.
This trip proved that Canada ’s wild North-
west Territories offers great bow hunting
action . . . even in the dead of winter. Perhaps
one day I will return, and relive one of the
most memorable hunts of my career.

EDITOR ’S NOTE: David Richey has been
a fulltime outdoor writer-photographer for
more than 21 years, and this article was based ‘
on a hunt he made in April 1988. It was his
seventh trip to the Northwest Territories.

Richey is the staff outdoor columnist for
The Detroit News, Michigan’s largest daily
newspaper and the fifth largest in North
America. He rates his midwinter arctic experience
as one of the finest in his many years of
traveling around the world in search of magazine articles.
He and his wife, a well-known fish and
wild game cook, live on a 100 percent diet of
fish and game taken on their trips. >>—>

ARCHIVED BY
www.ARCHERYTALK.com
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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Published by archerchick on 08 Jul 2011

Adventures in Antelope~ By Rick Sapp


BOWHUNTING WORLD
June 1989

Adventures in Antelope ~ By Rick Sapp

?

At the moment, momma and the kids were relaxing by an indoor heated
pool at a plush motel in the Black Hills which, according to the Black Hills
Chamber of Commerce, is one of America‘s top family vacation destinations. They were
going to see Mount Rushmore and Bear Country U.S.A. and Devil ’s Tower. They
would pay to watch “incredible trained animals operate the Bewitched Village” at the
Reptile Gardens near Rapid City. If they really got lucky, the Ghosts of Deadwood Gulch
Wax Museum wouldn’t have closed for the season and, of course, everyone was excited
about the dino dogs and bronto-burgers served at the Flintstones “original” Bedrock
City.

?

Not dad, though. Dad was sitting in a hole in the ground, in the dark. Dad was shivering
because the wind was blowing 40 miles an hour and because it was raining and, occasionally,
hailing. Dad, dressed for temperatures in the 70s when the chill factor was in the
20s, was catching his death of cold. No “Family Approved Attractions” for dad. Instead, dad
was having fun! He was bowhunting antelope. I was an incredibly lucky man. Oh, not
lucky to miss the dino dogs or the 20-minute Rushmore blasting movie at Rushmore-Borglum
Story with mom and the kids, not really. I was lucky because in the most miserable weather
I could imagine for September in Wyoming, with pale yellow smoke belching out of Yellowstone Park 250 miles northwest and filtering eerily through my blind, a fine pronghorn antelope buck was walking into my shooting lane on Frank and Elaine Moore’s Spearhead Ranch.

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Unquestionably, the opportunity to bow-hunt pronghorns is an adventure that should
involve the entire family. You can drop your spouse (wife or husband) and children in the
Black Hills where they can enjoy some of the most spectacular tourist sights since the
invention of neon and plastic and, just 100 miles farther west, you will find some of the finest
pronghorn hunting in the U.S. Everyone will be happy and you’ll be a hero. Now, it isn’t
very often you have that chance, is it?

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Bowhunting Antelope

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Antelope are open country grazers and September is an ideal month to bowhunt them
in Wyoming. Because they water several times during the day, alone or in groups, the
most productive way to bowhunt these prairie speedsters is by ambush at a waterhole. They
can be stalked, but because their vision is eight times more acute than a human’s, stalking t
hem is tough and usually requires longer range accuracy than most bowhunters can
muster.

?

Ambushing antelope requires discipline and endurance. If you are hunting from an
open ground blind or sitting above a watering tank strapped to a windmill, you’ll need to be
extremely careful with your movements – from early in the morning until dark. In this
respect, bowhunting antelope is like bow-hunting whitetails. You can not predict when
they will come to water, but they do come, every day, and that fact is consolation for
endless hours alone in a blind.

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Make your hours in a blind comfortable. Take a book, lunch and a full water bottle.
Don’t forget a pee bottle and a roll of toilet tissue, either. Take a bag of hard candy or
chewing gum. If the blind is open, you’ll need protection from the sun and wind. Because
the prairie is glaringly bright through midday, you’ll be glad you remembered polarized
sun glasses such as the popular sportsmens’ glasses made by Bushnell. On the high
prairies, the wind is a continual companion and you’ll need a lip balm like Chap Stick or
Overcast 15 Sunscreen. And, if you have hacked your blind out of the hard prairie,
you’ll want a cushion like a Therm-a-Seat to ease the pain on your backside. Although
designed more for protection during cold weather, the beauty of the Therm-a-Seat is
that the multiple thorns, stickers and prairie cactus can’t destroy it, because the foam seat
is puncture-proof.

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The same gear you use bowhunting whitetails is fine for antelope. A full-grown buck
antelope weighs less than 100 pounds. Remember, though, that a blind is a restrictive
shooting environment, so whatever you hunt with, arrange it in the blind so that you can
come to full draw quietly, with a minimum of visible movement and with total clearance for
your bow and arrow.

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When antelope come in to a water hole or cattle feed station, they’re alert with their eyes
and ears – but not their nose. I’ve never had a problem with human odor when bowhunting
antelope from ground blinds; either I’m buried in the ground and surrounded with aromatic sage
or they’ve seen my movement from hundreds of yards and refuse to come in. Generally, antelope will study a water hole from 100 yards to a quarter mile away, watching for danger before they come in. Then, it will be at a run. If you’re dozing, you’ll open your eyes to find the prairie goats already in your shooting lane. Don`t rush! They will probably put their heads down once or twice
only to jerk them back up suddenly and look around. When they do put them down for good, they’ll take a long drink. Draw then, relax and take your shot.

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I drew the “Grandpa Blind” the night before the hunt began on the Spearhead Ranch.
Frank oriented us to the blinds and the hunting procedures and then Elaine filled us with
barbecue chicken, home-made biscuits, potatoes and spinach salad. The weather looked
threatening, but after a year of drought, Frank admitted he was torn between praying for rain
and realizing that rain and wind made the bowhunting difficult, even in his fully-enclosed blinds.

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Monday, I was lucky. I had antelope at the blind several times: bucks, with horns above
their ears and black cheek patches; does, with the characteristic, tiny twisted horns only a
few inches in height; and fawns. It was the first day, so I waited, just enjoying the show.
What were mom and the kids doing while I was hunched over in this incredibly lousy
weather? Sleeping in. An omelette, pancake and bacon breakfast. A dip in the covered,
heated pool. Video games. A warm nap and on and on.

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Tuesday, I was lucky again. I put on every stitch of clothing I had brought except Monday’s underwear: a reversible Fieldline camo jacket, one side quiet cloth and the other a
nylon shell, helped protect me from the chill wind blowing through the cracks in the blind.
A Bob Fratzke Winona Camo knit sweater and a light pair of 100 percent polypropylene
long underwear from Kenyon Products in Rhode Island helped my body retain heat during
a long day.

Antelope moved to the blind’s water and cattle feed late in the day. At 4:45 p.m., eight
does and fawns wandered in, fed, watered and moved away. At 5:30, nine does and fawns
and one good buck, his horns well above his ears, appeared. I eased into position and
waited. From a kneeling position, the shot was slightly uphill. As the buck moved from
feed to water, through the crowd of antelope, I drew, aimed and released. The 2317 Easton
shaft tipped with the 125-grain, three-blade Terminator Double Cut broadhead, propelled
by my 67-pound American Timberwolf cam bow, speared the buck in mid-stride, crushing
its left shoulder and projecting out the opposite side. It ran 100 yards and piled up.

?

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As the adrenaline subsided and my heart dropped down out of my throat, I wondered
what mom and the kids were doing. Were they gawking at the “mechanical cowboy band and eight-foot jackalope” at Wall Drug, an hour east of the Black Hills? Were they listening to
“PeeWee Van Family” present an original mountain and country music show, “hillbilly-
style,” at the Mountain Music Show three miles north of Custer? Heck, I still had time to
join them, maybe even on the 400-foot-long twister slide at Rushmore Waterslide Park
where, “The water’s heated and the fun is non-stop.”

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“Hey, wait for me kids! Guess what I did in Wyoming. I was in this hunting blind on the
Spearhead Ranch, see, looking for a big buck antelope and one day …. ”

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Moore’s View

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I was lucky to have a big black-horned buck walk into my shooting lane the second day of my antelope hunt at Frank and Elaine Moore’s Spearhead Ranch in Converse County, Wyoming, 100 miles west of the Black Hills. It gave this Mid-Westemer time to tour the ranch and ask owner Frank
Moore a few questions which evenings in the bunkhouse might not have allowed.

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Frank, how did you and Elaine get started on the Spearhead Ranch?

My great granddad came to Wyoming as a cowpuncher on a trail drive a century ago and got work on the Ogalalla Ranch. In those days, the big spreads were owned by cattle barons who lived in England. For them, having a ranch in Wyoming was like having a cabin in the mountains would be for us. After a couple tough winters, though, they lost a lot of money. When they sold out, my great granddad ended up with the Ogalalla and it’s come down through the family ever since. Daddy bought the Spearhead, adjacent to the Ogalalla, in ’72 and Elaine and I sold a farm near Douglas and moved up to operate it. The Spearhead and the Ogalalla are about 40,000 acres each. By “big ranch” standards, the Spearhead’s not that big…but it’s still a big ranch.

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For bowhunters who’ve never been to Eastern Wyoming, how would you describe
the landscape where they’ll be bowhunting antelope?

It’s rolling grassland, good short grass prairie; probably some of the best grass country
in the state. The Spearhead is predominantly covered with native gamma grass and
sage. It doesn’t look like a lot of feed out there, because ’88 was very dry, but this is
good grass with lots of punch to it. It’s really good feed. Aside from having huntable populations of antelope, elk, turkey, whitetails and muleys, we run 2,500 sheep and 450 cows. According to the Game & Fish people, antelope and sheep feed on different things, but it’s basically the same: gamma grass – and sage in the winter.

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How did you get started outfitting bow-hunters?

Elaine and I started guiding hunters as a personal business, a way to make a little extra
income. In ’78, we had our first bowhunters on the ranch and the season went pretty well,
even with a lot of mistakes on our part. Pretty soon, though, we started making a little bit of
a name. With ranching being as poor a business as it has been the last couple years, a lot of
people are turning to hunting for income. When I got into the outfitting business, people looked
at me like I was crazy, but now there are a bunch doing it. It has turned into another source of income for the ranch. Bowhunting got into my blood in a hurry. In ’80, I killed my first deer with a bow and was hooked. I shoot a Bear recurve, because I need something mechanically simple that I
can throw in the back of the truck, something that can stand some abuse and won’t end up
tearing up before I need it.

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How do hunting and ranching get along?

Not real well. Better now that I’ve gotten support from the family, though. Fall is a busy
time of year on a ranch. I have to work hard before and after hunting season to make up for
it. It’s just something you have to work around. There’s a certain amount of conflict between outfitting and my own hunting. I can fit the business into the ranch, but when I try to I
fit my own bowhunting time in, too, something has to give. Somebody has to take up the
slack for me. Outfitting hunters is a lot of work. People try to figure out the kind of money you’re
making and they think you’re really hauling it in, but it’s not a business to get rich on. For
me, because I already have the ranch and ranching covers most of my overhead expenses, outfitting is a good source of income. Still, it takes a lot of work year round trying to
stay on top of things. Annually, it’s probably a quarter of my time.

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What ’s the future of bowhunting out here?

It’s getting bigger all the time. Game & Fish really struggles to manage antelope populations. They can’t control winter weather and if they don’t control the hunting kill, they end up with a lot of antelope, but no trophies. Because I take does off every year and strictly control the hunting, I’ve still got antelope on my place that’ll go 16 inches. I’d say the herd quality is as good now as it has
ever been. The reason I can maintain good herd quality is that bowhunters won’t take the cream of
the crop. They just can’t do it. They’ll take a lot of antelope and they’ll take nice ones, but
they can’t shoot them at long range. So, I have good success with bowhunters and still have
quality, year after year.

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I do have to take some gun hunters, though. I’d like to just take bowhunters, but I
can’t get enough kill to maintain herd balance. With 2,000 antelope on the ranch, I
should take 150 to 200 every year. I don’t have any problem at all with rifle hunters,
but as a rule, bowhunters are more serious. They’re out there to hunt, not just have
a good time. They’re serious about their hunting, because they have to be. Rifle hunters
know they’re going to get something. We’ve been 100 percent with rifle hunters…it’s not
a problem. It’s just a matter of what they want. That’s almost secondary to rifle
hunters, though. They’re there to have some fun and BS and get away from home.

?

Tell me about your facilities. Your bunkhouse is two heavy-duty 24×60 foot trailers joined at the middle. It has a kitchen and dining room, toilets for men and women, complete shower and bath facilities, separate rooms for every two to four hunters and even a washer and dryer.

?

Our bunkhouse is a wilderness oil field camp. It came out of Canada. It’s designed for
a crew to live in way back in the woods, when they have to stay until they get a job completed.
It’s built heavy duty so oil field roughnecks can’t tear it up. Roughnecks are a pretty
hard bunch and they don’t take good care of things. That’s why it’s got the funny doors like
you see on walk-in coolers. The bunkhouse can handle 27 hunters at a time, but the ranch itself can easily handle 30. Years ago, when the law allowed open hunting, it wouldn’t be unusual to have over 100 hunters out there. To be able to provide the kind of service I think you should provide, l2
is the most I can take and still get to know people, provide a hunt they feel is a quality experience and not just a commercial operation that’s only running people through to get their money.

?

Frank, my blind was triangular. It measured eight feet to a side and the plywood
walls were sunk in the ground three feet. With the awful weather we’ve had this
week, I was glad it was covered, too. And it wasn’t a problem sitting still for a couple
days when I could sit in a bucket seat out of a car. How did you learn to build such
terrific blinds?

?

We started with pit blinds. Although they were hard to dig, they worked well; but they
don’t work for just anybody. You’ve got to be a dedicated hunter and willing to sit still, because
you just can’t make a pit blind concealed enough for someone who hasn’t bowhunted
much. Then we went to blinds made from hay bales. They were naturals and they held your
scent in, but they were hard to build. It took about a pickup load of hay per blind and, as a
rule, you lost half the hay. You lost more than half the feed value of the hay while it was just
sitting there exposed to the sun, too. And hay bale blinds deteriorate pretty fast. People get
excited and knock the sides down when they get something, or cattle knock them down.

?

So, I wanted to go to something easier to work with and something more permanent.
After a lot of trial and error, we eventually went to solid wall panels and then buried
them. They had looked bad when they were totally above ground. So, it was trial and
error. And a bowhunter here a couple years ago suggested the bucket seats – $5 from a
junk yard in Casper! These blinds are easier to maintain and a lot more comfortable than
anything else I know of.

?

You have 10 years in the business of outfitting bowhunters. What should a bow-hunter ask when he books a hunt here or elsewhere?

?

l’d say, just talk for a while about the general hunting situation and get a feel for the
outfitter to see if you like and trust the person first. Then ask about the quality and about the
distance of shots. Ask about the percentage of people getting shots, not about the percentage
of kills, because kills depend on the quality of bowhunter you’ve got in a blind. Get some references and then call them. Find out if the outfitter is telling the truth, if he’s honest. That’s really all you’re booking the hunt on. If he doesn’t tell you the truth, you’re going to get a bad hunt. To me, that’s the most important thing.

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Published by kr5639 on 21 Apr 2011

ARMGUARD/Gear Pocket with Call Strap by Neet

I have found this armguard has many uses outside of just archery.  I was able to put a tackle box in the pocket and used 2 wine bottle corks by attaching to the call strap and it worked great for fishing.

I bought it from Neet (item N-AGP-1) and it can be found in the new 2011 catalog.

http://www.neet.com/contact.html

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Published by billhowardoutdoors on 07 Apr 2011

Persistence Pays

My daughter has always been interested in my hunting and fishing trips. Several years ago, I carried her out to the field to let her shoot the old Ithaca 20 gauge shotgun I grew up with to get her used to handling it so she could go on a dove hunt with my dad, my son, and I. The kick did not bother her, but she hated the BANG. She wanted no part of gun hunting.
Over the last few years, she has wanted to go bow hunting with me, and she has helped me when I was practicing several times. We purchased another bow for my son this Christmas, since he had outgrown the youth bow we had for him. Naturally, it became a hand down to Julianne. I had to adjust the draw length and draw weight for her, but at the time, she still could not pull the bow back. I told her to keep practicing pulling it back and by spring when the red horse sucker fish make their annual run, she could go bow fishing with me.
Bow fishing in itself is a very unique style. It is set up with a line attached to a heavy solid core arrow, tipped with a barbed point. When aiming, the saying goes “aim low”, because the refraction of the light through the water makes the fish appear at a higher angle. Think of looking at a straw in a glass of water. The straw is not really bent, but it looks that way through the glass. Also, unlike bow hunting, where you are trying to get a clean kill by hitting the vitals, bow fishing just requires you to hit the fish. Your object is to get the fish on the arrow and then bring it in.
Well, over the first few months of this year, Julianne pulled and pulled and pulled. Finally one night, she called me and my wife into the living room. “Watch! I can pull it back now!” Her excitement caused my son to roll his eyes!
Just as they do every year, the sucker fish made their spawn in late March, and as I had promised, the first night I saw they were running I carried Julianne out to the creek banks. For a period of a week, and easily over a hundred attempts, and through several bow fishing arrows (the rocky bottom of the creek is not that great on the fish points) Julianne and I attempted to get her first take with a bow. We went at night using a light, went during the day using polarized glasses, I honestly believe she probably went in her dreams while sleeping. Occasionally she would take a break, and my son and I would get a few fish, then she would be at it again.
My regular job allows me to work four days each week, and during the sucker run, my weekday off was on a Friday. I usually carry the kids to school on my day off, so I made my usual track. After dropping my son off at high school, we still had an hour before Julianne was due at middle school. I looked over at her and asked, “Wanna try one shot?”
She answered, but did not need to. We ran out to the creek. She strapped on her release while I was driving. “Julianne, do you know what the saying is for snipers?”
“No, daddy.”
“One shot, one kill. They cannot afford to shoot twice because the second shot will give away their cover. We’ve only got time for one shot this morning, and there is no guarantee the fish will be here this afternoon.”
We walked down to the bank and spotted several fish. They were a little too far, so I motioned for her to follow me upstream a few yards. There we spotted one about ten feet out. I had Julianne pull back her bow. “Now?” she asked. I whispered to her to take the shot when she was ready. And ‘twang’, ‘splash’. She backed up a few feet.
“You got one!” She had not even noticed. We both grabbed the line, and pulled it up on the shore.
Her persistence had paid off, and now there is another kid hooked to the outdoors.

Bill Howard’s columns can be read at www.billhowardoutdoors.com

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Published by Double s on 01 Apr 2011

REMINDER: No Selling. This is for Archery, Hunting Blogs & Articles only.

Selling is NOT allowed in the ArcheryTalk Articles and Blogs. For sale or trade items belong only in the ArcheryTalk Classifieds. Posts selling or trading will be deleted. This section is for Articles and Blogs related to Archery and Bow Hunting. Any post not related to Archery or Bow hunting will be considered Spam and trashed and the user deleted. Questions about Bows, Equipment, etc. need to go into the Archerytalk Forum under the correct section. Spammers will be automatically deleted.

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Published by archerchick on 21 Feb 2011

Big Country Big Elk ~By Mike Kroetsch


Bow and Arrow Hunting
June 1990

Big Country Big Elk By Mike Kroetsch?

This First-time Elk Hunter Must Be Prepared- Here Are Tips From A Pro

” I CAN’T BELIEVE how big they are!” Bill said. This was one
of the first statements he made following our initial introductions.
Not knowing exactly what he was referring to. I asked him to elaborate.
“Elk”, he explained, “I never realized they were so big.”Bill was a first-time
elk hunter on his first western, guided hunt. Like many others, Bill was
also an avid midwestern, whitetail bowhunter who had longed to hunt the
elusive wapiti.

?

Earlier in the year, Bill had booked a hunt with my father-in-law, Judd
Cooney, and myself for a September bowhunt. He had arrived a day early
and was practicing on our backyard bow range when my Labrador retriever just
happened to walk by with the foreleg of a big five-by-five bull we had taken
earlier in the week. Bill had never even seen a live elk in the wild; it was the size
of the hoof that amazed him! Elk are big. An average Rocky Mountain bull will be
three to five times larger than a good, average whitetail buck, depending on where
you live. Most mature bulls will be in the six hundred to eight hundred pound range,
which is a lot of critter, no matter how you weigh it.

?

Big animals need big country and that’s exactly where elk live. These are
the two main factors to keep in mind when preparing for a guided or unguided
western elk hunt. In talking to prospective and first-time elk hunters we get a lot
of the same questions pertaining to how to prepare for elk hunting and what to
expect when they arrive.

?

Some of the questions: What kind of shape do I need to begin? How heavy a bow
do I need? What will the weather be like? What kind of accessories will I need?
Entire books have been written to answer these questions and every guide and
elk hunting authority has his own opinions. I believe that most of these questions
and more can be addressed by keeping the concept of BIG in mind. Big animals;
big country.

?

In many ways elk are like whitetails. They live most of their lives in a pattern,
with the exception of a few weeks during the rut. Elk, like whitetails, are
ruminants which means they will move to feed and water, then to cover to chew
their cud and rest. Other than both being members of the deer family, this is
where most of the similarities end.

?

Unlike whitetails, the distance elk will travel to and from feeding and bedding
areas is often measured in miles, not yards. They take big steps when traveling
with a purpose. A hunter jogging cannot keep up with an elk walking
through the woods. With their long legs and high clearance, elk step over logs
and go easily through brush that a hunter must scramble over and fight to get
through.

?

Elk seem to enjoy rugged terrain. They prefer to bed in heavy timber and
on northern or eastern side hills so they are out of the sun and can look down at
approaching danger. Because of their large body mass, thick coats and poor
cooling systems, elk prefer cool, shaded areas in which to spend their days. Elk
will migrate to and from these areas morning and night to graze and feed in
meadows and open parks. These are all factors to consider when preparing for
an elk hunt.

?

Unless you know you’ll be hunting exclusively out of tree stands over
wallows or licks, get in the best physical shape possible. Jogging and riding
bicycles are great ways to get your cardiovascular system in shape, but you
don’t do either while hunting. To prepare physically for an elk hunt, put on
your hunting boots and shoulder your loaded hunting pack and get out and
walk. Find the steepest, most rugged terrain around and utilize it to walk up
and down. Train at least twenty minutes a day, a minimum of a month to six
weeks before your hunt; preferably longer. If you are paying someone to guide
you, don’t cheat yourself out of opportunities in more remote areas by being
out of shape, unable to keep up with your guide.


?

The archery equipment necessary to hunt elk doesn’t have to be big in terms
of speed or excessive draw weight, just big on simplicity and efficiency. Use as
heavy a bow as you can shoot consistently and accurately. Excessively high-
arrow speeds aren’t necessary, but momentum and kinetic energy are. I was
recently at an indoor bowhunter shoot here in elk country and was amazed at
the number of shooters who were “over-bowed.” At least seventy-five percent of
the shooters had to point their arrows at the sky to draw their bows. After fifteen
or twenty arrows they were played out and couldn’t shoot accurately.

?

Elk may be big, but they aren’t dumb and have excellent eyesight. Excessive movement
when drawing a bow and aiming will spook them almost every time. Don’t be
fooled into the notion that your compound has to be cranked up to it’s maximum
poundage or that you have to buy a new Neanderthal-limbed stick bow to
hunt elk.

?

Accuracy and shot placement, not poundage and arrow speed, are the keys
to downing an elk. Because a bull offers a large body mass to shoot at doesn’t
mean that a hunter can get away with less than pin-point accuracy. A poorly
placed shot leads to a wounded animal with an incredible amount of stamina
and endurance that can travel great distances before expiring. Often, even a
well hit elk will travel up to a hundred yards or more before leaving any kind of
blood trail. This is due to their thick hide and long hair, as well as the speed
with which they cover the distance.

?

A well placed arrow still may not be enough to kill an elk if the broadhead
that tips it is inefficient in its cutting abilities, Broadhead selection has a lot to do
with the arrow shaft size and bow draw weight a hunter is using. No matter what
the equipment choices are, the broad-heads, arrows and bow should be well
matched and fine tuned before venturing afield after the wily wapiti. Generally,
the lighter a bow’s draw weight, the more tapered the head should be to
increase the penetration through an elk’s tough hide and thick muscle.

?

A tapered cutting blade will begin to slice the instant it makes contact with an animal.
It takes less force to cut through an elk’s hide than it does to punch a hole in it
with a bullet- or chisel-point broadhead. Stay away from flimsy or tricky heads. Tapered,
fixed-bladed heads like the Zwickeys and Bear Razorheads, or for heavier draw-weight
bows, replaceable two-blade Andersons and Thunderheads, offer good penetration and
excellent secondary cutting action. In an animal which is big enough to stop complete
penetration and often not allow an exit wound, secondary cutting causing
internal hemorrhage and blood loss can mean the difference between a lost
animal and a trophy on the wall.

?

When a complete shoot-through has not occurred — which is quiet often in
elk —- the role of the broadhead becomes even more important. A two-
bladed head will move and slice like a double-edged scalpel as the elk walks or
runs after being hit, because of the single cutting plane design of the head
and the leverage of the arrow shaft being moved by the elk’s muscles. A three or
four-blade head has two or three planes of cutting which opens large holes on
contact, but tends to hold the broadhead in place in the internal tissue. Since a
three or four-blade head moves around less internally, there is less secondary
cutting and thus less internal damage.

?

Whatever head style is used, it must be extremely durable and always rather
sharp. An elk hunter must be aware of how his broadheads, arrows and bow shoot
in all kinds of conditions from many angles and positions. Most elk country
isn’t flat. Rain and even snow can usually be expected during a hunt of
even a week or less. Shot lengths can vary from a bugled-in bull at ten yards to
grazing animals at forty-plus yards. If you’re not accurate and confident at longer
distances, don’t shoot! However, keep in mind that some areas, vegetation and
terrain may not be conducive to the fifteen- and twenty-yard shots many
bowhunters limit themselves to.

?

Fall weather in elk country is anything but predictable, so the type of
clothing needed is pretty difficult to pin down. If a hunter will pack for the
worst and hope for the best, he’ll usually have the right combination of clothing.
Temperatures can range from hot to freezing,often in a matter of hours, so the
layered method of dressing is most efficient. As the weather or a hunter’s own
body temperature fluctuates, he can take off or put on layers as needed. Polar or
arctic fleece garments are quiet and comfortable and will remain fairly warm even
when wet. If a hunt is planned for early in the season, I have found that a light
jacket or camo netting may be all that is needed.

?

A Gore-Tex or other waterproof rain suit is always nice to have along even if only the
pants are used to stay dry on those early morning hikes through the dewy wet underbrush
and tall grass. Upon reaching the area to be hunted, the noisy rain gear should be
taken off to facilitate a quiet stalk. Whatever clothing is used, it should be quiet and pliable.

?

The West is a big place with a great variety of vegetation and cover for the
habitat. Depending on where and when a hunt is to take place, the color and
type of camouflage that will be the most efficient at concealing a hunter will
vary. Grays and browns like the Trebark and Realtree patterns will
generally blend in just about anywhere from sagebrush to aspens. Dark green
and black tiger stripe works great if elk are to be pursued in the pines or dark
timber. Always camouflage your face and head to break up your human silhouette.
Face paints and creams work better than netting during long days afield and won’t
restrict peripheral vision or get tangled in the brush.

?

Accessories can play a big part in the success and enjoyment of any western
hunt. A day pack or fanny pack is almost essential. Use it as a “possibles”
bag for toting your extra gear. As a guide, my gear includes: fire starter, a
butane lighter and waterproof container of matches, a small first-aid kit, flares or
a signaling device. It also has an extra knife, compact sharpening stone, folding
saw, rope, two flashlights and extra batteries, with an extra candy bar or two.
That’s not all; there’s also a poncho ground cloth, game bags, compass and
topo maps, toilet paper, flagging tape and, of course, my lunch.

?

With these essentials and a little ingenuity, I’m confident I can meet just
about any situation that arises out in the woods. It may sound like a lot, but it all
neatly compacts together in my day pack. When I’m familiar with the area I
hunt or guide in, I don’t generally carry a canteen unless I’m hunting in a location
where I know there aren’t any fresh springs. If you are not sure of water
quality, treat, filter, or boil it before drinking. Giardialamblia and other contaminants
may be present in even the cleanest, clearest looking water.

?

One of the most often overlooked accessories by first-time elk hunters is a
set of quality optics. Good binoculars are essential for spotting game and planning
stalks. They are also a great help in identifying shapes and animals in dense
brush and timber. Aside from a hunter’s archery equipment, a good set of binoculars
will be one of the most expensive equipment purchases he should make.
Plan on using them often and buy the highest quality you can afford.

?

I feel absolutely inadequate without a set of Bausch & Lomb 7×24 Discoverer
compact binoculars around my neck while stalking or bugling for elk This past
season, I bugled in a nice five-by-five bull for a hunter who, because he didn’t use
his binoculars, turned and asked me how many tines the bull had. The bull saw
his movement or heard him speak and bolted before the hunter had a chance
to even think about shooting, If I’m hunting in open country where I’m spending
a greater amount of time glassing and can effectively anchor my position so I
have little binocular movement, I opt for a larger, heavier pair of binoculars like
Swarovski 7x42s or a good spotting scope. A larger set of binoculars will ease
eye strain by being easier to steady and they will also tend to be brighter, because
the larger glass elements pass more light.

?

Elk hunting is an addictive sport. Once you’ve had a big bull come to your
bugle, watched a herd graze across a meadow and seemingly disappear into
the woods, or better yet, harvested a trophy, you’ll be hooked. Bill was one of
those hunters who got hooked after his first elk hunt Bill didn’t harvest an elk. He
stalked several, but couldn’t get a shot. His respect for the size of elk as well as their
elusiveness grew daily throughout his hunt Together, we glassed and hunted
many miles of country. One morning, we sighted eight different bulls, but
couldn’t get in a position for a shot on any one of them.

?

The next morning, Bill was nearly run over by a bull, but was stopped from shooting
by a large bunch of oak brush between him and the moving bull. The fifth morning
was another eventful one in which he managed to work his way into the middle of a
bedded herd. Bill was astonished when a large cow got up not fifteen feet from him.
He had stalked right past her while his attention was on the herd bull. The young bull
actually walked toward him and gave him a broadside shot at less
than twenty yards.

Once again Bill couldn’t shoot; the bull was only a three-by-three and, since our area has a
four-point minimum antler point restriction, he couldn’t release an arrow. That was all the elk experiences Bill could handle. He went home a satisfied hunter and maybe a bit relieved, too,
knowing not only that he could have taken that bull, but that he had gained an admiration and respect for the big animals and the big country in which elk live.

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Published by archerchick on 21 Feb 2011

High Country Elk~ By Jim Dougherty


Bow and Arrow Hunting
June 1990

High Country Elk ~ By Jim Dougherty
New Mexico Offers Ideal Elk Habitat – But the Bowhunter Must Do His Part!

IT WAS NOT should we push, but how hard’? We were mulling it over.
Actually I was leaving it up to Dirk Neal. The bull bawled again, blasting a
classic double-octave screech that banged at us through the timber, daring
us to come on. He had reached his limit, moved as near as he was going to; his
defiant screams were ebbing, farther away.

?

It had felt so good at the beginning. We had perfect wind, perfect terrain, the
right bull, or so it seemed then. I just knew he was coming. Now it was
falling apart; we were losing him. It was crunch time, the last day. Neal
motioned that we would push; no more waiting. Waiting wasn’t going to get the
elk. I had been thinking about it all year, thinking about another go at elk in a
remote spot on some faraway mountain; thinking about country I had never seen;
thinking, maybe, it would change my luck. I spent the summer dreaming
about yellow aspens turning golden, of clean alpine ridges above the deep, dark
timbered canyons, where, right then, while I was dreaming, a big bull was
putting the finishing touches on his antlers. We were together then, the bull
and I, last summer, getting ready for fall.

?

Though she admits to being facetious — she knows how important a good bull
is — my wife considers any elk a good elk, a perspective difficult to argue. Dis-
playing the practical side of her heritage — ancestors who tamed Utah and Idaho
when an elk equated to the urgent expediency of retarding hunger — she
claims antlers make poor soup. In her book, elk are the best big game for the
able. And, though she knows full well that collecting an elk at today’s excursion
prices is not a cost-saver, it is still a far better deal than most of my
escapades. So, when l strike out in search, she is inclined to add, ” get one”
is her “good luck” goodbye kiss.


?

This time there would be no options.

?

No fat cow would turn my head. No mediocre bull would do. It was an all-
out catch-a-good-bull or come-home- empty-handed effort. If the bottom of
the freezer glared, let it. I could always catch a whitetail or two to help us
through the winter.

?

None of us seriously considered record-breaking bulls as we spent the
day crossing Oklahoma and Texas to New Mexico. Sure, you can dabble in
dreams; we all have the right to hope. It was not up to me to dash cold water on
the hopes of my friend, George Bennett, or my son, Holt, on the eve of their first
elk bowhunt. Certainly, I agreed, a huge bull was possible, but as a practical matter,
based on some experience hunting and killing elk, I was not about to pass
up three-hundred inches in hopes something bigger was over the next ridge. I’ve
done that, not within the exact dimensions outlined, but the scenario was the
same. I will always regret it.

?

We were not in a position to play the passing game, a game that requires
plenty of time, good elk savvy, lots of elk and a generous sprinkling of luck.
We had six days to hunt elk; time enough for a great experience, time
enough to get lucky, not enough to be silly. I watched the country roll by,
hoping luck was on our side.

?

New Mexico has been good to me over the years. I collected my first lion
and bear there, as well as my first turkey. I hunted mule deer in some
prime spots in the late ’60s, when there were still lots of mule deer. I like New
Mexico, “The Land Of Enchantment.” My previous three elk hunts there had
produced two bulls. Statistically, I was ahead of the game. I would need some
more luck.


?

Dirk Neal is a full-blown professional. He guides and outfits for bear,
lion and elk primarily, with an excellent, well deserved reputation as a guy who
knows where some big mule deer hang out, too. I had a spontaneous, positive
reaction when we first spoke on the phone. It just felt right. Neal was real,
offering no pie-in-the-sky promises, just honest effort in what he felt was class
country with a respectable ratio of good bulls. He didn’t try to pound me with
pipe dream illusions of 3 50-plus point critters at the head of every canyon.
Good bulls would be in the three-hundred-inch range. There are some bigger,
quite a few are smaller. We try to let the smaller ones grow up,” he
stated.

?

Maybe we got along well at the onset, because I wasn’t hammering him about
monsters and he wasn’t telling me he had lots of them. There were nice bulls
there, that was enough. Our philosophical gears meshed smoothly and we made a
date for mid-September. Neal runs his elk operation on the Mundy Ranch outside
Chama in northern New Mexico. The elevation tops out around 11,000 thin-air feet,
pushing up from scrub oak low-country hills to timberline meadows and rimrock tops.

?

There are elk scattered throughout, as well as a ridiculous number of black
bear, a medium summer range population of mule deer and a bunch of lions,
based on sightings and sign. His base camp is a fine two-story log
lodge with plenty of room to kick back. Hot and cold running water, along with
an excellent cook, are complemented by a wood-stove hot-tub fueled by thick
slabs of pitch-rich pine. He keeps his hunters in controllable minimums, well
fed, properly outfitted with guides who know the country intimately, equipment
that doesn’t break down and a dedication to showing everyone an honest good
time based on the up-and-at-’em-before- the-crack, stay-out-’til-after-dark regimen.
Neal doesn’t believe in the free lunch. It’s a work-your-butt-off deal. If you get an
easy one, that’s okay, but he really likes it the old-fashioned way: when you
earn it. He’s not a big guy, this Dirk Neal, but he’s tough, extremely competent
and ethical. He shoes horses, fixes flats, coordinates the guides and works
with the cook, personally detailing the myriad necessities of an involved operation.
He always is the first up and the last to bed. In another world, he`d be a
helluva executive.

?

“This,” he told me, “is what I have always wanted to do.” It was tough doing; mid-September
hot weather with a full moon. The herd bulls had done their thing. With their ladies
gathered up, they pushed them into the deep cool canyons for the day, staying ahead of
challengers, real or otherwise. They didn’t want to fight, they wanted to play house. At first light,
everyone could get a bull or two to talk – a little bit.

?

The Mundy Ranch is 30,000 acres of sprawling broken country that got jerked
up and down a million or so years ago when the middle of the planet wanted to
get on top for awhile. From the top to the bottom of her ridges and canyons.
she`s as big a 30,000 acres as you can find anywhere. It is superb elk habitat
with plenty of elk.

?

Our tactics were simple: Chase ’em. try to get close before they got too deep.
before they shut up. It wasn’t working so well. We saw elk almost every morning;
sometimes, before daylight, from the pickups as we fumbled along fighting to
keep our heads from denting the roof or the cab. We’d see them in the
headlights, cream-colored ghosts, their rump patches bobbing like bouncing
balls crossing the dusty roads, heading down to the cool, safe canyons. We saw
them through our binoculars far below us, in the deep pockets as we tried to
catch up. They were there, we were here, different places at the same time,
too far apart It is typical steep mountain elk hunting.

?

There were, of course, the “almosts.” If we had just gone to the right instead
of the left. If I hadjust been ten feet farther up the trail with an arrow nocked,
lf, if, if…The story of a bowhunter’s life afield breaks down so concisely to
that simple little word. Dry, hard-to-hunt, noisy terrain effectively reduces what
slim advantage a two legged predator has with elk. Taking it to them in the deep
canyons was an alluring, but impractical tactic. We tried it, some of us; it just didn’t work.

?

Spooked elk often go to another state, three states away. We tried stands along
major trails, established some blinds at waterholes. They produced a few elk,
cows and calves and a scrubby non- shooter bull or two. There was also a
chance of a lifetime for one hunter and guide to watch a cougar contemplate filling
its elk tag and a bear sighting here and there.

?

Elk hunting with a bow is usually rather tough work. I have been on an
easy elk hunt once or twice, hunts where the gentler country made it seem easier,
I suppose. When conditions are rough and the country seems tougher, you
really have only two options. You can keep pushing, or you can quit. We
pushed hard in the mornings before the clean cool of night washed away in the
rising thermals. Midday was spent in horizontal contemplation, some practice
shooting and the constant re-honing of broadheads.

?

?

Chavez Creek, near camp, was ankle-deep low at the end of a brutal summer.
yet amazingly full of gorgeous brook trout colored up for fall spawning. They
were mixed with a hearty abundance of native rainbows, deep green-backed
speckled beauties that took any fly or spinner tossed in their directions, if you
were clever enough not to spook them on the approach. It was comfortable
diversion, with palatable rewards, I like trout, minutes old, fresh from clean-
running water. George Bennett and Holt are excellent fishermen; I can catch one
on occasion and the cook handled the rest.

?

We all had bulls and areas picked out now. Each hunter sat in hunkered, quiet
conversations with his guide, speaking in serious tones, thinking, planning, wondering
what to do, how to do it. Everyone prayed for a weather break: for rain
to dampen the woods, for cold weather to stimulate activity, for anything to break
the ninety-degree days and popcorn woods; something that would keep the bulls
on top long enough to get to them.

?

We got a little break on the fifth day. Low clouds swept the higher ridges with
damp fog, thick enough for make-believe rain. It wasn’t much, but it was enough.
Bennett, Neal and I were together, easing through aspen groves suddenly silent
in the damp. It was a different world now, thick cool air, quiet footing. A bull
answered Neal’s challenge. A bull we realized was coming, coming hard.
What a morning! What a fine big bull! He came close, straight below us in a
thicket of pines. We could see him, some of him, raking his antlers, grunting, all
mud-splattered and stinky. We couldn’t shoot; there was no opening.

?

He was so close. He tired of waiting for the challenger, finally crossing an open-
ing at forty yards. He stopped and I looked, as the arrow flashed from my
bow. It was beautiful, all over, perfect, until the last millisecond when the whisper-
ing shaft touched the ever-present intervening twig to nose dive below his chest.
I’ll be honest. I wanted to scream, to kick a tree, to hit something It was tough trying
to be cool. I just didn’t want to believe it It has happened too
many times.

?

There is nothing to do about it I was not about to quit. Now, here it was, the last day.
It was still damp, no fog, but cool. It was clear with a positive breeze to work through.
We struck the bull on the first call. The bull helped. He bawled, giving us direction and
distance, as best distance can be determined in timber and draws.

?

At the base of a tiny open finger ridge bordered on each slope by heavy timber,
we split up, Bennett to the left, me to the right. I slipped forward, surging to an
adrenalin rush, arrow nocked, ready, blessing the damp, quiet footing. Neal’s guttural
bawl ripped the stillness, punctuated by raking a ball bat sized branch along a scrubby pine.

?

“Press I whispered, “press him, press him. Oh, wow!” He was here. making no effort to
be subtle. He came to the pressure as huge black and tan glimpses passed through
openings in the timber. I had impressions of ivory-tipped antlers. I had no idea what
he would score and I didn’t care. There were six clean points to a side, I could see that and it
was enough. A bull elk coming in above you, forty degrees uphill and thirty
yards with a head full of antlers, looks every bit big enough He stopped, his
sides heaving with deep grunts as I stepped around a tree. I had the Hoyt
Pro Force Extreme at full draw, shooting him before I knew I was really going
to do it

I thought for awhile, sitting by the bull and the next day, while Bennett and Holt
were out running a bear with Neal, that maybe now I would hunt elk only
occasionally. I would not be so caught up in wanting a big one. It was not that
this one was really so big; he was just big enough for me. I know better, though.
I’ll have to go again. Holt still needs his chance and I want to be there when he
gets it. George Bennett wants to go back. My other sons will want to hunt elk. My
grandsons, if they are lucky, will want the chance. You can only push or quit. I
know I really won’t quit.

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Published by archerchick on 21 Feb 2011

Roosevelt Madness~ By Tim O’Kelly


Bow and Arrow Hunting
June 1990

ROOSEVELT MADNESS ~ BY TIM O’KELLEY
Rough Country, Heavy Growth Mark Elk Country In The Pacific Northwest

IT WAS SEPTEMBER and the
temperature was in the eighties. I had hunted for nine days without seeing an elk. I
was discouraged, because all the time I had put into pre—season scouting had not
proved to be helpful in locating elk this time of year.

I walked up a small drainage I had hunted in past years. I had purposely picked
this area to hunt on hot days. It was 4:40 p.m. and already shadows from the steep
ridge were cast over the creek bottom. I walked under the canopy of alders
where the temperature was a good fifteen degrees cooler. I was heading back to a
spot where I had bugled in a bull some years earlier I wanted to check a wallow.
As I approached the seep I could see the grass had not been destroyed and the pit
dug out from any usage so far this year. I headed back to my truck and decided to go
up the road about two miles to hunt a couple of similar drainages.

After the short drive. I got out and followed an old logging road until it ended.
Elk had extended a trail from the road ending. It paralleled a small creek that trickled
down the hill. As I slowly walked along the trail, beads of sweat dripped from my face.

The trail was noisy and slippery with dry leaves covering it.
I had just about convinced myself this was futile, because of the dry conditions. I
approached another small seep and checked it for fresh tracks. It looked encouraging,
there were fresh tracks skirting the edge. It looked like only a couple of animals had
passed through.

I decided to bugle once and if nothing answered, I would call it a day. I broke the
silence in the drainage with a less than enthusiastic bugle. The echo had not even
quieted before a response came from across the small canyon. This was the first bull I
had heard this season.

The Tioga unit in Oregon was my location. I looked at my watch; it was 6:30 p.m.
I had plenty of time to make a good hunt without being rushed by darkness.
I looked over the drainage and decided the bull sounded as if he were on a little
finger ridge beside a tiny creek. I quickly dropped into the creek and closed to what l
thought was about eighty yards from where I estimated the bull should be. I picked a
spot in some alders that had good shooting lanes on either side of me. The wind was
blowing directly from the bull to me.

I let out a bugle and followed immediately with a sequence of grunts. The bull bugled
back instantly. The feeling that comes from hearing one of these royal animals bugle is
one of excitement and awe. I could hear the bull raking a tree. Then I could hear
him move, side—hiding above and heading for the other side of the ridge. I still couldn’t
see him. I was quiet for about ten minutes, with the exception of mock—rubbing a small
alder, then I bugled again. He answered immediately.

I knew now that he was trying to get below me to get my scent so I moved to
keep him above me. I had only gone about forty yards when I heard limbs breaking
ahead of me. Before I had a chance to get ready, white tips were swinging above the
brush in my direction.

In an instant, I was nine yards away from a nice bull that was staring directly at
me. I had my bow arm straight out with my fingers on the nock of the arrow. If the bull
decided to stay on his current course, he would momentarily have his vision block-
ed as he walked behind a large fir, allowing me enough time to draw and shoot when
he reappeared on the other side. He lowered his head and paused as if he was going to
do just that, but it was his survival instincts that told him to go back the way he had just
come.

In an instant, he had vanished back up the hill. My heart sank and the close en-
counter was just a memory. I bugled in the direction he had left. Almost instantly he
was back, this time twenty yards above me. I could not shoot, because the brush was
too thick and the only visible part of his body was his huge dark neck and rack. I
watched in fascination as he destroyed three saplings. I kept looking for a spot
from which I might be able to take a shot. The guttural sounds he made were most
impressive; he was whining, growling and sniffling. I thought he was so distracted
that I could crawl maybe ten feet and be a position to shoot. Everytime I made the
slightest noise his head would jerk up and he would glare in my direction, yet he was
convinced there was another bull and that I just happened to be between them.

I watched the sheer power of this magnificent animal as he positioned a four—
inch sapling between his brow and bay tine. In one even, effortless motion, he
turned his head and snapped it. I broke a small limb as I impatiently
tried to crawl and once again his head shot up and he glared in my direction. This time
he again disappeared up the hill.

For the second time I had been within easy bow range and had not even had a
chance to draw my bow. I bugled again, but this time there was no response. I could
hear him break an occasional limb as he continued up the hill. I started after him at
a fast pace.

About ten minutes had passed when I came to a spot the bull had raked. He had
churned the ground so thoroughly it looked as if it had been plowed. A big urine
impression was added for finalization of his territory.

I let out a bugle right on the spot. Immediately limbs cracked about fifty yards
above me. I could see the bull again and he was rakin yet another tree. I could see an
opening that would take me to thirty—five yards below him. I moved swiftly up and
peeked around a stump. The bull was still raking the same tree. If I could get him to
move slightly, I could get a clear shot. I knelt down and bugled, grunted and
started raking a tree. I tried to mock every vocal noise the bull made and started
kicking limbs and the ground.

Movement caught my eye off to my right at about twenty yards. It was a bull,
but not the big one. The small bull seemed more curious than anything else. He was
headed directly down the hill and would surely pick up my scent in a few moments.
I was sure something had to happen quickly or it all would be over. I peeked
back up the hill just in time to see the big bull move into an opening. I came to full
draw as the bull glared in my direction. My arm trembled uncontrollably as the arrow
disappeared in the direction of the bull standing almost broadside to me.

He bounded up the hill, then stopped and stared at me from behind some thick
brush, just as he had done all evening. The small bull came back up the hill in a hurry
as if he thought he was missing out on something. When he saw the big bull, he
was satisfied and started to feed in a little opening just twenty yards away. While I
was trying to figure out where and if I had even hit the big bull, three cows started to
slowly make there way in the direction of the big bull, feeding as they went.

I played the shot back in my mind. Everything seemed good except for the
noise the arrow made when it impacted whatever it hit. I couldn`t move with all the
elk there now and I didn’t have any kind of a shot at the big bull still standing behind
heavy brush. All I could do was watch and hope the arrow had hit the bull. If it had,
the last thing I wanted to do was scare the animal, especially if the hit was marginal.
About fifteen minutes passed and the bodies of the elk started to turn into silhouettes as
darkness fell.

Suddenly a loud crash came from the direction I had last seen the big bull standing,
The small bull walked hurriedly up the hill and disappeared in the same thicket
where I had last seen the big bull. He reappeared on the other side and leisurely met
up with the cows and started to feed away from me.

I slowly moved up the hill to where I thought I had last seen the big bull. He
wasn’t there. I was getting panicky as I pulled out my Mini—Mag flashlight to look
for any sign of blood. I moved up the hill some twenty yards and found the big, tawny
body on the ground. As I neared the fallen monarch, a hint of remorse passed through me,
but the dedication, hard work and excitement more
than made up for it. <—<<<

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Published by archerchick on 21 Feb 2011

Barebow Basics – By Gary Vater


Bow and Arrow Hunting
June 1990


Barebow Basics ~By Gary Vater

Shooting Without Sights Takes More Practice, But Accuracy Can Be Amazing!

WITH THE STEALTH of a predator, the bowhunter
eased down the sage-covered ridge. Each step
was calculated and cautious. An earlier stalk had ended with an
alerted animal bursting from its bed, leaving the archer alone
to watch the trail of dust in the distance. The wounded antelope
retreated to the safety of this open hillside and bedded down a second
time. Now the animal was lying near a large clump of
sage, allowing an undetected approach from above.
Though well within bow range, the hunter
was faced with a new problem. The same
bush which aided his stalk was blocking
any chance for a shot. As the bowhunter
crept forward, the buck exploded out of its
bed. With an arrow ready on the string, the
archer stood and swung the bow into action
at the fleeing animal. Even with the shot
changing every second, the arrow found
its mark and put the animal down for
good.

While most people would chalk this up
as a lucky shot, others will perhaps recall
making a similar shot themselves. Many
of these believers will fall into the category
of “instinctive” shooters.
That shot was made with no concern of
range estimation nor of what sight pin to
use. In a situation like that, the opportunity
will only present itself for a few
seconds before the animal is gone. The
arrow is brought into motion as simply as
tossing a ball, with nothing more than
practiced hand/ eye coordination.

Think of the snowballs thrown when
you were younger. There was never any
calculation as to how to make the throw.
You just did it. After a couple of snowfalls,
you’ll have to admit, you became pretty
accurate. And I’ll bet most of you can
remember connecting on a few neighbor
kids who were streaking for safety. There
is no reason to feel you can’t shoot instinctively.
Learning to shoot an arrow instinctively
takes time. Being a learned ability, it`s no
different than any other developed reaction
involving hand/ eye coordination. You
need repetition to engrave it in your mind.
Once you’ve got it, it’ll always be there. It
can’t be bent, broken, or rattled out of
place.

Sound interesting? It can be a simple
process; just point and touch the anchor,
I’m not saying instinctive shooting is a
can`t-miss alternative. Believe me, I know
that And I’m sure not trying to sound like
an authority on shooting the bow. So many
people in this sport never have been exposed
to the many variables of shooting a bow,
I’d just like to help open some eyes to a
shooting style different than what most
people are taught today. I have some suggestions
which may make the transition in
styles a little easier.

Before you snap an arrow on the string,
you may want to take a look at the arrow-
rest system on your bow. It will help to
shoot off the arrow shelf, if you can. The
idea is to get the shaft lying almost on top
of your hand. Have you ever marveled at
the accuracy some people have on moving
game or objects tossed into the air? Odds
are, these people have the arrow as close
to their bow hand as possible. The flight of
the arrow becomes an extension of their
fingers.

Two basic bow tuning notes should be
mentioned: To shoot off the shelf you’ve
got to use feather fletching. Plastic vanes
aren ’t forgiving enough when passing over
the stiff rest. You’ll also find the nock set
usually has to be placed higher above
square when shooting off the shelf
When the equipment is ready, it’s time
to adjust the archer. Keep in mind that
there really is no single right way to shoot a
bow. As long as the arrow goes where you
want it, it doesn’t matter how your form
looks when compared to everyone else.
I’m just presenting ideas that many others
have found useful. Experiment with some
or all of them. Find what works best for
you and develop your skills from there.
Because we may be building from the
ground up, let’s begin with the foundation;
the stance. Try this: When pointing out
something specific to another person, there
is a tendency to lower your head to get
your eyes on the same level as your finger.
Flexing your knees while leaning forward
a little brings you even more in line. This
same stance works well with instinctive
arrow shooting.

Since depth perception is more accurate
with a clear field of view, you may want to
cant or tilt the bow to open up the sight
window. By doing this, all that’s seen is the
target area, with nothing between to break
your concentration. By the way, if you
think about it, even a bow equipped with a
sight can be shot canted, as long as the
angle remains the same for each shot. One
of the reasons people started holding bows
vertically was to prevent interference with
the person next to them on the shooting
line. If you have to take this into consideration
when shooting at an animal, it’s
time to find a new place to hunt.

The string fingers and anchor point may
need refinement. Try using a middle finger
in the corner of the mouth anchor, if your
prefer a split finger hold on the nock. Others
will find placing all three fingers under the
nock to their liking. Either choice may
accomplish what you are after: to get the
arrow as near the eye as possible. We’re
getting everything in line with our plane
of sight.

The most solid form still needs to be
driven by concentration. Your mind tells
the bow arm where to move as the arrow is
drawn. By the time the anchor point has
been reached, the aiming process has been
completed. If the concentration has been
broken, the results will show it.

When I shoot, all of which I am consciously
aware is two fingers; one index
finger gets pushed toward the intended
target, while the other touches the anchor
point. While I’m drawing, I imagine my
finger touching the exact spot I want to hit.
This simplified thought process eliminates
any second guessing about the shot. More
often than not, second guessing has a negative
effect on the shot. Once developed,
trust your instincts. Doubting or guessing
is where many flinches originate. The mind
is unsure if the arrow should be sent on its
way, while the fingers are saying it’s time.
This point—and-shoot style could be of
particular interest to any archer suffering
from that dreaded disease, target panic.
This mental collapse of the shooting technique
has ruined many an archer. Some
say it develops through a fear of missing.
Those affected can’t really tell you when it
struck; they only know the ability to aim
and hold on target is gone. In an attempt to
overcome it, some have tried hypnosis,
release aids, clickers or switching from
right- to left—handed shooting. Others have
just plain quit the sport in frustration.
I caught a nasty case of it myself about
ten years ago and fought an uphill battle to
conquer it for a long time. Finally I decided
it would be better to develop what I had
left, instead of fighting it. Learning con-
trolled snap shooting was the answer for
me. Since target panic won’t let you hold
the arrow once the anchor is touched, pre-
aiming as the arrow is drawn eliminates
the need to hold. If the aiming is completed
as the anchor is touched, there’s no need to
hold any longer.

Other than just putting in your time in
front of the target butt, here are a couple of
ideas to break the monotony and to develop
your skills more quickly.
One method suggests learning to shoot
in the dark. In a safe, dark area, place a

small flashlight on the ground so it shines
on the target. Even though you’ll be shooting
from only eight to ten yards, make sure
you’ve got a large safe backstop. It is too
dark to use the arrow for sighting, so hand/
eye coordination will have to put the arrow
where it belongs. This way, you’ll be shooting
by feel rather than by sight. With nothing
but the target to concentrate on, the act
of drawing and releasing will become a
natural motion, allowing the archer to place
his total attention on the spot to be hit.

Possibly the most enjoyable way to
develop your instinctive eye is through
stump shooting using Judo or other blunt
points. The Judo points eliminate any concern
about losing arrows, so a wider variety
of shots will be taken. These varied shots
will sharpen your skills faster than taking
the same shot repeatedly. It also will get
you out into the fields and forests, simulating
actual hunting conditions.

Shooting instinctively doesn’t guarantee
you won’t miss your next animal. There
are no guarantees in hunting or shooting as
there are no short— cuts. Both require a substantial
investment of time and practice to
become proficient. If the technique you’re
using now isn’t working, what have you
got to lose by trying something different?
Sure, your friend with the bow sight will
out—shoot you on the target range. But take
him along roving through the woods, where
the ranges are unknown and he must shoot
from an awkward position. I think the pros
and cons of the different styles will balance
out and you’ll both realize there is more
than one way to shoot a bow. <—<<

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Published by archerchick on 17 Feb 2011

Blood Trails To Success~By John Trout Jr.


Bow and Arrow Hunting
December 1995

Blood Trails To Success – By John Trout JR.

After The Arrow Is Released, The Hunt May Begin!

TRACKING THE whitetail buck had become a nightmare. Only
two specks of blood were visible within a few yards of where l shot
the 10-pointer. The arrow had entered high, too far back on the quartering—
away deer. It appeared that the animal was lost.

One hour after the trailing began, four of us spread out to widen our search. We
hoped that someone would eventually find another drop of blood or locate the
deer. A short time later, we spotted the downed buck only 100 yards from
where it all began. A close inspection revealed the arrow had sliced through
the kidneys and into the paunch.

In the past decade, responsible bowhunters have become more
knowledgeable about shot placement They also have realized that they must take only
those shots within their effective shooting range. Following these standards,
along with a good understanding of the whitetail’s anatomy, is sure to make any
bowhunter live up to the ethics necessary to keep our sport alive and well.

We are human, however, and mistakes can be made. A well-aimed arrow
can easily stray, regardless of our intentions to make a quick, clean kill. After
the shot, the bowhunter still has a responsibility. He or she must trail the deer
effectively and make every effort to recover the animal. This responsibility
begins the moment the arrow is released.

Following Up After The Shot

Much can be said about the archer who pays close attention to the white-
tail as it leaves the scene after the shot. The bowhunter who does so often can
determine the type of hit that was made and assume the necessaiy tracking skills
that may be involved. The sound of the arrow hitting home,for example, may give
you an idea on the type of hit. The dull “thump” usually means that the arrow has entered
the body cavity. A sharp crack, on the other hand, may be a sound of the arrow
hitting the shoulder blade or some other bone.

Perhaps the best warning of what lies ahead is in the whitetail’s reaction after
the arrow hits. You should watch the deer for as long as possible when it
leaves the scene. The bowhunter should memorize the precise travel route the
deer uses when it leaves and the exact location when last seen. Even a mental
note of a particular tree, bush or rock will assist you later when it comes time
to pick up the blood trail. Nothing can be more frustrating than looking in the
wrong place for a blood trail.

Various hits will cause the whitetail to react differently. Normally, an arrow
that passes through the lungs will send a deer away at breakneck speed.
A heart shot also may cause the deer to run hard, but it often will jump or
jerk its body erratically when the arrow passes through. Superficial — muscle
wounds also may cause a deer to run hard, however. What may appear to be
a superficial wound should be taken seriously, because artery hits are
not uncommon.

A deer shot through the paunch often will run for only a short distance then stop
or begin walking. Normally, they will hunch their backs as they walk. A hit through
the liver may cause a similar reaction. Following up after the shot will no doubt play a
major role in the recovery of your deer. It may help when determining how soon you
should begin trailing, and it may let you know if assistance will be necessary.

How Long Should You Wait?
A 30-minute wait before taking up the blood trail is a standard rule that many
bowhunters enforce. After all, a deer shot through the vitals will run a short distance
and fall over moments after the arrow passes through. It will not be going anywhere.
The wait will not change the outcome. Death comes quickly when an arrow passes
through the lungs, heart, kidneys or major arteries. A liver or paunch-shot deer, however,
will require a much longer delay. First, consider that death may be prolonged if
the vitals are spared. If you push the whitetail only one hour after the shot, it
will continue to move ahead. A deer that travels one—half mile will be more difficult
to find than one that travels a few hundred yards or less.

Also consider that most deer shot in the paunch and/or liver will usually bed
quickly when left alone. They may or may not leave this site, but pushing them
is a sure way to keep them ahead of you. Normally, I give the liver-shot deer
two hours. I often wait six hours before taking up the trail of a deer shot through
the stomach. I have found many of these deer within 300 yards of where I shot.

We do know that forced movement will induce bleeding. However, the entrance
and exit holes of the paunch and liver—shot deer often become clogged
with tissue that does not allow the blood to reach the ground. Trailing deer that
have sustained these types of wounds is difficult, simply because little blood can
be found, regardless of whether it is pushed or left alone. For this reason, I
find it best to wait a few hours before taking up the trail. Keep in mind, the
farther a deer travels, the more difficult it will be to recover.

Muscle wounds, though, may prompt you to begin trailing immediately. These
wounds are often superficial and recovery may be impossible, regardless of
whether you push the animal or delay the tracking. However, I usually assume
that there is little chance of finding a deer shot through the muscles unless I push
it to induce bleeding.

In my opinion, there is no universal rule for waiting. You should judge each
incident accordingly from the sign that you find and your suspicions of where
the arrow hit. Some hits will require waiting; others will not. The bowhunter
should decide this after the shot is taken and before the tracking begins.

Blood Trailing

Before following a blood trail, it will help to fully understand the meaning of
various blood colors. Blood is red, plain and simple, but the color does vary with
different wounds. Those who can recognize these different aspects will have
a better insight as to the location of the deer’s wound. The brightest blood
usually comes from a lung shot. It appears pinkish and may or may not have
air bubbles visible in the droplets of the blood. The blood that you find when the
heart, kidneys or major arteries are severed is more of a crimson red and
not as glossy as the blood of a lung hit. However, a muscle wound may also
resemble this same dull red color.

A deer shot in the liver and paunch section will leave much darker blood. This
difference is noticeable when compared to the blood of a heart or lung-shot deer.
Experienced trackers can usually spot this dark blood immediately. However, this is deter-
mined best before the blood dries. Dried blood, even that which is bright to begin with, is
always darker than wet blood.

You also can determine if the deer you are tracking is running or walking by looking at
the blood trail. A deer that is standing or walking slowly will leave blood that has splatter
marks surrounding the droplet. The blood droplet of the running deer will have splatter marks
only on the front, which also indicates the direction it is traveling. The amount of blood
that reaches the ground may or may not have any bearing on the possibilities of a recovery.

As mentioned, the stomach-shot deer leaves little blood. However, this
deer can be found when the tracking is handled properly. A muscle-shot
deer may bleed profusely at first and lead the bowhunter into believing the
deer is going down immediately, but its wound may also clot without warning.
For this reason, I pay little attention to the amount of blood that reaches
the ground. When following a blood trail, do not hurry the process. Slow trailing
will allow you to see more and prevent you from being forced to return to the last
blood found. Marking your way with trail-marking tape or toilet paper will
keep you from accidentally backtracking or straying too far from the last blood
drops whenever the trail is lost. You should remove the markers, though, after
the task ends.

An experienced tracker will do more than just look for blood. He also will
watch for tracks that may appear as only impressions in the leaves. This
helps considerably when blood cannot be found on the ground. When blood
does not fall to the ground, you may see it on limbs and high weeds. A
wounded deer may leave blood smeared on debris when it passes
through. There have been many times that only smeared blood has put me
back on the right trail.

Locating The Downed Deer
No doubt, a happy ending to any tracking situation is locating the downed
deer. This brings about an overwhelming satisfaction that makes any hunt
more memorable and enjoyable. For this reason, and because the bowhunter
should be an ethical, responsible individual, he or she must never give up if
there is a chance of finding the deer. Although the blood trail may have
expired, there is still hope of locating the deer if you follow a few simple procedures.
Primarily, these include spreading out your search and looking for sign
other than blood.

Several years ago, my dad shot a small-antlered buck through the paunch.
We could find blood for only the first 200 yards. Finally, after spreading out,
we were able to locate two beds that showed blood. Both beds were at least
another 100 yards from the last visible blood. We soon found the deer, lying
dead in a third bed 50 yards from the other two.

When you widen your search area, it will help to have more eyes available. Any-
one who can assist will increase your chances of finding the deer or some sign that
may lead you to it. When I begin tracking, I prefer to do it quietly with only one
or two others. However, once the trail is lost, several fellow hunters will increase
the chances.

Trails should be followed for a long distance, even if they do not lead you in
the same direction that the wounded deer had previously. Most deer, when
wounded, tend to circle. I would also suggest walking creek and ditch borders
to watch for tracks where the deer may have crossed. Often, a drop of blood may
fall as the deer travels up and down the bank, or jumps to the opposite side.

Never assume that a wounded deer will not do what seems impossible. They
can and will do exactly what you would never expect. I often have heard
bowhunters claim that a hurting deer will not go up steep hills. I have seen
this theory proved wrong on many occasions. I have also seen them cross
large bodies of water to avoid those in pursuit. When trailing a deer, it will be
best to think logically, but do not rule out the impractical whenever your blood
trail ends.

Time may not be on your side, but time must be allocated to locating a
downed deer. Many times, one more hour in the field can make all the difference.
Only when all efforts have faded and you have decided that the wound is superficial
should the trail be abandoned. The sharp broadhead is lethal and
will put a deer down quickly when aimed properly. It is every bowhunter’s
responsibility to see that this happens. Unfortunately, a slight miss can still
occur, which would lead you into a difficult tracking situation. You may re-
cover your deer by following the guidelines mentioned, though. Remember that
the hunt is not over when the arrow is released.

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