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Published by archerchick on 22 Mar 2010

80 Years With Fred Bear – By Bob Brandau

80 Years With Fred Bear – By Bob Brandau
March 1982

We’re damn lucky to have Fred Bear around.  In a time when folks tell us there are no heroes left, we only need look to Fred to know it isn’t true.
For the bowhunter, Fred has done it all. He’s taken world-class big game on every continent and built a career around his love for a sport. He stood and was counted as a conservationist when the word was still unknown to most sportsmen.

The John Wayne of the bowhunter’s world Fred attracts a crowd wherever he goes. Autographs, handshakes and flash bulbs are as much a part of his day as the sun. Yet unlike many other people in that position, his sincere smile never fades and his patience while listening to another
hunter’s whitetail adventure is unending.

His ability as a woodsman is equalled to or surpassed by his talents as a businessman, and inventor. Much of the archery tackle we use today is based on inventions cultivated in his fertile mind decades ago. Along with a few other adventuresome pioneers, Fred turned an obscure hobby into a national pastime and industry.

Starting in a depression torn 1933 in the United States, Fred slowly built his archery company from a garage in Detroit to the world leader it is today: His factory now produces products known around the world and employs about 350 people.

Fred’s cunning as a hunter and friendly nature have brought him many honors and thrills. He’s dined with royalty and dipped beans out a can with African bushmen.  Some of the adventures he’s had would seem outlandish even when printed in a young boy’s favorite book.

And of all the game Fred has taken through the years, what has been the toughest
to hunt? The whitetail deer.

“There’s no doubt about it, the whitetail deer is the smartest craftiest game animal a man can hunt with a bow,” he said- But what does Fred consider to be the toughest most dangerous game to chase with bow and arrow? Excerpts from the book, Fred Bear’s Field Notes, and an article printed in Outdoor Life in the early 1960s show that to be the African lion.

“Of all the “if-you-start-it, I’ll-finish it” game a hunter can go after with either gun or bow, the two big wonderful cats of Africa and Asia, the lion and tiger, head my list. There is something about them that no other animal can match, a mysterious, regal quality of fearlessness and arrogance and terrible power. In my book the man who kills either of them has reached the pinnacle
of the trophy hunter’s world.”

Fred said recently that the animal he had long considered to be the top hunter’s trophy also provided him with his most exciting and memorable hunt “Well, I had a lot of most memorable hunts, I guess. The most exciting of course, was when we were ambushed by a lion for half a night in Africa. I’ve spent a few nights in a tree with a grizzly down below and a couple cape buffalo have come close and then there were the polar bears. I guess you can call them memorable in terms of excitement.   In just the case of excitement my most memorable hunt would be the lion because in most of the exciting experiences I have had, the high point was over in a second or two. You knew you were either going to get in trouble or not. But the case of the lion went on for about six hours and that certainly was memorable.”

A short time after his encounter with the lions of Portuguese Africa in 1965, he recalled the story like this:

“I eased to my knees and picked up my bow. There were two lions, both big-maned males lying beside the wildebeest carcass.  Quietly as I moved, they saw me instantly, stopped feeding and stared balefully at the blind.

“One was broadside to me, with his head turned in my direction. The other lay
behind him facing us head on. I picked the closest one and drove my arrow for a spot
behind his shoulder.

“There wasn’t enough light to follow the arrow’s flight but the lion left no doubt that it had been hit. He ripped out a roaring blood chilling snarl and both animals sprang to their feet.   The rear one shot off to the left running in long bounds. The other curved hell-bent toward the blind, growling and roaring But when he was only yards away, he swerved off to the left and streaked past
within a few feet of us. The last we heard of him was an ear-splitting roar out in the gathering darkness.

“For another 10 minutes; there was dead silence, with five pairs of ears straining for some sound that would tell us where the lions had gone and what they were doing. When it was full dark one of the pair announced his return with a roar that came from no more than 20 yards away and rattled the very leaves of the blind

“One thing we knew for sure. If either lion was bent on revenge, our brush blind would no more stop him than a garden fence stops a hungry deer. He wouldn’t even have to smash through it. He’d come sailing over and the last we’d see of him would be his black silhouette against the faint light that still lingered in the sky.

“There was half an hour of agonizing silence. Nobody moved, spoke, coughed or even cleared his throat My legs were getting stiff and cramped but it was imperative to endure it without stirring. It was cold but no one so much as touched his blanket Tension and suspense filled the blind like fog.

The lion ripped the night apart once more with a long series of roars and snarls, again only a few yards beyond our barricade. I’ve heard bears, tigers and even elephants scream their anger and defiance, and any one of them can make the hair on a man’s neck stand up like porcupine quills. But I don’t believe any other sound that comes from an animal’s throat is as awesome and frightening as the roar of a lion close up.

Another half an hour went by, seeming like half the night.  Then the situation took a new turn.
A lion spoke up from half a mile away giving the half purring half moaning get-together call and another answered farther off in the distance. I had listened to those typical sounds of the African night before and thought them interesting and thrilling. Now they turned my blood to water. Our lion didn’t give us much time to worry about any other, however he let go another bone-shaking roar.

After a few minutes, the lion roared again. The silence settled down and nothing happened for an hour. At the end of that time, Luiz (one of the native guides) inched over to our side of the blind.
“Baas, I can hear lion eating,” he said. ” I think he feed on the dead one.”

We cocked our ears and sure enough we could hear the ripping of flesh and the clicking of teeth out there in the dark, 50 or 60 feet away.

For the first time we had something to go on. It was very unlikely that a wounded lion would be feeding and if this was the unwounded one, quarrelsome as he was, we were in less danger than we had feared. But if Luiz’s hunch was right by morning, the pelt of my lion would be torn and worthless.

“Will one lion really eat another?” I asked Wally, my guide. “Indeed they will,” he assured me.

By this time the tension in the blind had become too much for the native guides to bear, and they issued the ultimatum of either climbing the trees or going back to camp. Knowing that the trees would not support the three natives, and that any commotion was likely to bring on a charge from the lion, Freds party decided to make a break for it in the car.

Taking nothing but the guns with them, they piled into the car, stomped on the starter and knifed out into the African darkness.

“To my immense relief,” Fred continued, “the first thing we found when we went back the next morning was what was left of the python (shot the day before by Fred while making the blind). We agreed that it might have been the snake on which we had heard the lion feeding and our hunch proved good. When we picked up the blood trail of the lion I hit and followed it for 200 yards,
we found a magnificent cat stone dead since the evening before. Needless to say, I didn’t give the python another thought “My arrow had gone in low, back of a foreleg and ranged through both lungs, causing severe hemorrhage. A full-grown male with a heavy mane, he weighed 460 pounds and measured an even 10 feet pegged out.

“Looking back on those thrilling hours in the blind, with the lion growling and feeding in the darkness, I couldn’t blame the guides for not wanting to lion hunt again. But when I got back to camp, and I saw him reaching four feet above my head with the tip of his tail brushing the ground, I knew I wouldn’t trade that night for anything that ever happened to me on a hunt He was the greatest trophy I have killed, and he left me, as a bowhunter, no place to go.”

But Fred’s conquests as a hunter did not end after that long six-hour wait in a blind on the flats of Portuguese Africa He went on to down a polar bear, after three trys, 500 miles north of Fairbanks, Alaska and a 1,800 Asiatic buffalo in Brazil. Even today he is a familiar face around many campfires in the United States, offering a tale of adventure or two.

Anyone who has been lucky enough to hear Fred spin a tale has heard one of the masters. You may be sitting in an auditorium, but when the griz growls and the guide’s hands are skinned as he climbs a tree for safety, you can taste the adrenalin in your mouth. With the gestures of a magician.  Fred can tell a story that rivals those of Davey Crockett and Mark Twain. Those
who have heard his tales more than once may notice slight changes in “fact’ as he draws them together for the audience, but it doesn’t matter since the end result of excitement is always the same.

Fred is one the few individuals who has had the opportunity to hunt most of the game animals the world has to offer. He has hunted above the Arctic Circle, at the Equator and in lands untouched by modem civilization. Based on that experience, he said that if a hunter had only one “exotic” hunt to go on in his life, he should go to British Columbia or Alaska.

“Now, Africa is great,” he said, “but in British Columbia or Alaska you can drink from any stream you happen to run across.  The hunting conditions are much better and the terrain won’t be burned up like it is in Africa during the dry season when you hunt. The mountains, the snow capped peaks and trees-yes, that s what I’d recommend. You won’t see nearly as much game, but after all the kill is the anti climax. You go to enjoy yourself and to have fun in the outdoors with the birds, the bees, the animals, and the people.”

To say that Fred represents that last generation of the wild and free American hunter would be unfair. To say that his contributions to both bowhunting and conservation make him an outstanding American would be much more appropriate.

And although Fred’s tales of excitement are untarnished with the years, the role of the hunter has taken on an increasingly important duty. Today’s hunter, Fred said, should be more concerned with environmental issues. With the nation’s foremost conservationist Teddy Roosevelt, to serve
as his “idol,” Fred has taken a leadership role in backing sound conservation practices. People should take time out of their leisure hours to help promote conservation practices, he said
“Too many hunters today place too big an emphasis on the kill. When you read the stories, the emphasis is too much on the kill-instead of being in nature’s great outdoors,” he said.
“Too many people are uncomfortable in the woods. They don’t feel at home when actually they should be. The woods is a friendly place. Yes, the woods is big place to get lost in, or to get into trouble in, but the main thing when outdoors is to use good judgment stay out of trouble and have a good time.

“A downed animal is most certainly the object of a hunting trip, but it becomes an anticlimax when compared to the many pleasures of the hunt.  A period of remorse is in order. Perhaps a few words of forgiveness for having taken a life. After this there is a self-satisfaction for having accomplished a successful stalk and made a good shot.

“But a hunt based only on trophies taken falls short of what the ultimate goal should be. I have known many hunters who, returning empty-handed, have had nothing to say of the enjoyment of time spent in nature’s outdoors.

“I like to think that an expedition should be looked upon whether it be an evening hunt nearby or a prolonged trip to some far off place, as a venture into an unspoiled area. With time to commune with your inner soul as you share the outdoors with the birds, animals and fish that live there.

And  in another vein, if it is a lengthy trip, select your companions well. A hunting trip
is a great place to test the mettle of your friends.  “I feel like one of God’s chosen people, having had the experiences I’ve had in his great outdoors,” said Fred. <–<<

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Published by archerchick on 21 Mar 2010

Do-It-Yourself ARROW STORAGE BOX -by Glenn Helgeland

Do-It-Yourself Arrow Storage Box – by Glenn Helgeland
Archery World July 1982

ARHERY WORLD JULY 1982

Storing arrows can be a pain, but here’s an efficient, neat way to store
a bunch of them attractively and safely.

All it involves is a wooden box with the key to the unit being one or two pieces of eggcrate-style covering units intended for recessed lighting. Most any lumberyard should have everything you need.

The photos with this story show the construction and finished product.

Don’t be put off by the size of the arrow box shown. I need one that size because I use a lot of different types of arrows for photographic purposes, and over the years. I’ve accumulated a lot of different types.

Now that my kids are starting to shoot, we need arrow storage for me, my wife and the kids. You want to know how fast a few kids can go through a supply of arrows? Fast enough that I make certain they’re going to shoot only wooden ones for a while; I can’t afford anything else for them.

Materials include ll4″ and/or 3/8″ plywood, 1″ x 1/2″ furring strips, wood glue, piano hinge, a handful of 4- or 6-penny box nails, about three feet of nylon webbing, two locking hooks with eyes, four stove bolts with appropriate nuts and washers, and the eggcrate units.

The best thing about this box is that the only blueprints you’ll need are in your head, and it doesn’t cost much to produce. Just figure out how many arrows you need to store and plan accordingly. One tip: Arrows can be stored in every square of the eggcrate, but you’ll do less ruflling of fletching if you store them in alternating squares. The amount of storage space you have available will help you make that decision.

Once you determine the outside dimensions of the box, cut the plywood to fit, cut four furring strip pieces to fit the full width and cut four small blocks from the furring strips to glue in place as support midway underneath the length of the upper and lower eggcrate units.

Furring strips and blocks to support the lower eggcrate unit are glued on the floor piece and to the end pieces, then nailed.  This gives good strength. Furring strips and blocks to support the upper unit are glued far enough down from the top to at least allow the eggcrate to be positioned flush with the top of the plywood.

You can recess it in as far as you like. I left a 2-l /2 inch slot on the front of the box to lighten it a bit and to make it easy to check the arrow tips to see if they were dropping in position. Trying to peer down through one eggcrate unit at another eggcrate unit and line up arrows at the same time will make you crosseyed in a hurry.

The upper front panel could be much narrower. All you really need is a strip wide enough to serve as a stiffener and to keep the eggcrate unit from sliding out. (The two eggcrate units are simply dropped in position on the furring strips. There’s no need to fasten them in.)

I used a piano hinge to fasten the box hinge on the wall. This keeps it out of my kids’ reach, yet I can drop the unit forward to make it easier for arrow placement. The webbing is simply bolted to the box with stove bolts, washers and nuts.I ran the bolts through the furring strips to gain
maximum support. The straps are fastened to my garage wall with through-the-wall collapsible nuts on stove bolts fitted with large washers.

I used locking hooks with the eyes so my kids wouldn’t accidentally knock the hooks loose and have the box crash down on their heads.

What do I do with arrows which have a fixed broadhead? I remove the insert and replace it with a screw-in insert. I have a box of field points on a nearby shelf and the broadheads are stored where my kids can’t get into them.

Cost? Depends upon the size arrow box you build. Should be less than $25, even if
you need  to buy plywood. the eggcrate units I bought cost $6.50 each.

Someday I may even get around to staining or painting the plywood. That probably
will be the same day I clean out my garage. I will have aged by then.

Just how many arrows will this huge box store? Subtracting the squares under the furring strip blocks and end pieces. I came up with 1,914 Storing them every other square means 957 arrows.

I don’t believe I’ll ever need to build a second one. I can store a pile of arrows in a small space with these eggcrate units, keeping them safe from damage. <–<<

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Published by archerchick on 21 Mar 2010

Quick Kills On Big Game – By Russell Tinsley

Quick Kills On Big Game – by Russell Tinsley
November 1971 ARCHERY WORLD

BOWHUNTING IS a sport of inches. Sometimes just a couple inches will be the difference between a hit or miss, and even a fraction of an inch might determine a quick kill or just a
crippled animal. Yet shooting a bow and-arrow is such a tough procedure that error usually is measured in inches rather than fractions thereof. So the bowhunter “hedges” on his return by reducing this mistake factor to its lowest possible denominator.

This is accomplished in several ways. Having the proper equipment which is prepared correctly is perhaps the foremost consideration. Being a skilled hunter and getting the very best shot with the least margin of error is another. And of course knowing where to place the arrow for optimum results.

A fast-propelled arrow striking an animal’s vital organs should accomplish two rudimentary assignments: create intense hemorrhaging or bring quick and humane death, and encourage sufficient external bleeding to have an easily followed blood trail.

Simple mathematics tells us that a heavy object traveling at a rapid rate of speed will create the most damage upon impact, and this is true even of an arrow which kills by hemorrhage rather than shock. The more Penetration an arrow gets, the better are the chances of getting massive damage to internal organs. And the farther a sharp broadhead- tunnels through the animal’s body cavity, the more opportunity it has to come in contact with organs and disrupt their functioning.

Bob Lee, veteran bowhunter and president of Wing Archery Company, says the draw-weight of a hunting bow “should be as heavy as a person can adequately handle-and I mean handle and not merely shoot.”

The basic theory behind this, of course, is that the heavier bow will cast heavier arrows at a faster velocity, and this results in better penetration.

“But be sure the bow and arrows are matched,” Lee adds. “This is a common mistake among many bowhunters, having mismatched tackle, and a person can’t get the needed accuracy with such equipment.”

By proper conditioning and training of the muscles, the hunter can learn to handle – there’s that key word again-a bow of heavier draw than he is now using.

But even driving an arrow completely through an animal is of questionable value unless the broadhead severs organs to induce bleeding. The bowhunter can greatly improve his odds for success simply by having his broadheads honed sharp. A dull head tends to roll flesh and organs aside while the razor like head cuts cleanly.

As a person practices with his equipment he becomes aware of his limitations and capabilities. If you, for example, find that at ranges beyond 25 yards your aim is erratic and arrows scatter, then work for shots at less than this distance. Whether you shoot instinctively or use a sight isn’t important; what is imperative is that you can put the arrow where you want to.

Now we come to that moment of truth when you are drawing on a big-game animal. Where should you aim to get the quickest kill?

If the critter had a bull’s-eye painted on it, this would be a simple matter. But the hunter usually has just a brief time to size up the situation and determine where his point of aim should be. No two shots are exactly alike.

Maybe the animal is standing broadside, quartering away or facing you.  The arrow kills a critter by disrupting either of its most vital life-sustaining functions: the nervous system or the movement of blood. The most surefire is to stop all or part of its nervous system. One deer I killed was trotting by my tree stand and I led the animal too much and instead of hitting behind the shoulder, where I
intended it to go, the arrow struck the buck’s neck and completely severed the spinal cord. The deer fell there.

But trying for a spine hit is too much of a gamble unless maybe you are in a tree stand and the animal is walking directly beneath you. Even if you are off just an inch or so to either side, the broadhead still will bury into the body and find blood-carrying vessels.

An animal’s body is a network of arteries and veins which all originate at the heart. Hit the heart or any major artery and you will get profuse bleeding; smaller vessels will give progressively less. I once shot at a buck which ‘jumped the string”. The arrow caught him in the ham, striking the
femoral artery. The resulting blood trail appeared as if it had been poured from a bucket. The deer traveled less than 35 yards before going down.

The ideal spot to induce the most bleeding, it would seem, would be the heart. It would. But the heart of any animal lies very low in the throat between the front legs when the animal is viewed from the side. Here the forelegs, brisket bone and muscle give the heart quite a bit of protection.

If the arrow is forward too much, just an inch or so, it likely will strike the foreleg and perhaps just ricochet. A couple inches low and the projectile will pass beneath the animal a miss. Too far back and it is in the body cavity where it must hit an artery or vein leading to and from the heart to get the desired results. About the only margin for error is above the heart, where there is a cluster of organs,

All big-game animals are basically the same. You’ll find the same vital organs in the same places. But the overall picture is different. A white-tailed deer, for instance, has long legs, while the javelina is squatty, built close to the ground. An elk is a much larger animal with tougher skin and bones, and although its heart is correspondingly larger, it is much better protected against even I sharp arrow.  The archer shooting from above-a tree stand Perhaps- stands a much better chance of angling an arrow into the heart region than does the hunter aiming from the ground, on the same level as his target.

To reach this area some bowhunters refer the flat two-bladed broadhead, reasoning  that with the less resistance it will knife completely through the animal, severing everything in its path.
Bill Clemets, perhaps Arkansas most successful bowhunters, is a great believer in this type head. Me, I Prefer the multi-blade head, either three or four cutting edges, preferably four.

This type of head leaves a jagged hole which really pours blood.  Also, should the head remain buried inside the animal, it will jiggle back and forth, continuing to cut, as the critter runs. But neither type is of much value unless it is sharp.

The bowhunter’s best shot, I’m convinced, is in the so-called- high lung area, just behind the shoulder.  A hit here might not give as much blood as a heart shot, but it will be sufficient and in this area there is a bit more leeway for human error.   lf your shot sails slightly high, you are apt to hit the spinal column; should it be low, you’ll be probing the heart and large artery region.  The arrow even can be too far back by an inch or two and you will have a pretty solid hit.  But let too far forward and the shoulder bone is in the way.  If this bone is hit just right the arrow might penetrate;  but usually it simply slides to the side or bounces back.  I hit a mule deer in the shoulder while on a hunt in Colorado and the arrow bounced back almost to my feet.  The broadhead tip was curled back. I doubt if the arrow created enough damage to even give
the buck a sore shoulder.

As the bowhunter becomes more experienced he will learn to aim to compensate for his own personal tendencies. With me, shots less than 25 yards tend to rise, while on out there
the arrow more likely will drop. So if an animal is close, I am low on the body. Should the arrow be on target I’m in the heart region, and even should it rise slightly I’ve got a fatal hit. On longer shots just the reverse is true: I am high, for the lungs, and even if the arrow does drop it will
connect with vital organs.

Most bowhunters think of the classic broadside as the ideal position for a shot. Since one-dimensional drawings are usually sketched this way, the hunter has a vivid mental picture of where all the animal’s organs are placed. This position comes closest to simulating target shooting. But if the animal senses something wrong and moves before the arrow arrives, then the projectile likely will hit the critter’s midsection. A high shot will pass through the body without causing any extensive damage; a low shot will find the gut region, and that is one you want
to avoid. While this might indeed be a fatal hit, there usually isn’t much external bleeding, making the animal difficult to trail, and a gut-shot creature is apt to travel for long distances before going down.

Much better than the broadside is the quartering shot. The rear quartering shot is preferred. Although the silhouette is not as large, more of what you see is vulnerable tissue. There is
less chance of a bone deflecting the arrow, and it furrows more lengthwise through the body. Common sense tells us that the farther an arrow moves through an animal, the better are its
chances of hitting vital organs. Should the arrow pass through the chest cavity there is a possibility that it might come in contact with all three vital organs – heart, liver and lungs.

From the rear, blind-side, of the animal like this, the hunter stands to put his arrow into a vital area without being detected. The head-on and front quartering shots are less desirable, one reason being that the alert animal is more apt to detect danger, and from the front body bones are a
greater obstacle.

But if you do get a head-on shot, aim for the so-called “sticking spot” just below the neck. Place an arrow solidly here and you have a dead animal. The broadhead carves directly into the body between the forelegs.

A temptation is to aim for the head. But most big-game animals have small and well-protected brains. You are more likely to get just a glancing lick than you are a kill.  For the front-quartering shot, aim just behind the shoulder. While the heart, liver and lungs are fairly well protected from this angle, the network of arteries and veins just beyond are vulnerable. If the arrow angles across
the animal, you probably will find a blood-carrying vessel. I once watched my hunting buddy Winston Burnham shoot a javelina that was trotting down a trail toward his stand, and while the
arrow hit a mite too far back, it traveled almost the entire length of the body, exiting just forward of a ham.

An autopsy revealed that the broadhead hit a rib, forcing the arrow upwards where it traveled just beneath the spine, severing several arteries and veins. The javelina wheeled around wildly once or twice, then made just two or three jumps before falling.

Now assuming you understand and know the vital areas and how to hit them and you’ve made what you consider a solid hit, then what do you do?

The consensus of most experienced bowhunters is to wait at least an hour if you think your . arrow hit the liver area or the rear half of the animal. Unless spooked, the critter usually will
journey just a short way before lying down. It becomes weak rather quickly and probably won’t have the strength to ever regain its feet.

But if the arrow hits the chest cavity and results in plenty of blood, it doesn’t make any difference whether you wait or not. The animal – be it an immense specimen like the elk, a
medium-sized one such as a mountain goat, or even the diminutive javelina -won’t travel far away. If you merely sever a large artery-you can tell if the hit results in an unbelievable amount of bleeding – then you will have no problem trailing and finding the critter.

Should the hit be in a non-vital section of the fore body, you probably will be wise to keep pushing the animal. An embedded broadhead will continue to cut and damage organs.

Even if the arrow completely passed through, don’t give the animal the opportunity to lie down and allow the broken blood vessels to clot.  No matter where you hit an animal, don’t give up on it until you are absolutely satisfied that the carcass or some telltale sign can’t be found.

Sometimes the animal might flee along way before commencing to bleed. It isn’t unusual for one to go down without leaving a blood trail of more than just a few scattered drops. Watch which direction the critter runs and pinpoint your search in that direction.  Try to find tracks, if nothing else, and search the trail meticulously for any sign which might reveal where the animal was hit. Perhaps you will soon locate the discarded arrow, broken or pulled out, or a pool of blood when
the animal stopped briefly. It is amazing the number of animals that can be found which at first were thought to be lost.

There is no satisfaction quite like that of staying doggedly on a trail and ultimately realizing success. That’s the mark of a true and dedicated bowhunter.

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Published by archerchick on 21 Mar 2010

Spring Turkey Tactics – By Randy Templeton

Spring Turkey Tactics – By Randy Templeton

MAY 2005

Fool Your Trophy Tom Using These Proven Methods

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

MAY 2005

Coming over the rise, he bellowed an eardrum-rattling gobble and strutted
for the decoy. It wasn’t long after two younger toms brought up the rear,
and it was soon perfectly clear which of the three was the boss gobbler on the ridge.

When the dust and feathers settled the big tom headed straight for the decoy but stopped
mid-stride and made a beeline for higher ground. At the time I couldn’t figure out what had gone
wrong, but I was soon enlightened when a mangy coyote came running over the ridge. I feared the jig was up and the hunt was over.

I continued to call and much to my surprise it wasn’t long after another tom answered my calls. It
sounded like the sarne tom that had been chased off. Evidently my assembly call was working.

Only minutes later I spotted the old gobbler’s head craning over the brush. The second he hit
the clearing he let out a double gobble and headed for the decoy on a dead run. At 20 paces
a Muzzy broadhead sliced through his vitals, putting the 25-pound bird in my game vest.

Most turkey-hunting gurus are sure to tell you hunting turkeys with archery gear is tough, but it also offers the ultimate challenge. Let’s take a look at several ways to improve your chances of tagging a trophy longbeard with your bow this year.

USE THE RIGHT GEAR
To be a successful turkey hunter it helps to have the right gear. Turkeys have excellent eyesight, so good camouflage is essential. Try to match your camo pattern with the surrounding
terrain and vegetation.

Likewise, the same can be said about concealment. The toughest part of killing a sharp-spurred
tom with a bow is getting drawn without getting picked off first. When I first started hunting these wary birds, popup blinds hadn’t been invented yet, my blinds then consisted primarily of brush
and burlap. Although I killed a few birds, it was nothing like today using blinds made by Double Bull Archery and Cabela’s.

A turkey’s vital area is not much bigger than a baseball, so it’s more important to be accurate than to shoot heary bow poundage. You don’t need to shoot more than 50 or 55 pounds to get adequate penetration.

Hit a turkey in the vitals or spine with a good, sharp broadhead and there’s a good chance they’ll go down immediately. I believe any broadhead will get the job done. I’ve killed birds with mechanical heads like the NAP Gobbler Getter and Spitfire, but also with fixed-blade heads like the Thunderhead and Muzzy 125.

LEARN TO READ THE SIGN
A good turkey hunter scouts heavily and knows where his quarry roosts and struts. A
week or two before the season opens, spend time glassing suspect roosting areas from a
distance during the last hour of daylight. Once you’ve located a roosting sight, then spend time glassing at first light and find out where the turkeys go when leaving the roost. On opening day, set up an ambush and waylay your bird.

You might also consider scouting the property on foot. The late Ben Lee (the well-known turkey call maker) once told me that a gobbler likes to roost close enough to water to hear his droppings splat. I’ve since realized there’s a fair amount of truth to that and I now look for roosting sights near waterways. If you find droppings and feathers beneath large, mature trees you can be sure turkeys are roosting overhead.

Differentiating between gobbler and hen droppings is fairly easy. A gobbler’s droppings
are elongated and often shaped like the letter ‘J,” whereas a hen drops compact piles or
wads. Droppings with a chalky appearance are generally very old.

Keep an eye open for scratch marks in the timber too. Turkeys scratch up cow pies and
turn over leafs and bark from trees searching for their daily intake of insects like crickets,
ants, grasshoppers and caterpillars.

One way to determine whether or not the scratch mark are old or new is to know when
it last rained. If it hasn’t rained recently and the scratch marks are sharply defined, chances
are the sign is fairly new. Likewise, if scratch marks appear washed out then they occurred before the last rain.

Also, look for tracks after a rain. You’ll find tracks near crop-field edges, creek/river- banks, dirt roads and other areas void of vegetation. If the tracks you find in a given area
are few, chances are you won’t find many turkeys either. Continue scouting until you find an area with more abundant sign.

Turkeys also like to dust in dry and powdery soil almost daily. They use the same
locations year after year, much like whitetails do with annual scrapes. Dusting sights are
typically shaped like a bowl and you’ll often find them near field edges, dirt roads and
sandy spots. While scouting, keep a keen eye open for a dusting bowl and you’re likely to
catch a tom frequenting it during midday.

CALL SPARINGLY
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a world champion caller, but I’ve learned enough to get the job done. For me, there’s nothing more exciting at the crack of dawn than to have turkeys gobbling their fool heads off from a nearby roost. In the early years, when a turkey gobbled, I called back.

The longer the conversation would drag on, the louder my calling became. On some occasions it
worked, but other instances the tom would shut up and move away silently. The point to be made here is that beginning hunters often make the mistake of calling too much or too loud. Either one could chase a wary gobbler off!

If you’ve got a few years under your belt, then you know an old longbeard has the knack for taking a fancy to one hen at a time. A wise old tom wont always come to any one call so learn to “talk the talk” on several types. It might be a mouth, slate or box call that coaxes in the tom, so be sure to carry a wide variety of calls.

THE RIGHT SETUP
Killing a turkey on any given day is a matter of being in the right place at the right time and using the right call. If you can’t set up in the right location you surely wont kill a turkey. Turkeys
like to strut in open lanes or green meadows, so avoid thick, gnarly timber ridges or tall grass fields.

Two seasons back I had trouble closing the distance on three old birds that liked strutting the edge of a plowed cornfield that was surrounded by a CRP field. I had scouted the area the week before and watched the toms work the edge of the field. The closest spot to set up was some 60 yards away.

For two days in a row I called the gobblers to the field’s edge, but they stopped short of my effective range.  On the third morning I moved the blind to a narrow green strip 10 yards away.
As the first hint of light gave way I let out a couple of soft clucks, and all three gobblers responded from their roost in unison. A few minutes later it was a fly-down cackle, several yelps,
clucks and purrs that brought the old sultan strutting into range.

PRESENTATION IS EVERYTHING
All gobblers have distinct personalities and some are pretty moody, so success could hinge on your call presentation. Take for example a turkey that continues to answer your call with a gobble versus one that gobbles every five or 10 minutes without any rhyme or reason. The tom that continually answers is the one that’s probably “hot to trot” and offers the best odds of shooting. There could be several reasons why the other tom is less talkative. For instance, he might be
call shy or he is with a hen.  Regardless, you’ll need to assess the situation and weigh out the odds.

The afternoon of opening day this past spring I had an o1′ gobbler hang up for nearly an hour before I was able to serve up the right combination of calling and persuade him into committing.
I set up my blind 20 yards from the edge  of a green strip bordering an untilled soybean field. To test the temperature of the birds in the area, I began with a few yelps and cutts.
Almost immediately a gobbler sounded off and within minutes he appeared along the edge of the field some 100 yards away. As I continued using the same series of calls, the tom moved
closer. Unfortunately, for every two steps forward he took one back the opposite direction. When I limited the calls to just yelps and purrs he began shaving off the distance.

At 25 yards I drew my bow and let the string slip free. The instant the broadhead hit the tom he flew straight into the air and then slammed to the ground in a heap.

IT CAN TAKE TWO
Every year the majority of hunters take to the woods alone. As the season grows long it’s not unusual for turkeys to become wary of anything that sounds like a single hen. In this scenario a call-shy tom is more apt to come into what sounds like more than one hen. Therefore, you might consider “doubling up” on a gobbler if you’ve failed alone.

Another twosome tactic is for the shooter to stay put while the caller continues to move away. This sounds like a hen moving away and has a tendency to give the gobbler the idea a hot hen is slipping from his reach.  When a bird consistently “hangs up” and you’ve made several fruitless attempts, you should pair up with a friend. This tactic positions the shooter in the general location where the tom has been hanging up.

BE PATIENT
One of the biggest dilemmas in turkey hunting is knowing what to do when a tom hangs up just out of range. More often than not there’s usually a barrier that prevents him from progressing all the way. In most cases it’s a barbed-wire fence or deep ditch.

Regardless of whether the turkey stops answering or continues to answer but won’t come in, the first thing I usually do is stop calling and wait 15 minutes or so. If the turkey doesn’t show, then I’ll move in the direction where he was last heard and call again. If the turkey continues to answer then there’s a good chance of killing him. If he wont answer after making a couple of moves then it’s probably a lost cause.

The odds of calling a tom away from a hen are slim but not impossible. I’ve done it a couple of times. I’ve actually had better luck scattering the flock and then calling the gobbler
back a few minutes later.  Like whitetail hunters, turkey hunters have a tendency to leave the
woods too early. Experience has proven that restless gobblers begin roaming the woods looking for hens or strut on hilltops in exhibition during the midday hours.

If you know or suspect a gobbler is “henned up,” you might consider waiting until late morning or early afternoon (in states that allow late hunting) to try calling. A tom will sometimes leave his hen midday to search for others, at which time he’s vulnerable to calling. On a couple of occasions I’ve called in the same tom later in the day that was non-responsive in the morning.

USE A BLIND
Although I’ve bagged turkeys with my bow by spot and stalking or ambushing them in various ways, erecting a blind is the best way to go. The type of terrain often dictates the best method for ambushing a gobbler. Let’s take for example gnarly dense cover. It’s nearly impossible to spot and stalk through it without alerting a bird. A better approach might be building a blind from the
natural surroundings or using a popup blind.

This reminds me of a big gobbler my brother Mark was hunting back in the 1980s. The old tom liked strutting along a fence line on top of a hill where he could see all around. There was a big pile of old wooden fence posts in the corner that Mark used to build a four-sided blind along the
fence line. The following day he killed the old bird at 20 paces.

Big toms aren’t pushovers and they don’t come running to everything that sounds like a yelping hen. To consistently tag a mature gobbler each spring you need to stay on top of your game. No single tactic will guarantee success, but a combination of the tactics mentioned in this article is sure to up your odds. <–<<

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Published by admin on 03 Mar 2010

UNCLE TED BOWHUNTING TECH TIPS

 
UNCLE TED BOWHUNTING TECH TIPS-The Road to Backstraps
by Ted Nugent
 

I bow hunted 360 days in 2009. Being the first year in my life that I didn’t tour, at the tender age of 61 I figured why not! And let me tell you, dear Lord it was exciting!
 
I started bow hunting around 1955 with my dad. We didn’t know exactly what we were doing, but we sure loved doing it. Rarely killed anything in those early years, but we learned the hard way. Eventually, we began to figure it out.
 
In 2009, I killed numerous bears, moose, hogs, kudu, impala, warthog, nyala, sable, eland, waterbuck, wildebeest, Lechwe, Oryx, Aoudad, axis deer, fallow deer, sika deer, Nilgai antelope, blackbuck antelope, mule deer, javelina, whitetails galore, black tails and a bunch of turkeys. It was a spectacular hunting dream come true.
 
The only thing better than bow hunting is more bow hunting. I give away sacred meat as gifts to the deserving. It is a beautiful thing.
 
And as always, it takes constant trial and error and a relentless determination and tenacity to kill game consistently with sharp sticks. As a perfect human being, I blow it royal on occasion. It is how we are made. Pretty darn good, but ultimately incomplete, and mistakes will be made. The real trick in life is to learn from our mistakes, and as someone who bow hunts more than probably any human being alive, my mistakes are aplenty. And hence, so are my lessons.
 
From these often painful lifetime bow hunting lessons comes a few clear and present truisms that I am pleased to share with my Blood Brothers of the mystical flight of the arrow. Fortunately in this day and age, unlimited lessons abound from the plethora of bow hunting TV shows, informative articles by professional bow hunting writers and shared information at the ubiquitous archery shops across America and beyond.
 
My first recommendation is to pay close attention to the master bow hunters on TV. The best of the best like Chuck Adams, Michael Waddell and his Bone Collectors, Fred Eichler and his stunning bow hunting wife Michelle. Great information on strategies can be found on nearly every show by Randy Ulmer, Greg and Jeff Miller, Pat Reeves, Lee and Tiffany Lekosky and so many others. Some provide more instruction than others, but I for one watch as many as I can in order to glean applicable info from them.
 
Great writers like some of those above, plus Joe Bell, Brandon Ray, Mike Ray and numerous other die hard bow hunters will steer you straight, and if paid attention to, provide lessons from them before you have to make mistakes yourself.
 
If I had to chose one word to overview bow hunting, it would be “stealth”. Quiet, ultra aware, sneaky, tuned in stealth.
 
Stealth is ultimately all about a higher level of awareness. For modern man to attain a higher level of awareness than the beasts we hunt is not an easy thing. In fact, it is almost impossible. But it can be done, and by tuning to our surroundings with every ounce of our fiber, our actions, everything, our chances at penetrating the mystical defense zone of prey animals increases exponentially to the effort we put forth. That’s bow hunting 101.
 
Hunt ultra slow. Even in our tree stands. Remain crazy still. Move like a sloth. Radar our surroundings. Examine every detail. Stop often and go as slow as we possibly can. Fred Bear always told me to stay in the shadows and to not step on anything I can step over. Sneaky is as sneaky does.
 
Not just the stealth necessary to get within bow range of the beast, but the imperative stealth of coming to full draw without alerting the animal. The number one violation of this stealth consideration is the self imposed curse of so many archers choosing a bow with too heavy a draw weight. This is a pet peeve of mine, as I am convinced that it is the number cause of attrition in our sport. The archery industry itself is mostly to blame, as it is oftentimes nearly impossible to find a bow under 70 pounds at a pro shop anywhere.
 
Many of my bow hunting friends and I kill everything that walks with 45-50 pounds draw. My petite little wife Shemane, and others, kill consistently with less than 40 pounds. This way we can draw our bows without lifting them up in the air or contorting our bodies which is certain to alarm game. Bottom line, lighter is better. Graceful bow hunting kills game, not kinetic energy and velocity. Know it.
 
Silence is imperative, and that comes from soft, quiet clothing and gear, and how we move. Our arrows sliding across the rest is often the cause of close by game becoming alarmed to our presence. Silence that bow and arrow rest.
 
Scent is always critical. Even with the incredible scent reducing clothing and sprays available today, that I absolutely believe in and use, it is nearly impossible to remain scent free to the degree necessary to fool the nose of prey animals. Wind direction should always be considered and utilized. The nose knows.
 
Timing is a key component of stealth. Even with perfect camouflage, critters can pick up on the slightest movement. Don’t draw that bow if you can see the animal’s eyeball. And not just the target animal, but any animal that might pick up on our movement and alert the others. Wait for the best shot opportunity possible, and then when you decide to draw, do it. Do not get caught at partial draw, or you’re done.
 
Obviously, those who bring home the backstraps do so because they hunt where the game is. Advance scouting will save us time, so we don’t waste any hunting where there is no or little game. Zero in on the best habitat with the most game activity to maximize opportunities.
 
Do not underestimate the benefits of baiting game. If you don’t like it, don’t do it, but I am a big fan of baiting. When acorns are raining down, or alfalfa fields provide the bait, take advantage of them. But if a little spilled corn or C’Mere Deer will help present a shot, for God’s sakes why not?
 
A mock scrape it bait. Food plots are bait. Apple trees, or apples tossed about are bait. Acorns are bait. Waterholes are bait. Doe pee is bait. Use it all. Have fun. Kill game. Live it up.
 
Practicing with archery tackle is more demanding to reach deadly proficiency than with firearms. I believe it is a daily thing. Aim small, miss small. Pick a spot. Shoot 3D animal targets to memorize the exact spot on a form so it all falls into place naturally at the moment of truth. Practice makes perfect, particularly in bow hunting.
 
A cocked, locked and ready to rock bow hunter must be in good physical and mental shape. Good sleep, a smart diet, and overall health is essential to be at the top of our game. Archery is 90% mental, so good physical conditioning and a solid, at ease confidence is imperative.
 
These are some of the Nugent Bow hunting Rules my family, friends and I adhere to. They can make the difference between backstraps and heartbreak. And we all know that backstraps are better every time. Backstraps or bust.

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Published by archerchick on 22 Feb 2010

Aquatic Archery – By Mark Morrison

Aquatic Archery – By Mark Morrison
April 2005

Spark up the off-season by hunting these underwater targets.

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

April 2005

To archers like myself who eat, sleep and bleed bowhunting, it seems there’s never enough time to bowhunt. When there is ample time, sometimes our prey is scarce and the waiting game we play can become monotonous. The same can also be said for sport fishing. However, when you combine these two great past-times-bowhunting and fishing-you’ll step into an all out action-packed activity called bowfishing, one of the fastest growing segments of archery today.

The list of rough fish species available to bow-fishers across the United States is nearly endless. Due to their wide distribution, common carp, buffalo and gar are the species most often pursued. Because of their ever-expanding range and penchant for rapid reproduction, carp are the top fish hunted by bowfishers. Average size “bronze-backs” range from 10 to 15 pounds. But they regularly reach 40 pounds and monsters as large as 80 pounds have been harvested by fishing archers! Carp are strong fighters that prefer wild close-in, fin-to-toe battles.

Arguably the most aesthetic of rough fishes are buffalo (including bigmouth, black and small mouth), which have a distinctive color scheme that features jet-black dorsal areas that fade into shiny silvery-blue sides. Typical buffalo weigh 10 to 15 pounds and trophy specimens grow as large as 30 to 60 pounds! Buffalo are speed merchants, well known to knowledgeable bowfishers for their tremendous battling skills. When struck with a well-placed fishing arrow buffalo don’t hesitate to employ their inherent speed to streak bullet-like for deep-water sanctuary. It sometimes takes a Herculean (but always fun) effort to bring the fast departing fish under control!

Although gar (shortnose, spotted, long-nose and alligator) are found throughout the U.S., they are more predominate in southern waters. Typical spotted and shortnose gar encountered on the water average 5 pounds and hefty specimens will weigh as much as 10 pounds. Longnose gar (easily recognized by their ultra-long, tooth-filled ‘noses”) weigh 5 to 20 pounds and monsters as large as 50 pounds have been bow-bagged in the extreme southern tier of their range. Alligator gar are the monarchs of the rough fish world. “Gator” gar inhabit rivers and reservoirs in the gulf coast regions of states like Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and Florida. These gar are formidable opponents that can tip the scales in excess of 200 pounds! Although any size “gator” gar can test a bowfisher’s mettle, seasoned fish hunters agree that the bench-mark for trophies is 100 pounds.

Longnose gar are plentiful only in a few water ways in my home state of Minnesota. Still every spring and summer, I make many treks to a few select area lakes and aim all my efforts at chasing these challenging fish. One steamy Saturday last July still stands out in my mind. The wind was dead calm, the air sultry and the intense sun had sizzled the temperature to near 100 degrees – nowhere near ideal conditions for any other bowhunting pursuit but perfect for hunting heat-loving longnose gar.

I cranked my outboard to life and raced across the lake toward a small inlet stream. I figured where the creek emptied into a weed infested bay, good numbers of gar should be there to feed and loaf. To avoid spooking the gar I shut the outboard down 100 yards from the inlet. After scrambling upon my elevated platform and lowering the electric foot controlled trolling motor, I began a methodical stalk toward the weedline. The coon-tail weeds were unusually thick…perfect habitat for gar.

Approaching the inlet I was astonished to observe an estimated 100 gar lazily hanging out at varying depths within the weeds. I immediately stopped the trolling motor and silently drifted through the incredible school of gar. My search for a suitable trophy didn’t take long, because a huge long-nose unexpectedly surfaced and gulped air not 5 yards off the boat’s bow!

I carefully brought my recurve to full draw, picked an aiming spot on the gar and drove my heavy Muzzy Penetrator arrow at the gar’s enameled hide. The arrow’s impact was akin to striking a match to gunpowder. One moment the gar was slowly slicing through the water, the next it was displaying acrobatic maneuvers that would’ve made a sailfish seasick! The sight of a 5-foot gar completely clearing the water and shaking it’s toothy beak from side to side was awe-inspiring.

The sharp Stingray fishing point and 350-pound test BCY synthetic line held firm and I soon had the gar reeled alongside my boat. Since I didn’t relish having my hands raked to shreds by the gars protruding razor-like dentures, I was very careful when I grabbed my arrow to hoist the fish aboard. As soon as that was accomplished I permanently silenced the gar with a sharp rap from my “bonker” ( a short section of steel pipe).

This is necessary because a gar of this size coming to life in the confines of a boat can cause a lot of havoc including spilled tackle boxes, shredded clothing and lacerated body parts! Hanging the substantial fish from my electronic
scale revealed it to weigh an incredible 19 pounds. I couldn’t have scripted a better start to my day. Bagging trophies like the above
mentioned gar is the result of pre-season scouting and realistic “on the water” archery practice. Successfully arrowing underwater prey requires you to compensate for light refraction. Simply put, refraction bends light rays in such a way that fish always appear higher (or closer) than they actually are. To compensate for refraction you must aim low to connect with your quarry.

How low? That knowledge only comes with shooting experience. The best rule of thumb is to aim low, then aim lower! Soon your instincts will take over and you’ll begin hitting with surprising consistency! Since no two bowfishing shots are alike in range or depth, sight-equipped bows are a hindrance. Shooting instinctively and letting the shot happen naturally is the ideal method for arrowing rough fish. Also, to block out annoying surface glare and make the task of spotting and arrowing fish easier it is a must that you wear a quality pair of polarized sunglasses and a hat with an efficient sun blocking brim.

My above gar hunt represented a typical, (albeit very exciting) bowfishing outing. Previously, I started my season in early May hunting for bowfin (dogfish) and common carp. I usually continue to hunt carp, buffalo and gar throughout the summer and into early fall. I also travel to neighboring states to hunt Asian bighead carp (a plankton feeding river-ine fish that can easily attain weights in excess of 50 pounds) and white amur (grass carp).
Even with all this variety, I always find time to make several forays for “dusk to dawn’ hunts. My bowfishing rig sports a 2,000-watt generator which sends power to a bank of halogen lamps that pierce the inky blackness, illuminating the water around my boat for 10 yards. Despite the constant humming produced by the generator rough fish like buffalo, carp, sheephead and gar are more relaxed at night and far easier to approach. In fact nighttime bowfishing is so productive many bowfishers (especially those in southern states, where day- time temps can reach dangerous levels) ignore day-light hunting altogether and do all of their bowfishing under the cover of darkness.


I’ve been a self-proclaimed bowfishing addict for 20 years and I’ve acquired all the latest gear to make myself a more efficient predator of fish. I didn’t start out that way though. Like many other youngsters, I literally cut my bowhunting teeth on rough fish at an early age. Each spring when the annual sucker spawning runs were in full gear my buddies and I would grab our little fiberglass recurves and wooden arrows (equipped with crude homemade barbed fishing heads) and dash for the nearest creek in anticipation of filling our stringers with cold water suckers.
Those early days provided a lot of action (which is what restless young archers crave) in the form of endless shot opportunities and heavy bags of fish. But, the real challenge was bringing our fish to shore after a successful shot, You see, at the time we neither had the inclination or resources to attach a reel and line to our bows. So…after arrowing a fish we’d simply ditch our bows and race downstream after the fast departing fish! Knowing where the fish was in the stream was fairly easy; we just had to keep an eye on our brightly colored fletchings juning up like oversized pencil bobbers through the water’s surface. Of course, we had to sprint well ahead of our quarry and ambush them on a shallow stretch to finally bring them to hand. This was accomplished by grasping the arrow and fish simultaneously and tossing the squirming, slippery prize onto the bank.

It was definitely great fun for neophyte archers like us. Because bowfishing is a year-round, day or night sport in many states, it is ideally suited for passionate bowhunters of any age looking to extend their hunting season. Be careful, however because bowfishing excitement is contagious. Your bowhunting goals may soon include harvesting trophies like 4O-pound carp, 50-pound buffalo fish and maybe even 5-
foot streamlined predators with bony armatures and mouths stuffed full of needle sharp teeth!

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Published by archerchick on 22 Feb 2010

One Day Gobbler- By Joe Bell

One-Day Gobbler – By Joe Bell

Bowhunting turkeys is no gimme, yet with the right tactics and a drive to succeed, luck will eventually shine through.

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com


We strolled across the darkened field as dawn’s orange-red plume was rising above the horizon. Double Bull specialist Tom Carroll pulled a crow call from his pocket and blasted through the pre-dawn silence to rile up any nearby gobblers. Immediately a tom fired back, giving us his approximate location. Tom and his good hunting buddy Jeff Zimmerman, who designs game calls, are experts at this trade. Me, I’m more of of a western big-game fanatic, so I just watched and admired these guys who have such intense enthusiasm for bowhunting long beards.

We set up in a meadow of trees, a natural strutting site for big gobblers, according to Tom. Quickly we popped up the Double Bull T-5 Pro Staff blinds. Tom and I would be in one while Jeff would set up 50 or so yards to our side-just in case the birds did something unorthodox. The Flambeau decoys were in place 15 yards from the shooting window, and I was on ready with my bow clutched in my hand.

Minutes went by, the sound of his gobbles telling us he was on the ground now. The hunt was on. Soon the sound grew louder as he closed in on us. Tom and Jeff worked in tandem, reverbating clucks, purrs and yelps with such precision and smoothness.

He was close now, and I got the feeling that the shot would come fast. I was running on one maybe two hours of sleep thanks to a full day’s worth of airports and plane delays. By the time tom and Jeff picked me up it was late into the evening. Then we drove for a couple of hours, grabbed a snack and hit the bunks. Tom informed me that we were looking at a two-hour drive or so to reach the hunting area so this meant little sleep.

About the time the excitement began, so did the confusion. Oh, the tom got close but decided to pass us by. By the sounds, there were too many hens in his entourage to get excited about one more.

As we assembled blinds and decoys, I couldn’t help but admire this Kansas prairie land. It was my first time hunting in the Land of Oz, and I was digging it.The country was very open, with strips of trees and scrub brush laced along waterways. As a big-bodied buck sprung from his bed (with heavy bases and tines), bounding down the ripples in the tall grass, I felt a twinge of romance for the country. I will definitely return to hunt giant bucks here.

Our Tactics
We were hunting Rio Grande birds on 15,000-plus acres of land so we had plenty of options. When it comes to avoiding human calling attempts, eastern gobblers could be the toughest to trick, But in my experience, a wise, old Rio Grande turkey is no slouch in this department. They can go call-shy at the flick of a switch. And that’s what these birds did to us. This meant improvising.

Throughout the bulk of the day, we made typical setups with blinds and decoys and calling, but birds didn’t seem to move our way. We continued to cover ground furiously, looking for that one lonely gobbler. We never found him, but we did spot a big gobbler walking in an alfalfa field, along with a horde of hens.

Our window of opportunity was to dash a 1/2-mile or so to the edge of the field, slither our way down a cut that would hide our approach, then wet up in their travel path. (Hey, this is my kind of hunting- spot and stalk.) Tom And I were staking in the decoys when we got busted. Really, we probably didn’t need the decoys on this setup, which made it that much more frustrating. Tom expertly handled the blind, erecting it ever so slowly.

Tom gave his best calling renditions, piquing the birds’ curiosity. A couple of hens, along with the gobbler began a slow approach, but something was obviously wrong, I’m sure they thought. We watched them return to the field, and after hours of sitting in the blind intermittently, we watched as they slowly filed around the blind – 60 yards past.

I was about to think these birds weren’t killable, bur Tom’s success the day before proved that wasn’t true. Tom and Jeff were out testing the water, so to speak, before I arrived. The winds were gusting, yet Jeff and Tom coaxed two birds off the roost and within 15 yards of the blind. After a few soft purrs, the bird came a-runnin’. A shot from Tom’s bow sent an arrow perfectly through one of the bird’s chests. He captured it all on video.

What I Learned
I’m not a very experienced turkey hunter, but I’m learning quickly just what it takes to consistently bag longbeards with a bow. I know first-hand that you need calling expertise, call-shy birds or not. If you don’t know how to verbally entice a tom, he’ll go somewhere else. You must know what to announce and when to announce it. How do you learn? You follow experts around, and then learn by trial and error on your own, calling a lot and making mistakes.

Also, the turkey hunting I know doesn’t incorporate morning and evening setups only. If you want a bird badly, then you’ll need to stay out all day. Further, a good turkey hunter adapts to changing conditions. This means doing whatever it takes to get your bird. Thin of off-the-wall ideas, and you’ll make it as a turkey hunter. This could mean stalking birds, ambushing them along fields or getting more aggressive with your calling.

Near Day’s End
With little sleep, water or food, the day was turning long. I had a couple of energy bars in my pack, and Tom shared his Kudos bars and dried fruit. By the time evening rolled around, I was becoming dreary eyed. The plan was to go back to a roost area- a possible hen pickup area for gobblers. It was about 5 p.m. when our setup was complete. Tom and Jeff fired up their Bad Buzzard slate calls- a design made personally by Jeff- and instantly the show was on.

We had two gobblers coming at full throttle. The video camera was rolling and the adrenaline was flowing. The longbeards came at us in a zig-zag pattern. Suddenly they were 30 yards away and closing. I wanted to shoot the lead bird, but he passed my shooting window like lightning. I slapped the gap pins on the rear bird and took the shot as he slowly walked by.

He jumped, swayed and stumbled until he came to rest 100 yards away. A finishing arrow put him down for good. It’s kind of bizarre how only one day of turkey hunting could bring about so much. Maybe that’s the nature of the beast, the nature of bowhunting turkeys.

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Published by archerchick on 22 Feb 2010

Nutrition That Kills – By Steve Bartylla

Nutrition That Kills – By Steve Bartylla

May 2005

Quality bucks are the result of quality foods.  Here’s how to provide the nutritional value deer require for each phase of the year.

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

May 2005

Catching a glimpse of movement, I poked my cameraman’s foot and pointed to the approaching buck.  Knowing Craig was burning tape, I engaged myself in debate on whether he was a shooter deer or not.  At first glance, his rack didn’t overly impress.  The profile view displayed respectable mass and high main beams, but his times were relatively short.  Turning to face me, the internal debate ended swiftly upon seeing the 20-inch-plus inside spread.  This was most definitely a 3 1/2 year-old animal, and I wanted him.

As he continued on, I positioned myself for the shot and waited for his headon approach to change.  That’s when things started going wrong.

With the buck barely 5 yards away, I began drawing my Mathews bow.  Unfortunately I’d forgotten about Craig’s filming stand directly above me.  While drawing, I clanked the top wheel of the bow on the bottom of the stand just above my head.

As the buck skipped 20 yards away, I still believed that I could make the shot.  Chances were good that the steady, light rain would cause the mature buck to doubt his ears.  At about 30 yards out, I drew and settled my knuckle behind my ear.  As he now calmly walked straight away, all I needed was for him to make a slight turn.

Luckily, by the time I reached 35 yards out, he had forgotten all about the phantom noise.  Coming to a stop, he paused to scan the creek bottom for does. Turning just a bit as he did, I let the arrow fly.  With the Rocky Mountain Snyper burrowing into his vitals, the buck exploded for the creek bottom.  Just as he neared the bank, he fell to the ground.  The mature nine-point was mine.

The previous year, the hunting outfit www.PerformanceOutdoors.com contacted me as a consultant to help set up their “Sanctuary Farm.”  From a personal standpoint, this buck was the culmination of many hours spent scouting, instituting an advanced food-plot plan and pegging more than 30 stand sites.

In this article, the first of a two part series, I will delve into the advanced food plot strategies I put in place on this specific deer property.  In the next issue, we will cover scouting, marking stand locations for each phase of the season and selecting low-impact stand routes.  Best of all, this seldom seen inside look at a premier outfitter’s approach can be applied to any whitetail hunting land, allowing you to get the most from your property.

YEAR ROUND NUTRITION
For a deer property to reach it’s full potential, the deer themselves must have an adequate amount of high-quality, year round nutrition.  Having plots that draw and hold deer during the season is also important, but deer simply can’t meet their own generic potential unless adequate nutrition is available 365 days year. If quality food sources are lacking during any one season the resident deer will have poor reproduction rates, body size and antler size, and their overall health will suffer.

Furthermore, drawing and holding deer on wwwPerformanceOutdoors.com;s properties has obvious benefits. The more time deer spend on their properties; the better they can protect the local herd from other hunters and poachers. This allows young bucks to grow old, which will increase their hunter’s odds of harvesting what they helped to produce.

However, before any of this was possible, we first needed to. identify what nutrition the deer required.  Much like people, deer need to consume a balance of fats, carbohydrates and protein.

Food high in fats and carbohydrates is great for building fat reserves and supplying energy. When deer are preparing for enduring winter, this can be critical, particularly in  the Upper Midwest and areas further north. it’s also equally important for southern deer that must endure drought induced food shortages.

Though seldom mentioned, fats and carbohydrates also indirectly play a significant role in antler development.  During the spring, the first thing bucks address ls building their bodies back up from the toll that both the rut and winter took on them. With a worn-down body, they’ll  have little energy-energy that can go into growing healthy, large antlers. Since diets high in fat and carbs help to build
and maintain fat, they create potential energy reserves for deer that must endure the negative energy balance. This is why it’s important during the late fall and winter for deer to get the energy they require for healthy antler growth.

On the flip side, the important role that protein plays in antler development is well documented. A buck requires  diets consisting of 20 percent or more protein to produce quality antlers. Recent studies have shown that this level is needed even before velvet antlers begin to form. To get maximum antler production, these levels should be provided from mid-winter on through the shedding of velvet.

Furthermore, protein levels are also important for fetus development, milk production, muscle development and overall health. Though certain vitamins and minerals are also important, satisfying a whitetail deers needs for fats, carbohydrates and proteins is a great place to begin.

HOLDING PLOTS
My first task is always to ensure that the property has enough nutrition to draw and hold deer. In doing this,  I want  many holding plots to be centrally located on the property.  First, that positioning makes it much harder for neighboring hunters to take advantage of my efforts. Second, it helps inspire more deer to bed on the managed properly.

Finally, it provides the hunter with much lower impact routes to and from stands. All too often prime food sources either dot or surround the outer edges of hunting properties.  When that is the case, the hunter is often forced to kick out deer when crossing the fields. Furthermore, it becomes much
more difficult for the hunter to slip into stands between bedding and feeding for morning hunts. A centrally placed food plot fulfills all concerns a hunter might have.

Size is another concern for holding plots. Since they will be the backbone of our nutrition plan, holding plots must be large enough to produce the volume of forage that resident deer will require. There is no set formula for determining this size requirement. It becomes a balance of other available forages, crop yield and deer density. When other feeding options are limited, our planting yield is low and deer density is high we must have larger holding plots than when the reverse is true. As a general rule of thumb, I never make holding plots of grains less than five acres
and plots of greens less than two acres.

Luckily, The Sanctuary Farm already had hay, soybeans and cornfields centrally located.  In this case, it was simply a matter of buying standing corn and beans from the farmer.  Doing so ensured that adequate carbohydrates and fats would be available to deer on the
property, and the hayfield would provide the initial supply of protein.

HARVEST PLOTS
With a good start on holding plots, I shifted my attention to creating harvest plots that would
further address the protein deficiency during late winter, spring and summer. Though harvest plots
certainly can help address nutritional needs, they are also geared more toward effectively positioning deer for a shot. To do so most effectively, they must contain the most highly desired food source in the area, and they must provide a feeling of safety, which means they must be ideally located.  Since harvest plots are designed for on-site hunting, it stands to reason they require plantings that are most effective at drawing deer. When selecting a crop, I most often
go for greens. It has been my experience that deer will gravitate to certain greens as long as they are in an ideal growth state. The only food source that I have found that can consistently draw deer better are acorns.

Because of this, I commonly plant a harvest plot in half clover or alfalfa and half Antler King’s Fall/Winter/Spring or Buck Forage Oats. Clovers and alfalfas can be counted on for drawing in deer until a heavy frost turns them sour.  Once that occurs, few native or planted greens can still be desirable.

However, Antler King’s Buck Forage Oats can survive and thrive in all but deep frosts, as can the
Fall/Winter/Spring mix. Splitting a harvest plot between clover or alfalfa and half Fall/Winter/Spring or Buck Forage. Oats creates a location that will draw deer from the season’s opener on through the closing day.

To provide the feeling of safety the harvest plot should either be tucked in remote corners of open fields or in their own one- or two-acre opening. Surrounding them as much as practical with escape cover encourages daylight feeding.

Achieving ideal location for a food plot requires knowing
the habitat and how deer use it.

To put things in perspective, before I even began planning  wwv. PerformanceOutdoors. com’s harvest plot locations I had already spent several days scouting in both the winter and spring. This was important to get an accurate picture of early-and late-season deer-movement patterns.
While scouting, I placed a premium on locating bedding areas and funnels.

These findings led me to select the locations for the harvest food plots. By knowing where the bedding areas and funnels were. I could position the plots to force deer through funnels while going to and returning from the food sources.

It’s occasionally possible to do that and also have a funnel divide two existing food sources.  That’s the position I took to shoot the buck at the beginning of this article by knowing the deer’s patterns before planning plot locations, I was able to encourage them through an already good funnel.  Bucks traveling between feeding an bedding, as well as those cruising between food sources to check for does, would likely pass this stand site.

When funnels don’t exist, placing harvest plots between bedding areas and holding plots is a good option.  Often, mature bucks aren’t willing to step into the larger holding plots until after dark.  However, those same bucks commonly will engage in daylight feeding in the smaller, seemingly safer harvest plots.  By positioning it between bedding and the holding plot,  many deer that would otherwise go directly to the holding plots will first snack in the harvest plot.

Finally, the shape and size of these harvest plots can be molded to further maximize shot opportunities. Relatively. narrow elbow or horseshoe-shaped plot’s, between one and
two acres in size, provide the ultimate in close encounters. When given the choice, deer prefer to be able to see the entire plot at once. To do this, they must feed at the point in the bend where they can see both ends. At the very least, the majority of bucks will walk through that point to investigate the other side.

In either case, stands positioned at the mid-point of the plot, on both sides of the bend point, will provide shots at any of these animals. As a bonus, this placement also allows one of the two stands to be safely hunted during any wind direction. Something, as seemingly little as the shape of our of harvest plot can dramatically increase the number of deer harvested from these stands.

During the 2004 archery season,
www. PerformanceOutdoors.com’s hunters took four trophy bucks and missed shot opportunities at three others on their 55-acre Sanctuary Farm. Just as important, trophy buck sightings continued throughout the entire season.

As you will see in the next part of this series, many factors played into this success. However, the well-planned food plot strategy played a significant role. -When a property possesses adequate protective cover, a combination of well-planned holding and harvest plots, it will increase the health, quality and number of deer on a property as well as make them easier to harvest. Instead of guessing where the deer will feed most, we can dictate to them where they want to be. That alone provides the hunter with a tremendous advantage. As almost any serious whitetail hunter would
agree, we can use every ethical advantage we can get. <— <<

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Published by archerchick on 22 Feb 2010

12 FEET UP – By Rob Evans

12 FEET UP – By Rob Evans
April 2005

After 32 record-book bucks, this Minnesota bowhunter doesn’t see any disadvantages of low treestand perches.

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

My hunting partner had told me that my perch for the day would be a mere 12 feet above the floor, so I was pretty certain that I could keep my dramatic fear of heights at bay. I climbed up the tree at “0 to dark-30,” and waited for the sun to wake up.

As the darkness began to slip away, I looked below me and found that while one part of the tree was only 12 feet high, the stand that I was sitting in was over a ravine. There I sat, staring at an abyss that was no less than 80 feet below. My job, my partner told me, was to simply shoot across a narrow ravine to a well-use trail. All I could do was fight off a panic attack. Sweat Poured out, I was shaking, and my fingernails were blood red as I hugged the tree down to safety. We came back later, and my friend retrieved my bow and other gear as I sat firmly planted below.

I won’t lie, my hunting style was born due to my fear of heights, but I’ve learned that there is no reason a person needs to sit 20-plus feet high as many trophy hunters claim. In fact, I can sit and look at some 32 record-book bucks mounted in my home that prove my point. I don’t unveil my buck kills to boast, but rather to prove that there is no shame in hunting low.

I’ve taken my fair share of ribbings from my &quot;expert&quot; buddy trophy hunters. But the fact is, while in the Army, I learned to improvise, and that’s just what I find myself doing by hunting low exclusively out of ladder stands.

Precautions Are Needed
First off, I don’t believe that hunting low always that deer will be able to scent a person. In the morning and evening when hunting, when hunting is often best, many time the wind is often low. With that in mind, if I’m sitting at 12 feet and whatever scent that exists might disburse similar to a cone, like sonar. Say my scent goes down and out from the tree at ground level out about 8 feet. Well I better make sure that the shots I need to make are 20 yards or better from my stand so that the bucks just won’t nail me. If a person is 20 feet or higher, their scent has a longer time to expand before it hits the ground, meaning that a buck has more scent surface area in which to detect you.

As with any hunting situation, I am almost overly cautious with the way I enter and leave my stand. At no time am I going to sit a stand if I have walked an area where my scent could blow into a buck’s lair. Further I often have two stands setups for hunting-one spot so that I can manipulate the wind in a matter that will keep my scent safely away from the deer.

My de-scenting preparation is extreme. Wildlife Research offers plenty of elixirs that not only mask, but also kill unfriendly odors. A Scent Lok suit is all the additional insurance needed to keep scent bottled up.

I also de-scent all my equipment- from my bow to my ladder stand. As I set up, I’m wearing rubber gloves, and I douse my equipment with spray. Once I set up my ladder, as I descend the the stand, I soak every rung of the ladder with spray so it is literally dripping when I’m at ground level. When I come back to hunt the spot, the stand and all around it is void of any impure smells.

One buck, shot in Minnesota back in 2002, was taken not more than 10 to 12 feet above the ground. I was hunting a small 1/2 -acre wood lot off of a picked corn field and slough. The spot was small, so most hunters would think with it being in the open that a person would have to get really high to evade a buck’s glance.

I found a low cedar tree off a fence row that was perfect, but not very tall. I passed up several nice bucks in the couple of times I hunted, having and eye on a nice 150-class eight-pointer. Having no luck, I laid a scent trail from the slough from a hot area I had located about 60 yards from my stand. I put just a drop of scent from the hot area all the way to my stand and just past. I never put too much scent down, just enough to spark curiosity. In this case, we were talking about and early December hunt, so the bucks were by no means in peak rut.

After laying the trail a few hours later a 187- inch 12- pointer walked right where he needed to be. He returned to his slough about 60 yards away and fell over dead.

Aren’t Ladders Cumbersome?
A friend of mine who was sold on portable hang-ons and tree steps once bet me that he could get set up much quicker than I could. The bet was that we had to set up the stand, fire an arrow, and return to the truck. He had 12 tree steps and a hang-on; I had my ladder stand. We both set up and I was back at the truck sipping on a glass of port I had in my backpack. He never gave me the business again about my ladder stand and it’s cumbersome qualities.

Customize Your Stand
When I hunt, I do it with intelligence about the area I plan to use. I scout during, before and after the season so that when I need to set up I’m in and out quickly. For the early season, I set up by midsummer and have everything ready to go for an opening weekend hunt. For the pre-rut and rut, I will have a stand ready in the general area that basic hunting principles show: funnels, bedding areas and food sources. The same goes for late-season hunts; you need to have some stands set, but I always carry extra in case I need to improvise.

When I set up a ladder stand, I always try to do it in a cedar or pine tree. For one, they offer added scent blocking, And two, they offer good cover. I try to never cut any branches from the tree I’m hunting in, but instead, tie off limbs to my stand for an ad-hoc blind around me. I carry some twine and a large bolt with me. When a limb is in the way, but too high for me to reach, I tie the twine to the bolt and toss the bolt up above the limb. Then I pull the limb down and tie it to the the rungs of the ladder. I can make a blind in this fashion in just a few minutes and literally envelope myself in a cocoon of limbs that no whitetail will see through.

I’ve had big bucks bed right below me, and even have had them scratch their backs on the ladder itself. If you do things right, with regard to scent control and camouflaging the stand there is no better cover out there.

Subtle Tips
Often times guys tell me that they set up stands high so they can get away with more movement on the stand. To that I say, if you are comfortable in the stand, you don’t need to be shifting around and stretching every few minutes. I’m 60 years old now and I like to be comfortable and safe when I hunt. A nice ladder is easier to climb, has a big platform and a comfortable seat that many smaller portables don’t offer. You have to be in the woods to shoot a deer, and ladder stands just make the hunt more enjoyable. To further the ladder’s benefits, I have often used individual sections of them to carry/drag game out of the woods.

Beyond Strategy, Luck Plays a Factor
Beyond the tools a person chooses to use in their pursuit for big bucks, I want people to know that I don’t think of myself as the most skilled hunter in the world. I’m lucky. And luck plays 75 percent of the game. Sure, a person needs to hunt using sound strategy, and they need to play the wind; they need to hunt smart. But the bottom line is that a person needs some luck to take large bucks, and for that matter, they need to hunt in an area that has large bucks.

Each person may have their own standards for what they call a trophy animal. But I think that when they pursue that animal, they can do it from the 5- to 12 – foot range just as I have and be just as successful as the cowboys out there who claim there noses need to bleed from their stand.

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Published by archerchick on 22 Feb 2010

Get Aggressive – By Bob Robb

Get Aggressive – by Bob Robb

April 2005

There are times when normal stand-hunting tactics just don’t work on whitetail bucks. Here’s how to be bold to find success.

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

April 2005

As a born and bred western spot and stalk hunter, being aggressive is ingrained into my psyche. I like to find ’em and then go get ’em. Sitting in a tree stand for hours and hours, still as a piece of oversized bark, is just about as easy for me as sitting on a bed of nails. Still, I learned years ago that scouting for hot sign, setting a tree stand as quickly and quietly as possible, then waiting for a buck to come by is by far the best way to fill tags.

And yet, there are times when that doesn’t work. The deer simply may not come by. And even if I’ve set my stand in the right place, the deer often walk out of range – and out of my life. Few things frustrate me more.

Lately, I’ve taken to becoming more aggressive in my whitetail hunting. I still scout hard for hot sign and patiently sit in treestands in the belief that this remains the best way in the world to get a controlled shot. But when stealth tactics don’t pay off, I’ve taken to becoming bold, trying to make something happen rather than passively adding another untouched tag to my already impressive collection.

How It All Started
It was a bitter November day in southwestern Ohio, the wind adding a real bite to the 15-degree air temperature. Set up on a power line cut surrounded by some serious thickets, I was watching a doe lead a 140-class nine-pointer along a trail away from my stand.

After a week of nothing, I was not going to let this happen without trying something. Using an inhale/exhale combination grunt/bleat call, I first gave a pair of doe bleats. As the doe stopped and turned, I gave the deer a short series of moderately loud grunts while ticking my rattling horns together. I was hoping to fool the deer into thinking there was an estrous doe in the thicket directly behind my stand, and she was the focus of a pair of young bucks who were sparring over the right to breed her.

For whatever reason, it worked. The doe took several steps my way, staring into the thicket. The buck now had his attention momentarily diverted from his current amour, and when I bleated again, he bit, trotting my way to have a look.

In Fantasyland I could tell you that he stopped broadside at 20 yards, where he took my arrow through both lungs. In reality he stopped at 27 steps, slightly quartering away and looking back over his shoulder. I had so much “stuff” out trying to call the deer that I couldn’t get it stowed away in time, so when I grabbed my bow and tried to draw I knocked my rattling horns, clanking them loudly against the metal of my treestand. Adios, amigo.

That episode stuck in my mind, though. Why can’t I make things happen more often, I thought, by using a controlled aggression approach? the answer is, I could. You can, too.

One, Two, Three…
Since that time I’ve begun experimenting a bit by combining several different aggressive deer hunting techniques in an effort to add realism and excitement to my hunting. That isn’t to say that I’ve abandoned the stealth bomber approach. It remains my favorite way to hunt. But when it isn’t producing, I’m no longer afraid to get with it and try to make something happen.

One common way to make things happen is with the rattling horns. Nor during the pre-rut, when clashing and banging them hard and loud to stimulate a real knock-down, drag-out fight is the common technique, but instead earlier, in mid-to late-October before the pre-rut phase of the rut is in high gear.

At this time bucks like spar with each other as much a social activity as two bucks getting rid of their aggression. When they spar they don’t bang each other around a lot. Instead, they carefully put their horns together to push, shove and twist in a “pre” pre-rut test of strength.

When there’s nothing happening around my late-October stand, I might try “sparring” with my rattling horns or, just as effective, a rattle bag, while making a short series of grunts. I like to this in an area where I know the buck-to-doe ratio is 3:1 or better, and that I’ve seen small bachelor groups of bucks hanging together. I might even add a basic doe bleat or two when I rest between sparring series. The goal is to make any nearby bucks think there is some friendly competition over by my tree and have them come investigate. I fooled a nice Mississippi 10-pointer a few days before Halloween one year with just such a sequence. This time I didn’t bozo it and made the 25-yard shot as he stood looking and listening for the group of deer he just knew he were right there someplace.

When aggressively rattling during the pre-rut and rut periods, I’ve taken to getting down out of my tree and working the horns from the ground. That’s because real buck fights cover lots of ground and will include the sound of stomping, trees being thrashed, brush being mashed to bits, and grunting and bellowing. This is no time to be shy. If  I’m going to rattle, I’m going to make it sound like two big boys are fighting to the death. I have a spot picked out to rattle from, often making a makeshift ground blind set 40 or 50 yards away from my treestand.

It does work. I’ve had good bucks come to the horns this way, but I’ve yet to get a shot at one of them for a variety of reasons. One time a nice ten-pointer rushed up behind me, stopping within 10 yards of my blind and pinning me like a pointer pins a covey of quail. Obviously, I still have some refining to do with this technique, but that day was one of the most exciting I’ve ever experienced in the whitetail woods.

Fake Deer
Perhaps the hottest technique in whitetail hunting today is the use of deer decoys. The options are endless. Standing bucks, bedded bucks, bedded does, big bucks, little bucks, mature does, fawns….you name it.

When decoying first became popular, the common method of use was a single deer, be it buck or doe. Then some folks began using several decoys, which I’ve found to work very well from time to time, too. In fact, a young buck standing over a bedded doe, with or without another “confidence” doe in attendance can be a dynamite way to draw roaming bucks to you in a flash. Why? Because during the rut a buck will relentlessly chase a doe until she’s ready to be bred. If he pushes too hard , though, she’ll simply lie down to prevent the buck from mounting her prematurely. A passing mature buck seeing this scene knows that he can kick the snot out of that tending buck, then take his place as he waits for the doe to stand up. When she does, he’ll be the one all over her. If I see a buck passing by a setup like this, I like to add some breeding bellow-like doe bleats, which are the sound a doe makes when she’s ready to be bred.

Another relatively new technique is to use a doe decoy in combination with a doe-in-heat scent stick like those from Deer Quest Products. When a buck travels by and sees the doe, the estrous scent is often enough to make him come closer to check it out.

The key to decoys is to use them in areas where they can be easily seen by passing bucks. These spots include field edges, open stands of hardwoods, creek crossings and similar places. Using decoys in thick cover can startle deer, though. It’s best to give them a bit of time to see your fake deer and get comfortable with it.

Aggressive Deer Calling
This is by far my most favorite way to try and make it happen instead of letting bucks walk past my stand and out of my life. While there are a ton of variations on the basic deer calls-grunt, bleat, and snort- I like to keep it relatively simple. Instead of using lots of variations, I’ll combine two different calls together.

The “breeding bellow,” also known as doe-in-estrous bleat, was first popularized by game call maker Jerry Peterson of Woods Wise Products. It is a drawn-out wailing sound that imitates the sound of a doe that’s ready to be bred, right now. When used in combination with some toned-down buck grunts, it can be a dynamite way to get a roaming buck to come see what’s happening by your tree.

Or, how about this one: Combine the breeding bellow with two different tending buck grunts, made with the grunt tubes from two different call makers? In this scenario, I’m trying to tell a large buck that a very hot doe is being chased by two small bucks that he should have no trouble whipping.

Regardless, when deer calling there are a couple of things to keep in mind. “You will have your best luck calling if there is some thick cover around your tree stand,” said David Hale, half of the legendary Knight & Hale game-calling team. When a buck responds to your calling, he’s going to be looking past your tree trying to see the deer that are talking. If there is some thick brush, he may be fooled into thinking they are hidden from his view, and to see them he needs to com closer. But if it is wide open and he can’t see any other deer, the majority of the time he is going to get suspicious and keep walking.”

Hale prefers calling at deer he can see. However, when it’s dead quiet in the woods, he’ll call blind, hoping to draw a passing buck’s interest. ” a lot of people are afraid that by blowing their deer calls blind, they will spook deer they have not yet seen,” Hale said. ” I think the other way. I have lots of confidence in my calling and believe that if there are no deer passing by my stand on their own, it’s better for me to try and draw them there than sit for hours looking at nothing but squirrels and woodpeckers.”

Hit the Silk
For most whitetail hunters, the thought of bailing out of their treestands and hunting from the ground is a frightening proposition.There’s no doubt that a treestand is a tremendous deer-hunting tool. However, when the deer aren’t coming past your stand, or there isn’t a good tree to use over some smoking-hot sign, get aggressive and try hunting from the ground. You might be surprised at the results.

My friend Bill Vaznis, an outdoor writer from upstate New York, is a firm believer in hunting whitetails from ground level. In fact, still-hunting with his bow has produced a good buck for Bill for several years in a row. ” I like to be mobile so tat the deer can’t pattern me in a treestand,” Vaznis told me one day as we shared an Alabama deer camp. “There are some things you have to do to be an effective still hunter, like never hunt the wind wrong, wait for a fresh rain or fresh snow to dampen footing and move slow as a snail. But it can be a great way to sneak up on good bucks that never know you’re there.”

I’ve been known to jump out of my tree and try to intercept bucks that are passing through my area and are obviously not going to come within range. One day in New York, I was set up on the intersection of three heavily used trails passing over a wide oak flat. When I saw the big eight-pointer moving up out of the bottom, I knew he was going to miss my tree by a hundred yards. So rather than try to call him in, I quickly climbed down the ladder and , like a torpedo, used a small depression as cover and set off at a trot on a course to intercept him. The plan worked perfectly. I got set up behind the trunk of a large oak, drew my bow, and as the buck stopped to the sound of a mouth grunt I released.

Unfortunately I guessed the range at 35 yards when it was only 25. That was the days before the days of laser rangefinders, a tool I never leave home without anymore. I like to hunt from ground blinds too, especially when the leaves are off the trees and a treestand sitter sticks out like a sore thumb against the steel gray of a winter sky. After six days of frustration in Kansas, I grabbed a climbing stand and went scouting for five hours, finally locating a spot where fresh scrapes, large cedars freshly rubbed to the quick, and fenceline crossings were all within 50 yards of each other. Unfortunately, it was on a bald knob, and the only trees were bare as toothpicks. I quickly made a ground blind that put me downwind of the sign, got comfortable and waited. Right at slap dark a nice eight-pointer came and worked the scrape, then began moving past the rub to the crossing trail. This time I had my rangefinder, and the 35 yard shot was a slam dunk.

When hunting from ground level, I have become a firm believer in wearing scent-adsorbing clothing and liberally using scent-eliminating sprays on both my clothing and my equipment. A combination of the new Windstopper Supprescent outerwear from Bass Pro Shops, which features a soft, quiet micro-fleece shell and a breathable Gore Windstopper membrane that also blocks 100 percent of the wind together with the new Rocky Gore-Tex Supprescent hunting footwear is the best way I know to help keep deer from smelling me when the wind takes a turn for the worse.

Be Bold!
In all big game hunting, there comes a time when you have to take a chance, roll the dice, break the mold and try to make something happen. When bowhunting whitetails, that’s not to say you should abandon the tried-and-proven stealth method of of setting a treestand over fresh sign, then patiently and quietly waiting ’em out. But when that isn’t working, being bold and aggressive can turn a boring day int the woods into one filled with close encounters of the exciting kind. Use your imagination and experience to guide you, then go get ’em. You just might be glad you did.

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