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Published by archerchick on 11 Dec 2011

Big Deer In The Dust Bowl – By Wayne Van Zwoll


Archery World September 1984
Big Deer In The Dust Bowl – By Wayne Van Zwoll

The Rules On Big Bucks

Dust bowl. Wheat. Prairie. Such are
the things we think of when someone
mentions Kansas. If you’re up on your
history, you might also remember the Dalton
Gang and Carrie Nation. But what isn’t so
obvious about Kansas are the spectacular
bowhunting opportunities it offers today.
Dennis Rule knows about those opportunities.
His home state tendered him a whitetail
buck in 1982 that scored an even 202 Pope
and Young, making it the second largest ever
taken in Kansas — and number 15 on the alltime
non-typical Pope and Young list. It happened like this:

Rule, a 31-year-old Wichita resident, was
hunting in Clark County, in the western part
of the state. He and his brother Bill are seasoned
bowmen and had scouted their territory
well, putting up portable tree stands as early
as August. Some of the stands had proven
more productive than others, of course, and
by rut the brothers knew where to spend their
time.

November 13 was a cold, windy day, especially
in a tree stand. But Rule is a persistent
archer and believes that time in the woods is
often all that separates successful from unsuccessful
whitetail hunters. He shivered and
waited.

By 4 p.m. he had passed up numerous
does and four mature bucks, including one he
thought would have scored 150, well over the
P&Y minimum of 125. “It was a big, even
eight-point,” he reminisced later. “But the
wind was strong, and I didn’t think I could
make a clean shot. Besides, the rut was just
reaching a crescendo and I didn’t want to set-
tle for a mediocre buck yet.” Mediocre, in-
deed! But this is Kansas.

At about 4:30 a movement in the surrounding
thicket resolved itself into a deer
a big one, “This buck’s rack was enormous; I
could see that right away,” Dennis remembers.
“Wind or no wind, I had to take a shot at
him .”

Slowly the archer drew and anchored.
When the buck stopped, he released the string
on his 55—pound PSE Laser and drove a four-
blade Rocky Mountain Razor toward his tar-
get.

The wind tugged at the arrow and the
broadhead entered too far back. The buck
wheeled and bolted, then halted in a tangle of
brush. Rule could barely perceive the outline
of his quarry, but he saw the animal reach
around and bite off the shaft.
Within minutes the deer joined a group of
lesser whitetails feeding in a green wheat field
just outside the perimeter of the thicket, but
before long the big buck left them and headed
across the field toward some heavy brush.

“I was really afraid I’d lose him if he made
the trees,” Rule recalls. But he needn’t have
worried. The broadhead had nicked the
buck’s femoral artery and the animal collapsed short of the timber.

“I didn’t see him go down, so after gingerly
trailing him for a few yards across the
field I decided it would be best to finish the
job in the morning.” Like all savvy bowhunters,
Rule is almost paranoid about pushing an
animal that has sustained a hit. “When in
doubt, it’s always better to leave the trail and
come back to it later,” he says.

The next morning Rule trailed his buck to
where it had fallen and claimed the huge 17-
point rack. “It was a dream come true. I knew
there were bucks like that in the area, but I
have a great deal of respect for such monsters
and wondered if I’d ever get the chance to
arrow one .”

Dennis’ hunt was over, but brother Bill
still had a tag to notch. He wasted little time.
While his brother was hauling his trophy from
the field, Bill downed a fine typical whitetail
that also made Pope and Young. He would repeat
the performance a year later — in 1983
— with an even bigger buck!

Are the Rules hunting on a private deer
preserve? What is responsible for their success?
I was curious. So I asked Dennis. His
answers are valuable, not only for Kansas
bowmen, but for others hunting the agricultural Midwest.

First, Dennis, like many ambitious
archers today, is finding big bucks in places
that weren’t given much consideration just a
few years ago. The entire state of Kansas
might fall into that category! It wasn’t until
recently that the Sunflower State even had a
firearms deer season, and now more rifle permits
are being issued each year. Bowhunters
have an advantage here. in that there is no tag
quota for archery permits. Still. no over-
counter sales of any big game tags are allowed
in the state; even bow licenses must be purchased
(before October ll at regional fish and
game offices or at the headquarters (Rt. 2,
Box 54 A, Pratt, KS 67124). The 1983 bow
season ran from October l through November
30, and December 12 through 31. Dates for
1984 are similar.

Kansas’ deer population is on the up-
swing. Biologists estimate there are approximately
15,000 mule deer in the state now, and
80,000 whitetails. Like deer in other farmed
areas, Kansas bucks grow fast and big. It is
not unusual for a yearling to sport an eight-
point rack. Really massive antlers are more in
evidence at locker plants each season. It’s not
surprising that Fish and Game Commission
big game specialists expect the state whitetail
record to be broken any day.

“We’re always looking for new areas to
hunt,” Dennis explains. “The first year in
new territory is always a little tough. because
you are unable to draw on past knowledge of
buck movements there during the rut. Sure,
we do a lot of preseason scouting, but scouting
in summer and early autumn isn’t nearly
as beneficial as being in the woods when the
deer are rutting.”

Dennis and his brother build some of their
tree stands and use commercial ones as well.
“If we’re hunting a familiar area, we place
our stands where they’ve been effective before.
In new country, we locate them on the
main trails and near likely scrape pockets and
secondary trails. One of our most successful
ploys is to use a “bottleneck” in a shelter-belt
or creek bottom to funnel the deer to us. The
strips of timber bordering farmlands nearly
always have a narrow spot. Deer will stick to
the brush when moving during daylight
hours, and a stand at a bottleneck will give
you coverage of a large patch of cover.”

The Rules have been known to construct
their own bottlenecks — with spectacular
results. “Several years ago Bill had a tree
stand in a very good location and had spotted a
fine buck from it repeatedly during the season.
But the animal just wouldn’t come close
enough. Or the angle would be wrong. Or
brush would be in the way. So in mid-season
Bill constructed a brush barrier out of natural
materials he found near the stand. Normally
we don’t like to disturb a stand site once we’ve
started hunting from it, but Bill was desperate.
His efforts paid off. He arrowed that buck
the next time it came in. It was really a beautiful
animal – didn’t score well typically be-
cause of all the deductions, but a bragging-
size buck nonetheless.”

Bill and Dennis install their stands early —
usually in late August or the first week in September.
“But I like to save two or three for
emergency placement after the season
opens,” Dennis notes. “Especially if I’m
hunting a new area, the added flexibility pays
off. Sometimes buck movements during the
rut just can’t be predicted early. Extra stands
erected at last-minute notice near scrapes
have produced handsomely for us

The brothers like to hunt from tree stands.
Dennis maintains that in much of the Kansas
brush, still hunting trophy bucks is all but futile.
“I’m not saying it’s impossible to kill a
big buck that way, but it’s probably 10 times
as hard as from a tree stand ,” he asserts.

Proper camouflage is vital to success, according
to this bowman. “I wear camo clothing, of course.
And I mask my scent with a
commercial preparation that smells like prairie
vegetation. Skunk scent will also cover
your odor, but a skunk only sprays when it’s
alarmed. I think deer may be more alert when
walking into a scent pool left by a skunk then
when sniffing the odor of natural vegetation”

When not hunting, the Rules store their field
clothes in sacks, adding a bit of this scent before
sealing them. That way, their entire wardrobe
smells like prairie plants.
Though both men hunt most of the season,.
Dennis says he prefers the last week in October,
the first two in November. Why?
The bucks are a bit more predictable then.

They’re all fired up for the rut, of course. and
are beginning to make scrapes. But most of
the does haven’t come into estrus yet, and the bucks are
methodically making their rounds
in search of those that have.

Later, during the peak of the rut, bucks may be just
a little active, but they’re a whole lot less predictble.
A hot doe may draw a buck away from his
travel patterns; he may not behave at all like
you expect him to. He’s crazy.”

During the rut Bill and Dennis use scent
pads soaked in doe-in—heat scent to lure bucks
to their stands. “We hang the swatches on
bushes about 20 yards from the base of our
trees. I like to put my stand about 15 feet
up. This arrangement guarantees an easy shot
if the buck stops to sniff the scent pad.

Many hunters handicap themselves unnecessarily
by climbing too high or putting scent pads too
close to their trees. Either tactic makes for a
steep-angle shot and often a poor presentation.

Bill Rule frequently uses shed antlers to
rattle in his buck. Over the last three seasons
he has rattled in 12 trophy-class deer. “I rattle
for about 45 seconds, then wait 15 to 20 minutes
before repeating,” Bill explains. “If a
buck is going to come, he’ll generally show
up by the third rattle. Sometimes they come in
right away, throwing caution to the wind.

Bill’s 1982 buck was a huge 13—pointer
that scored 134 on the Pope and Young scale.
The buck came to his rattling at a dead run
and Bill arrowed the deer at 15 yards. “It was
an easy shot,” he recalls. “The four-blade
Rocky Mountain Razor from my 55-pound
Bear Kodiak went through both lungs. The
morning before I took this buck, I’d rattled in
two smaller, 10—point bucks and a nice six-
pointer.”

Bill maintains that, to be effective in rattling,
you must use large antlers and make the
clashing sound like two dominant bucks engaged
in serious battle. “Mature bucks that
may be listening just won’t pay attention to the
light ticking of little antlers,” he says. Bill of
ten uses small elk headgear to get the desired
effect. “Dennis has a dandy pair of shed
whitetail antlers at home that would be just
perfect for rattling,” he laughs. “But he
doesn’t have the heart to damage them!

The last buck Bill Rule brought home
dressed at 264 pounds and scored a whopping
159 typical points. It was shot at 14 yards. A
part-time taxidermist, Bill has been an avid
bowhunter for many years and has arrowed 47
big game animals, including 14 Kansas
whitetails.

What are the most important things to
keep in mind if you’re after a trophy Kansas
whitetail and or, for that matter, a big buck in
any agricultural area? The Rules offer this advice:
1. Be persistent. Don’t expect to connect
with a big deer the first time out, or the 10th.
Dennis spent over 150 hours in tree stands in
1983.
2. Do your homework. Not just before the
season, either. Start early. Know where
you’re going to hunt by mid-summer. Scout in
August, and have the majority of your tree
stands up by mid-autumn. Continue scouting.
Be observant.
3. Know your quarry. You cannot expect
to kill a big buck unless you’re intimately familiar
with the habits of whitetail deer and
with his habits specifically. Never underestimate
your quarry; his survival instincts are at
least as keen as you can imagine.
4. Be very, very careful going to and com-
ing from your stand. Do everything possible
to disassociate any human disturbance from
that area. Never get down from your stand
without first clearing the area of deer. If deer
are present when Dennis wants to leave, he
waits until they move away. Should a few individuals
choose to stay and loaf, he tosses
small objects into the brush until the animals
become nervous and leave. He doesn’t get
down until they’re all gone.
5. Stick to your standards. Trophy hunting is
not just shooting the biggest buck you
see. It’s setting a minimum acceptable standard
and passing up anything that doesn’t
measure up. You’ll never kill a big buck if you
insist on shooting little ones. The Rules will
occasionally take lesser animals late in the
season — “meat deer” — but never until the
rut is over and their chances for a trophy all
but gone.

Kansas deer are healthy, well-fed and plentyful.
Yes, Bill and Dennis hunt private land;
most of Kansas is privately owned. But their
hunting grounds — and areas just as productive
– are open to other bowmen who show
courtesy for landowners and respect for their
property – and who ask permission early in
the summer.

Yes, Bill and Dennis are experienced
archers. But they have no secret formula for
success. Hunting smart, spending time in the
woods, and paying attention to detail augment
the hard work we all know is a prerequisite for
putting big racks on the wall.

Do their tactics work for others? Well , last
year Dennis’ wife Janie arrowed a fine eight-
point whitetail. It was her second year of
hunting. Perhaps that says as much about deer
hunting in the dust bowl as any statistic. And
it certainly supports her husband’s contention
that big farm-country deer are available to
every enterprising archer!

>>>—>

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Published by archerchick on 11 Dec 2011

Persistent Tracking Pays~ By Shirley Grenoble


Archery World November 1976

Persistent Tracking Pays – By Shirley Grenoble

by Shirley Grenoble —
JUST BY THE WAY Fred yanked open the door to the coffee
shop and hurried to a stool I guessed he had something exciting
to tell me. Before I could even say “Hi” he began gushing. “Hey
Shirley, guess what?”

I poured him a cup of coffee and hoped business would be
slow for the next few moments. I was anticipating sharing the
savor of success with a fellow hunter.
“You got your deer!” I countered.
“No, but I put an arrow into one yesterday afternoon.
Yeah,” he continued, “I got an arrow into his middle. I followed
him about forty yards but there wasn’t much blood so I
gave up. Figure I can go back and get another one. Maybe I’ll
even go back this afternoon.”

I hoped I’d misunderstood. “You mean you wounded a deer
and then gave up trying to find it? Why?”
“Well,” he said, “Why should I knock myself out tracking
that one? ‘I`here’s plenty of deer on the hill and I’ll get one
sooner or later.” He was actually beaming, feeling that just
putting an arrow into a deer was some sort of accomplishment.
I stifled the impulse to knock the coffee cup into his over
abundant lap. “You are talking to the wrong person if you
think I’m impressed,” I snapped. “I think what you did is
despicable.”

The red flush that crept across his face told me my reaction
was obviously not what he’d been expecting. `°Huh,” he
blustered defensively, “I suppose you never missed anything.”
“Fred, the truth is, I’ve missed shots lots of times, as much as
anybody. But an arrow in a deer isn’t a miss, its a hit. And that
calls for every possible effort to recover it.”
Little did I suspect then that before that very week was up a
whitetail would make me prove my words.

Tracking wounded game is an art which is perfected with
experience. However, even the expert faced that first time. One
need not, indeed should not, go afield with bow and arrow
without some basic knowledge of tracking, the more the better.
There is usually an “old-timer” within the circle of every
hunter’s acquaintances who would be glad to give some basic
instruction in tracking. There are excellent books or chapters of
books devoted to the subject. They could be obtained at the
local library or through the Bookshelf in this magazine.
For over twenty years my husband Ken and I have shared an
unquenchable passion for hunting. We are both NRA-certified
Hunting Safety instructors. Ken’s father was a Pennsylvania
Forest Ranger. In the small town where we grew up, hunting
was the biggest event of the year. Getting your first deer meant
you had marched into manhood. (Or womanhood in some
cases.)

So about three days a week, when noon comes, I leave the
coffee shop, jump into my four-wheel-drive vehicle and head
for the hills. The hills in my case being the heart of the Endle
Mountains in Bradford County, Pennsylvania.
My first afternoon in a gnarled jack pine next to an old
orchard, a fat doe and two yearlings came in and ate apple
until they were pot-bellied. I was tempted to shoot the doe be
held off, in hopes that the buck that had made some nearby
rubs would appear. He never did show up. But the doe came
regularly to the tree and she began to look better and better to
me as the season wore on.

Ken was having much the same experience at his stand
which was about 1000 yards from mine. He was situated in a
clump of spruce trees that border a small clearing. A couple of
does were browsing in the clearing before moving on to the
orchard. So in the last week of season we made a pact: If the
does came to our stands, we would shoot. We rather liked the
idea of our both bagging a deer with the bow in the same
season.

I was settled in my pine tree about fifteen minutes when the
doe and yearlings came tip·toeing in. Slowly I raised my bow-
nocked an arrow and waited. The classic symptoms washed
over me——trembling, heart pounding, chills—the whole works?
But at last she moved away from the yearlings and stepped
into an open spot. I drew and released. The arrow hit too low-
in the shoulder I thought. She jumped slightly, then whirled
and ran off into the brush.

Fighting to remain calm, I waited a while and then climbed
out of the tree. I had marked in my mind the spot where the
doe had stood. When I got there I could find no blood. So I
started in the direction she had run, carefully scanning the
ground with each step. I covered twenty yards before I found
the first spot, a very small spot I marked the place with 2
piece of tissue paper and went on. I had to return to that spot
three times. Each time I’d go in a different direction until I
found the next spot, which I would then mark with another
piece of tissue. After a half hour of this I had covered less than
fifty yards.

I knew it would be best to stop awhile and give the deer a
chance to lie down. I used the time to hike back to Ken`s stand
to pick him up so he could help me unravel the trail.
But when I arrived at Ken’s stand, he was not there! I felt 2
surge of utter frustration. Where had he gone? “Perhaps hes
off trailing a deer of his own,” I thought. However, I didn`t
have time to spend wondering about Ken’s whereabouts. It was
only a short time until dark, so I hurried back and picked up
the trail.

The track was scant, just a few drops every few yards. The
doe kept in a fairly straight line close to the edge of thick brush.
About 75 yards from the hit site I found the front half of my
shaft.

The trail led up to a small grove of pines. I trailed her
through them by watching where the pine needles were kicked
up. At the point where she left the pines I found the rear half of
my shaft. But I could find no more blood. By now the deepening dusk
made it very hard to see. I marked the spot with 2
tissue and scouted in small circles, but I c0uldn’t find the trail.
She had taken a sharp change of direction I guessed, but I
couldn’t locate just where.

I was reluctant to forsake the search but darkness left me no
choice. I cut through the woods to the logging road where I
found Ken waiting for me. I quickly, explained the situation.
Curiosity then prompted me to ask him why he’d left his stand.
It seems that while waiting he decided to eat an apple. He
propped his bow against some spruce limbs, got the apple from
is pocket and his pocket knife to peel it. The knife slipped
from his grasp and fell to the ground. Enroute, it neatly sliced
bow string. So he had hiked back to the car to get a spare.
What ensued was a slight discussion about one’s need to peel
apples while on a deer watch and about not having one’s spare
string on one’s person. But I was too excited about my deer to
spend much time discussing anything else.

Ken suggested we try to pick up the trail by flashlight. It had
been two hours since I’d shot her, time enough for her to have
Laid down and died. So we hid our bows in some thick brush
and hiked back to the place in the pines where I’d left the trail.
Ken searched the ground by flashlight in one direction while I
searched in another. It was a backbreaking task.

“Shirley, over here!” Ken called in a stage whisper. I quickly
scooted over to him.
“Look,” he said as he pointed the beam of light on a dime-
sized drop of blood. So we dropped a tissue there and repeated
our procedure. I went one direction and Ken went another. I
found the next spot. The blood trail followed in a straight line
for about 35 yards. I was surprised to see how shiny the wet `
blood was in the flashlight beam.(It’s from the phosphorous in
the blood.) It wasn’t long however, before it was farther and
farther between drops of blood. It was a dark red blood, indicating
a muscle shot or perhaps the spleen, definitely not a
heart or lung shot.

At 8:30 p.m., realizing that it had been nearly half an hour
since we had found any blood at all, I suggested to Ken that we
give up the search for the night. It was obvious we were not
going to find the deer lying dead somewhere. We realized it
would be best to let it bed down. Hopefully, it would die
during the night and we would find it in the morning, or else it
would stiffen up sufficiently to allow one of us to get a finishing
shot.

So we cut through the orchard, retrieved our bows from
their hiding place and drove to Towanda to make the necessary
arrangements for an overnight stay. We each had to call someone
to cover for us at our jobs the next day. We also obtained
permission to stay in a friend’s cabin that night.
It was a restless night for both of us. We each entertained our
private thoughts as to whether our tracking ability was sufficient
to enable us to recover this deer with such a scant trail to
follow. I reprimanded myself for having made a poor shot. I
realized I hadn’t compensated enough for the fact that I was
shooting at a sharp downward angle.
Finally it was morning. We were back on the trail at dawn.
We started at the last droplet of blood we’d marked and began
searching in two directions. After 45 minutes of fruitless searching,
it dawned on us that perhaps the deer had backtracked on
own trail. So we began working backwards from the last
got. And there we picked up the trail again. The doe had
indeed doubled back for a few yards, then taken an abrupt
turn and headed for the big woods.

Now our problem was compounded by the autumn leaves
which carpeted the forest floor. Every leaf bore red markings,
and every red mark looked like a blood spot. The blood was
dried by now and only by carefully picking through the leaves
on hands and knees were we able to find the pinpoints of
blood. It must have been quite a sight, both of us on hands and
knees examining leaf after leaf and muttering to ourselves.
The search led up to a tiny brook, about three feet wide,
which trickled through the woods. Knowing that wounded
deer often seek sanctuary in water, we thought perhaps we’d
hit the jackpot. Ken tied his handkerchief to the bush beside the
blood we’d found. Then he went downstream and I went
upstream. We were looking for one of two things: blood to
indicate which way the deer had gone, or the deer itself,
bedded in brush near the brook or even lying in the water as
wounded deer sometimes will do. We spent an hour in this
search and scored a fat zero.

We returned to the handkerchief and stood talking. We were
tired and discouraged, feeling we’d reached an impasse, yet
neither of us quite had the heart to suggest to the other that
maybe our quest would have to end here. We stood on the
bank of the little brook and scanned the woods on the other
side almost as if by a sheer exercise of will we could call forth
the clue we needed so badly.

And then that clue seemed to leap right out at me Across the
water, starting down in the woods a short way, was a barely
perceptible trail, made by something having walked heavily
there, scuffing up the leaves as it went. I nudged Ken’s arm and
pointed to it. His eyes widened, he nodded and wordlessly we
hopped across the brook and followed the trail. There was no
blood, but the trail of ruffed-up leaves was easy to follow.
When the trail began to zigzag we deduced that she was looking
for a place to lie down. Soon we spied a rock with a spot of
blood on it the size of a half dollar. From here there was a
steady blood trail. We found a log she had crossed, smearing
blood all over it. She was zigzagging badly now; surely she
would be lying close by. However, the blood trail went on for
another thirty-five yards, right up to the edge of a marshy area,
and there the water washed out the blood sign.

“Ken, what are we going to do now?” I wailed. I gazed in
absolute frustration at the marsh. We wouldn’t be able to find
a blood trail in that.
“I don’t think she would go through there, Shirley. A
wounded deer will follow the easiest route and that is too tough
for her to slog through. Let’s go back to that last blood spot and
search to the right and left,” Ken counseled.

TRAIL ENDS IN SUCCESS
Ken was right. She’d taken a sharp right turn, walked along
the edge of the marsh, then crossed the very corner of it. But
once on the other side we could find no blood. So we marked
the place and again began our two-directional searching.
Twenty minutes or so had passed when Ken called to me.
Something in his tone of voice told me he’d found her. And so
he had!

Ken told me that as he went in ever-widening circles his eyes
fell on a large patch of mountain laurel about forty yards distant.
A hunch told him he’d better check it out.
The doe had bedded down, then died in that laurel patch.
She was still warm, apparently having died sometime in the
early morning. My arrow had hit low behind the front leg,
slicing into_stomach and intestines.

I was jubilant at recovering this deer. We congratulated
each other on this tracking job, happy not to have left a
wounded animal unrecovered. We suddenly realized how hot
and hungry and tired we were. All told, we’d been tracking a
little over seven hours. But we weren’t finished yet. We cleaned,
and tagged her and carried her to the Scout, picking up all our
tissues as we backtracked.

Ken was happy for me about this deer. But the fact of my
now having bagged two deer with a bow sort of picked away at
his male vanity. So Friday, the last day of archery season, he
drove to Barclay, hiked into “my” pine tree and made a quick-
killing lung shot on a doe that came to the apple tree.
So we had fulfilled our goal. We’d each gotten a deer with
the bow in the same season. It was all most satisfying.

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Published by archerchick on 10 Dec 2011

Here He Comes…There He Goes~ By Keith Schuyler


Archery World November 1976

Here He Comes..There He Goes.. – by Keith Schuyler

The Cottontail Challenge Gives you a low batting average, but nothing beats it for action

by Keith Schuyler

THERE WAS A TIME when I used to
get plenty of invitations to go rabbit
hunting. Not any more. Because I do
most of my rabbit hunting with the bow
and arrow.
“Most.” For if I want some rabbit to
eat, I grab the shotgun and go get some.
Well, usually. As a matter of fact, since I
do hunt with the bow, although I don’t
get many with the bow, I learn where
the rabbits hang out. About every other
year or so, if I get hungry for a good
mess of fried rabbit, I fill a couple
pockets with shells and go gun hunting.
Most of the ones I found with the bow
are still there.

Why don’t more so-called bowhunters
go for rabbits with the bow? Could it be
because one doesn’t get very many
rabbits that way? Could it be for the
same reason that, even where bowhunting
is permitted, so-called bowhunters
drop the bow and grab the rifle when
the deer gunning season comes in? I
don’t know.

You hear a lot of talk about a shortage
of rabbits in many areas. They’re not too
scarce where I hunt. Because I’m one of
the world’s greatest conservationists, my
wife says. But, then she spoils it by
adding, “He didn’t plan it that way.”
But rabbit hunting with the bow and
arrow can build up to some real thrills.
It’s sort of like when I go bowling, every
other year or so. When all the pins some-
times stumble over on my first ball, it is a
cause of real rejoicing. The fact that
they keep blasting down with fair regularity
on the lanes either side of mine
isn’t important. When it happens to me
twice and even three times, well . . .l

Would you believe it? One time, a
number of years ago, I took my full day’s
limit of four rabbits with the bowl I’ve
done that quite a number of times with
the gun, and it never excited me too
much. But I did it with the bow, once.
And that was a mighty big day.
There was another big day in my
hunting life. That was the time I nailed
my first cottontail on the run with an
arrow. We even taped the distance:
eighty—three feet! Running full tilt over
the snow; right through the heart. Like
my wife says, “He didn’t plan it that
way.” But that old bunny flipped and
never moved a muscle. I was still so
excited some years later that I dedicated
my first book on archery to that rabbit.
(Archery, From Colds to Big Game) It
was one of the greatest thrills I have ever
had in hunting, and that covers some.
Since then I’ve shot two more rabbits
at full gallop. Three rabbits shot
running for many years of hunting them
with the bow doesn’t sound like much—
until you try it. I may never get another,
but of one thing you can be sure: I’ll
keep trying as long as I can.

Now don’t get me too far wrong. I’ve
taken a great many rabbits with the
bow. But most of them were sitting in
their resting places for the day or were
out hopping around in early morning or
late afternoon.

In Pennsylvania, we say that a sitting
rabbit is in its nest. This is not really
correct since the true nest of a rabbit,
where it drops its young, wouldn’t hold
one adult rabbit.
It is an unwritten rule of sportsmanship
in our area that one doesn’t shoot a
rabbit in the nest with a shotgun.
Because the cottontail will sit tight,
thinking it is safe, and it is actually
sometimes possible to grab one with the
hand. However, when hunting with the
bow, such a shot is considered sporting
for a number of reasons.

First, because the chance of dropping
a rabbit on the run with an arrow is so
slight, it is a rare occasion when anyone
scores. This doesn’t discourage shooting
at them when they take off, because it is
possible to drop one on the move.

Secondly, a rabbit is a small target to
start with, and the positive killing area is
even smaller. It takes close shooting. just
finding one is sport in itself.

Strangely enough, the fact that some
shots are presented quite close is actually
a handicap. Few archers practice very
much at the very short distances; they
can usually hit easier at ten yards than at
ten feet. Cottontails will sometimes sit so
tightly that you bumble upon them
within inches of your boots. Trying to
get an arrow off without taking a toe
along with it can challenge your dexterity
more than your shooting ability
under such circumstances.

I suppose I must confess to a certain
amount of luck on my few successful
running shots. One of them was first
missed at a distance of perhaps two feet.
The cottontail, a big one, was first
spotted about eighteen inches from my
right foot. Being right-handed, it required
some real body contortions to
half draw and try to aim down the shaft.
All the arrow brought was a couple
hairs, but it was that close. The cottontail
took off. A few moments later
another rabbit about the same size went
scooting off to my left and to the rear. I
cut loose an arrow and surprised both of
us by connecting. This was a ninety-degree shot,
probably the toughest
successful one ever for me.
Right after dumping my first running
rabbit. I missed one at about ten feet
sitting quietly and minding its own
business!
Since I rank somewhere above the
bottom among the world’s better bow-
hunters, those who claim frequent
success on running rabbits are truly great
shots, or they are truly great liars.
Western cottontails do more hopping
around than our eastern variety. With
all that big country to run in, they seem
more disposed to just move to the next
clump of sage or hide behind a rock

where rocks are available. Although the
eastern animals depend upon camouflage
to protect them as much as possible,
when they take off, they go! Usually it is
to the nearest woodchuck hole or a briar
patch so thick that a worm couldn’t
crawl through unscathed without wearing chaps.
This is usually more likely on
a day of bad weather or when bad
weather threatens.

However, on a reasonably clear day,
alarmed cottontails in my neck of the
woods will simply run to a position of
reasonable safety and wait for hunters to
move on. This is where a good little
beagle comes in handy. I suggest little
since the bigger ones move the rabbits
too fast for those like me of limited
ability with the bow. Further, if a rabbit
is pushed too fast by the dog, it will hole.
If the dog only keeps the cottontail loose,
it is more apt to just hop far enough
ahead of the beagle to feel fairly safe.
By stationing yourself at a probable
crossing, you have a good chance to get
a hopping shot. Or you might get a stationary
target. When cottontails aren’t
being pushed too hard, they will frequently
stop at an opening before again
taking to the brush. They will usually
circle back to the immediate area from
which they were bounced. And on the
way they will often follow old roads and
well-worn game trails. They will stop
from time to time to locate the pursuing
dog by sound.

Take plenty of arrows when you go
hunting for rabbits. Because, if you play
it right, you often will get several shots
at the same rabbit. Lost arrows are frequent.
Knowing how arrows can hide
themselves in a freshly mowed lawn
should be a clue as to what you might
expect under field conditions.

That brings us to what equipment is
best for rabbits. The best bow is the one
with which you can hit something at distances
from roughly five to 50 feet. Of
course, the heaviest bow you can handle
well is the best for any kind of hunting,
and hunting rabbits is no exception. A
light target bow of thirty pounds will do
fine on sitting shots, but it isn’t adequate
for the longer or the running shots. You
have to make too many mental calculations
at unknown distances for the
tougher tries. Sometimes, if I just go out
for an early morning try for deer when ~
rabbits are in season, I may stop off for a
try at cottontails on the way home. The
only thing I change is my arrows.

Aside from the fact that aluminum,
broadhead—loaded shafts are too expensive
to fling around the south forty, they
aren’t necessary. A properly spined
wooden arrow will do a good job. And,
you don’t want broadheads.

It might seem strange to discourage
the use of broadheads that will bring
down an elephant as inadequate for
rabbits. But, they don’t work well. The
reason is not their lack of killing power;
it is their lack of holding power. A
proper broadhead will zip through an
animal as small as a rabbit and go
careening off into the brush or across the
field. The rabbit will continue on as
though nothing happened until it finds
its favorite groundhog hole. If it makes
it.

Whether it makes it or not, it is a dead
rabbit after being thrust through by a
broadhead-loaded shaft. And, although
the rabbit is not generally credited with
special tenacity to life, it is still a wild
creature with the normal complement of
adrenalin which will carry it far beyond
what might be expected.

The best load for cottontails, in my
experience, is a good wooden shaft
tipped with the normal field point. The
combination is economical enough for
the average bowhunter. And, it will do a
proper job. On a stationary target, it
will pin the animal so that it can be re-
covered. On a moving shot, the shaft
will almost always stay in the rabbit to
make recovery possible before it escapes
and becomes a wasted creature.
True, the broadhead may be a bit
more efficient as a dispatcher, but the
field point will normally do a proper job
and also retain the carcass for the table.
Blunts will kill, but they lack the penetrating
power to bury the shaft in the
earth so that the rabbit cannot escape.

In the many years that I have hunted
rabbits with the bow and arrow, I have
had but two losses. One was a forty-yard
shot some years ago that quickly turned
elation into disenchantment when the
cottontail made it to a woodchuck hole
with the arrow. Last year I had my
second loss when a high hit failed to hold
the rabbit.
These experiences taught me two
things to improve my approach to rabbit
hunting with the bow. Long shots may
stimulate one’s ego if they are succesful,
but the flat angle of the arrow
reduces the likelihood that the animal
will be pinned for easy recovery. Shooting
at a rabbit without knowing exactly
how it is sitting in its nest may produce a
hit that will not be sufficient to hold the
animal for immediate recovery.

As in big—game hunting, there is an
individual responsibility to exert every
effort to recover game that is hit. Any
good hit is likely to cause almost immediate
death. But it only takes seconds for
a rabbit to waste itself by running to
cover in a briar patch or a woodchuck
hole. Nevertheless, the sportsman will
follow up on suspected or observed hits
to recover the quarry.
Hunting of any small game with the
bow and arrow offers a challenge that
lifts one’s sights above the need or desire
for meat, a fair return on the consider-
able investment that is entailed in any
type of hunting. But when we venture
afield with a primitive arm to collect a
quarry made available to us, we accept
a new responsibility to give it the best we
can offer.

If hunting rabbits with the bow
appeals to you, you might try the approach
suggested here. You may find
that there are some big thrills available
in hunting this small game.

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Published by archerchick on 09 Dec 2011

The 10% Club – By Tim Burres


Bowhunting World Xtreme 2004
The 10% Club – By Tim Burres

Only 10% of the bowhunters consistently bring home the trophies. Here’s what you can do to join this elite club.

If you don’t belong, you won’t find a bouncer to
turn you away at the door of the 10% Club. There’s no
specific meeting place. But, you will know when
you’ve met one of the card carrying members. He will
be the guy with the trophy room full of big deer. To
join the club, you don’t have to be famous and you
d0n’t have be the founder of an oil empire. You don’t
even have to be a particularly winsome fellow-
which makes membership a possibility for everyone.
You pay your membership dues over a period of
years with countless weeks spent in treestands.

Members of the 10% Club may seem like geniuses when you
dissect some of their hunting strategies, but Mensa is
one club very few will ever make it into. They may not
scare Einstein in an IQ contest, but what these members
do have are open minds that permit them to view
every hunting situation as if it were a blank slate.

These 10% Club members enter every hunt without preconceived
notions of what is “supposed to happen” or some idea that
they must do things “the right way.” And they are meticulous
to the 9th degree in everything they do involving deer
hunting. Here’s what you can learn from the Board of Directors
at the 10% Club.

THINKING OUTSIDE
THE BOX

I ran across a perfect example of why some hunters are consistently successful while others are not. This example shows the
power of thinking outside the box and being aggressive when the situation calls for it.

Stan Potts has been a regular fixture around central Illinois’
Clinton Lake Wildlife Management Area for at least two decades.
Some years he has hunted on the limited draw public lands and other
years he has hunted private land in general area. During the early
‘90s a great 6×6 buck lived on the public management area. All the hunters knew about him and everyone wanted to get a crack at him

One day Stan was hunting a stand in a fence line along the edge of a picked cornfield when he saw the buck bedded with a doe in a thin patch of giant foxtail grass in the middle of the field. It was the peak of
the rut and Stan knew the buck was holed up out there with the doe. In fact, Stan even saw the buck breed the doe once during the morning session.

Rather than wait and hope the buck would eventually get up and come past,
Stan decided the best strategy was to take the hunt to the deer. There is never a better time to make your play for a big buck than when you know where he’s at.

They are so tough to even get a look at that when one is right there in front of you it’s important that you do everything possible to get the shot right then. Stan knows that from having hunted big bucks for all his adult life.

After a few quick plans were made Stan climbed down from the tree and
carefully began stalking the buck. Unbeknownst to him, a bowhunter from Oklahoma was watching the show from a stand on the other side of the field.

“Later the guy told me that when he saw me start the stalk he said to himself ‘Oh no, whats this moron doing?”’ said Potts. “The situation was right or I never would have tried the stalk. The wind was blowing hard and it was misting rain. The cornstalks were soaked and the ground
was soft so there was no way the deer would hear me. Also, the wind was perfectly in my favor so I could sneak in on the deer from behind.

If they had stood up at any time they could have seen me even if I was lying down. I moved along one row at a time. I’d rise up on my elbow, make sure they weren’t looking and then roll gently onto my back in the next corn row.

“The suspense was killing me as each row brought me another yard closer. Finally, I counted only 50 rows between the deer and myself but I didn’t have an opening to his chest. There was no way I could wait until they stood up or they’d see me instantly. I had to make the shot while he was still bedded. There was an opening in the grass a short ways to the side so I eased into position. From there I was only 25 yards from the buck.

I turned the bow sideways and drew it as I rose up slowly onto one
knee. He never knew I there. The shot was perfect and when they blew out I could see the nock of the arrow sticking out of his chest. I knew he wasn’t going far. The buck only ran about 50 yards before making a
button hook and going down.

“The excitement had been so intense that I could hard stand it When he went down I was in shock still standing there staring at the buck when the guy from Oklahoma runs right up from behind and yells at me he about scared me out of my skin. Then we celebrated together. He was a great guy and was just as excited as if he’d killed the buck himself. He told me how he had watched the whole stalk from the treeline. After things calmed down he told me that he had been watching the buck for two days. His ear-to-ear grin immediately disappeared when I casually asked him why he hadn’t tried the stalk himself. His eyes fell to the ground and he shook his head and said in a very soft voice ” I don’t know.”

Stan’s buck was a local legend with a massive rack having a gross score well over 170 inches and a net that came in just under 170. He got the buck because he was able to think creatively and adapt to the situation at hand. He didn’t get bogged down in what he was suppose to do, but rather focused on what he knew about mature buck behavior (they are very hard to see more than once) and what might work. Taking advantage of the situation permitted an effective stalk, he did something most bowhunters would be afraid to even try.

The ability to think creatively is one of the traits that set the members of the 10% Club apart from all the other deer hunters. Textbook strategies will sometimes work, but mature bucks are individuals. To tag them consistently you have to treat each one as if he were the only deer
on earth. It is unwise to assume anything about a particular buck beyond the fact that he is sure to be wary.

From bits and pieces of sign and sporadic sightings, you may be able to piece together enough information to learn the buck’s particular personality and within that you may be able to find some type of
behavior that makes him slightly vulnerable.

You won’t find much to work with, because these deer are not very visible and they are the most cautious creatures on earth.
Once you get to know a little bit about the buck you can determine such things as whether or not he’s aggressive (if he is, rattling might work). You might figure out where he most often beds and feeds you
might be able to find an ambush between these points) and whether or not he is an active participant in the rut (if he isn’t your only real hope is catching him at his bed or late in the season at a food source.

If you enter the hunt with a cast-in-stone idea of what mature bucks are
“supposed to do,” you will have a very hard time adapting to what the buck you are hunting actually is doing. The ability to keep an open mind in your approach to hunting specific bucks is one key that
opens the door to the 10% Club.

ATTENTION TO DETAILS

The second trait that club members share is an overpowering belief in the notion that if it can go wrong it will. Therefore, they are detail oriented people that aren’t willing to let even one small aspect of the
hunt that can be controlled slip through their grasp. For this reason they are extremely thorough in everything from shooting practice and equipment maintenance to scouting and stand placement.

Here are some of the details that 10% Club members wake up in the middle of the night fretting about that other deer hunters barely consider.
Entry and exit is the key: I remember a stand one of my buddies offered me while I was hunting with him a few years ago.

Even though we sat on the county road looking at the stand across a picked grain field, it still took him five minutes for him
to explain what I had to do to get to it without being detected. “Go behind that house and around the pig lot, get into the creek, grab the roots under the high bank and climb up, etc.” I knew instantly that
this was going to be a good stand. Anyone who understands the importance of the exit and entry routes this well is bound to
have great stand locations.

I can always tell a good hunter when listening to his explanation of a stand because he is obsessed with the perfect entry and
exit routes. Experienced hunters know that these routes are even more important than the sign the stand overlooks.

Average deer hunters can all tell you where to find buck sign. Members of the 10% Club have mental maps too, but they aren’t marked with buck sign and deer trails; they are marked with all the undetectable entry and exit routes that dissect their hunting areas.

Shooting lanes; Once you start to realize how hard it is get a giant buck within range of your stand you’ll do everything possible to capitalize on these infrequent encounters. In other words, you need to be
able to get a good shot at him. Members of the 1O% Club know all too well the importance of having shooting lanes in every direction. By this, I’m not talking about dropping napalm on the acre of cover surrounding your stand; all you need is a window — some kind of gap — that allows you to get a shot at anything that passes your stand in any direction and at any distance within your maximum range.

Before you relax after climbing into your stand, take the time for this exercise. If you will do it every day you will be rewarded during the moment of truth. Imagine a buck approaching from every possible direction. How will you handle each possibility and where will you shoot?
If you don’t have a good answer it’s time to get the saw out and create an answer.

Intelligent diligence; I recently returned from Alberta where l was hunting with an outfitter who is a new bowhunter. He is a great gun hunter but not a great bowhunter. I was pretty much on my own.
After we discussed bowhunting strategy for a week—and applied some of it in the form of stand sites-Ron made a very insightful comment to me. He said, “Successful bowhunting can be summed up as intelligent diligence.”

Ron had quickly figured out that you have to combine equal parts of
hard hunting with smart hunting. It was clear to me right then that Ron was on the fast track to getting his membership card.

OTHER REQUIREMENTS
FOR CLUB MEMBERSHIP

Keen instinct; Some guys will never meet the 10% Club’s minimum requirements for membership for “hunter’s instinct”. Quite frankly, they aren’t interested enough in the behavior patterns of mature bucks to learn everything they possibly can about them. Sure, they want to shoot one, but the animal doesn’t fascinate them to the extent necessary to stimulate their need to know more.

Highly successful buck hunters are more than just students of the latest biological research; they are on the cutting edge of research. They are always coming up with theories to explain some kind of behavior they see and then focus on trying to prove it or disprove it. The final goal, of course, is to find weaknesses they can exploit. I respect everything that
comes out of the mouths of the top biologists, but I put just as much stock in the words of proven buck hunters.

Making the shot: Not only are the members of the 10% Club hard and smart
hunters, they are good at converting opportunities into venison. Even the best hunters may only get a very limited number of close encounters during a season —sometimes none- so they take each one of them very seriously. They condition their minds so that they are prepared to convert on every decent chance that comes along. This is not a skill that
people are born with. It is something that is built through-you guessed it—attention to detail and lots of practice.

When a big buck causes your throat to tighten, the only thing that will pull you through is the many hours of disciplined practice that came before. Great habits during practice translate into great performance when the chips are down. If you are serious about getting into the Club,
realize that your ability to shoot well— without having to think about it- will someday be the only thing that stands between you and a wall full of trophies.

CONCLUSION

Membership in the 10% Club requires that you go beyond the simple preparations and actually do all the things that you know you should do. Most guys that have read magazines about deer hunting know what to do, they just don’t do it. Rising to the next level takes dedication, effort and time. But, if you love deer hunting, the quest will become its own reward.

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Published by archerchick on 09 Dec 2011

Killer Stalking Strategies- Jim Van Norman


BOWHUNTING WORLD Xtreme 2004
Killer Stalking Strategies – By Jim Van Norman

Scouting, Glassing, and Stalking are the crucial tactical triad for taking open-country mulies

When he tired of the hot sun. he would
look for a new spot. and as he was waiting.
Three·do:en minutes later a wide
set of antlers sauntered into view. A
few more steps and the deer would he
broadside at 32 yards. When the big
muley quartered and looked away. I sent
an arrow through his tilage. The
buck’s companion jumped to his feet
and stood in wonder, The fatally
arrowed buck leaned forward turned.
walked toward my position — and lay
down for the last time.

There are many elements to successfully taking mule deer with a how
and arrow. Three of those elements stand out: scouting, glassing, and stalking.

Stalking 101
With excellent stalking skills, your
scouting and glassing efforts go for “naught,”
so I’ll start with the basics of stalking.
Those who have stalked mule deer
know it is exciting. It can he frustrating
and disappointing at times, but gaining
stalking experience is important. Trial
and error is what ultimately cultivates
a stalking expert.

First, choose only stalking opportunities
with the highest chance of success, Rate each
as having an excellent, good, mediocre or poor chance. This is
crucial; many stalks are blown because
their possibilities were mediocre or poor
to start with. Don`t stalk unless you
have a good to excellent chance. trying
to turn a poor opportunity into something it’s not is a mistake, especially, it
it is a buck you can’t live without.
until he beds in a better spot.
Your evaluation needs to be in depth: “Can I get into position for a
responsible shot within my effective range? Can I draw without being seen
when he stands up? What is the terrain and footing likely to be once l get
critically close? Are there other deer presenting obstacles? If I have to wait for
the deer to stand and offer a shot, is the wind dependable?” Consider these
items carefully.

A variable wind ruins more stalks than any other detail. Ask yourself: “Is
the wind steady enough to trust? Can I approach with the wind directly in my
face or, at the very least, with a quartering or crosswind, Considering that
wind, where is my best stalking route,” Remember, terrain affects the wind
considerably. Surface interference —draws, trees, rock outcroppings, etc. —
makes the wind do funny things. Give me a stalk in a stiff wind anytime. You
can count on a stiff wind to stay steady and cover mistakes.

Second, map your stalk mentally. (I can’t emphasize this enough.) Plan
a route between you and the deer that contains three solid, easily recognizable
checkpoints. Avoid using objects that are excessively common and could
be confusing. If you fail to do this, you may well find yourself in the wrong
place as your buck bolts away. It is always surprising how different the
country looks between your glassing view and the view on the ground once
you start sneaking through it. Pick a dead tree, an unusually shaped stump
or snag, distinctively colored or shaped boulders, rock piles, or outcroppings
as checkpoints. Any feature with unique detail will work.

Checkpoint #1 should be something that confirms, after leaving your glassing site, that you have ended up in the right area to begin your stalk. Checkpoint #2 should be about halfway to
Checkpoint #3, a location where you can, without being seen, confirm
Checkpoint #3 and see if the deer is still there. Although the actual location
of the deer deserves a strong mental note, Checkpoint #3 should be where you wait for a shot to develop.
Don’t go in closer than 2O yards; allow a small buffer in case the deer comes
toward you. But don’t be farther than 30 yards; you want to allow some room
before the deer gets out of range if he walks away from your position.

Now, here are three of the most important facets to the stalk’s final
stages. First; when you check the deer’s position at Checkpoint #2, look for
antler tips, ears or another part of the deer. Don’t look at his eyes. If you can
see his eyes, he can see you. Second; “sneaking a peek” en»route to Check~
point #3 blows a lot of stalks. Don’t do it! If you know the deer’s location in
relation to Checkpoint #3, you don’t need to see him! Concentrate on foot
placement and staying out of sight. Don’t get busted two thirds of the way
through your stalk.

Third; Checkpoint #3 is where you let the deer make the fatal mistake.
Once you get there, check for an antler tip, put your bow up in front of you
(bow limb tip or cam on the ground, if you are on your knees) and nock an
arrow. Don’t let your upper bow limb stick up where the deer can see it. Stay
put until the deer gets up to move, no matter how long it takes! The only time
you want to force a deer to get up is if the wind becomes variable and there’s
a chance he’ll catch your scent. Then you have nothing to lose by throwing a
rock, or calling on a predator or deer call. Otherwise, hang tough. The deer
will make “the fatal move.”

Stalking takes practice. So take time while in the field to sneak up on some
does and small bucks for fun. You will learn more with each attempt.
Glass For “Pieces And Parts” Glassing, in my opinion, is a corner»
stone to being a top»notch mule deer hunter and is an HIC within itself. Mule
deer bucks select places to bed that are,
in most cases, well~hidden yet provide a panoramic view. A big buck’s general tendency is to “hole up” in a position where he can see a lot of country and sneak out far ahead of imminent danger.
If not well»hidden, the spot will instead take full advantage of the deer’s superior eyes, nose, ears and protective coloration. In any case, a mature mule deer buck’s bed is carefully chosen, strategically located and unlikely to offer a noise free, scent free or entirely invisible route. To have any chance at
approaching within range, you have to find him first.

When glassing for mule deer, don`t concern yourself with spotting the
whole deer at once. Learn to focus on mule deer “pieces and parts.”»(see 15
images above right) Train your mind to alert your eyes to look again when you
pick up one of these images in your binoculars or spotting scope. Burn these.
images into your mind until it become second nature for you to stop scanning
immediately and concentrate on the image. No matter whether you see them
with the naked eye or with optics, stay and pick it apart.

Since glassing is a major key to success, top notch optics are a must. This
rule is always buy optics one notch above what you can afford. You’ll never
be sorry. It’ll be worth it in the long run.
Scout Early And Be Stealthy, Scouting is another important part of
the success formula. Not only do you have to scout for deer, but the need to
find the right types of country to hunt is pivotal. Some country lends itself
better to stalking than other areas.

There is no sense in scouting a bunch of country if there are only a few places
where a stalk is even possible. Heavy brush, black timber or wide open rolling hills are harder to stalk. A
mule deer`s senses are so acute, successful stalking in heavy vegetation is
tough. sometimes impossible. The same goes for open, rolling hills. A stalk may
work in certain situations here, bur requires extreme patience and a flawless approach.
At best, both are low percentage endeavors.

Easier to stalk areas include canyons.
draws, cut-banks, washouts, etc. Notice
I said “easier,” not “easy.” Rough, cut up
and sparsely vegetated country presents more opportunities to approach unnoticed, Shade, the number one place to find mule deer bucks, is a limited commodity here. It is found only under cut~banks, washouts, overhangs and under the limited vegetation. That’s a good
thing.
Pick an area to scout that will present the highest percentage stalks.
Do most of your scouting at least a month ahead of the season. A big mistake
many hunters make when coming out West is showing up a few days early
and stirring up their chosen area. About the only thing they accomplish is chasing
a big one out of the country. If you absolutely cannot get to your hunting
area until a few days before the season, go before daylight to the highest hill in the
area where you can scope the country.

Big Mulies melt mysteriously into the landscape. To find them, train yourself to look for bits and pieces, rather than the whole deer. Can you find the two bucks in this photo?

Scout from that vantage point all day, each
day before the season opener. You will do far
less damage to your opening day hunting
than stomping out through the brush. In
fact, I’d be willing to bet you will see more
deer from your hidden vantage point!

When scouting, use all your hunting
tactics as if you were going to take a buck.
That is, when getting into position to glass,
sneak into position, The fewer deer you
spook, the better. If you are new to
bowhunting mule deer, as long as you are
scouting far ahead of the opener, spend
some time down in the deer’s living rooms.

Before you learn how mule deer operate you
will certainly spook quite a few. This is to
be expected, so don’t get discouraged.

As long as you are scouting a least a month before the season, the deer will
settle back into their normal routines. Spend considerable time inspecting the
places from where deer came busting out. Get an idea of what those bedding
sites look like and how they are situated in relation to the terrain. Note what
kind of cover is present and how the deer use the wind. As you leave the area.
glass back at those sites so you have an idea what they look like from a distance.
Although experience is the greatest teacher, mastering these three foundational elements will help provide many enjoyed successes in bowhunting mule deer. Remember your scouting, glassing, and stalking experiences by keeping a journal of facts and observations
for later reference. You’ll be surprised at
the patterns you begin to note and then
use to your advantage.
>>—>

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Published by archerchick on 08 Dec 2011

Make Bucks Hunt You~ By Mark Hicks


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Published by admin@newphase.com on 08 Dec 2011

Ottawa Archery = Xquest Archery

Ottawa archery enthusiasts will be happy to know that Xquest Archery, a long time leader in the Ottawa archery community, now has a great new website at http://xquestarchery.com/.  Please visit us online or give us a call at (613) 723-6618.

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Published by archerchick on 05 Dec 2011

Lovin’ Fightin’ Elk – By Ralph Ramos


BOWHUNTING WORLD Xtreme
2004 volume 53, no.6

Lovin’, Fightin, Elk ~ By Ralph Ramos

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


Scouting, Season
Considerations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Published by archerchick on 05 Nov 2011

FOR WILD TURKEY ~Starting From Scratch ~By Stan Chiras

Archery World August 1988

By Stan Chiras

I really couldn’t see what all the fuss was
about. But, as they say, that was then and
this is now.
I had been on a couple Wyoming elk hunts
with Dick Kirby of Quaker Boy Game Calls in
the past. Now, when you’re with Dick you
can’t help getting infected with his ever-
present enthusiasm for the game he hunts;
whether it be elk, deer or turkeys. Hearing
him recount some of his episodes with gobblers
easily convinced me to give it a try. I had
heard a number of deer hunters say that if they
had to give up either deer or turkey hunting
that the deer would have to go. I can’t say I
totally agree with that but I certainly can see
their point after my spring of 1987.
. Wyoming is one of my favorite places to
hunt and the native Merriam subspecies of
turkey found there is a stunningly beautiful
bird. So, one evening after talking with Dick,
I gave outfitter 0.B. Caudle a call and made
some arrangements to go turkey hunting with
him. I had had an enjoyable time hunting
with 0.B. the previous fall for elk and he
promised me an equally rewarding time in the
Black Hills of Northeastern Wyoming. The
trouble was, neither of us knew anything
about turkeys! We decided to just go out and
have some fun trying.
Luckily, we both knew Dick and a phone
call netted us videos, calls and assorted equipment
to shape these two neophytes into some
semblance of turkey hunters. Our last bit of
advice from Dick was that we were making
matters a little too difficult for a first time
attempt. You see, I hunt exclusively with bow
and arrow and getting a gobbler with one
would be a tough bill to fill. It has its rewards
though, as we would soon come to know.
Likewise, it has its drawbacks, to be felt convincingly as well.
Let me say right away that five days of turkey hunting has made me a better hunter, for
the birds proved unforgiving in their treatment of us. I am also hooked for life on these
magnificent creatures.

Our hunt began on the first afternoon with
an answer to a very limited vocabulary of
yelps from a canyon far below us. I don’t
know if it was the aggressive nature of the
gobbles or the closeness of the responses as
we moved in, but as we set off to pursue these
birds (two were talking to us), I became an
addicted turkey hunter. I became this gladly, I
might add.
Now, O.B. is an experienced elk hunter
and, acting on some of the advice given to him
from Bob Wozniak, also of Quaker Boy, he
prompted me to get in close in a hurry —- as
though our quarry was an angry six-point bull
elk. This was becoming fun in a hurry! The
difference was that with an elk you just crash
up to them noisily, with a turkey you must
contain your sounds.
We slipped down a blind ravine to the can-
yon floor and quickly surveyed the scene. The
bottom was about 150 yards wide and covered
with scrub oak. It seemed ideal — but then,
what did we know’? Thankfully, it was graced
with an old logging road that made for a quiet
approach. O .B. yelped and was interrupted by
the two gobblers before he had made his third
sound. These toms were anxious and so were
we! In elk-like fashion, we looked for a set-up
that would be conducive for a shot and settled
in.

Added Inducement
There was another member of our party
that I haven’t mentioned yet. She became
fondly known to us as “Henrietta,” our turkey decoy.
She was a prototype from Duffel
Decoy, and just like their deer decoy, she
folded up nicely for traveling and popped to
shape conveniently when needed. She proved
to be a valuable asset to our efforts.
I had moved off to the right and nestled
into some brush, feeling secure in my Tree bark
sweats. I kneeled at 90° to the decoy (that
O.B. was now setting up) so that I would have a
good body position for the shot. O.B. then
moved up the road fifteen yards to call and
draw the gobbler past me and to Henrietta.
He yelped and a gobbler fired back instantly
and very aggressively from no more
than fifty yards away! Within seconds, and
long before I had time to compose myself, he
appeared into a twenty yard opening to my
right, coming in like a freight train! He was
fanned out in full display and puffed up like a

balloon. In the bright afternoon sunlight (we
later found out that we shou1dn’t have been
out there in the afternoon . . .) his white, blue
and red head appeared to be made of brightly
painted plastic, for it seemed to me that nothing on earth could look quite like this. He was
almost stumbling as he hurried directly to-
ward me. I was in trouble.
He was supposed to come down the road
– not through this clearing where I couldn’t
bend my body to shoot without being noticed.
Luckily, he dipped out of sight into a small
depression and I quickly pivoted and readied
my bow. I crouched down flat in the spring
grass. I was no sooner turned and flat out
when he reappeared, still hurrying, apparently anxious to beat the other, more distant,
gobbler to our hen yelps. This was most definitely the way to start off our turkey hunting
career!
He was gobbling every ten yards or so and
waiting for the response from 0.B. , who was
doing surprisingly well for his first turkey serenade. Just like with an elk, you must react to
your quarry and Caudle was doing it nicely.
The problem became one of how to draw
with a turkey coming directly at me without
spooking the bird. The solution was to not do
a damn thing! It wasn’t my intention to be in
this position, but I was most definitely stuck.
He came to within the width of a dinner table
of me and redeemingly saw the object of his
affections, Henrietta. I think I might have
seen a little extra twinkle come from those
dark little eyes at that moment as he stepped
into a small clump of trees to move over to the
roadway and continue his advance. What a
show this was! Six feet away was a strutting
Merriam in full sunlight! I was practically
stunned!
Almost any archer knows the golden rule
of this situation if he has shot at much
game. And that rule is to “take the first good
shot you get,” which is just what I did. He
approached the decoy at a 45° angle to me
which eventually put his fanned-out tail be-
tween his head and this very anxious archer.
The very moment I lost sight of those beady
little eyes I pivoted, aimed and shot. The arrow covered the 12 yards between us in an
instant. It made a soft “pufft” as it hit the bird.
Giving Chase
He rolled forward and came up, pausing
for a moment to look at me, now bolting
madly at him. Seasoned turkey hunters will
tell you to run to any turkey that you shoot
immediately; so there I was in motion. He
took off like a jackrabbit and I hung a hard
right tum in pursuit, still clutching my bow, I
guess for another shot should the occasion
arise. There was no thought going on here,
only primordial instincts. And those instincts
told me to catch that bird fast!
The bird was out of there in a hurry. He
flew a little but came back down on the log-
ging trail like a roadrunner. A hundred yards
in front of me was a thick patch of scrub oaks.

He dove into them and became a memory. I
crept around the brush, hoping to locate the
gobbler, but he was gone . . .
I went back to O.B. and we searched for
some sign of a good hit. To my dismay, all we
found were feathers and a clean arrow. It appeared that I was chasing a healthy turkey
down that valley and qualified myself for
some sort of lunatic award. It left me in awe of
the bird and their courting displays and very
much anxious to continue.
Let me slip in one short comment here. I
have lost chances at more nice bucks and bull
elk than I can shake a stick at due to one factor
that we all know only too well. That curse of
the hunt is called the wind. One of the refreshing differences
between deer and turkey hunting is that for the first time ever, you don’t
really give a damn what the wind is doing or if
your clothes are camp fire-smoked or if you
had garlic dressing on your salad the night
before. It just doesn’t matter because these
birds can’t smell. It truly simplifies the hunt
in that respect. If they could smell, they would
be very close to unkillable!
Some time later we crossed the canyon,
climbed to the opposite ridge and let out some
yelps. To our astonishment, we got an immediate answer! This was looking pretty easy,
especially for 3:45 p.m. of the first day. But
little did we know . . .
After five minutes of coaxing, the gobbler
came uphill to us in some pretty dense pines
that we were situated in. He picked me out
immediately and turned off to my left side. I thought he was simply circling the source of the sound like an elk
or whitetail will sometimes do. I let him go,
expecting him to circle, and he never returned. He did blast us with a “so long,
sucker” gobble from 100 yards out. I deserved it. It was hard for me to believe that he
had seen me, but he had. Kirby told me that
they have tremendous visual acuity; that is the
ability to pick out even a well camouflaged
hunter by his shape alone. I was to learn this
the hard way a few more times. These birds
put deer and elk to shame in this category,
believe me!
We headed back to camp and took our time
to enjoy the sights and rest our bones. This
was a lot like elk hunting! We had hiked several miles
and crossed some serious elevations in the process. It was not what I had
anticipated; but it was very enjoyable none-the less. Half the reason I hunt elk is for the
quality frequently referred to as “wilderness
experience,” and this trip was providing me
with just that. As we peaked our climb we
were treated to a magnificent view of Devil’s
Tower and the rest of the Black Hills. Certainly, there is easier turkey hunting; but I
doubt that there is any more picturesque.

Coupled with these wily and exciting turkeys, the
hunt was becoming a real dream experience for me.
We drove to the top of a 200 acre hay
meadow that evening, hoping to locate some
birds on the roost for the next morning ’s hunt.
Within the borders of the fields we saw an
estimated 200 whitetails feeding in the sunset.
It’s amazing that those same deer became so
elusive last autumn. O.B. circled the top,
calling over the edge while I worked a valley
back to camp. I beat him back to a pick-up
point and decided to catch some sleep. There
I sat in the fading light, totally relaxed, when I
heard what I thought was a very distant gobble. I ran
a couple hundred yards in the direction of the sound and let out a couple yelps. I

thought I heard an answer so off I ran again —
hoping to beat darkness. This continued for
almost a mile, until I was only a couple hundred
yards from the bird. He was a talkative
fellow and I had little trouble pinpointing his
location. I shut up and slipped off to find 0.B.
at the pick-up point. As I excitedly told him
about the bird he told me about one he had
located as well. We decided to go after my
gobbler, since he was a lot closer to camp. We
could chase his later.
Outwitted
We were about to learn another lesson
here: It’s best to be very sure of a gobbler’s
location before you set up in his bedroom.
Turkeys in this neck of the woods often get
into their roost by going up a hillside above
their roost tree and then they simply fly across
to a perch.
We thought he would be in the highest tree
on the hill so the next morning we snuck to a
location just below the top of the knoll they
were on. These two seasoned hunters slipped
quietly into position in the darkness. As dawn
emerged, 0.B. let out, or rather began to let
out, a series of soft yelps. What happened
next was nothing short of comical. The tom
fired off an emphatic burst of gobbles in the
middle of O.B.’s yelping, cutting him off
rudely. The trouble was, and I do mean trouble, he was in the tree directly above us! We
looked at each other and held back our laughter, knowing we could only sit still and enjoy
the spectacle.
He gobbled half a dozen times before fol-
lowing the hens to a small ridge 50 yards distant
to our location. I have to say right here
that the word “gobble” does not do justice to
the sound. It’s as good as “bugle” or
“screaming elk” in real life. The sound is like
no other and stirs the soul into addiction. If
you’ve never heard it in the woods, then you
must. This gobbler and his hens poked around

for a few minutes — he was strutting and they
were poking. He was the king of this place;
there was no doubt of that from where we sat.
The decoy was in O.B.’s pocket, my arrows
were deep in the quiver and our headnets were
not where they should have been as we sat
there, enjoying the show. It was well worth the
price of admission.
When they left we set up quickly and let out
some yelps. They didn’t reappear and we

doubted that he would leave those hens any-
way. I was to come back to see this fellow
later, although I didn’t know it at the time.
It seemed (because it was) miles before we
got our next answer. Actually, it was another
double so we decided to go after one first,
then if needed, the other. A little optimism
never hurts!
We slipped onto a small outcropping over-
looking a valley that was peppered with large
oaks and almost no underbrush. We thought
the tom was just up the other side, so we
didn’t dare go any closer since the visibility
was so good. I tucked in against a fallen log
and 0.B. got behind me. Henrietta was 10
yards in front of us. That was our mistake. If I
could do it again I would have put her behind
and up the hill a little off to our side to draw
the turkey past us. I never said we were quick
learners . . .
The gobbler interrupted our first yelps and

gobbled almost constantly as he came down
his side of the valley and up ours, in full view
of these two eager hunters. I could hear his
footsteps as he climbed to the edge of our out-
cropping. It was at this time that I realized that
we had once again goofed. He was just about
to crest the rim. At 15 yards he would be looking directly at the decoy but also straight at
me. It was too late to do anything. He came up
in full color and display. It was breathtaking.
At first I thought he didn’t see the decoy.
He sort of half dropped his display and strut-
ted off course, to my right and uphill into
some trees. He had seen me and was easing
gently out of the picture, like any sane turkey
would do in this situation. I don’t think he
really knew what he saw, but he wasn’t stick-
ing around to find out more, either. I held my
shot since I didn’t think he was leaving. You
probably know the rest of the story. He did
keep going and gobbled at us from the trees
above as if to say “Nice try, guys! ”
We had a conference and decided that I
had to get behind a real solid backdrop and
position the decoy so the gobbler would have
to strut by me enroute to the hen, then I could
shoot after he passed me and was facing the
decoy, presumably in full strut. That first turkey we had shot had also been our best set-up,
although it had been quite by accident that the
turkey came as he did. We would try to duplicate something like it on our next bird —— a
bird who was only 200 yards away and still
gobbling regularly as we whispered our strategy.

We simply slipped over the ridge and then
set up on the other side. 0.B. was nestled be-
hind some brush and I chose to sit in front of
four tightly bunched pines. There was no
good place for me to get into as we wanted and
this looked pretty safe. Henrietta was off to
my right about 15 yards. I felt that since the
decoy and source of sound were to my, side,
the gobbler wouldn’t look over to me at all. He

would hopefully crest the hill and see her — no
way would he notice my still form over by the
dense pines. When he went to her I would be
able to draw unnoticed.
This was a stubborn gobbler and O.B. was
becoming a better caller. I could see the entire
opposite hillside from where I was. O.B.
would yelp and the tom would gobble. For the

next 20 minutes this went on and it was beginning to look like a standoff. My legs were
cramping but I was unwilling to move for fear
he might see me from wherever he was. Finally, O.B. let out a gobble on the faithful
Quaker Boy Grand Old Master box and that
was too much for the old boy. He had wanted
the hen to come to him, but when he heard the
gobble he decided that he had better travel!
Gobblers get jealous when it comes to a single
hen, it would seem!
He appeared across the valley and proceeded to strut back and forth for another ten
minutes. gobbling his lungs out. He was a
proud bird with a beard that almost touched
the ground. It was great!
Another gobble from a perceptive guide
(who couldn’t see any of this show from his
location) brought him down his side of the
valley and up ours in about 60 seconds flat.
When a gobbler decides to move, he can do so
very quickly.

Now if you told me before this incredible
discourse had taken place that he could ever
spot my outline against those pines, I would
have bet you ll) cents on the dollar against it.
And I would have lost. He rose over the hill,
saw his love. farmed out and then immediately
dropped his plumage and began letting out a
series of troubled “pritts”. I was flab-
ergasted. but this time knew it was over. I
drew and shot as he paced off, now about 25
yards distant. The arrow sailed harmlessly
over his back and he half jumped and flew
another ten yards out. I already had another
arrow on its way.
In midflight an archer usually knows if he
is about to hit his mark. This arrow had “turkey” written all over it. Somehow, a small
twig grew up off a dead log and gently deflected the shaft to the ground under tl1e gobbler. Figures.
That was enough for him and he flew to the
opposite hillside and took off running. I was
drained but happy that we had done so well,
especially once he had spotted me. A little
luck and he would have been ours.
We finally figured out what we had to do to
get the next bird in, position him and get off
an undetected shot. We wished we had known
all this before. but we were ready now! Boy,
were we ready?

We headed back to the truck for lunch.
Along the way we pestered a reluctant porcupine for some photos with this hunter and
guide. It provided us with a needed break
from the intense search for gobblers we had
been experiencing. From a peaceful hillside
we talked over setup, calling, camouflage
and approach; all in anticipation of our next
encounter. We were both hooked on this new
sport.
As we approached the truck I almost jokingly said to O.B. “O.B. let out a yelp just in
case there’s a gobbler nearby.” O.B. quipped
back, “Sure thing” with a sarcastic tone.
Sometimes it seems like you can’t miss.
The gobbler came back instantly and
wouldn’t shut up, apparently anxious to meet
the hen he thought we were.
We, in some great quest for a better location, moved closer, yelping as we went. I
imagine the gobbler took our yelping as an
indication of an easy conquest and came on
the gallop.
There I was, settling in behind some
brush. O.B. was placing the decoy past me so
the gobbler would go by and let me get him
from behind while he was concentrating on
Henrietta. There was no way he would see me
from where I was. This was, finally, the perfect
setup.
As I said, he was coming fast if the in-
creasing volume of the gobbles was any indication. He was coming so fast that, in fact, he
caught O.B. flatfooted next to the decoy. He
was anxious, but not that much! He bolted the
opposite Way.
We were getting a little tired of these “lessons learned” and decided to make no more
mistakes on the next bird. We had experienced a lifetime of encounters with turkeys by
now and were ready to cash in.
The trouble was, there was to be no next
bird to come to the call. For 2 l/2 days we tried
repeatedly to locate birds and only heard one
distant gobble that never answered again.
Getting a gobbler with a bow is a difficult
task at best. And no bird in the bag is a price a
bowhunter must pay more often than not; but
there is another side to this story.
We called in a total of seven gobblers, five
to under twenty yards, with the first one being
as close as six feet at one time. Had it not been
the very tail end of the season we may have
done better since their breeding activity was
winding down rapidly by then. But how many
men have had a magnificiant gobbler strutting
by practically in their laps? I wouldn’t trade
those memories for anything, including a bird
on the ground. I no longer wonder what people see in turkey hunting (or is it called Gobblin’ Fever?). Their secret is safe with me, but
I wonder how we can keep it from other non-
turkey hunters out there?
Last Chance
On the last night, we returned to the roost
site that we had bungled by being too close to
on the second day. I had sent for my Ghillie
Suit from back home and hoped to put it to
the test with these birds. (Developed for use
by military snipers, Game Wirmer’s Ghillie
Suit uses hundreds of fabric strips sewn to

mesh lining for a 3-D camo effect.)
At 7:30, three hens and a gobbler appeared from an adjacent comer of a bordering
field. Although they were headed for this
roost, their path would carry them through
the woods 100 yards to my right; so I yelped,

hoping to steer them my way. The tom gob-
bled back repeatedly but they stayed on their
course for the 1‘0OSt tree. With my best still-
hunting attempt ever, I began to sneak over to
intercept them.

Miraculously, I saw a hen coming before
she saw me. When she crossed behind a tree I
dropped down behind one of my own and
nocked an arrow.
Soon the hens were all heading down a
deer trail directly toward my location. They
would pass within fifteen yards of me! This
was too good to be true! They passed by and

never even noticed my still form, clad in the
disheveled looking Ghillie Suit. I remember
wishing that I had brought it with me to begin
with and used it on our earlier attempts.
That’s for next year. Soon the gobbler would
follow. I remained still and quiet and very
much full of anticipation.
After what seemed like an eternity, he appeared, strutting back and forth and carrying
on as if to tell the world that he was indeed the
king of this place. It was beautiful. The silence was awesome. My private view into
his life was incredible. I felt as though I was
the most privileged person on earth. The hens
had flown to their tree about 75 yards past and
a little below me. He was next.
As I said, he had been strutting out in front
of me. He seemed hung up at about 40 yards,
so I decided to coax him along. I had my Easy
Yelper box next to me for just this type of development so I carefully reached over and
gave it a few purrs. The forest was so silent
that I could hear his footsteps and feathers
rattle as he strutted and puffed and pounded
the air with his lungs. I knew he could hear
my purrs but to my surprise, he totally ignored them! I tried some more but he continued to parade around in oblivion to me. This
party was about to end. It was apparently bed
time.
He went straight down the slope and flew
into a tree of his own. I guess that is, as they
say, life! It was an anticlimax, but an easy one
to take considering the circumstances.
I had to go home that night so I carefully
snuck over to his tree for one last look. The
hens spotted me and began plucking nervously, with the one highest in the tree standing so tall that she appeared to be willing her-
self (or me) out of there!
Knowing they wouldn’t fly, I slipped to a
spot where I could see his silhouette against
the sunset. I smiled and shook my head in
admiration to salute a friend goodbye, or
rather: until we meet again. He was every
gobbler in the world to me then, and there he
sat, just a few yards from me acting as though
he barely noticed my presence. I turned and
padded up the deer trail, filled with memories
I’ll never lose.
O.B. was waiting a couple hundred yards
away and expressed relief that I hadn’t gone to
shoot the gobbler out of the tree (a concept we
had not discussed). He said he heard the hens’
plucking and was surprised at me, thinking I
had moved in for a shot.
I just softly laughed and said “Right . . .”
Gobblin’ fever won’t let you tip the scales that
way . . .

. . . It was fall and the crisp air felt good on
my face. Instead of deer, my thoughts were
with turkeys once again. A thirst from spring
had remained unquenched and the antlered
ones would have to do without me for a few
days.
Fall hunting is a different affair, for the
gobblers aren’t booming out their calls and
enchanting the countryside like they do in the

spring. It’s pretty much a matter of locating
flocks, rushing at them and yelling like a nut-
case to scatter them away from each other.
Then you call them back together and arrow
one. Simple.
My first flock took a lot of effort to disperse. They insisted on ruffling and staying
together. I circled ahead, caught them by surprise and they took flight in every direction.
The thickest clump of brush in the vicinity
made a great blind. I dove in and quickly
smashed out a shooting lane.
Surprisingly, since this was my first at-
tempt at fall birds, they answered my yelps
from everywhere. Soon, I had some in sight
and I became very, very still. I remembered
my spring lessons only too well!
It seems these birds always have some-
thing in store for me. A lone Jake walked up

from my right side and peeked into my shooting lane — at a mere ten feet. I was unable to
even breathe, much less draw the bow. I had
been hoping for a 10 to l5 yard pass and not
this! He cautiously slipped off, offering me no
shot.
A small rustle in the brush behind me
caught my ear a moment later. Ever-so-
slowly, I turned my head to check it out.
There, in the bush with me, were two turkeys
picking the ground intently. I froze, knowing
this was another loser. The birds never saw
me (due to the thickness of the brush) as they
worked their way inward.
A new personal record was about to be set
— at three feet they laid down to rest. THREE
FEET! !! I quickly decided what to do, since I
was about to burst out with laughter anyway! I
reached over and patted the closest one on the
back. She didn’t seem to appreciate the situation
like I did and commenced clucking and
clawing at the turf in an effort to leave at warp
speed. I got no shot but that episode was better, I was sure!
The next day I was lucky enough to scatter
another of the plentiful Wyoming flocks, this
time in the vicinity of one of my deer stands. I
didn’t kr1ow if it was kosher to hunt turkeys
from treestands but I was up quickly anyway.
This time I had one of the limited edition
Quaker Boy boxes with me. This particular
box makes a very coarse yelp — a lot like an

older hen would make. Apparently, it was
music to these turkeys’ ears. Shortly, a group
of five birds came into view, calling back frequently to my call. Knowing they could pin-
point my tree easily, I became quiet and still,
with my new Oneida Eagle 600 poised and
ready.
The group was made up of four hens and a
Jake. He was sporting a five inch beard which
I deduced would someday be a trophy append-
age. I’m one that believes that there are never
enough bucks or gobblers of trophy caliber; I
decided to let him grow up and meet with me
another day.
They came in to 20 yards and began milling
about, seeming uncertain of their purpose. I

drew on the nearest hen, facing away from me,
aimed for her back and released.
WHACK! The arrow was stuck in the bird
as it tumbled across the forest floor. The startled flock scattered as my bird became still. I
waited a minute and then slipped down the
tree to claim my prize.
My drought was finally over. This infection called “turkey fever” was now a full-
fledged disease in me. It will be a long winter
waiting for the rites of spring. Now, besides
snow melting and warm air and greening
trees, the new season will explode my senses
even further with the series of majestic “gobble . . . gobble. . . gobble. . I can’t wait!

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Published by mark cumpston on 04 Nov 2011

TIMBER VALLEY FRESH SCENTS

If your looking for the freshest scents out there look no further than TIMBER VALLEY FRESH SCENTS. It is shipped directly to you on the day you want it. Stop wasting money and time on the store bought scents. The first evening I used the fresh buck urine from Timber Valley I harvested a 12 point that followed the scent trail I laid down. I’ve never had such fast results using any other scents. Trust me go check out the web site and see how its done.

 

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