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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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Published by olecowpoke on 04 Oct 2011

Second Place to the Old Man

While on vacation, I visited a new Bow Shop in North Carolina. I was excited to find they also had an indoor Archery Range. As we talked, the Shop Owner told me there was a friendly local competition every Thursday night and he invited me to join them. I told him I was “just a hunter”, not a competitive shooter, but he encouraged me nevertheless. Although I’d never shot competition before, I could hardly wait for Thursday night.
I showed up early Thursday night, accompanied by my Son in Law. I plunked down a meager entry fee and was assigned a shooting station along with 18 other Archers. All I had was my camoflage hunting bow and my field tipped hunting arrows. Other Archers had red, pink and purple target bows with three foot long, double stabilizers and half inch diameter arrow shafts…or so it appeared to me. I was a little intimidated but reminded myself, “I’m here to have fun, not to impress anyone”. I kept muttering things to myself, like “just shoot what ya’ brought”. My beloved Son in Law offered encouragement, saying “You can hit deer vitals at 40 yards, surely you can hit that little twelve inch (12”) target at 20 yards”. I reminded myself, ”we’re indoors, standing flat footed on the floor, with no wind, no elevation, nothing to compensate for”…… What? Me nervous?
As I remember, they called this a “Ten Ring Elimination”, which was completely new to me. They explained, all three arrows had to be within the ring that matched the round…..in other words, in the first round of shooting, all three arrows had to be inside the outermost ring on the ten (10) ring target. In the second round, you moved in a ring and all three arrows had to be inside the next smallest (9th) ring, and so on until you were shooting at the two inch (2”) bullseye on the tenth round. If you ever failed to put all three arrows inside the proper ring, you were eliminated. If you had a flier…you were eliminated. The yardage was fixed at 20 yards. Sounds easy enough…….
We began shooting and I was having a blast. This was so much better than the solitary shooting I was accustomed to, in my back yard. I was truly surprised when the first 6 rounds of three arrows retired about half the shooters. I was actually surprised to still be shooting. This sort of bolstered my confidence and I just “zoned out” as if in my treestand, drawing down on a big buck. “Concentrate”, Focus”, “Aim small, miss small”. I settled on “Aim small, miss small” as my matra…..and it was working.
After a couple more rounds, there were only three other shooters. We took a short break before the last three rounds. That’s when my Son in Law whispered, “Check out the old guy down on the far end….he’s shooting a long bow and…..no sight. “Watch him shoot”….”he just draws and releases the arrow”…..”he doesn’t even take time to aim”. I shouldn’t have, but when we began shooting again, I paused between my own arrows to watch him send a couple arrows down range…..just like my Son in Law described.
This old guy was “instinct shooting”, or at least that’s what I’d call it. He’d draw back and let the arrow fly in one smooth motion. Within half a second of reaching full draw, the arrow was released. “Hes not even aiming”….”Hes just spot shooting”. Even my non-archer Son in Law realized this was something to behold. Even more amazing, I noticed the old man was hunched over a walking cane as he hobbled down to retrieve his arrows. It was all I could do not to just watch him shoot. As they say, He was “poetry in motion”. Over and over, He’d nock an arrow, raise up, draw back and let fly…..in one smooth motion. There was no hesitation in his motion for aiming, He’d just draw back and let fly…..right in the bullseye.
By now, it’s just He and I shooting the Nine ring. All others had been eliminated and I am totally distracted. “Concentrate, Focus” I told myself. On the final round we were shooting at the two inch (2”) bulls eye. I would not let myself watch the old man as I sent three arrows downrange. When I walked up to extract my arrows, I was elated…..I’D PUT ALL THREE OF MY ARROWS IN THE BULLS EYE….but so did the old man. Are you kiddin’ me. He put all three in the bullseye, with no sight, using a long bow? I was using a Single Cam Compound Bow, with a peep sight, a cam release, weight forward carbon fiber arrows….all the latest technology….and he was using a wood bow with no sight.
When both of us put all three arrows on target, we had to shoot the Bullseye again….I had two center hits and one “flier” in the four ring. You guessed it, the old man laid all three arrows, touching each other, in the bulls eye. Those who had hung around offered a round of applause…..as did I. The Shop Owner walked out, presented a ribbon to the old man and took a flash picture, while I was packing up all my gear to go home. We hung around and small talked with the Shop Owner and a few locals. I was pleased enough with second place, in my first archery contest….but I just couldn’t get over being bested by the old man with a long bow and no sight….until we were walking out of the store. There on the bulletin board were nine pictures….count ‘em….nine pictures of the Old Man with his Long bow….holding up ribbons and trophys in each picture. In one picture, the Trophy was almost as tall as he was.
As you might recon’, I had to go back and ask……It seems, the old man had been shooting that same long bow his entire life….yep, he was an instinct shooter, with no sight, no mechanical release…..nothing but an old bow and arrows that were as much a part of him as breath itself. In his earlier days, He had killed more bucks and bears than anyone could count, for as long as anyone could remember, he’d been taking his game with that same bow. The Shop Owner sort of blushed and chuckled…..”I’m sorry Sir, I should have warned you in advance….you didn’t have a chance”…..and with that, I went home feeling really satisfied being “Second Place to the Old Man”.
Now every time my arthritic shoulder gives me a fit, I remember that hunched over old man, leaning on his cane while he extracts his arrows. When I think I’ve got to spend a thousand dollars for that latest, greatest, newest model bow, or when I “need” that new illuminated bow sight or those newfangled mechanical broadheads…..I remember that old man with his old long bow and no sight ……and I go shoot another practice round with MY same old bow and arrows. Yea, I still use my peep sight.

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Published by KurtD on 18 Jul 2011

It’s All About The Memories By: Ted Nugent

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MEMORIES
By: Ted Nugent

Growing up in the new musical whirlwind of Chuck Berry, Bo Diddly, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and the thrilling new bowhunting world of Fred Bear was very, very exciting. Inspired by these masters of rock-n-roll, I attacked my guitar and musical dreams with a passion fire the likes of which I had no control over. And as far as the mystical flight of the arrow went, I was long gone, addicted, hooked, in love L-U-V, bow and arrow crazy.

Driven by the love and discipline of my incredible parents, I practiced my guitar with a vengeance and shot my bow and arrows every day. I literally could not get enough of either of these passions, and pursued them with every ounce of my being. It was a fascinating, wonderful way to grow up in America, and my memory bank bursts at the seams with glowing, powerful images of family joy and happiness with guitars, guns, bows and arrows.

But as jam packed as my memory bank is, unfortunately the family photo album is a little sparse on snapshots from the old Brownie automatic camera. We have a few dazzling photos of our wonderful family doing all sorts of fun stuff in those early years of the 1950s and early 60s, but I sure wish we had taken the time to take more photos.

As I think back to those annual excursions Up North for opening day of bow season in October, my mind reels with graphic details of the gas stations with bows and arrows and guns and ammo on display. The firestorm of colors in those Michigan hardwoods is as if they are silkscreened on my soul.

I can see my hero Fred Bear sitting next to me at the counter of the Grayling restaurant eating our cherry pie and sipping big glasses of milk together.

How I wish we had captured those incredible memories on film.

We don’t have photos of us catching little blue gills at the woodland lake. No photos of the little log cabin on the beautiful Titabawasee River, gathering wood, hauling water, frying bacon, roasting marshmallows, shooting our bows and .22 rifles.

There are no photos of my first squirrel, my fist deer, my first rabbit.

I would have never imagined I would grow up to be a professional outdoor writer or New York Times Best Selling author, much less the American rock-n-roll guitar guy. No one could have ever guessed I would dedicate my life to promoting our honorable hunting heritage and Second Amendment rights. Photos of my early years living that life sure would have come in mighty handy for such a career.

And even if such a career had never taken shape, I would really love to be able to show my kids and grandkids photos of the old man in action as a little boy who cherished my outdoor lifestyle from the very beginning.

So here’s to everyone out there who loves the great outdoors and thrills at taking our kids, grandkids, family and friends hunting, fishing, trapping, shooting, camping, boating and exploring.

Do yourself a favor and always bring along a decent camera with plenty of spare batteries and memory cards. Take that extra time to stop and document what I believe to be the most cherished lifetime memories of all; families having fun living the outdoor lifestyle.

Capture those life forming moments when we are celebrating the outdoor life we all so love. Get a photo of the young boys and girls with their first fish, their first bulls-eye, a first burnt marshmallow or a hot dog on a stick over an open campfire. Document those glowing smiles, not just for the happy, forever memories, but also to share with other friends, neighbors and classmate just how much fun all these great outdoor activities are for everyone fortunate enough to live them.

By sharing such photos with others, I am convinced the joys will be contagious and a darn good tool for luring more and more families into the shooting sports, and we can all agree just how great that always is.

You and your entire family will be happy you did.

Guns; check. Ammo; check. Bows and arrows; check. Tent; check. Stools; check. Canoe; Check. Fishing poles; Check. Tacklebox; Check. Bait; Check. Camera and batteries; Check. Happy

 

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Published by KurtD on 14 Jul 2011

It’s All About The Little Things by Ted Nugent

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE LITTLE THINGS

by Ted Nugent

My eyes nearly bulged out of my hairy little head. Dear Lord in heaven, there were beautiful big game animals seemingly everywhere. A quartet of stunning spotted axis stags stood a hundred yards yonder, standing there looking at us. Six or seven darn nice whitetails were just beyond them, casually filtering in and out of the bushy scrub. We hadn’t driven a hundred yards when a gorgeous white horned sika stag stuck his head out of a cedar thicket twenty yards off the trail. In a short thirty minute drive, I had seen more amazing big game animals than I would normally see in an entire season on average when I first started hunting. And many of these critters seemed to be so relaxed, I was aghast that it couldn’t possibly be for real.

For a guy who started bowhunting back in the 1950s, I struggled to process the information that had just smacked me between the frontal lobes. It was one of my first adventures in the wilds of the amazing Texas’ Hill Country, and I was about to implode with excitement as I was being led to my afternoon treestand.

The vast open range of this private hunting ranch was loaded with more than twenty five species of indigenous and exotic big game animals, and they were apparently in abundant numbers. Only a few bowhunters had ever hunted this place, and I was invited to sample their hunting to offer my advice on how to set it up for optimal bowhunting.

The pickup chugged up a bumpy, rocky two track road and pulled to a halt where an endless ridge of thick cedars broke off into a desert flat of prickly pear cactus and barren rocky ground. My guide pointed to a lone mesquite tree with a metal tripod wedged into the branches, and told me this was the hot spot for aoudad rams, axis deer, sika, fallow and whitetail galore. He said the feeder was to the north a short ways and would go off around sunset and I should be covered up with critters.

I am telling you, I was more excited than I think I had ever been. I said thank you and hustled over to the tripod as my guide motored off.

When I got to the stand, I became somewhat concerned, for the old tripod was nearly rusted out, and I was actually scared as I climbed aboard the squeaky, swaying, dangerously unstable stand. With no tow rope, I clung to my bow as every step created all kinds of racket, and it got even worse when I settled into the cracked, chipped noisy seat.

I didn’t feel comfortable at all and was actually spooked that I wouldn’t be able to remain steady when attempting to draw back my bow. But I needn’t had worried, for I was completely skylighted eight feet off the ground, with the sun blazing on my face, making my whole body glow against the shiny blue sky. No way would any animal not see me up here.

Next thing I immediately noticed was that the steady breeze was blowing straight for the feeder, which was not a short ways away, but rather a good forty five yards away. Under the feeder was a deep depression, void of any vegetation within fifteen yards.

I furrowed my brow, squinted my sunburned eyeballs and wondered how in the hell anyone with the most minimal basic of hunting knowledge 101 could possibly think this set up could work.

I shifted my weight best that I could to minimize the squeaking, creaking, noisy old stand, nocked an arrow and hoped for the best.

Many animals were seen coming and going in all directions nonstop, but the feeder never went off, and nothing came anywhere near my strange anti-ambush spot. Right around sunset I was shocked to see my guide driving up in his noisy pickup, right at the magic bewitching hour that all hunters wait for and put in the hours for. I walked over to the feeder to discover that it was empty, and the battery was dead, and it appeared it hadn’t thrown any corn in a long, long time.

To say I was perplexed is a gross understatement. Making matters much worse, when I asked my guide how it was that the feeder wasn’t working and was much too far away for a decent bowshot, that my stand was unsafe and noisy as all hell, that the sun made me glow with no background cover at all and that the wind was the worst possible for this stand location, that his truck’s muffler announced to the world where we had gone, and that his Aqua Velva aftershave was like an olfactory warning alarm going off, he got his panties in a wad and scoffed me off like I didn’t know what I was talking about. How dare a long haired Yankee bowhunter try to tell a real honest to God Texas ranching cowboy how to kill critters on his grounds?

Yikes! My view of Texas took a very ugly turn for the worse that frightful day, I’m here to tell you.

So the lessons here my friends are mighty obvious. Stealth, safety, silence, wind, sun, background cover, maximum advantage bow shot distance to anticipated animal activity, feeders that are full and operational, decent ground vegetation so the animals have confidence to show up and move about, scent control by all players, don’t quit hunting until all shooting light or legal shooting light is over.

Big fun, happy and successful hunts, gratifying time afield and backstraps come to those who pay attention to the plethora of little details. I assure you, the critters are paying attention to every little detail, and if they pay more attention than we do, they win.  I like it when I win better, so I leave nothing to chance. Even when we do everything perfect to the best of our ability, that mystical sixth sense of the beast can turn the tables on the best of us. Think hard, think like a predator, think like an animal, learn your lessons well, and eventually backstraps will be yours. Details, details, details. Cover them all and hunt like you mean it. Me, I’m addicted to backstraps baby. I hunt to win. I hunt to kill.

 

 

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