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Published by archerchick on 09 Dec 2011

Sneak & Peek Whitetail Strategies ~ By Bill Vaznis


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

6 steps to arrowing a buck from Ground Zero

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PRE-RUT Food Sources

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grunt Tube

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Published by archerchick on 08 Dec 2011

Alberta Double Header – By Bob Robb


Bowhunting World October 2003
Alberta Double Header – By Bob Robb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deer Hunter’s Mecca

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whitetails, Mulies – Or Both?

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

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

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

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

A Great Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ll Be Back

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

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

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Published by 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

ELK ~ Run Silent, Run Deep ~by Bob Robb

Bowhunting World Oct 2003

Elk Run Silent, Run Deep ~By Bob Robb

 

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

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

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

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

Strategy of the Pros

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

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

The Importance of Scouting

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

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

 

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

Hurry Up, Slow Down

 

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

 

Ulmer’s Ideal Scenario

 

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

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

 

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

 

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Published by archerchick on 05 Dec 2011

Bad Weather Whitetails~ By Rick Sapp


Archery World April, 1989
Bad Weather Whitetails – By Rick Sapp

My cotton camo gloves were soggy and cold. Rain dripped persistently
from the white arc of string-tracking line attached to my broadhead. Thunder was followed immediately by lightning. As I left my stand, the pine forest murmured, alive with wind. That night, the thermometer dropped off the wall. Sleet and a whirling northwest gale ripped at the oak-red and poplar-yellow fall colors, blowing their remains by the windows of the hunting lodge. Morning dawned gray and understated. Sleet gave way to snow. The morose bowhunters took a second helping of buckwheat pancakes.

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I was a guest at Foulkrod’s Archery Camp, deep in the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania. Deer were plentiful, owner Bob Foulkrod had written months before, and in early October the fall colors would be at their peak. I expected to spend several days in a comfortable hunting lodge, making friends and swapping stories by a fire in the evenings.
What I did not expect was a week of “character-building” weather.

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Bowhunting Weather

Bob Foulkrod is the kind of man who can bowhunt comfortably and effectively in almost any kind of weather. Self-assured, but not cocky, the raven-haired Pennsylvanian has hunted deer in swamps along the Gulf of Mexico and polar bear on windswept ice packs north of the Arctic Circle. To Foulkrod, good bowhunting weather is almost any weather at all.

When I helped myself to a second cup of coffee, looked wistfully out the window at the blowing snow and then settled down in front of the huge field stone fireplace, he just laughed. “Well, that’s fine with the deer. They don’t care of course, weather does affect deer movement just like it affects the movement of hunters. The trick is to match your activity to that of the deer. To do that, you must first be comfortable and confident in the deer woods— a tall order in poor weather.

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Perfect combinations of temperature, humidity, wind strength and direction and all the other ingredients that must be considered when you hunt are rare. According to Murphy ’s Law, any warm, sunny day during hunting season will be a Monday and any drizzly, freezing, flag-snapper will be a Saturday. Consequently, a hunter who prepares for”character building” weather will dramatically increase his odds of scoring.
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Staying comfortable on a bluebird day isn’t a problem. When sunshine and 70 degree weather are forecast, the problem will be staying alert, maintaining that keen edge of attention and excitement which allow you to locate deer before they locate you. Some bowhunters take camo-covered paperback books to read on stand. Others listen through earphones to battery powered radios stuffed inside their jackets. A few people have incredible powers of endurance and concentration, an ability to sit or stand motionless and quiet for hours.

When it’s miserable outside, the bowhunting problem is just the opposite. You’ll be alert – perhaps too alert – shivering, brushing snow flakes off your nose, continually moving your head and shoulders to try and stem the trickle of rain leaking down your neck. In bad weather, the problem is bowhunting comfortably, because when you’re comfortable,
you’re not only alert, but you can be effective, too.


So, how do you bowhunt successfully in bad weather? “It all depends on what you mean by bad weather,” Bob Foulkrod says, reducing the question first to definitions. Bad weather for one bowhunter, for instance, who despises hunting in the cold, may not be a bad weather situation for another who has greater tolerance for freezing temperatures. And obviously, a cold, overcast day requires different preparations than a drizzly, foggy day.

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Rain

“If it’s raining out,” Foulkrod says, “you want rain gear that’s as quiet as possible. If it isn’t quiet, when you move to draw a bow or turn your head, a nearby deer will spook Pull a garment over it if it isn’t quiet, like a cotton camo jump suit. Most of the deer stands at my camp are set up for 10 to 15 yard shots. If you’re rustling around in a tree, believe me, deer know the difference between you and a squirrel.
“I try to set up for this distance at my bear camp in Canada, too – and for my own bow-hunting. In bad weather, a 20- to 25-yard shot is a long shot.

“If it’s a warm, gentle rain late in the day, deer will move without paying much attention to it. They’ll get up in a light rain and do their basic routine – get up from their bedding ground, go feed and come back again. “If the wind is blowing and it’s raining, though, deer lose one of their senses. Their ears are always flicking back and forth, listening. If they can’t hear, they get nervous.

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In heavy rain or snow or wind, they’ll bed down and wait it out. If a bowhunter likes to do some slow, quiet stalking, this is an ideal time. “If you’re going to hunt in the rain, I’d recommend you use a Game Tracker string tracking unit. If you hit a deer and it’s pouring rain, and you’re not using one, you’re going to lose the deer. A lot of guys go out whatever the weather because, like here in Pennsylvania, they only have four Saturdays to hunt.

“So, if it’s raining and you want to bowhunt, you’ve got to consider whether it’s best to use feathers or vanes. It’s a matter of personal preference. Remember, you’re only going to shoot that arrow one time. Personally, I shoot right wing helical feathers and a 90 – pound Golden Eagle Turbo bow.” Unless chemically treated, feathers absorb moisture; vanes repel it.


Whether there will be a significant difference in flight characteristics between vanes and wet feathers on a shot of 10 to 20 yards is a matter of speculation. Foulkrod, who has taken dozens of whitetails with a bow puts his faith in the forgiving characteristics of feathers,
While many will argue that Foulkrod is mightily over-bowed for whitetails, he believes in shooting the heaviest bow he can shoot comfortably.

“My bow is adequate for anything. I’ve never seen anything it hasn’t put down,” he says. “You should be able to pull your bow not just over your head, but out in front of you. You should be able to stand in a treestand, feet no more farther apart than your shoulders, point your bow at the ground and pull it to full draw in that position. Most hunters can’t do that, but in bad weather you want to punch through what you’re shooting You want a blood trail out both sides of an animal.
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When bowhunting in the rain, you should consider:

• Wearing a short-billed cap with a 360-degree
brim to keep rain away from ears, nose
and neck.
• Folding collars tight to prevent water from
trickling down your back. Remember that
if the weather is wet and cold, you must
guard against hypothermia, the rapid loss
of body heat, a killer of the careless.
• Rolling a hood outside-in so that if you decide
to use it after it has rained for a while,
it will unroll dry. If you roll it inside-out or
pay no attention to it during a drizzle,
you’ll pull it over your head surprisingly
wet, just what you wanted to avoid. And a
hood can hold up to a pint of water!
• That if it works to repel rain, your rain gear
is probably noisy. Just twisting your head
from side to side inside a hood or raising
your bow arm will sound loud enough to
alert deer. Pulling a shirt and trousers or a
cotton jump suit over rain gear will muffle
its crinkling but will not eliminate it.
• Wearing wool garments, which will shed
water for hours or unless immersed completely.
Even wet, wool acts as an insulator
and helps prevent heat loss.
• That your rain gear will block the wind, but
if you go for a walk to limber up stiff muscles,
or if you scout a different section of
woods or try a long stalk, you should take it
off. Most rain gear will just as effectively
trap your perspiration inside as it keeps
rain outside.
• That rubber boots will help you stay comfortably
dry and will also serve to minimize
the scent you carry to stand. Uninsulated,
however, they are dangerous in cold
weather because your body will try to
warm them to body temperature – an impossible
task for the feet which, on a cold
day, get less than their share of body heat,
anyway.
• That many of the new, insulated Cordura
and rubber hunting boots are designed specifically
for use in inclement weather.
• That your shooting glove or tab, when wet,
will tend to “grab” the string, thus throwing your
shot off target as surely as an uneven release. Try to keep your shooting hand
as dry as possible. A bow holder helps immensely.
• That you can avoid sluggish performance at
a critical moment if you wax your bow-
string. A well-waxed string sheds water.
• Drying equipment immediately upon your
return home can prevent problems such as
rusting, dulled broadheads or wooden-handle bows which swell and crack from absorbed moisture.
• Never bowhunting in more than a light
drizzle and even then, taking extreme care
with any bow shot. Remember. Murphy
was right and, it is said, he was also an
optimist. ~

Frigid Temperatures

“If it’s freezing, you’re only going to be able to sit on stand comfortably and right – and by right, I mean, you can’t be fidgeting – for a short time,” Bob Foulkrod says, stressing that a bowhunter should know his limitations. “If an hour is your limit of patience or
endurance in cold weather, pick out the best hour for deer movement – just before it gets dark or just before the sun comes up.

“When it’s extremely cold, like it can be in late fall, as a rule I take my hunters out after the frost starts to burn off. We hunt from semi-permanent stands over apple trees in the state forests around my camp. Even when hunters are assured of seeing deer if they can be patient, it’s hard for them to sit well when deer activity doesn’t seem to be great. When there’s a real heavy frost, deer will normally start to move after the sun is up and is burning the frost off the apples. I want hunters on stand then. On days like that, they can sit longer than if they go out real early.

“Now, anything can make you a liar, but if you can’t sit there quietly and comfortably, if you’re fidgeting around, you’re giving up your location. If you give up your location, you’re not going to be able to take deer.” Foulkrod believes complete camouflage is as essential when it’s cold and miserable as when it’s warm and comfortable. Because the
trunk of the body will normally be bundled in several layers of bulky clothing, clothing which holds body heat in but wicks perspiration away from the skin, special attention must be paid to the extremities – head, hands and feet.

Finger shooters must have their hands free to take the bowstring deep into the first crease of their fingers, draw and make a smooth release. Some bowhunters simply wear light gloves and stuff their hands in their pockets or wear a mitten on the bow hand and a light glove on their shooting hand – imperfect solutions at best, for if a deer “hangs up” or is shy to approach a shooting lane, your shooting fingers will shake with cold (and adrenaline) within a short period of time.

A better solution for cold hands and stiff fingers is to use mittens specially adapted for bowhunters like The Fingermit from Tempo Glove in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. One hundred percent wool, The Fingermit’s thumb and finger sleeves are attached to the rest of the mitten, including leather palm and thumb pads, by a knitted “hinge.” This hinge allows
the bowhunter to easily slip his fingers out for fast and accurate bowstring control.

Stuffing inexpensive Hot Pad hand warmers from The Game Tracker in each pocket isn’t a bad idea, either. Hot Pads are activated when they are removed from the package and come in contact with air. They are non-toxic odorless and disposable.

Estimates of body heat lost from the top of the head in cold weather range from 60 to 80 percent. If you can control heat loss there, you will go a long way to staying comfortable while you’re outside. For the bad weather bowhunt at Foulkrod’s Archery Camp, I was fortunate to have included in my duffel bag a heavy pull-over cap which incorporates a
wool outer shell with an inner polypropylene lining.

The pull-over leaves the oval of my face open to the wind, but barring some high-tech solution, I find that bearable if my head, hands and feet are warm. I consequently add heavy blotches of camo paint to my nose and cheeks. The pull-over protects my forehead, neck and chin, but does not inhibit my breathing by covering my mouth and nose. A typical face mask, with holes only for the eyes, traps the moisture from your breath and soon you have a wet or icy mask and fogged glasses, too.
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Cold weather is a special challenge for feet which, in the North, are typically confined inside multiple layers of wool socks, Thinsulate boot liners and rubber/ leather boots with thick, removable felt liners. The problem is that feet sweat and, if you walk any distance with your feet swaddled in all these layers. they sweat profusely. The sweat chills and
your feet freeze.

Although there are numerous fine boots on today’s market which incorporate aerospace materials, for me the best solution to cold weather hunting is the combination mentioned above: thick wool socks, a Thinsulate boot liner and Sorel-style boots with rubber bottoms and leather tops incorporating removable felt liners. I change the sock/liner combination to a fresh set at mid-day. That way, I start the morning and the afternoon with warm, dry feet.
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Once I’m home from a day bowhunting in cold weather, I want to throw everything – bow, fanny pack, boots, clothes – into a corner, gulp a cup of hot chocolate and crawl immediately under an electric blanket. It’s a temptation I face after each hunt and I have to force myself to take care of my gear and clothing right away. The felt boot liners and pull-
over should be machine washed on gentle cycle in baking soda or an odorless soap like Tink’s Non Scent Camo Soap and then hung to air dry. Machine drying shrinks wool and destroys many synthetic fibers. When you remove your boots to change socks and inserts, you’1l notice that the boot shells are thoroughly wet inside, too. While it isn’t necessary or practical to try to clean and dry them in the field, once you’re home you should wipe them out with a dry cloth, spray them generously with a human odor-eliminating spray like Scent Shield, and then leave them out to dry before you wear them again. Usually, they will dry overnight.

When hunting in cold weather, the archer will also want to consider:
• That a thermos of hot coffee or soup may
emit odors a deer can detect, but the psychological
value of the added warmth on a
cold day is tremendous.
• That metal handle bows feel significantly
colder to the hand than wood handle bows
when the temperature falls below freezing.
• Screwing a bow hanger into the tree (where
legal) or attaching one to your stand will
help you keep your hands warm and reduce
your movement on stand.

• Layering your clothing, beginning with a
heavy polypropylene or insulated long underwear
and proceeding through — as necessary — wool shirt and trousers, down
vest, a nylon jacket to prevent the wind
from penetrating to your body, an insulated
coverall and so on.
• Wearing suspenders rather than a belt. A
belt constricts blood (and heat) flow below
the waist.
• Warm-up exercises like drawing and holding
your bow several times on your way to
or immediately after you arrive on stand to
help prevent muscle fatigue and strain. In
cold weather, the tendency is for the muscles
to knot. You can feel it usually as you
hunch your shoulders and draw your arms
tightly against your side.

The Camp

Bob Foulkrod describes himself as a deer hunter rather than a trophy hunter. “I have no qualms taking a nice doe, if I’m hunting a state that allows me to take a doe — and a lot of states are doing that, such as Michigan where you can take a doe or buck. I think of the shot.
I had a deer come in the other night in Michigan. It was very fidgety. Silent. I mean, if anything moved it was edgy. It was a nice doe, a mature doe and I made the shot on it. It was a good shot and I feel good about it because I had to be doing my part. In other words, if I had moved too quick or if my bow hadn’t been quieted down or I hadn’t cleaned the bark off the tree behind me or if I made just the slightest little noise, I wouldn’t have gotten that deer.

“You’ve got a job to do when you get in a treestand and that’s to take the deer down, take it out. That’s what you’re up there for. I have no qualms shooting a doe. If a buck comes out — and it doesn’t have to be a Pope & Young class buck for me to take it — I’ll shoot at it, any nice deer: spike, four-point, six- point. But if a nice buck comes out, I’m
going to take it, too.

“That’s really the philosophy of my deer camp. Have a time. Most of the people come there to get away from the telephones. They want the companionship of other hunters. They want to hear how they did. If someone gets a deer down, we take the whole camp out and we look for the deer as a team. It’s almost like a basketball team. The whole camp is a team. They want to know how you did, they get excited about it. No arguing, no disagreements. Everyone comes in and has a good time and when they go home, whether they got a deer or not, they still had a good time with a nice bunch of guys hunting whitetails.”

Despite the rotten weather the week I hunted at Foulkrod’s Archery Camp, both Rex Blankenship of McLean, Virginia, and Ed Moore, Carleton Place, Ontario, took deer. Rex, shooting a 70-pound Golden Eagle Cam Hunter took his deer at four yards with a heart/lung shot at 4:30 p.m. Ed’s deer fell to a double lung hit from his 60 pound Martin Cougar Magnum at 8:15 a.m.

Ed Martin, camp manager for Foulkrod’s Archery Camp in 1988, said the fully modern lodge (which doubles as Bob Fou1krod’s home) has accommodated bowhunters for a decade. Inside the lodge is a complete bar and wide-screen television. Dozens of hunting videos, including many that Foulkrod himself has appeared in, are available. The lodge, in-
side and out, is stunningly decorated with trophies of Fou1krod’s bowhunting adventures: bear skins, whitetail racks, life-size caribou mounts, wild hogs and much more. The lodge feels like a hunting lodge — a place you really can get away from it all.

A week of hunting costs $500 and includes home-cooked meals by Bob Fou1krod’s mother, Prudence Foulkrod, whom everyone calls “mom.” It also includes linens in the downstairs bunkhouse, transportation to and from your hunting stands, and transportation to a nearby butcher when you take a deer. In 1988, that butcher charged $15 to cut, wrap and freeze a deer, a bargain in any state.

For further information about deer hunting at Fou1krod’s Archery Camp, write: Bob Foulkrod, Foulkrod’s Archery Camp, Dept. AW, R.D. 1, Box 140, Troy, PA 16947.
Authors Note: A 1988 Pennsylvania bowhunting license cost $12.75, resident, and
$80.75, non-resident; bowhunters must also purchase a $5.50 archery stamp. The deer archery season, statewide, opened October 1 in 1988 and closed October 28. It was open again from December 26 through January 7, 1989.

For information about bowhunting Pennsylvania, write: Pennsylvania Game Commission, 2001 Elmerton Ave., Harrisburg, PA 17110-9797. 4

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Published by dandu005 on 13 Nov 2011

Bittersweetness of Hunting

I feel that I am not alone when I say that there is most definitely a bittersweet side to the harvesting of game and the hunt being over. I was fortunate this year to once again fill my Minnesota archery tag with a nice buck. Not only that, but it also was the third consecutive year that I took my buck on Halloween weekend. So to say harvesting my 2011 buck made me happy is an understatement, although deep down there was a strange feeling that was oddly not surprising.

Looking down at my buck lying in the bed of my truck, I couldn’t help but feel somewhat upset. I had spent the last 364 days since I killed my last buck getting ready for that moment, and now it was over. The thought that my 2011 season was over really struck at me, and thinking about a whole year of preparation until the next season seemed depressing. I found it very interesting that despite my success I had mixed feelings about it. This was supposed to be a time of utter celebration and nothing more. Which we did celebrate the harvest, and I most certainly couldn’t have been more happy with a happy ending to a hunting season, but the emotions I felt still kept me uneasy deep down.

Finally an epiphany happened, and I realized why I was feeling these mixed feelings. The happy feelings go without any need for explanation. However, the unhappy ones I found to be caused by the end of a season. I would no longer get to go out into the woods, sit in a tree stand, observe mother nature, and enjoy God’s work. I anticipate that opportunity all year, it is what I essentially live for among other select things. I have also found that it is inevitable that these feeling will come when you put in so much time and effort into the preparations for your hunting season, then have it all come down to the climax and have it end only to start the cycle all over again. The important thing to remember is that you get the opportunity to do it all again. For many this chance doesn’t come. Half the fun of hunting is the off-season preparation isn’t it? The anticipation, the prepping, all working up to that fleeting moment, that is why we do it. So don’t let those end of the season woes get to you. Always remember there is another season coming, so reap the rewards of the recently ended one and start getting ready for next year’s adventures, and remember why we do what we do.

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Published by llpensinger on 12 Nov 2011

Eastern Shore Hunters

Hey any Eastern Shore Hunters here.  I’m going out first thing Nov. 25 for rifle hunting.  Not good enough with a bow to get the job done, but love archery target shooting.  I’m going to the Breakfast Cafe for breakfast, they’re opening at 4am, then hitting the tree stand  I have along the edge of a friends fields.  I’m located in West Ocean City, let me know where your from.

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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 dandu005 on 25 Oct 2011

Bowhunting in Reality

Looking through today’s hunting publications, what do you see? Page after page of celebrity hunters holding up freakishly large deer that surpass even the limits of our dreams. Usually these images are displayed on the ad pages promoting some sort of product that is supposed to be the cause for the fall of the monarch. While I will say I do like watching some of these celebrity hunters and enjoy their shows, I feel what they are promoting is being misinterpreted by the public. We the public are starting to believe we must shoot big mature bucks, and that trophy hunting is coming to be the one accepted method in the woods. Shooting a young buck will lead to scoffs and criticisms from “much greater” hunters who think highly of their commitment to trophy hunting. In reality, the typical deer hunter doesn’t have access to land that is capable of producing record book bucks consistently like TV hunting personalities do. Big mature bucks are far more rare than most people realize, and that is where this misinterpretation can lead to problems for us hunters. We work so hard for something that quit possibly may not be possible that we no longer enjoy the sport and forget what hunting is about. In these modern day magazines, I am also noticing a rise in the number of articles being published about this issue. The authors are attempting to pursuade people into seeing what the world of hunting is turning into. More and more hunters are losing sight of what is important to the hunt, that is the hunt itself and not the kill. The world of hunting is turning into an unquenchable thirst for shooting the biggest deer in the woods, and if you don’t do so you fail as a hunter. Much too often it seems we find ourselves scrutinizing others for taking lesser deer than our standards. This is brought about by the false interpretations we get from the media. Remember this, the memories we make afield with our friends and family beat any trophy that can ever be harvested. Realizing what hunting really means to you and hunting within your means and reality will lead to an enjoyable experience for all rather than a struggle amongst ourselves.

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Published by mitchie on 24 Oct 2011

Special 3-D Indoor Shoot

Possum Hollow is having a 30 Target 3-D Archery Shoot on December 16, 23 and 30. Cost is 10.00. kitchen open for the events. It is at Possum Hollow Sportsmens Club 352 Possum Hollow Road, Wampum, Pa. 16157. www.ph-sc.com or email us at thepossumhollow@gmail.com. Hope to see you there.

 

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