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Published by admin on 26 Nov 2013

BOWHUNT AMERICA Best of Bill Krenz

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BOWHUNT AMERICA Best of Bill Krenz

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This column celebrates the writing of Bowhunt America Founder Bill Krenz. This piece was originally printed in the June/July 2005 issue of Bowhunt America.

Work on Your Weaknesses
The best way I’ve found to become a more accurate shooter is to work on your weaknesses.

If you’re an NBA basketball fan, you know
who Karl Malone is. Malone, who retired after playing eighteen seasons for the Utah Jazz and one for the Los Angeles Lakers, was one of the greatest power forwards ever. Malone was the league’s MVP in 1997 and 1999, was a 14-time All-Star selection, and finished second on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Malone could do it all. He could rebound, play defense, and score.
But there was a time when Karl Malone was just average. He was picked by the Utah Jazz in the thirteenth round of the 1985 NBA draft. Twelve other teams passed on Malone before Utah called his name, and his rookie season was lackluster. His first coach, Frank Layton, called Malone in after that first year and explained, “Karl, you have a unique combination of size and speed, but your shooting is just so-so. You will be just a journeyman, an average big man in the league unless you work on your shooting. Your shooting is your weakness.”
“I’ll go home and work on that during the off-season,” Malone told Layton. Layton had heard the same line from a thousand other players. Most never did anything about it.
But Karl Malone wasn’t most players. He recognized the truth in Layton’s words, worked his tail off during that—and every other—off-season, and became one of the best shooting forwards in NBA history. By the time he had retired, Malone had scored 36,928 points, second only to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the all-time NBA scoring list.
The biggest difference between Karl Malone and so many other players was his willingness to work on his weakness.
Most bowhunters recognize the fact that they must practice their shooting to become more accurate in the field. They set aside the time, ready their equipment, and pound arrow after arrow into their backyard target, hoping for the best.
I’ll tell you a secret. That’s not the way to do it. The best way I’ve found to become a more accurate shooter is to work on your weaknesses.
To do that, you must first identify your weaknesses. Check your ego at the door and objectively evaluate your own shooting. I like to do that periodically in two ways.

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Try setting up a video camera and filming your shooting from all angles. A video doesn’t lie—you’ll identify your bad habits right away.

First, I’ll mentally take stock of my recent shooting performance by asking myself a series of frank questions beginning with, “How have I performed during my regular practice sessions?” The idea is to identify specific problem areas. Last summer I did that and had to admit to myself that I was missing to the right and left much more than I would like. Horizontally, most of my shots at all distances were quite good, but my weakness seemed to be stray rights and lefts. I next looked at my recent performance in the field, evaluating every shot I’d taken at big game in the last few years. I don’t mind telling you that I was a bit taken aback to note the same right-left problem.
Having identified a likely weakness in my shooting, I next set up a video camera and filmed my shooting from all angles. That’s the second step. A video doesn’t lie. It showed me exactly the shooting patterns I’d gotten into. I hadn’t taped my shooting in a long time and was amazed at how my form had changed. I was leaning back, my anchor point didn’t seem as consistent as I imagined, and my bow hand
was jumping around far too much at the shot.
The next step in serious shooting improvement, beyond identifying weaknesses, is to develop and implement a plan to work hard on those specific weaknesses.
In my case, I zeroed in on cleaning up my right and left misses. To do that, I created a four-step shooting checklist for myself. On my checklist was to stand up straighter during the shot, concentrate on a consistent anchor point, do a better job of centering my sight’s circular pin guard in my peep sight, and maintain ideal bow-hand position through the shot. That ideal position was established by consciously trying different bow-hand positions on my bow’s grip (moving my hand right and left) until I found the position in which my shooting was most consistent right and left.
I also decided to shorten the draw length of my bow slightly, as a too-long draw length often contributes to right and left misses, and to spend at least 20 minutes each practice session shooting at a target with a black, 1-inch-wide vertical line drawn down its center. The object was to hit that vertical line every time, somewhat disregarding where on the line the arrow hit.
After a month of such focused effort, my right-left problem diminished considerably.
Honest introspection may reveal different shooting weaknesses at different times. At different times, I’ve struggled with a failure to follow through properly, shooting too fast or too slow, handling the pressure of important shots, judging shot distance, shooting in dim-light situations, being able to draw my bow smoothly and easily without jerky movements, and picking a specific aiming spot on big game. Those are all common weaknesses that can be worked on and significantly improved, although each requires a different plan of action.
NBA great Karl Malone recognized his weakness and worked hard to correct it. You can do the same. Working specifically on your weaknesses is an important key to
improving your shooting.

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If you’re not satisfied with your shooting, identify and work on your weaknesses, rather than just pounding more arrows into the target.

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Published by archerchick on 25 Jul 2012

Watching The Woods Change -By Randall Schwalbach

Archery World – October 1987
Watching The Woods Change
By Randall Schwalbach
The freedom of exploring wild places is one of the joys of hunting. There’s nothing like the anticipation of going out of state on the big hunt. New country, new faces, new challenges — that’s what turns on bowhunters like you and me. At the same time, however, many of us enjoy returning to a favorite hunting spot year after year. I enjoy roaming a woodlot in central Wisconsin where I started bowhunting whitetail deer 15 years ago. It has become sort of an annual pilgrimage, and come mid-September my thoughts converge on this chunk of heaven I call the Big Hoods.
The Big Woods
What I find most amazing about the Big Woods is that it is in a state of constant change. Not only does habitat evolution/ alteration affect deer movement on a year to year basis, but also new generations of deer acquire new patterns and survival techniques. In order for you to enjoy continuous success at your own “old faithful ,” I’m going to share some of my experiences with this evolution at my own tried and true Big Woods. Did you ever marvel at how fast a tree grows? Just look out your window at that maple you planted in the backyard when your irst son or daughter was born. Amazing, isn’t it! Now, consider that a tree is useful to deer for different reasons during the course of its life, and you’ll see why no woods can ever stay the same. When it is small, a tree is likely to be either (1) eaten or (2) used as cover – or quite possibly both. Toward the end of its sapling status, it serves as a good place to polish antlers and test brute strength. Between this and the fruit bearing stage, say, if it is an oak, the tree as an individual is not highly useful. The point is, the woods are a collection of many trees, either in a process of growth or death, and as a unit the woods are indeed constantly changing – right before your eyes.
When I first started hunting the Big Woods, the northern edge was well defined. It butted up against a 20 acre farm field that lay fallow and consisted of thick canary grass and tall goldenrod, with a few small aspen and birch scattered through. In the past 15 years, however, the oaks and maples of the Big Woods have grown out into the field, producing a “zone” rather than a strict delineation or “edge.” The deer used to cross the 20 acre field rather quickly to go between cornfields and the woods. They entered the woods at the corners and at a few select points along the edge. The sign they left was concentrated at these entrances. Now the deer actually “live” in the field and in the “zone” created by the advance of the Big Woods. The cover is much thicker and there are many more lanes of safe travel for deer. Individual trails, however, are not as prominent, and the sign is less concentrated. I think there are more deer now, but they make less impact.
How has my hunting strategy changed? For starters, I alarm too many deer if I walk
 through the zone between woods and field, which is where my old walking trail is. I now enter the woods from a different side. Because the deer come into the woods from any point along the north boundary, I now have better luck hunting farther into the woods itself, where main trails are still in use and sign is concentrated. For nostalgic reasons, I sometimes sit in my old stands along the “edge,” but my luck there is seldom good. It is important to understand that the Big Woods itself is used primarily for three things: (1) acorns, (2) a rutting area and (3) a lane for quick travel to a major swamp/bedding ground to the south. As the only major highland in the area, the Big Woods is strategic for the hunter with a discerning eye.
There is an annual adjustment in deer movement directly related to farm crop rotation. Although my woods are not bordered by any tilled land, there are fields in three different directions. The field to the west is 100 yards distant and is always planted in corn. Encompassing a half section of land, the corn planted there often becomes primary escape cover as well as a food lot. In alternate years, roughly, there is corn to the north and to the east, within a quarter to half mile of my woods. Because deer seem to enjoy variety just as much as we like to try out different restaurants, they will travel the extra distance between these fields and my woods. This is in favor of the deer, from a biologist’s point of view, for it decreases social pressure and interaction. From a hunter’s standpoint, deer sign spreads out and hot-spots become less of a factor. The deer are everywhere, and they approach the woods from all sides, complicating the matter of placing a stand, particularly in relation to wind direction.
The availability of natural food supplies also changes from year to year. During the fall, one of the most important deer foods to look for is the acorn, fruit of the oak tree Since one species of oak may produce more acorns than another in a given year, pay attention to the different groves of oak in any one woods. Furthermore, mast producing capabilities of individual trees within a species also vary. (See my article, “Acorn Time ’s the Time” in Archery World August, 1986, for the complete lowdown on oaks and acorns. Differences in food supply, remember, affect not only where the deer eat, but also where they bed and from which direction they approach the woods.
Natural events such as a violent windstorm can change deer patterns dramatically. Several summers ago one storm took more than 100 of our big oaks. The deer had formerly been accustomed to a clear view in the mature timber, which they traveled through at a quick walk. When the trees came down, it gave predators (like me) good places to hide. so the deer had to slow down and move through the area with greater caution. ln effect, this gave them more time to detect my presence.
In many instances, downed trees also obscured my vision, making it harder for me to spot deer approaching favorite stands. My father and I used to love one open glade in the late afternoon as the deer approached through the slanting rays of sunshine. This perennial stand suddenly became a poor hunting locale. It remained that way until we got in there with a chain saw and restored some order to the area. Shortly the deer returned to using their old trails with confidence. A further outcome of the windstorm was the creation of a new hunting strategy for me – the pit blind. In a nutshells, the upturned root end of a windblown oak created a natural hole for a hunter to crawl into. A little improvement with a spade, and I had a first-class blind that put me as close as I’ve ever been to wild deer. For example, six inches between my face and the antlered end of one whitetail buck was CLOSE!
Another kind of evolution that can force a hunter to revise his strategy is a change of land ownership. When my father first purchased the Big Woods in the early 60’s, all the adjacent lands were owned by farmers. As they subsequently sold off of small parcels (split off the big farms) to non-farmers, the result was a loss of hunting grounds for us and a decline in the hunting potential on our own land. One person put an old mobile home smack dab on the edge of our property, ruining one area totally. Another routinely invites more people to hunt his land than he actually has room for, producing the added headache of a trespass problem for us. We have made the necessary adjustments for these changes, however, and fortunately we still have excellent hunting at the Big Woods.
Possibly you are contemplating buying your own land for hunting. The best advice I
have for you is to locate an available parcel adjacent to a large tract of land that is least likely to be split up and sold off in small parcels. By the same token, don’t purchase hunting land with the idea that it will provide instant and easy access to other peoples’ lands. Neighbors may be willing to grant you hunting rights on their land, but don’t assume this. Acquire enough land of your own to provide for your sporting needs.
In addition to habitat evolution, food availability and change of land ownership, there is the possibility of new generations of deer acquiring new habits – that is, adapting new ways to avoid you. I believe that due to wide-spread use, the overall effectiveness of the tree stand has diminished significantly over the past 10 years. When I first started hunting out of trees for deer, the results were fabulous. Most of the stands I used were no more than 10 feet off the ground, and deer were always walking right underneath me. Rare indeed were the occasions the deer looked up out of natural curiosity, even after detecting a strange odor or hearing a sound that was out of place. I used one tree in particular over and over, year after year, with excellent success. Gradually, however, the deer became wise to my strategy, forcing me to become more of a specialist at the arboreal ambush. Indeed, trees were still good places to hide, but the deer were starting to check out the various trees as they went about their business. I learned to pay more attention to camouflaging myself with natural materials and shadows, whereas before I had relied upon sheer elevation.
Also, once the deer spotted me in a tree stand, it seemed to make a larger impact on their memory, and the effectiveness of any given tree stand diminished through usage. Today, I still use tree stands, but I change their locations more frequently, and I generally go much higher – 22 feet is about average. For all purposes, I have abandoned the permanent, wooden platform made of 2×4 lumber in favor of the portable, aluminum stand which I can backpack in and out of the woods. The latter are more effective as they can be put in almost any tree. They also create less of an eyesore when I leave, for I take them with me.
In addition to tree stands, I spend more time these days still-hunting and waiting in ground blinds. The end result of all this is a continuous, intensive scouting program to keep abreast of the natural changes in the woods as well as man-made-alterations. We always think to ourselves, “Wouldn’t it be nice if some things would just stay the same forever?” But the truth is, that old hunting spot of yours is bound to change; it changes a little bit every day. Spend some time revising your bowhunting strategies to suit the new conditions and it will pay you off with the one thing that doesn’t change – the satisfaction of making a kill with the bow and arrow.
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Published by archerchick on 25 Jul 2012

My “Dream” Buck by Michael Henson

Archery World – October 1987

My “Dream” Buck by – Michael Henson

 

Well concealed and silent, the westerner stalked his trophy steadily for more than three hours; like a magnet, it attracted more and more deer. Suddenly, his bowhunting partner appeared and spotted the deer, pulled his bow out of the truck and loosed the perfect arrow.

 

I refocused my rangefinder and looked at  the yardage indicator once again.   “Sixty-two yards. I don’t dare move any closer,” I said to myself. Glancing at my watch, I realized that three hours had gone by since I first spotted this record book mulie. My thoughts quickly faded though as my eyes again were drawn to the bedded-buck’s wide 5×5 rack, still in velvet. It moved periodically as he nibbled at the grass around him and methodically chewed his cud.

“He’s gotta be Pope and Young material ,” I thought. Feeding below this buck was a respectable 4×4, approximately 40 to 50 yards away. He was nice, but definitely not the quality of the bedded, larger one. Occasionally, I would also catch glimpses of a 3×3 and a doe who were also browsing a little further downhill. No matter what else was going on, my attention went quickly back to the big 5×5. What a nice animal! In 20 years of hunting deer, with both rifle and bow, I had never been this close to such a fine buck. This truly was a deer hunter’s “dream come true.” But could it come true for me?

 

 

Fallen Log?

 

This whole dream began in the fall of 1985 after I had moved to Aztec, New Mexico, which is located in the northwestern corner of the state. I relocated there on a job transfer from Minnesota, knowing full well I was leaving excellent whitetail country. However, I knew that I was headed for superb mule deer and elk hunting just north of Aztec, in the San Juan National Forest of southern Colorado. After moving there, it didn’t take long for me to meet the person responsible for my being on this particular mountain — his name — Peter Akins. It seems like the good Lord planned our introduction, so when Peter and I met we found out we talked the same language: archery hunting, specifically, the deer and elk dialect.

 

 

Peter himself, has never shot a big-game animal with a rifle. I don’t think he even owns one. However, with bow and arrow it’s a different story. He rarely fails to fill his elk and deer tags. I think he felt sorry for this Minnesota boy, subsequently inviting me to join him and his brothers, Russell and Mark, for the 1986 hunting season in Colorado. I was able to squeeze in my brother Jim, from back in Silver Bay, Minnesota, who ultimately plays a major role in this story. So now here I am, a little over 30 yards from a bedded-down, big 5×5 mulie.

 

Every time he moves a muscle or turns his head, my pulse quickens. Who would ever think a deer chewing it’s cud could get you so excited! I thought to myself, “Couldn’t I sneak my arrow by those broken trees, partially obscuring his body? This might be my best chance. The wind might change, or simply quit due to an approaching thunderstorm.” But a wee small voice said, “Patience. Just wait — let’s don’t blow it .” So I again relaxed, resting my 65 pound Golden Eagle compound in a small loop on my camouflaged pant leg.

 

Blow it?

I almost had already. Earlier, around 11:00 a.m. I was still hunting back toward camp, where I was to meet Jim for lunch at noon. It was a perfect day. A slight breeze in my face from below, and the aspen leaves overhead making a slight rustling noise in the background. During the preceding night a much needed rain shower made the walking almost noiseless. I had just moved out of some dense, dark spruce and pine trees into an area of open, mature aspen. I was slowly working my way down to a gravel road, where I would quickly walk back to camp. So far, this morning had been unproductive. I had seen neither elk nor deer, so when I looked downhill and saw a horizontal form approximately 100 yards away, I didn’t think too much about it. My first impression was that it was just another fallen log, but was it? There he was. Moving ever so slightly as he browsed on the lush green foliage. What a magnificent rack! My first thought was, “How in the world am I gonna get close enough in this open aspen for a decent shot?”

My problem compounded immediately when I noticed a 4×4 mulie bedded down a short distance away from this big one. He was a little closer and it was much more open for a possible shot. Then the 5×5 decided he wanted to lay down. “Great,” I thought, “two sets of eyes, open cover and considerable distance to make up. Tough odds.” Somehow though, step by step, using my small 8×35 binoculars, watching closely and keeping as many trees between us as possible, I closed to within about 60 yards. That was as close as I could go, and the only shot possible was at the 4×4. Instead of being patient, I attempted a shot, my arrow hitting a tree on the way. WHAM! I just new I had blown it. The deer jumped up, and trotted away. Then they stopped, looked around for what seemed forever and started feeding again. “I can’t believe it! Just be cool, Mike” , I told myself. Both bucks moved slowly away and got almost out of eye contact. Moving slowly in their direction about 40 yards, I realized there were now four deer. Here’s where they apparently picked up the 3×3 and the doe. Now four sets of eyes.
Moving ever so quietly, one step at a time, I was able once more close to about 60 yards. Then it happened again. First the big 5×5, then the 4x4 – they both lay down. By this time I had lost sight of the 3×3 and doe. Apparently, they both moved downhill toward the gravel road about 100 yards below me. After about 10 to 15 minutes, the 4×4 got up and began feeding away from me with the 5×5 still bedded down. This turned out to be the best thing that could have happened. With the 5×5 looking downhill at the other deer’s activity, I was able to move behind the big boy. I continuously checked the distance with my rangefinder just in case I needed a quick shot.
 Two broken trees, bent over almost touching each other, made it difficult to try a shot. I told myself, “Patience, Mike – just wait.” By now a little over three hours had elapsed. Jim, I knew, would be wondering where I was since I hadn’t made it to camp for lunch. What a surprise and shock when the sound of a diesel engine coming, turned out to be Jim driving my truck on the road below. “He must be looking for me,” I thought. “Now what’s he doing?” I couldn’t believe it, but my truck stopped. “There’s no way he can see me up here, and for all he knows, I could be six miles away.”
 I didn’t find out until later but here’s what took place…Driving around the corner, Jim saw the 3×3 buck standing about 10 yards off the mountain road about 75 yards away. Jim stopped the truck, slid over to the passenger side, got out and walked to the back of the truck, opened the topper and got out his Golden Eagle compound. Peeking around the corner of the truck, he couldn’t believe what he saw! The buck was still there trying to figure out what was going on. Guessing the distance at around 75 yards, and knowing he couldn’t get any closer without spooking him, Jim drew back. Releasing his 2117, XX75 arrow, the 140-grain, 4-blade Rocky Mountain broadhead flew perfectly, hitting behind the 3×3 buck’s front shoulder.
He ran 50 yards and then piled up. Now remember, I had no idea what was going on. I couldn’t hear or see anything except my truck way down there. The only thought in my mind was about my deer getting spooked – for both buck’s ears were up, as they looked downhill. Then it happened! Apparently when Jim’s deer took off after being solidly hit, the big 5×5 stood up. Still not knowing what just took place down below, I reacted instinctively and came to full draw. The 5×5 and 4×4 were now standing together, butl still didn’t have a shot because of four aspen. “Come on, make a move. I can’t hold it much longer,” I thought. Then, just as I was about to relax, the 5×5 moved just enough to give me a shot. Shaking as I released my arrow, it went just underneath him! But he didn’t move, and he was still looking downhill. I couldn’t believe it! In one motion I nocked another arrow; came to full draw, and sent my Rocky Mountain broadhead on its way. This time it was perfect.
The arrow hit him solidly behind the front leg, he barely moved. He managed to walk slowly though about 20 yards; then stopped; wobbled and fell; rolling over twice. I couldn’t believe it! But there he was – a trophy of a lifetime. Saying a quick prayer of thanks, I hurried down the mountain to see what Jim was up to. Was he surprised to see me coming! Each of us had quite a story. No way could either of us easily comprehend what had just happened. I didn’t know what he was doing, and he didn’t know what I was doing, nor even where I was. Unbelievable as it was, we both filled our deer tags within about 60 seconds of each other. Somehow, we each helped the other without even realizing it.
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Published by archerchick on 25 Jul 2012

Cornfield Deer – By Richard Martin

Archery World – October 1987

Cornfield Deer

By Richard Martin

Dick, you doing anything right now?”
“Nothing special, why?” “I’d like you to
come out here. Want to show you something? The
man who called was a farmer in north central
Ohio, a longtime friend who lives just a few miles
from my home. And when my pickup lifted the dust in
his driveway he was sitting in his cornpicker waiting
patiently.

“I’m harvesting about a 40 acre patch of corn here,
and it’s just full of deer, just full of them. They did

pretty good around here on the opening day of gun season, then the
deer just disappeared. Well, I know where they disappeared
to.”
I was interested in getting some good closeup
photos of deer, so I readied my camera and climbed up
to the cab, planning to hang on outside and shoot as I
could. Whitetails are notoriously indifferent to tractors, cultivators,
and harvesting equipment, and I expected to get close, but I
wasn’t planning on point blank range!

On the first pass through the com an eight
point buck and two does meandered out,
watched us pass, and faded back into the corn.
On the next a fat six pointer and three more
does walked out and back into still standing
stalks. Finally, I got off the picker and started
hiking in cleared stretches alongside. I could
still get within 20-25 yards of at least a dozen
deer on each pass. They knew that corn was
safe and they just wouldn’t leave until the en-
tire field had been reduced to a few isolated
rows. It was enough to start me thinking.

The Tassel Hassle
Archers don’t seem to give a hoot about
standing corn one way or the other, but gun
hunters hate the stuff. Here in Ohio and
doubtless in other mid westem states when
timber and crops mingle, they like to drive
during the gun season. And once deer have
experienced a drive or two, they head for the
center of big cornfields and stay there.
Most farmers won’t allow hunters to drive
corn for obvious reasons, and those who will
or hunt their own comfields rarely come up
‘with much. The animals ghost from row to
row, circle back around again and again, and
simply refuse to leave unless hard pressed and
hassled to distraction. Corn has kept many a
deer alive for another year.
Once again, archers don’t seem to worry
about standing corn, but they definitely

should because in many places this richly nu-
tritious food supply is an easy way to till the
freezer with venison that’s close to prime
beef. None of your stringy little mountain
deer here, just big comfed bucks that routinely
dress out 150-200 pounds plus. But before
you charge the nearest field of standing
fodder and attempt to fill your tag on a monstrous
buck, there are a few basic points to
keep in mind.

First of all, cornfields are no help at all in
country where everything is com. In areas
where fields of standing stalks stretch on for
miles the deer simply have too much choice.
They can loaf in this 80 acre patch or walk
across a fencerow to visit that 200 acre section,
or hike a few more yards and cavon in
640 acres of good cover. You get the point.

They’ll be in standing com routinely, but you
aren’t going to find them, except by great
good luck.

The situation you’re looking for, and it occurs
often in the midwest, is a good sized
cornfield nestled in among timber, brushy areas,
rolling hills and valleys, in short, mixed
terrain and limited corn. They’re not hard to
find if you’ll do a little looking and I’ve man-
aged to pinpoint quite a few areas where
farmers plant corn at least every other year
and plant it in territory in the middle of prime
deer country. It makes my day when I drive by
and see those young corn shoots coming up in
early spring.

One of these is definitely classic and the
first time I saw it, my mouth simply watered.
The field was about 40 acres of already chest
high corn, and on one side stood a brushy area
that was darn near impenetrable! I walked it
through, left a little blood here and there in
thickets of multiflora rose and blackberry bri-
ers and marveled, while I muttered bad things
under my breath, at the deer trails, droppings
and beds. The north side of that field had a
more open collection of hawthorne and
grasses, good warm weather cover, and again
plenty of deer trails and other sign. The third
side opened onto at least a hundred acres of
tall mixed timber, and the fourth bordered a
small highway for easy access.

Even before the corn fully ripened that
year deer began gathering to take advantage of
the rich feeding. They built trails into that

field from all directions that began to resemble minature four lane highways, and I’m surprised that I didn’t fill my tag during the first
weeks of October.

But except for the timber side there was
nothing suitable for a tree stand so I spent
much of my time ground hunting, checking
wind direction at hunts beginning, dressing in
full camouflage with face paint, and taking a
bath in a deodorizing soap before scenting
myself up with a fox urine cover scent or
whatever else seemed promising. I saw plenty
of does, had several within 10-15 yards, and
reached easy range of a forkhorn who seemed
a little small. I passed on him.

There were big bucks as witness their
tracks among the corn rows, but they were
slipping in and out before dawn and holding
up in the thicket where they were safe as in
church. I couldn’t seem to win. Luckily the
landowner held off harvesting that field until
well after gun season and eventually there
came a stormy Friday night with winds and
rain, a night when deer would feed only intermittently.

Morning brought chill weather and
a light misty sprinkle, one of those dawnings
when you KNOW deer will be running late,
and when shooting light arrived I was waiting.
I don‘t wait long.

A fat eight pointer materialized out of the
mist, easing almost silently through rain
moistened stalks, and starting warily at every
sound. But he didn’t see me and I’d already

drawn my Brown Bear compound at the first
sure sign of his presence. The broadhead sped
true and shortly thereafter I was dragging my
winter’s meat to the pickup. Thanks to standing corn.

Enamored Of Cornfields
There are more things to keep in mind,
once you’ve found an isolated cornfield that
shows obvious signs of use by whitetails.

First, it should be obvious that if you hunt at
dawn, deer will be coming out of com while
in the evening they’ll be heading in. S0 you
scout the surrounding land carefully, decide
where they’ll most likely lie up during the day
and plan your tree stand spot or ground blind
accordingly. It pays to have several to take advantage
of wind direction, then you can make
an on the spot decision as to which place is
best.

If you’re into driving for deer, you’ll find
standing stalks a real challenge, maybe more
challenge than you can handle. It’s a total
waste of time to drive a 100 acre field with
four or five men because, again, the animals
will simply circle. You’ll see one once in a
while, a glimpse here, a flashing tail there,
but any shots you get will be at shadows and
no good archer shoots at shadows. If you post
men outside the field in spots where the animals
are most likely to flee for safety, you’re
going to discover that when they leave corn,
they do so in high gear.

On one of the very few times I participated
in a cornfield deer drive, after assuring the
landowner that we’d ease down the rows and
not disturb a single stalk, we finally put out
three does and a forkhorn. The bowhunter
they ran past said, “They looked like bouncing
grey blurs and there was no chance to
make a certain hit. I let them go .”

Maybe you`re wondering at this point why
deer are so enamored by cornfields and
golden kernels of corn when they have long
acres of tasty acorns and other natural foods
that range from crabapples to sumac berries.
The answer is a simple one; like people, deer
are lazy creatures. Why roam around and for-
age as best you can, especially during late sea-
son when the lush vegetation is long gone,
when you can step into a cornfield and have
unlimited ears of high energy, extremely nutritious
corn. Admittedly, acorns have higher
food value, ounce for ounce, than corn.

They’ve more protein and more fats to go with
a high carbohydrate rating, but it’s the carbohydrate

that provides energy to burn and
maintain body warmth in cold weather, and
corn has plenty. They can probe under an oak
all morning for a fist full of acorns, using almost
as much energy as they gain, but every
stalk in a cornfield has at least one ear and
usually two of tasty provender. Wouldn’t you
make the same choice?

Every archer knows there’s no sure thing
in deer hunting. Whitetails are wild and wary,
have fine sight and chokebore noses, and their
ears can pick up a chipmunk’s belch at 50 ·
yards. But there is one situation in cornfield
hunting that comes close to being a fish in a
barrel situation, and I’ll pass it on for those
hunters who can handle the patience and slow,
careful hunting it demands.

This method won’t work well during the
early season when whitetails move in and out
of com at random. They may feed in com
early in the season, but they seldom lay up for
the day there. But in late season when other
cover is sparse and leaves have fallen to ex-
pose the thickets and usual hiding spots,
they’ll often spend their whole day in corn;
Even more so if they’re being hunted hard. So
you wait for dry conditions and a nice, steady
breeze.

The wind blows through yellowed stalks
then, with a constant rustle that effectively
dampens out whitetail hearing. That steady
wind also limits their sense of smell to one
direction. So picture a late field of standing
com with good cover around, a steady, directional
wind and an archer who feels sure
there’s a good buck or two in there. He heads
upwind and starts walking.

I’ve practiced the business myself more
than once, but I still remember one archer ·
who took his biggest buck ever that way. He
said, “I started in with real care, just step by
step with plenty of time to look up and down
each row. I went about 100 feet that way with-
out seeing anything, then I peeked up and
down one row and saw two deer about 75
yards away. I glassed them with binoculars
and saw they were both does, lying down and
facing away from me. They didn’t even see me
as I slipped across to the next row, probably
because the stalks were tossing in the wind
and they didn’t pick up movement.

“I went another 50 yards before I saw a
grey hump on the ground that turned out to be
a six pointer, and I was tempted then. But it
was still early and he didn’t see me either. I
could always come back. I was clear out in the
middle of the field when I saw a dandy. He
was lying down too, and I could see that bone
white rack. The binoculars said he was a 12
point and I wanted that one bad.

“So I backed up eight or ten rows down-
wind and eased along to where I figured I was
about opposite, then I stepped up a few rows
and saw him just six or eight yards away in an
area where the stalks were thin. He never saw
me very carefully draw the bow and I bet he
never even heard the string snap. That was the
biggest and easiest buck I ever got.”

You can argue ethics here, the question of
shooting a buck that’s lying down, but personally
I have no problem with the situation. To
approach a good sized animal that close on
foot, even with the wind to help, requires at
least as much skill as it does to properly place
a tree stand and take your shot from there.
Either way y0u’re shooting an unsuspecting
animal, and that’s what most archers strive to
do.

That’s only my opinion and you can make
your own decision, but either way you’ll find
cornfield hunting worth the effort, and
there’ll be many a freezer filled with venison
this fall by hunters who find the right situa-
tion. Look for fields with good cover around,
set up ambush sites early, walk the rows late in
the season on windy days and I’m betting
you’ll put a fork in venison steaks, too.

They’re the closest I know to a sure thing, and
worth checking anytime. Those golden kernels
are more than a simple money crop,
they’re also a whitetail heaven.

>>—->

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Published by archerchick on 25 Jul 2012

When The Bulls Won’t Bugle – By Wayne Van Zwoll

Archery World October 1987

When the Bulls Won’t Bugle
By Wayne Van Zwoll

The chase led down a rocky wash, then into the dark timber at the head of
a deep draw.  The draw became a canyon farther down, beyond where he
could see.  If they went there he wouldn’t follow.

The sun was up now, and he was warm.  They would be, too, and he’d not see
them in the open anymore.  He hurried down, sliding, grappling with the buckbrush,
snatching at the trunks of the trees to slow his descent.  He wasn’t being quiet, but they
wouldn’t wait for quiet people.

Meanwhile the elk were being democratic about things.  Milling about at a cut in the canyon
side, they drank from a small spring in turn, scrambled up onto the rock trail that hung
like a crooked string along a point that divided the forks of the drainage.  They were lower
than he was, and the canyon gaped beneath them.   There were six of them, all bulls, Bachelors,
they’d spent the dawn hours nibbling in a meadow on top, jousting with each other.  Velvet hung
in tattered strips, but the animals were fat.  They’d wandered off the hill into the head of the draw
when the sun got yellow.

He’d like to have got into them then, but they were too far.  He’d watched them with his glasses, his belly
pressed into the grass.  When they went over the lip he’d follow.  But then things had gone wrong.  Another
hunter had moved in from the west, and they’d smelled him just at the wrong time.  He was 20 steps
from one when this other fellow moved in, 20 steps and the last inch of draw.  The elk left.

Then he’d bumped them once himself, run too hard to catch up and got caught in the open.  They were
patient because they hadn’t been bothered much this summer and didn’t know about arrows, or didn’t
remember.

Now, thought, thye were moving out, Enough was enough.  Besides, the sun was up.  The end came at the
spring, after most of the bulls had left and were strung out on the trail around the point, headed for the bowels
of the canyon.  A yearling bull was waiting his turn and a five-point was standing over the water thinking that
maybe he didn’t want to leave just yet.  That’s when the first arrow hit the rocks.

He didn’t pay it much mind because he didn’t know what it was.  Then the next arrow rushed at him and it
was deflected.  It went deep and he ran and he got up into the sun on the rocks above the trail.  Then
everything went askew and he lost control and fell over and was dead.

THE RIGHT PLACES

It took me quite awhile to find that elk in the thick gut of that draw.  He’d tumbled a long way.  But it hadn’t
taken me much time at all to find him in the first place, in that meadow on top with the other bulls.  I was
thankful for that, because when the elk aren’t bugling finding them can be a real chore.  To spend more time
hunting and less time looking for elk, it’s important that you look in the right places in the right way.

Here are some things to keep in mind when you are trying to find those silent bulls,

First, know whey they’re silent.  If you’re hunting before rut, before bulls are interested in cows and are
still bachelor groups, don’t expect them to bugle.  They don’t do it for the fun.
When the rut is over and the bulls are tired, they seperate from the cows, but this time they’re more apt
to go off alone and just rest in a thicket near lots of food.  Solitary and secluded, often in heavy timber and
moving very little, such elk can be very hard to find.  If they bugle at all it will be at random.  They won’t move and
they’re unlikely to pull you in with a string of answers to your elk whistle.

Sometimes elk can be silent during the rut.  In areas where the hunting pressure is extreme, bulls hear enough fake
challenges and run into enough bugling hunters to know what is real and what isn’t.

Sometimes they don’t even care to find out, but pack their cows off to some steep, jungly corner of the mountains as
soon as they hear the first note.  Outrider bulls that have been kicked around a little learn it’s best to approach a harem
silently, to find out something about the bull doing the screaming, if not to make sure it’s really a bull in the first place.

During rut- and even out of rut – elk don’t always need a reason to act as they do, and it may seem a waste of time
to find out why elk are silent when they probably haven’t reasoned that through themselves.  Still,

knowing why, or at least postulating why,
rnakes a difference in how you hunt. If you are
to End elk consistently it must.
If you’re going to be hunting early, before
rut, remember that you’re as likely to find
several bulls together as to find a single bull.
l`ve taken two bulls in August. Both were in
bachelor groups. Of those shot during September, most were alone.
Bulls in groups are tough to find early because one group may hold all the bulls from
many square miles of rugged country. If you
don`t find that group you can do a lot of hiking
for little reward. It’s imperative, then, that
you know how to read sign and know enough
about elk habit to at least make a good guess
as  to where the elk will be. Being familiar
with the country is certainly helpful; barring

large-scale disturbance, the same late summer
range will be favored year after year.
When you go early, spend at least a day
just covering ground. Look for fresh elk droppings; disregard sign you think is over a
couple of weeks old. Anything moist is fresh,
of course. Black droppings are older than
brown, but in hot, dry country elk pellets turn
black very quickly. Really old sign will be
leached to a tan color and cracked on the surface,
Concentrate on areas where elk forage:
grassy hillsides, small mountain basins,
openings in the timber where the light can
spur grass growth. Most elk droppings will be
when where the animals eat, albeit they chew
their cud in their beds. Remember, too, that
elk have night-time as well as day-time beds,
and that they may spend half their hours

lounging in a feeding area. They don’t use the
rims and canyon bottoms too much in summer,
because then there isn’t much reason to
seek security cover. You’ll find lots of old
droppings in some pretty inhospitable places,
but don’t look long there for fresh sign.
Tracks will be hard to find in the rims,
even if the bulls are using them, so look in the
meadows, where the elk are likely to feed and
wallow. Look for muddied water in the prints
in wallows. Examine grass and sedge stalks
that are bent (not broken) and have not sprung
back. Fresh rubs on small trees will be white,
often running with sap. Any velvet you see
will likely be very fresh. Use your nose, too,
to sniff beds and trails. Elk have a strong
smell even when they aren’t rutting and if you
can sniff them you can be sure they’re close.
Listen, as you go, for branches snapping in
canyons and thickets, for the whine of calves.
Though the bigger bulls will likely be in their
own group, they may travel or lounge near a
herd of cows, and some mature bulls will be in
the cow—calf bunches.
Last season I saw a big herd of elk on one
of my favorite August ridges. In fact, it was
the biggest herd I’ve yet seen in summer.

There were over 250 animals. Of the 23 bulls
in the group, though, only two were not year-
lings. The big bulls were off by themselves
playing cards, somewhere. I didn’t find them
till later in the season.
It’s very hard to hunt a bull in a big group
of cows like that. Too many eyes are watching
for you, too many ears listening. The wind, it
seems, is always blowing to some animal, even
if the one you want is in the perfect spot for a
stalk. Hunting the harems later is tough, but
pre-rut bulls are more sensible, and they take
their cues readily from the lead cow. Harems
tend to be smaller than late-summer herds of
cows, too. For these reasons it’s a good idea to
try to find a small bunch of bulls, or perhaps a
fragment of cow herd that holds an acceptable
bull.
You can break these big elk herds into
more manageable ones, all right, and it’s a
tempting thought. Still, if you frighten more
than a few animals or give your scent to the
herd you’re apt to move all the elk into
tougher country. That happened to some
friends recently. They broke a big group of elk
on opening day. The animals had been using

 

some rolling ridges that were halt timoereu
and quite easy to hunt. After a few arrows had
been shot the big herd split into several
smaller ones — and all went down into steep,
thick canyons. Thereafter the elk bedded in
those canyons and foraged on very steep, open
hillsides, always in a place that had a commanding

view and good wind coverage.
It`s better not to split such herds or even
hunt them. Nibble at the fringes, if you must.

But when a big herd vacates an area it will
likely take with it any chance you have of finding
a small group of elk and will alert any
resident bachelor bulls.

When you go early, take your bugle. but
don’t use it a lot. A blast or two from ridgetop
at dawn and dusk won’t alarm elk, and it may
bring an answer from a bull that doesn’t have
anything better to do. Be aware, though, that
anytime you bugle you tell the elk where you
are. If they investigate and find out what you
are they will be much harder to approach
later, and harder to talk to.


Even when the rut is on, it’s a good idea to
be conservative with your bugling. Lots of
hunters bugle better that I do, and there are a
lot of different views on how best to whistle a
bull. But in areas where bulls have heard
hunters before you must be careful you don`t

say something you’ll regret later.
For example: One of my hunting partners
is quite handy with a bugle. Last year he was
working some shrubby cover at timberline in
a favorite elk basin. He decided to bugle.
lmmediately he was answered. The bull came in
so fast my friend had no time to set up or move
to better his wind coverage. The bull got well
within shooting range, but presented no good
shot and left when he winded my partner.

Bugling bulls are unpredictable. Setting
up takes time. It may be that the stand you so
painstakingly search for and prepare will be

of no use if the bull that answers decides to
stay where he is. Nonetheless, if you aren’t
prepared to receive a bull, it’s better not to
invite him.
Once in a while you can find a ridgetop
viewpoint that will serve as a launchpad when
you bugle to locate a bull. If you don’t think
the bulls will come to you or even answer you
more than once or twice, bugling from the top
can put you into elk. A bull that answers
should be stalked immediately, and if you run
the first half you’ll just get there quicker.
Don’t bugle after you get an answer, and don’t
stay on the ridge to see if he will talk to you
unless you are set up to receive him or intend
to come to him as another bull.
Remember that elk cover ground quickly
at a walk, and if the bull that answers you is
moving you may have little time to home-in
before he moves into oblivion. One bull that
bugled at me from 400 yards was about a mile
farther down the ridge when he finally took
my arrow. I had run as much as I dared, and
the footing was good. He was just walking.
Fortunately, he bugled a couple more times
and gave me a line to follow.
If the bulls have become call-shy in the
area you hunt during the rut, try using your
bugle more sparingly, moving into the elk as

you would stalk a deer. You might see more
lone bulls, and you’ll almost surely boost
your chances of penetrating a harem to get to
the herd bull. Bugling just enough to locate
the animals is especially useful if you, like
me, do not sound as much like an elk as an
elk.
Hunting after the rut is particularly tough.
By late October even the most garrulous bulls
are silent, and they’re tired. The bigger the
bull, in fact, the more tired he is. He’s spent
from two to three weeks gathering his harem,
servicing it and keeping other bulls at bay. He
hasn’t eaten much, has drawn his strength
largely from stored lipids in his liver. He’s
ready to lie down and eat. He doesn’t want to
play games with hunters, and he’ll go wher-
ever he thinks hunters won’t. He knows lots of
places.
You know the kind of places he ’s thinking
of: the lodgepole jungles, spruce thickets, al-
der tangles. If there were just a few of these
pockets you could hunt them all and eventu—
ally find him. But there are many square miles
of good security cover, and you have to admit
that if they were vulnerable the rifle hunters
would kill a lot more elk and you wouldn’t see
as many bulls as you do. So the thick stuff is
good for both you and the elk. Still, how do
you hunt it?
There’s really no secret here. Unless
you’re blessed with a tracking snow, you must

just work your way to a bull. Think first of all
the places you’d want to be if all you wanted to
do was eat and sleep and not be bothered.
That will eliminate a lot of country. Next,
don’t hunt that country you’ve eliminated —
no matter how pretty it is or how far you can
see or how many elk used it in August. You
can’t spare the time, frankly, to hunt easy
places. Not if you want to kill elk.
Using the elevation to advantage, either si-
dehilling or hunting up half a day and down
half a day, work the mean stuff. Be extremely
conscious of the wind. Be quiet, too. Lone
bulls are a lot more alert to snapping twigs
than were those herded elk you stalked in Sep-

tember. You won’t see many elk now, and the
going won’_t be easy; but this is hunting at its
best. Any bull you arrow this way will be a
trophy. It is a challenge few hunters accept,
Whenever you hunt the silent elk, recog-
nize that you’ll see fewer animals than when
they’re vocal. A positive outlook is crucial,
and you won’t have it if you’re thinking about
all the elk you should be seeing or the latest
magazine article that described a small band
of archers fighting off hordes of screaming
bulls. Face reality. Hunt harder. Smile. Shoot
a grouse for supper. Remember that the elk
are close. Your scouting and knowledge of elk

habit and the country have confirmed that. All
you need to do is find out exactly where they
are.
A P.S.
A post—script: There are some things that
all elk hunters should know and successful
hunters do know. They’re simple, logical
things and easy to remember. Oddly, a lot of
hunters act as if they never heard of them.
They’re basic things, the kind of things you
never talk about with other hunters because
you think they’ll think you’re talking beneath
them.

The truth is, elk are very basic creatures,
and they survive by doing a few basic things
very well. A lot of hunters are much too so-
phisticated to kill elk regularly. If you want to,
though, review these things:
Buy good binoculars and use them like
you’d use your eyes. This is especially impor-
tant when the elk don’t bugle because you
can’t locate them with your ears. Those bulls
don’t switch off their senses, ever. Make the
most of yours. Give yourself lots of time to
glass from ridges, particularly at dawn and
dusk, and glass the heavy cover around you
when you work the thickets. You could spot
the antler tine of the biggest bull you’ll ever
see.
Get yourself in shape. In the off-season
keep exercising regularly. It should hurt a lit-
tle and should be a real nuisance. If it isn’t you
aren’t doing enough. Often I’ve been just too
late to catch a bull passing through an open-
ing, too tired to get around a feeding herd in
time to beat the thermals. Had I been a little
harder, I might have taken more elk. Some of

the bulls I have shot, certainly, would have
escaped had I not been as fit as I was. Many
times your physical condition will decide the
climax of your elk hunt. It’s different than
stand-hunting whitetails.
Shoot well. If you miss you might as well
not have hunted. Missing or crippling is
worse than not shooting. If you pass up a shot,
you`re making a judgement. The hunt is be-
hind you, and though the climax might not be
what you had hoped, you have come that far.
To miss is to fail. True, it is to fail in only a
small part of the hunt. But it is a crucial part.
Once a brakeline ruptured on the pickup I was
driving. I was going quite fast. It was a little
failure, but it carried big implications. Prac-
tice as much as you possibly can, know your
range limits and stick to them. Most of the
time you can get closer if you really try, any-
way.
If you hunt early, be prepared to take good
care of your elk. Elk cool slowly and they
must be skinned and quartered as quickly as
possible to avoid unpleasant flavor in the
meat. I’ve shot bulls when the night air cooled
only to 60 and day-time temperatures reached
80. Frankly, the meat wasn’t the best I’ve had;
but it was edible because I worked quickly,
hung the quarters in the shade, kept them
clean and covered with cheesecloth. Washing
in cold water doesn’t hurt as long as the meat
dries soon. It could help in cooling, and it
might well be necessary to remove hair and
offal and other matter that would surely taint

the meat. If you pack your animal out on a
horse or your back, keep it away from sweat.
dirty clothes, camp fuel.
Your elk hunting gear should be in top
shape at least a week before you go, and it’s a
good idea to have spares of everything you
could imagine breaking or losing. Throw in a
rubber blunt or two if the grouse season is on.
Shooting a grouse with a rifle can scuttle an
elk hunt, but taking one with an arrow won`t
disturb other game and is a good way to keep
your distance eye and shooting muscles in
shape during the hunt. Don’t forget basic first
aid items, fire-starting kit, compass. Carry
them with you and accept the extra weight as
necessary insurance. <—<

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Published by archerchick on 21 Apr 2012

Russell Hull Calls Deer, You Can Too~ By Russell Hull

Russell Hull Calls Deer,
You Can Too!
Archery World February 1987

By Russell Hull
On October 12, 1982, during the fall
deer season here in Kansas “yours
truly” had the experience of a lifetime.
On that calm beautiful fall evening I was
bowhunting with my daughter, Linda, who
was seven years old at the time. We were sitting
back-to-back in portable tree stands,
watching a freshly opened scrape that I had
found a couple of days before. Linda was be-
coming very fidgety and was needing to go to
the bathroom. I informed her that there was
no way she was going to go to the bathroom
around this scrape area. I gave her a piece of
sandy to help take her mind off the problem at
I slipped a piece of candy in my mouth,
under my face mask, when suddenly into the
grape walked a huge 12 point buck. After
waiting a few moments until the buck was in
line right position, I released my arrow and it
went completely through the deer’s heart and
stuck in the ground.
This was my daughter’s first time in a tree
sand and the unexpected had happened. I was
delighted and felt like I was living a dream and
at any moment I would wake up!
On that very same evening in another part
of Kansas another bowhunter by the name of
Mike Rose was also having a dream come
me. Mike shot a new state record whitetail
minutes after I shot my buck. His deer
ended up scoring 182 P&Y. (Mike later entered his buck in my “Cover Up” contest and
won lst place.)

I never miss a chance at asking a 10t of
questions when a hunter takes a really super
buck like Mike’s. I wanted to know just what

he had done to arrow a huge buck so early into
season. I was surprised when he mentioned
that he was hunting near some scrape sign and
was using a deer call. He felt that he had actually called the deer in.

I immediately became
skeptical, but very interested.
Before the next fall’s deer season rolled
around I purchased several different deer
calls and even made a couple of calls and began

experimenting. About ten years ago, I had
tried deer calling and after a few attempts had
given it up. I decided this time to give it a
better trial.
Deer calling is becoming very popular
with bowhunters because most bowhunters
are solitary hunters who are trying to kill a
deer on a one-to-one basis. Deer calling is
really nothing new as far as a hunting technique
is concerned, for it’s probably been
used for thousands of years. Early Indians
used the method with success to get close to
deer, and they were hunting at a time when
bringing home venison was essential.
As bowhunters, we have a tendency to
scout out an area, then set up our stands and
wait for something to happen. With the use of
deer calls and the right hunting techniques, I
believe you can make it happen. Don’t get me
wrong, deer calling is no different than the
success you might have at turkey calling, bugling
elk or antler rattling. It’s not going to
work 100 percent. But if you could improve
your success just 1/3 of the time wouldn’t it be
worth a try.

 
Deer are very alert and wary animals, but
they also have a natural curiosity about them
that makes them respond to a deer call. Recently
while hunting turkeys, I saw two deer
passing by. When I called on my turkey call,
they actually changed directions and came
right up to me at a distance of about 10 yards.
They walked over, smelled the decoy and
walked on up the trail. Just another example
of how a deer will respond to a natural sound
in the woods. They will almost always stop
and look towards the sound.


Deer calling won’t always bring a deer in,
but neither will it scare or spook them away if
done properly. Sometimes they are just not in
the mood. Other times they may be cautious
or bold and aggressive. I also find this to be
true bugling elk, calling turkeys or rattling
deer horns. Rattling deer horns is Mother
Nature’s deer call. However, as with any type
of rattling or calling game the most important
thing is the right set up. This is why still hunting,
scouting and choosing a stand location is
so critical. You can’t expect to just walk out
into the woods and start rattling and calling
and expect immediate results. Using a deer
call without applying proper hunting techniques
is certainly not a short cut to success.
You must do your scouting ahead of the season
and try to plan your calling locations near
fresh scrapes, rubs, food and bedding areas.
if you can get into your stand quietly and without
being detected near a bedding area, you
will sometimes call deer out of their beds before dark.
Another good place to set up for deer calling is on a deer run
between two large areas of timber. This works well before, during and
after the rut as the bucks will be traveling a lot
looking for does in estrus. This is also a good
time to use a doe in heat lure and combine
deer calling with antler rattling.
The best weather for calling deer is on
cold and windless days. When the wind is
very calm the sound of the call will travel farther
therefore increasing your chances.
Some hunters say they don’t need to carry
a commercial call because they can make the
sounds with just the human voice. I feel it is
probably better to use a man made call because
of the louder volume which is needed
sometimes. I also hate to start coughing when
a deer is near by.
Until I see deer I call about every 15 minutes.
Then I quit calling and watch the deer to
see if they will come close. If a deer is coming
toward you, keep quiet, but if his line of travel
is taking him away from you, start to call.
Control the volume of the call depending on
how far away the animal is. Try to call in a
rhythm pattern but not too often and not too
loud.
Deer seem to be able to almost pin point
the location of a person rattling or deer calling,
and for this reason it is better not to over
call or rattle, when deer are within 50 yards or
so. This is likely to arouse the deer’s suspicion.
It also seems to work better if the terrain
for calling isn’t too open. This causes the deer
to have to look for the source of the sound.


Types Of Calls
There are three types of deer calls being
made at the present time. Let’s briefly look at
the use of each one.
The bleat deer call is designed so that the
sound it makes will cause a deer to react to the
call out of sheer curiosity. It is the cry of a
fawn or doe in distress. Big bucks will often
respond to this sound as well as does. (Ask
Mike Rose who shot a state record.) The
bucks will sometimes be following the doe
when tl1e doe comes to the call. The bleat call
will work on mule deer as well as whitetails. I
was hunting with Jim Dougherty, Jr. , last fall
in Idaho when we called in several mule deer
one evening. The bleat call is probably best
used during the early part of deer season,
when they are just moving randomly about
and are not using any specific trails.
Bleat calls can also be used in early mule
deer seasons in the mountains. Let’s say you
are sitting high on a ridge with your spotting
scope and you locate a trophy buck. The buck
beds down and you try to get a landmark on
his location so you can begin your stalk. It
takes an hour to get to the location and when
you do you have trouble relocating the buck.
Things just look different than they did a half
a mile away. But wait, you’ve got an ace in the
hole in your pocket! You take out your bleat
deer call and blow softly while you are still
hidden in the brush. Invariably a deer will get
up to investigate the sound. If you are close
enough, when he gets up take your shot, if not
let him lie back down and relax then continue
your stalk. This time you know his exact location
and the position he ’s facing.

One of the newer calls is the snort deer
call. The snort that a whitetail makes when it
is nervous and unable to identify its intruder is
generally thought of as an alarm signal. This
sound can be imitated by a smart hunter when
he is entering a tree stand in the dark or stalking
a deer that isn’t quite sure what has disturbed him.

When the intruder snorts back at
the deer, it puts the deer at ease because he
then begins to think the sound he heard is an-
other deer. I used this, one morning last fall
when I was hunting around some fresh
scrapes. I was snorted at one time on my way
to the stand; I took out my snort call and blew
one time back at the deer. After a few minutes,

I proceeded on to the stand and within
about 20 minutes I passed up an eight pointer
at l0 yards. If I hadn’t snorted back at the deer
it would have kept snorting until every deer
had vacated the area. Later in the morning I
checked the tracks and it appeared to be a
huge buck working his scrapes just before
daylight. Sometimes, during the rut a snort
will bring a buck running for a light.
The other type of deer call that I use is a
grunt deer call that is designed to imitate the
sound a buck makes when he is trailing a doe
in estrus. This grunt is sometimes described
by hunters as a “burp” or “urp” sound. Quite
often several bucks will follow this sound because
they all are scent trailing the doe in
heat.


I personally like to combine the grunt call
with rattling deer horns. I feel it makes for
more realism while trying to imitate the
sounds of a buck fight. The best time for this
is just a few days before the main tut begins
and again right after the breeding season.
Once the big bucks are with the does in estrus
it’s hard to call them away from their girl
friends.
In November of 1985, I killed two P&Y
bucks while using deer calls and rattling. The
one from Kansas was an uneven 7 x 4 (139 6/8
P&Y). I shot this buck near some scrapes and
was surprised when he let me shoot him again
after the first arrow had found its mark. This
buck was really worked up as I’ve never had
this happen before.
Three weeks later in Nebraska, after their
rifle season, I took my first non-typical whitetail
at a distance of 15 yards while using deer
calls and rattling. The buck had 16 points and
went 154 P&Y. I felt very lucky to take this
deer because they had harvested 450 deer out
of this area the week before during rifle season.
A week later they had another rifle season.
Learning to use a deer call is really very
simple and only takes a little practice. But a
little practice can pay great dividends. Just
remember to call softly and not too often.
Deer calling to me is fascinating, fun and
another extra edge that you can give yourself
while bowhunting. >>—>

 

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Published by archerchick on 21 Apr 2012

How To Hunt Javalina – By W.R. Tony Dukes

How To Hunt Javalina By W.R. Tony Dukes
Texas holds more javelina than any other state.
Stretching like a vaquero awakening from his siesta, the Texas brush country sweeps south and west away from San Antonio, a badland full of wild critters. From deer, mountain lion, bobcat and coyote, to dove, quail and turkey, it’s a paradise for those tough enough to withstand the country’s dry and thorny character. Javelina, the “desert pig,” thrives here.
Hundreds of miles away, west of the Pecos River, the terrain changes but the Texas toughness of the land- scape remains the same. This too, is home to the Lone Star state’s many roaming, squealing javelina bands.
Some quarter million of these bristly little beasts call this area home, creating a bowhunting opportunity too good to be missed. Actually, the quarter million figure is a conservative estimate by Texas game managers.
No detailed surveys. of javelina numbers have been done, but the state reports 18.000-20,000 harvested each year, mostly as kills incidental to firearm deer hunting. Texas holds more javelina than any other state. Also know as collared peccary, these pint sized “pigs” look a lot like hogs, but are not of the same family as pigs or wild boar. Features like a single dew claw on the hind foot, and four teats (only two are functional) separate them from the Old World swine.
Although javelina are classed as big game, they really fall somewhere between big and small game in size. In a Texas study, live adult javelina averaged 55 pounds, while an average, field dressed peccary falls somewhere in the 30-40 pound range. Nevertheless, Texas game management accords the javelina big game status, and fortunately, some protection. At one time, javelina were hunted for the soft, thin leather their hides provided. Many ranchers sought to exterminate them, but in recent years, attitudes have changed.
Today, javelina are no longer considered pests, and some ranchers are beginning to realize the peccary’s value as a bonus game animal for their regular, deer hunting clientele and for special javelina only hunts. Javelina require two things — food and cover. The most dense javelina populations invariably are found where prickly pear cactus is abundant. On almost all ranges, this succulent plant provides more than half of the javelina’s diet while providing most of its water requirements. The prickly pear diet is supplemented by forbs, vines, grasses, and green browse from woody shrubs. Thick brush provides cover from weather and enemies.
Whitebrush or beebrush, and blackbmsh, all acacia types, are favored in south Texas. In the hill country, cedar breaks and turkey pear offer the same protection. The javelina’s only natural enemies are mountain lions and coyotes.
Most bowhunters seeking javelina do their hunting in January and February, a time when brush has lost its leaves and daytime javelina activity increases. However, the season is open year round in most of south Texas, and from October to nearly the end of February in other areas.
During the summer months, javelina are active almost exclusively at night, laying up in the shade during the hot daytime hours. A band of javelina, usually 10-15 animals, inhabits a range of about one square mile, making them predictable if a fair amount of scouting has been done. By carefully scanning mesquite flats, scendaros, roads and other open areas, javelina can usually be spotted if they are in the area.
The animals seem to have no aversion to feeding in and crossing openings, explaining why spotting and stalking is the most popular method bowhunters use to purse the little “pigs On a stalk, the only thing a bowhunter has to worry about besides thorns and rattle- snakes is a javelina`s keen nose, its best defense.
The critters are nearly blind and have only a fair sense of hearing. So with caution, it`s not difficult for a skilled hunter to move within easy bow range. For the patient bowhunter, baited areas and watering holes make productive stand sites. Stands are typically located on the downwind edge of an opening in the thorny thicket, with the bait placed in the clearing. Javelina have a never-ending appetite for corn and can smell the grain at a distance of one-quarter mile. In good “pig” country, it is not uncommon to have bait visited within 24 hours of its placement. Like bear hunting, a persistent hunter that can keep still will usu- ally be rewarded with the opportunity for a shot. Since there are few trees capable of hold- ing a tree stand in the brush country, tripods are the elevated stand of choice. The little “pigs” can also be taken successfully from pit or ground blinds, however, their sense of smell must be respected the same way as that of a whitetail.
It`s impossible to talk about the javelina’s sense of smell without mentioning the rank odor the animal itself gives off. When down-wind from a bunch of javelina, a hunter can easily smell the beasts, and its not an odor easily mistaken, or forgotten. The cause is a musk gland located on the animal’s back, used as a means of communication. By far the most exciting way to hunt these Southwestern animals is by calling them. By imitating a young javelina in distress, a whole herd of calm, feeding peccary can be transformed into a charging, tooth-popping gang. Calling can make for some fast-paced, hair- raising action as the little critters come running.
Another great thing about javelina hunting, particularly calling, is that it ’s not critical to be hunting at dawn. This allows the bow-hunter to savor an extra hour in the sleeping bag or a chance to check out gear and sling a few practice arrows. A hunter won’t be rushed if he decides to do both. Unlike rattling whitetails where the shooter sets up in front of the rattler, when calling the javelina shooter positions himself as close to the caller as possible.
The “pigs” will come directly to the source of the call, often nearly bumping the caller and shooter as they move through. Some hunters have been unnerved by the response of the javelina, mistaking the action for an aggressive attack. The same type of activity is often observed after a band of javelina are spooked by a bowhunter trying to stalk the animals.
In fact, the javelina “at tack” is seldom more than the blind movement of the nearsighted animals as they try to leave the area in the quickest way possible. Javelina do possess vicious looking teeth, but they seldom show real aggression unless cornered. They do, however, seem to fight constantly among themselves making woofs, growls and grunts in the process, a factor that can aid hunters scouting for the animals.
The javelina`s mean looking dental gear are not tusks as referred to with wild boar. The 2·inch, razor sharp extrusions are actually canine teeth used for rooting and tearing some of the tough desert plants they eat. The teeth can inflict injury in a battle, a factor that has led to a decline in the number of hunters and outfitters that will risk running dogs on the little beasts.
Weather conditions on a January or. February Texas javelina hunt can range from that of a summer safari to cold and wintry, all within a few days. Long underwear and a good warm jacket are items to pack along. Rain gear is a must because this is the time of year that Texas gets most of its precipitation. Many hunters wear chaps and snake leggings to protect them in the endless brush. A good pair of tough leather boots are standard fare.
Camouflage clothing is helpful, but neutral tone outerwear will work just as well for this type of hunting. Javelina aren’t know for being tough to kill. Actually, when compared to other big game animals, the peccary goes down easily. Any well-placed broadhead from a medium weight hunting bow will do a nice job dispatching them. Shots average 2-20 yards when javelina come to the call. Usually darting through the underbrush, javelina make small, deceptive targets. The fast-moving, close-range shooting gives instinctive shooters an advantage here. Bait hunters can dictate their own distances by their setup and personal confidence.
Felt-lined rugs, full or shoulder mounts or a pair of handmade leather gloves are some of the exciting options the successful javelina hunter can have produced to remember his
hunt by. It’s a good idea to find out in advance how the taxidermist wants the trophy caped or cut. A bleached skull, canines glistening, always makes a nice addition to any trophy room. Anyone who has field dressed a javelina knows too well the smell of these critters. The musk gland, located high on the rump of the animal, is a four-inch dark area lacking hair. It can easily be removed by taking a knife and cutting around the area. However, because javelina often are loaded with fleas, many hunters prefer to skin the animal on the spot. In this case, there is no need to remove the musk gland because it comes off with the skin.
Javelina, with their almost exclusive vegetarian diet, make good eating at a young age. When hunting for meat, select the medium sized animals in a group. Trophy sized javelina, whether boar or sow, are not palatable, Don’t expect to get much meat from these “pigs.” An average animal yields only about 15 pounds.
Javelina Shoot Out
Way down south near the Texas border town of Laredo is a particular tract of land chock full of javelina. The Callahan Ranch lazily encompasses some 135,000 acres of Texas badlands. Here is the home of the annual Texas Javelina Shoot Out, originated in 1980. Behind a Texas-sized handlebar moustache, a squealing javelina call and a razor sharp Snuffer, you find Ron Collier, co-organizer of the annual javelina shoot. Collier and long-time hunting pal Ed Foreman are pioneers of javelina calling in Texas. Both are veteran bowhunters.
Each year these two, along with about 450 other bowhunters, visit the Callahan Ranch to camp, exchange hunting stories and chase the desert “pigs  Precision Shooting Equipment (PSE) is a major sponsor of the gathering. The hunt is open to the public for a nominal registration fee and 1990 marks the tenth an- nual event. For more information write to Ron Collier, 7700 Delafield Lane, Austin, Texas 78752.
Whether you team up with the other bow-hunters at the Callahan Ranch or set up your own “javelina shootout,” hunting these animals can be a quick cure to the midwinter blahs. Javelina can`t compare to a trophy bear, deer or any of the other animals listed by the Pope and Young Club record keepers, but they are just challenging enough, and just easy enough to score on, to make the hunt well worth the effort. And when that first bunch of javelina is encountered, the excitement will easily over-shadow any doubts about the small size of this animal. The thrills are big!
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Published by archerchick on 21 Apr 2012

Camo Comics – By Jack Heilborn Jr and Dwain Meyer

Bowhunting World February 1990

Camo Comics, Concepts for these cartoons were contributed by Jack Heilborn Jr., a Michigan bowhunter.  The drawings
are by Minnesota’s Dwain Meyer, an accomplished cartoonist whose work has often appeared in the pages of Bowhunting World.

Bowhunting World plans to bring you more of their collaborative effort in upcoming issues.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Published by archerchick on 13 Apr 2012

Erv Plotz Hard to Keep this Bowhunter Down on The Farm by Jay Strangis

Erv Plotz Hard to Keep this Bowhunter Down on The Farm by Jay Strangis
Bowhunting World April 1990
Erv Plotz says he’s had his hunts and he’s settling down. No more playing tag with grizzly bears. No more chasing ghosts in the desert. No more freezing toes with Eskimos or fistfights in frontier lodges. No. Erv Plotz is fifty years old and he’s giving up the wild life. And why not? Not every world-class bow-hunter is able to retire to the peace of a Minnesota farm when he’s given up the chase. Just because that farm is home — always has been. It`s where he plans to live quietly the rest of his days, he says. And if anyone believes that, they also must believe muskox can fly.
An unlikely combination of farmer-trophy hunter, Plotz  has bowhunted on two continents, taken countless big game animals, placed nine trophies in the Pope and Young record book and notched several bow hunting firsts. People like Erv Plotz don’t just fade away. Try as he might to act reserved, the man still has  an uncontrolled “let’s go hunting”  look in his eye. A gleam that he’s no doubt carried throughout his 36 years as a bow-hunter, and one that’s not likely to dim. He probably displayed that gleam at age 14, while making his first bow.
Denied any use of guns, the farm boy decided he’d do like Native American Indians. The lemonwood limbs he fashioned were crude, as were the arrows he carved from dowels, with chicken feathers for fletching. But by the time he reached ninth grade, he had bow-killed his first deer. The man with a passion for bow-hunting and adventure has bow-killed 46 whitetails since.
Throughout Plotz’ life, others have seemed to identify his adventurous spirit, and the connection has resulted in some memorable experiences. When he joined the military in the l950s, he was sent to Europe. Of course, his bow accompanied him and his target shooting time actually increased. Plotz shot every day, and the longbow became a trademark of the young man. Native Europeans witnessing his skill and hearing of his passion for hunting, couldn’t resist inviting him into the field.
One such invitation came in France, where Plotz earned honors as the first modern bowhunter in Europe to kill a wild boar. He also arrowed a roe deer. Good fortune never has been in short supply for Plotz. An Austrian man whose family survived on American
C-rations during World War II met Plotz and his commanding sergeant, insisting that he take the two on a chamois hunt as a token of his gratitude. They accepted, and Plotz took a 13-year-old chamois ram in a hunt amidst the Austrian peaks. Today such a hunt is comparable to that for North America’s desert bighorn sheep, accessible only to the very lucky, or the very rich.
License To Brag
At home in the sleepy town of Clements, Minnesota, Erv Plotz sits at a dining room table, and directs his eyes past the buildings that house his hogs, across the sweeping soy-bean fields that line the horizon. He grew up in that direction, just two miles away, and like an old buck, he`s spent his life in the same territory, with an occasional foray beyond. Behind Plotz, on the other side of the farmyard, is a grassy area he uses to practice archery. He’s fired many arrows over that ground, most with a bare bow, the way his childhood idol, Howard Hill, had.
Only in the last two years has he shot with a compound bow. As a matter of fact, of the 14 bow-killed animals in Plotz’ trophy room, only his pronghorn antelope was taken using sights. Plotz still likes to handle the bow he used for many years, a 102—pound longbow made for him by Martin Archery. He’s also shot recurve and longbows by Bear Archery and Paul Bunyan Archery, but the Martin bow is a part of Plotz’ most memorable adventures. In fact, the bow itself, combined with Plotz’ ego, earned hunts in some very strange ways. On a hunt for stone sheep in British Columbia, Plotz first turned the bow to his advantage, even though his sheep hunt was a rifle kill.
Outfitter Frank Cook, Plotz` host and one of the most notable guides of the region. took a look at the longbow Plotz carried with him and scoffed at its 102-pound draw weight and slender design. Cook called the bow “a stick” and offered to wager that his son who would arrive in a few days could break the bow. Never one to avoid a good argument. Plotz accepted, but changed the terms of the wager. All Cook’s son had to do was pull the bow to win. At stake was the cost of a moose hunt. Plotz shot his stone sheep on the eighth day of the hunt. He was elated, but that soon turned to a case of nerves after Cook`s son arrived. The boy weighed more than 250 pounds and was as strong as an ox. The moment of truth had arrived. The bow looked like a toothpick in the hands of the overgrown youth. But as he prepared to draw he made one mistake. Instead of raising his elbow to draw the bow, he held the joint against his body and tried to draw from the hip, without raising the bow at all.
After the second attempt Plotz said he knew the moose hunt was his. The boy tired so much in the first two tries there was no way he would succeed if he pulled all day. Only a few years later, another run-in with a critic of Plotz’ bow would lead to a hunt for a trophy mountain lion. The “doubting Thomas” this time turned out to be a Canadian government cat hunter from the Kettle River area of British Columbia. Plotz met the man in a bar and had to listen to him cast insults at the bow’s ability to still a lion. Plotz argued with the man and invited him to “bring on the cat.”
The next day Plotz found himself waist deep in snow following a bunch of rough and ready cat hounds. He reached the treed lion first, but as agreed, had to wait for the government hunter and his pals to arrive to witness the shot. The cougar turned out to be the largest cat taken in Canada up to that time, scoring 14 11/16 P&Y points, weighing 147 pounds and measuring 92.5 inches from nose to tail.
Getting Physical
Plotz and his wife, Donna, have five children. Erv Plotz is especially proud of his sons. He says the boys are tough, and it`s obvious that’s important to him. Erv Plotz is a pretty tough customer him-self. At 50, he’s in better shape than many people half his age. Hard work has kept him that way. When the farm economy slumped. Plotz started a part-time hardwood logging business, a job which nearly cost him his life last year.
Felling huge ash trees in a boggy area with one of his sons, Plotz was struck by a misguided tree. The trunk pinned his leg against the ground, breaking it, and as the angered logger thrashed to pull himself free, he broke his arm against another tree.
One might say Erv Plotz is the physical sort. He also makes friends in strange ways. In a lodge at God’s Lake, Northwest Territories. Plotz happened to mix words with a stranger, another U.S. citizen. The two finished their debate with fisticuffs, but parted company  peacefully. So much so that months later Plotz got a call from another man inviting him on a Canadian fishing trip, and eventually their friendship led them to plan an Alaskan sheep hunt.
Plotz response:    ” When you go hunting you really meet super guys. I think hunters are a very elite group, the best people, especially bowhunters.”
Bringing ’em Back
Erv and Donna Plotz’ traditional attractive farmhouse looks like many other Mid-western country homes – until one gets inside. Past the friendly kitchen and through a warm dining room a menagerie of critters wait to greet the visitor. More than a trophy room, the Plotz’ living room resembles a natural history museum.
A full mounted grizzly bear guards the door to the patio, closely attended bythe full mount of Plotz’ British Columbia lion. On other walls, whitetail, caribou, pronghorn, mountain goat and sheep heads keep watch, while a full-mounted desert bighorn sheep perches on a corner rockpile, replete with a barrell cactus.
Perhaps the strangest creature of all, and certainlythe only one ever to grace the town of Clements, dominates the room: A full-mounted muskox. The muskox holds special significance for Plotz.
It is , he says, the first muskox ever killed by a white man in the Northwest Territories of Canada. It also ranked second in the world, at one time, among Pope and Young records. Plotz got a tip about the special muskox hunt from Jack Atcheson, a taxidermist in Butte Montana.
In February 1980, Plotz found himself accompanied by three rifle hunters who also held permits, two game wardens and seven Eskimos on a wild trip across the frozen tundra on 12-foot wooden sleds pulled by snow-mobile, with only snow drifts to guide them. The natives don’t use compasses, Plotz notes, finding their way by observing the prevailing winds’ imprint on the drifts.
That night, among a village of Eskimos, Plotz` and his bow attracted considerable atention. The natives were fascinated by the idea of a man who might kill a muskox with an arrow. The flattery couldn’t stem P1otz’ worries. He wasn`t sure what would happen when he loaded-up the 102-pound bow at 38 degrees below zero. The next day he got his answer.
Travelling with a native guide, Plotz and the man spotted a dark figure alone on the sea of white. Muskox! They circled for an upwind stalk after identifying the animal as what looked to be a large. bedded bull. They got within yards of the beast and the guide told Plotz to shoot as soon as the animal gained its feet. But at a temperature of almost 40 below, even the guides hollering couldn’t bring the animal from its bed.
When it finally arose, Plotz killed the 103 2/8 trophy. Only one other hunter succeeded in killing a muskox on that hunt, that with a rifle. Plotz` ever-changing luck took a sudden turn when he developed food poisoning from the native cuisine. He left camp only to be detained later by customs officials at Edmonton. Alberta, who confiscated his trophy and gear. Seems they hadn’t heard a rare muskox hunt had been established. It took Plotz more  than a day to resolve the situation.
Versatile Hunter
Erv Plotz loves to bowhunt. But over the years he’s also developed skills as a rifle hunter. One of the accomplishments that brings him the most pride is the completion of a Grand Slam for sheep in just three and one-half years. To complete the Grand Slam, Plotz needed 1 desert bighorn. In a wild piece of luck, he was one of six hunters drawn to hunt the trophy   animals in Arizona, and he hoped that his fourth sheep species would be the first he would take with a bow.
Plotz prepared for the hunt for four months, running over 12 miles each day on the dusty roads surrounding Clements, contacting  any  person who might help narrow down locations for a trophy desert bighorn,   practicing with his bow. By the time the December hunt came along, he was ready. Plotz learned that an Arizona game warden knew the general location of a ram with world record potential.
The warden had photographed the sheep in the Mount Wilson area. Upon seeing the photo, Plotz became obsessed. Interested in the novelty of bowhunting desert sheep, a crowd organized to assist Plotz in his pursuit. The game warden with the photograph took two weeks vacation to attend the hunt. The president of the Bighom Sheep Society would serve as guide and a flock of outfitters would come along to assist.
It was a big sheep camp to chase just one ram, but this was big territory. According to the game warden, the 2,000 square miles they could hunt held just 12 legal rams. The party never did find the once-photo- graphed monster sheep, but did manage to locate a very large ram which Plotz, bow in hand, stalked unsuccessfully four times before the animal finally left the territory.
Days later, when they finally spotted another good ram, Plotz knew the time had come to put away the bow and take out the rifle. His companions were furious. They had come all this way to see the sheep bow-killed. Plotz resisted the pressure. His permit allowed him to take the ram with a rifle, and he was through risking a rare Grand Slam just to appease his ego and the egos of his companions. He might never have this chance again if he lived 10 lifetimes. The next day, he carried the entire sheep, gutted, out on his back — Erv Plotz style.
Wh0’s Stalking Whom
The moose hunt Erv Plotz won years earlier never did produce an animal for him. A world-record class bull had been spotted, but between tangled country and overly aggressive young guides, Plotz’ yearning for a record book moose continued to be only that, a yearning. Seventeen days of brush-battling scratches and frozen toes sent him home only hungrier.
He returned to the northwest several years later. this time Alaska. with hopes of hanging that moose and a grizzly bear. Bowhunting the Christmas Creek area near Nome, Plotz sighted many grizzlies, and one morning saw a path to a stalk. The bear was out in the muskeg, a spongy area where travel was slow, but the low brush offered a chance for an open shot. After sneaking within range, he let go an arrow that zipped low, parting the belly hairs of the giant bruin. Startled, the bear began looking for its adversary, advancing in a slow, circling stalk of its own.
Plotz was unnerved. He managed to escape, but vowed not to put himself in such a spot again. Several days later he bagged a grizzly with his rifle. In the same camp, several hunters returned one day to report seeing a large bull moose on a small lake a short plane flight away. Plotz and the bush pilot took off immediately, knowing if they could spot the animal and land, they would have to sit out the r quired waiting period before legally pursuing the bull. Wind and bad weather greeted them as they reached the lake and spotted the bull. The pilot refused to land under the conditions. With no way to estimate the direction of mountain wind currents on the way down, an attempted landing could prove fatal.
Plotz would likely have jumped from the plane if he hadn’t had another idea. Snatching an arrow from his quiver, he tied a long ribbon to the fletching and dropped it over a gravel slide. The arrow planted itself firmly in the escarpment and the ribbon tailed away with the wind. With their windsock in place, the two put down safely on the lake. Plotz arrowed the bull, a 182 2/8 trophy, the next day, but the weather worsened and for three more days the hunter and pilot remained trapped with the moose carcass under the Alaskan fog.
Closer To Home
In addition to his adventures shooting three P&Y caribou and a P&Y pronghorn antelope with his bow, Erv Plotz takes great pride in the hunting he grew up with near home. Redwood County, Minnesota, is whitetail deer country — farmland, that holds more crop than anything else —where fence-lines mean cover and tiny sloughs hold giant bucks. Several miles away is the lush, forested Minnesota River valley. But Plotz says the bucks prefer the sparse upland habitat most of the year. He might know. Plotz’ many whitetail bow-kills include three P&Y qualifying bucks, with the best two of the three listed in the record book. Vacant groves, creeks and other islands of habitat hold the biggest deer in Redwood County, by Plotz’ estimation. The bucks may like to visit the vast river bottoms on occa- sion, but they don’t like to stay there, he says. He prefers to stalk the deer when he can, or take a ground blind where line fences meet small sloughs.
Last year he spotted what he called a “super buck,” but was unable to bowhunt following his logging accident. The gleam returns to the wild man ’s eye — he ’s checked with every meat locker in the county — the buck wasn’t taken before the season came to a close.
Always Something More
Cutting through the reserved exterior of the new Erv Plotz isn’t difficult, just mention elk or carp, two critters that light him up like a firecracker. For seven years Plotz has been chasing bull elk on an acquaintance’s 10,000-acre spread in Montana, and for seven years he has failed to score. Of course, he doesn’t want to just kill any elk any way. He wants a six by six or better, and he’s going to kill it with a bow.
He’s already practicing with one of his sons for the fall trip, and advising the boy that if he can’t hit the vitals at 60 yards, don’t bother coming to hunt. The area Plotz hunts is wide open country, with lots of bulls and very little cover.
Plotz now shoots an Oneida Screaming Eagle compound, something he picked up a couple of years ago, the same time he first began using sights. He says it just seemed like the time to start catching up with the advantages most other bowhunters enjoyed in speed and range. The feeling is enforced by his experiences watch- ing bull elk on the outside of his bow range.
Elk and a funny looking fish have little in common, except to Plotz. He`s been bowfishing carp for years in the springtime, and gets that crazy look when the subject arises. He wants a big carp as much as that big bull elk. As a matter of fact, he’s planning to shoot a new state record carp to add to the 40 and 42- pound fish he’s already harvested, and he says he knows where the big carp lives.
Seated at his dining room table under a mounted 40 pound carp, Plotz seems almost relaxed as he summarizes his career. “The farming hasn’t been as good as the hunting,” he quips. And he speaks of his 50 years as if it’s a lifetime come to an end —all the good luck and bad luck, close calls and the many people he’s met over the years. Suddenly, he perks up. Seems there’s this giant muskie waiting for him up at Lake of the Woods, Ontario, and he’s just got to get up there as soon as possible and catch that fish. The gleam is back.
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Published by archerchick on 12 Apr 2012

Bowhunting in Paradise ~By Dale Schlehuber

Bowhunting in Paradise  By Dale Schlehuber

Bowhunting World April 1990

There ’s a bunch feeding about 300 yards below us in that brushy pocket,” whispered my father. Clifford Schlehuber had spotted 20 of Hawaii’s axis deer through his 10x binoculars from a bare knob on the ridge that divides the island of Lanai. “I’ll head over to that notch where that bunch ran Friday and try to ambush them if they get spooked,” he advised, “and you can try stalking them. But go slow! Remember, every bush and clump of trees has a deer hiding in it! ” At various times during our week-long hunt, we had spooked as many as 10 or 15 deer while stalking other animals. We had learned that the spotted axises had used the same notch to escape a hunter, so this time Clifford would be in position to arrow an animal before it could disappear into the bottom of a 500-foot-deep, two-mile-long volcanic gulch.

 

After waiting a half hour while Clifford circled behind the available cover to get to his “stand”, I started down the steep hillside, slowly stepping to avoid any leaves or twigs, following any strips of bare, red volcanic dirt, while trying to maintain visual contact with the grazing herd. The axises had routinely come out for an afternoon lunch after
disappearing early in the morning fog that is common in Lanai. Their routines and escape patterns had been learned only alter three hard days of hunting. Too often a “perfect stalk” had been thwarted by an unseen deer, so each step was followed by a careful inspection of every bush and tree. To my right a 15-foot-high mound provided an excellent observation point high enough to clearly see the herd of deer above the surrounding thicket of trees blocking my planned path. As I topped the mound, I saw movement out of the corner of my eye, freezing me in my tracks.

 

Achingly. l sat down and spun on my rump toward the movement. A half-grown fawn was eating leaves only 35 yards away. After five minutes, junior’s mother appeared from behind a clump of brush 30 yards away. I had pre-set my moveable SightMaster crosshairs for that exact range, and I knew my 65-pound PSE MagnaFlite bow would send the 2114 XX75 arrow tipped with a Razorback 5 broadhead through her chest and might hit the fawn directly behind her. Waiting until the fawn moved out of the line of fire, I slowly raised, drew and picked the spot for a heart shot.

 

Just as I was releasing half my breath and increasing back tension, a set of antlers moved above the bush the doe had been in. Letting down as slowly as my burning muscles allowed, I watched the upper fork of the small buck bob back and forth as he fed. Although not a trophy class deer, he was a buck, and we hadn’t seen any horns while glassing the herd. As this was our last day of hunting, I didn’t want to return to Montana empty handed (Sure, you went to Hawaii hunting! See any two-pointers on the beach?), so I resolved to take back a tanned cream and spot-covered doe hide to add to my collection. Now, I had the opportunity for the dark brown and spotted hide of a buck along with plaque-mounted horns!

 

Distinctive Coloration

 

Axis deer are natives of India and Ceylon that are spotted for life. Does have a dark chocolate dorsal stripe that turns to a golden honey brown down their sides, becoming a creamy color and white on the belly. Nickle size spots are arranged in rows throughout the body. Bucks tend to be chocolate colored down to the belly, with older males having a charcoal color on the front shoulders and neck. The horns of axises usually have three points to a side; brow tines with a forked main branch are the norm. Large bucks will have horns in the 30-inch-plus category, and make an impressive mount. Although the average buck weighs 160 pounds, some have been known to reach 250.

Axises prefer open parkland forests, but will adapt to dense rain forest. Lanai ’s kiawe (mesquite type) mid zone and the upper ridge’s eucalyptus forest provide ideal habitat. For 15 minutes the antlers moved about the thicket, without my getting a glimpse of the buck. The entire time the doe remained broadside 30 yards away, making any attempt to move impossible. Adrenaline surged through my system. as nothing can make me get “buck fever” quicker than hearing my quarry nearby but not being able to see it. Trying to calm myself, I recalled the first day of our hunt. We had spotted six deer, one a huge charcoal colored buck with 32 inch V horns and long, heavy brow tines. After a two-hour stalk covering only 200 yards, and spooking a jackrabbit-sized fawn at 10-feet that, fortunately, ran away from the herd, I finally positioned myself for a 25-yard, head-on shot.
As the buck exposed his throat while feeding on an overhead limb, I drew and released too rapidly, resulting in the arrow being deflected left of the mark by a small branch that in my haste, I had not seen. The buck and the herd disappeared into a deep gulch in seconds. Lanai is a small island forming a triangle with the islands of Molokai and Maui. The volcanic island rises steeply from the ocean, with most ofthe shoreline being 200- to 300- foot-high cliffs. The steep slope continues from the ocean upward to the plateau on the center ofthe island. This flat portion is where pineapples are grown. The northern edge of the plateau is bordered by a high ridge that rises to 3,000 feet, high enough to catch the moist trade winds. Often, this ridge is shrouded in fog and rain, providing the island with water from deep wells. Lanai City, the only town, has a population of 1,400 inhabitants, most of whom are of Filipino, Japanese and Hawaiian ancestry, brought to Lanai to cultivate 19,000 acres of pineapples by the island’s original owner, Dole.
Now, Lanai is  owned by Castle and Cook Co, whose CEO is David Murdock, a main-land businessman. Koele Company manages the islands pineapple operation, and administers the year-round fee hunting program for axis deer on the eastern half of the island. Archery permits good for the entire year cost $100, while rifle hunters must pay $280 for a one-day hunt.
The fee half of the island is divided into several zones so that each hunter can reserve an  area for himself. For a nominal fee. a guide can be hired through the Koele Company. The best time to get trophy antlers is from May through November. Horns in all stages of
developement can be seen due to the length of the matinig season. Now the real good news! The western half of the island is mantained for public hunting of axis deer and maouflon sheep. The archery season for deer is usually the last two Sundays of February (It’s a great way to take the wife on vacation and still get in some hunting.)
The nrst two Sundays of August constitute the mouflon season A one-year, non-resident license costs, get this, $20! Not only can you hunt axis deer and mouflon sheep on Lanai. but you can travel to neighboring islands and hunt feral pigs, feral goats, feral sheep, and if you draw a special permit, blacktail deer. Depending on the island and zone of the island, the limit can be two pigs and two goats . . . per day!  Also, Hawaii has over 15 species of game birds. including three varieties of francolin grouse. three types of pheasant, three types of dove, and Rio Grande turkey. All this for $20.
Summer Vacation Hunt
My mainland friends could not believe that I was going to Hawaii exclusively to hunt, especially in August. However, low summer airfares and the ability to combine the public hunt for mouflon with the private hunting for axis deer had me anxiously awaiting August’s arrival. We had decided to hunt deer for three days, then take a day off to participate in a tournament sponsored by the local archery club, No Nuff Archers, for the over 300 hunters that arrive for the mouflon season. The tournament is held on a Saturday, followed by a banquet and awards ceremony.
Hawaiians really know how to have fun! We were greeted at the airport by Assistant Game Warden Ken Sabino whom I had met in February on my first visit to Lanai. Ken had arranged for us to use his jeep, although vehicles are available at local service stations. If you rent be sure to ask for a four-wheel drive or pickup as there is little asphalt on Lanai, and most roads to hunting areas are poorly maintained.
Ken then gave us some bad news. The deer had so badly damaged the pineapple fields that the usual surrounding archery zones had been opened for shotgun hunting during weekends. Additionally, special wardens had been spotlighting and shooting the troublesome deer. We were in for some tough hunting, as the axises are normally spookier than our deer of the mainland.
Currently Lanai has only a 14-room hunting lodge, but Koele is building a first class hotel to entice scuba divers to Lanai’s crystal clear waters which are considered the best in Hawaii. However, I recommend the Hotel Lanai not only for its great dinners, but also the evening sessions on the hotel`s porch, where locals usually gather to swap hunting stores. I hope the flavor of the lodge and island will remain even after the larger hotel is completed.
Also there is an excellent beach where camping is allowed, but reservations must be made in advance. Toilets, showers and fire pits are available, and a quick swim in the ocean after a hard day of hunting really relaxes a fellow.
Pre-Hunt Tour Helps
 After we had settled in, we took a brief tour of the hunting area. Clifford was amazed by the ruggidness and variance of terrain and t His preconceived notion of a tropical rainforest covering the entire island were dashed by the island’s desert zones. Only the 3,000 foot high ridge north of Lanai City was vegetated, covered by a eucalyptus and pine forest. The other two zones were totally different mainly because of the constant mist which provides moisture on the ridge top. The coastal zone vegetation is similar to southwest of Texas mesquite. In this zone, the axises drink the brackish water of tidal pools, since there are no flowing streams on the island.
The steep, rocky, deeply gulched kiawe zone lies between the coast and cultivated plateau zones. This zone is very similar to the arid hills of the Snake and Columbia Rivers of  eastern Washington state.
For three exhausting days we traveled up and down ridges and gulches rising out of abandoned pineapple fields. Later, we learned that in their native India the deer are preyed upon by tigers. Natural selection had made them  warier than even whitetail deer.
Each day we took a two-gallon jug of water to fill our bota bags. The 85-degree humid climate resulted in an empty jug each evening. Our best discovery was that the abandoned fields had volunteer pineapples the locals called sugar pines” because they are much sweeter than those that are harvested.
Sugar pine juice and a sandwich was our lunch. On Friday the mouflon hunters began arriving on DC-3`s used to transfer them from other islands. That evening we exchanged hunting tales with the Hawaiian hunters who had rented a house for the weekend, The Hawaiians were as eager to hear our Montana elk hunting stories as we were to try the local dishes some hunters had prepared for the communal meal. Never have I met people who became friends as easily as the Lanai hunters.
Saturday, I participated in the 28 target tournament, designed as a warm-up for Sunday`s opening day of mouflon hunting. That evening, the No-Nuff Archers held an awards banquet. There were trophies for each division and three flights of first. second, and third places were presented.
Early Sunday morning, we jumped into the jeeps after a quick breakfast of rice and fish balls, which also were wrapped in dried seaweed and placed into fanny packs for our lunch. A large jeep caravan headed towards the public portion of the island. the caravan’s headlights lighting up the spiny tops of the acres of pineapples. That morning the sheep moved up and down the kiawe zone due to the pressure of 300 hunters moving about. I saw at least a dozen full curl rams, but couldn’t cross to the other side of the rimrocked canyon in which I was hunting.
Later in the afternoon. the sheep bedded down in the thick. man-high silver koa brush, somewhat like a thick, twisted willow. Mouflon sheep, natives of southern Europe, are the smallest of the world’s wild sheep. Ewes are usually a light sandy color, while mature rams have forequarters and backs that are black with a white saddle. Ram`s horns are large for the size ofthe animal, similar to a desert bighorn, with full curl and 1 1/4 curl trophies found on Lanai.
Occasionally, rather than curling outward, the horn will come back in close to the ram’s head, much like an aoudad or Barbary sheep. Non-residents may hunt mouflon only during the archery season, while Hawaiians must enter a special drawing lor licenses to hunt them with rifles.
I spotted two groups of rams and decided to try stalking the nearest trio bedded in the koa. After an hour and a half, I managed to get 80 yards from two full curls and a three-quarter curl. The stalk suddenly ended when another archer appeared on the ridgeline and spooked the rams. Five minutes later. I spotted them two canyons away, at least two hours of hard hiking for me. I elected to try for the other group of five rams and hiked in their direction. Again, just as I was nearing reasonable bow range, they were spooked by other hunters.
That Sunday no mouflon were taken, y although several archers had opportunities. David Yasumura. one of the Honolulu hunters with whom l had become acquainted. would have qualified for a “ram fever” award if one had been given. Despite having finished second overall in the previous day`s tournament, he emptied his quiver twice. trying to knock down a mouflon ram.
Buck Ignores Warning
 As I recalled the week`s events. the favorable breeze decided to swirl. The doe stared at
my unmoving form. I avoided eye contact, and my thoughts became serene and peaceful, reminding me of a superstition I have. I believe animals have senses other than the five humans have, and can “catch” thoughts.
It didn`t work, however, and she began a “head bob” routine that I had seen many whitetails perform: Fake a move for a bite of grass . . . head up quickly . . . fake the head down a little lower. . . spring up with the head and stare for 30 seconds . . . down again almost to ground level this time . . . and, up again. Then, she had my scent because the wind was directly to her. Three sharp stamps of her foot alerted the fawn, and, I assumed, the buck. also. A high-pitched “bark” and away she and her fawn sped. but without the buck. Where was he?
Doing a “duck walk” around the left side of the mound allowed me to see one of his escape routes. I hoped he hadn`t headed for the herd and spooked them, too. Wait! Freeze! There he was 50 yards away. and not running, but leisurely eating. The young buck had ignored the doe’s warning and was now broadside, neck stretched upward as he nibblcd at the fruit of a pukawie tree. The 50 yards downhill were almost bare, providing no chance of getting closer. However, I had spent the summer at our local club range and felt comfortable taking a shot at this distance. l set the sight for46 yards, allowing for the slope. I drew, let out half my breath. held the left arm solid with hand relaxed. increased back tension. and smoothly released.
The arrow sped toward the lung shot I had chosen, however, at this distance there was enough time for the buck to react to the string noise. He stepped forward. the arrow hitting him in the middle. As he circled towards where the doe had been. I could see that the liver shot was going to require some tough tracking in the dense brush in the basin.
I waited an hour before beginning to track. The orange XX75 shaft, minus the last six inches. was laying  10 yards from where the deer had been hit. The surrounding brush`s green leaves were splashed with small, almost misty red dots. making blood trail tracking more difficult. And I knew there would be no blood trail from the liver shot anyway. But, I
still looked. I began making sweeps in the general direction me deer had gone, using the  broken shaft as the center of each increasingly bigger arc.
I heard an animal crash through brush as if it had been spooked from its bed. I was sure  it had been the buck, and searched the area roughly. Three hours later we headed back in the dark. I spent a sleepless night. knowing a wounded animal was suffering. In six years of bagging several deer, two elk, an antelope and a rocky Mountain goat,  I had never lost a hit animal.
The next morning we packed our gear for our trip home. Clifford suggested we drop our bags at the airport and return to the hollow for one more hour or searching. Dad knew how much I wanted to find that buck.
Parking the jeer, Clifford headed up the hillside while I went toward the spot where I thought I had jumped the bedded deer. “l found him! I found him!” Clifford yelled. He hadn’t walked 50 yards in the waist high ferns before he almost stepped on the hidden carcass Bowhunting rarely goes as planned, and this trip has been no exception. We both had missed some relatively easy shots at deer and had had an excellent time chasing the sharp-eyed Mouflon. However. I am dreaming of returning next August not only for the hunting and beautiful scenery, but especially for renewing contacts with the friendly people on the pineapple island of Lanai.

 

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