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Published by archerchick on 31 Dec 2010

The Golden Rule – By Steve Flores


Bow & Arrow Hunting
August 2009

THE GOLDEN RULE
If you fail to follow this important hunting standard, then consider it game over.
By Steve Flores

I recall one season in particular
when I somehow managed to
outfit myself with all of the latest
gear. I had the most popular bow
on the market, the most effective
camo pattern, an ultra—light treestand,
and a truckload of confidence to boot.
Yeah, I was going to be a whitetail-
killing machine. Brimming with
optimism, I set out to do some
extensive pre-season scouting. After
finding a suitable location, I hung my
stand and counted the days until the
start of the season.

Opening morning arrived and it
wasn’t long before I was up to my
fanny pack in action. With a
substantial amount of does and
smaller bucks frequenting the area, I
just knew the approaching rut would
eventually lure an old “mountain
monarch” within easy bow range.
There was little doubt I was going to
fill my tag and be the envy of all my
friends. Or so I thought.

in agriculture settings, pre-season scouting can actually be advantageous, simply because most of the observations are done from long-distances. However, don't dismiss the need for up-close scouting in these areas, which should still occur during the off-season months.


Eager to taste success, I hunted
every day that I could, regardless of
weather conditions or phase of the rut.
As a result, my enthusiastic approach
quickly turned my “dream season” into
a living nightmare. Within a matter of
days, deer sightings dropped off the
map and I unexpectedly found myself
searching for greener grass. However,
any attempt to duplicate that initial
opening-day stand site only brought
about the same result—a promising
location that soon fizzled out, never
really living up to the hype. When the
season finally did come to a close, I
had little to show for my efforts other
than an unfilled tag and a look of
bewilderment on my tired, beaten face.

So, what happened? Where did I
go wrong? I mulled over those
questions for quite some time, deter-
mined to find the answers before
velvet was shed and another season
began. After much deliberation, I
realized the answer lied in one
irrefutable rule—just one. Consequently,
if I considered this rule in
every decision I made in the deer
woods, success would likely beat down
my door instead of darting away like a
flushed rabbit.

So, what is this “golden rule”? The
answer: Never let the deer know they
are being hunted. That°s it! Plain and
simple. Now, that might sound a bit
elementary at first, but it isn’t until
you apply this straightforward idiom
to your current hunting strategy that
you start to get an idea about just how
tricky it can be to live up to. However,
nothing will have a greater affect on
your bowhunting success than learning
how to master this one commandment.
Because, regardless of everything
else you do, the tactics you employ or
the rules you follow, if you break this
one, it`s game over.

POST-SEASON SCOUTING
The first mistake many bowhunters
fall victim to is ill-timed scouting
efforts. Even though intentions are
good, the consequences often lead to a
season that doesn’t quite live up to its
expectations. While the traditional
time frame for scouting seems to be
just prior to the start of the season,
there are many problems associated
with this approach.

First and foremost is the fact that
“pre-season” scouting more or less
sounds the alarm that hunting season
is near. After months of uninterrupted
behavior, deer are unexpectedly
bombarded with human intrusion into
sensitive core areas. This increase in
activity basically kicks them out of
their off season stupor and alerts them
to the fact that it’s that time of year
again. Soon after this initial disruption,
the start of the season brings
a legion of bow-toting predators back
into the area, further increasing the
likelihood that the element of surprise
will be lost. At that point, it won’t take
a very intelligent animal to figure out
it’s being hunted. On top of all of this is the
overwhelming urge to hunt your best stand
(which is usually your only stand)
right off the bat. As described
in the opening paragraphs, this ill-fated
decision will definitely have a
ripple effect on the remainder of your
season, just as it did mine. If you fail
to give yourself adequate time to scout
and prepare separate stands for the
early season, rut and late season, you°ll
be depending on one location to do it
all. The truth is, y0u’ll never pull it
off You will burn out (educate most
of the deer in the area) your one stand
site long before the best hunting even
begins.

Consider also that much of the
sign that is found during late-summer
outings does not accurately represent
the conditions you will face once the
season begins. Though promising at
first, a great deal of it will likely prove
useless as changes in food, available
cover, breeding phases and hunting
pressure all take their natural toll on
deer travel patterns and behaviors-
not to mention your success rate.
Without a doubt, the lion’s share of
scouting should be carried out in the
post-season, well before spring arrives
and everything turns green. Rubs,
scrapes, transition routes, heavy trails,
security cover and bedding areas are
not only much easier to locate, but
more accurately represent the game
conditions you will face once the
season starts. More importantly you
can scout as much as you like,
wherever you like, without fear of
educating/spooking the animals you
will be hunting later in the year—
specifically mature bucks.

COMING AND GOING
Without a doubt, a good stand
location is only as good as the route
you take to get to it. When choosing
your access route, keep one thing in
mind——the path of least resistance
often leads to failure. What I mean is
that we tend to choose the quickest
and easiest route to our tree stands.
The problem with this is that, quite
often, we end up using or crossing
numerous deer trails along the way
essentially announcing our presence.
This happens because, for the most
part, whitetails are lazy If given a
choice, they will usually pick the path
of least resistance when traveling from
point A to point B, as long as it keeps
them out of harm’s way Oddly
humans are much the same.

While some bow hunters might
cringe at the thought of walking
additional 15 to 30 minutes, or an
extra 250 yards to remain unnoticed,
nothing will improve their chances of
success more. Sure, nobody wants to
work harder than they have to, but if
you’re serious about keeping your
quarry ignorant to the fact they are
being hunted, you should strive to
take the best route to your stand—not
the easiest.

For example, even though they can
be rocky and take more time to
traverse, I routinely use erosion
ditches, or stream beds, to access
stands hung near ridge tops or in
valleys below Not only am I less apt
to bump deer in these areas, but also,
the steep bank effectively hides my
slinking human form. And if I happen
to be moving under the cover of
darkness, my headlamp will be less
visible to any deer watching from
nearby.

Even the type of light used to
navigate the pre-dawn hours can have
an affect on educating deer to your a
presence. Like humans who are color-
blind, deer are sensitive to only two
broad bands of light: short-wavelength
light (blue-violet) and middle-wavelength
light (green-yellow). For years, I used a
blue light to make my way through the
early morning darkness, assuming I was moving
covertly Man was I wrong. Nearly
every deer that saw this blue-colored
beam turned inside out; crashing away
at a break-neck pace. I never under-
stood that reaction until I learned
more about the makeup of a whitetails
eye and its sensitivity to certain colors.
Now I use a red-colored headlamp
almost exclusively; employing a
standard “white” light only when
needed.

UNDER THE RADAR
Certainly there are additional
“measures” you can take to ensure you
maintain the element of surprise in the
deer Woods. Although you’ve most
likely never considered these seemingly
insignificant details, they are commonly
to blame for making your presence so
easily felt. For instance, how often do t
you hunt the same stand on the same
day of the week, arriving and departing
at the same time of day -every day?
I’m guilty Like I said, we are creatures
of habit. Therefore, I have little doubt
believing this mannerism makes it easy
for whitetails to figure out what we are
really up to. The trick to preventing
this from happening is to occasionally
be unpredictable.

For instance, arrive late and hunt
the midday hours instead of the
routine morning time frame. You never
know when a big mature buck will
be up roaming around, assuming
everyone has called it quits for the
morning. Imagine his surprise when
the last sound he hears is the dull thud
of your arrow finding its mark.

Or, instead of mindlessly ambling
through the timber toward your
treestand, why not try stalking your
way to it? Quite often I find deer
naturally feeding or moving through
the area adjacent to my stands when I
creep in “real quiet like.” I imagine the
normal haphazard approach, so often
used, would send them running for
cover, alert to the fact that a human is
indeed in the area.

Also, if you happen to be on land
that is heavily hunted, it may be best
to avoid aggressive call tactics. \While
they may seem enticing, some mature
bucks will be hesitant to respond,
likely associating the sounds with a
previous life-threatening encounter
that left them wise to the common
trickery of the bowhunter. You may
think you’re simply not getting a
response to your calling efforts when,
in fact, you have tipped your hand,
made your presence known, and the
deer are reacting accordingly.

Recently though, a number of my
hunting buddies have experienced some
success with the “snort-wheeze” call-
most likely because this particular
sound hasn’t been done to death by the
majority of hunters—yet. While l often
carry a variety of calls with me just in
case, l am always cautious about when
and how I use them.

CONTROLLING ODOR
You may fool a mature buck’s eyes
and ears using the aforementioned
tactics, but l promise you this: If he
gets one whiff of your man stink, the
gig is up. ln a perfect world, the wind
always blows from the deer to the
hunter—always. However, in the real
world -yours and mine—the wind
shifts, air currents drift and thermals
rise and fall. In order to have any
chance of beating the whitetails
legendary sniffer and remaining
undetected, you have to have a solid
odor-control system.

Despite what you’ve previously
heard or read, l believe it is possible to
fool a whitetail’s nose. l have done it
on several occasions. However, it takes
a lot of hard work, and no single item
is responsible for the success or failure
of my-odor control system. Rather, it’s
a culmination of several different
variables working together to form a
perfect odor-fighting team,

One of the biggest misconceptions
surrounding effective odor control is
that activated-carbon suits are a
technological miracle worker. While
they are undoubtedly essential to the
integrity of the overall system, they
can’t make up for many of the
common blunders committed while
using them. For instance, I can’t tell
you how many times I have witnessed
well-meaning hunters wearing their
charcoal-impregnated suits at the gas
station or local restaurant, oblivious to
the fact that they have compromised
its odor-adsorbing capabilities,
rendering it useless for any immediate
hunt. What amazes me even more is
that these same individuals are often
the first to declare the ineffectiveness
of such garments. I totally disagree. I
have been using carbon-lined suits
since their inception and can say
without reservation that when cared
for and used properly they do indeed
work; again, not alone, but as part of
an overall scent-control system.

When I asked his thoughts on the
subject, Scott Shultz, president of
Scent Blocker/ Robinson Outdoors, `
had this to say about controlling
human odor: “During the hunting
season, each of us seems to develop a
routine of scent elimination that
covers everything we do, or don’t do,
to try and eliminate our odor. This
routine, or system, will result in a
certain degree of effectiveness, depending
on how well we understand
and attend to all of the little details, as
well as the obvious stuff.

“Additionally the effectiveness of
our routine is somewhat further
dependant on other varying and
contributing factors, such as diet,
temperature, exertion level, atmospheric
pressure, stand location, etc., etc.
Total or complete scent elimination
is absolutely possible. However, for
most of us, with our hectic lifestyles,
becoming 80 to 90 percent scent-free
seems to work well enough to give us
the extra time and extra yardage needed
to slip a good arrow in there.”

I agree. Although a big buck may
smell me, it has long been my belief
that a proven system will reduce the
severity” of my odor to the point that
he will think I am 200 yards away
when, in fact, I am actually 20 yards
away at full draw. I have routinely
watched this scenario play out as a
buck stands downwind, nose in the
air, trying to determine how close I
really am. With the reassuring flick of
a tail, he usually comes closer, giving
me the opportunity I need to close the
deal.

Without taking anything away
from the importance of post-season
scouting and proper access routes, I
will say that scent control will
definitely make or break your hunt.
While other factors influencing success
or failure seem to have areas of gray
human odor is not one of them.
When it comes to that subject, there’s
only black and White.

If you’re not finding the success
you hoped for or you feel that your
current hunting spot isn’t quite living
up to its expectations, it probably has
little to do with your failure to incorporate
the latest “how to” tactic into
your bag of tricks. Most likely your
unrealized dreams are a direct result of
one thing, and one thing only—you
broke the “Golden Rule.” <–<<

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Published by archerchick on 31 Dec 2010

MULIE MAGIC – By Zack Walton


Bow & Arrow Hunting
August 2009
Mulie Magic
Stalking desert mule deer is never easy, but the reward is well worth the pain.
By Zack Walton

It’s hard not to scream when you’re standing on a cactus wearing
nothing but socks. But after two straight weeks of practice, I was .
getting pretty good. I decided to put the pain in the hack of my mind
and continue to sneak forward. Knowing the group of` mule deer had
to be close, I tried to Focus on anything but the needles piercing my
toes. Just then, I was snapped back as to why was doing all this. I could
suddenly see the wide-racked four—point mulie reappear through the
mesquite. He was intently following two does.

The buck was obviously in full rut.
His large, swollen neck gave his body
the perception of being front-heavy As
he began moving around the group of
does, I couldn’t help but focus on him,
and while doing so, a doe had picked
up my location. The cagey “mule head”
bounded away taking with him she
and the others. It was developing into a
trend this trip. However, she went only
200 yards before settling down.
I began watching the group, trying
to anticipate their next move, when
the scene quickly turned into a
spectacular show Over the next few
minutes, I saw the large buck mount a
doe several times, finally breeding her,
square off with a smaller 3×4 and level
cacti and bushes just to prove his
dominance. The group had settled
down and grown in size when two
small bucks joined in on the fun.
With light fading, I laced up my boots
and began closing the distance on the
deer.

I had to skirt the group of deer to
get the wind in my favor by dropping
off the hilltop and circling them. I
stayed a couple-hundred yards away
and continued °°dogging” the group
until they disappeared into a small
draw By slipping into the depression,
the deer allowed me to get in front of
them without being seen, so I ducked
out of sight and ran down a wash to
where I thought the herd would go.

Shortly after finding my feet were
again full of thorns, I eased my head
above some rocks and saw big ears
moving every which way The bucks
were chasing does back and forth in
the confined canyon. What a circus.
Three different times I had a 20-inch-
wide 5×4 stop well within bow range.
“The deer don’t know you are here,
find the big boy? I kept thinking to
myself Soon enough, the wide four-
point popped out from behind some
quail bushes hot on two does. He was
easily twice the size of the does he
pushed in front of me at about 50
yards. I was hoping I had finally met
up with a large mulie about to make
his last mistake.

There is not another animal I have
chased more often, for longer periods
of time, than desert mule deer of the
Southwest. Every year I spend my
Christmas vacation in the high desert.
I have been going with my family for
the better part of two decades. And for
the past I5 years, I’ve bowhunted the
various animals that call the cacti-
infested area of Arizona home. This
past year was no exception and on
Christmas night my friend, Shawn
Wood, and I left to meet up with my
parents.

The holiday season is when I love
to hunt mule deer, because they are
more active and bucks are always
“twitterpated.” Bowhunting mule deer
during this window can be a blast.
Bucks fight cactus and each other.
Their I.Q.s plummet to that of a
stuffed animal, and they swell up like
a second-rate boxer after a few rounds
with Iron Mike. And the sight of one
classic desert giant, with wide, flared
antlers stretching from horizon to
horizon, is enough to bring you back.
I had my first introduction to these
big-eared desert dwellers 15 years ago
on the morning of my first bow hunt
for deer. Arizona allows hunters to
chase big game at the age of 10,
(two years before my home state of
California), so my first deer hunt was
in the Grand Canyon State. That

morning I found myself in the middle
of a group of mule deer and at the age
of 11, I shot my first deer with a bow.
I wish it were always so easy The
fact is, the mule deer in southern
Arizona are easy to hunt with a bow,
but difficult to kill. You can get within
150 yards with little effort, but closing
to within bow range is a minor miracle
every time. Throw in the fact that
when the rut starts, large bucks usually
will have between one and 20 does
with him—and you will have more
eyes, ears and noses to go through
than a plastic surgeon in Hollywood.
That’s when the challenge begins.
That’s the challenge I was faced with
that January afternoon.

The deer were running in circles.
“Wait for the buck to stop,” I told
myself When one doe stopped and
the buck lowered his head to sniff her,
I drew my Hoyt and settled on the last
rib of the quartering-away buck. I
remember thinking, “Constant
tension. Squeeze through.”
When the arrow struck, the buck
kicked his rear legs high in the air like
a bull looking to rid himself of a
cowboy Surprisingly, the shot did not
spook any of the deer, but as I scanned
the group, I could not find the buck I
had just hit. But he still had to be
there. The other bucks were still
chasing does, and the other deer were
feeding on cactus, all of this within
50 yards of where an arrow crashed
through the biggest deer in the bunch.
Finally, I found him concealed in
some ocotilio about 20 yards from
where I shot him. I could tell he was
badly hurt, but that I should put
another arrow in him. Control the
shaking. My second shot hit low as I
misjudged the yardage, but he didn’t
move. The next shot slid right under
the buck’s large chest and still, he
didn’t move. It was obvious
adrenaline was out of control now.
The other deer had spooked away and
here I was failing to put a second
arrow in the large buck right in front
of me. Somebody get me a bag to
breathe into. I told myself to calm
down and make the shot count and
the next arrow smacked home.

At impact, he busted through the
ocorillo for 100 yards before stopping.
The arrow had broken off from his
sprint, but I knew it had hit him
through the shoulder. The buck slowly
walked off stopping frequently I
watched him for 10 minutes before he
limped into a wash. Since the sun had
just set, I decided to leave the deer _
overnight and come back with some
help in the morning.

The night lasted for an eternity,
and after searching in the morning,
with help from my dad and Shawn,
we found the buck 150 yards from
where I last saw him. Both of the
arrows had penetrated the chest cavity
the first slicing the liver before cutting
through the bottom of the chest, and
the second hit both shoulders and cut
through the top of the chest.
The trip was a wonderful success,
as I had seen lots of animals and taken
a marvelous mule deer that was 26
inches wide and gross scored right at
the Pope & Young minimum. Along

with the one-horned buck I’d taken on
the last day of the December season,
and l had two archery-killed bucks in
difficult terrain. To make the hunt
more amazing, everyone in my
hunting party took animals.
My Christmas-time trip is a perfect
ending to my bowhunting season. The
high desert offers sunshine during a
usually cold winter at home and an
opportunity to hunt a different time
of the year for me. And with the right
amount of luck, l get to bring home my
last, and best present of the season. <—<<

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Published by archerchick on 31 Dec 2010

TUNDRA FUN – By Warren Anderson Jr.


BOW & ARROW HUNTING MAGAZINE
August 2009
TUNDRA FUN

Come along on this fun-filled journey in pursuit of central barren-ground caribou amid Canada’s Northwest Territories.

By Warren Anderson Jr.

I think caribou are fantastic animals; not many other species in North America can grow as much antler in such a short amount of time or cover the open landscape they call home faster than an Olympic track star. They inhabit pristine country and going to the Northwest Territories to chase them with a bow is an incredible challenge. They are also excellent table fare, yielding a flavorful meat that is tender and worth the effort. I had hunted caribou once before in Newfoundland a few years back, and that experience left me with a hankering to chase them again. So, in January 2007, my wife and I met with the folks from Peterson’s Point Lake Lodge at the Denver Sportsman’s Expo. After talking with the owners and some of their staff we decided to send a deposit and book a hunt for the first week
in September 2007. Although my wife doesn’t hunt, I was able to talk her into going as a non- hunter and sharing this once—in-a—lifetime experience with me. Some friends of ours had hunted with Peterson’s in the past and all gave glowing references. Although all of my buddies were rifle hunters, the staff at Peterson’s had guided several bowhunters and were well versed in the challenges that archery equipment poses.

We arrived in the town of Yellowknife in the Northwest
Territories via commercial airline, and then took a floatplane an hour and a
half north to camp. The Peterson’s camp sits on the shore of Point Lake,
which is a large body of water 70 miles in length, located just south of the
Artic Circle. The area is so pristine that the ice—cold water is safe to drink
straight from the lake. After cabin assignments and introductions with all
the staff and other hunters in camp that week, I headed down to the beach
to check my archery equipment.

I had been paired up with another bowhunter named Vince (the only
other archer in camp that week), and he also came down to check that his
equipment had made the trip without incident. I knew Vince had been to
Peterson’s a few years earlier and had not gotten an opportunity at an animal,
so we decided that he would have the first crack at an animal when we went
out the first day We shared a few stories, and I knew he would be a good
hunting partner for the next week.

On our first day on the tundra, we had great weather and spotted several
groups of bulls right off the bat. Our guide, Egan, helped judge the quality
of the animals and suggested that we could do better. That afternoon we
found a group of six bulls that made the grade, and Vince was on the chase.
He slithered into position as the rest of us sat in a boulder pile and looked on.
The way he crept to within range of these bulls, you would have never
guessed that he was a treestand hunter from Wisconsin who had never stalked animals in such open habitat. The caribou stood, sensing something was up, and Vince got his chance. The distance was a little closer than he had estimated and the arrow sailed harmlessly over the largest bull’s back.
We headed back to camp empty-handed, but with a great first day on
the books. That night in camp we ate like kings and shared stories of the day
Some of the other hunters had taken animals, so we listened to their adventures and admired their trophies.

On the second day of the hunt, we were again treated to great weather, a
gorgeous sunrise, no bugs and plenty of caribou. We each had a Pew stalks,
but no shots presented themselves. We also saw several bear tracks along the beach,
and that night, we had a bear visit camp. It had Pound the buried
freezer that the lodge used for storing eggs, peaches and jalapenos! Needless
to say after the surprise of jalapenos, we didn’t think the bear would be
back.

On the third day of our trip, my wife elected to stay in camp and relax.
We loaded into the boat and headed for one of the large islands on the
lake. \When we neared the island, we spotted two groups of bulls. After
sizing them up, we beached the boat and made our way to the top, over a
series of saddles and rock outcroppings. We slowly inched our way
around the numerous dips and peaks and could not relocate the target
animals. After getting the slip from the bulls, we were headed back to the
boat when a bull appeared out of nowhere and busted us. We were in a
little meadow crossing a boulder field when I heard Vince sharply say my
name in a high-pitched whisper. I froze and got our guide’s attention,
and when we looked to our right, there stood a good bull, with the sun
shining from behind him, illuminating his velvet-covered antlers.

Vince whispered, “Would you shoot that bull?” I answered yes, but
in our current situation, it seemed unlikely that I would get the chance.
After a few minutes, the bull moved off behind the saddle, and the chase I
was on. The bull busted us again as we were making our way to him and
trotted around another saddle. We stayed in pursuit, but at the next ridge
he had a cow and a calf with him. I was able to stalk within 30 yards and
get drawn on him twice but, each time, the cow or the calf was blocking
his vitals, preventing a shot. The group headed back in the
direction they had come from, and now Vince was back in the game.
Egan motioned for me to slip around behind them and cut off the escape
route while Vince crept close, trying for a shot. I hustled around several
knobs and lost track of both the bull and my two hunting partners. When I
eased up over the saddle and looked to my right, Vince and Egan were
motioning frantically that the bull was to my left. I was confused because
there was nothing but a large expanse of tundra, and I thought I should
surely be able to see a caribou in the wide open.

Just then, I saw his antlers bobbing from behind a large rock shelf and
knelt down to range the distance. When the bull took a few steps out
away from the rock outcropping that had concealed him, I drew and placed
the 30-yard pin in the sweet spot behind his front shoulder and triggered
the release. The arrow hit home with a thud, and I watched him tear out across the tundra and tip over. After some back slapping and photos, Egan caped the head while Vince and I packed the meat back to the boat. When I
returned that evening, my wife was happy for me, but a little sad that she
missed out on the whole experience.

That night, just before dark, the skinner was coming out of the meat
shed when he encountered a grizzly bear about 10 yards away. He had just
closed the electric fence and was reaching in to turn on the power, when
he turned around and saw the bear. Both he and the bear were startled at
the same time, and all he could muster to shout was, “Bear!” The skinner
made fast tracks for the guide’s quarters, and the rest of the staff came
piling out, shooting into the air to encourage the bear to move along.

As I watched the bear running out through the tundra, the owner of the
lodge walked past me and said, “I told that skimmer to keep the shotgun
loaded. I bet it will be loaded tomorrow.” He just kept walking back
to his cabin, as if nothing had happened. The skimmer was still shook
up the next morning and retold the story over a cup of coffee. He was in
no hurry to get out to the meat shed, and he took a good ribbing from all of
us before we headed afield.

On the last day of our hunt, my wife again elected to stay behind. I still
had my second tag in my pocket, and we spent most of the day trading stalks on different groups of bulls we found. In the early afternoon, while out on the lake, our guide spotted a lone bull in some thick cover. We beached the boat and tried to get the drop on him. We lost track of him in the tall
willows, and on our way back to the lake, we walked through a saddle,
when Vince and Egan froze. The bull had looped around and was sleeping
standing up when we came through the saddle. He had now spotted Vince
and Egan, but hadn’t seen me. Vince said they were busted, but if I thought
I could get the drop on him, for me to go ahead and do it.

I belly-crawled ahead to a small rock and ran out of cover. I was still
60 yards from the now-bedded bull, with no chance for a shot. I slid
backward until I had some cover and motioned to the guys that I was going
to go over the top of the ridge and come at him from the other side. As I
was sneaking around the knob, I felt the wind hit my back. Had I been
stalking a deer or an elk, I would have just headed back, but I knew that
sometimes you can get away with a bad wind on caribou. I crawled to
within 35 yards of the bull and waited for his next move. After about 10
minutes, he got up and started to feed to his right, which brought him to 30
yards broadside of my position. I drew the bow and slid the 30-yard pin
behind his front leg. When the arrow hit, he crow-hopped in a circle and fell
over dead within 15 yards.

We soaked in our final afternoon on the tundra as we worked on
quartering and skimming. We shared a few laughs and admired the orange
and red leaves of the landscape we were about to leave. It was a great way
to end a fantastic hunt. He wasn’t the largest bull in camp, but the stalk was
one that I will remember for a long time. As we said our goodbyes before
getting on the plane, my wife and I filled up our Nalgene bottles with our
last drink of the pristine waters of Point Lake and wished that the end of
our trip hadn’t come so soon. <—<<

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Published by archerchick on 30 Dec 2010

ON-YOUR-OWN ELK – By Mike Poulin


BOW AND ARROW HUNTING
AUGUST 2009

ON-YOUR-OWN ELK

Many Bowhunters are under the impression that all elk hunting is either too expensive or just not feasible to do on your own, which just isn’t true. Here’s how you can plan your very own elk bowhunt, all on a relatively small budget.

By Mike Poulin

Have you been sabotaging or
limiting your hunt opportunities on false beliefs? Does
out-of-state elk hunting seem so cost-prohibitive you just
won’t apply? Do you think drawing an out·of-state elk tag
is nearly impossible? Do you think you can’t get a
public-land bull elk on your own? Well, l once believed these exact lies,
until a fellow hunter educated me. Come along with me while I share
with you how to obtain tags, and how an average hunter like me prepared
and connected on a public-land bull.

ENTRY INT0 ELK HUNTING
As a die-hard Nevada mule deer hunter, the thought of hunting elk, let
alone out-of-state elk, came slowly for me. As you may know, claiming a
Nevada elk tag is rare. On the other hand, an archer in this state has very
good draw odds and many opportunities to hunt mule deer.
But the lure of these “bigger” deer animals pulled at me, so I threw
caution to the wind and initially opted for the easier-to-obtain cow elk tag. By
alternating between applying for a cow elk tag one year and the bull elk tag
the next, I could start to build and retain my bull elk bonus points. In
short order, it worked; soon I was hunting cow elk in the Ely, Nevada
area. And this is how I got hooked on elk hunting.

I learned so much in those three seasons bowhunting cows as I encountered
huge bulls that I could only watch in awe. Observing the inter-
action between bulls and cows, I developed quite a respect for both sex’s
sense of vision and smell. One could argue that going cow elk hunting
those three seasons rather than staying home and just earning points helped
develop me as an elk hunter. So, word for the wise: Do whatever elk hunting
you can, even if that means chasing cows.

OUT OF TIME—TIME TO GO
OUT OF STATE
The longing to go after one of those impressive bulls just grew .
stronger with time. Building bonus points was good, but I knew it might
take 10 years or longer for me to draw a coveted Nevada bull elk tag.
One day, I was lamenting the fact that I wasn’t getting any younger and
it might take quite a number of years for me to get a Nevada bull tag. My
friend Mark Hueftle listened patiently before asking me why I had been
limiting myself to my home state.
I told him because of expense, and he basically laughed. He said not all
hunts are expensive, and many could be done successfully without a guide.
And plenty of western states had good elk draw odds for nonresidents.

Mark offered to help me research some nearby states and to apply along
with me. Over the next few weeks, Mark and I looked into hunting in
Arizona, Idaho, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming. Soon thereafter,
we applied for a few limited tags, and purchased an elk point in a few states
that allow you to do so.

Our research had identified some good draw odds for certain hunts in
Wyoming. In the end, we applied for a Wyoming general bull elk tag. Their
system for out-of-state general tags is by draw, but with a special twist. If
you paid the regular license/ tag (the cost at the time, 2005, was $493), but
if you were willing to pay nearly twice that at ($895), you were placed in a
“special” draw pool. The reality was that few hunters would be willing to
pay the higher fee, and therefore, the draw odds in that pool of hunters
would be better than the more numerous “regular” pool of hunters.
We ended up paying for the “special” and ended up getting tags.

WISH FULFILLED—NOW WHAT?
Not only did we each obtain a general-area tag, but one of Mark’s
friends, who had relocated to Cheyenne a few years before, was
about to be recruited. Soon, his buddy Bob Koehler, purchased an
over·the-counter tag too. One added benefit of Bob’s enlistment
was that, if we wanted to hunt in any of the designated wilderness
areas of Wyoming, law required you to have a resident
accompany you. Though we ended up not hunting in the wilderness areas,
Bob’s contacts in Wyoming helped us narrow down which general area to
hunt in the state.

Getting bull elk tags was just the start of our adventure. I knew that this
hunt was not going to be as easy as my broken-country cow elk hunts,
especially if the public area we picked was heavily hunted and heavily
timbered. Outlined below are the key activities we employed to narrow the
general areas down and to prepare for the hunt:

RESEARCH ONLINE AND
READ REPORTS
By using herd reports and differentiating the general area’s characteristics
and topography we were able to rule-out some areas. Neither Mark nor I
were fond of hunting in an area too populated by bears, and thus we
marked some bear areas off our list as soon as we found out.

SPEAK TO A GAME
DEPARTMENT BIOLOGIST
OR LOCAL CONTACT
Knowing we wouldn’t have a chance to scout the remaining areas,
we needed to get first-hand information. That meant person-to-person
contacts. Besides, talking with one of the biologists, we were able to have
Bob ask some of his friends in the state about a couple of different
hunting spots. This helped us narrow it down to just two places.

LEARN ABOUT ACCESS ROADS
BY USING MAPS
Whether online or hard-copy use maps to locate roads into the hunt
area. Vehicle closure areas and wilderness boundaries are very
important to identify before the hunt. We used some online topo map
services to review the areas and ended up making certain each hunter carried
a map of the area.

PREPARATION . . .
PREPARATION. . .
Gear preparation, clothing choices, practicing elk calling, exercising-
especially up hills—shooting up and down hills, travel plans, and almost
every facet of the trip needs to be planned out. Doing it yourself adds to
the fulfillment, but it takes some planning. Think about possible scenarios and bring the appropriate gear and some backup clothing. Due to my less—than-stellar directional aptitude, I brought along a GPS in addition to the compass and map.

READ THE DETAILS
By reading the regulations, we knew that our Wyoming “special”
general tag was really a rifle tag, but that by purchasing an archery permit
and paying, we would be able to hunt in the archery season. If we failed to
connect, we had the option of returning during rifle season.

ON TO THE HUNT
The sound was like a reverberating electric guitar as the arrow oscillated
back and forth, harmlessly embedded in the tree trunk. My dream of arrowing my first bull elk seemed to be vanishing as fast as the massive 6×6
and his harem showed up. Moments before, Bob Koehler and
I had split up to pursue different bands of bugling elk. Having more
than one band of elk within striking distance was a good problem to have
for sure. I had raced over the ridge in hope of intercepting that fast moving
herd that was working toward the thicker timber. Each time I heard a
bugle I could tell they were getting closer, and I needed to get in front of
them as quickly as possible.

Quickly I dropped down over the ridge into their projected path. I identified
a tree to crouch beside,
nocked an arrow, and tried to catch my breath. Moments later, the sound
of footsteps, mews and the shapes of sleek cow elk filtering through the
trees greeted me. My rangefinder read 39 yards. I knew the bull was close
behind and I had little time to prepare myself for his appearance.

Drawing my bow was effortless, and my confidence swelled as I
positioned my 40-yard pin on the walking bull. In a split second, the
massive form of a rutting bull totally filled the space in between two trees.
Still, something seemed wrong as I released the arrow. The bull had
stopped, but just as I let go he began walking again. My arrow missed and
struck a tree just behind the bull.

A sense of disappointment overpowered me like a thick fog. It
seemed like someone had just knocked the air out of me. Fortunately, a
thought crossed my mind: In videos, the callers all seem to call right after
the shot.
With very little faith, I reached down and grabbed the rubber
Hoochie Maina call hanging on my belt and gave it a push with my
thumb. The sound of the call had barely ended when a loud bugle
erupted just 25 yards away Looking through the pine needles to my left, I
could make out a large, tan body with dark legs, and I thought I could see
antlers. A whir of motion caught my attention as a smaller-bodied bull
trotted past while the other elk saw me and quickly vacated the area.

Satellite bulls, of course, I thought to myself I used the call again and
another enormous bugle erupted from the bull but this time at 10 yards! I
narrowed my eyes in hope that he wouldn’t see me through the tree cover
and wondered if he could hear my pounding heart. Time seemed to be
standing still as my emotions jumped back and forth between joy and {right.
The tree was the only thing between me and the bull, and he was
now peering through the branches trying to find the owner of that sweet
cow mew. Not seeing anything, the 6×5 stepped downhill to go around
the tree. I drew my Hoyt bow and swung my body around, just in time
to see his big body step out at 8 yards.

My 20- and 30-yard sight pins both appeared behind his shoulder
and I concentrated to hold them both behind his shoulder as I released. The
arrow was gone, and the bull raced away at break-neck speed. I finally
heard myself exhale and tried to follow the bull visually.

SUCCESS AT LAST
It took many minutes to collect myself, but finally I looked over and
saw the crimson-stained arrow buried in the ground just 20 yards from my
position. As different as the tree-embedded arrow was from this
reddened arrow, so were my emotions. The disappointment that was so real just a few moments before.

However, they were gone once I saw the bull approximately 600 yards
away on a rock shelf overlooking a beautiful creek. The sight of the 6×5
antlers gave me reason to pause. It is funny how a successful shot alters ones perception. Somehow, the landscape seemed different. The views of the
countryside seemed richer, more vibrant, even enchanting and heartwarming. I remember myself having a warm glow and I am sure I must have had a stupid grin on my face.

After packing the cape and backstraps back to camp, I found out
that Mark had connected on a bull too. With only the one day left to
hunt, I felt elated. “Thank you, God” is all I could say.

What a hunt. Earlier in the week, Bob had filled his mule deer tag on a
small buck. Then both Mark and I were able to connect with just one day
left. On our last day we called a nice bull to within 10 yards of Bob (that
almost walked over him) but he was pinned down and couldn’t get a shot
without spooking the bull. Unfortunately Mark and I made a costly
mistake thinking we should just hunker down and be quiet, rather
than try and turn the approaching bull with a soft mew. It cost Bob the shot.
and we learned an important lesson. Just because some bulls are call-shy,
this one was coming in to the calls and therefore the rule didn’t apply.

Subsequently the next year, we paid the regular general price and
failed to obtain a tag. We did, however, build a bonus point which, the
following year, allowed us all to draw tags once again, but this time in the
regular pool. Bob’s brother from California, Dave Kohler, got a tag along with us.

And so Dave, Mark, Bob and his brother, James, and I hit the slopes
about the middle of September. Within two days, Dave had arrowed
his first bull. Though it was a spike, he was elated. I missed a 6×6 on day six
at 54 yards, and on another day got surprised by a 5×5 that left me
without a shot. I had opportunities but ended up coming home empty
handed, but not without great memories.

Mark, on the other hand, passed on some smaller bulls early on and,
after a small snowstorm, arrowed a nice bull high up on a remote ridge.
Of course, as Murphys’ Law goes, the only two guys carrying real packs that
day were Dave and I. Mark used his very soft pack and did some MacGyver-like rigging to carry out the horns and backstraps.

BOTTOM LINE COSTS
In 2005, Wyoming general tag/license was $493. I spent nearly
twice that for the special tag/ license at $893. I believe the archery permit was
about $20. Above and beyond my normal food costs and gear, I figure I
spent approximately $1,200 total. This included my special tag, archery
permit and gasoline.

In 2007, the cost was lower. We each paid $591 for the general tag, and
about $900 each total for an entire 14-day trip. Now that} affordable do—it—
yourself elk hunting. My thanks go out to Mark Hueftle of Reno, Nevada,
and the Koehler brothers of Nevada, Wyoming and California. Let’s do it
again—very soon! <—<<

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Published by archerchick on 17 Sep 2010

How To Backpack A Deer The Safe Way – By Sam Fadala


Bow & Arrow August 1980
How To Backpack a Deer The Safe Way
By Sam Fadala

Ideally, we like to harvest our venison where some means of conveyance is in close proximity to the downed game, be that a vehicle a pickup truck or a willing mule ; however, many a deer must be brought out when the only “horse” around is the two-legged variety called Hunter.

Having spent many years in the Southwest before moving North, and taking a good number of Coues deer, the little whitetail buck that lives in Arizona’s rugged border mountains, I learned to take venison back to camp on my back. At first, when there were few hunters in the country, and I had not employed much common sense in the matter, I toted my venison right on my back. What a target that must have been.

Later, I got around to using my head along with my back, employing a packframe and cutting the really big bucks in two hunks, my partner taking half, I taking the other half; or leaving half to be picked up later if I had no help. Today, I still use the packframe method of taking a deer from a field to the campsite. And I still cut the really big animals in half, while carrying the smaller ones back in one piece.

Because I wanted the reader to see how the deer was situated on the packframe the photos do not reveal the bright orange cape that is tied over the animal before packing it in. In fact my son who is shown carrying the deer, his first packframe pack-out was told to remain only in that one small canyon , not revealing himself where he could be seen. Also we were on a private ranch, which cut down the chance of seeing another hunter.

However, the orange cape is always slipped over the venison before packing it back to the camp. The reader should be aware of this fact, and he never should carry anything that might make him a target.

Step one in safety, then , in backpacking the deer to camp is to disguise it’s shape so it appears to be anything but game. As suggested this is accomplished by covering it with an orange cape. Also it should be pointed out at this point that the packaged unit – the deer strapped to the packframe – is rectangular in shape, which helps break up its animal – looking outline.

Step two in the safety department is to carry only what is manageable. Size of the hunter has a lot to do with how much he can pack, but amazingly, I have seen some stout fellows crumble under the weight of a deer that goes only ninety pounds dressed. I imagine that certain muscles are not built for it, and I once witnessed a football coach who had been bragging for two days as to his physical prowess, turn absolutely crimson when he had to give up packing a small buck to camp.

The two men who were along were none too kind when the braggart stumbled for the tenth time and couldn’t get up under his ninety five-pound load. One of the fellows said, “Hey, why don’t you let me pack that to camp. There are two cold beers in the cooler- and I’d like to get one before it
gets hot.”

There is no shame in not being able to pack a heavy load to camp. But it
would be a shame to get a hernia. The hunter can tell what he is able to pack. Certainly he will feel the load as a heavy weight on his shoulders and
back, but he should also be able to walk a good distance with it before
having to rest. If there is a stretching, straining feeling in the groin, I would
suggest cutting the deer in two and packing one half at a time.
After the hunter has decided a safe load limit for himself, step three in
safety is to go slowly. The packframe should be adjusted for comfort, using
the waist belt and shoulder straps. If the deer has been cut in two, which is
accomplished after field dressing it by simply cutting through the vertebra
which marks the end of the loin and the beginning of the hams, and if the
tie-downs are firm, the load will ride remarkably well, shifting but little.

However, by going slowly there is less tendency to throw the load off balance.
Step tour in safety is never to jump down from so much as a small log
while packing the deer to camp. With such a load on tho back, even a hop
on a little hillock could strain the groin area. Stepping down slowly from
The back legs are drawn up in between the front legs, and the head tied back.
Once securely tied, the deer is transformed into a tight, easy to carry pack. any bump on the ground is the byword.

The final safety precaution is to use a walking stick. Any stick picked up
off the ground will help balance the hunter and take a lot of the weight off
his shoulders, by transferring it to the arm, arm-power aiding leg-power. I use
A Moses stick, a walking staff that can prevent a fall as well as being Leaned on.

Hunting with a backpack is no hindrance, I use a frame with a daypack slipped over lhe top bars. In dangerous country; where a storm can sock you in for days, I carry a Coleman five
pound tent, and a light sleeping bag tied to the frame. With the contents of
my daypack, I will last out a fairly fierce storm without becoming a statistic. My frame has a hook on its right side for attaching the rifle via its sling or a bow. Thus, l have both hands free,
but still can slip it off for use in a hurry, Finally, after game is taken, my
frame serves to,help me get that meat back to the vehicle.

A great advantage of hunting ,with
the packframe, I feel, is avoidance of bruising the meat. We live on our game
and perhaps,I have become overly critical of how to take care of meat. But after the game is dawn. I skin it out if the trip to the truck is a long one, then
I tie the meat, Sometimes all boned out, onto my frame. Or I use a large packsack to carry back the pure meat. When close to camp, I hurry to get the deer back where I can hang it and skin it,

Then I tie the whole animal. A half of a large deer, directly to the
frame. I do not drag the meat, bump it over Logs and rocks, drop it, slide it
down places, or use it as sled. The hunter who learns to go with a
packframe and tote his game out can transfer his learning to any big game
he might hunt. Boning out large game is a topic unto itself; however a great
deal of game meat can be packed from the woods with a large packsack, especially if the inedible parts are left behind.

The method of tying game to the frame is simple. With a small deer, the entire animal is placed on the pack in a vertical fashion. With stout nylon cord the one-fourth-inch size is strong
enough the deer is lashed to the frame. Its legs, still protrude from the
side of the frame and its head is not secured at this point.

Next, the legs are drawn together, back legs first. The two long back legs
are aligned with the right side of the packframe and tied down, but not before they are slipped between the two front legs. Now the two front legs are tied down and onto the back legs. The head is slipped back along the frame and secured. The cord is wrapped generously around the animal. It is easy to untie later, but a loose load will bring a lot of grief.

A couple of good wraps must be taken underneath the hams of the deer or it will slip right off the frame. In loading the frame onto the hunter, I like to sit down and get into the pack first. The belt is secured and then the hunter stands up, slowly and carefully to make sure of the load. In standing up, one man helps the other. I think getting behind the seated hunter and lifting under his arms is best, in order to help him gain his fee. In carrying the deer, if it is loaded properly, the hunter can sit on a log, rock or any other object as a chair for him whenever he needs a break. Again, in getting back to the feet, it is wise to have help.

Using the packframe method has a few advantages that one would not normally consider. I recall a deer taken on the second tag, does only being allowed for the second deer, with bucks closed season. The rancher was happy to let us back into the hunting land, because we assured him that we were not going to drive off the roads. When we produced our frames he nodded and opened the gate to the back forty for us.

Another time the roads were quite muddy and a rancher was not going to let us hunt antelope on his place. He figured, and rightly so, that running off the road to pick up game would leave ruts that he would have for a decade. When assured our frames would get meat back, and not our rut-making four-wheel-drive, he let us on his land.

We were lucky, for just as we made it back to our vehicle on the main road, having packed an antelope on the frame, the rancher was driving past. He stopped and waited for us, and even helped me slip the frame off.

“Hey, you guys really do pack your meat out on your backs,” he said and next time we wanted to get on his ranch we were welcome.

As long as all the safety measures are observed, packing game out via the frame is a good standby method, as well as mainline means of getting the bacon from the woods to the frying pan.
Hunting with the pack can take a hunter into nearly untouched country off the main roads, too.
And it has actually made some friends for us.

While being able to drive within reach of the downed game is nice, some conditions don’t allow this. It is handy to have an alternate method on hand. <—-<<

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Published by archerchick on 17 Sep 2010

DEER- The Big Game Hunter’s Favorite By Jim Dougherty


BOW & ARROW -AUGUST 1980
DEER
The Big Game Hunter’s Favorite
By Jim Dougherty

About A Million years ago, we’re told, a primitive deer drifted across the great land bridge that
joined Asia to the New World along with the early sheep and many others
of our current big game animals. Just as the sheep evolved into four distinct
races, that deer evolved into two distinct groups, continuing to subdivide
until the race slowly covered what is now North America.

Today their widespread geographic distribution has made the deer the most populous
big game animal on our continent. Biologically there are currently eleven classifications of
mule deer/blacktail and twenty-seven North American whitetail groups.

As a category deer are so plentiful that anyone with even a slight outdoor
notion has a good opportunity to see them in the wild, just about anywhere.
For the big game hunter they are made to order: plentiful numbers, easily accessible and
economically feasible. Most “big-game hunters” are deer hunters, period! Deer cause more
pulses to quicken, energy and dollars to be expended, stories to he told and shirttails to be
cut off than all other big game critters combined. No animal can be hunted successfully
in so many different ways or places, provide such a variety of fine eating, keep more
taxidermists in business or cause more folks to clutch up than a respectable ·deer, and
as far as l am concerned, they are all respectable.

To most folks, deer are deer. Percentage wise few of the total amount of deer hunters pursue
both mule deer `and Whitetail, fewer still hunt blacktails, and a goodly portion have never
heard of a Coues; the sprightly desert Whitetail, or the remote Sitka blacktail, all individual
categories of deer recognized by the Boone & Crockett and Pope & Young Clubs. They are
all deer to be sure, but each has his own distinct appearance, environmental requirements, habitat
preference and whims of nature and temperament geared to remind us frequently of our human frailties.

Whenever, wherever hunters gather to tell war stories the talk most often revolves around deer hunting.
As folks are inclined to do, making comparisons about the biggest, best, smartest or tastiest is the
direction a lot of these chattering elbow-bending sessions seem to take. To the easterner the whitetail
is king, nothing is sharper, more magnificent or tougher to hunt. By comparison he thinks the
mule deer is stupid, a big-eared clod that stands around in the open inviting termination.

Northwesterners make good cases for the secretive blacktail, a close cousin to the big-bodied Rocky
Mountain mule deer, a look-alike that runs somewhat smaller and favors the thick canyons of
Washington, Oregon and the northern portions of California.

How opinions that the mule deer is stupid come into being escape me. Any animal that has been around for
thousands upon thousands of years taking the worst that man and beast can throw at him, generally
increasing in the process, isn’t stupid. The hunter who claims he is hasn’t hunted him overly much and has
been lucky when he did.

Each of the most huntable three —whitetail, mule deer and blacktail —- is a special product of its environment.
The mule deer ranges over relatively open country covering some distance from Summer to Winter while the
whitetail lives and dies in a closer, more intimate relationship with its home ground. The mule deer is easier
to locate visually than the whitetail be- cause of his living quarters, but the pattern of a whitetail buck can be
determined with a great deal of exactness. A hunter can pinpoint where he will be, sooner or later, yet not
actually see him aforehand. l am of the opinion that deer are deer when it comes time to hunt them,
and that strategies should be based on the country, time of year and weather rather than the animal’s supposed
intelligence level.

lf the whitetail is smarter than the blacktail, so be it. The blacktail is still going to be at the very top or the very
bottom of the area l plan to hunt, while the whitetail is going to be running some flat land somewhere.
l have found it quite difficult to stalk whitetails. I think this is as much because the country I have hunted
them in has not lent itself to stalking as for any other reason. Most whitetail hunting, done in the Fall when the
leaves are knee deep and noisy, when the woods are nearly bare so as to reduce cover, is not as conducive to
stalking as the aspen patches of a Colorado August.

Certainly there are exceptions. Deer are found most every-where and whitetails live in a lot of swell places
for the stalking bowhunter, but most of them do not. l have hunted mule deer in the desert, where the cover was mesquite
and greasewood and the ground sun-baked sand, where there were so few rocky areas that the deer hooves did
not wear down and they pranced about on toes that grew for inches and curled up like slippers on an elf.

You didn’t take up the trail and stalk muleys in that stuff, you laid in wait for them, like most whitetail hunters
do. The similarities between mule deer`and blacktails are many. In appearance they differ little. Blacktails are
generally smaller than the Rocky Mountain mule deer but not much different than a good many of the mule deer
subspecies whose ranges adjoin theirs. The Pacific Coast and Inyo mule deer that I cut most of my teeth on are small
deer, a big one dressing around llO pounds f`or the coastal type or some-what bigger inland. They are dark in
color with prominent markings.

Because the range of the mule deer has been expanding, the legitimate blacktail boundaries have been
changed from time to time by the record—keeping bodies to insure that sufficient separation is maintained for
purity’s sake. They will interbreed. While the blacktail is most often a small deer, as one moves further up the
coast they tend to get somewhat larger.

Most of my blacktail hunting has been done in California and lower Oregon. I have found that they can be
hunted, for the most part, just as I would hunt muleys in Colorado or Arizona, with a lot of looking and then
stalking in the more open range. In the West bowhunting for deer starts early in the year, as early as mid-
July in some places.

Colorado bowhunting, however, starts in August and most western bowhunting seasons are in full swing
by the first of September. What a hunter experiences at that time of year is a far cry from what he
is used to if he’s a whitetailer born and bred from the eastern shore. He’s hunting big bucks traveling together,
most still carrying racks in full velvet and spending a good deal of time in the open. They are creatures of the
high lonesome, coming off a hard Winter and a Summer of plenty. Their temperament is that of a gentleman
that would like to spend the summer taking things easy.

Take care that this impression does not lull you into a false sense of security. Check back with him in November
if you care to take notes on personality adjustments. I have spent many summer months with whitetails, and
their metabolism and attitude are much different from what it will be when the first frost of Fall lays its carpet.
In fact they act surprisingly like a mule deer during the same period of time. They’ll be harder to locate because
they frequent a closer environment, but when you do find them they most often will be in the company of
others, taking things easy and sunning their headgear as it matures It’s the quiet time for the whitetail, as it is
the muley, days away from the changing weather that will stir in him the inbred knowledge that life will change
and times will get tougher.

When it comes to hunting the three I have definite preferences. For the whitetails I enjoy the game of figuring
out where they will be and setting up for them. I have found that, for me, in most cases still hunting or stalking is
not as effective. I will see a good many deer on these jaunts — southern ends of northbound beasts — but I will not
bring many to bag. I do not think it is because I am inadequate as a still hunter. I think it’s because the country
during that time of year is against me. I’m inclined to see the whitetail as a more explosive critter, less inclined to
stand about when anything signals danger, but I have seen a fair share of them that must have been suicidal.

I recall a buck, one of the few that I have still hunted that let me shoot one over, under and right through. He
seemed quite interested in the affair – well, up to a point. My son, Kelly, nailed his last buck under conditions not
normally associated with whitetail behavior. Kelly shot his first arrow at forty yards and his last, the fourth, at
ten feet. Locating a good buck and putting a stalk on him is about as much fun as my heart can stand. It is my favorite
way of hunting mule deer and black-tails, easing slowly through the country in keeping with normal movement patterns,
stopping frequently to carefully look things over. It’s a challenge worthy of any bowhunter taking advantage of the
high ground and looking for hour upon hour, searching out the pockets where the bucks feed, putting them to bed
and trying to come up with a stalk.

Most blacktail/muley country allows this type of hunting. The ground cover is right for careful footwork, there is cover to
hide in, get behind, and use for your approach. The bottom line for all deer is the same: those last few steps of
yours, moving in for a shot — or those last few steps of his as he comes to the stand. That’s when the chips are down
and the hand gets played. No matter how it comes out, you’re a lot better off for having been in the garne.

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Published by archerchick on 07 Sep 2010

Mount It With Pride – By Cheri Elliott


Bow & Arrow October 1980
Mount It With Pride By Cheri Elliott

For the bowhunter who has bagged
a quality animal, mounting it is a natural tendency.
But who to trust with the mounting? Will the task be done
well? Will it hold up well? Why does it take so long to get the mount back
home and on the wall? These and many more questions plague the bow-
hunter who has his first animal mounted. To find some practical, realistic
answers we went to one of the nations top taxidermists, Bob Snow.
Snow offers a complete line of taxidermy services to both individuals and
other taxidermists.

How long does it normally take from the time a hunter brings in his animal,
until he receives it back, completed? Well, it runs about eight to ten months.
The biggest chunk of that time period is spent at the tannery. One good,
reputable tannery for taxidermy purposes is New Method Fur Dressing in
San Francisco, California.

Don’t get me wrong. There are a lot of excellent fur dressers in the New
York area, for instance, that cater to the fur industry, but for taxidermy
purposes New Method is really good. There are also some bad tanneries
around. And the problem here is that if a taxidermist uses them, and he gets
skins back from then that are not tanned or not properly taken care of, then the
life expectancy of the mount is much shorter. It won’t last as long.
In some cases I might hold on to a tanned skin for as long as a couple of
years before I use it on a mount. At the tannery they use a lot of acids in the tanning solutions,
and they must get them well neutralized.

When we get the skin back we have to soak it in water before we can
mount it. lf we put that skin in the water and the acid is still working on
it, the skin will just deteriorate. It will fall apart — just as would happen to
your clothes if you should get battery acid on them.
The skins we get back from New Method are clean, and it’s obviously a
really professional tanning, but they run six to seven months behind in
their tanning orders. So once we skin a mount, salt it and dry it we ship it to
the tannery. Then it’s a six month or so delay while we wait to get it back.
Once it’s back, l have to give myself a month to get the thing mounted. It
has to be mounted onto a form, and must be wet at this stage. Then it has
to hang and dry for a week or two. Then the pins and so forth are pulled
out of it, and it’s filled in and finished up.

Keep in mind that all good taxidermists are backlogged. lf you go to one
and he tells you he can have it out in a couple of weeks, it’s time to question
his skills. There are cases where we will send skins in on a rush tanning order, but
then it costs fifty percent extra in tanning fees. And even at that it takes
three to four months to get it back.

What is the “tanning process”? There are different methods used in doing it,
but generally the skins arrive at the tannery salted and dry. They then are put in a vat of a specific chemical formula and soaked for a specific period of time, When pulled out
of the vats, they are put over a fleshing beam, and are fleshed down by hand
to get the meat or tat particles off of them. They are placed on machines
that thin the leather down, Then they are put into a big tumbler and tumbled
until almost dry, oiled with a tanning oil, and put back in the tumbler until thoroughly dried.

lt’s a good process, but it’s also expensive. For a person who wants to do tanning at home,
it is often too time consuming. That’s the reason most of us use a commercial tannery
instead of doing it ourselves. My costs from a tannery on a deer skin might be only $10.
But if I did it myself, I’d probably have to work on it a day and a half, and the cost would
have to go way up. Why does the hair of one animal fall out, but not so on another animal?

Generally there are several things that might have caused hair to fall out.
It could be because the skin was an unprimed skin, or because it was improperly taken care of somewhere along the line. It’s possible that the tannery did it, but the biggest possibility is that somebody before the tannery didn’t properly take care of the skin.

What does “unprimed” mean? The skin of an animal that is not primed has new hair growing out of it. If you skin an animal and you look at it on the inside you might see an unprimed area, Bears, for instance, are the easiest. to recognize. The hair Comes all the way through the skin,
and the roots of it are on the back side of the leather. When the tannery begins to flesh it down, they’ll knock the ends of that hair off. Then there’s nothing to hold the hairs into the skin.

When an animal’s hair grows out to full coat the hair roots are closer to the outside of the skin, and when it is fleshed down it will not bother the roots. What about the other possibilities you
mentioned? It’s possible that the skin was close to spoiling when it got to the tannery, or when it was salted or taken care of and has already started to rot or deteriorate. That skin will be weak. and hair slippage is likely, There is no way to stop it once the hair starts slipping, especially if the skin is already tanned.

Ninety percent of the time if it’s a problem of neglect, it’s on the part of the person who originally got the skin, the hunter. He’s inexperienced and doesn’t know how to take care of it.
He thinks he’s done the right thing, but he really hasn’t. That’s where they go bad, and that’s where you’re apt to have the most problems with them. If a hunter lets the skin lie in the
camp for a day or two, or a few hours even in the hot sun, it starts to deteriorate. He puts salt on it to dry it up, and it looks good to him. But it’s already started to deteriorate, When the tannery starts to process it, they put it through their chemical solution and they wet it, Because it’s already started to deteriorate, in that half-hour or so that it sits there wet, without any
chemicals on it, the hair begins slipping. It’s hard to say exactly, but it could
be caused by sunlight, or if it was not properly neutralized in tanning it also will deteriorate slowly.

Why would a skin crack? Generally this is caused by older methods of tanning. Rather than
having them actually tanned, a lot of people used to pickle their skins in a salt brine solution. When these skins are exposed to temperature changes, they have a tendency to dry out and .
shrink, They may shrink a little bit at a time over a ten year period. As the skin shrinks, it cracks. That`s why tanning is such an important part of the process, and well worth waiting for.
If it`s done properly, then the life of the mount, will be longer.

What is the “life” of a mount? Well, it depends on the care taken
of it and everything, but they should last longer than we do, I’ve seen a lot
of mounts around that have been here fifty years, and they still look good.
Dirt and sunlight are the two biggest enemies of the mount that there is.
So if you can keep your mount halfway clean, and away from grease or whatever,
and dust them off once in a while, perhaps vacuum them or brush them, they
should last a long time.

The ultraviolet light of the sun will actually deteriorate the leather, and fade it as well. A lot of heat is not really good for a mount either. That’s why they store fur coats in cold storage. Mounted animals are essentially the same. You can brighten a mount up and make it look fresh again by allowing your taxidermist to touch up the paint and eyes. It’s a good idea to ask him
how to care for your mount when you go to pick it up.

An even better idea is to go into that taxidermist’s shop before you go hunting. Let him tell you how to care for the animal when you get it, and how to prepare it. lf you do that, you’re certain to make his job a lot easier, and the mount you receive will be one in which you can take deserving pride for years to come!

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Published by archerchick on 07 Sep 2010

BEARS – BOW & ARROW Ready Reference File


BOW & ARROW – OCTOBER 1980

BEARS – A REFERENCE

INTRODUCTION
Bears — Black, Kodiak, Grizzly or Polar — can
be found throughout the United States, and are
often sought out as a prized trophy. By
definition the bear is any of a family of large
heavy mammals with long shaggy hair, a
rudimentary tail and flat-walking feet. When it
walks, the entire surface of a bear’s foot will
touch the ground, making a large, wide—spread
print, perhaps four inches across. Regardless of
the type, bears do not generally seek out
human beings, and are most adept at avoiding
us. The majority of bears killed are chance
encounters.
Although the various types of bear will differ
in color and specific physical characteristics,
there are some generalities about each of them.
All will have muzzle-shaped heads, their jaws
and nose projecting outward. All have
extremely small eyes in comparison to their
overall size, small ears and large claws.
A/though normally slow in gait, they can
display sudden bursts of speed. All tend to be
nocturnal in nature.
The male bear is called a boar, the female a
sow

SENSORY AND PHYSICAL CAPABILITIES

Black Bear —
While most
sources indicate that the black bear has poor
vision, others state they have good eye- sight. All seem to agree
that their hearing and
sense of smell are excellent. They are also highly intelligent.
Smaller than the brown bear, the black bear is also more widespread.
They come in a variety of colors. Highly agile, they can scurry up a tree with
little effort. Top weight of a black bear is around 600 pounds. Their head is
smaller and narrower than that of their relatives, the grizzlies, and there is no
prominent shoulder hump. Their claws are shorter, more curved, and razor-sharp
for tree climbing. Although generally considered as not dangerous to man, a
black bear can easily kill a hunter, especially if cornered, wounded or threatened.

Grizzly Bear —
Termed grizzly because of the white—tipped hairs which give it
a streaked or grizzled appearance, the grizzly may reach weights of perhaps 1000
pounds. Eyesight is believed to be fairly poor, particularly when viewing stationary
objects, but its sense of smell and hearing are excellent. The grizzly is intelligent,
bold, cautious and self confident, and is considered one of the two most
dangerous animals in North America, sharing that position with the polar bear.
Normally avoiding humans, a female bear can charge suddenly if her cubs are
threatened, and is said to be able to out-run a horse for brief distances.

Kodiak Bear —
Largest of all the brown bears the Kodiak or Big Brown of Alaskan
coasts may stand over ten feet tall when on its hind legs, and can
weigh as much as 1500 pounds. Despite its bulk, the Kodiak generally
shies away from man, preferring to escape rather than fight. lt has poor
vision, but excellent hearing and scent capabilities.

Polar Bear —
Although there is currently a moratorium on hunting polar bears, the
animal is still one to consider. The largest meat eating hunter on earth, it is an
excellent swimmer. Front paws, webbed to perhaps half the length of the toes, are
capable of propelling the polar bear through one hundred yards of water in
thirty-three seconds. A mature polar bear may weigh as much as 1000 pounds or
more, and may offer a paw span of twelve to fourteen inches. Its ivory-white coat
gives it a nearly perfect camouflage. Covering its eyes and nose with its forepaw
it becomes totally camouflaged, resembling another ridge or snowdrift. The
polar bears’ greatest enemy is the walrus, which, in a one-on-one fight would
generally win out by goring the bear with its lengthy tusks.

HABITAT

Black Bear — Can be found throughout the United States, but the greatest
concentration are in the Canadian provinces of Ontario, Saskatchewan and
British Columbia. Prime areas within the United States are Alaska,
Washington, Colorado and Michigan, Preferred terrain is forested, with
dense bedding and hiding thickets, adequate watering areas and occasional
open spaces containing fruits and grasses.

Grizzly Bear –Found chiefly in Alaska and Canada, although there are still
some in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.

Kodiak Bear — Also known as the Alaskan brown bear, is found along the
lower Alaskan coasts, where food supply is more varied and abundant than
that available to the inland grizzly.

Polar Bear —— Found throughout the northern Arctic regions.

FOOD SOURCES
General — Bear diet may include mice, bird eggs and insects. Classed as carnivores they also eat a substantial amount of
vegetation. Berries and nuts are a favorite, as is honey. Bears consume ten to twelve quarts of water daily.
Black Bear — More than three quarters of their diet is vegetation, augmented by fruits and grasses. Frequently the cause of frantic
moments in hunting camps, black bears enjoy raiding garbage dumps and campsites. If necessary, they will even eat the bark off
trees.
Grizzly — The Northwestern salmon streams and the high berry patches near them are prime spots for grizzly. They also prefer
grapes, acorns, nuts, aspen leaves and twigs, pine seeds. They will kill small game, and occasionally big-game animals, eat their fill
and then bury the remainder of the animal to feed on at a later time.
Kodiak -— Said to eat anything from blueberries to beached whale carcasses, the Kodiak is especially fond of salmon.
Polar Bears — A polar bear may consume as much as fifteen to fifty pounds of meat in one sitting.It’s favorite foodstuff is seal
meat, but also feeds on fish, berries, carrion and some plant life.

MATING AND HIBERNATION
Facts You May Not Have Known:
1. Spring is the normal mating season for bears.
2. Browns, American black bears and polar bears possess a unique
capability termed “delayed implantation” — a mechanism which
allows them to actually turn-off their reproduction cycle until
the sow has fattened herself sufficiently to allow for proper
growth of the fertilized eggs. At that point the eggs will begin to
grow, normally some time during the Fall.
3. Bear cubs normally number two or three, rarely four or a single
cub. The cubs are born during the hibernation period, sometime
during late January or February.
4. Bear cubs will stay with their mother for one to two years, or
until such time as she decides to mate once again.
5. Bear cubs are born blind.
6. Perhaps one of the greatest threats to a cub comes from the male
bear, or boar, which has been known to kill an interfering
youngster.
7. Substitute mothering is not uncommon for cubs who have
temporarily lost their true mother. If the mother does not
return, the foster parent may simply keep the cub with her as a
part of her family.
8. Normally inclined to avoid humans, the surest way to incur the
devastating wrath of a sow bear is to threaten her young.

DID YOU KNOW?
The early-style igloos of the Eskimos were probably fashioned
after the dens of the polar bear. During October the sow will seek a
den for giving birth and sleeping out the winter storms. Generally
the den is fashioned by carving and packing an entrance passage and
rounded inner chamber in the side of a slope, resulting in the
igloo-shaped sanctuary. Through the top of the chamber the sow
will punch a small hole to allow for ventilation. Dependent on
outside weather conditions she will either enlarge or reduce the size
of the hole to control the den is inside temperature.

HUNTING TlPS
General — There are three basic methods of hunting bear: stalking, with bait and with dogs.
Of the three stalking is the least successful. Most encounters with bear are chance
encounters, however a bear that is being pursued will almost always return to the
original site of the chase. A pair of quality binoculars, seven-power or eight-power, is
essential, to allow for a successful approach. Opportunities for a second shot are very rare.

Black Bear — Baiting is the most successful form of black bear hunting. Although they can
be stalked, it requires a highly skillful bowhunter to do so. Their hearing and scent
capabilities are extremely good. While garbage dumps and trash deposits are a good place to
look for black bear, so are berry patches during late Summer. A bowhunter who chooses to
hunt bears by baiting must be prepared to accept and withstand the hazards of such a
system — mosquitos and flies in overwhelming numbers. Look for bear signs. A black bear will
tear stumps apart in its search for beetles and bugs. Streams are another area to concentrate
on.

Grizzly Bear — The best time to hunt grizzly is during the salmon spawning runs. Look for
fresh droppings and partially eaten salmon. Tree stand bowhunting is especially effective
for the grizzly. They can also be hunted from a canoe. Never shoot uphill at a bear. lf hit, it
will invariably run downhill. September is an excellent month to hunt grizzly, as their coats
are at their finest. lf you hear sounds that would indicate a grizzly is near — grunting,
coughing, low woofing — be prepared for attack. Look to a nearby tree.

Kodiak Bear — Either baiting or stalking can prove fruitful, provided you know where to look. Concentrate on beaches and river banks. Springtime is the best time of year to hunt the
Kodiak, when its pelt is in prime condition. A good guide can be your greatest asset.

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Published by archerchick on 07 Sep 2010

Allen Sharpshooter – By Cheri Elliott


BOW & ARROW – OCTOBER 1980

BOW TEST: Affordable Compound
ALLEN SHARPSHOOTER – By Cheri Elliott

BEAUTIFUL is not a word one is apt to use in
describing the latest of Allen compound bows, the
Sharpshooter. ln fact, “plain” might be much more
accurate. But this bow was not intended to dazzle us with
its swirls of highly glossed maple or brilliant heat-cured
color, all of which make any bow much more appealing to
the eye, but doubtfully adds anything to bow performance.
The Allen Sharpshooter, as its manufacturers readily
admit, is a utility bow: an inexpensive yet highly functional
compound that offers the archer new to bowhunting the
opportunity to try hunting with a compound at an
affordable price, and still get the performance he requires if
he is to remain in bowhunting. Allen offers the bow as a
possible answer to the great monster: inflation.
Just how good that answer might be and how much
performance the Sharpshooter could provide was a question
we wanted to answer for ourselves, and we eagerly awaited
the arrival of the Sharpshooter at our BOW & ARROW
offices.

First, we would consider physical makeup. Removed
from its packing box, we were immediately aware of two
major characteristics of the Sharpshooter -~ it was a
two-wheeler, and it was light, weighing less than three
pounds total (two pounds fifteen ounces to be exact). lt
was also black, from limb tip to tip, the only color variation
being in the two hanger brackets, cast of lightweight
aluminum, the four silver—colored S-hooks used to attach
the cables and bowstring and the gray cables, themselves.
From the instructions that accompanied the bow, we also
learned that the black textured vinyl finish of the riser
actually covered a wood handle of hard maple; limbs are of
all-glass lamination. It didn’t take but a quick glance to
notice something else about those glass limbs A they were
extremely thin, measuring 5/16—inch deep, l3/16-inch wide.
Available in draw length of 27-29 and 29-31 inches, and in
draw weights of either fifty or sixty pounds, our test bow
arrived at 29-31 inches and fifty pounds. lt also arrived
with a cable guard, included with each Sharpshooter.
Without the guard fletch clearance was non-existent. With it
the clearance was said to measure three-eighths-inch. We
would see, but first we had to mount the cable guard, a
process that required little more than an electric drill and a
screwdriver, plus the understanding of some unique
instructions.

“Measure the vertical distance from your anchor point
to the center of your eye,” the instructions began, going on
to explain that this measurement would serve to position
the cable guard to your specific needs. We would have to
admit to some doubts about the effectiveness of the
system, but were pleasantly surprised to learn less than
fifteen minutes later that the system had worked well,
indeed. We came up with a three-quarter—inch measured
clearance between the shaft and the cables, more than
enough to handle any arrow we might choose to shoot.
Incidentally, Allen has included an integral sight into the
cable guard, allowing for placement of up to four sight pins,
all included in the package, and is a product of S&N
Machine in Sapulpa,Oklahoma.
Also included with the Sharpshooter is a Hoyt Flex—rest.
mounted to the riser before shipping. There was little else
that had to be done to the bow before shooting, other than
the addition of a string nocking point which, again. took
little effort or expense.

We began our actual testing by flinging some arrows at
unmarked distances, looking for flight characteristics more
than anything else. Throughout our testing we would use
the portable forty-eight-inch Promat, a durable yet
convenient target mat that features a woven backstop and
self-sealing screens. During the testing we would also be
using six different shaft materials: Easton’s XX75s, sized
1816; Dougherty Naturals, also made by Easton. but sized
2016; Gordon’s Graphlex, a fiberglass/carbon combination;
the lightweight Lamiglas; the newer Gilmore fiberglass; and
the traditional cedar shafts.
An initial round of two arrows of each type gave
excellent flight with all arrows. but nearly every arrow had
entered the Promat nock-high, lt appeared we’d set my
nocking point too high. A quick adjustment and the
problem was solved.


lt was time to do a little speed testing using a device
known as an Arrometer, manufactured by Micro Motion,
Incorporated. The Arrometer measures speed in feet per
second (fps) and allows for individual length adjustments
for each arrow to within one-tenth inch. We would be
shooting six arrows of each shaft material, half of which
would be fletched with vanes, the other half with feathers.
All feathers and vanes were of the same size and
manufacture to assure comparative consistency.
We began with the Easton 1816 GameGetters, measuring
31.1 inches from knock tip to point. With vanes we reached
speeds of 187.42 fps; with feathers the speed increased to
191.92 fps. For the Dougherty Natural, the speeds were
considerably less, due to the increase in arrow weight
between the two shafts. The average weight for the Easton
had been 426.9 grains; for the Dougherty it averaged
492.87 grains, or about fifteen percent heavier. The
Dougherty Naturals registered an average speed of 177.25
fps when fletched with vanes; 180.33 fps with feathers.
Gordon’s Graphlex arrow is a little lighter than the
Natural, weighing an average 486.27 grains, and thus
showed an increased average speed of 179.25 fps with
vanes, 183.67 with feathers. For the wood arrow speeds
reached 176 fps when vaned; 180.42 with feathers; and for
the heaviest arrow shaft, the Gilmore, speeds registered
168.75 fps with vanes; 172.42 fps with feathers. With vanes
the Gilmores had averaged 542.1 grains, far heavier than
any of the other arrow materials.

The lightweight arrow among the bunch — the Lamiglas
showed the expected greatest arrow speed, reaching
188.5 fps on the average with vanes, 192.0 fps with
feathers. Total speed variations between the slowest and
fastest arrow was but less than 20 fps and, as previously
mentioned, all arrows flew very well, coming as close to our
target destination as we could hope they might.

Because there are as many bowhunters who consider
penetration as the prime capability of a bow as there are
those who swear by speed, we next turned our attention to
penetration abilities of the Sharpshooter. Once again we
used a familiar target: Ethafoam, a two—pound density
polyethylene that is both strong and durable. By combining
four thicknesses of the Ethafoam, each 2% inches thick, we
were able to obtain measurable penetration from each shaft
material without total penetration of any. Those who
bemoaned the speed reading from the Gilmore shaft can
take heart in the comparable penetration capabilities. The
Gilmores penetrated an average of 2.145 inches. In
comparison, the lightweight, faster Lamiglas measured an
average 0.156 inch. Just how these capabilities would
effect actual bowhunting could only be determined by
bowhunting. Unfortunately someone had alerted the only
legal game available, and we could find nothing save a lizard
to shoot toward, and who would eat a lizard?

Consequently, the true test of the Sharpshooter in the
field, against rabbit or deer, will have to wait until another
time. But we’d shot the bow enough to know that it did
shoot well. Speed was sufficient, it was certainly simple to
set-up and shoot, and it was inexpensive. And in today’s
current economic situation, perhaps that is really the name
of the game. <—<<

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Published by archerchick on 07 Sep 2010

Bowhunting The Biggest Grouse – By Sam Fadala


BOW & ARROW – OCTOBER 1980

Bowhunting The Biggest Grouse – By Sam Fadala

RAIN WAS NOT in the forecast. But the minute my brother
Nick and I discussed limbering up our bows and putting some
sage hens in the pot, we were greeted by a deluge from the
skies. We climbed into the four-wheel—drive anyway, as the sky
crackled with lightning and clouds as grim as a tornado funnel moved
in.

“Aw, don’t worry about it,” I assured Nick. “It’ll clear up. The
weatherman says so.” As I expounded on my theories, Nick carefully
wrapped plastic sheeting around his camera. Being a non—resident, and
never having hunted the sage grouse, he was hedging his bets. If there
were no birds around, he would save the day by shooting some hopefully
worthwhile film.
“Some of the best pictures I’ve ever taken were in lousy weather,”
Nick lectured, showing his great confidence in my
assurance that the rain would stop. “I don’t know why people put their
cameras away when the thunder-storms start up.” He pointed to two horses
standing close in a field, a dark sky behind them.
“That’s what I mean.”

Water buffalo aren’t always found around water.
Rock- chucks aren’t always in the rocks. Mountain lions
are not always in the mountains. But more likely than not, sage hens
are in the sage. And we had an area of literally thousands of acres of the fragrant
weed all to ourselves. The rain had something to do with it, certainly, but after
the opening day or two of sage grouse season, there is usually scant
activity, and this was the middle of the week.

We got our birds. And l was lucky enough to take mine as they
walked in the brush twenty and thirty yards away, both on the move
and using only one arrow on each. l was proud. I sure had missed
some good opportunities a few days earlier. lf the rain had continued
as a downpour, I doubt that we would have had much luck, but it
dwindled down to a friendly spattering of droplets and for bowhunting,
that was not so bad. The birds held terribly tight to their
foliage cover, and we knew they would, so we looked hard, moving
slowly. And when we did find our covey, the sage grouse moved away
at a walk instead of flying. They don’t like to fly in the wet.
Sage hens are the largest grouse in the country. Records show a
huge male bird that weighed in at eight pounds, but this is rare, sort of
like the whitetail deer that dressed over 350 pounds. A fine male will
go five pounds, however, and I have taken a couple of sixes. The lady birds
don’t weigh that much, tipping the scales at about three pounds usually,
and often even less. After hunting quail—size birds, it is almost a shock to
have a limit of only two to three sage grouse in your game jacket. They feel
like several limits of smaller birds. But size alone is not the main reason for
hunting the sage grouse. Sure, it’s fun to get such a large-winged treat as this
creature is, but there is much more to the chase than that. I like the country.

It is not difficult terrain, and it is relaxing to pad along through the
flatlands. Sometimes, the tall sage can be tough to negotiate, but most sage-
brush country is rolling or even flat, and there are many little trails through
it. Often, these birds will demand a good deal of walking, but walking in such
gentle territory is no problem; certainly nothing like chasing chukars.
The sage hen is also fun to hunt because the season generally comes in
early Fall, a hospitable time of the year in all of the sage hen states. Usually,
it does not rain. Usually, the sun is out. And our rainy trek was a rare one.
I have hunted the hens quite a number of times, but only twice has
Old Man Thunder roared at me.And I like the nature of the bird
itself. It is plenty of challenge, especially for an archer. But it runs in
good-sized coveys and when that bevy of birds is broken up, there is still
hope of closing the gap on the bunch and taking a couple birds out of it.

The sage hen is depleted by bad weather, especially by rain during the time
when the chicks are newborn, and naturally the varmints work on them.
The badger is rough on nests, and so is the skunk. All in all, it makes sense to
harvest these birds, and game departments know this. Since the largest
range of the sage hen habitat has become city, farmland and civilized in other ways,
there are no vast coveys left over all of the West, but there are still many, many
terrific locales left to hunt. If the hunter does not harvest his fair share, nature will.
The birds get up early, but they are sort of like me, rising from bed at a decent hour,
but groping around until the blood begins to flow in the veins and the eyeballs can focus.
So, for the first hour or so of the morning, in the dimly lit part of the day. activity is
minimal. Then, when the sun is fully above the horizon and beaming its
friendly warmth into the earth, the sage hens stroll to the waterhole. That
waterhole can be a key hunk of geography for the sage bird hunter, especially if
he is toting the bow and arrow, for the birds can be intercepted along
the trail and a nice close standing shot is possible.
Some folks reading this can probably down a sage hen in flight. If I ever
do it, I am going to mount the bird, save the arrow, enshrine the bow in a
glass case and give myself a tall trophy, There is little chance that this will ever
happen, however. The bird is a strong flier, but he prefers to walk. And when
I get one perambulating through the brush, I’m pretty happy about it.
Knowing the birds like that early morning drink, it is wise to stay around that
waterhole located before the hunt – the pond that had the big bird tracks
around it — and look.

Here it comes again. I know people get tired of my praising binoculars, but they
work and I want other hunters to have success, so I always suggest the glass.
(No, I do not own a binocular company.) From any swell in the earth
that can serve as a vantage point, I will search all around the waterhole for the
incoming birds. The territory I cover optically is large, as far as I can see.
Should the birds be spotted, I try to head them off. A stationary bowman is
not going to frighten the sage grouse. But move too much, and the
whole covey is liable to burst into the air and away. In the early part of the
season, an archer need not be all that careful, and I have walked up to first-
day birds as if they were semi—tame. Two days later, the same flocks are
rising from cover a hundred, two hundred yards out. They normally lift
straight up, and a really good archer should be able to nail a bird at that
point, when it is sort of stopped in space, as it were, before leveling out.

They are not the world’s fastest flier, but neither are they slow. And once
the full head of steam is up and they are really in flight, an archer is going
to have to be Howard Hill good in order to slip an arrow through one.
I actually did — and this should be in Ripley ’s Believe It Or Not — take one bird
out of the air. But I would hardly claim it as a great shot. The big male
was just coming up and preparing to level out and it was about ninety per—
cent luck that I let go of the arrow just at that precise moment. In fact, luck
was probably ninety—nine percent responsible.

If the birds do jump from under-foot and wing out over the flats, I always watch
them as carefully as possible. Not to be a broken record, but the
glass can come in very handy again. I don’t always tote the specs, but when
I have them along, I never regret it, for the landing site of the bird can be
picked out. And this is the key — pick out some object near the landing site
so that you arrive at the right place. I have watched a covey land, and then
had a tough time finding the exact place because I forgot to pick out a
mark to guide me.

The birds are usually not exactly where they came down, but the archer
should get to the spot as rapidly as possible and then scout around slowly.
Another trick to keep in mind is to search the ground when the flock
takes off, be it the first jump or the second, for often a few stragglers are
behind and these can be nailed as they walk off.
After getting water, food is next on the list, and food to the sage hen is,
not surprisingly, sage. They love the
leaves and blossoms. This is high-energy food, by the way, and in some
places elk, moose and deer, as well as the ever-present antelope of the sage-
brush plains, would be hurt badly by the depletion or removal of sagebrush,
especially when the dead of Winter has set in. After looking around the
waterhole, if no luck is granted me, I’ll shovel off and pace out the sagebrush.
This means a leisurely stroll, not a high speed chase. The birds feed slowly, too,
and a patient archer can stroll right into the middle of a covey and take his pick
of the big ones.

If the birds are on the spooky side, it is not rare to have to stalk them
with great care. Sage hens have all of the normal attributes of the avian
world — they are none too bright, but they can see like, well, like birds ~
hawks, owls and the like, and they can hear well, too. But they will often let a
hunter approach closely, if he goes slowly and if they have not been
chased over the landscape by too many people.

The big thing is seeing the hens, for they have the finest camouflage any
creature could ask for — neutral gray coloring. Around sage, they blend
right in, and even in greenery they are none to easy to see unless they move.
Naturally, when a whole flock stands out on an open hillside, they can be
sighted, but I have found a large covey, upward of forty birds, right on
the flats. They should have stood out like a cocktail gown on a heavyweight
boxer, but I did not spot the crowd of birds until one moved.

The archer who plans for sage hens should, I feel, tote along the same bow
that he would use for big game. Why? Well, certainly not for the power.
These soft—feathered birds are not very hard to put down, and my experience
with a broadhead is to have the bird flop over as if struck by a rifle. But by
using the big-game bow, a good thing happens — practice for big game is
assured. The hunter has a chance to get in some shooting at game, under
outdoor conditions, pulling the weight he will pull in the field.

I use my standard hunting bow set at its standard draw weight for my
sage grouse hunting. And I have used many kinds of arrows. I have no preference here,
as long as the arrow shoots in the bow. I do insist upon a humane, razor-sharp
broadhead, however. Again, let the hunter choose his own. I have had good luck
with the Wasp using three blades. To the best of my knowledge, these
are the states that have sage grouse, but I don’t think all of them are open
to hunting every year. They are: Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho, Utah, Nevada,
Oregon, Washington, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.

The reader should write a note to the state of his choice and see if there will be a season,
when it will run, the limits and so forth. At least a heavy fee license is not required, nor is
a special drawing. A bird license can run about fifty bucks nowadays.
Some people enjoy camping out for sage hens, as they would for big game,
I am in this rank. I love it. The weather, as already expounded upon, is generally good;
not always, but usually.And it is fun to come home and eat the birds around the campfire, sharing with family and fellow hunters. In my opinion, sage grouse that are no good to eat
are rare. I have never had one I did not like. I have never fed one to any person who didn’t
say he or she enjoyed it. But part of the eatin’ is in the preparin’, and the best T-bone
steak ill-treated is only so much foul—tasting protein.

The first step toward assuring a good tasting bird is to dress it right away. I carry a
canteen of water when I remember to. And a little clean rag goes along, too. I
draw the birds, saving the edible inner parts, from which I sometimes make a
gravy. The drawn birds are rinsed in the body cavity with the water, and
then both cavity and hands can be dried with the clean cloth.
At home, using a boning knife, I strip the meat away from all of the
breast area, leaving the drumsticks and wings as they are. All of the meat is
soaked for two to three hours in a mixture of milk and eggs, beaten well, to
which has been added garlic salt and onion salt, pepper and paprika. Just
enough sauce is made to make contact with the meat. And in a bowl of meat,
about a half bowl of liquid can be added, the meat turned often so that it
soaks thoroughly. Some people put in a tad of fresh oregano to the sauce, a
tad being somewhere between a smidgen and a pinch, about a sixteenth of a
teaspoon, I suppose. Next the meat is dropped into plain
clean flour, breaded and fried in half margarine, half pure lard, hot enough
to cook all the way through, but not so hot that the breading is burned.
That’s it. Good eating!

Sage hens are a lot of fun to hunt, and a wonderful excuse for getting
into the outdoors in early Fall. Some states offer big-game archery seasons
during the sage hen hunting time, and this makes for double pleasure. A
quick check with the game departments in question will bring the facts
to the shooter. And since the birds frequent sage country, easy to walk in, hard to get
lost in, an out-of-stater stands a good chance of finding his quarry without
having a lot of prior knowledge of the area. A bowhunter can do worse. <—<<

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