Archive for the 'Vintage Magazine Articles' Category

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Published by admin on 12 Oct 2009

Stick Bows: See The Arrow!

Stick Bows: See The Arrow!
Shoot a visible arrow so you can identify your hits.
By Joe Blake

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com/

 At 27 yards the big pronghorn buck stood, legs splayed, as it quenched its thirst at the muddy pond.  The only problem from my perspective in the well-situated pit blind was that another smaller buck stood adjacent to the animal I was concentrating on and effectively prevented a shot.  All I could do was wait and hope that the smaller buck finished drinking and left before my target departed. 

 That’s exactly what happened!  One minute both bucks were noisily gulping down the dirty water and the next minute my buck stood alone as his counterpart turned to vacate the area.  Quickly coming to full draw, I concentrated on the trophy’s chest and released the heavy cedar arrow, but that’s when things became sketchy.  Sure, the Zwickey-tipped arrow ate up the distance in an instant and hit home with a resounding thud, but that was all I knew for sure.  You see, I had recently made up these arrows and used a black cock feather, two gray-barred hen feathers and a black nock…what could I have been thinking!

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 Brighten the Way
 One of the most important points to releasing an arrow at a big-game animal is to be able to follow its flight and identify the hit, and this is virtually impossible when using dark or drab-colored fletching and nocks.  This is especially true for instinctive bowhunters who must train their eyes to the flight of the arrow in order to learn to shoot well.  Obviously, if you can’t see what your arrow is doing on each and every shot you can never complete the learning process, and for this reason it is imperative that you use the arrows that you can see well in flight.

 From a personal standpoint, I have always preferred yellow fletching and nocks more than any other color, but white, red, orange, chartreuse and others might work for you as well or better.  Each bowhunter is different and has different preferences when it comes to arrow colors and combinations.  Also, some hunters can get by with just a bright cock feather or even simply a bright-colored nock and follow their arrow’s flight just fine, which is great if you are concerned that the game you are after might pick up a quiver full of brightly colored arrows.

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 From years of experience I don’t believe that bright arrows alarm game unless you are waving your bow and arrows around like a flag;  the possible exception being when you are bowhunting for turkeys because they see colors better than other game.  For this reason, I strongly suggest that a bowhunter experiment during the off-season to come up with a color combination that is visible and is to his or her liking.

 Dipping Helps Little
 On the opening hunt I had dipped the crown on my arrows in bright orange which shows up great when the arrows are in the quiver but the color of the cap dip is of little use when the arrow is in flight because you won’t see it!  As luck would have it I didn’t need to identify the hit because the arrow effectively cut the big buck’s heart right in half and he only made it 50 yards before going down in a cloud of dust.  But had the hit been less than ideal the lack of visibility from my arrows could have caused problems.  This is because identifying the hit is of paramount importance because it tells you what type of tracking job you might expect and how you should proceed.

 Now let’s fast forward nearly 20 years to a definitely older and hopefully wiser bowhunter who is carrying a quiver fill of very visible, white arrows.  White cap dip, three white feathers, white nock.  As the tall-tined eight pointer turns broadside at 17 yards the hunter sends a cedar arrow perfectly through the deer’s ribcage and watches as the shaft skips across the hay-field behind the deer.  The results mirror that of my previously mentioned antelope hunt in that the buck raced away but folded up in plain sight only 60 or so yards away.  But what differs is that I knew instantly that the shot was perfect and that the buck’s flight would be short.  The only reason I could be so sure of this was because my white feathers told me so!

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 As with nearly all of life’s decisions, arrow colors are a matter of personal preference, but don’t overlook the importance of visible arrows on your next hunt.  If you are a stickbow shooter who uses instinct alone to guide your shafts then don’t even consider an arrow you can’t follow in flight.  While visibility has its practical side, also don’t overlook the sheer joy of watching your arrow arch gracefully toward its intended target, whether it is that buck of a lifetime, a 3-D target or simply a rotten stump.  There’s something almost magical about watching your arrow and target come together, and I for one intend to enjoy the experience by using visible arrows for all of my shooting.

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Published by admin on 12 Oct 2009

Map & Compass

Map & Compass
Weather you hunt wilderness elk or small woodlot whitetails,

a good topo map and compass will always increase your effectiveness as a hunter.
By Bill Vaznis

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com/

 “ It will be shooting light soon,” Bob said as he pulled the 4×4 off the road and down into a gully.  He left the diesel running and turned on the dome light to show me an old topo map complete with diagrams and plenty of notes in the margins.  “Take this old logging road down to the clear-cut, about a half-mile away,” he said, “and then work your way along this edge.  I’ve seen elk here, here and on this ridge just below the cut.  It should take you most of the morning to cover it thoroughly.

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 “When you get to the creek, cross it just inside the cut, and have your lunch.  Then take out your compass and head 280 degrees for about a mile until you reach a rocky bluff and a line of aspens.  Follow the line of trees due south.  Keep your eyes open now because there have been a couple of big bulls seen here in recent days.  You should come out on this other logging road around sunset.  I’ll pick you up there.  Any questions?”

 “Yes,” I replied.  “What happens if I don’t hit the logging road by dark?”

 “Just shoot three arrows in the air,” laughed Bob, “and I’ll park the truck and come in to get you.  If I can’t find you by midnight, however, I’ll tell the guys back at camp that you are good and lost, and they can divvy up your gear.”

 “You won’t have to get out of the truck,” I replied with feigned sarcasm.  “Just open up a thermos of hot coffee, and hang it out the window.  I can smell a cup of hot coffee a mile away.  Besides, I know you’ve got your eyes on my bow case and Gore-Tex rain gear, so I’ll be sure to be at the logging road by dark.  See you then buddy!”

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 Orienteering Basics
 It is difficult to take full advantage of a topo map when hunting for elk, moose or deer unless you know exactly where you are in relation to the map.  One way to orient yourself is by simple inspection.  Take up a position in your hunting area that offers you good visibility, and then pick out a few prominent physical features such as hilltops or a lake.  Orientate the map until its typographical symbols correspond to the terrain in front of you, and then using the contour lines try to pinpoint your exact location on the map.

 A more precise method is to set our compass at 360 degrees and place the side edge of its transparent base plate on a line parallel with the Magnetic North line.  Use the Declination Diagram found in the map’s margin.

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 Now, point the Direction-of-Travel needle to the north and rotate the map and compass together until the north part of the compass needle points to the “N” on the compass housing.  (Some models have a black outline of an arrow permanently drawn inside and on the floor of the housing.  It always points to “N” on the compass housing and some outdoorsmen find it easier to align the magnetic needle with this arrow.)  Make sure your jack knife or wristwatch are not influencing the compass needle.  There, you have oriented the compass, map and yourself to Magnetic North.  It is that simple!

 Scouting Big Woods
 Topographical symbols and the spacing of contour lines can help you locate probable feeding and bedding sites, as well as runways and escape routes, from the comfort of camp.  Basically, the closer the contour lines are to each other, the steeper you’ll find the terrain.  Most ridge contours point downhill toward lowland feeding areas while valley contours point uphill towards the higher elevations—two locations elk and deer like to frequent!.

 I often study those little brown squiggles for hours trying to locate bottlenecks, saddles, gentle slopes and natural crossings that often govern the daily movements of most big-game animals.  I always check out meadows, burn-overs, clear-cuts and old farmsteads for evidence of feeding activity, and , the edges of dense swamps, nearby high ridges and the tops of steep ravines for possible bedding sites.

 One fall, while bowhunting for elk in Colorado, we found a hotspot for elk by closely studying a topo map.  We knew there was a herd of elk nearby, but they seemed to disappear from the face of the earth once the bulls stopped bugling.  A creek bed, however, caught our attention.  It seemed to meander effortlessly through the valley we were hunting.  Upon closer examination, however, we “saw” on the map where a steep ridge blocked the creek at one point causing it to flow due east for a few hundred yards before it resumed its natural course.  That herd of elk was holed up on the bend of that creek, and if it wasn’t for an unexpected close encounter with two black bears we might have arrowed one of those bulls.

 Finding Your Way Around
 There is no mystery to navigating in the big woods.  Just use your common sense and follow these basic rules and you can hunt with confidence just about anywhere in North America.

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 The first rule is simple.  Before you take that initial step into the wilderness, pick out a prominent landmark to help you return to your starting point.  A mountain peak or ridgeline can often help you stay oriented without a compass—even in the dark.  In other cases, I like to use a power line right-of-way, a river or even a dirt road as a backdrop.  This will allow me to find camp even if I overshoot my starting point.

 For example, let’s say you want to hunt an aspen-covered ridge that lies due north of a large stream.  No matter where you are at quitting time, all you have to do is travel due south to hit the river.  The best part is you can be off by a half mile and still locate your starting point in the dark by simply following the river’s bank back to your vehicle.

 Of course, back bearings are not always so easy to figure out.  Let’s say your forward compass reading to the ridge is not magnetic north (zero or 360 degrees), but rather 95 degrees.  In this case, traveling due south to get yourself out of the woods could get you good and lost!

Map_and_Compass_8

 The rule of thumb to reverse directions is to add 180 degrees if your forward reading is less than  180 degrees.  Conversely, if your forward reading is more than 180 degrees, then subtract 180 degrees.  In this latter case, your return compass reading or back bearing will be 275 degrees.

 If you can’t remember which is which, don’t worry.  Choosing the wrong formula will result in an answer of less then zero degrees or more than 360 degrees, and both of these are of course nonsense.

 Don’t wait until you get turned around to figure out how to get back to camp.  Know where you are at all times! One way to do this is to sketch your forward progress, keeping note of pertinent landmarks you encounter en route.  Write down degree bearings, too.  It is easy to forget what direction you want to follow after a day of chasing big whitetails about.

Map_and_Compass_7

 As you hike through the woods, turn around once in a while to see what the return trail looks like.  It is amazing how different everything can appear from this new perspective!  Nothing is more disconcerting then to be on the correct path to camp, but not recognize it as such even in good light.

  A few words of caution now about navigating in the big woods—beware of lateral drift!  You can become hopelessly lost by following your compass “more or less” in the general direction you want to go.  Lateral drift occurs when you take one step in the right direction, say due north, but two or three to the “left” to go around a rock or fallen tree.  In essence, you have gone one step in the correct direction, and two in the wrong direction—due west!  Where do you think you’ll be in two hours? I can assure you it will not be due north of your original position!

 To counteract lateral drift, pick out a landmark straight ahead in the direction you want to travel, even if it is only 50 yards away, go to it, and then sight down your compass to another landmark.  Continue with this procedure, and you’ll soon be out of the woods.  Remember the shortest distance between two points is a straight line!

 Map_and_Compass_9

Of course this can be tricky sometimes, especially in the dark.  If I am going “way back,” I stuff a shoulder pack with a small flashlight, extra batteries, some dry clothes, water-proof matches, some food and a small plastic tarp in case I get a bit “bewildered” or get a shot late in the day.  Trying to find the blood trail in the big woods on a return trip the following morning can be like looking for the proverbial needle.  It might be much easier to stay with the animal overnight, and then continue to follow the blood trail the next morning in good light.

 Finally, always trust your compass.  Human beings were not born with a “sense” of direction.  If your compass indicates you must turn around and go back through the swamp, then do it!  Try and keep in mind that it is you who are confused—not your compass!

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Published by admin on 09 Oct 2009

Hi Spirit: Texas Fallow Deer By: Ted Nugent

Hi Spirit: Texas Fallow Deer

Here’s some cool, off-season fun!

By: Ted Nugent

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com/

 

            The intense, nonstop grunting of rutting fallow deer can best be described as the continuous, deep guttural growling of a hyperventilating leopard.  Hell, if I had to wait all year to breed, I’d probably make obnoxious noises too!  It’s wildly eerie and foreboding, especially if you may be unfamiliar with these big, handsome European deer.  Their breeding grunts are much louder than that of a whitetail, more intense and seemingly around the clock. 

            The good news is that some real smart Texan hunters began importing these beautiful, delicious beasts into the wilds of the Lone Star State back in the late 1800s.  Now, for the simple reason that they are valued as game animals, there are far more fallow deer in Texas today than can be found on the entire European continent.  That’s how ya do that if ya truly care about wildlife, one of the many reasons I’m so proud to be a hunter.  No animal rights fleeb has ever done jack squat for any animals or habitat.  The idea of animal rights is one big lie. 

            But my ears don’t lie, and the surround sound of intense growls stabbin in and out of the thick Texas Hill Country  caderbreaks had me vibrating with joyful anticipation.  Bookend bull elk screamed their rutting glory from both sides nearby on the north and south ridgelines, lifting the hair on the back of my neck up a notch or two.  I believe the whole damn ponytail was nearly skybound at this point, the audio stimuli neck and neck with the brilliant visual allure of golden sunrays glistening off the white-gray caleechi gravel around the cedars and live oaks.  Even my nostrils were pumping with a delicious cocktail of pine, earth tones and mad bull musk wafting about my face. 

            Good God, I love this hunting game!  A pair of cottontail rabbits hopped in unison below my NorthStar ladder stand, and I just leaned forward and sighed a huge sigh of happiness.  Say YOWZA and pass the Great Spirit in megawads of hallelujah! 

            Directly behind me in the glow of the morning sunrise came an abrupt and loud grunt.  I dared not move to take a peek; it was that close.  In my hard left peripheral vision a white form emerged from the dark green cedar clump as an all white fallow doe poked her nose into the grass break.  To my immediate right, ace videographer Ronnie Bradford zoomed the camera onto the pretty white deer and we had live action video liftoff.  More blaring grunts and growls came from every direction and the Spirit of the Wild jam session was kicked up a beat by two ravens raising cacophinic hell right over our heads.  It was wonderful.  I thought I was loud.  Every hunt is very inspirational stuff for this old guitar player. 

            Without hesitation I slowly lifted my bow into semi-shooting position, expecting a buck to follow the doe into the clearing.  I waited as more wonderful creature sounds bumped and grinded the cold, still, morning air.  My Mossy Oak camo did its job perfectly when the deer appeared to stare a hole clean through me, never identifying me as human.  (Of course some folks have suspected this about me all along.) 

            The gentle breeze was blowing away from her to us, but now my gaze brought to my attention movement to our right, directly downwind to the trail behind Ronnie.  A light-colored form could be seen amongst the thick buckerbrush and I immediately recognized it as antlers.  Big antlers!  Fallow buck antlers, and they are spinning to and fro, radaring the danger zone before him.  I worried about our scent getting to the buck and blowing our ambush.  But another advantageous product was doing its job too.  Fortunately, we had sprayed ourselves down with Nature’s Essence. 

            “Essence of Fall” cover scent, and the big, bad hombre stuck his nose out and ambled into view.  Wow! A gorgeous gray-white, spotted fallow buck entering the Nuge Zone!  The wary old monarch kept the overhanging cedar limbs around him, taking one ultra cautious step at a time, his eyes riveted on the pretty little thang feeding to my left.  At one point he was nearly in shooting position when he spang back into the thicket with a leap.  I took advantage of this disrupting move to slowly swing my bow up into shoot-ready position, and as he cautiously stepped forth, I burned my vision into the pocket of his chest directly behind his shoulder.  Now he looked away, and my bowstring came back into the corner of my mouth, the WhackMaster arrow and Nugent Blade back to full draw.  I kissed my dinner arrow goodbye, and in an instant it was gone and vanishing into his foreleg crease with nary a sound, the Sims silencing products eliminating any bow twang whatsoever. 

            The buck exploded 180 degrees and the doe jerked her head erect.  Ronnie stood up in his stand to film the beast dash away to his last resting place in the beautiful green prickly pear cactus patch only 50 yards away.  He was stone dead in an instant.  My cherry-red arrow lay in the grass where he had stood but a moment ago, and all returned to normal once again in the peaceful Texas Hill Country.  I leaned back against the tree bark and smiled broadly for the camera.  I love to share my happiness with my fellow wildlife enthusiasts.  The Spirit of the Wild was soaring high on the wings of an American eagle again. 

            I made my statement on camera about the special feelings I was experiencing, trying hard to put into words the awesome dynamics of such powerful sensations.  We tracked the big buck on a very educational bloodtrail, recovered the handsome beast and exposed a roll of film to document the memorable occasion.  With echoes of bugling elk, cawing crows and grunting deer still reverberating throughout the land, we tied a Glenn’s DeerHandle onto the stunning horns and pulled him back to the road.

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            Back to camp, mu buck would hang next to five other magnificent fallow bucks, all much larger than mine.  Steve, Gary, Steven, Tom and Michael had all taken trophy stag in the last few days here.  Outdoor Edge knives made skinning and boning of  the meat an easy and enjoyable task.  Fat, juicy backstraps would be grilled to perfection tonight, and grand celebration would ensue.  As the fiery Texas sun descends on another great day of hunting, the bucks would be still grunting and carrying on, and the tribe of happy hunters at the Young Ranch would sing along in the great Spirit of the Wild fallow deer event.

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Published by admin on 08 Oct 2009

Fool a Tom By John Trout, Jr.

Fool a Tom

It takes a determined bowhunter and the right method to beat

the sharp eyes of a wild turkey.

By John Trout, Jr.

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com/

 

fool_a_tom          

  Like many avid archers, I had always wanted to take a wild turkey with a bow. My first attempt came a few years ago on a ranch in Texas where there were plenty of gobblers. I had hunted with a shotgun since the 19070s and had taken several birds, but now it seemed the large quantity of birds on the Texas ranch would offer room for error. If I goofed up as assumed, I would probably be able to locate another turkey and try again. I quickly discovered my prophecy would come true.

 fool_a_tom_7         

  My first failure came in the late afternoon after I set up near a waterhole and placed a netting blind around me. Only 30 minutes after setting up, a turkey answered my call. Eventually, three gobblers showed up and made their way to within 30 yards of the blind. I drew the bowstring and watched with enthusiasm as I released the arrow. Ir sailed inches under the gobbler’s breast. Needless to say, the turkeys vanished. My next attempt came the following morning. Instead of using a blind, I decided to go after a gobbling turkey and set up when necessary against a tree. It almost worked. The bird responded to my hen talk and approached to within 12 yards. Hidden behind a dense mesquite tree, I attempted to draw my bow. A moment later, the gobbler spotted me and scurried away. 

fool_a_tom_4         In my first attempt to take a wild turkey with a bow and arrow, I used both types of methods. I used a blind and the run-and-call tactic. There are pros and cons for each technique. For instance, when using a blind, the archer can normally rely on staying well hidden. However, keep in mind that many who hunt out of a blind are actually using a deer hunting method-spending time in one location waiting to ambush a turkey. This is not appealing to all turkey hunters. Some of today’s blinds do set up fast and easy, though, which allows more opportunity to use the run-and-call method.

fool_a_tom_3        

 Fast Action

  The run-and call tactic allows the hunter to try various strategies. For example, the archer can set up where desired and move if necessary. As most turkey hunters know, moving and calling often builds the confidence of a wary gobbler, and will sometimes make the difference in prompting a bird to come in. The drawback is obvious, however. The hunter is usually not totally hidden and the bow must be drawn undetected. 

            Michael Waddell, a videographer for Realtree, has taken several birds with a bow using the run-and-call tactic. In fact, of all the birds he has harvested, he has never used a blind. Interestingly, he took several turkeys with a bow before using a shotgun.

            Waddell readily admits that setting up is probably the ultimate challenge of bowhunting turkeys when using the run-and-call tactic. When pursuing turkeys in the hardwoods, he does it just as if he was using a shotgun. He waits for the right movement if the turkey’s eyes are not hidden behind a tree.           

            Although some bowhunters prefer using a small stool, Waddell relies on sitting flat on his rear against a tree. He claims a short bow is helpful. However, he added that an archer must watch their form when shooting from this position.                     

            Waddell added that the primary reason he doesn’t use blinds to hunt turkeys is that it isn’t his desire. He loves to go after a bird that gobbles, hoping to make something happen. By using the run-and-call tactic, he can get as close as necessary to a turkey. He also knows that some turkeys won’t come into calls from a long distance. 

fool_a_tom_6           

 Although getting the bow drawn can be a problem for run-and-call hunters, Waddell said that hitting the turkey has often been his biggest problem. He believes that today’s camo patterns and gear have made it easier for hunters to draw their bow without being seen. But they must still be able to hit a small target. He recalls a few gobblers that have come to within 30 to 40 yards. These are usually dead birds for the shotgunner, but for the archer they are difficult targets.

            Preparing for the Shot

            After setting up on a turkey, Waddell will sometimes use a rangefinder before the turkey comes in.  Once the bird shows up, he knows precisely the range before getting a shooting opportunity.  Nonetheless, he believes that archers should practice out to 30 yards.  Getting a bird in closer is extremely hard, although Waddell’s closest kill came at only 10 steps.

            Decoys are another option.  Decoys are not always sure bets, but they fool some gobblers.  Their effectiveness usually depends upon the nature of the turkey and how often decoys are used in a given area.  Waddell claims that the advantage is placing the decoys close enough to make certain a gobbler will come into your effective shooting range and having the patience to wait to shoot until the turkey is there.

            “If they work, decoys allow you to call your shot.  If you’re hoping for a 15- to 20-yard shot, place your decoys only that far away.  On a few occasions, I’ve set up decoys less than 10 yards away,”  Waddell explained.

            Another advantage is that decoys will sometimes make a gobbler strut.  If the gobbler turns, the tail feathers of the strutting bird will shield the eyes of the turkey and allow the archer to draw his bow.

 fool_a_tom_5          

My good friend Tim Hilsmeyer recently took his first Eastern gobbler with his bow.  He shot the turkey at 16 yards from a homemade blind nestled along the fringe of an opening where a few birds passed through daily.  Nevertheless, the turkey did not come easy.  During the first two days in the blind, he had to pass shots because birds were out of range or were in dense cover.  Finally, a gobbler stepped into a good opening and offered the perfect shot.

            Before his bowkill, Hilsmeyer had taken several turkeys with a shotgun.  His first attempt with his bow occurred a few years ago.  Using the run-and-call method, he moved in close to a gobbling bird, set up and called the turkey to within 14yards.  It all went perfectly until the gobbler spotted him drawing his bow.  Eager and unwilling to give up on the idea of killing a turkey with a bow, Hilsmeyer then decided to try the blind.  However, don’t believe for a moment that the bird came easy.        

            Hilsmeyer had done his homework before opening day arrived.  Many of those who hunt using a blind make certain that turkeys are using the area.  After all, if you are going to dedicate your hunting to using a blind and waiting for turkeys to show up, you must be somewhat sure that your time won’t be wasted.           

            Hilsmeyer claims the particular area he found was second to nothing.  He called the area a transition zone.  There were hardwoods, a pine thicket where a few turkeys roosted, and a small lake on one side that seemed to funnel the birds into an open area near the blind.  Although he spent several days listening to gobbles near the opening, Hilsmeyer also discovered numerous tracks.

            Many archers who choose to hunt from a blind select agricultural fields, pastures or other openings that attract turkeys in the morning after they leave the roost.  Blinds are usually set up along the fringes where a background exists.  Most successful bowhunters claim that turkeys pay little or no attention to the blind if they are set up by cover and remain somewhat hidden.

            Although Hilsmeyer spent hours constructing a home-made blind, he is now considering a commercial blind that will work as well.  He recommends a blind that is large enough to allow you to sit on a stool and shoot, and one that provides comfort and maneuverability.

            Hilsmeyer suggests using turkey calls occasionally to lure birds in close.  He says that it’s common for turkeys to pass by the blind out of bow range.  A call or two, however, might be all it takes to lure the bird into shooting range.  He also uses decoys, but admits that many birds become shy after seeing them for a day or two.  He places the decoys only 15 yards from the blind.

fool_a_tom_2          

  Perseverance is the final factor of using a blind in an area where you expect turkeys to be.  Hunters must force themselves to stay put and not to go to a gobbling turkey.  In fact, this is the reason some hunters prefer not to use the blind method.  Some archers would rather pursue a gobbling turkey and abandon a blind simply because they don’t like the idea of sitting tight.  Hilsmeyer says he spent several hours in the blind each day until he killed the turkey early in the morning on the third day.  However, he added that it took every bit of patience he could muster up to stay in the blind and listen to turkeys gobbling in the area.

            Perhaps the last thing I should mention is your decision to try to kill a turkey with a bow.  If you’ve done it faithfully with a shotgun previously, you already know it’s going to get tougher with a bow.  Once you find out how difficult it is, you might think about hanging the bow up until deer season and sticking with the shotgun.  This is not to discourage you from bowhunting turkeys, but Hilsmeyer said that if an archer really wants to kill a turkey with a bow, he should never try it for only a day or two.

“You just tell yourself, ‘I’m going to hunt the whole season with a bow…I can do this and it’s going to work’,: Hilsmeyer said.  There are far more turkey hunting tactics that I could have discussed in this article, but I’m sure you get the point.  First you make up your mind that you want to challenge a wild turkey with a bow and arrow.  Once you decide to do it, you choose the method that will get the job done.  After that, it boils down to beating the eyes of a gobbler up close.

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Published by admin on 07 Oct 2009

California Wild Hogs By Joe Bell

 

California Wild Hogs

Want real bowhunting fun?  Experience the thrill of stalking wild pigs amid

the rugged hills of the Golden State.

By Joe Bell

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com/

California_Wild_Hogs_2 California_Wild_Hogs_3          

With the June temperatures looming beyond 100 degrees Fahrenheit, I knew a tough hunt was in store for us.  Besides brutally hot weather, my friend Art Cain and I were facing a grueling 2,000-foot climb up a towering ridgeline.  You’d think we were nuts to go climbing such a hill in this weather, but we’d spotted some giant hogs with our binoculars feeding on the tops of these ridgelines.  Each one had its snout buried ear-deep in wild oats.  Even though these hogs were a half-mile away, we could see their huge heads and “teeth bumps” along their jaws.  They were definitely worth the work. 

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           As we bounced down the canyon road in the pickup, we glanced at our watches and realized it was still early, 2:30 in the afternoon.  So we decided to pull over and hunt ground squirrels for a bit.  Within minutes we were into the pesky varmints.  After many hits and misses we jumped back in the truck and continued our drive.  Rounding a sharp bend we immediately spotted a group of hogs moseying across the road.  I couldn’t believe it!  What were they doing out in 105-degree weather?

             The answer came quickly as we drove up another 50 yards, stopped the truck and bailed out.  Instantly I could hear water trickling down a nearby ravine.  Art and I grabbed our bows and trotted across a big field toward the creek.

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            When we got to the creek’s edge, we slowed to a bobcat’s crawl with our arrows already knocked.  We slinked along and suddenly spotted hooves!  The pigs were on the move.  Art darted forward and I hooked to the left, just in case they were to double back.

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            As I worked uphill I crouched to clear an overhanging tree branch and saw pig feet beneath the canopy of oak leaves.  The pigs were 15 yards away and closing in!  I quickly drew my bow as I saw the sight of teeth barreling down on me, from only 10 steps away!  As soon as my fingers hit anchor, the arrow was gone.

           The arrow nicked the pig’s lower jaw and angled forward into its chest.  I ran backward after the shot, but fortunately, the pig veered, charged upward, and stumbled, then slid to the bottom of the hill.  It was all over in seconds!

            California_Wild_Hogs

These Hogs are Different

          In the past few months I’ve talked to several highly experienced bowhunters who just recently tasted the fun of bowhunting California’s wild hogs, and what I heard back was, “Man was that a great hunt,” and “I’ve  never enjoyed a hunt so much.  It was incredible!”  Both of these comments came from guys that have traveled abroad to hunt animals like Rocky Mountain goat, Alaskan moose, giant elk and other coveted trophies.  So for them to say a California pig hunt was great and incredible says a lot.

            Outside California’s crowded megalopolis areas, you’ll find a maze of truly wild foothill country meshed with oak trees, poison oak, chaparral, various water ways and a number of big game, including wild feral hogs.  Because California’s country is rugged with no game fences present, the wild pigs that live here offer a supreme off-season challenge for the bowhunter.  You simply have to hunt these hogs to see what you’re missing!

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   When and Where to Hunt

          In California, you can pursue wild pigs year ’round, with no bag limits.  The only thing required is a valid state general hunting license ($100 for non-residents) and a pig tag ($13 for one nonresident tag).  And with no bag or possession limit, these animals are almost considered vermin, since they are considered overpopulated on private lands and do immense damage to valuable agricultural crops.

            My favorite time to hunt pigs is generally during the cooler, sometimes drizzly late-winter and early-spring months.  During this time, your morning hunts end later and evening hunts begin sooner.  This maximizes your hunting opportunity.  But I will say, I enjoy hunting pigs at any time of the year, and I’ve also noticed that during the summer months, food and water is sparser and hogs tend to be more concentrated.  So really, take your pick.

            The Golden State offers public-land hunting opportunity, but it isn’t very good.  In fact, I would highly recommend avoiding the frustration and pitfalls associated with public-land pig hunting.  Instead, save a few extra bucks and book a private-land hunt with a reputable bowhunting outfitter.  For the last several years I’ve hunted on the Tejon Ranch, a 270,000-acre parcel of stunning flatlands, foothills and forested mountains that come chock-full of game of all kinds.  My friend and outfitter Don Smith provides the best wild pig hunting I’ve ever experienced in the state.

            Give it a Try!

          The off-season means downtime for the big-game hunter, a time to work on bow equipment, bow fish and maybe even shoot in a few 3-D tournaments.  But the thrill, adventure and adrenaline rush of big-game hunting doesn’t have to end now.  Spice up your off-season with some rewarding big-game pursuit—the pursuit of California’s wild hogs!

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Published by admin on 01 Oct 2009

Build A Simple Arrow Case By Durwood Hollis

Build A Simple Arrow Case
Inexpensive And Fast To Make—
This Plastic Tube Will Hold A Couple Dozen Shafts
By Durwood Hollis

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com/

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Build_A_Simple_Arrow_Case

Transporting Target Arrows or keenly honed Brodhead’s is a problem for archers everywhere.  Most arrows are sold in cardboard cartons that do not hold up well to the rough and tumble nature of repeated trips afield.  A visit to your hardware store can supply you with the necessary components to make your own sturdy, inexpensive arrow case.

 Plastic irrigation pipe, the amateur plumber’s boon, when cut to the appropriate length, fitted with a cushion inset, capped and equipped with an easy-carry handle, makes a rugged, impact-resistant and inexpensive arrow case.  No special instructions or expert ability is needed.  Simple hand tools, normally found in the home workshop and access to a band saw or reciprocating kitchen knife, and a hand drill are all you need.

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 The basic supplies to put together the arrow case are:  a length of four-inch diameter plastic pipe, two end caps, plastic pipe solvent, a two-inch pad of poly foam, a carrying handle, a ten-inch length of nylon cord, and several pop-rivets.

Plastic irrigation pipe usually comes in ten- or twenty-foot lengths.  One length of pipe will make three arrow cases, so sharing expenses with a couple other archers will help defray costs further.  Thin wall pipe works best since it is strong enough to withstand the worst abuse, and is half the weight and cost of the heavier variety.  Look for pipe designated Class 125.  Cut the pipe into three equal sections of thirty-four inches.  A hacksaw can be used, but a band saw makes the job easier with clean perpendicular cuts.  File or sand edges of each cut smooth for a perfect and cap fit.

 Next, cut a two-inch poly foam cushion of the appropriate diameter to fit snugly into one end of the pipe.  This foam plug serves to cushion and protect the business end of your arrows.  Poly foam is available at craft shops in a variety of thicknesses and is both inexpensive and durable.  Impress the plastic pipe firmly on the foam, imprinting the inside diameter of the pipe on the foam.  Using a band saw or reciprocating kitchen knife, cut the foam to the proper shape.  The foam plug should fit tightly and will work best if cut slightly oversize.  Insert the foam flush into one end of the plastic pipe and cement one end cap in place over the foam plug.

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End caps are available in flat or convex configurations.  I prefer the flat caps but either type will suffice.  You will need two caps; one permanently attached over the foam cushion, another to be utilized as a closure for the arrow case.  This cap should slide off and on with slight resistance.  Drill a 1/8-inch hole in both the end cap and the side of the plastic pipe just below the cap when it is in place.  Thread a ten-inch piece of nylon cord through both holes and knot the inside to form a retaining leash for the end cap.

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 Carrying handles are available in several different styles.  I like a folding handle since it easily slips out of the way when the case is not in use.  Once you have selected a handle, locate the center of the case and position the handle.  Mark the attachment points, drill and pop-rivet in place.  Rather than drilling all of the holes and then trying to line things up properly, I find it easier to drill and rivet the holes one at a time.

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 Once completed, your new arrow case will hold from one to two dozen hunting arrows depending on the type of broad heads you use.  The case can accommodate a larger number of target arrows or small game points.

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Published by admin on 01 Oct 2009

Jennings Compound Bow Ad

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Published by admin on 14 Aug 2009

Portrait of a Champion: HARRY DRAKE

Portrait of a Champion: HARRY DRAKE

 

            What does it take to become a champion? There are various answers to this, depending upon the type of archery that may be your particular forte in the case of Harry Drake, the National Flight Shooting champion. It took something like twenty-five years and a heap of practice, experimentation and no small degree of disappointment along the way.

            Drake, who is now forty-eight years old, has concentrated upon this sort of flight shooting almost from the day he attained legal status as a voter. He began in 1937, when he was only twenty-two and has constantly sought new means of driving an arrow across a longer distance.

            But it was not until 1963 that he broke all of the records for the eighty-pound class. He was able to send an arrow some 675 yards during the 1963 NAA championships in California. Earlier, the existing record had been 640 yards and stood for roughly a decade. Then in 1961, this record was broken for the class – but barely – by W.A. Scott of Texas, who shot an arrow 641 yards.

            Drake makes all of his own bows and when he took part in this national contest, he had several of them on hand. All of them measured forty-two inches in length and boasted a maple core. Gordon glass was used on back and face and a variety of woods were utilized in the risers.

                       In keeping with his design for winning, Drake’s bow had a twenty-five-inch draw with a five-inch overdraws from the back of the bow to the usable portion of the arrow rest.

            Like most serious shooters in flight events, Drake makes his own arrows as well as his bows. He feels that the best material for a flight arrow is Port Orfor cedar. These shafts are footed on the end with Purple Heart wood, using plastic nocks. Length of these arrows is twenty inches.

            When questioned to his favoring cedar for his arrow over fiberglass or even aluminum. Drake is quick to explain that one cannot get the aerodynamic shape in these other materials that one can achieve with Oregon cedar. With a flight arrow, there is a good deal more velocity, therefore more critical friction forces caused by the air through which it is launched.

            As for metal arrows, Drake has tried these experimentally, but feels they too are lacking. Although there is no scientific backing for this, it is his theory that an aluminum arrow tends to vibrate while in flight thus cutting down its speed and ultimately the distance.

            Drake, a realist when come to flight shooting, was doubtful that he would break any records – or that anyone else would – during last year’s NAA championship shoot. Reason for this doubt was the fact that the weather was damp and the field where shooting was being done was fogged in during the early morning.

            However, by the time Drake came up to compete in the eighty-pound bow class, the weather had cleared. The sun was shining and there was a helpful breeze. The rest is listed in the official NAA records.

            The heat and sun created thinner air, thus the arrow would travel farther. Drake told BOW & ARROW that in Utah, for example, where altitudes are high and the air thinner, it is possible to break records every time a man shoots. This has been reflected in professional baseball games in that mountain city too. Baseballs are constantly and consistently being batted out of the park, since they tend to travel longer and faster distances in this rarified ozone area.

            Wind, Drake has discovered can be either a hindrance or an aid. With only a light breeze, he has found that when shooting into the wind, this will cut the distance the arrow travels as much as twenty-five yards. However, if there is literally a tail wind working on the cedar shaft, this can add almost as much distance.

            As far as equipment is concerned, Harry Drake uses both a single flipper and a double model in competition. The single flipper is used when he is shooting a sixty-five pound bow, while the double flipper, affording a better grip, he uses when shooting in the eighty-pound class.

            These flippers afford added speed to the arrow, since using this to release results in less friction on the actual bowstring. Also, the incidence of draw is increased since one is cutting on the area of the string that otherwise would be covered by the fingers in the draw.

            With the sharper incidence of draw created by using this half-inch leather strap there also is a sharper release with less friction. All of these thoughts, taken individually, mean little, but over the centuries that flight shooting has been a sport, efficiency has been the key word in this sport. Each of these measures – be it bow design, shaft material or the width of the flipper – has been the subject of ages of experimentation. Each has been instituted as an aid to greater efficiency.

            And this is reflected in the Harry Drake Story, for this champions a painstaking practitioner of the art, checking and double-checking, always certain that efficiency in his shooting is unhampered.

 Bow and Arrow Magazine        March – April 1964

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Published by admin on 07 Aug 2009

Buffalo Hunting Indian Style By: Ralph D. Conroy

Buffalo Hunting
Indian Style
By: Ralph D. Conroy

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 There has never been any more exciting form of big-game hunting than the taking of buffalo from horseback as was practiced by the Indian of the American West.

 In my mind’s eye I can look back into time and see a young Indian brave sitting quietly astride his fast pony. The pony has a split ear, the mark of the buffalo hunter, and is the most valued possession of the Plains Indian during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

 The brave is dressed in breechcloth; his long raven-black hair is gathered in twin braids. Twin eagle feathers, fastened to his head, dance in the breeze those gusts into his face. All extraneous clothing has been carefully discarded. In the next few minutes the action will be fast and dangerous.

 He thumbs the score of flint-tipped arrows in the otter-skin quiver strapped to the side of the pony. He is armed with a short but strong bow. Its string is the stretched neck tendons of a bull buffalo. The brave may be of any number of tribes – Sioux or Crow, Mandan or Arapaho, Cheyenne or Comanche.

 At a signal from the hunt leaders the brave touches his heels to the flanks of the little pony and feel him respond. The chase is on. Gaining speed, horse and rider movie in perfect concert over the rough terrain. They are at full gallop before they reach the clipped, grazed grass of the plains.

 All about them braves whoop and spur their mounts to full pace. Several hundred yards ahead a small band of buffalo stops feeding, hesitates for a split second, then wheels and races off. Their heavy hooves mingle with the hoof beats of the pursuing ponies and the shrill battle cries of the mounted hunters. The heavily muscled buffalo is a surprisingly good runner and the ponies press hard to close with the retreating herd.

 The clear Dakota air is now filled with thick clouds of billodust and for an instant the hunters ride blind. Then they are through the dust and into the herd, bare legs brushing against the coarse matted hair of the buffalo.

 On all sides of the young brave the great animals run, their chests heaving, blood-red eyes rolling in panic, the sun glinting now and again on the menacing horns. Here and there a bull or cow turns to fight, and a pony and rider scramble desperately to avoid contact.

 The brave sees a fine bull ahead and without command the pony stretches out, running belly low, to bring his rider close astern the right flank. Somewhere ahead a horse and rider go down in an explosion of dust and thrashing hooves, yet the wild pursuit continues without pause.

 Now the brave is close enough and the pony settles to pace as his rider draws and nocks an arrow, no mean trick astride a galloping horse. He draws until the butt of the stone head touches the index finger of his left hand. For an instant he holds, then releases. At the twang of the bowstring the seasoned pony moves obliquely to the right, putting distance between himself and the now-wounded buffalo. The shaft has sunk to the fletching in the now-wounded buffalo. The shaft has sunk to the fletching in the appointed place behind the short rib, angling forward into the bull’s vitals. Even as the brave reaches forward to nock a second arrow he sees it will not be necessary. The wounded bull falters, misses stride, then skids forward onto its nose. The bull is dead before the brave dismounts, his skinning knife in hand.

 A half mile ahead the hunt rages on across the prairie.

“By the 1880s the buffalo herds were decimated, ending an area that some historians have called ‘the golden age of Plains Indian….’ ”

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The hunting of the buffalo from horseback was short-lived. The Plains Indian did not acquire the horse until the 1600s and 1700s. By the 1800s the buffalo herds were decimated, ending an era that some historians have called “the golden age of Plains Indian.” The buffalo hunt from horseback has come to symbolize that time, and the wild, romantic, proud freedom of the Buffalo Indian. It was, perhaps their finest hour.

 The excitement and danger of the mounted buffalo chase caught the imagination of the early western explorer. It is easy to see why. The American Bison is an awesome beast.

 A full-grown bull stands six feet at the shoulder and is ten to twelve feet long from nose to tail. His weight averages 1800 pounds, but some were said to reach 3000 pounds. Before the coming of the white men the buffalo was the most numerous large land animal on earth. Some naturalists estimate there were seventy-five to one hundred million buffalo. Nearly all agree that the figure exceeded fifty million.

 After slaughter began t did not take long to end. Buffalo were killed for hides, meat, sport and, more importantly, as government. The Indian depended on the buffalo not only for food, but for clothing, shelter and tools. With the buffalo gone, the once proud and free-ranging tribes could be brought to heel; their ancient tribal lands more safely and expeditiously stolen.

 In 1851 there were more buffalo than people in the United States. By 1900, s scant forty-nine years later, there were only 2500 buffalo left. Five years later the American Bison Society was organized by William T. Hornady, head taxidermist for the National Museum in Washington D.C., with President Theodore Roosevelt as the society’s honorary president. The society was instrumental in persuading Congress to establish the National Bison Range in Montana. Thankfully, the animal was saved from extinction. Such was not the case with the other two subspecies, the wood bison (Bison bison Athabasca Rhoads) and the eastern bison (Bison bison pennsylvanicus). Some scientists claim there was a fourth subspecies the mountain bison (Bison bison haningtoni Figgins).

 A variation of the Indian hunt was conducted with rifle and revolver by the white men who flocked west. Notable amongst these was the hunt arranged by General Philip Sheridan in 1872 for the Grand Dukes Alexis of Russia. The Grand Duke, son of Czar, traveled west in a private railroad car. General Armstrong Custer and Colonel William “Buffalo Bill” Cody, a pack of Indian Scouts, and a troop of U.S. Cavalry were enlisted to round up some of the animals for the Grand Duke’s sport. Afterwards, a buffalo was barbecued and its death toasted with champagne. Chief Spotted Tail of the Sioux even staged a war dance for the entertainment of the royal tourist.

 How good was the bow and arrow as a hunter of buffalo? Better than one might expect.

 Though the Indian had firearms available to him soon after the appearance of the western settlers, most tribes continued to favor the bow and arrow. The Assiniboines went so far as to declare firearms illegal for tribal hunts. There were many reasons for this. An Indian could shoot two dozen arrows in the time it took to reload a muzzleloader, and since arrows carried the marks of the owner there could be little argument about who made what kill. In addition, many Indians found the arrow a more efficient killer than the gun, even the repeating rifle. At close range the Indian was deadly with his bow.

 In his book, The Indian and the Horse, Frank Gilbert Roe tells of an eyewitness account of a Gee brave slaying sixteen buffalo with seventeen arrows! A cool shot would be hard-pressed to equal that feat with.460 Weather by magnum using a good scope and sure rest.

 

 When metal became available the Indian often switched to this source as an alternate to the stone heads which were so time-consuming to make. Though metal was a convenience, the Indian had reservations about the metal head’s killing properties.

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In volume one of George Bird Grinnell’s book, The Cheyenne Indians, he states: “The Cheyenne’s, like the Blackfeet and the Pawnees, say that wounds made by old stone arrow points were more likely to be fatal than those made by the points ( metal) of later times.”

 Though one would think otherwise, experiments have shown the stone head to penetrate flesh farther than the metal head. Dr.Saxton Pope conducted such an experiment and reported his methods and findings in his book, Hunting with the Bow and Arrow, written in 1923, Pope made a box, two sides of which were closed with fresh deer skin. The interior was packed with bovine liver to represent boneless animal tissue.

 ‘At a distance of ten yards,” Pope reported, “I discharged an obsidian (a volcanic glass, usually black and referred to as flint) pointed arrow and steel pointed arrow from a weak bow.

 “The two missiles were alike in size, weight and feathering, in fact were made by Ishi, only one had the native head and the other his modern substitute. Upon repeated trials, the steel headed arrow uniformly penetrated a distance of twenty-two inches from the front surface of the box, while the obsidian uniformly penetrated thirty inches, or eight inches farther, approximately 25 percent better penetration.

 Pope, a medical doctor and one of the pioneers of modern bowhunting, attributed the superior penetration of the stone. He said that the serrated stone edge operated on “the same principle that fluted-edged bread and bandage knives cut better than ordinary knives.”

 No matter what the reason, that some Indians could kill efficiently and get extraordinary penetration with their stone-tipped shafts incontestable.

 According to Grinnel Big Ribs, a northern Cheyenne at Pine Ridge, and Strong Left Hand, at the Tongue River Agency, are known to have each shot a single shot. Strong Left Hand’s bow is said to have been so strong that few men could pull it. Grinnel reports other instances of powerful Indian archers driving arrows completely though a single buffalo.

 Chief Luther Standing Bea, in his book, My People, the Sioux, tells of his father driving an arrow so deeply into one buffalo that the point protruded out the offside Reining his running pony to the offside, Standing Bear’s father leaned down and withdrew the shaft, point-first, from the side of the galloping buffalo, nocked it, and fired it into a second animal, thereby killing two buffalo withal single arrow, but in a rather unique manner.

 As far as I know, the last man to kill a buffalo with an arrow shot from the back of galloping horse was the late Howard Hill. The first, and to my mind, most exciting chapter in his book, Hunting the Hard Way, Chronicles this event.

 As with the modern sportsman, the Indian prized the quick, clean kill. With the Mandan’s, the killing of a buffalo with but a single arrow on religious significance, the pinnacle of which was to kill a buffalo with but a single arrow as the beast faced east at sunrise.

 Chief Standing Bear reported that on his first buffalo hunt it was a source of embarrassment to him that he had needed five arrows to make his kill. For a few moments he weighed the thought of pulling all the arrows but one, but in the end his conscience could not condone the lie.  (Incidentally, Standing Bear was a member of the first class of Pennsylvania’s Carlisle Indian School, which started in 1879. He also travelled in this country and Europe with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.)

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Since the buffalo’s eyesight is poor, a small herd or band could be approached carefully and quietly upwind to within a quarter of a mile. A good pony could close within half-mile. But good ponies were scarce and highly valued. Besides speed, they needed heart and judgment, agility and stamina. The ponies were pampered and often led to the site of the hunt so as to be fresh as possible. A well trained pony brought his rider within an arm’s distance of the selected quarry, held a steady pace, and moved quickly away at the twang of the bowstring. On the rare occasion such a pony was sold, it could bring the price of ten, twenty, or even fifty common horses.

 Dismiss the idea that the Indian’s buffalo chase was a carelessly run affair. It was quite the opposite. The hunt was organized by tribal chiefs, police or the soldier societies. No one went out on his own; it was a rigidly structured tribal function. Not to conform to tribal rules could result in equipment. Even the Comanche, who in most things exercised little if any communal discipline, appointed and obeyed leaders in the buffalo chase,

 Black Elk, a warrior and medicine man of the Oglala Sioux and author of Black Elk Speaks, describes in detail bison hunt wherein the first line of assault was comprised of a soldier band riding twenty abreast and prepared to knock anyone from his horse who dared advanced beyond them. About penetration, Black Elk comments: “Some of the arrows would go in up to the feathers, and sometimes those that struck no bones went straight through.

 Today the thrill and danger of the old buffalo chase lives only in the stories handed down by observers, and in some cases the written words of participants, and in the work of an artist.

 Foremost amongst the artists in Charles M. Russell, who, with his frontiersman background and extraordinary eye for authentic detail, produced the finest and most accurate renditions. Russell was so fond of the buffalo chase as subject matter that he painted it more than fifty times.

 The chase also sparked the imaginations of European artists, some of whom has never seen the West, its Indians, or its buffalo. Some of these works are interesting for their errors. Often the topography is a curious mixture of authenticity and imagination. In a great many pieces the horse dwarfs the buffalo. The artists either used the horse common to Europe as a model (these were larger then the Indian pony) or misjudged the size of the American Bison. But the excitement and danger of those buffalo chases with bow and arrow from the back of a galloping horse live on to awe future generations around the world.

Unless otherwise indicated, all materials on these pages are copyrighted by Bow and Arrow Magazine and Archerytalk.com. All rights reserved. No part of these pages, either text or image may be used for any purpose other than personal use. Therefore, reproduction, modification, storage in a retrieval system or retransmission, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical or otherwise, for reasons other than personal use, is strictly prohibited without prior written permission.

Bow and Arrow Magazine April 1978

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Published by admin on 06 Aug 2009

Banzai Bows: Sayanora Style By Col. Robert Rankin USMC

Banzai Bows: Sayanora Style

By Col. Robert Rankin USMC

banzai

Mention of ancient Japanese arms most usually calls to mind, as far as most people are concerned, the famed samurai sword. It may come as something of a surprise to you to learn that the Japanese were well known for their prowess with the bow. Bows were used by all nobles’ bad peasants alike. Instruction in the use of the weapon began at an early age and was continued on through adult years.

 It is probable that the Japanese were easily the equal of the storied English long bowman and the famous Turkish archers. In early times the bow was deemed of even greater importance than the sword. Indeed, the Japanese terms for bow and arrow and for war were synonymous. Even after the sword became the principal weapon and the symbol of rank, proficiency in the use of the bow was much sought and was regarded as an indication of the individual’s military ability.

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The best archers in Nippon journeyed to Kyoto to demonstrate their skill. There at Sanju-San-Gen Do temple, a covered gallery was erected for their use. With a length of 132 yards, this structure was only twenty-two feet high, a fact which required tremendous strength on the part of the bowman to achieve a trajectory flat enough to allow the arrow to reach the mark. Is recorded that in 1696, one was a Daicheri shot 8,133 arrows in twenty-four hours (this is at the rate of about five a minute), of which 3,213 reached the mark!

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The Japanese was bow was very long; in fact, some were as long as eight feet, but this was the exception, the average being around seven feet. Bows were made of a piece of deciduous wood sandwiched in between two especially selected pieces of bamboo, with the bark outward, all held together with fish glue,. It was nearly uniform in section throughout its length and at intervals was tightly bound with cane.

 The bow was curved at either end, and when strung, it reversed itself. There were no notches for the back for a short distance to form shoulders. The string went about the projecting ends and was held in place by the shoulders. Strings were of sinew or of bundles of silk thread treated with lacquer.

 The handle of the bow was well below center. In some instances a much as two thirds of the way down. This was necessary because the average Japanese is short and the bow was used from a kneeling position when the archer was not mounted. All in all, these war bows were powerful and affective.

 Another type of Japanese bow resembling a Tartar bow in shape was made of several different varieties of bamboo glues together. A metal sleeve covered the belly. The string striking against this produced a characteristic sound which often was used for signaling.

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Ceremonial bows, intended only for parades and court functions, were highly lacquered and ornamented. These bows were in two sections, joined in the center by a metal sleeve which formed the handle. In addition to these, there were hunting bows of various lengths, some as short as two feet. These smaller bows were made of horn or whalebone.

 Arrows for the war bows averaged forty inches long and weighed around half a pound. Practically all were feathered, usually in a straight line with the shaft. Some, however, had the feathers arranged spirally about the shaft to cause it to rotate in flight and thus assist in keeping it on course.

 For the practical purposes of war, arrow heads differed greatly from those used for ceremonial purposes. Among war arrows was the hiki-ya. This had a large hallow head with openings cut in the sides. Air rushing through these while the arrow was in flight caused a whistling sound. Arrows of the type were used for signaling purposes, the wata-kusi, “tear fish,” had a head with movable barbs. These lay close to the shaft when the arrow was in flight but swung out at right angles when an attempt was made to pull it out of the flesh. The yanagi-ha, “willow leaf,” had a head with straight sides and was diamond shape in section. It was an extremely efficient general purpose missile, the karimata, “forked arrow,” was a two prong design with very sharp cutting edged. These heads varied in size from one to six inches between the prongs. They were used to cut ropes and armor lacing. Another lovely number, a variation of the karimata, was known as the “bowel raker,” and was reputed to cause a horrible death.

 Ceremonial arrows had heads which were large, heavy and very elaborate – and quite useless as weapons. They often were made by famous artist-armorers.

 It is rather interesting to note that the length of the bow and arrow was related to the particular warrior who was to use them. The unit of measurement for the war bow was the distance between the tips of the thumb and little finger of the spread right hand of the archer. Twelve to fifteen of these units were considered the proper length of the bow. The unit of measurement for war arrows was the width of the right hand, across the palm. Here again, twelve to fifteen of these units were reckoned to be the proper length for the arrows.

 Several kinds of quivers were used. One consisted of an open box to which a framework was attached to support the shafts of the arrows. The heads rested within the box and were kept apart by a series of small metal bars. Sometimes the box contained a small drawer in which spare bow and arrows were carried. Another type of quiver was closed wooden container with hinged lids at the top and on the sides, this type kept the arrows safe from the elements but it was damned awkward to get the arrows, Quivers were highly lacquered and richly decorated.

 Archers of higher rank were gloves resembling gauntlets. The second and third fingers were of softer leather and were usually of different color than the rest of the glove. The right thumb had a double thickness of leather on the inside to tae wear of the bow string. Lower ranks wore an abbreviated glove on the right hand only. This consisted of a thumb and two fingers, these attached to a broad band which tied about the wrist. At times all degrees archers wore a mail covered glove on the left hand to protect the hand holding the bow.

 The flaring neck guard of the characteristic Japanese helmet, in the case of archers, sometimes was hinged on the right side so that it could be folded back out of the way when the bow was being used. Many mounted archers, as well as other mounted warriors, frequently wore a horo. This was a long, wide piece of cloth attached at the top to the rear of the helmet and at the bottom to the waist. It was ornamented with the chop mark or crest of the wearer. As the archer rose along this bellied out behind and protected the back from arrows.

 In any discussion of Japanese military history and weapons. It is well to note that the feudal era in Japan did not come to an end until comparatively recently; in the early 1800s/ as compare to the early 1400’s in Europe. Although firearms were introduced into Japan as early as 1543 by Portuguese traders. they were not developed to any great extent in Nippon until the end of the Nineteenth Century. This resulted in the Japanese passing directly from the use of the primitive matchlock to the modern breech-loading percussion rifle, both of which were copied in toto from Western models without any developments in between. One of the reasons for this was that the samurai, the Japanese warrior knights, with their peculiar codes of ethic and honor, regarded the use of firearms as ungentlemanly! Consequently the bow was a major weapon until the very dawn of the present century.

 With the advent of Commodore Perry and the opening of Japan to world trade and Western culture, that nation was thrown overnight from medieval times into the modern world. Among other things, the Japanese received all at one time all the blessings of an advanced arms technology. That they were apt pupils was well demonstrated in the South Pacific in World War II.

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Bow and Arrow Magazine May – June 1963

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