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Published by archerchick on 11 Dec 2011

Bowhunting The Sitka Blacktail – By Marv Walter


Archery World September 1984

Bowhunting the Sitka Blacktail – By Marv Walter

“The Sitka Blacktail Deer is native to the
wet, coastal rain forests of southeast Alaska
and north-coastal British Columbia. The
Sitka blacktail is smallet stockier; and has
a shorter face than other members of the
blacktail group. The average October live
weight for adults is about 100pounds for
does and 150 pounds for bucks. The largest
dressed weight on record for a buck is 212
pounds.”

Hunting the Sitka Blacktail with a deer
call one year ago produced long-lasting memories.
As my partners —
Chuck Hakari and Terry Moore -— and I traveled southwest of Juneau across Stephens Pas-
sage in my 2l—foot Reinell enroute to starting
another hunt, we recalled last year’s blacktail
hunt on the Glass Peninsula on Admiralty lsland.
My unwanted encounter with an Alaskan
Brown Bear was unfaded in my mind.
While carrying my bow-killed blacktail to
the beach, I came upon a huge hemlock tree
which jutted at a 45 degree angle. I straddled
the tree, reclined, and balanced the heavy
load against it to relieve some strain. I had
packed the meat in a plastic bag in my pack
alongside my shotgun and survival gear I
blew my deer call a couple of times to see if
any deer would surface. I had my bow stowed,
not at all ready for action. Good deer sign
covered the area, but with the days success
and my fatigue, I hardly felt like stalking another animal.

There I rested, content, playing with the
call, when suddenly a full-sized Alaska Brown
Bear came loping out of some low spruces and
river drainage just 70 yards away. I froze,
watching him until he turned in my direction.
Instantly I dropped my bow, rolling of the
tree, lowering my pack. I knew I had to get the
shotgun; the bow would never do. I quickly
glanced up twice as the bear closed the distance.

I cursed as I fumbled with the pack straps.
The bear stopped on the other side of the down
hemlock. I raised my hands and yelled as loud
as I could. The bear rose up on two legs, moving
back a step, then dropped down, and rapidly
retreated 25 yards or so. There he
stopped, swayed his head from side to side,
turned, and came at me with a roar At a tree
he again rose to hind legs now only 15 yards
away I could hear him claw the bark, trying
fora look, and showing his full size. Moss and
wood chips flew as he scraped on the hem-
lock.

After only seconds, which seemed like
minutes, I had the shotgun in hand. He
dropped to the ground, coming right at me,
his dark, grizzled fur bristling with terrible
beauty I raised the shotgun and fired. In the
excitement I failed to lock into place and
brace the metal stock and the shotgun recoil
hit me in the face. I must have hit the bear in
the front chest area, but the buff of the shot-
gun bloodied my cheek and numbed my jaw so
I couldn’t be sure. The bear stormed away
instantly, parting brush as he went.

As I organized my thoughts, I hoped to see
the bear lying dead in the brush, but there was
no sign. I put on my pack and headed out of
the area, constantly in fear of his return.
I reached the rendezvous as Chuck arrived
with a good sized deer Tracy walked up a few
minutes later, My bear story got their attention
and, though leery 0f searching for a
wounded bear, we decided to look around.

The brownie had destroyed a rotten log and
torn up quite a bit of muskeg. Trampled brush
and deep tracks in the moss continued for 100
yards.

Flecks of fat hung from a branch; blood
spattered an area where the bear had laid
down. we searched for the animal for some
time, but lost the trail in the heavy brush.
We felt this trip would be equally challenging
and it proved to be just that.
With the double anchor in place, we went
ashore in an 8-foot skiff. It was 8 a.m. and,
with packs ready, we headed for the area on
Admiralty Island we figured would produce
the big bucks. Taking turns breaking trail, we
covered a distance of five miles over shin-
tangle and blueberry bushes, reaching our
base camp about noon.

Not wasting any time, Tracy headed for
the top ofthe mountain in search of a blacktail
buck.

Tracy is a rifle hunter, and carried a 30-06 A
with a 2.5×8 power scope. He also carried a
day pack with rain gear, wool clothing, a compass,
matches, knife, flashlight, first aid kit,
leather gloves (for the devil’s club), extra
food, and of course the deer call.
Hunting Sitka blacktail deer in southeast
Alaska has several options available depending
on the unit or area you hunt. The unit
which has the longest season is Unit 4, which
includes Admiralty Island, Chichagof Island,
Kruzof Island, Catherine Island and Baranof
Island.

The season is open from August 1 thru December 31
with five deer tags available; how-
ever, antlerless deer may be taken only from
September 15 to December 31. A portion of
Unit 4 is open January 1 to January 31 for
registration permit hunting only. Two deer
may be taken during this time but only one
deer may be in possession.

(Hunting Sitka blacktail deer in southeast
Alaska gets easier as the snow covers the up-
per meadows. The deer move toward the
lower bowls where the big spruce trees are.)
The non-resident fees are $l95. which include
the license ($60) and a big game locking
tag. A nonresident may purchase their hunting
license after arriving in Alaska. There is
no quota which restricts the number of non-
resident licenses available as is the case with
some states.

The Sitka blacktail has a separate Pope &
Young record book category which provides a
real opportunity for the bowhunter who wants
to concentrate on the larger bucks for the record book.

Chuck and I put the finishing touches to
base camp before we climbed the mountain.
Chuck climbed the same area as Tracy Chuck
was carrying his 80-pound recurve bow. a .44
caliber Winchester for bear protection, and
his day pack.

It is logical and, in my opinion. necessary
to carry a firearm for bear protection — especially
when hunting on Admiralty Island.
Brown bears (Ursus Arctos) are very
much a part of the Alaskan scene. Until recently,
taxonomists listed brown bears and
grizzly bears as separate species. Observation
of successful interbreeding between them indicated
a single species and a study of skull
characteristics substantiated this hypothesis.
All brown and grizzly bears are now classified
as Ursus Arctos. In popular usage, brown
bear refers to members of this species found
in coastal areas, while those found inland are
commonly called grizzlies.

I carried a Bear Alaskan 69-pound com-
pound and an 870 pump shotgun with the
short barrel and pistol grip for bear protection.
I use 2219 Easton GameGetter arrows
and Snuffer broadheads.

I used my homemade blacktail deer calls
several times on the bottom muskeg meadows
with no success. Upon reaching the alpine
level with south exposure, I called a nice doe
within 15 yards. I’d guess the doe had never
seen man before since she watched me for
several minutes. I was determined to take only
a nice buck on this trip, so I passed up an easy
shot. The doe hardly reacted at all to the five
rifle shots coming from the direction of Tracy
but did walk off in the direction of the shots.

The Alpine meadows contained many
fresh deer tracks and some bear sign. While
moving through the alpine cover, I encountered
several blue grouse. (In Alaska the blue
grouse or “hooter” is restricted to the south
eastern part of the state, appearing from Glacier
Bay southward. Dense, coastal forests of
tall Sitka spruce and hemlock are the usual
haunts of this grouse, but it’s often found near
timberline among dwarfed alpine firs. The
blue grouse is the largest upland game bird in
Alaska with the males sometimes in
weight of 3 1/2 pounds.)
Tracy entered base camp about half an
hour after I did for the evening. He was recovering
from the excitement of his encounter
with an Alaskan brown bear, I listened intently
as he described how he was covering the
upper alpine meadows when he encountered a
brown bear traveling the same trail. A brown
bear at 10 yards and still closing can create a
very rapid reaction. Tracy retreated rapidly
while preparing for a shot. The brown bear
continued his advance. The first shot was well
placed, but did not bring him down; four
additional shots were needed before Tracy felt
his safety was satisfied. Chuck, hearing the
shots and being in the area, helped Tracy with
the process of skinning the bear. It took most
of the sunny afternoon. Tracy left the hide on
top and returned to camp.

His opportunity to shoot a big buck was
now spoiled, because he could not carry out
both the heavy brown bear hide and a nice
blacktail buck. Tracy planned on return to
the top of the mountain the next day for the
meat and hide with his freighter pack. Scoring
on an Alaskan brown bear was worth the
disappointment. Chuck decided to continue
hunting for blacktail before returning to
camp.

Tracy indicated he had seen a tremendous
buck on top about 250 yards away. He didn’t
have a chance for a shot, but was stalking him
when he encountered the bear. About half an
hour before dark I left camp in hopes of calling
in a buck on the muskeg meadows near
camp. I returned at dark after having two does
come within 25 yards at the same time from
different directions. While waiting for Chuck
to return, Tracy and I wondered how this area
would be in late October or November when
the bucks are rutting and snow has driven the
deer to the lower muskeg meadows.

It was now dark and our conversation was
interrupted by a call from Chuck. We quickly
returned his call, which was for help in locating
our base camp. Chuck entered camp carrying the
hindquarters, boned meat from the
rest of the deer, and the antlers of the biggest
Sitka blacktail buck I’ve seen. Chuck wasn’t
given much time before telling us of his after-
noon hunt.

Chuck had left Tracy at 4 p.m. He was
descending the mountain and noticed the
body of a very large blacktail just 30 yards
away. The huge rack of the deer was not noticed
until he looked around a tree blocking
his view. The same tree also allowed him to
nock an arrow, draw, and place the arrow just

behind the front shoulders. The buck traveled
40 yards, then slid down the mountain. He
was still in view as he came to rest. It was 5
p.m. when Chuck started taking pictures,
skinned, and boned the meat. Chuck’s buck
made the Pope & Young record book. scoring
85.

Tracy and I returned to the top of the
mountain the next morning to get his hide and
hoped to call a buck within bow range. After
climbing for an hour, we reached the location
of the bear kill. The area was beautiful and
showed much sign of game activity. We prepared
the freight pack with the bear hide if
the trip down the mountain.

Separating from Tracy, I traveled less than
100 yards when I noticed five Sitka blacktail
deer coming my way. I quickly moved to an
ambush area and nocked an arrow. The buck
was in perfect position as the deer passed by
me. His head was behind a bush, fully aware.
but his body was fully exposed. I placed an
arrow perfectly behind the front shoulders
As the arrow passed through the deer, I could
hear the sound of air being released from the
lung cavity. The buck traveled just 40 yards
The remaining four does stayed in the area
and watched for another five minutes. I yelled
for Tracy to return. It took us only an hour it
skin and bone the 2×2 point buck for the return
trip. Together we descended the mountain, both
packs being heavy with game. We
shared our excitement as we broke camp for
the return trip to the boat.

Pleasure sets in when you experience an
overnight pack trip after blacktail deer.
I recommend hunting southeast Alaska for the
Sitka blacktail deer with a bow. But always be
prepared because of the constant danger due
to accidents, the challenge of nature, and the
presence of the brown bear. >>—>

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Published by archerchick on 11 Dec 2011

Big Deer In The Dust Bowl – By Wayne Van Zwoll


Archery World September 1984
Big Deer In The Dust Bowl – By Wayne Van Zwoll

The Rules On Big Bucks

Dust bowl. Wheat. Prairie. Such are
the things we think of when someone
mentions Kansas. If you’re up on your
history, you might also remember the Dalton
Gang and Carrie Nation. But what isn’t so
obvious about Kansas are the spectacular
bowhunting opportunities it offers today.
Dennis Rule knows about those opportunities.
His home state tendered him a whitetail
buck in 1982 that scored an even 202 Pope
and Young, making it the second largest ever
taken in Kansas — and number 15 on the alltime
non-typical Pope and Young list. It happened like this:

Rule, a 31-year-old Wichita resident, was
hunting in Clark County, in the western part
of the state. He and his brother Bill are seasoned
bowmen and had scouted their territory
well, putting up portable tree stands as early
as August. Some of the stands had proven
more productive than others, of course, and
by rut the brothers knew where to spend their
time.

November 13 was a cold, windy day, especially
in a tree stand. But Rule is a persistent
archer and believes that time in the woods is
often all that separates successful from unsuccessful
whitetail hunters. He shivered and
waited.

By 4 p.m. he had passed up numerous
does and four mature bucks, including one he
thought would have scored 150, well over the
P&Y minimum of 125. “It was a big, even
eight-point,” he reminisced later. “But the
wind was strong, and I didn’t think I could
make a clean shot. Besides, the rut was just
reaching a crescendo and I didn’t want to set-
tle for a mediocre buck yet.” Mediocre, in-
deed! But this is Kansas.

At about 4:30 a movement in the surrounding
thicket resolved itself into a deer
a big one, “This buck’s rack was enormous; I
could see that right away,” Dennis remembers.
“Wind or no wind, I had to take a shot at
him .”

Slowly the archer drew and anchored.
When the buck stopped, he released the string
on his 55—pound PSE Laser and drove a four-
blade Rocky Mountain Razor toward his tar-
get.

The wind tugged at the arrow and the
broadhead entered too far back. The buck
wheeled and bolted, then halted in a tangle of
brush. Rule could barely perceive the outline
of his quarry, but he saw the animal reach
around and bite off the shaft.
Within minutes the deer joined a group of
lesser whitetails feeding in a green wheat field
just outside the perimeter of the thicket, but
before long the big buck left them and headed
across the field toward some heavy brush.

“I was really afraid I’d lose him if he made
the trees,” Rule recalls. But he needn’t have
worried. The broadhead had nicked the
buck’s femoral artery and the animal collapsed short of the timber.

“I didn’t see him go down, so after gingerly
trailing him for a few yards across the
field I decided it would be best to finish the
job in the morning.” Like all savvy bowhunters,
Rule is almost paranoid about pushing an
animal that has sustained a hit. “When in
doubt, it’s always better to leave the trail and
come back to it later,” he says.

The next morning Rule trailed his buck to
where it had fallen and claimed the huge 17-
point rack. “It was a dream come true. I knew
there were bucks like that in the area, but I
have a great deal of respect for such monsters
and wondered if I’d ever get the chance to
arrow one .”

Dennis’ hunt was over, but brother Bill
still had a tag to notch. He wasted little time.
While his brother was hauling his trophy from
the field, Bill downed a fine typical whitetail
that also made Pope and Young. He would repeat
the performance a year later — in 1983
— with an even bigger buck!

Are the Rules hunting on a private deer
preserve? What is responsible for their success?
I was curious. So I asked Dennis. His
answers are valuable, not only for Kansas
bowmen, but for others hunting the agricultural Midwest.

First, Dennis, like many ambitious
archers today, is finding big bucks in places
that weren’t given much consideration just a
few years ago. The entire state of Kansas
might fall into that category! It wasn’t until
recently that the Sunflower State even had a
firearms deer season, and now more rifle permits
are being issued each year. Bowhunters
have an advantage here. in that there is no tag
quota for archery permits. Still. no over-
counter sales of any big game tags are allowed
in the state; even bow licenses must be purchased
(before October ll at regional fish and
game offices or at the headquarters (Rt. 2,
Box 54 A, Pratt, KS 67124). The 1983 bow
season ran from October l through November
30, and December 12 through 31. Dates for
1984 are similar.

Kansas’ deer population is on the up-
swing. Biologists estimate there are approximately
15,000 mule deer in the state now, and
80,000 whitetails. Like deer in other farmed
areas, Kansas bucks grow fast and big. It is
not unusual for a yearling to sport an eight-
point rack. Really massive antlers are more in
evidence at locker plants each season. It’s not
surprising that Fish and Game Commission
big game specialists expect the state whitetail
record to be broken any day.

“We’re always looking for new areas to
hunt,” Dennis explains. “The first year in
new territory is always a little tough. because
you are unable to draw on past knowledge of
buck movements there during the rut. Sure,
we do a lot of preseason scouting, but scouting
in summer and early autumn isn’t nearly
as beneficial as being in the woods when the
deer are rutting.”

Dennis and his brother build some of their
tree stands and use commercial ones as well.
“If we’re hunting a familiar area, we place
our stands where they’ve been effective before.
In new country, we locate them on the
main trails and near likely scrape pockets and
secondary trails. One of our most successful
ploys is to use a “bottleneck” in a shelter-belt
or creek bottom to funnel the deer to us. The
strips of timber bordering farmlands nearly
always have a narrow spot. Deer will stick to
the brush when moving during daylight
hours, and a stand at a bottleneck will give
you coverage of a large patch of cover.”

The Rules have been known to construct
their own bottlenecks — with spectacular
results. “Several years ago Bill had a tree
stand in a very good location and had spotted a
fine buck from it repeatedly during the season.
But the animal just wouldn’t come close
enough. Or the angle would be wrong. Or
brush would be in the way. So in mid-season
Bill constructed a brush barrier out of natural
materials he found near the stand. Normally
we don’t like to disturb a stand site once we’ve
started hunting from it, but Bill was desperate.
His efforts paid off. He arrowed that buck
the next time it came in. It was really a beautiful
animal – didn’t score well typically be-
cause of all the deductions, but a bragging-
size buck nonetheless.”

Bill and Dennis install their stands early —
usually in late August or the first week in September.
“But I like to save two or three for
emergency placement after the season
opens,” Dennis notes. “Especially if I’m
hunting a new area, the added flexibility pays
off. Sometimes buck movements during the
rut just can’t be predicted early. Extra stands
erected at last-minute notice near scrapes
have produced handsomely for us

The brothers like to hunt from tree stands.
Dennis maintains that in much of the Kansas
brush, still hunting trophy bucks is all but futile.
“I’m not saying it’s impossible to kill a
big buck that way, but it’s probably 10 times
as hard as from a tree stand ,” he asserts.

Proper camouflage is vital to success, according
to this bowman. “I wear camo clothing, of course.
And I mask my scent with a
commercial preparation that smells like prairie
vegetation. Skunk scent will also cover
your odor, but a skunk only sprays when it’s
alarmed. I think deer may be more alert when
walking into a scent pool left by a skunk then
when sniffing the odor of natural vegetation”

When not hunting, the Rules store their field
clothes in sacks, adding a bit of this scent before
sealing them. That way, their entire wardrobe
smells like prairie plants.
Though both men hunt most of the season,.
Dennis says he prefers the last week in October,
the first two in November. Why?
The bucks are a bit more predictable then.

They’re all fired up for the rut, of course. and
are beginning to make scrapes. But most of
the does haven’t come into estrus yet, and the bucks are
methodically making their rounds
in search of those that have.

Later, during the peak of the rut, bucks may be just
a little active, but they’re a whole lot less predictble.
A hot doe may draw a buck away from his
travel patterns; he may not behave at all like
you expect him to. He’s crazy.”

During the rut Bill and Dennis use scent
pads soaked in doe-in—heat scent to lure bucks
to their stands. “We hang the swatches on
bushes about 20 yards from the base of our
trees. I like to put my stand about 15 feet
up. This arrangement guarantees an easy shot
if the buck stops to sniff the scent pad.

Many hunters handicap themselves unnecessarily
by climbing too high or putting scent pads too
close to their trees. Either tactic makes for a
steep-angle shot and often a poor presentation.

Bill Rule frequently uses shed antlers to
rattle in his buck. Over the last three seasons
he has rattled in 12 trophy-class deer. “I rattle
for about 45 seconds, then wait 15 to 20 minutes
before repeating,” Bill explains. “If a
buck is going to come, he’ll generally show
up by the third rattle. Sometimes they come in
right away, throwing caution to the wind.

Bill’s 1982 buck was a huge 13—pointer
that scored 134 on the Pope and Young scale.
The buck came to his rattling at a dead run
and Bill arrowed the deer at 15 yards. “It was
an easy shot,” he recalls. “The four-blade
Rocky Mountain Razor from my 55-pound
Bear Kodiak went through both lungs. The
morning before I took this buck, I’d rattled in
two smaller, 10—point bucks and a nice six-
pointer.”

Bill maintains that, to be effective in rattling,
you must use large antlers and make the
clashing sound like two dominant bucks engaged
in serious battle. “Mature bucks that
may be listening just won’t pay attention to the
light ticking of little antlers,” he says. Bill of
ten uses small elk headgear to get the desired
effect. “Dennis has a dandy pair of shed
whitetail antlers at home that would be just
perfect for rattling,” he laughs. “But he
doesn’t have the heart to damage them!

The last buck Bill Rule brought home
dressed at 264 pounds and scored a whopping
159 typical points. It was shot at 14 yards. A
part-time taxidermist, Bill has been an avid
bowhunter for many years and has arrowed 47
big game animals, including 14 Kansas
whitetails.

What are the most important things to
keep in mind if you’re after a trophy Kansas
whitetail and or, for that matter, a big buck in
any agricultural area? The Rules offer this advice:
1. Be persistent. Don’t expect to connect
with a big deer the first time out, or the 10th.
Dennis spent over 150 hours in tree stands in
1983.
2. Do your homework. Not just before the
season, either. Start early. Know where
you’re going to hunt by mid-summer. Scout in
August, and have the majority of your tree
stands up by mid-autumn. Continue scouting.
Be observant.
3. Know your quarry. You cannot expect
to kill a big buck unless you’re intimately familiar
with the habits of whitetail deer and
with his habits specifically. Never underestimate
your quarry; his survival instincts are at
least as keen as you can imagine.
4. Be very, very careful going to and com-
ing from your stand. Do everything possible
to disassociate any human disturbance from
that area. Never get down from your stand
without first clearing the area of deer. If deer
are present when Dennis wants to leave, he
waits until they move away. Should a few individuals
choose to stay and loaf, he tosses
small objects into the brush until the animals
become nervous and leave. He doesn’t get
down until they’re all gone.
5. Stick to your standards. Trophy hunting is
not just shooting the biggest buck you
see. It’s setting a minimum acceptable standard
and passing up anything that doesn’t
measure up. You’ll never kill a big buck if you
insist on shooting little ones. The Rules will
occasionally take lesser animals late in the
season — “meat deer” — but never until the
rut is over and their chances for a trophy all
but gone.

Kansas deer are healthy, well-fed and plentyful.
Yes, Bill and Dennis hunt private land;
most of Kansas is privately owned. But their
hunting grounds — and areas just as productive
– are open to other bowmen who show
courtesy for landowners and respect for their
property – and who ask permission early in
the summer.

Yes, Bill and Dennis are experienced
archers. But they have no secret formula for
success. Hunting smart, spending time in the
woods, and paying attention to detail augment
the hard work we all know is a prerequisite for
putting big racks on the wall.

Do their tactics work for others? Well , last
year Dennis’ wife Janie arrowed a fine eight-
point whitetail. It was her second year of
hunting. Perhaps that says as much about deer
hunting in the dust bowl as any statistic. And
it certainly supports her husband’s contention
that big farm-country deer are available to
every enterprising archer!

>>>—>

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Published by archerchick on 11 Dec 2011

Persistent Tracking Pays~ By Shirley Grenoble


Archery World November 1976

Persistent Tracking Pays – By Shirley Grenoble

by Shirley Grenoble —
JUST BY THE WAY Fred yanked open the door to the coffee
shop and hurried to a stool I guessed he had something exciting
to tell me. Before I could even say “Hi” he began gushing. “Hey
Shirley, guess what?”

I poured him a cup of coffee and hoped business would be
slow for the next few moments. I was anticipating sharing the
savor of success with a fellow hunter.
“You got your deer!” I countered.
“No, but I put an arrow into one yesterday afternoon.
Yeah,” he continued, “I got an arrow into his middle. I followed
him about forty yards but there wasn’t much blood so I
gave up. Figure I can go back and get another one. Maybe I’ll
even go back this afternoon.”

I hoped I’d misunderstood. “You mean you wounded a deer
and then gave up trying to find it? Why?”
“Well,” he said, “Why should I knock myself out tracking
that one? ‘I`here’s plenty of deer on the hill and I’ll get one
sooner or later.” He was actually beaming, feeling that just
putting an arrow into a deer was some sort of accomplishment.
I stifled the impulse to knock the coffee cup into his over
abundant lap. “You are talking to the wrong person if you
think I’m impressed,” I snapped. “I think what you did is
despicable.”

The red flush that crept across his face told me my reaction
was obviously not what he’d been expecting. `°Huh,” he
blustered defensively, “I suppose you never missed anything.”
“Fred, the truth is, I’ve missed shots lots of times, as much as
anybody. But an arrow in a deer isn’t a miss, its a hit. And that
calls for every possible effort to recover it.”
Little did I suspect then that before that very week was up a
whitetail would make me prove my words.

Tracking wounded game is an art which is perfected with
experience. However, even the expert faced that first time. One
need not, indeed should not, go afield with bow and arrow
without some basic knowledge of tracking, the more the better.
There is usually an “old-timer” within the circle of every
hunter’s acquaintances who would be glad to give some basic
instruction in tracking. There are excellent books or chapters of
books devoted to the subject. They could be obtained at the
local library or through the Bookshelf in this magazine.
For over twenty years my husband Ken and I have shared an
unquenchable passion for hunting. We are both NRA-certified
Hunting Safety instructors. Ken’s father was a Pennsylvania
Forest Ranger. In the small town where we grew up, hunting
was the biggest event of the year. Getting your first deer meant
you had marched into manhood. (Or womanhood in some
cases.)

So about three days a week, when noon comes, I leave the
coffee shop, jump into my four-wheel-drive vehicle and head
for the hills. The hills in my case being the heart of the Endle
Mountains in Bradford County, Pennsylvania.
My first afternoon in a gnarled jack pine next to an old
orchard, a fat doe and two yearlings came in and ate apple
until they were pot-bellied. I was tempted to shoot the doe be
held off, in hopes that the buck that had made some nearby
rubs would appear. He never did show up. But the doe came
regularly to the tree and she began to look better and better to
me as the season wore on.

Ken was having much the same experience at his stand
which was about 1000 yards from mine. He was situated in a
clump of spruce trees that border a small clearing. A couple of
does were browsing in the clearing before moving on to the
orchard. So in the last week of season we made a pact: If the
does came to our stands, we would shoot. We rather liked the
idea of our both bagging a deer with the bow in the same
season.

I was settled in my pine tree about fifteen minutes when the
doe and yearlings came tip·toeing in. Slowly I raised my bow-
nocked an arrow and waited. The classic symptoms washed
over me——trembling, heart pounding, chills—the whole works?
But at last she moved away from the yearlings and stepped
into an open spot. I drew and released. The arrow hit too low-
in the shoulder I thought. She jumped slightly, then whirled
and ran off into the brush.

Fighting to remain calm, I waited a while and then climbed
out of the tree. I had marked in my mind the spot where the
doe had stood. When I got there I could find no blood. So I
started in the direction she had run, carefully scanning the
ground with each step. I covered twenty yards before I found
the first spot, a very small spot I marked the place with 2
piece of tissue paper and went on. I had to return to that spot
three times. Each time I’d go in a different direction until I
found the next spot, which I would then mark with another
piece of tissue. After a half hour of this I had covered less than
fifty yards.

I knew it would be best to stop awhile and give the deer a
chance to lie down. I used the time to hike back to Ken`s stand
to pick him up so he could help me unravel the trail.
But when I arrived at Ken’s stand, he was not there! I felt 2
surge of utter frustration. Where had he gone? “Perhaps hes
off trailing a deer of his own,” I thought. However, I didn`t
have time to spend wondering about Ken’s whereabouts. It was
only a short time until dark, so I hurried back and picked up
the trail.

The track was scant, just a few drops every few yards. The
doe kept in a fairly straight line close to the edge of thick brush.
About 75 yards from the hit site I found the front half of my
shaft.

The trail led up to a small grove of pines. I trailed her
through them by watching where the pine needles were kicked
up. At the point where she left the pines I found the rear half of
my shaft. But I could find no more blood. By now the deepening dusk
made it very hard to see. I marked the spot with 2
tissue and scouted in small circles, but I c0uldn’t find the trail.
She had taken a sharp change of direction I guessed, but I
couldn’t locate just where.

I was reluctant to forsake the search but darkness left me no
choice. I cut through the woods to the logging road where I
found Ken waiting for me. I quickly, explained the situation.
Curiosity then prompted me to ask him why he’d left his stand.
It seems that while waiting he decided to eat an apple. He
propped his bow against some spruce limbs, got the apple from
is pocket and his pocket knife to peel it. The knife slipped
from his grasp and fell to the ground. Enroute, it neatly sliced
bow string. So he had hiked back to the car to get a spare.
What ensued was a slight discussion about one’s need to peel
apples while on a deer watch and about not having one’s spare
string on one’s person. But I was too excited about my deer to
spend much time discussing anything else.

Ken suggested we try to pick up the trail by flashlight. It had
been two hours since I’d shot her, time enough for her to have
Laid down and died. So we hid our bows in some thick brush
and hiked back to the place in the pines where I’d left the trail.
Ken searched the ground by flashlight in one direction while I
searched in another. It was a backbreaking task.

“Shirley, over here!” Ken called in a stage whisper. I quickly
scooted over to him.
“Look,” he said as he pointed the beam of light on a dime-
sized drop of blood. So we dropped a tissue there and repeated
our procedure. I went one direction and Ken went another. I
found the next spot. The blood trail followed in a straight line
for about 35 yards. I was surprised to see how shiny the wet `
blood was in the flashlight beam.(It’s from the phosphorous in
the blood.) It wasn’t long however, before it was farther and
farther between drops of blood. It was a dark red blood, indicating
a muscle shot or perhaps the spleen, definitely not a
heart or lung shot.

At 8:30 p.m., realizing that it had been nearly half an hour
since we had found any blood at all, I suggested to Ken that we
give up the search for the night. It was obvious we were not
going to find the deer lying dead somewhere. We realized it
would be best to let it bed down. Hopefully, it would die
during the night and we would find it in the morning, or else it
would stiffen up sufficiently to allow one of us to get a finishing
shot.

So we cut through the orchard, retrieved our bows from
their hiding place and drove to Towanda to make the necessary
arrangements for an overnight stay. We each had to call someone
to cover for us at our jobs the next day. We also obtained
permission to stay in a friend’s cabin that night.
It was a restless night for both of us. We each entertained our
private thoughts as to whether our tracking ability was sufficient
to enable us to recover this deer with such a scant trail to
follow. I reprimanded myself for having made a poor shot. I
realized I hadn’t compensated enough for the fact that I was
shooting at a sharp downward angle.
Finally it was morning. We were back on the trail at dawn.
We started at the last droplet of blood we’d marked and began
searching in two directions. After 45 minutes of fruitless searching,
it dawned on us that perhaps the deer had backtracked on
own trail. So we began working backwards from the last
got. And there we picked up the trail again. The doe had
indeed doubled back for a few yards, then taken an abrupt
turn and headed for the big woods.

Now our problem was compounded by the autumn leaves
which carpeted the forest floor. Every leaf bore red markings,
and every red mark looked like a blood spot. The blood was
dried by now and only by carefully picking through the leaves
on hands and knees were we able to find the pinpoints of
blood. It must have been quite a sight, both of us on hands and
knees examining leaf after leaf and muttering to ourselves.
The search led up to a tiny brook, about three feet wide,
which trickled through the woods. Knowing that wounded
deer often seek sanctuary in water, we thought perhaps we’d
hit the jackpot. Ken tied his handkerchief to the bush beside the
blood we’d found. Then he went downstream and I went
upstream. We were looking for one of two things: blood to
indicate which way the deer had gone, or the deer itself,
bedded in brush near the brook or even lying in the water as
wounded deer sometimes will do. We spent an hour in this
search and scored a fat zero.

We returned to the handkerchief and stood talking. We were
tired and discouraged, feeling we’d reached an impasse, yet
neither of us quite had the heart to suggest to the other that
maybe our quest would have to end here. We stood on the
bank of the little brook and scanned the woods on the other
side almost as if by a sheer exercise of will we could call forth
the clue we needed so badly.

And then that clue seemed to leap right out at me Across the
water, starting down in the woods a short way, was a barely
perceptible trail, made by something having walked heavily
there, scuffing up the leaves as it went. I nudged Ken’s arm and
pointed to it. His eyes widened, he nodded and wordlessly we
hopped across the brook and followed the trail. There was no
blood, but the trail of ruffed-up leaves was easy to follow.
When the trail began to zigzag we deduced that she was looking
for a place to lie down. Soon we spied a rock with a spot of
blood on it the size of a half dollar. From here there was a
steady blood trail. We found a log she had crossed, smearing
blood all over it. She was zigzagging badly now; surely she
would be lying close by. However, the blood trail went on for
another thirty-five yards, right up to the edge of a marshy area,
and there the water washed out the blood sign.

“Ken, what are we going to do now?” I wailed. I gazed in
absolute frustration at the marsh. We wouldn’t be able to find
a blood trail in that.
“I don’t think she would go through there, Shirley. A
wounded deer will follow the easiest route and that is too tough
for her to slog through. Let’s go back to that last blood spot and
search to the right and left,” Ken counseled.

TRAIL ENDS IN SUCCESS
Ken was right. She’d taken a sharp right turn, walked along
the edge of the marsh, then crossed the very corner of it. But
once on the other side we could find no blood. So we marked
the place and again began our two-directional searching.
Twenty minutes or so had passed when Ken called to me.
Something in his tone of voice told me he’d found her. And so
he had!

Ken told me that as he went in ever-widening circles his eyes
fell on a large patch of mountain laurel about forty yards distant.
A hunch told him he’d better check it out.
The doe had bedded down, then died in that laurel patch.
She was still warm, apparently having died sometime in the
early morning. My arrow had hit low behind the front leg,
slicing into_stomach and intestines.

I was jubilant at recovering this deer. We congratulated
each other on this tracking job, happy not to have left a
wounded animal unrecovered. We suddenly realized how hot
and hungry and tired we were. All told, we’d been tracking a
little over seven hours. But we weren’t finished yet. We cleaned,
and tagged her and carried her to the Scout, picking up all our
tissues as we backtracked.

Ken was happy for me about this deer. But the fact of my
now having bagged two deer with a bow sort of picked away at
his male vanity. So Friday, the last day of archery season, he
drove to Barclay, hiked into “my” pine tree and made a quick-
killing lung shot on a doe that came to the apple tree.
So we had fulfilled our goal. We’d each gotten a deer with
the bow in the same season. It was all most satisfying.

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Published by archerchick on 11 Dec 2011

To Kiss An Eagle ~ By Glenn Helgeland


 

ARCHERY WORLD November 1976

To Kiss An Eagle ~ By Glenn Helgeland

This mental picture keeps recurring and recurring, like the beacon
from a lighthouse in the dark, flashing through my mind and burning the
image of the perfect deer hunt deeper, burning deeper into my brain with each
pass.

The picture is of old stone fences, crumbled but still evident, plodding
up the side of a hill. Of hardwood ridges, with timber clean and straight
rising from the soil of an abandoned field within the borders of the
fence and the ridge. Of thick oak brush and laurel rimming the field, like
a ruff on a fur coat, Of an old apple orchard standing resolute and
untended near the lower side of this sloping field, still giving of itself in autumn
fruit. And of a deer trail winding down from the ridge, emerging wraith like
through the oak and laurel and then lining out for the upper side of the
orchard.

I will be waiting there, on stand in a hardwood, or behind the old stone
fence—depending on the direction of the wind that
particular day. All but the far side of the orchard will be within
good bow range. As I wait on a cool, crisp late autumn day the sun shines
hard and brilliant. I am sleepy as I wait, and ghostlike images with antlers
and short, cautious steps filter in and out of whatever vision I possess
at the moment.

Then the wind picks up, blowing along the ridge and through the apple
orchard toward me. The temperature drops to around 27 degrees F. and a
light snow begins to spit, angling into my stand and causing me to pull my
neck firmly into my down vest.

The spitting snow on the leaves conceals the buck’s hoof sounds
against leaves, so when I first notice him emerging from the ruff of
brush it is as if he is in a silent movie. I watch him pause once, read
the signs and decide they all are favorable, and steps completely into
the open and walks straight to the orchard, intent on the frosted, fallen
goodness lying red on the ground beneath each tree.

He drops his head and I hear the crunch of an apple.

His body is fully outlined. He turns his neck and head to reach for
another apple on the side opposite me. I begin to draw . . .
It is still only a dream for me, but last fall, in the abandoned, hidden fields
and ridges of north central Pennsylvania, as forgotten apple trees beckoned with
gnarled arms, I lived the beginnings of that dream.

It was in October, before a hard frost. Weeds were still standing, apples
and leaves were beginning to fall. I hunted with Sherwood Schoch and a
group of his friends out of Schoch’s Dutch Heart camp. The Dutch Heart
bunch know how to hunt deer. Stands in the morning, small drives during mid-day, stands in the evening. There are deer; on my second day at camp, 13 guys saw 15 bucks, 83 does, four unknowns, and got 14 shots. All misses. Well, now . . .
The area is typical Pennsylvania mountains, with winding roads, tortuous .
fields, timbered ridge sides, thick-brushed creek bottoms, some swamps,
necks of brush running seemingly at random, plenty of large timber tracts
. . . and apple orchards. Everywhere, apple orchards. Or so it seems.

Three deer had, at various times, hung from the buck pole before my
arrival. One buck had made the mistake of emerging from some brush and stop·
ping in front of a red-leafed hazel brush bush only ten yards from a Dutch Heart
bow hunter.

Buddy Nugent, Peterburg, Va., and Robert “Pokey” Schoch, Sherwood’s
brother, were walking down a gravel road back to their truck after
an unsuccessful drive through a pine thicket, not talking because the
sound of the human voice can spook deer quickly sometimes, when they
spotted a button buck feeding under an apple tree. They saw it half a
second before it noticed any movement, so they froze. The buck
looked at them a bit, then resumed feeding. Buddy used a couple of branches
to frame his shot at the animal’s neck, the only part of the body clear, and broke its
neck.

Al Roberts, Lexington, Ky., had located an abandoned field halfway up a
ridge side that was rimmed with scattered mature pines, half a dozen
apple trees and patches of thick brush and small pines. He was waiting in one
of the pines the morning after his scouting trip and at 7:10 a.m. put an
arrow through the liver of a six-pointer that came out to feed on apples.
He trailed it 600 yards, drop by drop, and his persistence paid off.

Discussing the proper entry to tree stand areas with him later, Roberts said,
“Don’t still hunt in tree stand areas. Do your general still hunting, your poking
around and stalking in other areas. ]ust ease in and ease out of your stand area.
I’ve had most of my success early. I believe deer feed later in the morning
than most people believe. I try to remain on stand until ll a.m. if I know the area
and/or like it. Deer may bed down some, but it will still be cool and they’ll
get up now and then to feed a little more. Patience . . . patience . . . patience.

 

When I leave a stand, I still hunt away from it. Most people just walk out,
but that scatters the deer.” Then we talked aiming from a tree stand, and
Pokey Schoch offered this thought: “If you’re reasonably high up, aim on
the bottom line of the deer’s body; if you’re at medium height, aim at its feet; and when you have to aim between your own feet, you’re too high.”

“That’s the stand Sherwood put me on,” Larry Rekart, West Springfield, Mass., said. “I was so high I could count the geese flying below me.” I hunted from Boberts’ stand
a couple of evenings later. Maybe the thermal currents alarmed them, maybe something else, but the three does I saw were nervous, except for the fawn which ate
apples near the stand for 15 minutes.

RAIN MAKES QUIET STALKING

Our mid-day drives churned up several deer, but they had the habit of
either doubling back out of range. or doubling back past guys who already
had their deer so were carrying sticks of unstrung wood, or sneaking out the side
door.

When it rained, and that was fairly often, we basically abandoned the
and used ground blinds. Schock prefers this method. “The trees are wet and
slippery,” he says, “and when it’s wet you can more easily stalk a deer that
won’t come close enough to your stand.

You’re simply more mobile on the ground; and since it’s quiet and
deer aren’t as alert when it’s raining or mixing, you stand a good
chance of stirring up some action.”

One misty morning we scattered around the edges of some alfalfa fields and waited and watched. Nothing. Apparently we got antsy about the same time . . . just a while before we were to return to camp for breakfast. And because of this, Don Stuart, Ludlow, Mass., and I learned a couple of things.

For instance: Don’t put two people on the same field, because if one decides to
move he can louse up something for the other guy. Don and I didn’t know we were on
opposite sides of the same field, for we had taken different paths to reach our
stands, his on the low side of the field bordering a wooded draw and mine on
the high side near a neck of brush and small trees.

About 9 a.m. I got tired of seeing nothing but crows flying around so I wandered back up on the ridge behind me, along the ridge to check out a couple of buck rubs, then down off the ridge along a deer trail that led around the end of the field. The
wind was blowing from the field toward me, so I circled a hundred yards or so from the
field and came up to its low edge, on the same side where Don sat but at the opposite end.

A good-sized doe was busily munching in the field so I backed out of sight,
changed my angle of approach and crawled into position under a big cedar
tree on the field edge. Its overhanging branches offered plenty of bow room
and I was completely in the shadows against the trunk. The doe was feeding steadily toward me, but still out of range. Suddenly it looked toward the other end of the field, flagged once and hustled back into the timber.

When I went over the slight rise in the field upon which it had fed, I met Don.
He had seen the same doe and decided to see how close he could get by
walking directly, at it. He had no idea I was anywhere in the vicinity,
and since he was to leave the field soon, decided it was worth a try. He
was able to get within about 55 yards, but his arrow went low. So we learned something.

That evening Bob Condon, Palmer, Mass., sneaked to within 40 yards of a
button buck. The buck jumped the string, but his arrow cut the femoral
artery and angled up into the spine, breaking it. The deer was dead in
seconds.

Since there were guys in camp from all over the Northeast, we talked hunting styles quite a bit, what deer did and didn’t eat. Apples are a favorite throughout that area of the U.S., but not in the same way. Sherwood noted that Pennsylvania deer in
his area seem to prefer yellow and yellow-green apples best, then reds, then green, unripe ones. Bite-size apples get eaten first. Sherwood tasted various apples and found the ones deer preferred were slightly sour.

Steve Witkiewicz, jr., Feeding Hills,  Mass., and Larry Bekart ‘ mentioned
that in the areas of Vermont they usually hunt, the deer don’t go after apples until
later in the season, especially after a hard frost which turns windfall apples
mushy. Until then, and then too, it helps if you step on the apples and crush them,
the bow hunters noted.

The third day of hunting, again in a light mist, we were trailing a
deer along the side of a ridge, with trackers scattered along the ridge
side. A nice buck, looked to be a six- or eight-pointer, flashed along
the ridge right at me, saw the trackers, stopped and looked at them, then
looked behind him. I zipped an arrow right past his neck and he decided
maybe he ought to circle back in the brush and go around instead of between us. Which he promptly did.

“The main reason that’s the best you’ve been able to do, while all the rest
of the guys seem to be getting shots, is that you haven’t kissed the eagle,” Sher-
wood decided.

“What sort of humiliation is that?”, I asked.  “Nothing tricky. just a legend. An
Indian hermit used  to live on the end of a ridge a few miles from here. He carved an eagle with outstretched wings . . . not life-size, but a couple of inches tall . . . in
a big chunk of granite not far from his cabin. The cabin- is gone now, but the
eagle sure isn’t. Over the years, the hunters who knew about it sort of made
it their thing that you’d have good luck by smooching that stone eagle. It’s
worth a try,” he said.

There were no weird grins hidden behind camouflaged sleeves on anyone in
the group, so I said I’d try most anything once and we went up on the ridge,
brushed some leaves off that eagle and I planted one on it.

SPOOKY TWILIGHT

It doesn’t work worth a damn. In fact, we didn’t get much hunting
done the next morning because most of the guys had to head home.
That afternoon, Sherwood and I went to an abandoned farmstead with the
ubiquitous apple trees and each perched in maples next to different
apple trees. It was windy and cold. It began to get windier and colder. My
maple tree was swaying like the mainmast of an ocean schooner and I began
to entertain serious thoughts of seasickness. (Yes, you can get seasick a
long way from water, especially three·fourths of the way up a limber tree.) This is another good reason to use a safety rope and tie yourself into the tree.

 

About 4 p.m. the geese quit flying. Then I noticed that nothing was moving, except me and the tree and every leaf in sight. Within ten minutes a black curtain came over the ridge and turned everything a silvery gray in the premature twilight. That was the meanest looking cloud I’ve seen anywhere east of a bad prairie storm, and that’s when
I decided it most definitely was time to bail out. So did Schoch, because we met at the
truck.

“Seen any eagles lately?” “Nope. And no deer, geese or anything else, either. That’s a mean weather front.” So the dream of that perfect hunt lives on, back there
among the mountain laurel and the ridges. And the apple orchards so full
of tracks they sometimes look like cows fed there. Under one of those
trees, someday, will stand my buck. It appears, though, he won’t come easy.
Nothing great ever does.

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Published by archerchick on 10 Dec 2011

Here He Comes…There He Goes~ By Keith Schuyler


Archery World November 1976

Here He Comes..There He Goes.. – by Keith Schuyler

The Cottontail Challenge Gives you a low batting average, but nothing beats it for action

by Keith Schuyler

THERE WAS A TIME when I used to
get plenty of invitations to go rabbit
hunting. Not any more. Because I do
most of my rabbit hunting with the bow
and arrow.
“Most.” For if I want some rabbit to
eat, I grab the shotgun and go get some.
Well, usually. As a matter of fact, since I
do hunt with the bow, although I don’t
get many with the bow, I learn where
the rabbits hang out. About every other
year or so, if I get hungry for a good
mess of fried rabbit, I fill a couple
pockets with shells and go gun hunting.
Most of the ones I found with the bow
are still there.

Why don’t more so-called bowhunters
go for rabbits with the bow? Could it be
because one doesn’t get very many
rabbits that way? Could it be for the
same reason that, even where bowhunting
is permitted, so-called bowhunters
drop the bow and grab the rifle when
the deer gunning season comes in? I
don’t know.

You hear a lot of talk about a shortage
of rabbits in many areas. They’re not too
scarce where I hunt. Because I’m one of
the world’s greatest conservationists, my
wife says. But, then she spoils it by
adding, “He didn’t plan it that way.”
But rabbit hunting with the bow and
arrow can build up to some real thrills.
It’s sort of like when I go bowling, every
other year or so. When all the pins some-
times stumble over on my first ball, it is a
cause of real rejoicing. The fact that
they keep blasting down with fair regularity
on the lanes either side of mine
isn’t important. When it happens to me
twice and even three times, well . . .l

Would you believe it? One time, a
number of years ago, I took my full day’s
limit of four rabbits with the bowl I’ve
done that quite a number of times with
the gun, and it never excited me too
much. But I did it with the bow, once.
And that was a mighty big day.
There was another big day in my
hunting life. That was the time I nailed
my first cottontail on the run with an
arrow. We even taped the distance:
eighty—three feet! Running full tilt over
the snow; right through the heart. Like
my wife says, “He didn’t plan it that
way.” But that old bunny flipped and
never moved a muscle. I was still so
excited some years later that I dedicated
my first book on archery to that rabbit.
(Archery, From Colds to Big Game) It
was one of the greatest thrills I have ever
had in hunting, and that covers some.
Since then I’ve shot two more rabbits
at full gallop. Three rabbits shot
running for many years of hunting them
with the bow doesn’t sound like much—
until you try it. I may never get another,
but of one thing you can be sure: I’ll
keep trying as long as I can.

Now don’t get me too far wrong. I’ve
taken a great many rabbits with the
bow. But most of them were sitting in
their resting places for the day or were
out hopping around in early morning or
late afternoon.

In Pennsylvania, we say that a sitting
rabbit is in its nest. This is not really
correct since the true nest of a rabbit,
where it drops its young, wouldn’t hold
one adult rabbit.
It is an unwritten rule of sportsmanship
in our area that one doesn’t shoot a
rabbit in the nest with a shotgun.
Because the cottontail will sit tight,
thinking it is safe, and it is actually
sometimes possible to grab one with the
hand. However, when hunting with the
bow, such a shot is considered sporting
for a number of reasons.

First, because the chance of dropping
a rabbit on the run with an arrow is so
slight, it is a rare occasion when anyone
scores. This doesn’t discourage shooting
at them when they take off, because it is
possible to drop one on the move.

Secondly, a rabbit is a small target to
start with, and the positive killing area is
even smaller. It takes close shooting. just
finding one is sport in itself.

Strangely enough, the fact that some
shots are presented quite close is actually
a handicap. Few archers practice very
much at the very short distances; they
can usually hit easier at ten yards than at
ten feet. Cottontails will sometimes sit so
tightly that you bumble upon them
within inches of your boots. Trying to
get an arrow off without taking a toe
along with it can challenge your dexterity
more than your shooting ability
under such circumstances.

I suppose I must confess to a certain
amount of luck on my few successful
running shots. One of them was first
missed at a distance of perhaps two feet.
The cottontail, a big one, was first
spotted about eighteen inches from my
right foot. Being right-handed, it required
some real body contortions to
half draw and try to aim down the shaft.
All the arrow brought was a couple
hairs, but it was that close. The cottontail
took off. A few moments later
another rabbit about the same size went
scooting off to my left and to the rear. I
cut loose an arrow and surprised both of
us by connecting. This was a ninety-degree shot,
probably the toughest
successful one ever for me.
Right after dumping my first running
rabbit. I missed one at about ten feet
sitting quietly and minding its own
business!
Since I rank somewhere above the
bottom among the world’s better bow-
hunters, those who claim frequent
success on running rabbits are truly great
shots, or they are truly great liars.
Western cottontails do more hopping
around than our eastern variety. With
all that big country to run in, they seem
more disposed to just move to the next
clump of sage or hide behind a rock

where rocks are available. Although the
eastern animals depend upon camouflage
to protect them as much as possible,
when they take off, they go! Usually it is
to the nearest woodchuck hole or a briar
patch so thick that a worm couldn’t
crawl through unscathed without wearing chaps.
This is usually more likely on
a day of bad weather or when bad
weather threatens.

However, on a reasonably clear day,
alarmed cottontails in my neck of the
woods will simply run to a position of
reasonable safety and wait for hunters to
move on. This is where a good little
beagle comes in handy. I suggest little
since the bigger ones move the rabbits
too fast for those like me of limited
ability with the bow. Further, if a rabbit
is pushed too fast by the dog, it will hole.
If the dog only keeps the cottontail loose,
it is more apt to just hop far enough
ahead of the beagle to feel fairly safe.
By stationing yourself at a probable
crossing, you have a good chance to get
a hopping shot. Or you might get a stationary
target. When cottontails aren’t
being pushed too hard, they will frequently
stop at an opening before again
taking to the brush. They will usually
circle back to the immediate area from
which they were bounced. And on the
way they will often follow old roads and
well-worn game trails. They will stop
from time to time to locate the pursuing
dog by sound.

Take plenty of arrows when you go
hunting for rabbits. Because, if you play
it right, you often will get several shots
at the same rabbit. Lost arrows are frequent.
Knowing how arrows can hide
themselves in a freshly mowed lawn
should be a clue as to what you might
expect under field conditions.

That brings us to what equipment is
best for rabbits. The best bow is the one
with which you can hit something at distances
from roughly five to 50 feet. Of
course, the heaviest bow you can handle
well is the best for any kind of hunting,
and hunting rabbits is no exception. A
light target bow of thirty pounds will do
fine on sitting shots, but it isn’t adequate
for the longer or the running shots. You
have to make too many mental calculations
at unknown distances for the
tougher tries. Sometimes, if I just go out
for an early morning try for deer when ~
rabbits are in season, I may stop off for a
try at cottontails on the way home. The
only thing I change is my arrows.

Aside from the fact that aluminum,
broadhead—loaded shafts are too expensive
to fling around the south forty, they
aren’t necessary. A properly spined
wooden arrow will do a good job. And,
you don’t want broadheads.

It might seem strange to discourage
the use of broadheads that will bring
down an elephant as inadequate for
rabbits. But, they don’t work well. The
reason is not their lack of killing power;
it is their lack of holding power. A
proper broadhead will zip through an
animal as small as a rabbit and go
careening off into the brush or across the
field. The rabbit will continue on as
though nothing happened until it finds
its favorite groundhog hole. If it makes
it.

Whether it makes it or not, it is a dead
rabbit after being thrust through by a
broadhead-loaded shaft. And, although
the rabbit is not generally credited with
special tenacity to life, it is still a wild
creature with the normal complement of
adrenalin which will carry it far beyond
what might be expected.

The best load for cottontails, in my
experience, is a good wooden shaft
tipped with the normal field point. The
combination is economical enough for
the average bowhunter. And, it will do a
proper job. On a stationary target, it
will pin the animal so that it can be re-
covered. On a moving shot, the shaft
will almost always stay in the rabbit to
make recovery possible before it escapes
and becomes a wasted creature.
True, the broadhead may be a bit
more efficient as a dispatcher, but the
field point will normally do a proper job
and also retain the carcass for the table.
Blunts will kill, but they lack the penetrating
power to bury the shaft in the
earth so that the rabbit cannot escape.

In the many years that I have hunted
rabbits with the bow and arrow, I have
had but two losses. One was a forty-yard
shot some years ago that quickly turned
elation into disenchantment when the
cottontail made it to a woodchuck hole
with the arrow. Last year I had my
second loss when a high hit failed to hold
the rabbit.
These experiences taught me two
things to improve my approach to rabbit
hunting with the bow. Long shots may
stimulate one’s ego if they are succesful,
but the flat angle of the arrow
reduces the likelihood that the animal
will be pinned for easy recovery. Shooting
at a rabbit without knowing exactly
how it is sitting in its nest may produce a
hit that will not be sufficient to hold the
animal for immediate recovery.

As in big—game hunting, there is an
individual responsibility to exert every
effort to recover game that is hit. Any
good hit is likely to cause almost immediate
death. But it only takes seconds for
a rabbit to waste itself by running to
cover in a briar patch or a woodchuck
hole. Nevertheless, the sportsman will
follow up on suspected or observed hits
to recover the quarry.
Hunting of any small game with the
bow and arrow offers a challenge that
lifts one’s sights above the need or desire
for meat, a fair return on the consider-
able investment that is entailed in any
type of hunting. But when we venture
afield with a primitive arm to collect a
quarry made available to us, we accept
a new responsibility to give it the best we
can offer.

If hunting rabbits with the bow
appeals to you, you might try the approach
suggested here. You may find
that there are some big thrills available
in hunting this small game.

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Published by archerchick on 09 Dec 2011

The 10% Club – By Tim Burres


Bowhunting World Xtreme 2004
The 10% Club – By Tim Burres

Only 10% of the bowhunters consistently bring home the trophies. Here’s what you can do to join this elite club.

If you don’t belong, you won’t find a bouncer to
turn you away at the door of the 10% Club. There’s no
specific meeting place. But, you will know when
you’ve met one of the card carrying members. He will
be the guy with the trophy room full of big deer. To
join the club, you don’t have to be famous and you
d0n’t have be the founder of an oil empire. You don’t
even have to be a particularly winsome fellow-
which makes membership a possibility for everyone.
You pay your membership dues over a period of
years with countless weeks spent in treestands.

Members of the 10% Club may seem like geniuses when you
dissect some of their hunting strategies, but Mensa is
one club very few will ever make it into. They may not
scare Einstein in an IQ contest, but what these members
do have are open minds that permit them to view
every hunting situation as if it were a blank slate.

These 10% Club members enter every hunt without preconceived
notions of what is “supposed to happen” or some idea that
they must do things “the right way.” And they are meticulous
to the 9th degree in everything they do involving deer
hunting. Here’s what you can learn from the Board of Directors
at the 10% Club.

THINKING OUTSIDE
THE BOX

I ran across a perfect example of why some hunters are consistently successful while others are not. This example shows the
power of thinking outside the box and being aggressive when the situation calls for it.

Stan Potts has been a regular fixture around central Illinois’
Clinton Lake Wildlife Management Area for at least two decades.
Some years he has hunted on the limited draw public lands and other
years he has hunted private land in general area. During the early
‘90s a great 6×6 buck lived on the public management area. All the hunters knew about him and everyone wanted to get a crack at him

One day Stan was hunting a stand in a fence line along the edge of a picked cornfield when he saw the buck bedded with a doe in a thin patch of giant foxtail grass in the middle of the field. It was the peak of
the rut and Stan knew the buck was holed up out there with the doe. In fact, Stan even saw the buck breed the doe once during the morning session.

Rather than wait and hope the buck would eventually get up and come past,
Stan decided the best strategy was to take the hunt to the deer. There is never a better time to make your play for a big buck than when you know where he’s at.

They are so tough to even get a look at that when one is right there in front of you it’s important that you do everything possible to get the shot right then. Stan knows that from having hunted big bucks for all his adult life.

After a few quick plans were made Stan climbed down from the tree and
carefully began stalking the buck. Unbeknownst to him, a bowhunter from Oklahoma was watching the show from a stand on the other side of the field.

“Later the guy told me that when he saw me start the stalk he said to himself ‘Oh no, whats this moron doing?”’ said Potts. “The situation was right or I never would have tried the stalk. The wind was blowing hard and it was misting rain. The cornstalks were soaked and the ground
was soft so there was no way the deer would hear me. Also, the wind was perfectly in my favor so I could sneak in on the deer from behind.

If they had stood up at any time they could have seen me even if I was lying down. I moved along one row at a time. I’d rise up on my elbow, make sure they weren’t looking and then roll gently onto my back in the next corn row.

“The suspense was killing me as each row brought me another yard closer. Finally, I counted only 50 rows between the deer and myself but I didn’t have an opening to his chest. There was no way I could wait until they stood up or they’d see me instantly. I had to make the shot while he was still bedded. There was an opening in the grass a short ways to the side so I eased into position. From there I was only 25 yards from the buck.

I turned the bow sideways and drew it as I rose up slowly onto one
knee. He never knew I there. The shot was perfect and when they blew out I could see the nock of the arrow sticking out of his chest. I knew he wasn’t going far. The buck only ran about 50 yards before making a
button hook and going down.

“The excitement had been so intense that I could hard stand it When he went down I was in shock still standing there staring at the buck when the guy from Oklahoma runs right up from behind and yells at me he about scared me out of my skin. Then we celebrated together. He was a great guy and was just as excited as if he’d killed the buck himself. He told me how he had watched the whole stalk from the treeline. After things calmed down he told me that he had been watching the buck for two days. His ear-to-ear grin immediately disappeared when I casually asked him why he hadn’t tried the stalk himself. His eyes fell to the ground and he shook his head and said in a very soft voice ” I don’t know.”

Stan’s buck was a local legend with a massive rack having a gross score well over 170 inches and a net that came in just under 170. He got the buck because he was able to think creatively and adapt to the situation at hand. He didn’t get bogged down in what he was suppose to do, but rather focused on what he knew about mature buck behavior (they are very hard to see more than once) and what might work. Taking advantage of the situation permitted an effective stalk, he did something most bowhunters would be afraid to even try.

The ability to think creatively is one of the traits that set the members of the 10% Club apart from all the other deer hunters. Textbook strategies will sometimes work, but mature bucks are individuals. To tag them consistently you have to treat each one as if he were the only deer
on earth. It is unwise to assume anything about a particular buck beyond the fact that he is sure to be wary.

From bits and pieces of sign and sporadic sightings, you may be able to piece together enough information to learn the buck’s particular personality and within that you may be able to find some type of
behavior that makes him slightly vulnerable.

You won’t find much to work with, because these deer are not very visible and they are the most cautious creatures on earth.
Once you get to know a little bit about the buck you can determine such things as whether or not he’s aggressive (if he is, rattling might work). You might figure out where he most often beds and feeds you
might be able to find an ambush between these points) and whether or not he is an active participant in the rut (if he isn’t your only real hope is catching him at his bed or late in the season at a food source.

If you enter the hunt with a cast-in-stone idea of what mature bucks are
“supposed to do,” you will have a very hard time adapting to what the buck you are hunting actually is doing. The ability to keep an open mind in your approach to hunting specific bucks is one key that
opens the door to the 10% Club.

ATTENTION TO DETAILS

The second trait that club members share is an overpowering belief in the notion that if it can go wrong it will. Therefore, they are detail oriented people that aren’t willing to let even one small aspect of the
hunt that can be controlled slip through their grasp. For this reason they are extremely thorough in everything from shooting practice and equipment maintenance to scouting and stand placement.

Here are some of the details that 10% Club members wake up in the middle of the night fretting about that other deer hunters barely consider.
Entry and exit is the key: I remember a stand one of my buddies offered me while I was hunting with him a few years ago.

Even though we sat on the county road looking at the stand across a picked grain field, it still took him five minutes for him
to explain what I had to do to get to it without being detected. “Go behind that house and around the pig lot, get into the creek, grab the roots under the high bank and climb up, etc.” I knew instantly that
this was going to be a good stand. Anyone who understands the importance of the exit and entry routes this well is bound to
have great stand locations.

I can always tell a good hunter when listening to his explanation of a stand because he is obsessed with the perfect entry and
exit routes. Experienced hunters know that these routes are even more important than the sign the stand overlooks.

Average deer hunters can all tell you where to find buck sign. Members of the 10% Club have mental maps too, but they aren’t marked with buck sign and deer trails; they are marked with all the undetectable entry and exit routes that dissect their hunting areas.

Shooting lanes; Once you start to realize how hard it is get a giant buck within range of your stand you’ll do everything possible to capitalize on these infrequent encounters. In other words, you need to be
able to get a good shot at him. Members of the 1O% Club know all too well the importance of having shooting lanes in every direction. By this, I’m not talking about dropping napalm on the acre of cover surrounding your stand; all you need is a window — some kind of gap — that allows you to get a shot at anything that passes your stand in any direction and at any distance within your maximum range.

Before you relax after climbing into your stand, take the time for this exercise. If you will do it every day you will be rewarded during the moment of truth. Imagine a buck approaching from every possible direction. How will you handle each possibility and where will you shoot?
If you don’t have a good answer it’s time to get the saw out and create an answer.

Intelligent diligence; I recently returned from Alberta where l was hunting with an outfitter who is a new bowhunter. He is a great gun hunter but not a great bowhunter. I was pretty much on my own.
After we discussed bowhunting strategy for a week—and applied some of it in the form of stand sites-Ron made a very insightful comment to me. He said, “Successful bowhunting can be summed up as intelligent diligence.”

Ron had quickly figured out that you have to combine equal parts of
hard hunting with smart hunting. It was clear to me right then that Ron was on the fast track to getting his membership card.

OTHER REQUIREMENTS
FOR CLUB MEMBERSHIP

Keen instinct; Some guys will never meet the 10% Club’s minimum requirements for membership for “hunter’s instinct”. Quite frankly, they aren’t interested enough in the behavior patterns of mature bucks to learn everything they possibly can about them. Sure, they want to shoot one, but the animal doesn’t fascinate them to the extent necessary to stimulate their need to know more.

Highly successful buck hunters are more than just students of the latest biological research; they are on the cutting edge of research. They are always coming up with theories to explain some kind of behavior they see and then focus on trying to prove it or disprove it. The final goal, of course, is to find weaknesses they can exploit. I respect everything that
comes out of the mouths of the top biologists, but I put just as much stock in the words of proven buck hunters.

Making the shot: Not only are the members of the 10% Club hard and smart
hunters, they are good at converting opportunities into venison. Even the best hunters may only get a very limited number of close encounters during a season —sometimes none- so they take each one of them very seriously. They condition their minds so that they are prepared to convert on every decent chance that comes along. This is not a skill that
people are born with. It is something that is built through-you guessed it—attention to detail and lots of practice.

When a big buck causes your throat to tighten, the only thing that will pull you through is the many hours of disciplined practice that came before. Great habits during practice translate into great performance when the chips are down. If you are serious about getting into the Club,
realize that your ability to shoot well— without having to think about it- will someday be the only thing that stands between you and a wall full of trophies.

CONCLUSION

Membership in the 10% Club requires that you go beyond the simple preparations and actually do all the things that you know you should do. Most guys that have read magazines about deer hunting know what to do, they just don’t do it. Rising to the next level takes dedication, effort and time. But, if you love deer hunting, the quest will become its own reward.

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Published by archerchick on 09 Dec 2011

Killer Stalking Strategies- Jim Van Norman


BOWHUNTING WORLD Xtreme 2004
Killer Stalking Strategies – By Jim Van Norman

Scouting, Glassing, and Stalking are the crucial tactical triad for taking open-country mulies

When he tired of the hot sun. he would
look for a new spot. and as he was waiting.
Three·do:en minutes later a wide
set of antlers sauntered into view. A
few more steps and the deer would he
broadside at 32 yards. When the big
muley quartered and looked away. I sent
an arrow through his tilage. The
buck’s companion jumped to his feet
and stood in wonder, The fatally
arrowed buck leaned forward turned.
walked toward my position — and lay
down for the last time.

There are many elements to successfully taking mule deer with a how
and arrow. Three of those elements stand out: scouting, glassing, and stalking.

Stalking 101
With excellent stalking skills, your
scouting and glassing efforts go for “naught,”
so I’ll start with the basics of stalking.
Those who have stalked mule deer
know it is exciting. It can he frustrating
and disappointing at times, but gaining
stalking experience is important. Trial
and error is what ultimately cultivates
a stalking expert.

First, choose only stalking opportunities
with the highest chance of success, Rate each
as having an excellent, good, mediocre or poor chance. This is
crucial; many stalks are blown because
their possibilities were mediocre or poor
to start with. Don`t stalk unless you
have a good to excellent chance. trying
to turn a poor opportunity into something it’s not is a mistake, especially, it
it is a buck you can’t live without.
until he beds in a better spot.
Your evaluation needs to be in depth: “Can I get into position for a
responsible shot within my effective range? Can I draw without being seen
when he stands up? What is the terrain and footing likely to be once l get
critically close? Are there other deer presenting obstacles? If I have to wait for
the deer to stand and offer a shot, is the wind dependable?” Consider these
items carefully.

A variable wind ruins more stalks than any other detail. Ask yourself: “Is
the wind steady enough to trust? Can I approach with the wind directly in my
face or, at the very least, with a quartering or crosswind, Considering that
wind, where is my best stalking route,” Remember, terrain affects the wind
considerably. Surface interference —draws, trees, rock outcroppings, etc. —
makes the wind do funny things. Give me a stalk in a stiff wind anytime. You
can count on a stiff wind to stay steady and cover mistakes.

Second, map your stalk mentally. (I can’t emphasize this enough.) Plan
a route between you and the deer that contains three solid, easily recognizable
checkpoints. Avoid using objects that are excessively common and could
be confusing. If you fail to do this, you may well find yourself in the wrong
place as your buck bolts away. It is always surprising how different the
country looks between your glassing view and the view on the ground once
you start sneaking through it. Pick a dead tree, an unusually shaped stump
or snag, distinctively colored or shaped boulders, rock piles, or outcroppings
as checkpoints. Any feature with unique detail will work.

Checkpoint #1 should be something that confirms, after leaving your glassing site, that you have ended up in the right area to begin your stalk. Checkpoint #2 should be about halfway to
Checkpoint #3, a location where you can, without being seen, confirm
Checkpoint #3 and see if the deer is still there. Although the actual location
of the deer deserves a strong mental note, Checkpoint #3 should be where you wait for a shot to develop.
Don’t go in closer than 2O yards; allow a small buffer in case the deer comes
toward you. But don’t be farther than 30 yards; you want to allow some room
before the deer gets out of range if he walks away from your position.

Now, here are three of the most important facets to the stalk’s final
stages. First; when you check the deer’s position at Checkpoint #2, look for
antler tips, ears or another part of the deer. Don’t look at his eyes. If you can
see his eyes, he can see you. Second; “sneaking a peek” en»route to Check~
point #3 blows a lot of stalks. Don’t do it! If you know the deer’s location in
relation to Checkpoint #3, you don’t need to see him! Concentrate on foot
placement and staying out of sight. Don’t get busted two thirds of the way
through your stalk.

Third; Checkpoint #3 is where you let the deer make the fatal mistake.
Once you get there, check for an antler tip, put your bow up in front of you
(bow limb tip or cam on the ground, if you are on your knees) and nock an
arrow. Don’t let your upper bow limb stick up where the deer can see it. Stay
put until the deer gets up to move, no matter how long it takes! The only time
you want to force a deer to get up is if the wind becomes variable and there’s
a chance he’ll catch your scent. Then you have nothing to lose by throwing a
rock, or calling on a predator or deer call. Otherwise, hang tough. The deer
will make “the fatal move.”

Stalking takes practice. So take time while in the field to sneak up on some
does and small bucks for fun. You will learn more with each attempt.
Glass For “Pieces And Parts” Glassing, in my opinion, is a corner»
stone to being a top»notch mule deer hunter and is an HIC within itself. Mule
deer bucks select places to bed that are,
in most cases, well~hidden yet provide a panoramic view. A big buck’s general tendency is to “hole up” in a position where he can see a lot of country and sneak out far ahead of imminent danger.
If not well»hidden, the spot will instead take full advantage of the deer’s superior eyes, nose, ears and protective coloration. In any case, a mature mule deer buck’s bed is carefully chosen, strategically located and unlikely to offer a noise free, scent free or entirely invisible route. To have any chance at
approaching within range, you have to find him first.

When glassing for mule deer, don`t concern yourself with spotting the
whole deer at once. Learn to focus on mule deer “pieces and parts.”»(see 15
images above right) Train your mind to alert your eyes to look again when you
pick up one of these images in your binoculars or spotting scope. Burn these.
images into your mind until it become second nature for you to stop scanning
immediately and concentrate on the image. No matter whether you see them
with the naked eye or with optics, stay and pick it apart.

Since glassing is a major key to success, top notch optics are a must. This
rule is always buy optics one notch above what you can afford. You’ll never
be sorry. It’ll be worth it in the long run.
Scout Early And Be Stealthy, Scouting is another important part of
the success formula. Not only do you have to scout for deer, but the need to
find the right types of country to hunt is pivotal. Some country lends itself
better to stalking than other areas.

There is no sense in scouting a bunch of country if there are only a few places
where a stalk is even possible. Heavy brush, black timber or wide open rolling hills are harder to stalk. A
mule deer`s senses are so acute, successful stalking in heavy vegetation is
tough. sometimes impossible. The same goes for open, rolling hills. A stalk may
work in certain situations here, bur requires extreme patience and a flawless approach.
At best, both are low percentage endeavors.

Easier to stalk areas include canyons.
draws, cut-banks, washouts, etc. Notice
I said “easier,” not “easy.” Rough, cut up
and sparsely vegetated country presents more opportunities to approach unnoticed, Shade, the number one place to find mule deer bucks, is a limited commodity here. It is found only under cut~banks, washouts, overhangs and under the limited vegetation. That’s a good
thing.
Pick an area to scout that will present the highest percentage stalks.
Do most of your scouting at least a month ahead of the season. A big mistake
many hunters make when coming out West is showing up a few days early
and stirring up their chosen area. About the only thing they accomplish is chasing
a big one out of the country. If you absolutely cannot get to your hunting
area until a few days before the season, go before daylight to the highest hill in the
area where you can scope the country.

Big Mulies melt mysteriously into the landscape. To find them, train yourself to look for bits and pieces, rather than the whole deer. Can you find the two bucks in this photo?

Scout from that vantage point all day, each
day before the season opener. You will do far
less damage to your opening day hunting
than stomping out through the brush. In
fact, I’d be willing to bet you will see more
deer from your hidden vantage point!

When scouting, use all your hunting
tactics as if you were going to take a buck.
That is, when getting into position to glass,
sneak into position, The fewer deer you
spook, the better. If you are new to
bowhunting mule deer, as long as you are
scouting far ahead of the opener, spend
some time down in the deer’s living rooms.

Before you learn how mule deer operate you
will certainly spook quite a few. This is to
be expected, so don’t get discouraged.

As long as you are scouting a least a month before the season, the deer will
settle back into their normal routines. Spend considerable time inspecting the
places from where deer came busting out. Get an idea of what those bedding
sites look like and how they are situated in relation to the terrain. Note what
kind of cover is present and how the deer use the wind. As you leave the area.
glass back at those sites so you have an idea what they look like from a distance.
Although experience is the greatest teacher, mastering these three foundational elements will help provide many enjoyed successes in bowhunting mule deer. Remember your scouting, glassing, and stalking experiences by keeping a journal of facts and observations
for later reference. You’ll be surprised at
the patterns you begin to note and then
use to your advantage.
>>—>

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Published by archerchick on 09 Dec 2011

The Secret of Instinctive Shooting ~by Mike Strandlund


Bowhunting World Xtreme 2004
The Secret of Instinctive Shooting ~ By Mike Strandlund

After 10 years of hunting with compounds,
here I was, learning how to shoot a bow.

The slender longbow felt feather light in my
hand, yet mule stubborn as I strained back the
string. And as I gazed through the void normally occupied
by sight pins, I had not a clue how to guide the
arrow into the vicinity of the target.
“Just look hard at your target and shoot,” the old longbow
shooter had told me.

“But how do I aim?” I`d responded, trying to pry from him
the mysterious secret of successful instinctive shooting.
“Just look hard at your target and shoot.”
I pulled back, looked hard, and shot. The arrow glanced off
the sidewalk 2 feet in front of the target, ricocheted off my garage
door, and smashed into a block wall. “Just as I thought,” I thought.
Undaunted, I moved the target to a place where my archery
education might prove less costly. I kept shooting. After a few
weeks, I found I could hit the target quite consistently. It was
interesting, and I kept shooting. Eventually I found I could hit
the target almost at will, with only the occasional mental-lapse
miss that kept it challenging. This was fascinating. But the most
satisfying part was the productive hunting I enjoyed in the following
years, taking whitetails, mule deer, antelope, bears and
caribou with only a stick bow, some arrows and my instincts.
It’s a wondrous thing, this instinctive bow shooting. I’d like
to share with you what I’ve learned.

The first step is to understand that the term “instinctive
shooting” is a misnomer. We have the capacity to shoot a bow
quite accurately without the aid of devices, but it does not come
from instinct. It is achieved through highly trained hand/eye
coordination and concentration learned from hours of practicing
the mechanics of good form.

Some people can’t believe this method of shooting a bow is
practical, or even feasible. “Instinctive shooting can never be
as precise as shooting with sights, so a bowhunter who shoots
that way is always at a disadvantage,” they say. But they`re wrong.
We’re talking bowhunting, not an archery tournament. A
bowhunter is not required to hit a spot the size of a quarter to
be successful. He needs to hit something the size of a dinner
plate—the vital zone of an animal. Precision beyond that is purely
academic. At normal bowhunting ranges of O to 25 yards, a
well practiced traditional shooter should be able to kill deer just
as consistently as an average archer with all the gadgets. And in
cases where he must shoot very quickly the target is moving, the
shooting position is difficult, the weather is horrendous or shooting light is minimal—all quite common conditions in bowhunting—he should be able to do it better. And of course, he will never
miss due to a loose sight pin, a faulty launcher, a jammed release,
or plugged peep-all of which, by the way, have cost me animals.
Beyond that, there are instinctive shooters who are so accurate
they can pick off rabbits, squirrels, even flying gamebirds consistently
Mastering the aft of instinctive shooting to that degree
requires mental concentration and well»practiced fundamentals of
shooting form. But mostly it takes being connected to that mysterious
energy that allows you to just think about
hitting a target with an arrow, and then making it happen.
It’s that last part that baffles most people. How, exactly, do
you achieve that “instinctive” accuracy?

The way instinctive shooting always seems to be described
is picking a spot, concentrating on it, and releasing. I have never
found that description sufficient to do my shooting any good.
I groped, experimented and struggled with bare bow shooting.

But l think I’ve found, and can describe, the secret. Yes, it
does involve concentrating on a spot, but it is much more than
that. lt is not just looking at a spot, but looking at it in a way
that your eyesight is, in a way, projected into it. In preparing
to shoot, imagine your eyesight as the sun’s rays through a magnifying
glass—that you could burn a hole in the target if your
sight is focused and intense enough.

There is a second part to this equation, which is that you must
project with your entire body. You feel (don’t peek!) how your
arrow is pointed, and put everything into a straight line by drawing
with your back muscles, not your arms. You bum a tiny hole
in the precise spot you want to hit, while being subliminally conscious
of how your muscles are directing the arrow, with it all
connected and working in synch. That is the simple secret.
There are several ways to screw this up. It is quite possible
to look at the spot you want to hit without doing it in a way
that promotes accuracy—without really focusing on it. Again,
you have to project your sight feels confusing and you become
conscious there is little likelihood of making the shot.

Do not even dream of consciously looking at your arrow, bow hand, or the gap between your
arrow tip and the target. To do that is to destroy the process,
and if you do hit the target after peeking at how your arrow
is pointed, it will be largely by accident.
What all this amounts to—and why it works—isn’t really
magic. It’s focus. It just feels like magic.

Of course, no degree of perfection in “aiming” is going to help
unless you have a good release and follow-through. It really
doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you do it consistently. We
just use an “on»target” draw, a solid anchor point, back tension,
finger~slip release, and keeping the bow in place during follow
through for the simple and effective reason that all these things
are much easier to do consistently than their alternatives.
Beyond that, the instinctive release and follow~through
should be an extension of “pointing with your muscles.” It
should be almost unconcious, with no last moment movement of either hand
not even a blink.
When you get the technique down, it is truly amazing. In certain cases it is more
accurate for howhunting than mechanical sighting devices. When you’re in the groove, you
just can’t miss. You can feel that acutely and it feels great.

Describing the perfect instinctive bow shot and how to
achieve it is probably the most difficult concept I’ve ever tried to put on paper.
I’d like to go further and describe it as a flow of energy from the eyes to the
target back to the hands, a circuit of something like electricity that, provided your
form is right, will send an arrow as true as a laser beam. I’d like to say it comes
from the heart, or the soul, or maybe our genes that still carry DNA from the
hundreds of generations of our ancestors who depended on bows and arrows every
day to stay alive. Something spiritual wells up through your hands, arms, brain and eyes, and when everything is right, there’s a spark in the mind that knows with ultimate certainty, the instant of your release, that the arrow will slam into the center of whatever it is in your “sights.”

Sometimes you know it before you even draw the bow, which is one of the
highest highs in bowhunting. But people who have yet to discover and understand the beauty of true
instinctive shooting might scoff at all this as some kind of quasi»Zen weirdness.
So I just tell them to look hard at your target and shoot. >>—>

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Published by archerchick on 09 Dec 2011

Sneak & Peek Whitetail Strategies ~ By Bill Vaznis


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

6 steps to arrowing a buck from Ground Zero

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PRE-RUT Food Sources

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grunt Tube

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Published by archerchick on 08 Dec 2011

Alberta Double Header – By Bob Robb


Bowhunting World October 2003
Alberta Double Header – By Bob Robb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deer Hunter’s Mecca

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whitetails, Mulies – Or Both?

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

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

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

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

A Great Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ll Be Back

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

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

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