Archive for the 'Bowhunting' Category

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Published by archerchick on 07 Jul 2011

Mark Of The Whitetail – By Steve Brockmann


Bowhunting World
February 1990

Mark Of The Whitetail By Steve Brockmann

Almost everyone enjoys seeing deer while stumbling around the outdoors
even if they’re not hunting. But, while an encounter with wild deer is almost
universally a valued experience, for the deer hunter such an encounter is
the primary objective.

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For those specifically searching for deer, the quest can be frustrating. Deer
often avoid humans, so finding them may be difficult. This is especially true
of whitetail deer, which in general inhabit heavy cover, and are usually warier
than western mule deer.

Whitetails do leave a number of signs in their passing, however, and the careful
student of the outdoors can often tell a great deal about the deer in the area from
these signs. Correct interpretations of deer sign often lead to a direct encounter
with this elusive species.

Signs left by the whitetail include droppings, tracks, trails, rubs, scrapes, beds,
browse marks, hair and shed antlers. Each can tell something about the local deer
but the best understanding always comes when all possible sources of information
are considered.

Droppings are perhaps the most commonly encountered , and most easily recognized
deer sign. Researchers have used fecal pellets to to determine diets, habitat use patterns
and population sizes. Bowhunters can determine many of the same things, though perhaps on a rougher scale, by observing the consistancy and location, and abundance of deer droppings
they encounter in the field.

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The most common form of dropping is the pellet. These cylinders range from about one-half to
over an inch in length and from about one-quarter to one-half inch in diameter. This is the deer dropping most of us are familiar with, but it is not the only type. Pellets are produced whenever deer are eating dry vegetation or browse (twigs, buds and leaves of woody species rather than grasses and forbs). Across most of the whitetail’s range, this means late summer through early spring.

The other form of deer dropping is produced when deer have been eating succulent green forage.
These are globular masses of indefinate shape. Sometimes they resemble blobs of mud, while at other times they appear more like a segmented mass of many small blobs. For the lack of a more
universal term, these soft droppings are sometimes referred to as “plops”. Plops may be up to two inches in diameter and are usually green when fresh and black or dark brown when older. They are most commonly produced during spring and early summer, when new growth is abundant.
Where palatable plants occur near banks, lakes or bogs, deer may produce plops throughout the summer and into the fall.

The distribution of droppings can be a clue to the habitat use patterns and distribution of the deer.
Successful interpretation lies on a general knowledge of deer habits, however. Whitetail deer usually bed in heavy cover during the day, and move to open areas, such as meadows, agricultural fields or timber cuts during the night. In some cases ,shrub patches or dense stands of trees are the preferred feeding sites.

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Deer usually defecate upon rising in the evening, and droppings are often deposited in a distinct pile. If you can find an area of dense brush with many such piles, chances are you have found a
frequently used bedding area. Look nearby for beds, where the vegetation has been flattened by
deer lying down.

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A relatively open, but timbered, ridge may be used as a travel corridor between the bedding area and feeding area. These corridors can sometimes be identified by the large number of deer pellets scattered along them. Deer often void while on the move, so droppings may be spread out, rather than in small groups. in some regions, bedding areas are immediately adjacent to feeding areas
so distinct travel corridors may not exist.

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Feeding areas will also usually contain deer droppings, but these are likely to be scattered at a much lower density than in either bedding areas or travel corridors.

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Areas with abundant droppings usually hold more deer than those that with fewer droppings, but one can be fooled. In the northern portion f the whitetail’s range, deer frequently concentrate in relatively small areas during the most severe weather. These wintering areas often hold high densities of deer pellets, but very few deer during most of the year. Whitetails usually select stands of mature evergreens for winter habitat, so large concentrations of deer pellets in a stand of large old pines, firs or cedars may tip you off to a winter yard.

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Shed antlers which are usually dropped in early winter, are another clue as to the location of winter ranges, and can give a good idea of the size of the bucks in the area. In most areas, the largest antlers are usually found shed on the winter ranges rather than on the heads of hunters-harvested animals.

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On winter ranges, deer are most likely to be encountered during winter, of course. It is important to realize, though, that deer coping with deep snow are often walking a fine line between starvation
and survival, and that running from humans can represent a critical drain of the deer’s limited energy. Wintering areas are usually best avoided during the time that deer are using them.

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The age of droppings can be very helpful in deciphering the routine of the local deer, but this is often difficult to determine. Very fresh droppings are wet, warm, and often steaming. Within a day
they often have adried outer coat, but are usually soft easily crushed and moist inside. Many factors including temperature, precipitation, eposure and deer diet affect the rate at which pellets
dry. In moist areas, pellets may decompose within weeks, while in drier areas they may last for many years.

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Because whitetails habitually follow the same routes, and because deer often travel in groups, whitetail habitat is usually laced with a network of trails. Researchers have found that larger deer populations make more trails than do smaller deer populations, given similar habitat. Thus an area with lots of trails usually has lots of deer. But comparing the number of deer trails in two areas of habitat types will not necessarily provide a reliable comparison of the relative sizes of the deer populations.

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Some trails connect food or water to bedding cover. Others lead to fence crossings or through heavy cover. Many of the trails are used only after dark, especially wide trails in open habitat. Chances are best of seeing deer where many trails funnel together, for example where a broken fence makes crossing easier, or where a narrow strip of cover connects two forrested areas. These areas can be very productive for the bowhunter who can slip into such an area and wait patiently down-wind, perhaps in a tree stand.

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Low fence wires, especially those marked with tufts of deer hair, often reveal where deer cross from one pasture to another. These sites should be noted by those trying to determine travel routes of deer in a given area, as they may provide another good opportunity to ambush a buck.

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Deer tracks are frequently encountered, and, depending on the circumstances, one may be able to tell where the deer was coming from from or going to, how fast it was going, what it was doing, how long ago it was there, and perhaps the sex and six=ze of the deer.

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Tracks may be found in snow, soil, or vegetation. By far the easiest to identify are those tracks left in fresh snow. If the snow is very recent, there is little doubt about how long ago
the deer was there, and there will usually be a clear record of where the deer came from and where it was going. Tracks can be followed forward, in an attempt to find the deer that
made the track, or they can be followed backwards, to find out what the deer has been
to. Some hunters have developed tracking to a fine art, and several books have been written on the subject.

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Careful tracking and persistence has led many hunters to fine bucks, but the technique is not usually an easy shortcut to a trophy, especially for the hunter. The tricks a whitetail can pull to throw a pursuer from his track are legendary; From mixing with other deer tracks, to walking in streams, to constantly circling downwind to check for followers, a wary whitetail is a challenge for any tracker.

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For the bowhunter interested in learning about deer, but wishing to avoid direct harassment of the deer, backtracking can be rewarding and often more enlightening than forward tracking. It allows one to interpret the behavior of undisturbed deer something that is difficult to do when one is forward tracking. It is also an effective way to learn the location of local feeding areas, bedding areas, and travel routes between the two.

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Whether forward-tracking or backtracking, the process is the same find a track and follow it for as long as possible, The interpretations made along the way can help you determine what the deer was doing when it was there. Gait is an obvious attribute one can determine about a track. Short, staggered strides indicate that the deer was walking slowly. It
may have been hiding, watching, and sneaking, or it may have been feeding through an
area. Nipped buds and twigs can help make a case for feeding. By noting which species are
most heavily browsed, and which not browsed, one can learn a great deal about food preferences in the area.

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Longer strides laid out along a straighter course indicate a deer moving along with a
destination in mind. Such movements are common when deer travel between feeding
areas and bedding areas. A buck in search of receptive does during the breeding season
also moves along at a good pace, so keep this in mind if tracks are found during the November rut.

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When frightened, whitetails run in long bounds, which have distinctive marks. Tracks
of all four feet register together, with distances of up to 20 feet separating each landing
mark. Snow or dirt is often thrown forward from the force of the landing and push-off of
each bound. Sometimes backtracking will reveal what scared the deer. A car, coyote, dog
or human is often the cause. If the track is very fresh, you may well have frightened the
deer yourself.

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As with droppings, aging very fresh tracks is not difficult. Tracks in snow will usually
freeze overnight, so check for a think glaze of ice in the track if a track looks crisp and fresh. In some conditions, tracks may appear new for several days, but truly fresh tracks will almost always have loose snow in the hoof print itself or along the drag marks left in
front of or behind the print. After a few hours in sunlight, or a few minutes in strong wind,
some tracks may be obliterated. In these cases, it is best to reserve judgement on the
age of the track until they are followed into a sheltered site.

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If the edges are melted out and indistinct, or an icy glaze has formed on the tracks in the
shade, they are likely a day or more old. Fresh tracks in fluffy, powdery snow may be very
indistinct, and might appear to be very old at first glance. Again, however, the snow filling
the tracks will be loose and fluffy rather than either frozen solid or wet and slushy. Knowledge of how long since the last snow, and of weather conditions since then, can be helpful in determining the age of a track.


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Obviously, small deer make small tracks and large deer make large tracks. The tracks
of fawns are relatively easy to distinguish, and the medium-sized deer traveling with them
are usually does, though small bucks could be among the does and fawns. During the November rut, bucks of any size may be traveling with the does and fawns.

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Like fawn tracks, those of the biggest bucks are not particularly difficult to identify,
though it may take a bit more experience to know what qualifies as a truly large track. In
very heavily hunted populations, few or no bucks reach trophy size, so the largest tracks
may well be those of the oldest does. Bucks continue to grow for several years after the
age at which does reach full size, however, and bucks are almost invariably larger than
females of similar age. In populations where some of the bucks are able to survive to a ripe
old age the biggest tracks are usually made by big bucks.

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A number of other clues can be used to separate tracks of bucks from those of does.
These clues become especially important when trying to decide if a moderate-sized
track was made by an adult doe or by a young to moderate-aged buck. No one sign is fully
fool-proof, and each has been contested by experienced hunters. A combination of factors, however, can usually be relied upon to reveal the sex of the deer.

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In shallow snow (under about one inch) bucks tend to drag their feet, while does tend
to lift theirs. In deeper snow, all deer show drag marks, so this cannot be relied upon in
all cases. Probably the next most reliable sign is the pattern of urination revealed in the
snow. Bucks usually leave a small, neat hole with crisp edges, where a steady stream has
entered the snow. Does, by contrast, tend to leave more of a puddle. During the rut, bucks
may dribble urine along their track, rather than stopping to relieve themselves.

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Individual tracks of a buck also tend to be staggered from side to side and pointed outwards, rather than in a straight line, like those of a doe. Some authors claim that bucks will walk around dense brush patches and trees, to avoid tangling their antlers, while does will wiggle their way through or against such obstacles. My experience has been somewhat different on this matter, as I have tracked bucks through very dense brush patches. In fact, bucks have frequently been noted to use the most dense tangles of cover to a much greater extent than do the females.

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If you find a bed along the track you are following, you may be able to make out where the deer laid its head when it slept. Occasionally an antler will leave an impression in the snow here, which will give you solid evidence as to the sex of the deer. Similarly, you may be able to detect antler marks in the snow where the deer has fed, if the snow is fairly deep.

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One final bit of evidence, which pops up with a fair degree of regularity along a buck’s trail, especially during the rut, is the rub. If a lone set of tracks leads to a sapling which has had bark or branches stripped, and that material is lying on top of the snow, accept that as
final proof that you have found a buck’s trail.

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Rubs are created by bucks as they scrape their antlers on small trees. This is done in late summer to remove the velvet from the fully grown antlers, but the activity continues through the rut. Scent glands in the skin of the forehead are thought to produce a personal odor, so rubs become a business card, of sorts, for individual bucks. Be aware of rubs , even when you’re not following a trail in the snow. These indicate that a buck has passed through the area, and may be living nearby.

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Some very successful hunters maintain that individual bucks mark their consistently used travel routes by a series of rubs. These marked routes are usually found downwind of major deer trails, and are located in heavy cover. Observing a buck in such an area is
often difficult because these routes are hidden and may be used only under cover of darkness.

Scrapes are another sign left by bucks only, and have fascinated hunters and researchers for years. Scrapes are triangular impressions in the soil, pawed out by the buck during the rut. Again, a personal odor is deposited, this time from the interdigital glands found between the toes of the front foot.

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The scrape apparently serves as a meeting place for bucks, who are ready and willing to breed through much of the fall, and the does, who come into heat for only 24 hours at a time. If not bred, the doe will recycle and come into heat between 21 and 30 days later, but this happens only two or three times per year for each doe. When her time comes, each doe
must seek out a suitable buck. This is most easily done, apparently, by leaving a message
on the buck’s answering machine: she urinates in his scrape. When the buck checks back later he will notice the message and search out the doe, who is usually nearby.

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These scrapes, then, are an important sign to the deer herd, and should be noticed by the
bowhunter interested in learning about whitetails in the area. Scrapes are usually from one
to three feet in diameter, and consist of a shallow fan-shaped depression of bare soil from
which all leaves, needles, and other litter have been removed. Scrapes are often found along edges between brushy areas and mature timber, or along field edges. Often a series of small scrapes, each approximately 100 yards or more apart, will lead to a larger, more active “primary” or “hub” scrape. This primary scrape will usually be under an over-
hanging branch, which will be licked, nuzzled, and rubbed by several of the bucks in
an area.

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For the hunter, the primary scrape is the best sign of all to find, for it means that one or
more mature bucks are in the area, and probably will return. The trick becomes approaching the scrape and waiting patiently, undetected. Scrapes are usually checked from downwind, so hunters are often detected as they wait. Stands situated well downwind of scrapes have proven to be the most reliable.

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The approach to the stand must be planned carefully if one expects a reasonable shot at a
calm animal. If the wind carries your scent through the cover he is hiding in as you walk
to your stand, you likely will never see him at the scrape. The scents associated with your
boots and pants alone are enough to alert a whitetail if he encounters them on his way in.
He will probably either sneak off quietly, maybe without your even knowing, or perhaps he’ll snort, raise his tail, turn, and break into graceful, but heartbreaking, bounds.

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The route to the stand should be planned to minimize the chances of winds carrying your
scent to the deer (think about the locations of feeding and bedding areas). A cover scent,
applied to pant legs (from the knee down) and boots (the toe and the sole are the most critical) can help hide the entry trail from deer that cross it in their wanderings. A lure made from the urine of estrus does can even bring a rutting buck to your stand, right along the path you followed.

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Scrapes are perhaps the ultimate sign to the hunter, and a fascinating phenomenon for
others, but those illiterate in the more basic language of droppings, tracks, and rubs will
likely find few scrapes, and may use the scrapes they do find inappropriately. Once
daily movement patterns of the local deer are worked out, likely places for scrapes can be
predicted, and logical strategies can be plotted.

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As experiences in an area accumulate, more of the details of the deer population can
be filled in. Conjecture can be replaced by observation, and familiarity will replace
confusion. One emotion that probably will not disappear is a near constant amazement at the survival capacity of the whitetail, and a respect for the resourcefulness of a species that
continues to expand its range in the face of increasing human populations and the pressures they place on the environment. >>—>

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Published by archerchick on 06 Jul 2011

Boone & Crockett Buck ~ By Tad E. Crawford


Bowhunting World
June 1989

Boone & Crockett Buck
By Tad E. Crawford

Normally, I try not to let my deer
hunting success result from pure,
unadulterated luck. Somehow, I’m
not very proud of a trophy unearned. The hunt
of 1987 might have been a series of lucky coincidences,
all right, but I have to say, I also
worked to bring home that trophy.
The best pre-season dreamer would not
have conjured up the series of fantastic coincidences
surrounding my taking of that fabulous animal.

After all, just what are the
chances of finding both sheds, 20 yards apart,
from a Boone and Crockett whitetail? What
about the prospects of bowshooting that same
whitetail just one month later — and from an
evening ground blind five yards away! And
how about the likelihood of recovering this
huge deer, hit and lost the day before Thanks-
giving, after three days of small game hunters
and their dogs combing the area?

Now, it’s no secret we bowhunters are ever
stalking ways to improve the chances of taking
a true trophy whitetail. One of the most important
keys is patience and, as I see it, pa-
tience is twofold. First, a trophy whitetail
hunter ought to have a patient and loving wife
like my Cathy. She has to be patient with me
hunting every day in November. She must patiently
explain to all of my taxidermy customers why I could
take such a long vacation- before I had finished their
trophies. (I pity the guy whose wife can’t love him enough not
to nag when deer season starts and he is out
doing the thing he loves most.)

The second type of patience comes in
when spending time in the field and on stand,
evaluating actions and reactions of whitetails.
This is an important time: more is involved
here than just killing a deer. Even when
you’ve done your pre-season and in-season
scouting, you still have to be able to see what
you’re looking at. Interpretation of sign — or
perhaps the sudden lack of it — is very important
for success.

I estimated I had logged some 300 hours
“air time” —— time actually spent in tree
stands — when I tagged the big one. Many
was the day I spent all day, daylight to dark,
without coming down to ground level.

As I bask in my victory of last year, I can
afford to think back to all those missed shots
and opportunities at really big bucks. I do not
have a lot of record racks on my wall, but the
experience gained over the years helped me to
harvest this deer. I guess a guy has to hunt
where the big bucks are before he gets a
chance to bust one.

Northeastern Ohio has produced some
fine whitetails. Dense, overgrown strip
mines, moderate cultivation, and suburbs
provide good trophy habitat. Somehow the
deer I harvested managed to elude hunters,
poachers, cars, and who knows what for several
years. Good health and good fortune allowed him
to grow to outstanding proportions
and horn development.

Up until that year sightings of a huge buck
had been sketchy. Some said the last time he’d
been seen was three years before. Was he still
around? Then, in October, my friend Dave .
Unkefer and his weimaraner found both sheds
of a tremendous whitetail. Well, now, I mean
to tell you, these were nice horns! I rough
scored these 13-point typical sheds at about

183 Boone and Crockett points. So, the big
one was still at large.
Throughout the month of November we
found fresh. extra-large, three-inch tracks and
many large rubs on hardwood trees six to ten
inches in diameter. Then, the rut appeared to
pass and even button bucks were observed
chasing does in heat. Believe me, that’s depressing.

But the big tracks persisted. Dave and another
hunting buddy, Steve Slatzer, tracked
some very large bucks after a fresh snow. Was
the 13-pointer among them?

With snow still on the ground, the three of
us checked out a hidden cornfield we knew of.
Bingo! Buck Heaven! We kicked out six big
bucks- this cornfield was hot enough to pop.
At least a dozen good scrapes surrounding it
were rototilled.

The deer were pounding this field so well,
I couldn’t resist locking up my Amacker portable
in an adjacent oak. Covered with Camo
Leaves, it looked great, just like an old squirrels
next. I was ready.

On Monday morning, I climbed up into
that oak, which was to be my daytime home
for the next three days. But by Wednesday, the
only game I had seen were two fox squirrels,
one red squirrel, and a crossbow hunter. All
sign had grown cold — I figured we had left
too much scent when scouting — and my
thoughts drifted to a newly planted winter
wheat field about a half mile away. The deer
had to be somewhere.

It was noon and I decided to check it out.
More mindful this time of leaving too much
scent, I approached into the wind and checked
only the nearest edge of the bare dirt for
tracks. Large tracks were everywhere —-
large, fresh tracks. I resisted the temptation to
scout the edges for the best approach trails,
afraid to show any more presence than necessary.
It was possible that my target animal was
bedded on the adjoining hillside overlooking
this field, so I stayed in the shadows as much
as possible.

A tree stand was out of the question. No
large trees existed, and besides, this was November 25th,
and all of the leaves had fallen.
Little cover existed anywhere, so I quickly
gathered some light-colored weeds and constructed
a ground blind.
Once settled in, I felt good and things
seemed right. I spent the next five hours sit-
ting on a cold, bare patch of earth behind the
blind, but the balmy, sunny afternoon was
comforting. And I did not rise once for any
reason. I napped, ate a late snack of Kool-Aid
and granola bars and listened t0 the semi-
trucks rolling down a nearby highway. I had
not slept long when I was awakened by the
distress call of my bladder. I whisked out my
porta—potty, a hot water bottle I carry in the
field to keep my stands free from the scent of
human urine. Then, I settled back behind my
blind.

I dozed until the five o’clock whistle blew
at a distant coal mine. I peeked out through
the pokeberry weeds to see two deer feeding
intently in the wheat field about 80 yards
away. Both heads were down and, because of a
slight depression in the ground where they
stood, no antlers could be seen. The deer on
the left raised its head first, a nice “skinhead”
doe. The deer on my right seemed larger and
-holy cow! What a buck!

Now he was looking in my direction. The spread of his horns
was well beyond his ear tips. As he looked at
the doe, I counted at least six or seven points
on his left antler. At that moment, I thought I
was probably looking at the 13-point Boone
and Crockett deer of last year’s sheds. What a
privilege to be able to watch such an animal,
undisturbed, at close range and in such good
light. If only I had had some video gear.
I don’t remember getting nervous about
shooting that deer — excited, yes, but not nervous.

All I could think of was that darkness
would soon engulf us and I would have to
leave the stand, possibly spooking them. I
watched and waited.
Twenty minutes went by like 20 seconds.
The doe quit eating and slowly walked past
my blind at about six or eight yards to my left.
The wind was just right, still in my favor. Now
it was Mr. Big’s time to move. Slowly closing
the distance, he stopped about 40 yards out.
I was still glassing him when he started grunting
low, sustained grunts. He put his head
down and started walking directly at my blind.
I chucked the binoculars and grabbed the bow,
slowly.

If the truth were known, I think I was now
in a state of acute hypertension. I was talking
to myself, “The one thing you can’t do is
move quickly. Get that bow up. Wait for the
right moment to draw. Yeah, the bow is up,
and oh, *?%@$, there he is! ”

Standing broadside, only five yards away,
he just happened to stop in the two foot shooting
lane I had cleared earlier. “OK, easy does
it. Make the draw. Center the pin on that
shoulder. Smooth release and — ” What a
temptation to snap shoot. “He’s too close.
Any moment he’ll be gone.”

I talked myself into completing the draw.
Like a homing pigeon, the pin centered on the
shoulder and instantly the arrow was on its
way. A solid thunk sent the deer bolting in the
direction he and the doe were headed. I re-
member thinking, “No way could I have
messed up that shot. Had to be a perfect lung
hit. Probably find the arrow laying on the
ground from a pass through — great blood
trail. Quick recovery.” Soon I would discover
just how wrong my wishful thinking was.

You readers will now have to pardon an
interruption for a commercial. As you wait to
read what happened to the trophy buck, this
is, after all, my golden opportunity to tell you
about Camo Leaves, a product I invented and
manufacture. Camo Leaves are artificial foliage
that attach to your clothing and equipment
with Velcro. Camo leaves are designed to
break up the human silhouette and provide
better three-dimensional contrast. Picture me
— my suit, headnet, bowlimbs, gloves, all
covered with little Camo Leaves. With Camo
Leaves your prize buck — just like my prize
buck — may never know you ’re there, never
notice your draw, never think of a slight movement
as anything more than the movement of
leaves attached to branches, fluttering in the
breeze. Camo Leaves concealed me from a
buck at eye level less than five yards away!

And now, about that buck my Camo Leaves
and I took.
I waited a few minutes in the blind, my
heart racing like a runaway freight train. Sud-
denly it was raining — pouring, the first time
since I’d been hunting this year. Of all the
luck. I ran as fast as I could to a field about a
half mile away where I caught Steve making
his way back to the truck. All but out of

breath, I blurted out, “I just hit the big one! ”
Steve said he would call Cathy to tell her l
would be home late and that he would return
with a better tracking light.
I returned to the site to search for the blood
trail in the pouring rain. Three hours of
searching turned up nothing. The rain had
done a job and I was more than a little dejected
as we sloshed the mile and a half back to the
truck.

It rained all night, but at break of day we
began again in earnest, confident we would
walk right up on my deer. We found the fletch
end of my arrow almost immediately. It had
only penetrated about seven inches when the
shaft broke off.
I remember grumbling about poor penetration
when I spotted something. “Steve.
look there, a rifle! ” There lay an old 22-caliber
lever-action Marlin 39A, very rusted.

The wood stock was so rotted, it fell off in my
hands. The strangest fact of all was that the,
hammer was cocked. I didn’t know what to
look for first, deer parts. or people parts! l
figured the rifle had been there for 20 or more
years and it could wait a little longer to tell is
story. I opted for deer parts.

For three days Steve and I searched. The
few short hours of sleep I had gotten in the last
two nights began to wear heavy on me. We
were both tired from combing every briar
patch and swamp in a half-mile arc around the
hit location. I just knew that deer was hit too
badly to survive. Still, we came home empty
handed. We had been dodging rabbit hunters
and beagles for two days after Thanksgiving. I
was afraid someone had found my buck, but I
had to keep looking. Gun season would start on
Monday, an added threat that someone else
would find that deer.

Things were looking a little hopeless that
evening as I prayed to the “Great Guide” in
the big deer camp in the sky. “Lord,” I said,
“I expect you to deliver that deer to me Ill
how. I’ve worked hard. I know he’s there. Just
show me the way.”

Saturday morning came early. The
weather finally broke. As I looked into the
clearing sky, I was wishing I had a bird’s eye
view of that hunting area. Then it hit me,
could get a bird ’s eye view from a helicopter!

In an hour I had found a pilot at a local
airport and we were up. The initial thrill of
my first chopper flight faded as we circled my
hunting area for an hour and a half. I was almost
glad to hear the pilot say we would have
to head back for gas. I was getting airsick —
and heart sick. I still had seen no sign of my
buck. The pilot suggested we fly back over the
area my deer had come from, since it was on
the way back.

The pilot spotted him first. “‘Wow!” he
said. “Now I know why you rented a chopper!
is looks like an elk. Got to be the biggest
deer I’ve ever seen.”
Yep, there he was, lying in a briar patch,
only 75 yards from some guy’s back door. Of
course, I hadn’t looked in people’s backyards
for the deer. The pilot wanted to set down
right there, but I was afraid this guy would not
appreciate being awakened on Saturday morning
by a helicopter landing in his yard. We
flew off and flew back — this time in my Subaru
— and I can’t say which flew faster. New
land speed records were set that day.
It appeared my trophy buck had run about a quarter
mile from where I hit him, apparently
dying relatively soon. The Terminator double—cut
broadhead had just missed the heart,
puncturing one lung.

I tagged him immediately. We took hero
shots of me and the deer and then we salvaged
as much as possible. Somewhere in between
the photos and the excitement, I managed to
give thanks and take some measurements.
His rack now officially scores 207 Boone
and Crockett non-typical points and has 18
points over one inch in length. He was a rare
animal in that he could pass as a typical at 171
4/8 or as a non-typical.
If you count all the ring-hangers, the buck
is a 28-pointer. The inside spread is 25 inches
and the outside spread is 27 inches with 27-
inch main beams. The deer’s gross score is
214 3/8 and he has 18 2/8 inches of non-typical tine.
His girth at chest was about 52 1/2 inches
and his jaw aged him at about six-and-a-half
years old. The pads on his feet were three-
and-a-half inches long. Field-dressed weight
was 342 pounds.

For all you statisticians, my bow is a Darton 1000MX box, set at 59 pounds. I shot an
Easton XX75 Camo Hunter arrow, size 2213, and, of course, I used the best camouflage I
know — Camo Leaves. They just had to have made the difference.
Now, I will ask you again, just what are the prospects of all these
remarkable coincidences happening to one guy? Once in a life-
time? Once in two lifetimes? What are the
chances? >>—->
Editor’s Note: Camo Leaves are available
direct from the author at Camo Leaves, 6645
Cleveland Ave. S., East Sparta, OH 44626.
Under license from him they are also being
marketed nationally by The Game Tracker

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Published by archerchick on 06 Jul 2011

Elk Hunting’s Agony & Ecstasy ~By Patrick Meitin


Bowhunting World
February 1990
ELK HUNTING’S AGONY & ECSTASY
By Patrick Meitin

“What time is it!” I jumped from my sleeping bag and threw on my
clothes. It was opening morning of elk season in southwestern New Mexico
and the alarm clock had not gone off. With a lot of panicked rush we zoomed
out of camp on the four-wheeler, clutching precious bows and daypacks for
dear life. A line of silver began to crack in the eastern horizon. We zipped
around corners, bounced over rocks, and just in the nick of time arrived on
the mountain we would hunt. We were off to a hectic start, but I was elk hunting
and I could have cared less.

I started up a canyon that I knew had elk in the past. I heard a faint bugle at the
head of the canyon and pressed hard to reach it. The forest was damp and quiet, as
a soft mist fell from the low, fog-like clouds. Upon reaching the head of the canyon
I again heard the bugle, but much closer this time. Wooeeeeeeeock! Bugles began to
sound from all directions, at least five of them – mostly bad. Damn, I wasn’t alone.
It looked as if my surefire spot had been discovered. “There is at least one real bull
up here, maybe I can find him before the crowd does.”

I slowly approached the saddle at the head of the canyon I had been following noticing
the three sets of fresh elk tracks in the rain soaked ground. I heard a faint click of hoof
against rock and dropped to the ground beside a well worn game trail. I grabbed an
arrow from my Catquiver and felt the razor sharp edge of the Zwicky that tipped it, and
quietly nocked it. The two beasts rounded the spruce tree—–horses!

The riders stopped to chat a while, noting
all the “elk bugles” they had been hearing.
They seemed real proud with their logic of
bugling from horseback, saying, “The elk will
think it is another bull walking toward them.”
My somewhat sarcastic response, “More
likely you will get shot.”

That was it. I shifted my pack for a better
ride, looked skyward hoping it wouldn’t rain,
and made a beeline for parts roadless and remote.
Five miles later I sat huddled under a
tight branched pinion tree singing, “Rain,
rain go away . . .” It must have been about two
in the afternoon before the cat and dog rain
finally subsided.

I began to stillhunt down a thickly covered
ridge and really started to get into the sign. It
looked like a hundred bulls had gone on a tree
thrashing rampage. I caught movement
through a hole in the thick brush and froze in
my tracks. A yearling elk calf walked into an
opening only 20 yards away.

As I stood motionless, mostly in the open,
several cows began to filter out of the brush a
little farther than the calf. I knew there had to l
be a bull with the herd. A deep, throaty bugle
not far away confirmed my suspicions. It began to
rain again, I slowly reached around and
slipped an arrow from my quiver. Just then a
small 4×5 bull walked out to join the calf. I
didn’t want him. I had decided long before the
hunt, having killed two nice bulls previously, I
wanted at least a 300-inch class Pope and
Young bull.

The wind began to swirl a bit and I anticipated
that it was about to betray me. No
sooner had the thought crossed my mind
when the small bull and the calf grew nervous
and began to tiptoe to my left. The farther
cows sensed something was up and also grew
fidgety. The elk began to move away through
the thick brush. The deep bugle again
sounded from the trees behind the now moving elk
and I readied myself, hoping it would
be a trophy bull. I glimpsed a set of dark,
heavy beamed antlers moving toward the
opening — he was big enough. I drew my
bow.

The elk filtered down the ridge. The bull
walked quickly through the opening and offered
only a split second of shooting time. I
got my pin on his chest, panning the bow with
the moving animal. A tree jumped in the way.
He entered another opening. Just as my pin
found its place he disappeared again. I would
not see the bull again. I let my bow down,
exasperated and frustrated. “It’s only the first
day, calm down He was a good bull — about
three—forty, but it was not his day to go. I
walked down to a saddle and found a place to
get out of the rain. I fell asleep against the dry
side of an ancient juniper tree, waiting for the
rain to cease.

Suddenly my eyes were wide open, “What
was that?” A bull was bugling in the canyon
below. I glanced around and saw elk everywhere
I looked, mostly cows. I glassed all of
them, but none of them was the trophy bull I
was looking for. I still hadn’t seen the emphatic
bugling bull sol stalked down to take a
better look. The bull continued to bugle, making
him easy to home in on. When I sensed
that I was very close I let out a short, high
pitched bugle through my cupped hands. The
bull answered before the first echo sounded
from my own bugle. I grunted as best I could
through cupped hands, and waited. Crunching
rocks and snapping twigs prompted me to
nock an arrow.

As the 6×6 bull walked into the open at 30
yards. my pin settled behind the mud speckled shoulder.
I let the string down slowly and
looked a little harder at the bull’s rack. He
would go around two-eighty. It was only the
first day of the hunt, with several more days to
come, and it would be a long haul out of here
with 100-pound packs of elk steaks. I would
let him pass.

I watched the bull lose interest and turn to .
walk away, his ego inflated by having run off
the brave intruder. I noticed for the first time
that it was getting late in the evening. I drew a
deep breath and turned to walk toward the
truck.

I reached the four-wheeler around midnight,
glad to see it still there. Perry Harper,
my long time hunting partner and kamikaze
driver, dragged himself in just behind me. He
was also glad to see the four-wheeler. He too
had bee lined to the rough stuff. He had passed
up a nice 6×6 bull during the day, but having
bagged a 314-inch Pope and Young bull the
past season he was looking for bigger things.
We loaded up and zipped back to camp. Oh,
the dry sanctuary of the tent — dry clothes —
dry socks!

The alarm sounded early the following
morning. Our hunting party gathered in Perry ’s
camp trailer to compare notes and decide
where to hunt. Steven Tisdale, a college
friend on his first elk hunt hadn’t seen much
game the day before. When I told him he
could have anything that I passed up, he was
more than happy to come along with me. Arriving
at the end of the cow trail “road” after
dropping Perry off, we shut down the engine
and sat back to wait for shooting light. Soon
the sunlight began to creep up the valley. We
pushed the doors shut quietly and went forth.
It was cold and crisp alter the nightime clearoff,
the frost whispered quietly as we walked
through the knee-deep grass. Following a
barbed wire fence, we approached “the perfect
elk meadow,” a name that had come to
mind the first time I had seen it two seasons
before. I rounded a huge, ground hugging cedar
and stopped suddenly. I couldn’t believe
my eyes — a huge 7×7 bull walked tranquilly
across the meadow with his small harem of
cows. I excitedly waved Steven over to take a
look.

We huddled behind the cedar admiring the
majestic bull. A squirt of talcum powder from
a small bottle drifted back into my face. The
bull brought his head back and grunted deeply
without bugling, then lowered his head to rake
the ground with his horns. I adjusted the diaphragm
in my mouth, pressed my lips against
my grunt tube and let out my best bugle, followed
by five, throaty grunts. The bull
stopped, turned our way, and screamed at the
top of his lungs. I grunted at the enraged bull
and waited. The bull trotted toward us bugling
his head off. “He’s coming in.”

I shakily nocked an arrow, and looked up
to see the bull still coming our way. The wapati
reached the barbed wire fence 80 yards
ahead and walked behind a screening tree. I
seized the opportunity to move closer. The bull
hopped the fence without touching even a
hair. He continued past at a 90-degree angle,
caring the cedar I was using to hide myself.
I drew my bow. “This is too easy,” I thought.

The bull stopped for an instant as the string
slipped from my calf skin tab. At 50 yards the
bull had time to begin walking again, before
the arrow struck. I was in horror, as the arrow
met the elk after one long step. The arrow
disappeared into the bulls liver area. He was
hit, but was it good enough?

The bull spun and ran through the fence he
had jumped earlier and across the open
meadow. then vanished from sight. As we
watched, a small 6×6 walked into view across
the grassy meadow from a line of trees that
jutted into the open.

We watched the 6×6 through binoculars
for a short time, not believing how many elk
we were seeing already, not even 500 yards
from the truck. The small bull walked to one
of the ponderosas at the tip of the peninsula of
trees and stood beneath it’s boughs. We
turned away to start our stalk, wasting no time
in getting into the area.

We removed our shoes, and proceded.
Cold feet silent against the cutting ground, we
drew closer, feeling every twig and pebble.
Soon we were close and the chilled western
breeze still holding steady. Steven nocked an
arrow and drew a few deep breaths. He held
up the crossed fingers of his left hand and
smiled. then drifted ahead with me shadowing
him.

The bull rounded a tree 60 yards out, and
froze in his tracks at the sight of the two lumps
of moving brush. Steven slowly drew his bow
and anchored. “Sixty yards — 60 yards,” I
hissed quietly. Steven held his bow drawn for
what seemed a long time, then slowly let it
down. “Too far,” he whispered.
I cow talked very quietly to the bull but he
was no pushover. The curious bull let out a
loud bark and waited for a reaction. Pushing
the diaphragm to the front of my mouth I
barked back at him. He took a few steps toward
us then stamped his feet and let out another
ear piercing bark, This went on for at
least 10 minutes before the bull turned and
trotted away. Steven said, “If he had been 10
yards closer I would have shot. I just kept
thinking we already had one bull hit, we
didn’t need me to wound another. We still
have four days of hunting left.” That was a
hard decision for a guy on his first elk hunt.

After taking a short nap, we took up the
trail of my elk. We found one good puddle of
blood were he had entered the trees but from
there the drops were small and infrequent. We
followed mostly hoof prints in the soil when
we lost the blood. As we found even the slightest
sign it was marked so it could be referenced
if we lost the trail. We began to End less
blood sign and the ground had become rockier —
we were making very little headway.
The elks trail ended at the edge of a rim-rock
bordered canyon.

Steven and I split up to search for the bull.
I searched until the sinking sun forced me to
retreat to the truck. I was disgusted. I guess if
you hunt long enough, one day the odds will
catch up with you ~ and you will loose an
animal. Should I have taken the long shot? I
might have been able to call him closer — he
was interested enough. Why couldn’t I have
hit him better? I felt sorry for the magnificent
animal. and wished I had never seen him. I
tore my tag from my license — my hunt was
over. Sleep would be difficult tonight.

At first light the following morning Perry
and I returned to where the trail had been lost,
hoping that fresh eyes and bodies could better
follow the trail. I couldn’t believe how easy
the trail seemed after the day before. In a matter
of hours we trailed the bull to where it had
fallen. I was thankful that I had found the bull
in time to salvage the meat.

If that valiant warrior had gone to waste I
would never have forgiven myself. I still felt
hollow inside from the circumstances of the
kill, but remembered that nature is often
much crueler.

As Perry and I field dressed my bull we
heard a distant bugle. After we had gotten it
dressed and into the shade we walked in that
direction. We skirted a high rim hoping to
glass the countryside below. Finding nothing,
we sat down to eat our lunch. For no reason at
all I pulled a diaphragm from my pocket and
bugled defiantly to the valley below. Three
bulls answered me. Wide-eyed, Perry
squeaked, “Can you believe that! ”

We stalked down the mountain side toward
the closest bull, moving very slowly as we
went. After a few hundred yards Perry
dropped to the ground and nocked an arrow.

He could see elk legs a short distance down
the hill.
I bugled again adding a few deep grunts on
the end. Perry joined me with a variety of cow
calls. The forest became eerily quiet. I saw
the bull for the first time sauntering uphill at-
tempting to find his opponent.

At 25 yards the bull threw his head back to
bugle. Perry drew his bow. The bull took a
few steps forward and stopped again, broad-
side, in the open. Perry ‘s arrow shot forward
just as the bull stopped. The bright yellow
vanes spun in suspension, then stopped suddenly
as the arrow landed in the bull’s side.
The hit was good, and the bull lunged down
the hill with the Delta Zwicky-tipped wood
slicing through both lobes of his lungs.

After a short, easy trailing job we found
the bull down for good, he had gone only 90
yards. Now the work would begin. I left Perry
with his bull and returned to mine to start the
long work of whittling elk into manageable
pieces. I returned to the truck in the darkness
noticing, as I approached, that everyone was
gathered around Steven listening to his tale.
Seeing me, he excitedly continued, after filling
in a few details.

“l hid behind a cedar tree and waited,”
Steve was saying. “The bull kept coming —
straight for me. When the bull went out of
sight I tiptoed around the edge of the tree I was
hiding behind and drew my bow. The bull
walked through a gap at 40 yards. I couldn’t
get my pin on him soon enough so I waited. l
swung my bow to the next gap and put my pin
where I thought the bull would be when he
walked through. He walked through the gap
and my pin crossed his shoulder. I let the arrow fly.
The arrow hit him low in the chest
The bull whirled and limped out of sight the
way it had come. I trailed him a while, but
couldn’t find any blood so I just went the direction he
had gone — it was getting dark.”
I interrupted, “Think he’s hit good. Let’s
go back and see if we can trail him with a
lantern.”

Steven smiled widely, “I found him, he`s
dead! ” A handshake was in order.
With three bulls down, the following
morning was torturous work. Boning out
quarters, caping out hides, sawing antlers and
packing meat. But despite the sore muscles,
aching feet and sweat, I wouldn’t have traded
it for the world. As the last load of elk steaks
stumbled into sight under the light of the
moon and a blanket of stars, we would stop to
tally our rack scores. Steven’s 6×6 bull just
missed Pope and Young minimums at 256 5/8
inches. Perry’s heavy beamed 7×7, including
the “devil” points over his brow tines, taped
out at 295 5/8. My 7×7, after 15 inches of
deductions, scored a tidy 337. Not bad for a
bunch of flatland bowhunters!

AUTHOR ’S NOTE: New Mexico elk hunting
is at its best and getting better every season.
Elk populations are up in nearly all management
units and spreading into new areas each
year. Several areas have been opened for the
first time ever. Good elk hunting spots include
the Gila National Forest, units 13, 15A, 15B,
16A, 16B, 16C, 16D, and unit 17; Pecos Wilderness
areas, units 44 and 45; North central,
units 50, 52 and 4; and finally the San Pedro
Park area located in unit 6.
New season dates have been adjusted to
allow hunting during the peak of the rutting
period. Proposed season dates for the 1989
season are September 7-20. Resident license
fees run $38, while nonresident license fees
are $213. For more information contact, New
Mexico Department of Game and Fish, State
Capitol, Santa Fe, NM 87503. <—<<

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Published by archerchick on 06 Jul 2011

Baiting Up Black Bear – By Otis “Toad” Smith


BOWHUNTING WORLD
February 28, 1990

BAITING UP BLACK BEAR
By Otis “Toad” Smith

When it comes to baiting up a bear, you
can throw some meat into the woods on
a hope and a prayer, or you can plan and
design a functional bear bait.
Bear hunters who are consistently successful at baiting up bear
lay out a well planned bait –
one that will get a bear to feed on a regular basis, one that
will give the hunter the knowledge of which direction the
bear will come from and will force a bear to expose himself broadside to the hunter.

When a bear bait is laid out it must be set up to take
advantage of the prevailing wind direction. In the area that
I bait bear I can usually expect to have a wind coming
from the west. This being the case, my set tree is always
located southeast of the bait, and the trail I use to get to the
bait must also come from the southeast.

It pays to set up an extra bait or two for a south or an
east wind. but only hunt the baits that have the wind to
your advantage. It’s better to not hunt than it is to spook a
bear from a bait, because once you spook a bear it might
be days before he will venture back onto the bait or he may
turn into a night feeder.

For this article, we are going to assume that you have
done your scouting and have located an area that has bear.
We are going to also assume that you have picked out the
site for your bait and that you know which direction the
prevailing winds are coming from.

The accompanying illustration shows how I prefer to
set up a bear bait. The illustration indicates the prevailing
wind direction and shows the set tree located on the down
wind side of the bait. A bait setup like this illustration
would allow hunting with any wind direction except south
or southeast.

You will see in the illustration that a barricade is built
around the bait. It works best to place the bait at the base
of a tree and use the tree as a anchor point for the barricade.
Barricades are a useful tool because they prevent a
bear from approaching a bait from the rear. A barricade
will force a bear to expose himself broadside as he comes
around to feed.

To construct a barricade, use poles that measure two to
three inches in diameter. Either nail down or tie one end of
the pole to the tree, and rest the other end on the ground.
Build the barricade at least five or six feet high and if you
use nails, make sure you pull the nails when you’re finished hunting.

The illustration shows three cut trails coming into the
bait. When the bait is first established it works well to lay
some scent trails out into the bush. The scent trails are
dual fold: By laying a good scent trail, hopefully the bear
will find the bait faster and it will train the bear to come to
the bait on a designated trail.

Make sure you consider the wind direction when laying
out the scent trail. When done properly, the bear will
approach the bait upwind of the set tree.

Bear are like people, they will always take
the easy way, so make it convenient for them.
Cut the trail the last 50 to 75 yards as it approaches
the bait. Trim and cut the trail so it is
an easy route to the bait. Bear will naturally
use the cut trails every time. In essence you
will be training the bear to use the same route
each time they come to the bait. The hunter
has a distinct advantage if he knows where the
bear will approach from.

Ingredients to make a strong sweet smelling
scent can be purchased from most any
grocery store. All that is needed are small
bottles of concentrated mapleline and annise.
Mix two bottles of the mapleline into a gallon
of water along the two cups of brown sugar.
Then mix two bottles of annise in a gallon of
water. One-gallon plastic milk jugs work well
for this because of the built in handle.

Once you have the jugs mixed, punch
some sprinkle holes in the jug lids. With a jug
in each hand, walk away from the bait sprinkling
the two scents as you go. Spread the
scent for a quarter of a mile out into the bush,
then turn around and sprinkle your way back
to the bait on the same trail. Lay three trails,
in three directions from the bait. Hopefully a
passing bear will stumble onto one of the
scent trails and follow it to the bait.

Another handy item for spreading scent
are plastic spray bottles like those you use to
wash a car windshield. Carry two of the spray
bottles one filled with annise the other with
the mapleline. At the bait, spray the entire
area. Set the bottle nozzles so they will shoot
a stream, and shoot the stream as high as possible
into the surrounding trees. Lay as much
scent around the bait as you can, the riper the
smell the quicker you will get a hit.

Every bear hunter will have his own special
combination of bait that he feels is best.
What it all boils down to is cost and availability.
When you are baiting a string of baits it
can get expensive. Two of the best attractors
on a bait are beaver and venison, but neither
one is very feasable. Unless you have access
to large quantities of beaver carcass and large
volume freezer space it is out of the question
for the average hunter. The same goes for venison,
so you’ll need to find a suitable substitute.

The answer is beef. Beef trimmings are
available at a reasonable cost from locker
plants or large grocery stores. The main base
of your bait should be fresh beef, bear like it
fresh. Its a good idea to offer more than just
beef on a bait. Bear are like humans, foods
that appeal to one bear may not interest another,
so give them a mix.

A bushel of oats mixed with a gallon of
molasses and four pounds of brown sugar
makes a tasty and sweet smelling addition to a
bait. It never hurts to throw on some windfall
apples, sweet corn or pastries if they are available to you.

Once a bear is working the bait,
he will tell you what he does and does not like.
On the first baiting use about 50 pounds of
bait. Once the bear begins to work the bait,
then really load it up. Put on enough bait to
hold the bear there until your return baiting
trip.

Trails To Bait And Tree
You will notice in the illustration that the
hunter uses a trail coming from the south to
get to the bait. The purpose of this is to prevent
the hunters scent from blowing towards
any bear near the bait. Once you have the bait
established, refrain from walking down the
cut bear trails. Go directly to and from the
bait on your own trail.

Never walk from the bait to the set tree,
approach the set tree as the illustration shows.
If you walk from the bait to the set tree, bear
will get in the habit of doing the same thing as
they are quite curious. Its best to keep the bear
on the cut trails and around the bait. Even if a
bear comes to the bait on your trail, he will
still offer a broadside shot as he walks by.
Cut shooting lanes from the set tree to the
bait and to the trails leading to the bait. Pile
the brush that you cut from the shooting lanes
between the set tree and the bait to discourage
the bear from going to the set tree. It is alright
for the bear to go to the set tree, but when it
does this it leaves the hunter in a poor shooting
position. It also discourages the bear from
coming in behind you. It is best to keep the
bear in front of you where you are controlling
him and his movements.

Shooting Position
Bear are tough animals for an arrow to
penetrate. They are muscular and are protected
by layers of fat and thick hair.
If you put a sharp arrow through a bear’s
lung, he will die fast, even faster than a deer
and he generally won’t run as far. Bear do not
bleed heavily on the outside because their fat
and thick hair seals the blood inside the animal.
So, it is very important to cut a large
entrance hole and a large exit hole to insure
good bleeding.

Tree stand height plays a large roll in arrow
penetration. The lower you are to the
ground, the better your chances are for total
penetration and the larger target you will
have. If you get too high in a tree your target
becomes smaller and much harder to penetrate.

I think that a tree stand should not be more
than six or seven feet above the ground and
should be between 15 and 20 yards from the
bait. The stand should be far enough from the
bait to minimize body movement noise, yet
close enough to give you a high confidence
shot.

It does not matter what kind of bow you
shoot, be it a compound, recurve or long bow.
As long as the bow can deliver a heavy arrow
to the target with enough force to gain total
penetration. Penetration is the name of the
game when it comes to bear and arrow speed
means very little. Concentrate on your ability
to deliver a heavy arrow accurately. I’m not
saying that you can’t kill a bear with a light,
fast arrow, but that you can kill a bear much
more efficiently with a heavy arrow.

The bear hunting technique that I have described
and illustrated in this article is by no
means the only way to bear hunt. It’s just one
of many bowhunting bear techniques that con-
tinue to provide the bowhunter with a challenging
experience that he or she can appreciate and enjoy. >–>

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Published by vaportrail33 on 27 May 2011

Do You Really Want To Video Your Hunt

By Rex Holmes, Jr.,  Scent Authority and Inventor of The Vapor Maker

In 2009 a couple of hunting buddies, Joey and Ross and I decided we would go on a 10-day deer hunt to Wyoming.  In addition to the experience of the hunt, our purpose for going was to get video footage using The Vapor Maker®, a scent dispersal product I had just debuted at the 2009 Buckmasters Expo.

To get video footage of a hunt you need a video camera and an operator.  Joey and Ross had never been filmed hunting and I had never operated a video camera, but that didn’t deter us one bit.  After all I had used a Canon digital camera with success; I just needed to get a Canon video camera to take on the hunt.  I searched Ebay and purchased a used camera I felt would be just what I needed.  The purchase came in less than 24 hours before we were to leave for Wyoming, so I had no time to even test out the camera.  I had purchased the tapes and downloaded the manual, how difficult could this be?

We had planned to leave in mid-September, barring no work or personal problems arising.  The day came; actually the night finally came because we left at 9 pm and drove the 1800 miles -26 hours – straight through to the house we had rented in Wyoming.  We unloaded and got everything ready to go hunting.  We unpacked the video camera and started to load the tapes, realizing none of us had ever seen a professional video camera before, much less turn one on or load a tape in it. Does this sound like three country boys on a deer hunt?

We got the camera on and loaded the tape in…no luck.  Just an error message that said “no tape.”  So we tried again and again….still the “no tape” message.  What’s a country boy to do, but call the customer service line?  We did and they led us through every step imaginable, still “no tape.”   I even called the pawn shop owner in Chicago, IL that I had purchased the camera from.  He could only offer to let me send it back.  Talk about frustrating, here we had come 1,800 miles to video our deer hunt and the camera wouldn’t work.  Trying to do too much too fast, I thought.   I was feeling pretty bad about the whole experience when it occurred to me there was writing inside the camera where we had been trying to load the tape.  Sure enough, it said, “push close this first.”  Presto, it worked, the tape was loaded and we were ready to film and hunt.  I didn’t think much of that customer service representative, and I could only imagine that she was relating to her co-workers the story of the three hunters who travelled across country to film a hunt and didn’t know how to turn the camera on or load the tape.

Now we were ready to head out.  With the afternoon approaching we were feeling confident that we could find a good vantage point to sit and film deer.  This afternoon would be all about getting footage of how many big bucks were out there and how they were moving.  We were excited and felt blessed because we saw 7 bucks that afternoon, one of which was about 170 inches.  We felt fortunate that we got to film him sparring with a small 6-point.  About 40 yards from us we saw a doe come across the creek and pick up a 17 inch 10-pt and take him back across the creek.  It was a great sight which I did capture on video, but Joey was so amazed he forgot to even pick up his bow.  It just so happened the wind was blowing from us to the deer, but whenever the deer would get fidgety I would use the Vapor Maker® to spray scent and they would calm down almost immediately.

It turned out to be a great afternoon and I was confident I had all kinds of footage.  We couldn’t wait to get back to camp to view the footage.   Turns out Murphy’s Law had come with us to Wyoming.  The TV at our camp was so old the antenna wires were screwed to the TV, and of course, it had no cable connection to view the video.  God smiled on us again that day because the local hardware store had a box converter to hook the camera up to the TV.   That problem solved, we were now more than ready to view the footage we had taken.

We plugged everything in and sat back to relive a great afternoon.  You can’t imagine our shock and disappointment when all we saw was the camera jumping all over the place.  I was zooming in and out and moving left to right at lightning speed.   We decided day one was a learning experience and went to bed looking forward to the next day.

We slept in that morning to give the deer time to bed down so we could slip in and hang stands.  That afternoon the wind was blowing in every direction, but we managed to slip back in to our stands.   We saw several bucks and does, but only one buck came close enough for a good bow shot.  It was a small mule deer buck which walked right under the stand without picking up our scent.  The Vapor Maker® was doing a great job of attracting deer and covering our scent.

The next morning we returned to our stands even though we felt they weren’t in the best place to hunt and film.  The deer were just starting to move when the bottom dropped out and it came a flooding rain. We had no choice but to go back to the truck and wait out the flood to protect the camera.  Even though I had brought along a heavy duty garbage bag to cover the camera, I didn’t want to take any chances of ruining it before I even figured out how to use it.  After the rain, the sun came out to a scorching 94 degrees.  We took our climbers and headed down to the river bottom.  He heat was intense and we were soaked with sweat.

We were sure this afternoon would be great for hunting and filming.  I was going to be the cameraman and Joey the hunter.  We found a tree and Joey climbed first – another learning experience.  Never let the hunter be the first up the tree when you are filming.  But we were settled in and I had used the Vapor Maker® to spray us and our stands down with 33 Point Buck lure and attractant.  I also sprayed the ground around the tree.

We didn’t have to wait long before we spotted three does and an 8-point about 14 inches coming down the trail.  Because our scent was blocked so effectively, one of the does began feeding about a foot from the tree.  The wind was swirling, but none of the deer had picked up our scent.  Soon we saw him – a 135 inch Whitetail following the 8-point right to us.  They were about 20 yards in front of us.  This was perfect; I had the camera right on them just waiting for Joey to take the shot that never came.  The big buck was moving in and out around to our left.  I thought he was going to go around us when he turned and angled back toward us.  But by then I had turned around so far in the tree I was about to fall out.   I kept filming (I hoped) and Joey finally released the shot at about 23 yards.

We found a little blood but weren’t sure about the shot.  We didn’t know how to replay the footage (or see if I had actually gotten footage) to check the shot.   Joey said there were about 7 deer within 20 yards when he got the shot off.  He said at 20 yards the buck was broadside but there were too many eyes too close to get drawn back.  We decided not to search for the deer that evening, but to head back and see if we had captured the shot on tape.

Returning to search the next morning, I literally had to crawl around on my hands and knees just to spot the tiniest specs of blood or see a footprint. When we discovered the buck, Joey had hit it a little too far back. Because of Wyoming gaming laws we had to carry the kill to a taxidermist to remove the brain stem and some other organs because of CWD, Chronic Wasting Disease.

I learned many valuable lessons during those 10 days.  One, videoing a hunt requires a lot of work and planning.  Using a video camera requires practice, more practice and patience, although in the end I was pleasantly surprised at how much of the footage I was actually able to use.  You can check it out at my website: www.vaportrailscents.com and see for yourself the beauty of Wyoming and the great deer we saw there.  Secondly, I was extremely pleased with the effectiveness of The Vapor Maker® and scents we had developed.  This was really the purpose of the trip and I felt good about what I had filmed and discovered.

All in all it was a great trip with great friends, even with Murphy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Published by reoutdoors on 24 May 2011

Raw Emotion Outdoors w/Harvest Time Archery

An arrow to a bow is like peanut butter to jelly; you can’t have one without the other!  So when Harvest Time Archery gave us the word that we would be shooting their arrows this upcoming season, it was like an early birthday present.  I can’t tell you how excited we are for this sponsorship.  Not only do we hope to build a strong relationship with HTA, but the quality of product is outstanding.  HTA went up against strong competition and definitely proved itself worthy.

With four different arrows to choose from with multiple spines, HTA has an arrow for you!  Go ahead, do your research; what you will find is HTA is the latest buzz surrounding the outdoor industry.  Check them out for yourself from our Affiliates page.  Will will be uploading a video soon to show how well these arrows shoot!

At the bottom of the post there are youtube videos to watch HTA arrows in action.  Watch the videos and see for yourself!

IF YOU MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH REOUTDOORS.COM, YOU WILL RECEIVE AN ADDITIONAL 15% OF YOUR TOTAL ORDER!!!

USE COUPON CODE – harvesttimearchery (Click the HTA Logo to the Right)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hH2UmDxF3N4 – Wood Penetration Test

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wC1C69DmRY – HT-1 vs Easton Axis WOW!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVxWm5qHtdw – Metal Penetration Test

 

 

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Published by ArcosFlechas on 24 Apr 2011

1st 2011 Bow Turkey MO Hunt

???Team Tagle’s Turkey Hunt: no blind, MO Public Land

Team Tagle (father-son) hit the woods early.  ?We prepared a strategy for the hunt and prepared for potential foul weather. Well, when we got to the public land, I realized I did not pack my waterproof boots nor jacket. The walk was entertaining as we had to walk a tight edge due to the rising water from all the rain we’ve had.  Yes, my feet were soaked.  After we reached, no sooner after I set my last decoy (they are named “Jose & Josefina” – smile), we saw a gobbler come off of his roost.  It was insane.., just gotten set up!!  I was not even ready with my bow and arrow set-up, nor my release. Thank goodness he was 500 yards away.  THEN, I realized I left back in the truck my binos, slate and mouth calls, masks.., I was just a hot mess. I had to count on my “natural” calling skills (if any) and began using my mouth to call that gobbler in.  Then, of course we had to be right under the 10% precipitation, it started to rain pretty good, but we hung in there.  My camera man (my son) was prepared for the inclement weather.  Boy did that gobbler repond to my calls and the decoys.  He headed toward us on a B line.., hammering away.  I was feeling my heart beat all over my body, constantly telling my partner not to make the sligthest movement.  He was putting on a show.., afterall, he was the star of this whole thing.  My son did a great job running the camera and captured some great footage.  The gobbler circled around us, but we did not count on his strutting staging area…, I had no cover as to be able to draw my bow.  15 yards away, easy shot (if I am able to pull it off), heart skippin many a beats. It was now or never, made my move, got busted and he took off toward the woods.  I was able to make a few cutting calls, and he stopped at the opposite side 20 yards away. He was still responding, curious, and began strutting again.  When he got completely behind the view of a large tree, I repositioned myself to take a shot when needed.  My son did the same thing.   I took advantage of the cover and drew my bow, holding it as long as I could.  At this point, it was all a gamble, for we did not know what side of the tree he’d come out, nor WHEN.  As the luck I’d be having, he peeked past the tree excatly when I was letting down. HUNT OVER.  This time, he was not sticking around.  To top it off, our camera fouled up on us…., again.

Despite all the challenges we had, I’d do it all over again!  Here’s why:  my son finally learned about the “rush” (wait ’till he experiences buck fever).  He learned why it’s called hunting.  He learned about the turkey’s defense mechanism – sight.  He learned how difficult it is to walk away with a slam dunk.  I learned that throughout the whole ordeal, I could not stop thinking, “I am with my son, what an honor!!”. We have a lot to learn from each other, especially how to film our hunts.   Lastly, he learned how blessed we are after the tornado hit close to home.., the turkey encounter was just a bonus.  Our prayers to all those affected by the tornado and to all our men and women who make it possible for me to have moments like this one.  Adios!!

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Published by kr5639 on 21 Apr 2011

ARMGUARD/Gear Pocket with Call Strap by Neet

I have found this armguard has many uses outside of just archery.  I was able to put a tackle box in the pocket and used 2 wine bottle corks by attaching to the call strap and it worked great for fishing.

I bought it from Neet (item N-AGP-1) and it can be found in the new 2011 catalog.

http://www.neet.com/contact.html

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Published by billhowardoutdoors on 07 Apr 2011

Persistence Pays

My daughter has always been interested in my hunting and fishing trips. Several years ago, I carried her out to the field to let her shoot the old Ithaca 20 gauge shotgun I grew up with to get her used to handling it so she could go on a dove hunt with my dad, my son, and I. The kick did not bother her, but she hated the BANG. She wanted no part of gun hunting.
Over the last few years, she has wanted to go bow hunting with me, and she has helped me when I was practicing several times. We purchased another bow for my son this Christmas, since he had outgrown the youth bow we had for him. Naturally, it became a hand down to Julianne. I had to adjust the draw length and draw weight for her, but at the time, she still could not pull the bow back. I told her to keep practicing pulling it back and by spring when the red horse sucker fish make their annual run, she could go bow fishing with me.
Bow fishing in itself is a very unique style. It is set up with a line attached to a heavy solid core arrow, tipped with a barbed point. When aiming, the saying goes “aim low”, because the refraction of the light through the water makes the fish appear at a higher angle. Think of looking at a straw in a glass of water. The straw is not really bent, but it looks that way through the glass. Also, unlike bow hunting, where you are trying to get a clean kill by hitting the vitals, bow fishing just requires you to hit the fish. Your object is to get the fish on the arrow and then bring it in.
Well, over the first few months of this year, Julianne pulled and pulled and pulled. Finally one night, she called me and my wife into the living room. “Watch! I can pull it back now!” Her excitement caused my son to roll his eyes!
Just as they do every year, the sucker fish made their spawn in late March, and as I had promised, the first night I saw they were running I carried Julianne out to the creek banks. For a period of a week, and easily over a hundred attempts, and through several bow fishing arrows (the rocky bottom of the creek is not that great on the fish points) Julianne and I attempted to get her first take with a bow. We went at night using a light, went during the day using polarized glasses, I honestly believe she probably went in her dreams while sleeping. Occasionally she would take a break, and my son and I would get a few fish, then she would be at it again.
My regular job allows me to work four days each week, and during the sucker run, my weekday off was on a Friday. I usually carry the kids to school on my day off, so I made my usual track. After dropping my son off at high school, we still had an hour before Julianne was due at middle school. I looked over at her and asked, “Wanna try one shot?”
She answered, but did not need to. We ran out to the creek. She strapped on her release while I was driving. “Julianne, do you know what the saying is for snipers?”
“No, daddy.”
“One shot, one kill. They cannot afford to shoot twice because the second shot will give away their cover. We’ve only got time for one shot this morning, and there is no guarantee the fish will be here this afternoon.”
We walked down to the bank and spotted several fish. They were a little too far, so I motioned for her to follow me upstream a few yards. There we spotted one about ten feet out. I had Julianne pull back her bow. “Now?” she asked. I whispered to her to take the shot when she was ready. And ‘twang’, ‘splash’. She backed up a few feet.
“You got one!” She had not even noticed. We both grabbed the line, and pulled it up on the shore.
Her persistence had paid off, and now there is another kid hooked to the outdoors.

Bill Howard’s columns can be read at www.billhowardoutdoors.com

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Published by Double s on 01 Apr 2011

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