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Published by archerchick on 10 Feb 2011

Basics Of Buck Calling~ By Don Kirk

February 1990

Basics of Buck Calling By Don Kirk

New Innovation In Calls Makes It Easier

FOG DRIFTED dream—like through the ridge-top oaks and hickories, as Harold Knight
stood shivering in the pre—dawn dampness of the rolling hills of western Kentucky.
Silence ~ the kind that sometimes becomes “deafening” when a bowhunter strains
to hear those things that refuse to stir — enveloped his tree stand. Without looking
down, he ran his cold forefinger over the smooth surface of the arrow shaft resting
against his bow, rechecking its position by touch. For five days during the state’s bow
season for whitetail, he had occupied this strategically located perch. Each day, he had
hoped he might nail the big eight—pointer he had spied while scouting before hunting
season. However, thus far the wary old buck had proved too scarce to pull an arrow back on.

The whitetail rut was not in full swing, but the Bluegrass State hunter hoped the
crisp cold snap that had moved in the night before would trigger increased breeding
behavior. The scrape line tracing along the crest of the ridge showed signs of heavy use.
Knight had a good feeling about this day and was confident he had a trick that might
undo the buck he sought.


Dawn gave way to a bright morning, then mid-morning. By 9:30 a.m., only two
small bucks and a trio of does had passed along the game path near his perch.
Shortly after 10:30 a.m., Knight spotted two does coming down the game trail
along the crest of the ridge. Fifteen minutes later, he saw a considerably larger
deer moving along this trail behind the does. Even through the tangles of wild
grapevine and tree limbs, it was obvious this was the big one he was awaiting.


The heavy-antlered buck was over a hundred yards away and separated from him
by thick woods. The snap of a twig caught the Kentuckian`s attention, as his quarry
slipped stealthly down the side of the hill behind a tangle of naked grapevine and
leafy greenbriar. The buck was still over a hundred yards away. yet it appeared to
be leaving. Experience had taught this expert woodsman that the buck probably
would not wander closer to his tree stand.


His trembling free hand found the call suspended by a lanyard around his neck.
Knowing it was his only chance to take this animal, he blew through the tube—like
call. A low-pitch, guttural grunt filled the air. This was followed by an inward gasp,
then another deep grunt. Before Knight ceased his efforts, six nonstop grunts
connected by inward gasps were broadcast through the brightly lit woods.


When hearing this, the heavy-beamed eight-pointer stopped in its tracks. Craning
its neck upward, the whitetail peered intensely toward the source of the sound.
Dropping its head, the buck started toward Harold Knight’s tree stand located high
alongside a scrub oak flanked by two dense cedars and backdropped by a huge,
head-high tangle of Japanese honeysuckle.


Blowing the call once more, Knight observed the deer moving in a straight line
toward him. The buck never looked up. Thinking the breeding noise came from
behind a large clump of honeysuckle, it approached to within thirty yards.
Its investigation was greeted by the lightning—like strike of a broadhead.
Sporting eight thick points, the wide beamed trophy now belonged to Harold Knight.


Knight needs no introduction to many bowhunters. He and David Hale own
Knight and Hale Game Call Products of Cadiz, Kentucky. They first made their
mark on the hunting scene over a dozen years with their quality goose and wild
turkey calls. Three years ago, they introduced their EZ—Grunt—er deer call.
Since then, they have sold more of these so called attending grunt calls than
any other manufacturer.


Thousands of bowhunters have experienced success using one of the many
grunt calls that became available a few years ago. Grunt calls are custom—made
for the close—in style of whitetail bowhunting. Until recently, all attending grunt
calls featured one reed, over which air is blown to produce a guttural, grunting sound.


There is no question that properly used grunt calls are effective. however,
last fall, this relatively new facet of hunting leaped to new heights. In recent seasons,
Knight and Hale’s EZ—Grunt—er has captured a lion’s share of the deer call market.
This may change with the development of their new EZ—Grunt—er Plus deer call.
The name EZ—Grunt—er Plus is almost a misnomer. It goes beyond mere grunting.
It effectively mimics a ready—to breed, excited buck’s grunts, gasps and wheezes.


When explaining their new call, “hyper-ventilation” is the term frequently used by
these two Bluegrass State nimrods. “First of all, there are several different
kinds of grunts. One of the most important is the simple social grunt. It is used
year-round. Soft and subtle, it enables does to maintain contact with their fawns,
as well as other adults. It starts with a short grunt another. It usually unfolds into
a series of six or seven grunts,” says Harold Knight.


On a calm day, the social grunt is heard easily forty to fifty yards away. Those
possessing keen ears and knowing what to listen for, can detect it over one
hundred yards away. However, the social grunt has little to do with the sound
produced by a ready—to-breed buck during the hyperventilating stage.


“Hyperventilation by a buck attending a doe in heat is something few hunters
have actually heard. For a long time, this so-called excited grunt has been overlooked,
but primarily because hunters had no means of copying it,” explains David Hale.


“I compare a whitetail buck’s hyperventilating stage to that of a bull elk. A bull
elk grunts immediately after bugling in his cows. The elk bull’s grunt is a close
in call, announcing to his cows he is nearby. When grunting, his stomach goes
up and down. He sounds like he is running out of steam, much the same as
I would were I on the edge of hyperventilating.”


Whitetail bucks attending a doe in rut give similar sounds. The excited bucks
grunt rapidly. Grunts are linked by easily heard inward gasps. At the same time
air is going out and making noise, it also is coming in and producing sound.
Bucks only act this way when in the company of a doe during her twenty—four
to thirty—five—hour estrus period. Does coming into heat announce this by
dropping estrus when urinating on scrapes. By doing this. female actively
seeks the male for breeding as much as, after finding freshly visited scrapes. bucks look for does.


Aier finding the marked scrape, the buck trails the nuptial doe. Nose to the
ground, he passes through the woods omitting short. deep grunts at intervals
of two to four seconds. This goes on as long as he is in pursuit of a doe in estrus.
Much has been written about the magic of the whitetail rut. The will to breed is
stronger than the desire for food or self-preservation. ln attendance of a doe in
estrus. bucks transform into fearless herd masters. On several occasions,
photographing deer near our home in eastern Tennessee. my wife. Joann, and
l have been put to flight by bucks accompanying ready to breed does.


During the doe`s short estrus cycle, she only allows herself to be bred by a buck
during a four—hour segment of this time. A doe’s egg is only fertilizable during this
relatively short ovulation period. To breed successfully, she must find a buck prior
to ovulation. Equally important, once a buck is attracted, his attention must be
maintained until ovulation. Prior to ovulation during estrus, the
female whitetail keeps a buck close by teasing him with a cat—and—mouse game.


To keep the buck handy, does wiggle their tails, almost letting the buck breed them.
They sometimes run and try to get away from the buck, so he will cut her off. When a
buck checks a doe, he drops his head to the ground and stomps his hooves in an excited,
prance—like dance. Bucks frequently draw their shoulders up and look like they
are attempting to sneak up on the doe.


“During this entire process, the attending buck is grunting, almost without stopping.
These baritone sounds can be translated as the buck’s pleas for the doe to stand for
him. A buck may only get a chance to breed once a year,” says Harold Knight. “He
does not want to miss any opportunity. Ever eager to breed, he constantly tests
the doe. How close he is allowed to approach and smell is a sure-fire indicator of
how near a doe is to ovulation. Understandably, five to fifteen hours of reproach
by an estrus doe creates noticeable frustration in the attending buck.”


During this tiny portion of a buck’s life, its grunt turns from clear and guttural to
raspy, excited and somewhat high in pitch. Imagine a frustrated buck grunting
until it is almost hyperventilating and you begin to have a picture of what Knight
and Hale Game Call’s new EZ-Grunt—er Plus is all about.


Blowing a call that mimics a frustrated buck in the attendance of an estrous doe
assimilates a breeding situation. This is nothing new. Years ago, hunters did the
same thing with mock scrapes, then later, antler rattling. The so called attending grunt
further enabled hunters to create a mock breeding scene. The addition of the new
hyperventilation call adds an even more decisive twist to the art of trophy buck hunting.


The rut is one of the most exciting times of the year in the life of all whitetails. It is
not uncommon for wary, dominant bucks to have ranges over three times larger than
the traditional one—square-mile generally attributed to these animals. Such roaming
bucks patrol along fences and forested areas, checking scrapes. They are always alert
for signs of dropped estrus or the sound of distance mating activity.


“All deer are attracted to the social activity of mating. Big bucks investigate to see
if they are capable of dethroning bucks already there. Smaller bucks sneak closer
for the same reason or out of inexperienced curiosity. Even does that are not in
heat are attracted to where mating occurs,” says Knight.


Copying the hyperventilation stage of grunting scams an irresistible attractor of
all deer. According to Harold Knight, such calls are particularly effective on
trophy bucks that are confident of them-selves from past contest for breeding rights.
Hearing pre-breeding noises quickly draws eager-to-breed bucks to the sources of these sounds.


Until development of the EZ-G runt—er Plus, it was impossible to produce the
back—and-forth sound of a buck’s hyperventilation grunting. The unique EZ-Grunter
Plus is more complex than any other deer call. Its construction features two reeds
positioned opposite each other. The first reed differs little in design from those of
traditional grunt calls. When blowing into the mouth hole of the call, it produces a low,
guttural grunt. The second reed produces a raspy, gasping sound when air is sucked through the mouth hole.


The hyperventilation-like sound is produced by blowing the grunt call, then quickly
sucking air one to three times over the second reed.
“Our new call can be slowed down for simple grunting like the EZ—Grunt-er or it can be
used to its fullest capacity. Dual pitch is possible by turning the call around and repeating
the process through the opposite end of the EZ-Grunt-er Plus,” says Knish.


Harold Knight admits his scouting home-work. not necessarily the new EZ-Grunt-er Plus.
was the key to taking his big eight-pointer the firsttime he used this call in the field.
However. he believes the call enabled him to draw the buck close enough to kill.


One week later. David Hale took a 131- score eight-pointer. using the EZ-Grunt-
er Plus. While hunting on the ground in a thicket five days later, Knight took an
impressive eleven—pointer. Harold Knight and David Hale feel whitetail calls of
any sort are most effective when your quarry is visible. Seeing the deer enables
the hunter to gauge the animals response to the sound of their call. In fact. the
deer will dictate back to the caller how much he wants to hear that sound.


Hunting on the ground, stalking the edges of fields and woods is the method
preferred by many expert callers. Granted. there is a possibility the deer will see
the hunter first, but when the bowman sees the deer first, there is an excellent
opportunity for calling up a trophy. When hunting from a stand, constant or
near constant calling is recommended.


Throughout the day, bucks will travel in and out of hearing range of such calls. Frequent use of a call will draw any curious bucks within shooting range. According to Hale and Knight, their new second generation hyperventilation type call will prove even more effective at this job than anything previously offered to hunters.

For more information on the new EZ-Grunt-er Plus, contact Knight and Hale
Game Call Products

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Published by archerchick on 10 Feb 2011


December 1990


STILL-HUNTING for deer is a method rich in heritage and
enjoyment. More and more archers are adding this technique to their bag of
tricks; the ability to move silently and unnoticed closer to deer while they lay
unsuspecting of the hunter’s approach. Some folks boast of being able to stalk
so effectively that they can physically touch a deer before the animal knows
someone is around!

Each year, I become captivated by this most enjoyable method of deer
hunting and with absolutely the best of intentions, give it a try. The process
sounds so simple: move slowly, take small steps, look around and, in short,
see the deer before it sees you. Easy, right?

Deer hunting is exciting and just being in the woods during the season is
enough to get a guy’s blood pressure into the big numbers. It`s even worse
when a hunter’s feet seem to have only one gear: high. My mind says,”go
slow,” but every muscle in my body says,”get going,” “hurry up,” “move

Not one to let this promising technique go untried, I became serious
recently, perhaps crazy, in the attempt. For example, I tried tying my shoelaces
together, but found I couldn’t hop quietly. Next came the old “tie a log to
your leg” trick, but that didn’t help either as the logs kept wearing out. I
even invested in a “digital compound release,” but with no luck. This high-
tech gadget attaches to a tree and, by a slender cable, to a hunter’s belt. Each
minute it releases three feet of cord, allowing a consistent, but gradual
advance. This almost worked once as I got to within seven yards of a twelve-
point buck that was sound asleep. Using the tautness of the rope as a steadying
device, I came to full draw and was within a whisper of release when the
device kicked out slack, throwing me forward and nearly arrowing my foot.
From time to time, deer hunters are accused of exaggerating and perhaps
these stories are stretching things a little. However, those hunters who have faced
the frustrations of trying to stalk bedded deer can appreciate the feeling.

Seriously, still-hunting, the art of stalking quietly through deer habitat,
can be as productive as it is exciting and can perhaps double the amount of
quality hunting time for a sportsman. On the first Saturday of the deer
season I decided to, once again, give still-hunting a try. I came up with the
standard results: fresh, but empty beds, the sounds of rustling leaves in the
distance and several bobbing whitetails disappearing over the horizon. In an
hour of “sneaking,” probably ten to twenty deer had been jumped, far more
than I could expect to see from a single stand. If I had been serious about moving
slowly, really slowly, I probably could have had several opportunities.

This is the beauty of still-hunting. It is an excellent supplement to stand hunting
and, except during the mt when deer are often active throughout the day, can
more than double hunting time. The following Saturday, I was determined to
hunt the same ridge top. The weather was windy and cold, unlike the warm
sunny day the previous week. I expected to see deer bedded on the lee side of the
mountain, which was exactly where they were.

After traveling less than two hundred yards, I spotted a doe bedded and looking
away from me. Closing the distance to within forty yards, I was surprised by a
second doe that suddenly stood up. By 2:00 p.m. and several stalks later,
I was watching a large bedded doe, looking directly away from me. She was
quite in the open, but I moved carefully, only when her head was turned.
It was almost like watching a video.

When stand hunting, deer come and go often in a matter of minutes or seconds.
This was hunting in slow motion, but with the volume turned all the way up.
The bedded deer watched downhill, allowing step after step to be taken from
the uphill side. When her head would turn toward me, I’d stop and she would
continue chewing her cud, then focus on the downhill direction once again.

At fifty yards, the same problem as with the earlier stalk occurred; another
deer saw me. Only thirty yards away, an unseen doe stood up and went trotting
past the deer I was stalking. Both deer stood alertly, but couldn’t see me, even
though I stood in the open. Choosing an uphill escape, the pair circled slightly
and began angling uphill. At this point, the odds of the deer passing within
twenty yards were better than fifty—fifty. However, instead of continuing on the
trail, the big doe broke straight for the top, picking up yet another deer on the

Tiptoeing through a deer’s bedroom is difficult, but it certainly can be exciting.
Russell Hull of Hill City, Kansas, has bagged three Pope & Young Club record
book bucks by still—hunting. To most fellows, three P & Ys would be
outstanding, except that Hull has a whole wall full of them. A successful
hunter, his preference for still-hunting is during early morning and evening when
deer are moving.

“If they are bedded down, they are going to see you first,” he declares.
One of his three Pope & Young Club bucks was taken at noon during the rut.
Hull recommends this time of day for trophy animals in heavily hunted areas.
“At that time of day most hunters are out of the woods and many big bucks
know this,” he reasons. Hull saw the buck walking down a
trail some fifty yards ahead of him. A light rain was falling and the leaves were
quiet The big buck walked behind a large dead tree and Hull, aided by the
damp forest carpet, hustled, anticipating a shot as the buck emerged.

“I waited and waited, but he didn’t come out,” he remembers. “Peering
around the tree, the buck was rubbing his horns on a sapling and our eyes met.
“I couldn’t draw and shoot, because there was a branch in the way, so we
just stared at each other. For a clear shot, he need to take one step, which he
eventually did and I took the shot dropping him within eighty yards.”
Hull has a number of tricks that can be used to make still—hunting more
effective. It is important to remember that noise in the mountains is a natural thing,
All creatures make noise in dry leaves. grass, or corn. What isn’t natural,
usually, are sticks snapping or the rhythmic one-two crunch, crunch that
signals the presence of humans.

For example, during the first week of the season, I was sitting in a small
ground blind and a deer approached to within thirty yards. Suddenly, something
could be heard approaching from a draw directly behind me. The doe heard it
immediately and stared intently in my direction. I dared not move as the sound
continued out of a nearby ravine. By the sound, it was either a deer or another

The rustling stopped, but the staring contest continued. Finally, the scolding
sound of a squirrel could be heard and this doe on the verge of full flight, immediately
lowered her head and continued feeding. Hull recommends using calls such as
a deer call or turkey call to disguise noisy steps or snapped twigs. Another
trick he suggests is to use a walking stick which will break up the step, step pattern
that we two legged creatures have.

This doesn’t mean that archers shouldn’t be concerned about noise, but by using
these tricks, errant steps can be camouflaged.
Hull also uses a belt bowholder. This allows an archer to use both hands to
operate a rangefinder or binoculars. The holder allows the use of both hands with-
out having to lay the bow on the ground. For mid—day stalkers, one essential
piece of equipment is a pair of binoculars. If the deer sees the hunter
Erst, the archer will still be there, but the deer will not. I could catch the deer
in its bed if I moved slowly and glassed often. My mistake was not continually
glassing until all the deer were located. Bucks may be easier to approach in this
situation, since they are often bedded alone and their antlers may make them
more visible.

The final advantage to still—hunting is what a hunter learns while doing so.
Hunters are going to see lots of deer and cover ground that could pinpoint the
perfect spot for a tree stand at the end of the day. As Hull points out, “The things
learned while still—hunting can be invaluable, especially where the big bucks

In this context, still—hunting can be thought of as “slow scouting” and, as
most successful bowmen know, a person can’t know too much about the deer he
is hunting. I had spent a recent fall morning in a tree stand in a promising area. Arriving
just as day broke, I was barely in the stand when a small doe came by. As it
paused at ten yards, offering a perfect shot, the opportunity was difficult to
pass. However, l wanted a buck and, if the tree stand didn’t pay off, there was
always the stalking opportunity at the top of the mountain where I had the
close calls earlier.

By 10:30, I assumed that most deer had bedded. I returned to the truck to
get rid of the portable stand and shed some clothing that was all too warm.
The day was bright, sunny and certainly not prime hunting weather. Further-
more, the heat had dried out the mountain to the point that leaves sounded like
crunchy cereal with each step. These were certainly the conditions that would
send most archers home for a nap or at least to town for some lunch and a cold
drink. However, I knew that opportunity was ahead and planned to make the
most of it.

I dressed in my stalking gear. My out- fit was a Polartuff jacket and pants by
Spartan Realtree in camo. This high·tech weave gives warmth in cool—to—cold
weather, yet was comfortable in the heat of the day. In one of the pockets was an
accurate Ranging 500 rangefinder. It is a fairly large model, but is on the money
to within one yard at one hundred yards, a bit more distance than I needed, but
the precision was important. My wide- angle binoculars rounded out the gear
and I began the climb.

The going was difficult. Deadfalls, briars and thick, brush—covered rocky
terrain, made the question of whether to continue a frequent thought. However,
deer prefer a sunny slope and the leeside of the mountain was a perfect place
to lay out of what usually was cold weather. I was barely to the crest when a deer
jumped from it’s bed and bounded out of sight. Other deer were seen going down
the other side. Although the group would likely circle to rejoin, the large
doe had seen me and she would certainly be alert. Still looking for a buck, I
continued along the top using the Held glasses to look things over as I went.
A number of promising bedding areas were empty, probably due to the heat
However, within twenty minutes, I was looking at something strange. Just above
a log were two tiny objects twitching vigorously. Concentrating on the movement,
it appeared to be deer ears with a rack included in the picture. Apparently,
flies were giving the animal a fit and he flicked his ears to avoid them. The range
was about l25 yards with a number of large tree trunks directly between the
deer and me. With caution, I could probably sneak up on the buck. Remembering
my last experience, I checked for additional deer. Sure enough, feeding in
the shadows were three more whitetails. Stalking a bedded buck was one thing,
but to stalk a whole herd was another.

The best strategy seemed to be to go to the other side of the mountain parallel
with the deer, then return back over the top above them. Thanks to the falling `
leaves and slight breeze, any noise made was not detected. Carefully raising my
head above the ridgetop, I located one of the feeding does. I was careful to
stand against a large tree, relying on the camo pattern to disguise my silhouette.
Inching to an upright position, I could see the three feeding deer, but the buck
was nowhere to be seen. Remembering the log, I glassed carefully and finally
found him behind a large rock. Ranging in the distance, it looked like fifty yards;
a long shot to be sure. More than the distance, the rock was covering most of
his vitals.

Slowly lowering myself below the skyline once again, I moved ten yards
away, hoping to get a better angle on the buck. When I reappeared on the skyline,
things got really sticky. Try as I might, I could not see the buck. To further complicate
things, one of the does decided to bed down, facing directly toward me.
Luckily, a squirrel or other animal chose this time to make a racket down
the mountain and the doe turned her head to check for danger. Seizing the
opportunity, I slowly disappeared from the horizon and went back to almost the
original position. Like smoke from a smoldering fire, I lifted above the
horizon and was surprised at the sight.

The deer had shifted its position and now lay in the open; sound asleep. It
was bedded with its head back over its back. The vitals were exposed and
presented a fairly clear shot. I had all day to get ready. I had practiced with
the Golden Eagle Turbo bow at distances well beyond the range. The
Satellite Titan broadheads had grouped well and I had confidence in their flight.

The advantage to this type of hunting is that I was in charge. I literally gave it
my best shot. The arrow seemed to barely leave the bow when the buck rolled over and was
still. The big broadhead had grazed the shoulder and entered the neck, thanks to
the unusual position, breaking the spine. As I tagged the buck and began the job
of Held dressing it, I couldn’t help glancing at my watch with a broader smile
than usual. It was 1:30 in the afternoon. I was probably the only hunter within
miles still in the woods. While they were waiting until evening to get back into
their stands, I was dragging out the
venison. <—<<

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Published by Mathews_ArchZ7 on 10 Feb 2011

Its about that time again…

What does everyone have for a set up…. Spring Gobbler season is fast approaching us.

Im not even using a shotgun this year, I think im gonna take my Mathews Z7 for a spin and see how it goes.

So let me know what everyone is using for a set up.

– Mathews Z7 with Easton FMJ 400 and the American Broadhead Company Turkey Tearror

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Published by archerchick on 10 Feb 2011

Spring Turkeys ~By Joe Byers

February 1990

Bowhunting Wild Turkeys May Be The Ultimate
Bowhunter Challenge

In many ways. hunting turkeys with a bow is much like hunting with a shotgun.
In deer hunting, for instance. there is a big change from a caliber .30/06 rifle to a
fifty-pound compound. The rifle is accurate about as far as the eye can see, may
have magnified telescopic sights and the bullet has the shocking power to anchor a
buck where he stands. Turkey bowhunting, on the other hand, isn’t all that different from a shotgun.


Maximum range with a 12—gauge shotgun is about forty yards, which still is a long
shot with a bow. but at least in the ball park. Many gobblers taken at longer distances
probably would have gotten closer to the caller if he had been more patient. Secondly,
shotguns usually come with a primitive bead front sight that is probably bigger than a sight
pin on many bows. Turkeys are turkeys and no matter what a person uses to hunt
them, or what part of the country they come from, gobblers and hens all ” speak”
the same language.


The good news about the similarities is that a person doesn’t have to search for
specialty books, videos. tapes, etc.. to leam about it. The National Wild Turkey Federation
is a prime source of hunting information. primarily through its publication
Turkey Call(Membership cost is $15 per year from: NWTF, Dept. BHA. 770
Augusta Rd.. Edgefield. SC 29824.) Looking through a number of back issues will
offer pointers about special techniques that successful hunters use and past editions
will be available from a local chapter, friends or from public libraries.


Many video outlets now offer hunting videos and for a few dollars you can savor
this springtime ecstasy in the comfort of the living room. An excellent series of
videos has been produced by Rob Keck and 3M Corporation, available through
the NWTF. The series took first place in the Outdoor Writers of America Film/
Video Awards Competition. Caution must be taken against the condition known to
many as turkey fever. There is no known cure and the only therapy that makes the
malady bearable is to spend as much time as possible each spring in pursuit of gobble-mania.


The difficult job of tackling a turkey is as hard, or easy, as one-two-three. If turkeys
were present in the fall deer season they will probably be there in the spring. Once
turkeys have been located, a key ingredient to success is to learn how to call. It should
be noted that stalking or driving turkeys in some states during spring hunting is actually
illegal as well as usually unproductive.


Objective number one is to get the turkey to come from over there to over here. To do
this, an archer will need a calling device or two. In today’s market there are many
to choose from; so many in fact that, like choosing a first compound bow, the selection
can be difficult. The best caller for archers is probably the diaphragm type.
However, it is also the most difficult to master. Diaphragm calls are semi—circular
devices about the size of a quarter that fit in the roof of the mouth and produce a
sound as air is exhaled through the mouth.


Some manufacturers now offer diaphragm calls that can be held between the lips.
They may be easier to use, but often don’t give quite the variety of calls. For the
first—timer, the box call is an old stand—by and the new slate callers produce
outstanding calls with little practice. There are even push—button yelpers that make a
perfect call every time, although the vocabulary is limited. Many hunters carry
more than one call with them, using a series of calls to simulate a small flock of
hens seeking company. One effective technique is to use a friction call- slate or box
— then use a mouth call at the same time. This “two hens talking at once” scenario
is one many gobblers just can’t resist. Calling, in turkey hunting, is important,
but perfection isn’t necessary.


I have two hunting buddies who took gobblers on their first turkey hunts, although
they used shot-guns to do it. One killed one of three gobblers at twenty—five yards
which were running right at him! A hunter who can yelp — the basic communication —
is going to call in turkeys, although not as often as someone who knows and can reproduce
all the sounds of a wild turkey. For those who are proficient at calling, the contentment calls —
clucks and purrs — are excellent, because they not only will bring in birds. but tend to attract
calm birds.


In the mission improbable game plan, calling is perhaps the easiest to accomplish.
If a bowman can breathe, he can call and that covers most of us pretty well.
The second key factor is to draw the bow back without being seen. Coming to
full draw slowly sounds fairly simple. To the person who has never matched wits
close in with a gobbler, it can appear elementary. However, turkey hunters soon
learn how these feathered birds get their first — wild — name. They have absolutely
no sense of curiosity.


A good friend, for example, uses the technique of whistling to stop a buck in his
tracks. On numerous occasions, he has come to full draw from the ambush of an
elevated tree stand, then given a single shrill note. Usually, the deer stops and the
archer releases. From this same stand, a wild turkey was spotted approaching one
fall day. Figuring the same game plan would work, the hunter held absolutely still until
the bird walked under the stand. However, at the instant of the whistle, the turkey
exploded into flight.


Lacking curiosity is usually not a problem to the turkey, because the big eyes on
the side of the bird’s head allow for almost circular vision, which means they don`t
miss much. Most important, turkeys can see color. This keen eyesight makes the movement
of the full draw process the Achilles heel of many archers. Difficult as it is,
there are ways of making success more likely, however. The first is the need for
total camouflage. Unlike deer hunting, orange and white fletching will stand out
and be quickly seen by approaching gobblers.


The dyed fletching of Easton’s Camo Hunter arrows is a good choice. Basic black and
white turkey feathers blend in well, also. Colors such as red or blue are absolute no nos!
Not only are they poor camouflage, but constitute the target colors and could appear as
those of a gobblers head. They might get you on the business end of another hunters missile.


Camouflage clothing will vary with the time of the season as well as the geography
of the country. In general. most deer hunting camo will work well. The pros often use a
vertical pattern upper garment and leaf—colored trousers as they usually sit on the ground
with their backs against a tree.


The selection of a calling site is probably as important in turkey hunting success as the
quality of calling; some would say more so. In general, it appears easier to call gobblers up
a slope or along the same level than it is downhill. This means that if a tom is gobbling on the
roost in the early morning, it is worth the extra effort to get above him or on the same level, if
hunting hill country. Gobblers also are creatures of`habit and usually fly down to travel the
same direction each day. Pre-season scouting is the key to these behaviors. When
opening day comes around, an archer can be in the direction the gobbler is most
likely to travel.


An ideal set-up for bowhunters is to take a position in a clump of large trees.
Mature white oaks are ideal for this purpose as the trunks grow wide and match
vertical camo patterns. The key to this ambush site is that the large trunks will be
ten to twenty yards from the shooter. As the gobbler walks behind them, the hunter
is screened out and can draw the bow. This is a set-up that can be easily misunderstood.
In one sense it is like using a blind to shoot from, only in reverse. The
hunter needs to be sitting, kneeling, or standing against an object that camouflages
him well. It is important not to be in thick cover that may deflect an arrow or interfere
with drawing the bow. Where the blind does the most good is out near the turkey
so that when he walks behind it, the bowman can go into action.


I had the opportunity to hunt on the White Oak Plantation late in the Alabama
season one spring. With a departure time of high noon, we were only allowed one
morning, but had enough action to make it worth the effort. Bo Pittman, manager at
White Oak, leases big chunks of farmland and swamp country on the eastern part of
the Black Belt region which is ideal turkey habitat.


From first light, when the barred owls began their verbal dueling, the gobblers
began their serenade and continued until I had to leave. One calling site looked promising and
had the ideal scatter of tree trunks. Sitting at the south end of the grove, there were
eight or nine large trees toward the area where a tom had gobbled earlier and I
could picture him strutting behind one so I could draw.


The tom would gobble in answer to my calls, the ambush site was perfect. but he
wouldn’t come in. Later, I learned why. Seventy—five yards between us was a small
stream about twenty feet wide. These bodies of swamp water don’t seem to be
going anywhere but are there nonetheless. Part of the calling-in process must
deal with structure between the hunter and the hunted. As a rule, turkeys will not
cross streams. fences. or crawl through downed treetops or thick brush. Their best
defense against predators is their keen eyesight and turkeys feel comfortable in
the open where they can see if danger is near.


This thick brush problem threw me a curve on another gobbler in the morning. I got
to within a hundred yards of the bird, thanks to the thick brush. The problem, however,
was to locate a spot where the gobbler could be called into range. Each time I called
he’d gobble back, but would not come any closer. In a half-hour. I tried several calls, double called and
moved to new locations; but nothing worked. Thirty—three gobblers had already
been taken from the White Oak properties and these late—season birds were pretty


The morning pattern had lots of turkeys located, but no shots taken. One trick that can
work with call-shy gobblers is to use a decoy if it is legal to do so in your area. Alabama does not allow
them, but most states do. The bogus birds can be especially helpful to archers. Specifically, the
decoy will distract attention away from the exact origin of the call and
focus it in another direction. This may only be for a few seconds, but it may be
just the edge a hunter needs.


One of the best things that can happen is for the turkey to strut and “turn its back”
on the archer. In this event, the turkey’s tail will block its view and the archer can
move at will. To make this happen, a hunter must understand the mating pattern of a
gobbler. When one struts, he is displaying his beautiful tail feathers so that they will
be seen by a hen; sort of. “‘Check this out, honey!” Because the gobbler thinks he is coming
to a hen that is anxious to mate, the tom will focus his attention on the call’s origin.


For this reason, many users of mouth callers use their hand in a cupping fashion to throw
the call to one side or the other. This is also why, if a gobbler is approaching, it is not
wise to call anymore. If the gobbler cannot locate the source of the call, he may begin
to strut in a circle, attempting to locate the hen. Decoys also will help in this department
if the lure is placed about fifteen yards away from the hunter. With luck,
the gobbler will circle the decoy offering the hunter a close, lethal shot.


The final act in taking a turkey with stick and string is to make a killing shot.
This is more difficult than it sounds. A strutting gobbler fifteen yards away may
appear as big as a barn. Yet, the kill zone on the turkey is quite small. Much of his
body is a mass of fluffed—up feathers. The bulk of the flesh is tasty, but not fatal,
breast meat. The vitals are no larger than a man’s fist and located behind the wing but
where it joins the body. This offers a good shot from the broadside position, because
the arrow may break a wing as well.


The second deadly shot on a gobbler is the spine. The ideal way to do this is for the
gobbler to face away from the hunter. If the bird is strutting, aim for the vent. The
head and neck area is the shotgun hunter’s favorite target, but the almost constant
movement of these parts make them difficult targets for archers. The head of a
gobbler is actually quite large, but a difficult target.


Shot placement is crucial in turkey hunting for quick, clean kills. It is the more difficult
because of the unwillingness of gobblers to stand perfectly broadside.
Bowhunting turkeys is not a sport for the hungry. If “bringing home the bacon”
is really important. a person may do better to hang around a barnyard or a grocery
store. However. if hunting excitement and challenge are the rewards an archer seeks,
then gobble-mania is hard to beat.

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Published by archerchick on 09 Feb 2011

How To Fool A Buck’s Sense Of Smell ~ By Bob Grewell

Bow And Arrow
August 1981

How To Fool A Buck’s Sense Of Smell ~ By Bob Grewell
Here Is A Simple, Inexpensive Secret To Mask Human Odor On Your Way To Your Stand

I was tree standing downwind of a well used deer trail,
completely camouflaged. I had doused the dormant brush
at the base of the large oak tree with a liberal amount of
“essence-of-skunk.” It was late November, cold, with a
light breeze.

I’d spent the better part of four weeks determining one
particular buck’s habits and patterns. I’d finalized his
movements and was positive I had his activities nearly down
pat. Now all I had to do was nurse my patience while I sat
motionless within the oak’s array of limbs.

I rolled back the top portion of the off-brown colored glove
on my right hand, to glance at my watch; seven thirty-eight.
When I sluggishly raised my head to scan the brushy terrain in front
of me, I spotted him! A fair-sized eight-point buck, deliberately
moving toward my stand, coming in-crosswind, about eighty yards out.

He moved along at a somewhat cautious pace, with his now probing the ground.
At first I thought he was searching for a doe.
But after close observation, it was apparent he was
following the same path I’d used to approach my stand. He didn’t seem to
approve of the latent human scent I’d left on the ground.

He was trailing my course through the ankle-high dead grass, snorting
occasionally as if in defiance. When he was within forty yards of my stand, he
stopped, threw his head up and down, snort/whistled again, and stamped the
earth, trying to intimidate me into revealing myself. Then, he veered off to
my right and made a wide berth of the oak, stopping twice and glancing back
over his shoulder in my direction, before disappearing.

In all my preparations, I had omitted using the skunk scent on my
boots on the way to my stand, mainly because the foul odor would have been
absorbed by the leather. But if I had sprinkled the cover scent on my boots
or the lower legs of my coveralls, there was a ninety-percent chance he
wouldn’t have detected my human scent trail.

This has happened to nearly every bowhunter at least one time or another,
you can be sure, whether you were aware of it or not. We are so meticulous
in preparing ourselves, our equipment and our stand area that we too often
overlook one thing; the foreign, human odor we leave on the ground, grass and
brush as we make our way to our stand. What can you do to cover your
human scent trail, yet keep the masking scent from fouling your boots and
clothes? You can use ankle scent drags, two lengths of dark colored wire and a
dull-colored piece of ordinary cloth. So simple and inexpensive to make that I
sometimes think it’s cheating by solving such a common hurdle so easily.

The ankle drags are slipped over your feet and drawn around the ankles
with the piece of scent—absorbing cloth hooked on the trailing end of the wire.
The scent — skunk scent for instance —is applied to the cloth, and as you walk
through the weeds and brush it completely wipes out your scent behind
you. It adds no additional weight to contend with, it’s inexpensive to
prepare and once you make your drags, they’ll last indefinitely.
To make the ankle scent drags, one for each ankle, use a thirty-inch—long
piece of 22—gauge black annealed wire, which may be purchased at any
hardware store. If you can’t find the 22-gauge specifically, you’ll be safe
with any wire diameter from 18 to 22-gauge. Black annealed wire is used
because it won’t reflect available light with its dull finish and won’t rust as
easily as common steel or galvanized wire. The thin diameter is used because
it’s more flexible and isn’t visible to your intended game.

Using a four-penny nail, twist one end of the wire around the body of the
nail so you’ll be able to make a slipknot, or noose. Use a pair of pliers and twist
the excess tip of the wire so that it wraps tightly, leaving no protruding end
to snag on your clothes or brush. Then, remove the nail and slide the opposite
end of the wire through this one-eighth·inch diameter hole, making
somewhat of a snare or hangman’s noose.

Next, fold up a three-inch square piece of drab colored cloth, which will
be used as the scent pad on the dragging end of the wire. Punch the straight end
of the wire through the center of the folded cloth pad, pulling it completely
through the cloth. Bend the end of the wire back and wrap it tightly around the
main length of the wire, being sure to also twist the protruding end. The scent
pad will be secured and won’t be pulled off while walking.

Now, using a three-sixteenths—ounce crimp-style lead fishing sinker, move up
two inches on the main portion of the wire, away from the scent pad, and
attach this lead weight, crimping it tightly with a pair of pliers. This small
weight will not interfere with the drag’s main function and will aid in keeping
the scent pad closer to the ground when you’re raising your foot to take a step.
The scent pad needs to stay close to the ground because the scent on the pad
will rub off on the grass and brush, to invisibly dissipate upward.

These ankle drags serve another function. Upon reaching your stand,
loosen the wire noose, remove both drags and hang them in the brush at the
base of your tree stand. The wire is of fine diameter, the cloth scent pad is of
drab color, and the scent on the cloth will disguise your human odor at
ground level, when you’re in your stand. This way the pungent skunk
scent, or whatever type of scent you choose to use, never touches your

The actual cost of making your ankle scent drags is fifteen cents each,
or a total of thirty cents, plus a minimal amount of time. With these ankle scent
drags in your possession, you successfully mask your human scent
trail when moving to your stand site and obliterate your foreign odor at the tree
stand. <—<<

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Published by archerchick on 09 Feb 2011

The Buck And The 120-Pound Longbow~ By Richard Palmer

August 1981

The Buck And The 120 Pound Longbow ~ By Richard Palmer

DUSK WAS fast settling in, as I stood perched on a limb, fifteen
feet off the ground. My eyes strained the dim light looking for the movement
of big game. Suddenly, like a wrath from the mist, an approaching deer.

Moving farther out on the limb, I got in position to shoot. I could barely
see the spikes the deer carried. The buck drew closer and stopped broadside
about fifteen yards away. With a mighty surge of muscle, my shoulder
pulled back the 120-pound longbow. My string fingers touched the corner
of my mouth, releasing death and destruction, as the mighty longbow lunged forward.

I have been involved in archery since the age of 4, and have been an
avid bowhunter since the inception of legalized bowhunting in my home
state of New York and neighboring Pennsylvania. For fifteen years I competed
in archery tournaments, retiring when the era of gadgetry came into
being. I shoot a 120-pound longbow of my own design and manufacture. I
use this heavy bow for hunting, as well as in my practice sessions. I use heavy
three-eighths-inch shafts tipped with 160-grain two-blade broadheads when
hunting. This combination will penetrate even the heavy bones of a whitetail deer.

To date, close to thirty deer have bitten the dust.
Halloween dawned bright and sunny, the traditional day when witches and
goblins and wily critters roam. I’d been bowhunting steady for two weeks,
and hadn’t seen hide nor hair of a buck. There were plenty of does around, but
I was holding out for one of those horned critters.
My hunting territory for deer is located about fifteen minutes drive from
where I live in Elmira, New York. The land belongs to Mount Saviour Monastery, where live
a small group of brothers dedicated to a religious life of self-sufficiency. They allow public hunting
by permit only and charge a small nominal fee. Of the many areas in New
York state I’ve hunted, this has to be the most productive for deer. Over the
years I’ve bowhunted there, I’ve managed to garner eleven of the wily creatures.

The monastery property comprises over a thousand
acres of rolling cultivated fields and timbered off woods;
just the type of terrain in which the elusive whitetail flourish.
The deer sometimes are so thick that the monastery
will return part of the permit fee if a bowhunter takes a deer.
The reason is that the deer get into the cornfields,
reducing the corn production considerably. The brothers use
the field crop to make silage to feed their milk cows.
one of their few sources of income. So you can understand
their anguish, when they find thirty or forty deer in their
cornfields every evening. From talking to Brother Bruno,
who issues the permits, I understand that they sometimes
help in doing the driving for the gun hunters who come up later in the season.

When purchasing a permit to hunt on their property, a map
and instructions are issued. The detailed map shows
property boundaries and terrain features. Areas of no
hunting are written in, so there can be no error on the part of
the hunter, as to where he can and cannot hunt. Portable
tree stands are preferred, as they cultivate their woods for timber.

I managed to leave work early and get over to my brother, Ken’s, house, a
few minutes past four in the afternoon. He was there already, having just arrived
home from work himself. We left for the monastery a few minutes later,
full of expectation. It was a beautiful fall day, with the sun shining and the leaves in all their
varied colors; the kind of day that makes you want to be in the woods.
While enroute, we discussed what area we would be hunting that afternoon.

Upon arrival, we each headed for our own preselected spot. Ken headed for
an old logging road in an area the deer cross frequently, on their way to a
large lush green field. I headed for a large shaggy bark tree, located in a
small clearing. This tree has a deer run on each side and is used primarily late
in the afternoon. During the day, the deer bed down in a deep gorge nearby.
Toward evening, they head uphill using the runs in the area of my tree,
as they head toward their various feeding areas.

I already had seen does come by on the different afternoons I had sat in
this tree, but I had resisted the temptation to shoot one, waiting instead for
a buck. Over two weeks had gone by and I decided that this afternoon I
would take what came: buck or doe. It was peaceful sitting in this big
old tree, contemplating thoughts serene. Occasionally looking up at the
sky, I’d count the numerous vapor trails left by the big jets on their way
to strange places. I thought to myself, what a life this is, to be able to go out
on a fabulous day like this and commune with nature.

During my reverie, I would look around occasionally. Sometimes I
found even this too much effort, as the sun and warm day tended to make me
feel lazy. A day like this should be enjoyed to its fullest. Looking to my left,
I suddenly was awakened from my lethargy. Standing broadside about
fifteen yards away, was a large doe. Slowly I got up from my comfortable
resting position and carefully inched out on to a large limb. I had my bow
in hand, nocked with a 700-grain wooden arrow, tipped with a Hill broadhead.

Moving carefully into shooting position, I started my draw. The upper
limb of my longbow hit a branch that I hadn’t noticed, so I moved farther
out on the precarious limb. I looked down and noticed I was quite a way off
the ground. I really wasn’t aware of the height, though, concentrating only on
the deer. Starting my draw again, I caught something on the bottom limb this
time and, in trying to carefully extricate the situation, I made some noise
that caught the standing doe’s attention. She looked up casually at first
and as I got the lower limb free, I caught the upper limb on the loose dry
bark of the tree. Exasperated, I tore the upper limb free; anything to get
the shot, but this was too much for the doe. and with a bound, she was into
the safety of the pines.

I couldn’t believe it. After two weeks of continuous
hunting, a perfect opportunity presents itself and I
blow it. I was standing there on the tree stand, mumbling
to myself, when I noticed brown movement coming
down the same trail the doe had used. As the deer
drew closer, I could see horns.
Moving farther out on the limb, I knew what it’s like
to be a tightrope walker. The limb I stood on was only
about six inches in diameter and here I was shooting
a 120-pound longbow that’s heavy enough to down an
elephant and takes two average men and a boy to pull.
What if in pulling the heavy bow I lost my balance and fell?

These thoughts were running through my mind. as the deer approached.
The buck drew broadside to me and stopped only fifteen yards away, about
where the doe had stood. All thoughts of falling from the tree vanished from
my mind. replaced by a dream state, as I saw the buck standing there. Perched
on that limb high off the ground, suddenly cool and methodical, my only
feeling was one of intense concentration as I prepared to make my shot.
With a smooth yet powerful pull the heavy longbow came back and my
fingers released the shaft. The heavy three-eighths-inch arrow hit the buck
in back of the left shoulder just below the center line, completely penetrating
the deer. The buck bounded away into the safety of the pines, only about fifty
feet away.

I gathered my gear from the tree and climbed down. Walking over to where I
had hit the buck, I found my arrow lying on the ground. It was saturated
from end to end with blood. I knew I had made a liver hit, which is always
fatal. Having shot close to thirty deer over the years, many of them with this same
identical hit, I knew my deer would be only a short distance away. Here’s
where experience comes into the picture. Hitting the deer is the easy part; finding
them is another story. I learned long ago that if the shot is good, the
search should be short and easy. Score a poor hit and you’ll be on your hands
and knees all night long looking for blood.

In addition to big game hunting, I enjoy hunting squirrel and pheasant with
the longbow. I have managed to shoot these difficult game species using only
the bow and arrow. Using heavy blunts, I am able to knock pheasants out of
the air. In 1978 I competed in the World’s Flight Championships held at the salt
flats in Wendover, Utah. Shooting a 133- pound flight bow, I came in second in
the professional class with a shot of 890 yards, one foot, one inch. Again in
1979, using a heavier flight bow of 145 pounds, I managed to garner a second

I have been training to break the bow pull record and hope to make an attempt
sometime in 1981. My training includes pulling on heavy bows up to 220 pounds
in weight. This tied in with weight training, has made me, I believe, one of the
strongest archers in the world. I met my brother at the car, and told
him I had made a good hit on a buck, showing him the bloody arrow.
“I figure the buck will be lying some-where in the pines, not far from where
I hit him,” I said.

We stowed our hunting gear and got out the searching and deer cleaning
equipment. We usually take everything so we don’t have to bother coming
back for something we might need. This usually consists of lights, toilet
paper, a sharp knife, small saw, drag rope, a plastic bag (for heart and liver),
and a pencil and string for filling out and attaching the deer tag to the carcass.
By this time, dusk was well on its way, so we turned our lights on and returned
to my tree. I had marked the spot where I had found the arrow, with a piece of
toilet paper. So it was only a matter of minutes to line out the direction the deer
had headed. We then walked into the pines and started looking for
blood. Side by side, we moved forward slowly, scanning to the front and both
sides. I had just moved to my left, when my brother yelled out, “There he is up
ahead. Moving to where I could see, the spike buck was lying on the pine needles.
He appeared to be peacefully asleep, but I knew it was forever. He had traveled
only about a hundred feet before expiring.

I gutted out the deer, placing the heart and liver in the plastic bag I had brought.
With the small saw, I cut through the pelvic bone to better open up the lower
cavity and allow it to air out. After we had drained the carcass and I had cleaned
my hands and cutting equipment, we started dragging deer back into the car.

Driving home with a deer always gives me a certain feeling of elation
that only a successful hunt can <—<<<

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Published by archerchick on 08 Feb 2011

The Lighter Side Of Bowhunting ~ By Thurm Lowery

Bow And Arrow
December 1974

The Lighter Side Of Bowhunting ~ By Thurm Lowery
You May Know About This Type Of Hunting, But Be Sure Your Horse Does Too!

THE SOUND OF the truck engine and the headlights
swinging past the windows of the Experiment Station woke
me up, As our nearest neighbors were some twenty-five
miles away, we didn’t get much company and I already was
pulling on my britches when the knocking started at the
front door. The time was 3 a.m.

Two men and a woman were at the door of the Desert
Range Experiment Station, where my family was living
while I conducted a study on the pronghorn antelope for
the Utah Fish & Game Department. They were looking for
a way over to the Indian Peak Reservation.
Due to the somewhat isolated conditions, visitors always
were a novelty and most certainly welcome, even when
arriving at this time of the morning. My wife, Jean, got up
and made a pot of coffee, baked a pan of hot biscuits and
fried some bacon and eggs. We started getting acquainted over
an early breakfast.

Les and Nora Hunt are from Salt Lake City, where they
own and operate an archery manufacturing company. Les is
a big, friendly kind of guy who moves with the smoothly
deceptive ease of a big cat, even in the confines of a house.
He goes through heavily timbered woods and brush like a
drifting shadow, as I was to discover.

His wife, Nora, is from the town of Jolo, of the Province
of Sulu in the Philippine Islands. Small and pretty with an
amazing personality, Nora is from an illustrious family: One
brother presently is Ambassador to Egypt and another is a
former Governor of Sulu.

The other man introduced was Ray Renfroe. Ray owned
a steel business in Jacksonville, Florida. He and Les Hunt
were good friends and Ray had been coming to Utah for
years, stalking the outstanding deer herds with bow and
arrow. He, too, is a big, rugged man with slow, easy movements
and a soft Southern drawl in his deep baritone voice.
It was the day before archery season for deer would
open in Utah and they were here to bowhunt on the old
Indian Peak Reservation. It isn’t an Indian reservation any-
more, the state Fish & Game Department having purchased
and developed some twenty sections as a wildlife habitat –
not a sanctuary — where mule deer could live and multiply
without competition from livestock for available feed. The
area gets its name from the tallest mountain in the area,
Indian Peak, which towers 9783 feet above sea level. I’ve
seen a lot of good deer country but honestly believe there
are more deer per square mile right here than any other
place on earth.

My wife, Jean, is a pretty good cook for an old country
girl and before long, mellowed by her coffee and homemade
biscuits, our visitors were inviting me to go bowhunting
with them. I explained that I didn’t have any archery
equipment and furthermore, I’d never shot a bow and
arrow in my life.

Les grinned, got up from the table and walked out to his
camper. In a minute he was back with a fifty-pound bow, a
brand—new hip quiver and a dozen wicked-looking hunting
arrows. He even had an archer’s glove and wrist guard.
“Now you’ve got a complete outfit,” he said.
“But I never had hold of one of those things in my
whole life,” I told him.

“Don’t worry about it,” Ray said. “We’ll teach you.”
That’s how I became a bowhunter.
I didn’t even have a hunting license and drove into
Milford the next morning to get it. Later that afternoon, I
drove over to Indian Peak and located their camp. They got
out the tackle, both Les and Ray working at getting me
started with the new equipment while Nora kept up a running
line of encouragement on the sidelines.

They first set up a target. They then showed me how to
hold the bow, how to nock, pull, aim and release the arrow.
It wasn’t long until they had me shooting like a Comanche.
The trouble was, I just couldn’t seem to hit what I was
aiming at.

I had no idea a fifty-pound bow would be so hard to
pull. I was straining at the unfamiliar weapon, wondering if
maybe they shouldn’t have started me out with a lighter
bow when I noticed that little Nora was shooting one exactly
like it. I decided, if that I I0-pound woman could handle
that twang stick, I could, too. I gritted my teeth, tried to
keep my arm from shaking and just shot away.
Both Les and Ray were shooting seventy-pound bows
and it looked easy. Both were really good with those things,
too. If they didn’t hit inside the bullseye with every shot,
they acted like it was a major disaster. I finally hit the
target somewhere out near- the edge and I considered it a
whopping success.

Les Hunt, apparent even to a novice like myself, was an
outstanding shot. I muttered something about Les being a
good shot and Ray replied, “I’ve hunted with a bow for
many years and I’ve seen hundreds of really good bowmen.
I’ve always said, ‘If I ever had to pick a man who I would
let shoot an apple from my head at thirty yards with a
broadhead, it would be Les Hunt’.” That was rare praise,
especially coming from a man who himself is an expert
We hung around camp until about 3:30 p.m. talking,
swapping deer hunting yarns and just getting better
acquainted. As the rankest of amateurs, I knew nothing of
the bow and arrow as a game-getter. I asked a lot of questions,
all cheerfully answered.

Renfroe is an expert with both a rifle and handgun. He
has taken a deer with his .44 magnum Smith & Wesson at
300 yards. He says he has taken more deer with a bow than
with either of the firearms.

All three said most of their kills were between twenty
and thirty—five yards, although Ray had killed a buck at
over sixty-five yards and Les once killed a big buck at over
ninety yards. Nora used a fifty-pound bow while the two
men pulled heavier ones; Ray preferring a fifty-five to sixty-
five-pound pull but has hunted, and been successful, with
bows pulling over one hundred pounds. Les shot a seventy-
pound bow and generally preferred slightly stronger bows
than did Ray.

They were quick to explain that the bowhunter must be
a different breed of cat than the rifle hunter.
Firstly, he must have more patience. He not only has to
stalk the animal, he must make his shot. Then, if the animal
is hit, the hunter should just sit down and wait. According
to Les, there is little shocking power from the arrow hitting
a deer. If he isn’t pursued, the animal usually runs a short
distance and then lies down.

“If the hunter waits thirty minutes before starting to
trail his deer, he usually finds him within a quarter of a
mile, completely bled out,” said Les Hunt.
Before I knew it, it was time to start our hunt. Les and
Ray had a new wrinkle on hunting: motorcycles. They
didn’t actually hunt on the bikes, but would ride to an area
they wanted to hunt, park it, then hunt on foot. When they
killed a deer, they could carry it out on the motorcycle,
which beats dragging or packing out piggy-back all to

This was my first experience with anyone hunting on
motorcycles. They climbed aboard, kicked over the engines
and roared off. They had offered me a ride but I figured I’d
let well enough alone and chose to walk.
They were wearing camouflage suits and even put covers
on their bows to make their outlines blend better into the
trees. They’d sprayed themselves with something designed
to cover the human smell. I’d been given an extra—heavy
dose 4 my old, red hunting shirt and blue jeans didn’t
blend into the background too well. I don’t know what the
stuff was, but I smelled like a walking pine tree.
I had only walked about half a mile from camp when I
came to`a little draw with a small stream running down its
middle. Standing just on the other side were two does and a
big, old buck, about fifty yards away. I took dead aim,
drew all the way back to the razor—sharp broadhead tip, and
let fly. I let fly three times before I came close enough to
scare them.
When I finally succeeded in scaring them off, I picked up
my arrows, cussed a little, then went on with my hunt. I’m
not much of a cusser and was beginning to suspect I wasn’t
much of a bowhunter, either. Somehow, the two just seemed to go together.

About a mile and thirty minutes later, I saw another pair
of does forty or fifty yards away. I was improving with
experience I scared them off with just two shots. No
matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t sneak up any closer to
those darn deer. I think they came equipped with ESP.
They’d let me get just so close and no closer. I’d sneak and
creep and crawl and, as soon as I thought I might be getting
close enough, I’d hear a bouncing, thumping; when I looked
up, there they’d go.

I hunted until dark. I guess I shot at half a dozen deer,
but they couldn’t have been any safer in the San Diego
Zoo. It didn’t help my feelings any when I got back to
camp and learned that both Les and Ray had bagged deer.
Les had killed his from some sixty yards, a big four-pointer.
I figured the law of averages would have to catch up
with me sooner or later and I’d hit a deer by accident if
nothing else, so I headed for home vowing to return the
next day.

That night I told Jean about my hunt and how discouraging
it was not being able to hit anything. “I can’t get
close enough,” I said. I then remembered how in times past,
I sometimes could ride right up to a deer on a horse and not
seem to scare him at all.

“Wonder how it`d work if I took Sugar over tomorrow
and hunted off her‘?” I ventured. All the encouragement I
got out of her was a sleepy, “Why don’t you try it and
see?” as she rolled over and pulled all the covers off me
All my life I’ve been horse crazy, believing that anything
really worth doing probably can be done on a horse. My
mother claims I would walk to the pasture to catch my
pony to ride to the outhouse. This in mind, early the next
morning I loaded my gray quarter horse mare in the trailer
and pulled her over to Indian Peak.

I don’t know why it’s possible to ride up on a deer
horseback without scaring him. It doesn’t always work, but
perhaps they hear the four feet of the horse hitting the
earth instead of the two feet of a man and don’t relate the
sound with danger.
I pulled into their camp just before daylight. My friends
were already up and Nora had a pot of hot coffee ready.
Over a steaming cup I told them what I planned for the

“Won`t it scare the deer when you get off to shoot`T”
Ray asked.
“I don’t intend to get off,” I answered. “I’m gonna
shoot right off her back.”
I saddled up and tried a couple of practice shots. Sugar
was tense and nervous at first, but decided that twanging
stick meant her no personal harm and settled down. standing
like a rock.

Les, Nora and Ray took off on their motorcycles. I
headed my horse off up through the cedars. I rode about
fifteen minutes when I came around a big pine tree
there stood a good-sized buck. He stood looking at the
horse A I don’t think he even knew I was anywhere around.
I started fumbling for an arrow, and trying to get it
across the bow and nocked on the string. All that commotion
scared him and, when I looked up again, all I could see
was his big butt disappearing through the trees. Lesson
Number One: Keep an arrow ready on the bow!
I rode on my happy way, found a fat doe, made a
beautiful twenty—yard shot and missed her by twenty feet. I
came right up on several more deer. Some ran off. but
others just stood and looked at me. Those that did stand. I
shot at — and missed — and used up a year’s supply of
expletives. I wondered how the Indians ever made a living.
All that getting off and on to pick up my arrows was nearly
as tiring as walking would have been in the first place.
Late that afternoon, I rode around the base of Indian
Peak Mountain itself. There’s a spring right at the botaoni
on the east side. I had been thinking I would get myself a
drink and let old Sugar fill up on the pure, sweet spring

As I rode around a sharp outcropping of stone, I came
upon six does and a big, fat, two-point buck, getting themselves
a drink. They jumped away from the waterhole and
went bouncing off the way mule deer will when startled.
They then stopped and turned around in their curious way
to see what was going on.

Off to the southeast was a long, easy slope with very few
trees. The ground was fairly smooth for about a half a mile
and, if I could just get between those deer and the mountain,
they’d have only one way to go — right down there
across that open flat.

I kissed at the mare and she was going full speed by the
second jump. I reined her over to the right and she was in
position to head off the deer from the peak. Contrary to
popular belief, deer aren’t really all that fast. Deer can duck
and dodge around in the timber pretty quick. all iiglit. but
in an all-out, wide—open race on open ground. a fast horse
can outrun them.

This was open country. I had my mare headed towards
those deer now and they were in full flight through
that treeless area. Old Sugar was a trained calf-roping horse
and a good one. That was no calf up ahead but it didn’t
take her but a couple of jumps to get the idea that she was
supposed to catch whatever they were.

The deer stayed together in a bunch until I got to pushing
them pretty hard. then the does started peeling off. The
ground was fairly level with a gentle slope and there was
excellent footing. I had the mare wide open and I put her
after the buck. Before long we had him cut out by himself.
At first he did a pretty fair job of staying ahead of us.
then began slowing down. He was running out of oxygen.
Deer are not built for an extended burst of speed and seem
to run out of breath pretty quickly. He had his mouth
open, sucking in all the air he could with each heaving
breath. Suddenly, somehow, he was around me and headed
back up towards the peak.

I gave the mare a whack with the bow and put her after
him again. He almost made it back to the spring when we
got around him and got him turned back down towards
that open slope. He was really getting tired now, blowing
like a steam engine and weaving from side to side.
Sugar was right on his tail. The grain—fed mare was
strong, in excellent shape and still wanting to run. She fell
in on that buck just like a calf in a rodeo, dropping her
head, laying her ears back and rating him like any good
horse in a matched roping.

I dropped the rein on her neck, fished around and got an
arrow out of the quiver and drew it across the bow. I leaned
over to the right as far as I could without falling off to keep
from shooting my horse between her ears, drew back as far
as I could and let go. I shot right over his back. He must
have been all of five yards away.

The buck was pretty well rundown now. He was dodging
and weaving, trying to make it back into the brush. I would
shoot, fumble for another arrow, head the deer off, shoot
again, then 4 instant replay. I ran that deer all over that
open slope.

The deer’s patron saint must have been looking after
him. I shot up every arrow I had and never touched a hair
on his body. I pulled my horse up and just sat there wondering
about all those novels of the Old West I’ve read. As
far as hitting anything from a running horse with a bow and
arrow, or standing on the ground for that matter, I’m afraid
if I’d been a Sioux, Custer still would be standing.

My mare was blowing hard so I stepped off, loosened the
cinch and started leading her back up the slope to cool off.
I was wandering around, looking for my arrows, thinking I
should have thrown down that bow and jerked my lariat
loose and roped that buck. If I had tied him to a tree,
perhaps I then could have hit him e but I doubt it.
Suddenly the sound of motorcycles broke through my
foul mood. I looked up to see Les and Ray come whizzing
down across that open slope. They had their engines
wound—up tight and were really raising a dust.

They rode up, killed their motorcycles and put down the
kick stands. They got off and walked over to where I was
standing. Both men had big grins on their faces. They just
looked at me, as I stood holding my mare and feeling
foolish. Finally Ray spoke: “We were up on the ledge back
there and saw the whole thing. I want to buy that horse!”
No, I didn’t sell my roping mare to Ray Renfroe. The
incident did get him so interested in horses, however, that
he purchased several registered quarter horses and became
an ardent, accomplished horseman. He sold his steel manufacturing
company and began a completely new career
that’s about as far removed from the steel business as one
can imagine. He now resides in Prescott, Arizona, and is a
very successful Western artist. His paintings and bronze
castings are in such demand that most are sold before he
ever finishes them.

Les and Nora Hunt still own and operate their archery
equipment company in Salt Lake City. Les spent over five
years developing a special type of hunting arrow which he
now is manufacturing, called the “Big Daddy.”
The Hunts and Ray Renfroe filled their tags on the bowhunt.
I managed to keep my record completely clean: I
never did get one! <—<<

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Published by NYI1927 on 18 Jan 2011

CBC 2011 Sportsmen’s Banquet

I wanted to let people in North Eastern Indiana know about a fantastic Sportsmen’s banquet our church puts on every year.

Our purpose is to share with men, woman, and children our love for the outdoors as well as our passion for Jesus Christ.

This year our speaker is Brad Herndon. He and his wife have done outdoor writing on a national level for 23 years, and do assignment photography for Realtree Camouflage, Nikon, Hoyt bows, Remington Arms, Thompson Center Arms, Cabela’s, and other outdoor companies. He is the author of the book, “Mapping Trophy Bucks.” Brad will share how to use topographical, aerial and plat maps to figure out how to put yourself in the best possible position to waylay deer, and especially trophy bucks.

This banquet will include a seminar on turkey hunting, dinner, displays from local vendors, as well as many prizes.

This year we are giving away a Parker Youth Bow for those under 14 and a Matthews Drenalin bow for those 15 & over!

When: Saturday, March 5th from 5-9 P.M. Doors Open at 4:45 P.M.
Where: The Ligonier Rec. Center 502 W Union Street Ligonier, IN.
Cost: It is free! There is a donation taken to offset some of the costs.

Space is limited. You can reserve your spot by calling the church at 260-761-2321 or by signing up at the Rec. Center.

For more information go to

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Published by archerchick on 13 Jan 2011

Harnessing The Wind ~By Steve Bartylla

Bowhunting World October 2005

October 2005


How To Channel The Wind To Gain An Advantage Over A Buck’s Sensitive Nose

Catching movement out of the corner of my eye, I saw the mature 10-point trotting down his rub line. In a matter of seconds, the event would either end in success or failure. Already positioned, I was ready when the buck stepped into the clear. Settling the pin high behind the front shoulder, I sent the arrow driving into the buck’s vitals. As he crashed away, I could see that the expandable was lodged squarely in the buck’s vitals. I knew he wouldn’t go far.

The gross-scoring 146 4/8 inch 10-point I took early in Wisconsin’s 2004 Archery season was the first of three Pope & Young bucks I was lucky enough to bag last season. Though the specific events of each one varied, they all shared one theme. I placed each of the strands to take advantage of the wind.

Before you leap to conclusions, I should point out that I don’t worry about bucks coming in downwind of my stand. Instead, I employ a thorough and highly effective odor-reduction strategy. Doing so allows me the freedom to focus on harnessing a tremendous advantage; it provides the ability to set stands based on how bucks can most effectively use the wind.

Using the wind to survive
To take advantage of the wind we must first understand how bucks use it to their own advantage. There’s no better place to begin than by examining how it applies to bedding. To do so, let’s dig a little deeper into how the buck that began this piece harnessed it’s potential.

Bedding on an east-west ridge, he had both alfalfa and corn in the valleys to either side. With clearly marked rub lines, following the paths to his two most common bedding sites was easy. As it turned out, they were both knobs located just below the top of the ridge. One was the south side and the other on the north.

The positioning of these knobs provided the buck the ability to see danger approaching from below and use the wind to cover his backside. With any form of a northerly wind, the bucks would bed on the south side of the ridge, only to choose the knob on the north for southerly winds.

Digging deeper still, because of the identical crops being offered in each valley, he would let the wind dictate which one he spend the evening feeding in. With a north wind, he would rise from his south side bed and cross over the ridge to drop down to the northern valley. Doing so allowed him to keep the wind in his face and scent check the field for danger. As with his bedding choice doing the opposite with a southerly wind offered him the same advantage. Both his sign and several nights of observation proved this to be the case.

With this knowledge in hand, it was a simple matter of hanging stands along his rub line, just over the opposite sides of the ridge from his beds. Arriving for the afternoon hunt, a quick check of the wind direction dictated on which stand to sit.

In reality, that was not a common scenario. Most times bucks aren’t afforded the
luxury of identical food sources on both sides. When all things are equal, a buck
will most often choose going into the wind, while traveling from his bed to feed. However, things aren’t always equal. When he desires one food source over others, he will often travel with the wind at his side or back to get there. Buck travels can’t always be completely dictated by the wind.
Still, as was the case with the Wisconsin buck, there are situations where it can easily occur.

When that’s the case, it can remove a lot of doubt as to which trail and food source the big boy will be using on a given day. Unlike deer travels to and from food, the wind almost always plays a role in how a buck beds. At the very least, as illustrated earlier, deer have the very strong tendency to bed with the wind at their back and use their eyes to protect their front side. Doing so simply makes sense from a survival standpoint.

In areas with relief, we can use this knowledge to our advantage. In broken or rolling land, when an individual buck is rotating between several bedding sites, many times the wind direction dictates which he will select. The safety advantage of beds that simultaneously offer a
good view of the front and wind coverage of the back is tremendous. In this setting, analyzing which bedding site is best for the current wind condition can transform a stab in the dark to
a highly educated guess. Though it wont always be right, you may find that you are now right more often than before. That can take a lot of the blind luck out of deciding where to sit on a particular day.

Wind And The Rut
As helpful as playing the wind during the non-rutting phases of the season can be,
its even more so during the scraping, chase and breeding phases. Now is when
hunters can gain an incredible advantage.

Despite popular belief, you really can beat a whitetail’s nose. However, if anyone believes
that simply buying a carbon suit is the answer they will most likely be disappointed.
Carbon suits are a big help, but they’re only one ingredient in a recipe for success.
When a deer whiffs danger, it doesn’t matter if they smell a hunter’s body, breath,
grunt tube, mechanical release, bow, optics or anything else brought into the woods.
The end result; They head the other way fast. To truly beat a whitetail’s nose, you must
address every item you bring in the woods. To do this, l rely on several tools:

Clean paper towels wet with hydrogen peroxide work well to scent—clean hard surface
such as bows, arrows, optics, glasses, rattling antlers, grunt tubes and so on.

Scent—killing sprays are effective on anything made of cloth or strings,
as well as rubber boots.

A mixture of scent—killing soap and water works well for washing the inside
of rubber boots as well as many other larger items.

Scent—killing bar soaps, shampoo, deodorant and detergents are used on
my body and clothes.

Baking soda works as a toothpaste and also, by adding about a quarter-cup ,
to the inside of boots during storage, as an odor—eater.

These tools, combined with a carbon suit provide the necessary ingredients for me
to go undetected. Next, there are some tips that can help avoid trip—ups:
Begin exclusively using scent—killing soaps and stop using aftershaves and
scented deodorants a month before season. This allows your pores to rid
themselves of these odors.

Avoid eating high-odor and gassy foods and liquids. Though commonly
overlooked, coffee produces a breath that brushing won’t solve.

Treat washcloths and towels in the same way as hunting clothing. Drying off
with a towel washed in scented detergent, dried with a fabric softener or
stored in the bathroom can make showering a wasted effort.

Whenever practical, have duplicates. For example, rather than use the same
smelly release aid that you practice with, have an identical release that’s
used solely for hunting.

Leave unnecessary items in the truck. A knife, dragging ropes, gutting
gloves and a host of others things can be retrieved on an as—needed basis.
Clean the inside of the truck, get rid of air fresheners and keep the windows
down. Even though you won’t be wearing the same clothing, truck smells can
pollute your hair and body.

Wear treated clothing while driving and change at the parking spot.
Think of and treat every item brought into the woods.

It’s no secret that many of the best-producing scrapes are those located on the
downwind side of bedding areas. With a single pass, a buck can check both his scrape
and the bedding area for a doe entering estrus early. In that scenario, it isn’t a coincidence
that the hottest scrapes on a given day are often dictated by the wind direction.

To fine—tune stand placement for hunting these scrapes, I strive to set up 20
yards downwind of the scrape. Any buck that wants to check the scrape must
either come to or be downwind of it. lt isn’t uncommon for bucks to check these
scrapes from 10 to 40 yards downwind. This stand placement allows me to catch
all of that activity. More than once it has provided me with shot opportunities at
bucks checking scrapes from a distance.

Again, the wind can be a tremendous ally to bucks checking for hot does. Though bucks may seem to be moving at random during the rut, there is often method to their madness. During this phase, mature bucks that cover the most prime locations are likely to do the most breeding. The wind aids them in doing so fast and effectively.

As opposed to running wildly around a field, sniffing doe after doe, one pass on the
downwind side swiftly answers if any are ready. While doing so, they can also scent
check the trails for any hot does that have recently entered or exited the field.

All of this makes the downwind side of prime food sources a good place to sit. To
further stack the odds, stands placed 15 to 20 yards in off inside corners can be great
choices. Here, the hunter can cover the bucks running the edge as deep as 40 yards
in, intercept those walking the edge and one that may be following a doe on the worn
trail that all inside corners seem to have

Furthermore, bucks often cut just inside these inside corners when getting from one side of the field to the other Doing this provides the quickest route that offers the safety of cover. All of these
things can be taken advantage of when hunting the downwind corners.

Finally, as was the case while scraping running the downwind edges of doe bedding areas is the most effective means for a buck to check the bedded does. Placing stands 20 yards off the edge, covering the pest entrance/exit trail, positions the hunter to intercept most of this movement as well as providing the chance that a hot doe will lead a buck past your stand.

The story of my 2004 Illinois buck is a good example of how this can pay off. During a spring scouting trip I had found an area where the mature woods had been selectively logged. One patch along a ridge finger had been logged harder than the rest. The combination of the thicker regrowth, extra downed tops and view of the more open creek bottom below all resulted in a prime family group bedding area.

On the surface, it seemed like bucks could be working it from any side. Further analysis revealed that the wind direction, would be the keys When the wind blew down the point, it created one best route for roaming bucks. By skirting the lower·edge, they could scent-check all the does
in the bedding area as well as well as use their eyes to scan the creek bottom below.

The first November morning providing this wind found me in that stand, My
sit was short and sweet.

Around 8 a.m., the large-bodied, high-beamed beamed 9-pointer appeared. As I had
hoped, he was skirting the lower edge of the thicket. Coming in on a string, his
head alternated between tilting up to check the wind and turning back to use his
eyes to scan the creek bottom below.

At about 50 yards out, I drew and set tied my knuckle behind my ear. Coming to
a stop, he intently scanned the creek bottom for does. Turning just a bit as he did
I let the arrow fly. As the arrow sunk in, the buck took flight for the creek bottom.
Folding as he neared the bank, the chocolate—racked buck was mine.

The wind had delivered my second buck of 2004.

Wind Tactics Yield Success

Wind directions play an important role in a mature buck’s life. It aids them in survival
as well as being a huge help in finding receptive does Because of that, it only
makes sense that we incorporate this into our hunting strategies. Once you do you just
might find that predicting buck movement can be much easier than you realized. >>—->

All Rights Reserved

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Published by archerchick on 11 Jan 2011

The Perfect Morning Stand~ By Mike Strandlund

Bowhunting World October 2005

October 2005


On cool mornings during the rut, bedding areas may be your best bet.

If you hang around bowhunters enough, you’ll eventually hear some-
one say they were in the right place at the right time. Everyone nods
their head. The notion of time intersecting location is a well accepted
principle of bowhunting success. Nodding your head is easy, but really,
putting those two together is no simple matter. There are a lot of
trees out there and a lot of hours in the day. Making it happen by
design rather than by pure luck takes a little thought.

Big bucks can be taken at any time during the season and any time
during the day. They are always somewhere, even it you aren’t. If you
understand their behavior well enough to put yourself between their Point
A and Point B, you can manufacture your own right time and place. The
problem is, during most of the season they aren’t moving very well,
during the day, and these smart old deer are anything but predictable.
Year after year the rut comes to the rescue to put a little life into our
dreams. For a high percentage of hunters, the rut is the “right time.” But,
we deed to go a step farther. ?

In my experience, morning hunts produce more big buck sightings than
evening hunts. Hunters who spend a lot of time on stand will agree. Bucks
learn to let their guard down more in the morning and are on their feet
longer during daylight than they are in the afternoon. So, the “right time”
becomes a morning during the rut. But, why stop there? There’s more
we can use to narrow this down.

Studies I’ve read suggest that daytime buck activity north of the
Mason-Dixon tine starts to decline when the temperature gets above 45
degrees. It almost comes to a stop when the temperature reaches 60
degrees. So now the right time is a cool morning during the rut. Now all
we need is the right place.

The Right Place
For 50 weeks out of the year, bedding
areas are among the worst places you
could hunt. Try sneaking into Fort Knox
sometime. It won’t be long before the
alarms start sounding. That’s the level of
security deer exhibit in a bedding area for
most of the year. If a buck catches you
sneaking around his bedding area, he’s
gone. Just as a good burglar knows that
the best time to make a raid is when the
residents are out of town, we have our
own window of opportunity to hunt bedding
areas effectively during the rut.
During the two weeks that comprise
the peak-breeding phase of the rut, a high
percentage of the bucks are “out of town.”
They’re distracted from normal wariness by
the hope of cornering a doe, and they’re moving
more in the process spending time in places
where they haven’t taken a stick-by-stick and
leaf-by-leaf mental inventory.?

The one you see today may be miles away
tomorrow. You can afford to push a little
harder when the buck turnover rate is high.
When does are in estrus (characterizing
the peak breeding phase), mature bucks
spend most of their time looking for them.
Where do they go? Where would you go?
Feeding areas in the evening and bedding
areas in the morning.
Choosing the bedding areas you will
hunt depends a lot more on how you will get
in and out than on any other single factor.
Start with access, then move on to wind
control and finally worry about the specific
tree you’ll hunt.

Bucks are slow to arrive in bedding areas
in the morning, so they won’t be the ones
that bust you if you make a sloppy approach.
Maybe you are thinking, “So what if I blow out
a couple of does?” It’s a big mistake because
if you push the does out, the bucks will stop
using the whole area eventually, plus any
deer that remain will display tense body
language that will bring the bucks to a
greater state of caution. Soon they will
stop moving naturally through the area. If
you can’t get to and from the stand without
spooking deer, you are actually hurting
your entire hunting area. That’s why getting
in clean is so important.


Bedding areas generally have a back
door that makes access easy. You have to
approach from the opposite direction as
the deer. In other words, you have to come
in from the direction away from the primary
food source. Surprisingly, some bedding
area stands can be hunted day after day if
the entry and exit routes are well-selected.
The only way you burn out a stand is if the
deer know you are using it. Keep them in
the dark and the stand can be productive
for the entire two weeks.
Take advantage of every trick to keep
deer from seeing you, smelling you and
hearing you as you approach the stand.
I’ve learned the value of setting stands
close to high-banked ditches and creeks. I
use the bank for cover as I walk right down
in the bottom, beneath the surrounding
terrain. I’ve walked right past deer this
way many times.

Another trick is to approach your
morning stands right at first light. It may
sound like heresy to hard-core bowhunters,
but I’ve found that sleeping in actually
works to your benefit when the woods are
dry and noisy underfoot. Wait until you can
just see the ground before heading to the
stand, and then walk rapidly. Rapid-fire
movements spook deer less than quiet
sounds of stealth. Also, there is a time
right at daybreak when the forest comes
to life and the sounds you make aren’t
singled out as easily.

The best bedding area stands
are located near ridge tops. Of course, you
have to go where the deer are, but given a
choice, hunt high where the wind is steady.
The wind is always steadier on high ground
than in areas that are protected and subject
to swirling. As a bonus, when you set up on
the downwind edge of a ridge top, the wind
will carry your scent above the deer down-
wind of your stand for a long distance. With
attention to eliminating odor, you should
be able to prevent most of the deer from
ever scenting you while on stand. If you’re
looking for a way to make your best start
productive for longer, this is a big one.

Be Conservative
While scouting I’ve seen a lot of stands
that are “one-hunt wonders.” I know
perfectly well what they look like because
I’ve put up my share of them over the years.
They are great for one hunt and then they go
downhill because too many deer scent you or run
across your ground scent. Generally, these
stands are the result of a combination of
greed and naivete. We long to be right in
the middle of the action, but that always
comes at a high cost. You will get busted
often – plain and simple. And, soon deer
will stop using the area around the stand.

There is no place I’ve ever hunted
where wild whitetails will tolerate human
presence without avoiding the area in the
future. Instead of hunting right in the Middle
of a bedding area and educating deer,
choose a tree on the fringe. Put your stand
on the backside of the tree, away from the
deer. You will have to stand facing the
tree most of the time, but the tree will
serve to keep you well-hidden even
from short range.

Accept the fact that you’ll have to watch
a few deer pass out of range. Be patient;
eventually one will come to the downwind
side of the ridge (your side) and you’ll get
a good shot. In the meantime, you will keep
the deer relaxed and moving naturally. Over
the long haul, that’s the key to successful

Picking The Tree
Choosing an actual stand location in a bedding
area can be as much luck as skill. There is almost
no buck sign to guide you. By their very
nature, bedding areas aren’t travel routes.
You won’t find many trails or traditional
funnels to suggest the best stand location
There isn’t a single big rub, scrape or
trail visible from any of my best morning
stands. This is the hardest part for many
bowhunters to overcome. Too often, sign
becomes our only focus and we overlook
great stand locations as a result.

Buck movement patterns through bedding
areas seem on the surface to be
random. In most cases, the bucks follow
some kind of a pattern even if the pattern
is known only to them. In time, you will see
it start to develop. Certain places will seem to
be visited more often by bucks on the move,
or a certain tree will just seem to be common
to many of the paths taken by cruising bucks.
lt may take a couple of years for this to gel, but
you will end up with an awesome stand if you
are patient and watchful.

Occasionally you’ll actually find funnels
in bedding areas, though they tend to
be broad and very general in form. When
hunting ridges l look for areas where narrow
hogbacks in the ridge force traveling
bucks to come closer together. This simply
increases your odds that a buck passing through
the area will be within range.
Often, in other types of bedding areas,
you’ll find something subtle that pushes
deer toward one side or the other. It may
even be as simple as a big fallen tree
deer have to go around. Anything that
funnels movement (no matter how slightly)
tips the odds a little more your way and
is worth using to your advantage.

A saddle is another feature that really
improves ridge hunting success. Bucks
use the saddle to cross over the ridge
serving as a second travel route when hunting
bucks that are cruising along the ridge itself.

Remain Undetected
Does often browse for an hour or more
when they get back into a bedding area.
They rarely bed right down. This can be a
tough time because as the does mill around, a few
invariably start to drift over to your stand.
If the setup isn’t perfect you will get busted.

I’ve also had entire family groups bed
down for hours at a time within 10 yards
of my tree. That makes life miserable
because you can’t move to stretch or even
change positions. This is rare, however
because you can usually count on some
kind of buck to come along and run them
out before too long.


More Thoughts On Timing

When you start noticing bucks seriously
chasing does, it’s time to start spending
your mornings hunting bedding areas
Here‘s what you can expect.

The bucks that visit doe bedding areas
aren’t interested in bedding down, at least
not until late in the morning. After several
years of hunting bedding areas in the morning,
I’ve only seen a few bucks actually bed
down. instead of bedding, the bucks cruise
through with the intention of checking as
many does as possible before moving on.
They jump them up, sniff around and then
move on.

As the sun begins to rise, the does will
start to show up first, usually right after first
light. Generally, they are by themselves or
in small family groups with another doe or
two and a few fawns. The bucks usually
don’t start coming through until well after
sunrise. Some mornings they were so late
in arriving that l figured the show was over
before it even started only to see the first
buck about the time l would normally think
about climbing down. In other words, don’t
give up too early—bedding areas can produce
action well into the late morning.
Possibly the best part about hunting
bedding areas at this time of the season
is the sheer number of hours that bucks
are active. lf you’re hunting edges, the
activity slows shortly after sunrise. When
the deer disappear from these places,
where do you think they are heading?
That’s right, toward doe bedding areas.

Deeper in the cover the bucks keep
moving for hours. The majority of the action
occurs during the first four hours of the
morning—actual|y the second, third and
fourth hours. I challenge you to find another
stand location where you can expect three
hours of activity each morning.

I remember hearing a humorous remark
by noted gun writer Craig Boddington. He
said, “Bowhunting is like shopping. Gun
hunting is like buying.” Some mornings the
action in these bedding areas makes
bowhunting seem a lot more like buying, too.
At its best, the morning action is awesome
bordering on unbelievable, like the morning
I spent covered up by more than a dozen
bucks trailing two hot does that passed
right under my stand. The right time? That’s
easy; a cool morning during the rut. The
right place? That’s easy, too; A doe bedding
area is the handsdown pick. <–<<

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