Archive for the 'Bowhunting' Category

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Published by archerchick on 17 Sep 2010

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Published by archerchick on 17 Sep 2010

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Published by archerchick on 07 Sep 2010

BEARS – BOW & ARROW Ready Reference File


BOW & ARROW – OCTOBER 1980

BEARS – A REFERENCE

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

SENSORY AND PHYSICAL CAPABILITIES

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

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

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

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

HABITAT

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

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

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

Polar Bear —— Found throughout the northern Arctic regions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Published by archerchick on 07 Sep 2010

Bowhunting The Biggest Grouse – By Sam Fadala


BOW & ARROW – OCTOBER 1980

Bowhunting The Biggest Grouse – By Sam Fadala

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Published by archerchick on 06 Sep 2010

A Bowhunt On The Great Divide – By Norb Mullaney


ARCHERY WORLD – AUGUST 1986
A BOWHUNT ON THE GREAT DIVIDE – BY Norb Mullaney

It certainly wasn’t starting out very well.
The day was Sunday, September 18. I was
scheduled to catch a flight for Denver
early Monday morning with a connection to
West Yellowstone — destination, Rush’s
Lakeview Ranch, about 50 miles west of
Yellowstone National Park near the
Montana-Idaho line. On Tuesday we would
pack into a mountain base camp for a I0-day
combination hunt with licenses for elk, mule
deer and bear.

I had the flu! I hadn’t given in to a flu virus
in as long as I could remember, but
unquestionably, I had the flu! But Sunday
evening I was feeling better and Monday
morning I caught the plane, flu and all.

All seasoned air travelers are accustomed
to arriving at destination sans luggage. This is
to be avoided at all costs on a hunting trip.
Running down a bull elk and dispatching it
with a pen knife is a game for much younger
bowhunters than I. Seasoned air travelers also
know that if you have too much gear to carry
on your best bet is to check your luggage flight
by flight and transfer it yourself. Considering
the flu, it took a large cart, a sky cap, a few
bucks and a two—hour layover at the Denver
terminal to accomplish this. But I didn’t
reckon with the ingenuity of airline baggage
handlers. They put off my gear, every last bit
of it, in Jackson Hole and I arrived in West
Yellowstone with the insulated camo jacket I
was wearing, my camera and a small brown
paper sack that my thoughtful wife pressed on
me when I left Milwaukee. It contained
several Granola bars in the event my
flu-weakened appetite returned.

At the height of my frustration I met Rick
Bolin and Bob Stewart, two Ohio bowhunters
who were a part of this 10-day adventure.
They had driven over from Lakeview to meet
my flight. The fourth member of our group,
Glen Crisp, who had organized the entire
hunt, had arrived several days earlier and was
already in the high country after elk.
We left for the ranch with the airline’s
promise to locate my gear at Jackson Hole and
deliver it to Lakeview as soon as possible. I
got the distinct impression that it wasn’t likely
to be very soon though, since the next flight
wasn’t until Tuesday afternoon.

The Ranch
Lakeview Ranch was a surprise. Part of it
looks like a contemporary Montana ranch —
the rest is like something out of a Louis
L’Amour paperback executed in raw, fresh
western cedar — false fronts, hitching rails,
raised covered porches — the whole bit. The
Rushes, Keith and Kevin — father and son —
own and operate Lakeview Guest Ranch snuggled up
against the mountains that rim Centennial
Valley just north of the Idaho line.
From this headquarters they maintain more
than a dozen base camps in Montana and
Idaho. At dinner Monday evening we met our
guides, Jesse Willis, Bob Larson and Bud
Schwartz, all graduates of Rush’s Outfitter
and Guide School and selected by Keith Rush
for demonstrated ability, resourcefulness and
leadership skill.

We were scheduled to pack in about mid-
morning on Tuesday, but my fate was still in
doubt. My brown paper sack was a mighty
slim outfit for l0 days in the mountains. Tues-
day morning, as I watched Bob and Rick
ready their gear and the guides bring up the
saddle horses and pack animals to the hitching
rails, I felt as though the world was passing
me by. But I had reckoned without Keith, who
had engaged in a nose-to-nose telephone con-
versation with the airline baggage office. Just
as the Lakeview crew was bringing up the
horse trailers, a car rolled in with my gear
aboard. Frontier Airlines had driven it up
from Jackson Hole — a 300-mile round trip.
We saw our first elk while skirting the val-
ley en route the “jumping off” point. A some-
what confused yearling wandered out of the
near slopes and crossed the road just ahead of
our caravan. Bob and Rick bailed out for a try
but were never able to get within bowshot. I
did better with my camera ’s zoom lens, “bagging”
the youngster with a well placed 35 mm shot.

When we pulled off the road on the edge of
the valley and rendezvoused at the base of a
ridge, our guides set about transferring the
gear to the pack animals. It was during this
maneuver (and I use the word advisedly) that I
was impressed both visually and verbally
with one axiom of the outfitter’s code relating
to hard bow cases: “Don’t ask us to pack ’em
on a horse or a mule .” Our guides reluctantly
(but gracefully) agreed to pack mine in to the
base camp but would make no guarantee as to
its arriving in one piece or even aboard the
mule. A hard bow case is too long to pack fore
and aft and hence must ride crossways atop
the pack, making the mule look like a mountain-going Pegasus. Apparently Pegasus
avoided traversing mountain trails, particularly narrow ones with trees close spaced on
either side.

Base Camp
Our two hour ride to the base camp was
uneventful except for those of us who are
more at home in a desk chair than astride the
gentlest horse in the string. As he made a last
minute check before we headed in, Jesse had
observed, “If your knees hurt, your stirrups
are too short and if your tail hurts, they are too
long. If you experience acute agony in equal
proportions, then the stirrups are just right.
Was I ever “just right! ”

Glen Crisp caught up with us at the base
camp that evening. He and “ Goober,” another
Lakeview guide, has spent the previous week
at another camp on the Montana side. He
would spend the next 10 days with us. He had
a success story to relate. It went something
like this: “It was cool that morning when we left
camp. We headed in a different direction than
hunted on previous days. Goober had seen
two nice bulls in the area. This was my last
day in this camp and I had passed up several
chances at some nice bulls in hope of something better,
but now, down to the wire, I wondered if I’d been too choosey.

“The wind, which had been blowing the
night before, had quieted and the morning was
still. We left camp at daybreak and after an
hour’s ride, we tied the horses and started
working the ridge tops. I bugled at intervals,
but there was no response. My hope of locating
the two bulls faded with each passing call,
but there was always one more try.

“Then, about 9:30 a.m. there was a reply
that we judged to be about a quarter mile distant.
The preceding days had taught me to
work in as close as possible and not be afraid
to move. It reminded me a lot of turkey hunting in Ohio.
The old bull seemed to hang up a
lot like a tom and not be ready to take an active
part this early in the rut. The young bull
senses this and realizes that the sooner the
confrontation with the big guy, the sooner he
loses his lady friends: he’ll want to look good
in front of the ladies but won’t want to be hurt
or lose the battle. So he answers the challenge,
but as soon as you stand to move in, he
gathers his cows and takes off.

“On one occasion I had a 3×3 bugle in
reply and then run with his cows. I gave chase
and caught up with them after a couple of
hours. I moved in close and forced a response
from the small bull. I was 20 yards from his
cows and only 30 yards from him, and he had
little choice but to become more aggressive. I
bugled and grunted, using the small bull reed
call and grunt tube. He lowered his head and
started sneaking back toward me. I let him get
about 12 yards from me and then stood up and
waved my hands. (That was when I was being
choosy). The bull didn’t know what to do.
He finally took off down the mountain and his
cows went up.

“Back to the bull at hand. By now we were
about 100 yards from him, but were separated
by a small park. I pulled back, keeping what
wind there was as much in my favor as possible.
I moved six more times in the next hour
and finally managed to get within 35 yards of
the bull. I had worked down-wind and came
in on his left side, well concealed by the
brush. I called. He replied and started moving
toward me. I tried to project the sound of the
bugle and grunts to confuse him about my
exact location. I had located another bull close
in, but wasn’t certain which was the larger of
the two. But that morning it was first come,
first shoot.

Just then the bull stepped around a tree 15
yards out! I eased back my 65-pound Qua-
draflex and released the Graphlex 17-8. It was
a good hit. The arrow passed completely
through and lodged in a pine 10 yards the

other side of the animal. The Bohning Blazer
broadhead performed well. The bull went
down in about 45 yards. He was a nice 5×5
weighing about 800 pounds. As Goober and I
viewed my elk, I said to him, in all humility,
‘Well, that’s one down — let’s go join the
other guys and tag one in Idaho!’ ”
Glen left Goober and the elk at the ranch
that afternoon and headed out to join us. His
tale heightened our anticipation and set the
stage for the next 10 days. Little did we realize
then that it was to be primarily his stage!

We were field testing a number of equipment
items on this trip — Quadraflex bows,
Sagittarius quivers, Jim Crumley’s Trebark
camo clothing and Graphflex arrows. These
were planned tests. Certain other items of
personal equipment, including four posteriors
and eight knees, were also subjected to
rigorous field test procedures. This phase of
the tests, although unplanned, was inseparable
from our mode of transport. The test
results? When I rode, I hurt, but it did get
better as the hunt progressed.

Wednesday morning we rolled out well before light,
enjoyed an excellent camp break-
fast, and were mounted and headed up the
trail through the timber toward the ridge in the
dim light. At the top of the ridge we split up,
with guides Jesse Willis and Bob Larson escorting
Bob Stewart and me east along the
ridge; Bud Schwartz led off to the west with
Glen and Rick.

A mile or so along the ridge, in a loose
stand of pines, Bob Larson spotted an elk no
more than 40 yards ahead. It crossed the trail,
moving off to our right. Bob Stewart and I
slipped off our mounts and attempted a still-
hunting encircling maneuver without success.
We never had another glimpse of the animal.
We were unable to identify it as bull or
cow but regardless, the close-in sighting
could only be considered encouraging.
Further along the ridge the guides called a
halt. We tied the horses and moved across to
the brow of the steep timbered slope that offered
a panoramic view of Big Sky country.
Immediately to our rear an equally large section
of Idaho stretched off to the south.

We stayed there glassing the lower hillsides,
ridges and scattered meadows for several hours.
A small band of elk drifted in and out of sight in an
aspen-dotted meadow atop a small hill about a mile
northeast on the opposite slope. Our guides, Jesse and Bob, called
on their knowledge of the terrain and developed a strategy that sent
Bob Stewart with Jesse down the slope and up the valley while
Bob Larson and I rode eastward along the ridge to a position opposite the elk.
Once there we moved off the ridge and down into a large grassy area that
extended well below the timberline in an immense “V.” At the vertex
of the V a well-used game trail led up from the valley below and the aspens
beyond. Jesse and Bob speculated that if the elk moved out of the
aspens, they might well head up the trail and give me a shooting opportunity.

As it turned out, the elk moved out before
Jesse and Bob Stewart reached the aspens, but
they chose the opposite slope. The only thing
Bob and I saw come up that trail was a hot and
weary Bob Stewart.
We saw a great deal of that ridge during
our stay in the mountains. Glen and I huddled
under my space blanket beneath the low
branches of a pine on a cold, rainy and windy
day at the edge of a meadow that straddled its
top. The elk were using this area frequently,
but we saw none that day.

On another occasion, after a heavy rain
had made the normally difficult trail down to
camp a bit hair-raising, and the heavy cloud
cover brought on an early blackness in the
timber that rendered my night vision totally
inadequate, Jesse led the way off the ridge and
back to camp with my tiny flashlight. Moving
down that steep, slippery trail required supreme
concentration on my peripheral vision
(the best for night vision) just to make out the
faint blur which was the rump of the white
horse less than IO feet in front of my nose. My
greatest solace was that I was astraddle “Old
Deuce,” a mountain horse of many years experience
and a will all his own. Old Deuce
was my mount for most of the hunt by universal accord
a distinct tribute to his mountain wisdom, sure-footedness,
generally amiable disposition and a tolerance for damn near
anything on his back. Old Deuce would even pack
fresh meat, a task usually reserved for mules
in the Rush remuda.

We made it down the steep side slope that
night without serious mishap thanks to Jesse,
my fast-fading mini-flashlight and horses that
must have a strain of bat blood. There were
two minor casualties — Glen lost his cherished
trophy-taking arrow, and Old Deuce
slithered past a tree that put my Sagittarius
bow quiver to the supreme test and came close
to taking my bow arm off in the process. How-
ever, the Sagittarius was restored the next
morning by some judicious straightening and
still serves its intended purpose. If it could
handle that collision with the tree trunk and
survive, it’s a remarkably tough quiver. Perhaps
what surprised me the most was that I
hadn’t lost a single arrow!

On Thursday of the first week Glen Crisp
bagged his Idaho elk. It had snowed the pre-
vious night accumulating three to four inches
in the meadows and on the ridges. Glen was
hunting by himself, as he often did, working
the diaphragm and tube at frequent intervals.
Off to one side of the main ridge and part way
up the opposite slope in the heavy timber he
coaxed a response. The bull was a good distance
away but continued to bugle as hunter
and prey mutually closed the gap. Glen
worked his way up the slope keeping to the
best cover, confident that he now had an interested
and aggressive bull at the other end of
the challenges. He finally glimpsed the lone
elk at the edge of a small sloping meadow.
Fortunately, the immediate locale offered
excellent cover and he was able to ease within 35
yards as the bull moved along the edge of the
meadow, seemingly trying to pinpoint the
source of the challenge. The moment at hand,
Glen’s Quadraflex sent another l7-8 shaft on
its way. The bull never made it out of the
meadow. Glen led us to it early the next
morning with the pack mules in tow. Jesse and Bob
Larson skinned, caped and quartered the 6×6,
carefully separating the tenderloin for a spe-
cial camp dinner that Bob promised would be
worth remembering. Indeed it was!

That evening he cleaned the loin, sliced it
into half—inch thick steaks and liberally salted
each steak. Then he packed it tightly into the
base of a one-gallon glass jar and covered the
surface with aluminum foil. The jar was immersed
in the creek to a level well above the
meat and left for two days. Sunday evening
Bob pan fried the tenderloin slices and we en-
joyed some of the most delicious eating I can
remember. True, it may have been enhanced
by a day of active hunting, but it was my introduction
to elk tenderloin and one I will never
forget.

Several mornings we rode to the top of a
high ridge that commanded a spectacular
view of the surrounding peaks, ridges, slopes
and valleys. It was a great spot from which to
glass the clearings and meadows and several
sage-carpeted saddles that were favorite
haunts of mule deer and elk. Not only that, it
was a good jumping-off place because you
could slip down into the timber in any number
of directions to initiate a mile-or—more-long
stalk on observed game or still—hunt into
promising areas like the beaver pond in the
creek in the next valley.

It was a Sunday that Bob Larson led me
down the slope toward the beaver pond and
high enough on the opposite slope to spot 13-
plus mule deer grazing in four groups on an-
other section of the slope from the ridge we
had just left. The closest group was at least
1200 yards away — beyond the beaver pond
and above a healthy stand of aspens that grew
about a third of the way up the slope. We toiled
up through the aspens, moving from spruce to
spruce, picking our way through the sage until
we reached a run—off channel that led up-slope
toward the largest group of deer, By this time
we were within 200 yards of our objective and
the cover was getting sporadic. We could see
the mulies farther up the shallow draw, work-
ing in and out of the sage and higher brush.

We closed the distance to about 100 yards, but
at that point they must have winded us be-
cause they moved up-slope at a brisk walk. We
counted eight animals in the group as they
topped out on the ridge and faded out of view.
When we reached a vantage point that permit-
ted us to survey the slope, it was void of deer.
The other groups had also departed for parts
unknown.

On our way back to the ridge where we’d
left the horses we moved in on a young cow
moose browsing in low brush and small aspens
at the base of a slide. She was totally
unimpressed by our intrusion. She’d look and
browse, then casually look some more before
returning her attention to the vittles at hand.
As we worked up-slope to circumvent the
slide and the fault that appeared to have
caused it, she was still at it as serenely unconcerned
as a Holstein in a Wisconsin pasture.
On another occasion, several days later.
three of us rode down a timbered draw and
surprised a moose family of three — a sizeable
bull, a cow and her half—grown calf. They
were reluctant to leave the draw and herded in
front of us for a hundred yards or more before
the bull led them off into the pines. We knew
that the Rushes had a moose hunter in camp,
but he was hunting from a different base. He
had the license — we had the moose.

Jim Collin’s is Lakeview’s senior guide.
He is also the principal instructor for the Outfitter
and Guide School. Part way through our
hunt Jim rode into camp and informed Bud
Schwartz that his carpentry skills were
needed back at the ranch. Jim would join our
group as the third guide for the remainder of
the hunt. I had the privilege of hunting with
him and observing him in action for two days.
During that time we walked in on a group of
cows and calves, but had only a fleeting
glimpse as they faded into the heavy cover. A
couple of bulls answered Jim’s bugle, but they
weren’t aggressive and never let us get close
to them. Still, I came away from those two
days with a picture of a man who impressed
me as a true sportsman and conservationist
a lover of nature and wildlife. I don’t think
Jim noticed me watching as he reached into an
obscure crevice in the rocks on a high ridge
and extracted an empty beer can that he
tucked into his back-pack. He was cleaning
up the refuse left by someone who didn’t cherish
the natural beauty of that isolated wind-
swept spot as much as he did.

Late in the second week of our hunt Rick `
tagged a nice 4×4 mulie after a stalk that took N
him halfway around a mountain and occupied
the best part of a day. He kept after that buck
with dogged determination and finally maneuvered
the shot that brought him down. We
hadn’t seen many mulie bucks and Rick was
not about to let that one get away.

The Hunt In Review
One thing worth noting — Trebark camo
in the brown, gray and black pattern is an excellent choice for a western hunt. It blends
right into the sage and other brush and it is totally at home in the tall timber, offering the obscurity
that bowhunters want.

This chronicle would hardly be complete
without some mention of Homer — by far the
outstanding mule in the Rush’s remuda.
Homer is a piebald Missouri canary who, according
to the Lakeview crew, had a sweet,
amiable, and remarkably tolerant disposition
until, like the biblical Samson, Delilah in the
form of Keith Rush, parted him from his
crowning glory. Hormer’s flowing mane was
roached to enhance his mule like appearance.
Apparently Homer was greatly affronted by
this tonsorial violation and became unpredictably
cantankerous. If the remuda was missing
in the morning, it would be Homer who led
them off. He appeared to know every trick in
the book for shedding a pack and had a mind
of his own that never seemed to be in agreement with that of his rider.

While we had licenses for bear in both
Montana and Idaho and saw ample evidence
of their presence, we never did quite get
around to hunting specifically for the bruins.
Our guides quoted statistics that credited the
average Montana bear to be in the neighbor-
hood of 175 pounds live weight. Judging from
the height of the claw marks on bear trees
along the trails, these had to be the tallest and
skinniest bears imaginable. As I sat aboard
Old Deuce and looked at the claw marks, they
extended to levels considerably above my
head.

It seems to be a bowhunter’s nature to be
interested in what equipment is used in the
field by other hunters and how it performed
under conditions of the hunt. All four hunters
in our camp carried Quadraflex bows ranging
in draw weight from 60 to 70 pounds. Properly
set up, the Quadraflex is one of the best
performing round wheel compounds available,
with a rating velocity of about 205 fps. I
have found it to be a very forgiving bow, read-
ily tunable, and capable of great tolerance for
arrow spine and weight distribution. I have
used these characteristics to great advantage
in machine test work when it was desired to
shoot a wide range of arrow shaft sizes or to
compare the penetration of various broad-
heads of different weights.
The Quads performed well on the hunt.
About the only misadventure happened to
Rick Bolin’s bow. One limb developed a small
glass splinter from a nick early in the trip. We
worked it over with a fine file until the splinter
was blended out and he shot it after that with-
out problem.
Considering the unusual tolerance of the
Quadraflex, it is possible to select from a
wide range of arrow types. Glen Crisp elected
Graphlex 17-8s while I preferred the 18-8
size, even with a lower draw weight. Bob Ste-
wart and Rick Bolin used Easton aluminum
shafts which, if I recall correctly, were 21 17s.
The Sagittarius bow quivers adapted well
to the Quads, but it is important to select a
mounting system for these quivers that is
compatible with the bow in question. For
bows with conventional limb adjustment bolts
and associated washers, Sagittarius offers a
two-piece quiver with mounting brackets that
fit under the limb bolt washers. This system
provides an extra long span for the grip on the
arrows plus overall reduced weight of the
quiver — two excellent features.

I had equipped my Quad with a detachable
bow sling that was developed by Wayne
Carlton. It attaches with the quick disconnect
fasteners that are common on rifle slings.
This device proved very helpful when toting
the bow on horseback or on steep mountain
trails where both hands are required for
climbing or descending.
Our 10-day hunt seemed too short — at
least it did to me, since I returned empty
handed. While I was inexperienced with this

type of horseback pack-in trip, I felt that we
were in the hands of experienced, competent
and considerate outfitters who did everything
possible to make our stay a pleasant, memorable event as well as a satisfying hunt.
If you have a craving to hunt the Divide
Country with the expanded possibilities of a
two-state bag, you should certainly consider
Rush’s Lakeview Ranch. Their alternate pro-
grams for photography, snowmobiling, skiing, fishing or just plain dude vacationing
offer non-hunters in the family many adventure
opportunities as well.

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Published by archerchick on 06 Sep 2010

Do-It-Yourself Moose Hunt – By Geoffrey C Hosmer


ARCHERY WORLD AUGUST 1986

Do-It-Yourself Moose Hunt – By Geoffrey C Hosmer

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — When Upstate New York bowhunters Bruce Wilson
and Bob Krueger began making plans for the most challenging hunting excursion
they had ever attempted, game officials, veteran moose hunters, and even a guide of 30
years experience said it couldn’t be done. Without a professional guide, and
equipped with a minimal amount of gear, it was doubtful, skeptics said, that the two could
endure for long the treacherous Canada wilderness region they had chosen for the hunt,
let alone get close enough to bull moose to down it with bow and arrow.

Yet Wilson and his partner withstood, if uncomfortably, 11 days of often miserable
conditions in their makeshift campsite nearly 100 miles north of Ottawa.
What’s more, the moose colleagues said could never be taken with a bow weighed
1,200 pounds. Wilson downed it with a single arrow from 11 yards away.

Says Wilson now: “ls that close enough?” He had become, in 1983, according to Canadian conservation officials, the first American citizen to bow a bull moose in the Province of Quebec, and on a wall in his East Rochester, N .Y., home, below the mounted antlers, is displayed the Pope & Young Club certificate that documents the impressive statistics ofthe animal ’s rack:
Greatest spread, 45-2/8 inches; 8 normal points both sides (no abnormal points); widths of palms, 9 inches and 7-2/8 inches; lengths of palms including brows, 32-7/8 and
31-5/8 inches; smallest beam circumferences, 7-2/8 and 7-3/8 inches. Total score: 153-4/8.

Robert E. Estes of Caledonia, N.Y., the Boone & Crockett Club official who certified
the measurements, has been documenting moose since 1969. “I’ve seen a lot of larger
ones, especially from gun hunters, but never a Canada moose of this size taken with a bow,”
he said. If it is remarkable that Wilson got his moose with a bow, it is even more remarkable
that he and Krueger accomplished it entirely on their own.

“We wanted to prove that we could do it without being part of an organized hunting party that provides comfortable lodgings, full-course meals, and experienced guides
who pretty much guarantee you a moose — all at considerable expense,” Wilson says.
The hunt itself cost Wilson and Krueger about $500 each — a far cry, they say, from what big-game hunters are accustomed to paying for the opportunity to come home with
such a prize. Wilson and Krueger did it the hard way, but their insistence on doing it on their own had little to do with saving money. They went to Canada to hunt, not to party. They went to
test their skills not only as bowhunters, but as outdoorsmen willing to take on what nature could dish out in a remote and formidable territory.

And they went armed not only with bows,but with respect for a magnificent creature that deserved a fighting chance: the bowhunter with his skill and determination, and the moose with his wariness and the homefield advantage.
This would be a legitimate challenge, a fair contest. All things considered, in the long run, the chances of victory, or even survival, were in favor of the moose. This is the way Wilson and Krueger wanted it, for if any satisfaction were to be reaped from the taking of such a noble animal, they would have to achieve it with honor.

Wilson, 38, had been bowhunting for 21 years. Krueger, 35, a resident of Brockport,
N.Y., had nine years experience. They were co-workers and hunted often together, generally for deer or turkey, and they became convinced that their skills with bows merited a big-game challenge. Wilson had fished in Quebec, and it was there that they would attempt the moose by bow.

Into The Bush
The preparations took a year. They spent $150 on long-distance phone calls. They hired a float plane pilot to fly them and their gear to and from Lake Ruisseau, near Le Domaine, 95 miles north of Ottawa, for $110 each way. Locating a willing, although reluctant, pilot was difficult.

Most bush pilots, they discovered, were accustomed to dropping hunters only at established camps, and many didn’t take kindly to bowhunters in the first place.
Wilson and Krueger dehydrated their own food to complement what packaged goods they would take. They took first aid and CPR courses from the Red Cross. They were tutored by a butcher and a taxidermist in how to cut and preserve the meat and hide. (The hide has been tanned and the meat, about 700 pounds, has long since been consumed. Wilson says the steaks were more tender and delicious than any he’d ever eaten.)

They studied everything about moose and their habits that they could lay their hands on, and they bought new bows. Wilson chose a Martin Cougar II and Game Getter 2117 arrows with Bear SS heads. Krueger bought a Martin Cougar Mag and XX75 2219 arrows with Bear Razor heads. They practiced with their new weapons, set at 75 pounds pull, at every opportunity, and they rehearsed their moose calls. They had learned that the call is 75 percent of the hunt.

They went on a four-day dress rehearsal camping trip in New York’s Adirondack Mountains to determine what equipment and supplies they’d need to weather the wilderness with no help for miles around. And for months they ran the hunt through their minds,
trying to envision every eventuality, hoping they had covered all the bases. They were well
aware that once the float plane pilot dropped them off, they would be on their own for at least 10 days. They would have to make do without whatever they might have forgotten.

As it turned out, they made very few mistakes. The amount of gear, of necessity, had to be
limited. They would be traveling either by canoe or on foot. They had to consider what they could carry and what the canoe could hold. There was, of course, another thing to consider: the addition to their load of a half ton of moose!

Besides their usual camping and hunting outfittings, Wilson’s and Krueger’s gear would include their dehydrated foods; cold weather clothing of wool (nothing with down); rain gear and good boots, of course, good knives, whetstone and butcher’s saw, large cheesecloth bags for the meat; and Kelty back packs, because they’re equipped with
frames should the meat have to be carried out.

Wilson mentions three things that would have made their mission easier. They constructed their own tree stands, but realized later that because of their size and portability,
Coleman stands would have been more efficient. They also should have taken their own
canoe. They had relied on the pilot to supply them with one and were unexpectedly charged
$110 more than they’d been originally quoted for a broken, unstable canoe that could barely
accommodate their gear. And, although they managed to make-do by fashioning a workable winch, Wilson realizes now that you can’t go moose hunting without block and tackle.

Bowhunting season would begin October 1. They were packed and ready to leave by truck for Canada September 27. What they weren’t ready for was a change in the bowhunting season regulations, put into effect just two weeks earlier, which would prohibit them from remaining in one hunting area for more than a week. Should it become necessary to move to another area for the remainder of the bowhunting season, their pilot would require an additional $110, each way, for the relocation.

They had already spent more than they had bargained on. They were determined to get their moose within the first seven days of the season. Krueger kept a diary.

Day 1: Wednesday, September 28
Anticipation high, confusion, hard work. °Left Rochester by truck 2 a.m. Arrived Mani-
waki 10:30 a.m., got hunting licenses ($205 each), and exchanged U.S. currency. Between
Maniwaki and Le Domaine saw about 15 moose on vehicles of gun hunters returning
from areas north of where we’d be hunting. Anticipation high.
Pilot arrived with float plane, accompanied by successful gun hunters. We learn now
that we can’t hunt in one area for more than a week. We hadn’t counted on that and don’t
like it at all. Took off at 3:30 p.m., scouted hunting area by plane, landing perfect. Canoe
too unstable and small for our equipment.Made arrangements for pilot to return October 8 or 9.

Scouted area for campsite. Running out of daylight. Woods extremely thick and damp.
Decided on campsite 6 p.m., cleared brush and debris, set up tent, cooked meal. No time
for anything else before dark. Very tired. Very warm, 70 degrees. Put food in canoe and
pushed it out on the lake to keep it away from animals.

Day 2: Thursday, September 29
Got up at 7 a.m. Heavy fog, damp, 40 degrees. Made breakfast, boiled water for
drinking. Organized camp area, put up tarp and pulley to hang food out of reach of animals.
Saw fish jumping, went out to try, no luck. Scouted east end of lake and found two good
areas for ambush. At 2 p.m., with slight wind, we paddled to west end of lake. Spotted
moose about 200 yards from shore —- one bull, two cows, one calf. Wind was blowing
us closer so we had to get away so as not to spook them. They noticed us when the wind
changed slightly, but weren’t alarmed. One cow and calf swam across lake. Bull and other
cow stayed where they were. Had to move and wait until Saturday for opening day of season.
Will look for ambush point. Could shoot from canoe, but it’s too unstable.

Paddled back to shore. Got dumped in the water when Bruce tried to pull the canoe
ashore with me in it. Soaked. Very glad we thought to keep extra clothes in plastic bags.
Also glad we brought extra boots or shoes for wearing around camp. Chili for dinner, too
hot. Dehydrated fruit was excellent. Very quiet, heard splash in water 75 yards away. Thought it might be a moose, investigated, saw nothing. After dinner, no talking. Heard footsteps 50 yards into the woods.

Hopes for success very high now. Will try to go out in the morning. We find area very hard
to hunt, extremely thick with no shoreline for tracking. We hope for no fog in the morning.
Still warm, 65 degrees. We realize this area will test our hunting skills.

Day 3: Friday, September 30
Heavy fog until 10:30 a.m., hot, 75 degrees after morning of 48 degrees. Uncomfortable for hunting as we brought no warm weather clothing. Made breakfast and waited for fog to lift. Decided to wait at spot where we saw moose before. No luck. Mosquitos and flies bad. Returned to camp 6:30 p.m. Started dinner after dark by flashlight and candle. Heard bull calling from shoreline only 175 yards from camp. Bull broke trees, snorted, made very angry sound, then went to water’s edge. We hope he doesn’t come through woods to campsite. He sounds as if
he’s huge. He continues to call, echoes around lake for an hour and a half. When he
started calling we gave one female call to keep him in the area. Don’t dare call more than
once for fear he’ll move toward camp.

We are taking all precautions to keep quiet— no loud talk, banging pans, etc. We’re
pretty sure he’ll stay in the area. We formulated plan to attack, trying to make sure the
bull will travel past ambush point. That’ll be difficult. Tomorrow is supposed to be hotter. We
hope not. Otherwise, everything is going well—- no problems, no accidents, no bears, but
we’re sure they’ll be coming around. Before tonight we had heard no moose calling and
didn’t know whether or not they were in rut. We know for sure that they are now. Hopes
very high.

Day 4: Saturday, October 1
At 4 a.m. we were awakened by a bull
moose calling near camp. Went to call the bull
at 2 p.m. and stayed in tree until 6:30 p.m.
After a second call we heard moose snorting
and climbing a nearby hill. We don’t think the
moose in this area are in the main rut. We
believe a few are starting but aren’t responding
to female calls. We have two more strategies
in mind. We’ll try again tomorrow and
hope the weather changes. It’s too hot to hunt.
We’ll try the area where we saw the other four
moose. Retired for the night, heard a cow
calling but no others.

Day 5: Sunday, October 2
Overcast, 45 degrees in the morning, 65
degrees daytime. In an effort to locate moose,
we chose a small pond of about three acres a
half mile or so from camp. Very thick brush,
extremely hard going. Had to use compass
and map bearings, which brought us to exact
edge of pond. Not bad! Picked two good
spots, sat for two and a half hours calling. No
response, no sightings. Perfect breeding area
— food and water — inaccessible. We know
they are here. We are also sure now that rut is
on.
We located a main moose bedding area,
probably used during the day, as the moose
likely went for food and water in the morning
and evening.
We worked up a big sweat hiking back to
camp. Found a flat rock in the lake nearby,
bathed and washed out dirty clothes. While I
was preparing dinner just before sundown,
Bruce went to the water’s edge to cool off
some fruit. All of a sudden he got excited and
motioned to me to get a bow. I grabbed his
outfit and hurried to the shore. There, not 40
yards away and only 20 yards from camp was
the big bull, with a huge rack, that we’d heard
carrying on before.
I had rattled a pan while Bruce was trying
to catch my attention in the campsite, and the
moose had mosied off. He was still within 40
yards, but a clear shot was impossible because
of the thick brush. At least we know he’s still
around. All we have to do is figure out his
route. We are going to get him.

Day 6: Monday, October 3
Didn’t get much sleep, thanks to small
animals and a bear in camp. We had no weapons
to speak of and became very nervous. We
heard a bear just inches away from the tent and
heard a deep, powerful growl just behind the
tent. We weren’t sure what it was, but there
was no damage to our equipment. We were
glad that we had maintained a clean camp and
kept our food out of reach.
We built two tree stands, five feet off the
ground, by lashing birch saplings with rope,
10 to 15 feet from the trail we knew the moose
traveled every evening. We stayed in the
stands from 2 p.m. until dark, and it poured
the whole time. Bruce hadn’t brought rain
pants and he got soaked and miserably cold. It
poured all night. The wind shifted and was
blowing off the lake and into camp. With the
wind chill factor, the temperature was seven
degrees, and we knew the wind was bad for
the hunt. No sightings.

Day 7: Tuesday, October 4
The temperature is 40 degrees, the wind is
cold, and it’s wet. The rain stopped for three
hours in the morning, so we spent the time
drying out our clothes and gear. The wind is
very cold and we are both wearing longjohns
and heavy clothing.
The wind continued to blow hard and it
rained all day and into the night. We took to
the tree stands at mid-afternoon with little
hope of a sighting. Moose don’t like the
strong wind and will stay bedded if they can.
We returned to camp and cooked. It seemed
that all we did was cook and eat. When it was
useless to hunt, there wasn’t anything else to
do. We hope the wind will shift tonight because
the moose probably won’t move until it
does. He’ll stay in the meadow in back of the
hill where his bedding area is. We thought of
stalking him, but that would be useless. He’d
smell us in the wind or hear us in the brush.
The tent feels like a Hilton hotel after get-
ting soaked and freezing our feet in tree stands
all afternoon. To put up with this you’d have
to be either a dedicated bowhunter or a lunatic.
If the weather isn’t against us, we’ll try the
tree stands again in the morning.

Day 8: Wednesday,0ctober 5
SUCCESS! Went to the stands at 6:30
a.m. — raining, cold and windy. Started call-
ing again, hoping moose would respond. No
luck.
Came back, slept until 2 p.m., and went
back to stands — no wind, slight drizzle. We
alternated calling with a birch bark horn we
had made and one we had bought. On the way
to the stands by canoe, we spooked the bull as
he was coming down the trail and he ran back
to the woods. We entered the stands.
On about the fourth call from Bruce, I
heard the moose snort as he was coming down
the hill towards me. He was about 40 yards
away, starting down at a sharp angle. I knew
he might go by my stand, but hoped he would
go straight for the trail. Then I would take him.

I had plenty of time to prepare because he
was coming slowly. I took off my rain jacket,
folded it over a branch, picked up my bow and
waited.

As he came closer, he went behind two
pine trees, blocking a clear shot. He was
headed for Bruce, and I wasn’t going to blow
it by taking a shot through the brush. Besides,
I knew he would hit the trail just past my stand
and end up in front of Bruce. I crossed by
fingers, thumbs, arms, legs, praying Bruce
would take him.

The wait seemed like an hour, but all of a
sudden I heard Bruce’s bow crack. The bull
let out a grunt, charged the tree Bruce was in,
and then jumped in the lake and started swimming.
Bruce had embedded his arrow in the
feathers, and would discover that he had collapsed
the moose ’s lungs and severed his
heart.

That the bull had taken to the water could
mean disaster. He might drown and we’d lose
him. I saw him take one last cough, then he
just went down for good and disappeared.
I was already out my stand and running for
the canoe, and Bruce was screaming for me to
hurry. I paddled to Bruce and we went to
where we’d last seen the moose. All we could
find of our moose was hair floating on the still
surface. We dropped my pack, anchored by
Bruce’s knife, to mark the spot and searched
by pole for an hour.

I took off all my clothes but my longjohns. I
wasn’t going to lose this moose, even if I had
to dive for it. The water was only 40 degrees,
but luckily only 12 feet deep where we saw the
bull go down. We poled around for another
hour and a half with no luck. It’s pitch dark
now. We’ll start fresh in the morning.
We planned to fashion grappling hooks
and cast in a circle so that we might at least
snag the moose and then figure out what to
do. It ’s 1 a.m. now. Bruce is still wound up
and can’t sleep. We built our first fire because
we don’t have to worry now about smoke
spooking the animals. Bruce had packed away
a couple bottles of beer. They sure felt good
going down.

Day 9: Thursday, October 6
Neither of us slept very well, thinking
about how we were going to get that moose off
the bottom of the lake. Very discouraging.
Arose at 7 a.m., had breakfast, and took to
the canoe. We paddled out about 50 feet and
noticed a rock that didn’t seem familiar. Sure
enough, our moose had floated to the surface
and to our amazement was only 10 feet from
shore. We towed the moose back to camp and
designed a crude winch out of a log and
hauled him partly up on shore.
Skinning and cutting took all day, By day ’s
end we were whipped and slept well.

Day 10: Friday October 7
Gun—hunting season begins tomorrow and
the planes are really busy. A Beechcraft
landed about a mile from us to unload
gunhunters, so we paddled over to ask the pi-
lot if he could radio our pilot to tell him we
were ready to get out. He had two antennas
sticking out of his fuselage, but said he didn’t
have a radio. We have no orange clothing and
gun-hunters are all over. We want out.
Our pilot eventually flew over, but only to
tip his wings. We wanted to get out today and
only hope he’ll land tomorrow.

Day 11: Saturday, October 8
After breakfast we packed everything but
the tent and tarp because we’re not certain our
pilot will arrive this morning. It rained all
night and it’s still coming down. The lake
level has risen almost 18 inches since Tues-
day. There is nothing to do but sit in our tent
and wait. Can’t go anywhere as the pilot
might arrive any time. Gun-hunting season is
underway. We’re tied to camp, facing the realization
that with the weather as bad as it is, we
might not see our pilot for another two days.
When the pilot flew in about l p.m., he
said he’d have to drop off some cargo and re-
turn in an hour. He hadn’t counted on carrying a moose.

Bruce and I lit up like a 100-watt bulb. We
know that when the pilot goes to his landing
dock to unload his extra cargo they’ll be gun-
hunters there. He’ll explain that he has to
lighten his load to accommodate two bow-
hunters and a bull moose.
The pilot returned and we loaded in just 20
minutes. With the extra weight, it took the
whole lake and part of a river to get airborne.
When we landed, some 80 people were
waiting to see this bull, taken by bowhunters
who, save for the necessity of a bush pilot,
had accomplished their far-fetched mission
entirely on their own.
We didn’t mind doing some showboating.

(End of Diary)
When it was over, Wilson and Krueger had
bittersweet feelings about their adventure.
They had conquered the wilderness, or at
least stood up to it in often brutal conditions,
but they were exhausted and weather-beaten.
They had indeed earned their prize the hard
way, and they were proud of it. On the other
hand, Wilson says, “Some people will never
believe that a hunter doesn’t get some kind of
morbid thrill out of killing something. You
don’t. There’s no thrill when you down that
animal, and I have no thrill when I see that
arrow connect and he dies. I hunt in a one·on-
one situation. I’m in his territory, trying to
outsmart him, and if I do, it’s a sport.”

Wilson knows that much of his success in
getting his moose must be attributed to the
unselfishness and sportsmanship of his friend
and partner, Bob Krueger. “Bob could have
taken a shot when the moose got so close. I
wouldn’t have blamed him. We both wanted it
so badly. But it would have been a tough shot.
He realized that I would have the better shot,
so he let me take him. I would have done the
same for him. I guess that’s why we hunt so
well together. The main thing was to get the
moose.”

Now Wilson and Krueger are making
plans to try the same hunt again, in the same
region, but with a better idea of the equipment
they’ll need. And, next time around, they
plan to tape the hunt with a video recorder. It
would be commendable enough for them to
take a second Canada moose with bow and
arrow, but getting the hunt on film would re-
ally be something.
Meanwhile, they can be fairly sure of one
thing: the skeptics won’t be as quick to say it
can’t be done.

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Published by archerchick on 06 Sep 2010

Wyoming Mule Deer – By Stan Chiras


BOW AND ARROW HUNTING – AUGUST 1990

Wyoming Mule Deer – By Stan Chiras

MY HUNTING partner,
Wayne Buff, had just
given me a smug look.
He was hiding something and it was pretty
obvious that he was about to spill the beans.

He made me painfully wrench the
story from him, as if to rub it in even
more. We had told each other that
tonight was the night; that one of us had
better get a whitetail or tum in our
credentials as deer hunters at dusk. My
hunt had ended when two youngsters, a
basset hound, a cocker spaniel and a
pellet gun broke the stillness of the September evening,
deep in the foothills of
the Rockies that abound with lunker
whitetails. Buff apparently hadn’t had
the pleasure of meeting these same
rascals.

“Well, did you get one?” I asked.
“Yes,” he replied in his southem
drawl — he’s a displaced North
Carolinian.
“Was it a buck?” I pleaded. I was
getting the usual hard treatment that
hunting buddies like to dole out to one
another, being made to practically beg
for the story.
“Where is he?” I asked before he
could answer.
“Still up there,” was the reply.
The buck had taken the “curse of
bowhunting’s” step at the instant of the
shot, leaving Buff with an unpleasant
paunch shot to contend with in the
morning. Since we had planned to hunt
elk the next day, our plans were
changed. He told me to go anyway, as
he could recover the deer with the aid of
his pointer if the need arose.
How I would have fared with the elk
is a matter of conjecture, for I decided
to hunt mule deer instead. I’d been
chasing some nice mulies for twelve
days and had suffered all sorts of
humiliation along the way. The big
bucks proved to be every bit as spooky A
as whitetails and the open foothills they
occupied made matters even more
difficult.


To add to my frustration, the thermals
were constantly in favor of the deer.
Evenings were out altogether, for they
wouldn’t budge from their hiding places
until it was dark. It didn’t matter any-
way, because the winds were rising to
them then and there was no top
approach. I had to work and didn’t have
the time to hunt in the afternoon any-
way. That left me with 4 a.m. treks up
the mountain to get ahead of them,
usually to have the wind force me to re-
treat even higher to avoid detection.
Getting a young buck would have
been simple, for they often cross·cut the
currents as they wander up to higher
grounds. But the older bucks gave me no
slack. They would come up early, with
the wind strongly in their faces, then
duck into the smaller canyons at day-
break to bed in the dense, thorny brush.

They would wait until there was just
enough light for me to see how nice they
really were, adding to my sense of frus-
tration. Just because you can see them
in their open habitat doesn’t mean
they’re going to let you into bow range!
There were a couple “almosts” in the
previous twelve days that kept my blood
surging and my hopes high enough to
endure the early wake-ups. One magnificent
five-by-five spotted me a few days
earlier, just as I was about to shoot. I
had stalked to within twenty—five yards
and decided to take one more step —
like a fool! Still another, a fantastic non-
typical buck that had been giving me the
slip for the last two seasons, had also
managed to elude me on a daily basis.

I had been waiting for a storm front to
slide in from the north and overpower
the prevailing southern morning thermals.
I stopped my Jeep and got out to test the
wind as I had done on the previous twelve
mornings and was treated
to a pleasant surprise: North! It was a
brisk ten to twenty mile-per-hour breeze
and, although it was spiced with the roar
of distant thunder and a thirty—degree
temperature, it was as welcome as a
tropical vacation. My spirits sky-rocketed.
It would take an hour to reach
the canyons, but for once, I wouldn’t get
there ahead of my scent. More importantly,
the abundant whitetails, elk and
mule deer wouldn’t know there was an
intruder in their midst. I donned my
wool clothing in anticipation of rain and
began a steady climb to the peaks.
It was going to be at least an hour
before light, especially with the dark
clouds covering the sky. The mountains
cracked with lightning and thunder,
making me awfully glad I wasn’t up
there hunting elk. I nestled into a small
patch of brush to keep warm, keeping
myself invigorated with anticipation
enough to avoid sleep.

Finally, useable light arrived and I
began to scour the countryside below for
bucks making their last rounds of the
night. I was in the heart of their travel
corridor and hoped either to intercept
one enroute or effect a stalk with the
variables in my favor.
My first visitors were elk. Four cows
and a spike bull crossed thirty yards
from me. The bull I wanted was up the
mountain by now. He would have to
wait for another day to get chased by
me. I was after mulies on this most perfect
of days. The rain and wind were is
match for my wool as I sat and enjoyed
the elk.

Twelve small three—by—three and four-
by-four bucks made their way up the
slope to my right, but none was what I
wanted. My attention turned to another
dozen or so elk milling around a half-
mile below me. A good bull would be
tempting, so I glassed the herd carefully.
In a way, I was relieved that it had nothing but spikes,
one rag-horn and some
cows. It’s not a good thing to vary from
your course of action when the con-
ditions so rarely let you get into it, the
way I could today. It’s a wonderful predicament to have and that’s why I
moved to Wyoming!

The elk milled all over the valley and
seemed uneasy with the wind at their
backs. Finally, they had to give in and head directly to my site. Meanwhile,
two race whitetails were converging
from the left side ofthe canyon — which
was about three hundred yards wide —
and lugs were beginning toget
interesing. The larger buck would score
135 points and mule deer or not, I was
going to try for him.

Four hundred yards out, elk and
whitetails veered off to my left and gave
me no option but to belly—crawl over to
that side of the canyon as fast as I
could. Suddenly. halfway there, I saw
him. A mule buck was bedded in the
shallow draw I was crawling into! His
tines stood distinctly above the grass,
causing my pulse to quicken and
thoughts of elk and whitetails to
diminish.

The problem was: to sneak the mulie
would mean being exposed to the elk
and whitetails. That wou1dn’t work, as
these foothdll deer take each others’
warnings seriously. In so doing, they
manage to protect themselves quite well.
I had to retreat from what would have
been a fairly stalkable deer. I crawled
back to my brush-hide and waited to see
what would materialize.
There, in a space of no more than two
acres, were a dozen elk, two magnificent
whitetails and what turned out to be
three mule deer. I couldn’t believe my
eyes!

Living in Wyoming has it’s drawbacks.
There is almost no form of commercial
entertainment and the options
are few in many endeavors. The array of
people, places and things to amuse you
in the city — my last one was Atlanta
— add a lot to life. But you couldn’t tell
me that on the 18th day of September,
1988l

The animals began to feed on some
shrubbery along the canyon wall. I was
about 125 yards away and trying desperately
to come up with some kind of approach. But there was none. Approaching or retreating would surely have
attracted dozens of sharp eyes to my Treebark-clad form. There was no option
but to wait.

The black clouds became denser and
soon the ceiling dropped enough to
shroud the canyon and its inhabitants in
a wonderful fog. This was my break, so
I backed up and trotted up the canyon
several hundred yards, well downwind
of my quarry. After crossing and slipping
ever-so-carefully down toward the
pack of antlers and hooves, I settled in
behind a couple shrubs that looked to be
about one hundred yards from my
buck’s last location. It would be dumb
to try and get any closer.

I nocked an arrow, for soon it would
be time to do something. I expected the
elk to take a path next to me and head
for higher country. The whitetails could
either pass and get an arrow, or follow
the elk. Nobody would cut my wind.
The mulies could do whatever they wanted,
as long as they did it within forty-
five yards! The nock made a subtle
“snap” as it locked down on the string
of my High Country Trophy Hunter, a
bow that had taken me to the Grand
Slam of wild turkeys last spring and was
fast becoming an extension of my arm
and mind. Just then the smallest mulie
materialized ten yards from me.

The fork-hom looked at me with
curiosity and disbelief, much the same
sentiments that I was feeling! He crank-
ed his neck first one way, then the other,
trying to figure out what this bark-
patterned thing was. He approached
slowly, for a closer look, apparently
thinking it would become clear to him
what I was and allow him to get on with
his feeding. Rather than let the little ras-
cal come any closer and suffer the shock
of his young life, I moved a little to
spook him. He took the cue and began
to circle downwind of me. Suddenly, he
broke into the comical mule deer bound
and set off a racket that would surely
alarm any nearby animals.
The clouds were lifting and I could
see twenty—four elk eyes staring directly
at my hiding spot. The whitetails left
without any need to see what all the fuss
was about; they were just being
whitetails! Within minutes, the elk
began to wander off, passing within fif-
teen yards of my former hide.
I began to wonder where the two
other mulies had gone. Had they some-
how slipped by me as I crept down? No,
they had to be there, in the shrubbery,
along the canyon wall. I headed up the
ridge for a better look.

I wear glasses and, if you do, you’ll
know what I mean when I say that I’d
sacrifice an awful lot to be free of them.
I’ve tried the obvious alternatives to lit-
tle avail and have accepted this curse.
Rainy days, with howling wind, can
drive you bonkers. When sitting still,

you can control water on the lenses with
your hat’s visor. But when huffing up a
canyon wall, the heat generated by your
body and raindrops assaulting your face
do two things: You fog up and then blur
entirely as the water cascades across
your glasses.

The top of the ridge revealed nothing.
Actually, that was rather difficult to
determine, as I could barely see! Since
all my clothes were soaked and my dry
spots of clothing had long since been
used up, clearing the lenses was next to
impossible. I practically slid back to the
bottom, a victim of the mud and poor
vision.

I decided to stalk along the lower
edge of the brush and peer inside, hop-
ing to locate the missing bucks. It was
wetland windy, which made for quiet
going. I had every chance of seeing them
before they saw me, if I went slowly
enough.

Every step revealed something new,
but no deer. The water was getting into
my mouth and eyes when suddenly the
taste of soap struck. I was dumbfound-
ed! Was it coming from my hat; or had
there been some shampoo left in my hair
that was filtering down! Soon it made
it’s way into my eyes. You know the
feeling? Soap in your eyes? I laid my
bow down and began rubbing my eyes
gingerly. My glasses were hopelessly
streaked with runoff and I felt like total
you~know-what! At that moment, I
almost gave in and headed back.
One step more had me looking at the
same dark recesses in the brush I had
been seeing all along, but the next one
materialized two large gray shapes
about thirty yards up the hill.

It happened in a split second. I tried
to see better and yet instinctively knew I
had to get the bow drawn. The shapes
rose and they were deer. Through the
blurry lenses, I could make out the rear
animal as a small buck and the front one
was most certainly the one I wanted. He

was pretty well shrouded in brush, but
his larger body was all the clue I
needed. Experience had taught me that I
could penetrate down-range brush if it
was close to the target. I was at full
draw and anchored just as the deer
finished rising. The pin came to rest on
his chest in one smooth, rapid motion.
My bow was so easy to draw and aim
with it’s sixty-five percent let-off that the
process was almost automatic. Before I
knew it and before the buck had a
chance to bolt, the arrow was on its
way.

A satisfying plunk made its way back
to my ears. Although I didn’t see the
arrow in flight or see it hit, it sounded
right. The bucks bolted and disappeared
from sight.
It took me a minute to compose my
thoughts and reconfirm what my senses
told me were the signs of a vital hit. I
paced off twenty-eight yards to the place
where the bucks had been standing and
looked for my arrow.

The arrow either had gone into the
brush or raced over the hillside into the
next valley. I chose to go over and soon
found six inches of my arrow with frothy
red blood all over the shaft. It was a
lung hit! I topped the rise and there,
within the panorama of the Bighorn
Mountains, lay my buck. He was not
the best I had seen that year, but at that
moment there was no disputing he was
the most welcome.

Not only was his body huge, but his
rack was to green score 166 2/8 Pope &
Young Club points. The 130-grain
Muzzy broadhead had penetrated his
massive shoulders completely, skewering
both lungs in the process. He had
made it an amazing 125 yards uphill
after the hit

Wayne Buff persisted until eleven
o’clock that morning and found his
buck, way down the trail where he had
shot it. It had followed a straight line for
about half a mile before expiring. <—-<<

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Published by archerchick on 06 Sep 2010

…With Survival In Mind – By Teddy S. McKinney


ARCHERY WORLD – JUNE/JULY 1978

…With Survival In Mind

By Teddy S. McKinney

FOR THREE YEARS now,I have had
the exciting privilege of living among
three of the Surinam’s jungle Indian
Tribes. Surinam (formerly Dutch Guiana is located on the northeast shoulder of South -America and is bordered on
the West by- Guoana, on the east by
French Guiana and on the south by its
giant neighbor Brazil.
The country is sparsely populated,
the majority of its residents living
mainly along the coast. It is predominantly rain forest and within the vast
reaches of interior jungle dwell three
tribes of Indians-the Trio. the Akudio the Wayana. Little known to
the outside world, these expert archers
are skilled craftsmen in the art of
making “primitive” weapons.


Early one morning before the sun
had blurred away the jungle mist, Panashopa and I set out with ax and machete in hadn to cut bow staves. We intended to hunt along the way and to cut a beetree, which he had discovered on a previous hunt. After several hours on the trail, we veered off sharply into the jungle. He paused at an old rotten log and began digging at it with his toes. Noticing my puzzled look, he assured me this was indeed “woolapa” or bow wood. As he began chopping, I realized that only only the exterior was rotten and that it was the hard, reddish brown, fine-grained heartwood which he sought.

Finally after an hour or more of chopping and splitting, he had produced three suitable looking bow staves, each about six feet long. Then, using the machete, he began to chop them to a tapered point at both ends. Soon the staves began to take on a vague resemblance to longbows.


Upon returning to the village, Panashopa took the lower jawbone of a wild pig, with the tusk still intact, and began shaving the stave down using the tusk a a sort of drawknife. As the pile of fine shavings on the ground grew to resemble some strange bird’s nest, the stick of wood became a beautiful, smooth longbow—straight and symmetrical. The bow was flat on
the back, rounded on the belly and tapered gradually to a sharp point at
each end. I asked Panashopa why his people
designed their bows with such sharp
points. He replied, “That’s just the way
we do it.” However, some of the old
men of the village will tell you that
years ago when the Trios, Wayanas,
and Akudios were at war, these long,
sharply pointed bows served them well
as spears in close combat, once the
arrows were used up.


At the tips, he carved a notch so slight
I was amazed that it could keep the
string from slipping. Using strands of
“woo-lo-way-toe” fiber (probably sisal), which he had previously dried,
Panashopa twisted a bowstring by
rolling three strands between his palm
and his thigh. In a matter of minutes,
he had a durable, new, double length
bowstring. Half of it he wound around
the lower limb of the bow as a spare,
then attached it to the lower tip with a
clove hitch. He then took the loose end
of the string, placed the lower tip
of the bow on the ground, bent it with
his knee and tied the string at the top
with another clove hitch. Not satisified
with the tension, he loosened the
string, twisted it more to shorten it and
retied it. This time he handed the bow
to me with a smile.
joints, that is important for making arrows.

Naki selected and cut about a dozen
of the straightest he could find and laid
them in the sun to dry. Several days
later, he cut each shaft to a length of
approximately five feet and began to
straighten them by heating them over
the fire and bending them across his
chest. When he was satisfied, he then
inserted a foot-long hardwood point,
carved with barbs, into the pithy core
of the larger end of the cane. Then he
looped a small cord once around the
cane where the hardwood and the shaft
met. By holding the cord taut with his
toes and his right hand, he was able to
roll the shaft back and forth with his
Ieft hand. Amazingly, the end of the
shaft grew smaller and tapered neatly
to the point so snugly that it was
difficult to remove it!

The next step was to secure the point
more firmly with the hemp-like fiber
they call “woo-lo-way-toe.” This he
coated with a tacky resin after tying it.
The resin serves as both protective
coating and a sort of glue. Next he split
several wing feathers from the harpy
eagle and several from the black oko,
or curassow bird. These he cut into
approximate fite-inch lengths and
trimmed the outer edges. Placing two
of these along the side arrow shaft, he
began to tie them on with fine thread,
Most of the thread is wrapped around
the shaft to form a design. Occasionally,
a thread is passed through the vanes
of the feather to hold them firmly in
place close to the arrow shaft. The
cotton wrapping is then painted with a
series of dots and lines. Sometimes the
arrow shaft is painted in the same
fashion.

To distinguish his arrows
from all the others, Naki ties beautiful,
delicate little feathers from behind the
fletching to form colorful bands.

The arrow nock is formed by squeezing
the cane with the loop-rope device
about half an inch from the end. This is
then wrapped with cotton thread and
eoated with resin varnish. Sometimes
a shallow notch is cut, but often there is
none at all, since the Indians here do
not use the one-finger-above, two-
below method of drawing. Rather,
they grasp the nock between the
thumb and index finger and pull the
string with two or three fingers under
the arrow.

These bows and arrows, in the hands
of such cunning jungle dwellers, become efficient weapons. I have seen
these people stop a wild boar in his
tracks, drive an arrow through a deer,
topple a fat spider monkey from a lofty
limb and spear fish barely visible in
the swift current-all this with “primitive” weapons! How would you rate if
your next meal depended on your shooting skill? <—-<<

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Published by archerchick on 06 Sep 2010

Bad Day At Ft. Campbell – By Keith Jimmerson


ARCHERY WORLD – APRIL 1988
Bad Day At Ft. Campbell

What do you do when your long-time friend and hunting partner has a bad day
in the deer woods? Do you offer encouragement and moral support…..or do you collapse
in a fit of laughter? Well, here’s what happened to two Tennessee bowhunters at Ft. Campbell last year……..

By Keith Jimmerson
Sometimes it just doesn’t pay to get our
of bed, even if it is hunting season and
you are hunting over a deer run that
looks like the Indianapolis 500. My long-time
hunting partner Don Wagner (who, in
my opinion, happens to be one of the best
hunters in the state) had one of those mornings
this past season. I have seen Don hunt whole
seasons without screwing up as much as he
did that one morning.
We were hunting the Ft. Campbell military reservation
for deer. Ft. Campbell has
plenty of deer and plenty of big bucks, but not
many of the big bucks are killed in the bow-
hunting areas. A hunter has to be drawn for
his choice of area. and we had discovered that
we got our choice only about one-third of the
time. This results in a lot of hunters hunting
areas they are not accustomed to. Also, no
pre-season scouting is allowed; scouting must
be done during hunting time. These factors
add up to a big advantage for the deer and they
are also the reason why the bowhunting areas
have more than their share of big bucks.
This year Don and I had approached hunting
Ft. Campbell from a different angle. We
applied for one of the less desirable bowhunting
areas and we got it. Our area had plenty of
deer, but it was smaller, more remote, and
was mostly pines and overgrown fields. We
spent the first two weekends learning the lay
of the land and patterning the deers’ movement.
This was made difficult by the honeysuckle vines,
which were up to 9 feet high in
places with deer trails going through them.
We quickly discovered most of the other
hunters were hunting logging roads and the
edges of this year’s clearcuts. We also discovered
that the good bucks were avoiding these
areas until after dark.

It was our second weekend of scouting
Light rain and cool temperatures ! The
weather was perfect for deer hunting.

When we found the spot we wanted to hunt. It
was an area which was extra thick in vines
with a lot of saplings growing up between the
pines. As I wedged my way through, I popped
into a clearin?g instead of honeysuckte, this
opening -had been claimed by thick, low-lying
creeper vines, leaving a relatively clear area
roughly 30 yards wide and 80 yards long. The
saplings growing in the opening were torn all
to pieces, gouged, rubbed and bent over. It
was a remote area with buck sign everywhere.

Don and I began picking and setting up spots.
Don has always hunted for the big buck and I
have always hunted for deer. I ended up at the
far end of the clearing, back in the-woods
about two trees off the edge. I had trails in
abundance and could shoot into the edge of
the clearing with ease. Don was 100 yards
away in the thickest part with buck sign all
over and an exceptionally heavy trail winding
underneath his big pine tree.

The following weekend (with expectations
high) we woke to a light rain and cooler temperatures
(mid-30s). We hurriedly ate breakfast and
talked about what a perfect day it was
for bowhunting. As we approached our area in
the dark, Don told me to cut by his stand on
my way out if I had any luck. I wished him
luck and angled off to my stand. With dawn
came the deer, but they were all too small or
slightly out of range until 8:00 a.m. when a
plump doe crossed my trail at 10 yards. By the
time I field dressed her, rigged her to my drag
sling and dragged her by (within 30 yard+)
Don’s treestand, it was near 9:00. I gave Don
the high sign as I went by and he returned it,
but he looked beat. His camouflage paint,
even at that distance, looked streaked and his
appearance was that of a man “tuckered out,”

Don scaled the tree again and again, until
he was wringing wet with sweat.

I knew a logging road lay a quarter mile
south of my position, so my deer and I headed
that way. As I came upon the logging road, I
met two of the base MP’s who double as game
wardens. After checking my permit and license,
one of the MP’s offered to help me drag
my deer to the truck; After thanking him, I
drove to the checking station, hung my deer
and fixed lunch. Around 2:00 p.m- I headed
back to the area to wait on darkness and my
hunting partner. As I approached the area, I
saw Don sprawled out with his gear fanned
out around him. Knowing Don’s tenacity, I
Figured he had gotten a deer, probably a-big
buck.

“Where’s the deer?” I yelled as I pulled
up. Don slowly straightened up, accepted the
cold drink I offered him and proceeded to tell
me his sad tale.

Oops. . .

Early that morning, after we parted to find
our spots, Don worked his way over to the big
pine tree and realized he had left his tree step
pouch off his gear belt. I was astonished to
hear this, since Don is the most meticulously
organized person I know, with a separate
compartment for all of his gear. When he
comes down from his tree at dark, he puts
every piece of gear in its particular place, the
same place every time, his rope neatly folded,
his tree stand strapped securely to his back.
This may not seem like such a feat to some of
you but to me it has always seemed like a major
accomplishment. I am always disorganized and
while I usually have everything I
need, I have to hunt for it. Anyway, after I quit
laughing over Don forgetting his steps, he
went on with his story.

Poor Don had hugged that wet pine tree
and pulled himself up toward the limbs 15 feet
above his head. Once there, he discovered
these low limbs on his pine tree were dead and
wouldn’t support his weight. After another
five feet of hugging and grunting, he reached
the limb below the spot planned for his tree
stand. Using his rope, he pulled his tree stand
up into the pine. Holding the stand with one
hand and the pine tree with the other, he
awkwardly unfolded his stand in the dark. As he
reached around the tree to pull his securing

chain into position, he heard something fall
out of his pouch and crash to the ground be-
low. He hooked the chain to the stand and
looked down. Right then he knew he would
have to make a trip down, because he saw his
flashlight shining on the ground like a warning
beacon for all the deer to see.

Luck. You can’t define it, but you know when
you have it…and when you don’t.


After securing his belt to the tree, Don
started back down the pine tree. Don now
claims climbing down a big, wet pine tree is
harder than climbing up it. He had planned to
rest once he reached the ground, but the now
pink sky urged him on. Turning off the flashlight,
he quickly took hold of the only-too-familiar
wet pine tree and started huffing his
way back up. When he reached the dead
limbs at 15 feet, he knew he had to stop for
a rest. even though time was precious.
Knowing better, he straddled the best-looking
limb to get a breather and rest his weary arms.

Just as he was about to start back up, his limb
broke and he slid down two feet before he was
able to stop. He probably would not have
stopped then if his favorite shirt had not
snagged on the limb stub and brought him to
an abrupt halt. Holding onto the tree with one
hand, he managed to jerk his shirt free of the
stub with his other. The resulting sound told
him he would have some sewing to do that
night. As Don wearily pulled himself onto his
stand, he could hear a commotion to his
right. Breathing hard, he saw a big buck right
on him. It was swinging its rack against sap-
lings in its way and grunting as it came. Even
as Don lifted his bow from its hook on the
tree, the buck was moving past his shooting
lanes. Grabbing an arrow, pulling his bow
back, Don tried to concentrate on his last lane
where the buck now was. Releasing the arrow.
Don felt satisfied with the resulting thud his
shot produced. The buck tore out of there low
to the ground and with no hesitation. Still.
Don felt good about his shot.

Shortly afterwards, Don saw me dragging
my doe and gave me the high sign, hoping
I could confirm his hit. Don once again tried
to see where his arrow should be sticking in
the ground covered with blood, but could not
locate it. Maybe it was still in the buck. When
he looked back up and realized I was gone
with my deer, he knew he would have to come
down from the tree himself to confirm his hit.
He knew if he hurried, he might get to the
truck with his deer before I left for the check-
ing station. Pushing away from the tree, Don
jumped the last eight feet, only to land in an
ankle twisting position. Moaning, he limped
over to his shooting lane. There was no blood
on the trail, only his arrow buried almost to
the nock in a rotten stump!

As Don worked on freeing his arrow, he
looked up to see a couple of six-pointers
watching his progress. Hurrying back to his
tree, Don slowly climbed once more into his
position. He settled his bruised and weary
body into a semi-comfortable seat. Working
its way toward him was a buck that was even
bigger than the one he had missed, and this
time he was ready. As the deer worked its way
closer and closer to Don’s shooting lanes, it
seemed to get more and more skittish until it
raised its nose, curled its upper lip in a sneer,
flipped its tail, and was gone. Don knew he
had worked up a sweat that morning, but this
deer was upwind of him. Just then he noticed
movement downwind of where the buck had
been. In a moment, he was able to discern that
it was an MP following the trail on which I had
taken out my deer. Don whistled the MP over.
Unhooking his stand, Don lowered his gear
from the tree and climbed down.

Apologizing for ruining his hunt, the MP
explained he had hunted this area himself and
was back-tracking to see where my deer had
been killed. Don gathered up his gear (every-
thing in its proper place), hiked out of the
woods and wearily lay down to wait for me.
As Don finished his story I tried to summon up
all the sympathy I could for my hunting partner
and good friend, but I’m afraid his
feelings were hurt by my falling to the ground
and rolling with laughter. Don’t feel too sorry
for Don, though, because he doesn’t have
many mornings like that one. He ended the
season with three bow deer kills, one of them
a huge 8-pointer that he rattled in, to go with
the 10-pointer he took the season before.
But even for such consistently successful
hunters as Don, sometimes it just doesn’t pay
to get out of bed. >>——>

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Published by archerchick on 05 Sep 2010

Bowhunting with The Dutchman – By H.R. “Dutch” Wambold

Archery World – May 1968

Bowhunting with the Dutchman

By H.R. “Dutch” Wambold

During the first days of May as the waters of the

streams warm under the rays of the spring sunshine,

the spawning run of the carp makes its appearance

in the backwaters.

This is the time of the year when many archers

tape their.bowfishing reels on their bow, round up a

few solid glass fishing shafts and points and hit the

waters for some fast shooting fun.

Bowfishing for carp finds many variations by which

to enjoy the sport. Shooting can be done from a

canoe as it is guided into productive waters, or from

any boat for that matter. The method that apPeals

to most bowhunters is the sream bank stalking, or

getting right into the water to work onto the carp.

The large doe carp bursting with eggs keep work-

ing the muddy bottoms of the backwaters making

their nests. The smaller buck carp keep bunting the

doe to force the eggs out of her. In hunting waters

where this takes place, the large doe will rise to the

surface of the water, roll, showing her large dorsal

fin, give a flip of her broad tail and head for the

bottom again.

<

By the time you spot the doe rolling, or hear the

splash of her tail, the carp has usually disappeared

beneath the surface. If you can get into a shooting

position in jig time, all you have to aim for is a slight

swirl in the surface to indicate where the carp had

been. Using some “Mississippi Dippage” you hold

for where you think the carp might be and let go.

The shooting is fast, and the misses are numerous

while the action is tremendous. This type of blind

shooting averages about one hit out of three shots.

If you get into the middle of things and spot a

large doe being bunted around by several smaller

buck carp, you can usually work within range for a

shot while the large doe is still rolling to elude the

males. Nlany times you may wind up with two small-

er buck carp being skel.ered lvhen you miss the old

gal!

Early morning, just before sunrise, seems to be the

ideal time for top action when the spawn is at its

height. The waters are calm, a mist hangs or.er the

surface, and the splash of working carp are the only

sounds. Stalking along the stream banks during this

early morning bowfishing finds many of the carp

hugging the shorelines, and working along the under-

cuts in the banks. If you move slowly, and do not

teveal your profile you can shoot quite a few sleepers.

If you get too close to the edge of the water the carp

will spot you and spook.

Another good opportunity for some fast shooting

can be had if a shallow section of riffles or gravel

bar happens to be in the course towards the back-

waters where the carp are headed for. By working

your way into an advantageous position and playing

the waiting game you may find yourself in for some

fast and furious shooting if carp are working their

way past at the time. When this is the case you can

see your target in the shallows as the carp splash

their way across into deeper waters beyond.

Stingrays

When May ends and the carp start slowing down,

one can find plenty of action in salt water bow-

fishing. June finds the stingrays coming into the

coves and bays for the long summer months that lay

ahead.

The feeding grounds of the rays are where the

clam and oyster beds are located. The rays feed

mainly on mollusks. The early days of June find

the larger rays working into the coves as the mating

season is at its peak. Large numbers are seen during

the first couple weeks after which the numbers seem

to taper off until late August.

This type of bowfishing requires a boat and out-

board. Although .any boat can be used, the ideal

model should have a small quarter-deck so that the

bowfisherman can stand high and up next to the

bow as the coves are trolled, slowly looking for the

sign of a ray. This position also gives the shooter

the advantage of left and right as well as dead ahead

shots on the scooting rays.

Cruising at trolling speed, a sharp lookout is kept

for the darker holes or nests of the rays on the

bottom. Many times a ray may be lying in these

nests and either spook as the boat approaches, or

play possum as the boat passes overhead. An

experienced eye can many times spot the end of the long

tail protruding out of the nest and get a guzzy shot.

At other times when the ray spooks before the boat

reaches his nest, the powerful wings will leave a mud

trail of churned sand along the bottom. The boat is

quickly turned to follow this trail with motor gunned

wide open. When the ray is spotted the shooter on

the bow signals the operator into position for a shot

at the fast moving ray from a moving boat. This

type of shooting takes a few misses to get the hang

of proper lead and compensation for light refraction.

Only a short length of line is placed on the bow

reel, about 30 feet, and the end opposite the arrow is

tied to a small float which is taped to the upper limb

of the bow on the belly side. When the ray is hit,

you hold onto the bow with both hands until the

line has all played off the reel. The float is torn

from the bow as the ray flees. Now you follow with

the boat until the ray stops to sulk on the bottom.

The float is now picked from the surface and

quickly attached to the end of a line of a game fish

rod and reel rig.

Now the bowfisherman becomes the

worker as you start pumping and trying to horse

the big ray in alongside the boat. When the ray on

the end of your fishing arow is a 100 pounder with

a four to five foot span on those powerful wings, you

have your work cut out for you!

Fishing waters should be from three to five feet

in depth and as calm as weather will permit to see

to the bottom. \Vatching the incoming and outgoing

tides will clue you as to when the right time will

permit ideal conditions. Polaroid sun glasses are a

must and help greatly in reducing the light refraction

which will mislead placing the shot in the right place.

Sharks

Most salt waters find some sharks around. The

bigger species are usually found miles offshore in

deeper waters that average from 40 to 90 feet. This

of course does not apply to the tropical waters of the

Florida Keys or similar areas.

When trying for sharks in the northeastern waters,

late surnmer seems to be the most ideal time. Although

small boats can be used and will get results in many cases,

the big sharks are out in deep waters

and require a boat that can ride the open sea.

Chumming must be done to attract the sharks.

When a shark bowfishing trip is planned, a regular

fishing boat seems to be the best bet. Several years

ago I did some shark bowfishing with Captain Munsen

who specializes in this type of sortee. He calls

himself the “Monster Fisherman” and brings in many

good sized sharks.

Operating from Montauk Point on Long Island,

Munsen works his broad-beamed power boat 40 miles

offshore to where the continental shelf lies. Here

the waters drop off to 90 feet or better. This is shark alley.

A chum slick is now spread for several miles.

As the boat drifts along over the shark waters, the

oily slick of the chum winds into the distance behind.

When the chum atracts the sharks up from below,

and the fins are spotted, a teaser bait is thrown out

on a hand line to lure the shark in close to the

boat.

The bowfisherman has rigged himself with about

20 feet of line, one end of Which is attached to the

end of his fishing arrow, and the other is tied to an

innertube on the deck alongside his feet. The line is

carefully coiled so that it will play out freely when

the arrow is put into the shark.

The tube follows overboard, and the shark takes off.

Later, when the shark has played itself out fighting the

inflated innertube, which is painted a bright

yellow, you check the waters with binoculars to spot

the float. The shark is now worked in to the boat

and killed.

Our day’s shark bowfishing found me shooting a

nine-foot blue shark and missing a leviathan that

must have gone at least l2 foot or better!

Care must be taken to attach the line only to the

nock end of the glass shaft. This will keep the line

clear of rubbing on the shark’s hide which is like

sandpaper and will cut the line. About a six foot

length of flexible and light wire cable leader is good

insurance against the shark cutting the line while it

fights the innertube float.

Light Refraction

The nemesis all bowfishing faces is light ray refraction

on the surface of the water. The position

of the sun overhead in comparison to the location

of the bowfisherman, and the target’s direction of

movement presents some optical illusions.

For example: With the sun shining down from

behind the bowfisherman and the fish swimming

away, requires that you shoot behind the fish to make

a hit. Should that same fish be swimming in towards

you, you shoot ahead of the fish to make your hit!

Should the fish be swimming from left to right

in front of the bowfisherman’s position you again

shoot below to make a hit. If the fish is swimming

from right to left you again aim below to hit. This

of course is taking for granted that the sun is still

behind the bowfisherman.

Should the sun be in front of the bowfisherman,

and shining into his face, cross-swimming fish from

either side will appear to be closer to you and will

require shooting over them to make a hit.

Polaroid glasses eliminate most of this refraction

problem as well as enabling the wearer to see into

the depths to spot the fish. Surface glare is eliminated

by the polaroid lens.

Whatever your bow shooting activities might be

during the summer months, don’t pass up the chance

for some bowfishing action in your locality. The

change of pace is a welcome one, and the recreational

pastime is a satisfying experience.

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