Archive for the 'Bowhunting' Category

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Published by archerchick on 22 Mar 2010

80 Years With Fred Bear – By Bob Brandau

80 Years With Fred Bear – By Bob Brandau
March 1982

We’re damn lucky to have Fred Bear around.  In a time when folks tell us there are no heroes left, we only need look to Fred to know it isn’t true.
For the bowhunter, Fred has done it all. He’s taken world-class big game on every continent and built a career around his love for a sport. He stood and was counted as a conservationist when the word was still unknown to most sportsmen.

The John Wayne of the bowhunter’s world Fred attracts a crowd wherever he goes. Autographs, handshakes and flash bulbs are as much a part of his day as the sun. Yet unlike many other people in that position, his sincere smile never fades and his patience while listening to another
hunter’s whitetail adventure is unending.

His ability as a woodsman is equalled to or surpassed by his talents as a businessman, and inventor. Much of the archery tackle we use today is based on inventions cultivated in his fertile mind decades ago. Along with a few other adventuresome pioneers, Fred turned an obscure hobby into a national pastime and industry.

Starting in a depression torn 1933 in the United States, Fred slowly built his archery company from a garage in Detroit to the world leader it is today: His factory now produces products known around the world and employs about 350 people.

Fred’s cunning as a hunter and friendly nature have brought him many honors and thrills. He’s dined with royalty and dipped beans out a can with African bushmen.  Some of the adventures he’s had would seem outlandish even when printed in a young boy’s favorite book.

And of all the game Fred has taken through the years, what has been the toughest
to hunt? The whitetail deer.

“There’s no doubt about it, the whitetail deer is the smartest craftiest game animal a man can hunt with a bow,” he said- But what does Fred consider to be the toughest most dangerous game to chase with bow and arrow? Excerpts from the book, Fred Bear’s Field Notes, and an article printed in Outdoor Life in the early 1960s show that to be the African lion.

“Of all the “if-you-start-it, I’ll-finish it” game a hunter can go after with either gun or bow, the two big wonderful cats of Africa and Asia, the lion and tiger, head my list. There is something about them that no other animal can match, a mysterious, regal quality of fearlessness and arrogance and terrible power. In my book the man who kills either of them has reached the pinnacle
of the trophy hunter’s world.”

Fred said recently that the animal he had long considered to be the top hunter’s trophy also provided him with his most exciting and memorable hunt “Well, I had a lot of most memorable hunts, I guess. The most exciting of course, was when we were ambushed by a lion for half a night in Africa. I’ve spent a few nights in a tree with a grizzly down below and a couple cape buffalo have come close and then there were the polar bears. I guess you can call them memorable in terms of excitement.   In just the case of excitement my most memorable hunt would be the lion because in most of the exciting experiences I have had, the high point was over in a second or two. You knew you were either going to get in trouble or not. But the case of the lion went on for about six hours and that certainly was memorable.”

A short time after his encounter with the lions of Portuguese Africa in 1965, he recalled the story like this:

“I eased to my knees and picked up my bow. There were two lions, both big-maned males lying beside the wildebeest carcass.  Quietly as I moved, they saw me instantly, stopped feeding and stared balefully at the blind.

“One was broadside to me, with his head turned in my direction. The other lay
behind him facing us head on. I picked the closest one and drove my arrow for a spot
behind his shoulder.

“There wasn’t enough light to follow the arrow’s flight but the lion left no doubt that it had been hit. He ripped out a roaring blood chilling snarl and both animals sprang to their feet.   The rear one shot off to the left running in long bounds. The other curved hell-bent toward the blind, growling and roaring But when he was only yards away, he swerved off to the left and streaked past
within a few feet of us. The last we heard of him was an ear-splitting roar out in the gathering darkness.

“For another 10 minutes; there was dead silence, with five pairs of ears straining for some sound that would tell us where the lions had gone and what they were doing. When it was full dark one of the pair announced his return with a roar that came from no more than 20 yards away and rattled the very leaves of the blind

“One thing we knew for sure. If either lion was bent on revenge, our brush blind would no more stop him than a garden fence stops a hungry deer. He wouldn’t even have to smash through it. He’d come sailing over and the last we’d see of him would be his black silhouette against the faint light that still lingered in the sky.

“There was half an hour of agonizing silence. Nobody moved, spoke, coughed or even cleared his throat My legs were getting stiff and cramped but it was imperative to endure it without stirring. It was cold but no one so much as touched his blanket Tension and suspense filled the blind like fog.

The lion ripped the night apart once more with a long series of roars and snarls, again only a few yards beyond our barricade. I’ve heard bears, tigers and even elephants scream their anger and defiance, and any one of them can make the hair on a man’s neck stand up like porcupine quills. But I don’t believe any other sound that comes from an animal’s throat is as awesome and frightening as the roar of a lion close up.

Another half an hour went by, seeming like half the night.  Then the situation took a new turn.
A lion spoke up from half a mile away giving the half purring half moaning get-together call and another answered farther off in the distance. I had listened to those typical sounds of the African night before and thought them interesting and thrilling. Now they turned my blood to water. Our lion didn’t give us much time to worry about any other, however he let go another bone-shaking roar.

After a few minutes, the lion roared again. The silence settled down and nothing happened for an hour. At the end of that time, Luiz (one of the native guides) inched over to our side of the blind.
“Baas, I can hear lion eating,” he said. ” I think he feed on the dead one.”

We cocked our ears and sure enough we could hear the ripping of flesh and the clicking of teeth out there in the dark, 50 or 60 feet away.

For the first time we had something to go on. It was very unlikely that a wounded lion would be feeding and if this was the unwounded one, quarrelsome as he was, we were in less danger than we had feared. But if Luiz’s hunch was right by morning, the pelt of my lion would be torn and worthless.

“Will one lion really eat another?” I asked Wally, my guide. “Indeed they will,” he assured me.

By this time the tension in the blind had become too much for the native guides to bear, and they issued the ultimatum of either climbing the trees or going back to camp. Knowing that the trees would not support the three natives, and that any commotion was likely to bring on a charge from the lion, Freds party decided to make a break for it in the car.

Taking nothing but the guns with them, they piled into the car, stomped on the starter and knifed out into the African darkness.

“To my immense relief,” Fred continued, “the first thing we found when we went back the next morning was what was left of the python (shot the day before by Fred while making the blind). We agreed that it might have been the snake on which we had heard the lion feeding and our hunch proved good. When we picked up the blood trail of the lion I hit and followed it for 200 yards,
we found a magnificent cat stone dead since the evening before. Needless to say, I didn’t give the python another thought “My arrow had gone in low, back of a foreleg and ranged through both lungs, causing severe hemorrhage. A full-grown male with a heavy mane, he weighed 460 pounds and measured an even 10 feet pegged out.

“Looking back on those thrilling hours in the blind, with the lion growling and feeding in the darkness, I couldn’t blame the guides for not wanting to lion hunt again. But when I got back to camp, and I saw him reaching four feet above my head with the tip of his tail brushing the ground, I knew I wouldn’t trade that night for anything that ever happened to me on a hunt He was the greatest trophy I have killed, and he left me, as a bowhunter, no place to go.”

But Fred’s conquests as a hunter did not end after that long six-hour wait in a blind on the flats of Portuguese Africa He went on to down a polar bear, after three trys, 500 miles north of Fairbanks, Alaska and a 1,800 Asiatic buffalo in Brazil. Even today he is a familiar face around many campfires in the United States, offering a tale of adventure or two.

Anyone who has been lucky enough to hear Fred spin a tale has heard one of the masters. You may be sitting in an auditorium, but when the griz growls and the guide’s hands are skinned as he climbs a tree for safety, you can taste the adrenalin in your mouth. With the gestures of a magician.  Fred can tell a story that rivals those of Davey Crockett and Mark Twain. Those
who have heard his tales more than once may notice slight changes in “fact’ as he draws them together for the audience, but it doesn’t matter since the end result of excitement is always the same.

Fred is one the few individuals who has had the opportunity to hunt most of the game animals the world has to offer. He has hunted above the Arctic Circle, at the Equator and in lands untouched by modem civilization. Based on that experience, he said that if a hunter had only one “exotic” hunt to go on in his life, he should go to British Columbia or Alaska.

“Now, Africa is great,” he said, “but in British Columbia or Alaska you can drink from any stream you happen to run across.  The hunting conditions are much better and the terrain won’t be burned up like it is in Africa during the dry season when you hunt. The mountains, the snow capped peaks and trees-yes, that s what I’d recommend. You won’t see nearly as much game, but after all the kill is the anti climax. You go to enjoy yourself and to have fun in the outdoors with the birds, the bees, the animals, and the people.”

To say that Fred represents that last generation of the wild and free American hunter would be unfair. To say that his contributions to both bowhunting and conservation make him an outstanding American would be much more appropriate.

And although Fred’s tales of excitement are untarnished with the years, the role of the hunter has taken on an increasingly important duty. Today’s hunter, Fred said, should be more concerned with environmental issues. With the nation’s foremost conservationist Teddy Roosevelt, to serve
as his “idol,” Fred has taken a leadership role in backing sound conservation practices. People should take time out of their leisure hours to help promote conservation practices, he said
“Too many hunters today place too big an emphasis on the kill. When you read the stories, the emphasis is too much on the kill-instead of being in nature’s great outdoors,” he said.
“Too many people are uncomfortable in the woods. They don’t feel at home when actually they should be. The woods is a friendly place. Yes, the woods is big place to get lost in, or to get into trouble in, but the main thing when outdoors is to use good judgment stay out of trouble and have a good time.

“A downed animal is most certainly the object of a hunting trip, but it becomes an anticlimax when compared to the many pleasures of the hunt.  A period of remorse is in order. Perhaps a few words of forgiveness for having taken a life. After this there is a self-satisfaction for having accomplished a successful stalk and made a good shot.

“But a hunt based only on trophies taken falls short of what the ultimate goal should be. I have known many hunters who, returning empty-handed, have had nothing to say of the enjoyment of time spent in nature’s outdoors.

“I like to think that an expedition should be looked upon whether it be an evening hunt nearby or a prolonged trip to some far off place, as a venture into an unspoiled area. With time to commune with your inner soul as you share the outdoors with the birds, animals and fish that live there.

And  in another vein, if it is a lengthy trip, select your companions well. A hunting trip
is a great place to test the mettle of your friends.  “I feel like one of God’s chosen people, having had the experiences I’ve had in his great outdoors,” said Fred. <–<<

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Published by archerchick on 21 Mar 2010

Gila Miracle – By Eddie Claypool

Gila Miracle – By Eddie Claypool

September 2005

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

Every twist and turn haunts this bowhunter as he makes his way through the New Mexico wilderness.

Bow & Arrow Hunting September 2005

For the past twenty years I’ve been an impassioned, do-it-yourself elk bowhunter. Over this time, I’ve been involved in about every kind of situation imaginable – both good and bad. It seems that the bad memories stick in my mind indefinitely, while the good memories migrate to the back recesses of my mind. I think this is only a natural process since it’s the bad experiences that leave big scars, while the good memories are constantly being shuffled to the back of our memory by new, good times afield.

A few seasons ago, I went on a solo bowhunt for elk in the Gila country of southwestern New Mexico and made memories from both ends of the spectrum – incredible misfortune, followed by seemingly impossible. In the end, simple perseverance was the key to pulling something out of nothing. Let’s take a look at an outing that was one of the most bittersweet elk hunts I’ve ever been on.

High Hopes

I’d been coming to the Gila for a lot of years; I knew the resource and how to take advantage of it. I’d come alone for a reason – to hunt long, hard and effectively. Since I was on a mission to harvest an exceptional bull, I was willing to sacrifice the benefits of companionship in order to better focus on my self-centered goal…sometimes a guy has just gotta do what a guy has just gotta do.

Two days before the bow opener found me at a remote trailhead packing my mule(Runt) for a trip deep into the wilderness. Past Experience in the area had shown me a couple of remote ridges where groups of “bachelor” bulls liked to spend their summer while growing their massive crowns. I knew that if I could get into an area where such a situation existed, I could very possibly get a bull to respond to my calling. The element of surprise, coupled with the “virginity” of such unbothered bulls, could put a big bull in my lap fast – it had happened before.

As I headed down the trail, I was excited and my hopes were high. A long six hours later – with 14 miles behind me and almost 4,000 feet below me – I was dragging. Picking a spot for my camp, I began to get situated. After unsaddling Runt, I led my long-eared helper to a nearby creek so that he could get a drink. Hurrying along, in a split-second, I somehow manged to let a tree limb rake across my left eye. Knowing that I’d scratched my eye rather badly, I figured that I’d simply have to put up with some serious discomfort for a day or two…little did I know.

Sometime during the early morning hours, I awoke to a burning pain in my eye – I knew that something was seriously wrong. Now what? It was the day before the season opened, I was 14 miles from the truck (90 more to the nearest town of any size) and I couldn’t function! There was a battle going on inside me – the hunter side of me wanted to tough it out and go hunting, while the common sense side said that my eye needed immediate medical attention. By the time that day-light had finally arrived, I’d rolled around in my sleeping bag for long enough to know that I had to get to town and find out what the problem was- what a nightmare!

Deciding to leave my camp where it was at, I snapped a lead rope onto Runt as a new day dawned around me and began the long walk out. Seriously unhappy about the mess that I’d gotten myself into, I mulled the situation around in my mind. My eye was swelled so much that I could hardly see from it; it was six hours to the truck and another three hours to town! The question was, could even I get to town in time to get in to see a doctor today? Man, oh man, I sure needed too.

The Twilight Zone
Rolling into Silver City, New Mexico, at 3:30 p.m., one of the first places I saw was an optometrist’s office. It was open! Wheeling into a parking space, I jumped out and ran inside. Yes, they’d see me. The prognosis was this: I had an eye ulcer, probably caused by some type of bacteria that had gotten into the cut on my eye, and the condition was serious. I would be treated with antibiotic drops and pills, and if the condition hadn’t shown signs of improvement within 24 hours, I’d be sent to an ophthalmologist for further treatment. I would have to get a motel for the night, then come back for another check-up the following evening. This was more than I’d planned for. After all, I had a mule unattended, elk that needed to be hunted and a hunting trip budget that hadn’t allowed for all this extra expense. Could it get any better than this? Oh, yeah.
The following evening (the second day of bow season) I plodded back to the doc, praying for a release-it wasn’t to be. Things weren’t worse, but they weren’t noticeably better either. Doc said, “You need to come back the next day.” My head was spinning…could I leave Runt unattended another day? What if he’d knocked his water tub over the first day? Almost certainly, he had. I couldn’t believe it-what a nightmare! Finally-on my third day in town-the Doc finally saw what he was looking for-improvement in the eye. He would release me for three days, then I had to be checked again. Unbelievable, what a nightmare! How was I ever going to hunt elk under these circumstances? There was no way I had time to get back to my wilderness camp and get any hunting done! Well, maybe I could at least get back to my camp and pack it out to the truck. Maybe I could at least hunt from the road somewhere? So much for my original high hopes and dreams. What a nightmare.

And The Beat Goes On
Dashing back to the trailhead, I arrived at sunset on the third day of my “hunt.” Heading to the spot where I’d left Runt staked out, what should I find? No mule-only a rope, one end tied to a tree, the other end loose. Could it get any better than this? Oh, yeah.

After a mostly sleepless night, I set about searching for Runt the next day. I wanted to be mad at the mule, but the truth was, if one jackass had tied the other one up better, neither jackass would be in the situation that they were now in. After a full day of fruitless searching, I was in a mood, fit to be tied.

Late afternoon of the next day (the fifth of my hunt), I finally found Runt at an outfitters’ camp, about 5 miles down a trail into the wilderness. He seemed to be perfectly content socializing with his newfound horse friends. As a matter of fact, he didn’t seem very glad to see me at all- guess I was giving out bad vibes. I rounded him up and we headed back down the trail. Getting back to the truck at sunset. I picketed Runt, whipped up a meal on my Coleman stove then fell into the sack. Tomorrow was my doctor’s appointment-in that town 100 miles away-oh, joy! What a nightmare!
Noon of the sixth day of my hunt found me reading about elk hunting while sitting in the waiting room of the doctor’s office-man, was I ever praying. I needed a permanent release from civilization so that I could get into the woods-my shorts were getting in a permanent wad. Luckily, a short hour later, I was out of the doctor’s care for good. I headed back for the trailhead, Runt, and some wilderness elk hunting as fast as my old Ford could go-sadly, that wasn’t very fast.

When It Rains, It Pours
On the way back to camp that evening, I had two flats on my truck-simultaneously-and I only had one spare. I was starting to think that this elk hunting thing just wasn’t meant to be. Never had I been involved in such a non-ending nightmare-would this endless procession of pit-falls ever come to an end? And if it did, what kind of an end was that going to be? Feeling cursed, I wondered if I should just load up and head for home? Having never been a quitter, I reached deep inside for the perseverance to keep up the fight. If
nothing else, I’d go down while screaming defiance at the demons of defeat.

The following day, I finally got back on the road again, headed for camp and and Runt (I hoped). I’d long since forgotten what day of the season it was, but I knew one thing for sure – I didn’t have many more days left to work with. What should I do? Did I have the time to pack into the wilderness and start over, or should I simply day hunt into much more accessible areas? I felt the tug of my original dreams pulling at my inner being, so the matter was settled.

Going For Broke
Bright and early the next morning, Runt and I were to be found plodding submissively down an old, familiar trail.
This would be the third time that we’d hiked back and forth on this trail in the past 10 days. As of yet, the only positive to have come from all this hiking was that I was becoming much more mentally and physically tough. Now, if I could just combine this with some actual time spent hunting, maybe something good would come from all the fuss. After all, things had to go my way soon, didn’t they? Right….

Reaching my old campsite, things fell into place quickly. Grabbing my Mathews bow, I headed for the hills. Ah, it sure felt good to finally have the monkey off my back for a while. As I hiked for a distant ridge, I was finally at peace-things seemed to finally be going my way. Huh, those dark clouds coming in from the west surely weren’t a threat, were they? Wow, that one cloud sure looks like a monkey….

By the time I reached the 2-mile-from-camp point, I knew I was in for trouble. Boiling, black clouds were pouring in and distant thunder was starting to roll down the valley toward me. It just so happened that I’d forgotten to throw my rain suit in my daypack and I knew that my Scent-Lok camo would provide little protection from the rain. Since it was clear what was about to happen, I turned around and hurried back to camp. I’d no more than dove into my dome tent when the downpour and wind hit. For
the rest of the night-and well on into the morning-the storm of the century raged. I’ve never seen it rain harder or
longer-it was a genuine life-threatening flood. Everything was running water, including the higher flatter ground that I was camped on. Water in my tent, in my bag, water down the crack of my…well, you know what. I never thought the next morning was going to come. The next day was spent recuperating from the storm-everything I had was wet. Luckily, the sun came out midday and I was able to get almost everything dried out by sundown. To top it all off, it was a fact that I wasn’t going to be able to hunt the next day either because all the valleys and ravines were raging torrents’–I wouldn’t be able to get across any of them.

Going Out In Style
After another day spent doing nothing-with only two days of the season left-I was about to go blind-staggering wild. I was nearly two weeks into this trip, and as of yet, hadn’t spent a single day hunting! Loading up my backpack
on the morning of the next-to-last day of season, I finally headed out to do some hunting…I hoped.

By evening, I was in a vast trailless area that I knew for certain held elk. Toward sunset, a distant bugle drifted to my ears; Hurrying that direction, I closed the distance-but not before dark caught up with me. Throwing up my spike camp, I hit the sack, drifting off to the sound of near-by bugles. I hoped that tomorrow would be a good day.

At first light, I was within 200 yards of the belligerent bull-he’d sounded off all night, never getting out of earshot. Pulling our my bugle, I sent a challenge toward the hot-to-trot. A piercing scream came back immediately, shortly followed by the sound of breaking brush. Clipping my release on my bowstring, I slowly slid an arrow across the prongs of my rest. As my hand touched my face, big antlers came bobbing into view. As the big bull stepped briskly into an opening at 40 yards, I stopped him with a cow mew from the diaphragm
in my mouth. He’d do just fine-thump…the arrow left my bow. Center-punched, the big bull darted out of sight.

Later, as I knelt over the trophy, I had to marvel-this trip had been unbelievable! I’d endured everything that the
anti-hunting demons could throw at me, yet, after having hunted for less than 24 hours, I was tagged-out with a whopper 7×6 bull-I’ll take luck anytime! —

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Published by archerchick on 21 Mar 2010

Quick Kills On Big Game – By Russell Tinsley

Quick Kills On Big Game – by Russell Tinsley
November 1971 ARCHERY WORLD

BOWHUNTING IS a sport of inches. Sometimes just a couple inches will be the difference between a hit or miss, and even a fraction of an inch might determine a quick kill or just a
crippled animal. Yet shooting a bow and-arrow is such a tough procedure that error usually is measured in inches rather than fractions thereof. So the bowhunter “hedges” on his return by reducing this mistake factor to its lowest possible denominator.

This is accomplished in several ways. Having the proper equipment which is prepared correctly is perhaps the foremost consideration. Being a skilled hunter and getting the very best shot with the least margin of error is another. And of course knowing where to place the arrow for optimum results.

A fast-propelled arrow striking an animal’s vital organs should accomplish two rudimentary assignments: create intense hemorrhaging or bring quick and humane death, and encourage sufficient external bleeding to have an easily followed blood trail.

Simple mathematics tells us that a heavy object traveling at a rapid rate of speed will create the most damage upon impact, and this is true even of an arrow which kills by hemorrhage rather than shock. The more Penetration an arrow gets, the better are the chances of getting massive damage to internal organs. And the farther a sharp broadhead- tunnels through the animal’s body cavity, the more opportunity it has to come in contact with organs and disrupt their functioning.

Bob Lee, veteran bowhunter and president of Wing Archery Company, says the draw-weight of a hunting bow “should be as heavy as a person can adequately handle-and I mean handle and not merely shoot.”

The basic theory behind this, of course, is that the heavier bow will cast heavier arrows at a faster velocity, and this results in better penetration.

“But be sure the bow and arrows are matched,” Lee adds. “This is a common mistake among many bowhunters, having mismatched tackle, and a person can’t get the needed accuracy with such equipment.”

By proper conditioning and training of the muscles, the hunter can learn to handle – there’s that key word again-a bow of heavier draw than he is now using.

But even driving an arrow completely through an animal is of questionable value unless the broadhead severs organs to induce bleeding. The bowhunter can greatly improve his odds for success simply by having his broadheads honed sharp. A dull head tends to roll flesh and organs aside while the razor like head cuts cleanly.

As a person practices with his equipment he becomes aware of his limitations and capabilities. If you, for example, find that at ranges beyond 25 yards your aim is erratic and arrows scatter, then work for shots at less than this distance. Whether you shoot instinctively or use a sight isn’t important; what is imperative is that you can put the arrow where you want to.

Now we come to that moment of truth when you are drawing on a big-game animal. Where should you aim to get the quickest kill?

If the critter had a bull’s-eye painted on it, this would be a simple matter. But the hunter usually has just a brief time to size up the situation and determine where his point of aim should be. No two shots are exactly alike.

Maybe the animal is standing broadside, quartering away or facing you.  The arrow kills a critter by disrupting either of its most vital life-sustaining functions: the nervous system or the movement of blood. The most surefire is to stop all or part of its nervous system. One deer I killed was trotting by my tree stand and I led the animal too much and instead of hitting behind the shoulder, where I
intended it to go, the arrow struck the buck’s neck and completely severed the spinal cord. The deer fell there.

But trying for a spine hit is too much of a gamble unless maybe you are in a tree stand and the animal is walking directly beneath you. Even if you are off just an inch or so to either side, the broadhead still will bury into the body and find blood-carrying vessels.

An animal’s body is a network of arteries and veins which all originate at the heart. Hit the heart or any major artery and you will get profuse bleeding; smaller vessels will give progressively less. I once shot at a buck which ‘jumped the string”. The arrow caught him in the ham, striking the
femoral artery. The resulting blood trail appeared as if it had been poured from a bucket. The deer traveled less than 35 yards before going down.

The ideal spot to induce the most bleeding, it would seem, would be the heart. It would. But the heart of any animal lies very low in the throat between the front legs when the animal is viewed from the side. Here the forelegs, brisket bone and muscle give the heart quite a bit of protection.

If the arrow is forward too much, just an inch or so, it likely will strike the foreleg and perhaps just ricochet. A couple inches low and the projectile will pass beneath the animal a miss. Too far back and it is in the body cavity where it must hit an artery or vein leading to and from the heart to get the desired results. About the only margin for error is above the heart, where there is a cluster of organs,

All big-game animals are basically the same. You’ll find the same vital organs in the same places. But the overall picture is different. A white-tailed deer, for instance, has long legs, while the javelina is squatty, built close to the ground. An elk is a much larger animal with tougher skin and bones, and although its heart is correspondingly larger, it is much better protected against even I sharp arrow.  The archer shooting from above-a tree stand Perhaps- stands a much better chance of angling an arrow into the heart region than does the hunter aiming from the ground, on the same level as his target.

To reach this area some bowhunters refer the flat two-bladed broadhead, reasoning  that with the less resistance it will knife completely through the animal, severing everything in its path.
Bill Clemets, perhaps Arkansas most successful bowhunters, is a great believer in this type head. Me, I Prefer the multi-blade head, either three or four cutting edges, preferably four.

This type of head leaves a jagged hole which really pours blood.  Also, should the head remain buried inside the animal, it will jiggle back and forth, continuing to cut, as the critter runs. But neither type is of much value unless it is sharp.

The bowhunter’s best shot, I’m convinced, is in the so-called- high lung area, just behind the shoulder.  A hit here might not give as much blood as a heart shot, but it will be sufficient and in this area there is a bit more leeway for human error.   lf your shot sails slightly high, you are apt to hit the spinal column; should it be low, you’ll be probing the heart and large artery region.  The arrow even can be too far back by an inch or two and you will have a pretty solid hit.  But let too far forward and the shoulder bone is in the way.  If this bone is hit just right the arrow might penetrate;  but usually it simply slides to the side or bounces back.  I hit a mule deer in the shoulder while on a hunt in Colorado and the arrow bounced back almost to my feet.  The broadhead tip was curled back. I doubt if the arrow created enough damage to even give
the buck a sore shoulder.

As the bowhunter becomes more experienced he will learn to aim to compensate for his own personal tendencies. With me, shots less than 25 yards tend to rise, while on out there
the arrow more likely will drop. So if an animal is close, I am low on the body. Should the arrow be on target I’m in the heart region, and even should it rise slightly I’ve got a fatal hit. On longer shots just the reverse is true: I am high, for the lungs, and even if the arrow does drop it will
connect with vital organs.

Most bowhunters think of the classic broadside as the ideal position for a shot. Since one-dimensional drawings are usually sketched this way, the hunter has a vivid mental picture of where all the animal’s organs are placed. This position comes closest to simulating target shooting. But if the animal senses something wrong and moves before the arrow arrives, then the projectile likely will hit the critter’s midsection. A high shot will pass through the body without causing any extensive damage; a low shot will find the gut region, and that is one you want
to avoid. While this might indeed be a fatal hit, there usually isn’t much external bleeding, making the animal difficult to trail, and a gut-shot creature is apt to travel for long distances before going down.

Much better than the broadside is the quartering shot. The rear quartering shot is preferred. Although the silhouette is not as large, more of what you see is vulnerable tissue. There is
less chance of a bone deflecting the arrow, and it furrows more lengthwise through the body. Common sense tells us that the farther an arrow moves through an animal, the better are its
chances of hitting vital organs. Should the arrow pass through the chest cavity there is a possibility that it might come in contact with all three vital organs – heart, liver and lungs.

From the rear, blind-side, of the animal like this, the hunter stands to put his arrow into a vital area without being detected. The head-on and front quartering shots are less desirable, one reason being that the alert animal is more apt to detect danger, and from the front body bones are a
greater obstacle.

But if you do get a head-on shot, aim for the so-called “sticking spot” just below the neck. Place an arrow solidly here and you have a dead animal. The broadhead carves directly into the body between the forelegs.

A temptation is to aim for the head. But most big-game animals have small and well-protected brains. You are more likely to get just a glancing lick than you are a kill.  For the front-quartering shot, aim just behind the shoulder. While the heart, liver and lungs are fairly well protected from this angle, the network of arteries and veins just beyond are vulnerable. If the arrow angles across
the animal, you probably will find a blood-carrying vessel. I once watched my hunting buddy Winston Burnham shoot a javelina that was trotting down a trail toward his stand, and while the
arrow hit a mite too far back, it traveled almost the entire length of the body, exiting just forward of a ham.

An autopsy revealed that the broadhead hit a rib, forcing the arrow upwards where it traveled just beneath the spine, severing several arteries and veins. The javelina wheeled around wildly once or twice, then made just two or three jumps before falling.

Now assuming you understand and know the vital areas and how to hit them and you’ve made what you consider a solid hit, then what do you do?

The consensus of most experienced bowhunters is to wait at least an hour if you think your . arrow hit the liver area or the rear half of the animal. Unless spooked, the critter usually will
journey just a short way before lying down. It becomes weak rather quickly and probably won’t have the strength to ever regain its feet.

But if the arrow hits the chest cavity and results in plenty of blood, it doesn’t make any difference whether you wait or not. The animal – be it an immense specimen like the elk, a
medium-sized one such as a mountain goat, or even the diminutive javelina -won’t travel far away. If you merely sever a large artery-you can tell if the hit results in an unbelievable amount of bleeding – then you will have no problem trailing and finding the critter.

Should the hit be in a non-vital section of the fore body, you probably will be wise to keep pushing the animal. An embedded broadhead will continue to cut and damage organs.

Even if the arrow completely passed through, don’t give the animal the opportunity to lie down and allow the broken blood vessels to clot.  No matter where you hit an animal, don’t give up on it until you are absolutely satisfied that the carcass or some telltale sign can’t be found.

Sometimes the animal might flee along way before commencing to bleed. It isn’t unusual for one to go down without leaving a blood trail of more than just a few scattered drops. Watch which direction the critter runs and pinpoint your search in that direction.  Try to find tracks, if nothing else, and search the trail meticulously for any sign which might reveal where the animal was hit. Perhaps you will soon locate the discarded arrow, broken or pulled out, or a pool of blood when
the animal stopped briefly. It is amazing the number of animals that can be found which at first were thought to be lost.

There is no satisfaction quite like that of staying doggedly on a trail and ultimately realizing success. That’s the mark of a true and dedicated bowhunter.

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Published by archerchick on 21 Mar 2010

Spring Turkey Tactics – By Randy Templeton

Spring Turkey Tactics – By Randy Templeton

MAY 2005

Fool Your Trophy Tom Using These Proven Methods

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

MAY 2005

Coming over the rise, he bellowed an eardrum-rattling gobble and strutted
for the decoy. It wasn’t long after two younger toms brought up the rear,
and it was soon perfectly clear which of the three was the boss gobbler on the ridge.

When the dust and feathers settled the big tom headed straight for the decoy but stopped
mid-stride and made a beeline for higher ground. At the time I couldn’t figure out what had gone
wrong, but I was soon enlightened when a mangy coyote came running over the ridge. I feared the jig was up and the hunt was over.

I continued to call and much to my surprise it wasn’t long after another tom answered my calls. It
sounded like the sarne tom that had been chased off. Evidently my assembly call was working.

Only minutes later I spotted the old gobbler’s head craning over the brush. The second he hit
the clearing he let out a double gobble and headed for the decoy on a dead run. At 20 paces
a Muzzy broadhead sliced through his vitals, putting the 25-pound bird in my game vest.

Most turkey-hunting gurus are sure to tell you hunting turkeys with archery gear is tough, but it also offers the ultimate challenge. Let’s take a look at several ways to improve your chances of tagging a trophy longbeard with your bow this year.

USE THE RIGHT GEAR
To be a successful turkey hunter it helps to have the right gear. Turkeys have excellent eyesight, so good camouflage is essential. Try to match your camo pattern with the surrounding
terrain and vegetation.

Likewise, the same can be said about concealment. The toughest part of killing a sharp-spurred
tom with a bow is getting drawn without getting picked off first. When I first started hunting these wary birds, popup blinds hadn’t been invented yet, my blinds then consisted primarily of brush
and burlap. Although I killed a few birds, it was nothing like today using blinds made by Double Bull Archery and Cabela’s.

A turkey’s vital area is not much bigger than a baseball, so it’s more important to be accurate than to shoot heary bow poundage. You don’t need to shoot more than 50 or 55 pounds to get adequate penetration.

Hit a turkey in the vitals or spine with a good, sharp broadhead and there’s a good chance they’ll go down immediately. I believe any broadhead will get the job done. I’ve killed birds with mechanical heads like the NAP Gobbler Getter and Spitfire, but also with fixed-blade heads like the Thunderhead and Muzzy 125.

LEARN TO READ THE SIGN
A good turkey hunter scouts heavily and knows where his quarry roosts and struts. A
week or two before the season opens, spend time glassing suspect roosting areas from a
distance during the last hour of daylight. Once you’ve located a roosting sight, then spend time glassing at first light and find out where the turkeys go when leaving the roost. On opening day, set up an ambush and waylay your bird.

You might also consider scouting the property on foot. The late Ben Lee (the well-known turkey call maker) once told me that a gobbler likes to roost close enough to water to hear his droppings splat. I’ve since realized there’s a fair amount of truth to that and I now look for roosting sights near waterways. If you find droppings and feathers beneath large, mature trees you can be sure turkeys are roosting overhead.

Differentiating between gobbler and hen droppings is fairly easy. A gobbler’s droppings
are elongated and often shaped like the letter ‘J,” whereas a hen drops compact piles or
wads. Droppings with a chalky appearance are generally very old.

Keep an eye open for scratch marks in the timber too. Turkeys scratch up cow pies and
turn over leafs and bark from trees searching for their daily intake of insects like crickets,
ants, grasshoppers and caterpillars.

One way to determine whether or not the scratch mark are old or new is to know when
it last rained. If it hasn’t rained recently and the scratch marks are sharply defined, chances
are the sign is fairly new. Likewise, if scratch marks appear washed out then they occurred before the last rain.

Also, look for tracks after a rain. You’ll find tracks near crop-field edges, creek/river- banks, dirt roads and other areas void of vegetation. If the tracks you find in a given area
are few, chances are you won’t find many turkeys either. Continue scouting until you find an area with more abundant sign.

Turkeys also like to dust in dry and powdery soil almost daily. They use the same
locations year after year, much like whitetails do with annual scrapes. Dusting sights are
typically shaped like a bowl and you’ll often find them near field edges, dirt roads and
sandy spots. While scouting, keep a keen eye open for a dusting bowl and you’re likely to
catch a tom frequenting it during midday.

CALL SPARINGLY
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a world champion caller, but I’ve learned enough to get the job done. For me, there’s nothing more exciting at the crack of dawn than to have turkeys gobbling their fool heads off from a nearby roost. In the early years, when a turkey gobbled, I called back.

The longer the conversation would drag on, the louder my calling became. On some occasions it
worked, but other instances the tom would shut up and move away silently. The point to be made here is that beginning hunters often make the mistake of calling too much or too loud. Either one could chase a wary gobbler off!

If you’ve got a few years under your belt, then you know an old longbeard has the knack for taking a fancy to one hen at a time. A wise old tom wont always come to any one call so learn to “talk the talk” on several types. It might be a mouth, slate or box call that coaxes in the tom, so be sure to carry a wide variety of calls.

THE RIGHT SETUP
Killing a turkey on any given day is a matter of being in the right place at the right time and using the right call. If you can’t set up in the right location you surely wont kill a turkey. Turkeys
like to strut in open lanes or green meadows, so avoid thick, gnarly timber ridges or tall grass fields.

Two seasons back I had trouble closing the distance on three old birds that liked strutting the edge of a plowed cornfield that was surrounded by a CRP field. I had scouted the area the week before and watched the toms work the edge of the field. The closest spot to set up was some 60 yards away.

For two days in a row I called the gobblers to the field’s edge, but they stopped short of my effective range.  On the third morning I moved the blind to a narrow green strip 10 yards away.
As the first hint of light gave way I let out a couple of soft clucks, and all three gobblers responded from their roost in unison. A few minutes later it was a fly-down cackle, several yelps,
clucks and purrs that brought the old sultan strutting into range.

PRESENTATION IS EVERYTHING
All gobblers have distinct personalities and some are pretty moody, so success could hinge on your call presentation. Take for example a turkey that continues to answer your call with a gobble versus one that gobbles every five or 10 minutes without any rhyme or reason. The tom that continually answers is the one that’s probably “hot to trot” and offers the best odds of shooting. There could be several reasons why the other tom is less talkative. For instance, he might be
call shy or he is with a hen.  Regardless, you’ll need to assess the situation and weigh out the odds.

The afternoon of opening day this past spring I had an o1′ gobbler hang up for nearly an hour before I was able to serve up the right combination of calling and persuade him into committing.
I set up my blind 20 yards from the edge  of a green strip bordering an untilled soybean field. To test the temperature of the birds in the area, I began with a few yelps and cutts.
Almost immediately a gobbler sounded off and within minutes he appeared along the edge of the field some 100 yards away. As I continued using the same series of calls, the tom moved
closer. Unfortunately, for every two steps forward he took one back the opposite direction. When I limited the calls to just yelps and purrs he began shaving off the distance.

At 25 yards I drew my bow and let the string slip free. The instant the broadhead hit the tom he flew straight into the air and then slammed to the ground in a heap.

IT CAN TAKE TWO
Every year the majority of hunters take to the woods alone. As the season grows long it’s not unusual for turkeys to become wary of anything that sounds like a single hen. In this scenario a call-shy tom is more apt to come into what sounds like more than one hen. Therefore, you might consider “doubling up” on a gobbler if you’ve failed alone.

Another twosome tactic is for the shooter to stay put while the caller continues to move away. This sounds like a hen moving away and has a tendency to give the gobbler the idea a hot hen is slipping from his reach.  When a bird consistently “hangs up” and you’ve made several fruitless attempts, you should pair up with a friend. This tactic positions the shooter in the general location where the tom has been hanging up.

BE PATIENT
One of the biggest dilemmas in turkey hunting is knowing what to do when a tom hangs up just out of range. More often than not there’s usually a barrier that prevents him from progressing all the way. In most cases it’s a barbed-wire fence or deep ditch.

Regardless of whether the turkey stops answering or continues to answer but won’t come in, the first thing I usually do is stop calling and wait 15 minutes or so. If the turkey doesn’t show, then I’ll move in the direction where he was last heard and call again. If the turkey continues to answer then there’s a good chance of killing him. If he wont answer after making a couple of moves then it’s probably a lost cause.

The odds of calling a tom away from a hen are slim but not impossible. I’ve done it a couple of times. I’ve actually had better luck scattering the flock and then calling the gobbler
back a few minutes later.  Like whitetail hunters, turkey hunters have a tendency to leave the
woods too early. Experience has proven that restless gobblers begin roaming the woods looking for hens or strut on hilltops in exhibition during the midday hours.

If you know or suspect a gobbler is “henned up,” you might consider waiting until late morning or early afternoon (in states that allow late hunting) to try calling. A tom will sometimes leave his hen midday to search for others, at which time he’s vulnerable to calling. On a couple of occasions I’ve called in the same tom later in the day that was non-responsive in the morning.

USE A BLIND
Although I’ve bagged turkeys with my bow by spot and stalking or ambushing them in various ways, erecting a blind is the best way to go. The type of terrain often dictates the best method for ambushing a gobbler. Let’s take for example gnarly dense cover. It’s nearly impossible to spot and stalk through it without alerting a bird. A better approach might be building a blind from the
natural surroundings or using a popup blind.

This reminds me of a big gobbler my brother Mark was hunting back in the 1980s. The old tom liked strutting along a fence line on top of a hill where he could see all around. There was a big pile of old wooden fence posts in the corner that Mark used to build a four-sided blind along the
fence line. The following day he killed the old bird at 20 paces.

Big toms aren’t pushovers and they don’t come running to everything that sounds like a yelping hen. To consistently tag a mature gobbler each spring you need to stay on top of your game. No single tactic will guarantee success, but a combination of the tactics mentioned in this article is sure to up your odds. <–<<

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Published by archerchick on 20 Mar 2010

Lore Of Elk Hunting – By Randy Templeton

Lore Of Elk Hunting – By Randy Templeton  May 2005

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

MAY 2005

I was some distance from my friend C.J., but even so I was sharing the excitement he was experiencing when the red-eyed bull came in silently to my calls. It was the second bull I’d called within range in just under an hour. The first didn’t show enough of itself to determine whether it was a legal bull or not. It was now just a matter of closing the deal with a well-placed arrow.

I’ll be the first to admit that I like shooting elk, but I also enjoy calling one in for a friend, especially for those that haven’t shot one. My first priority on this hunt was to call a bull for C.J. Davis, the PR director for Nikon. The season before he nearly had a solid shot at a fine elk but was betrayed in the final seconds by fickle winds.

I’ve been asked many times over the years what’s the magnet that draws me toward the mountains during the month of September each year? I’ve answered that question by simply saying that elk hunting is the ultimate high- altitude experience. Once you’ve spent a week in the pristine wilderness you’ll come back with an entirely different outlook on life. Let’s take a look at our exciting hunt and perhaps you’ll understand why so many hunters head for the mountains in pursuit of the mighty wapiti.

Saturday-Day 1
Our camp was tucked in the lower end of a canyon along a crystal clear stream rich with native brook trout. Once again we were using the outfitting services of Karl and Mona Maser of Ute Lodge. I’ve hunted the general area for 15 years and have killed an elk at least half of those years.

By 9 a.m. the packhorses and mules were loaded and we were at the trail-head. Arriving at our camp before noon, we unpacked our gear and rustled up some lunch. By 2 p.m. we were hoofing up the nearby mountain that I’d nicknamed “Hamburger Hill” after a movie I once watched. The canyon and surrounding mountainsides had fallen victim to a wildfire 10 years ago.

At first glance it doesn’t appear to be a place anyone would want to hunt, much less expect to see elk. However, it’s exactly why I’m drawn to the area. Hunting pressure is relatively low and the plush new growth attracts elk in numbers.

Arriving on the mountaintop by 3 p.m., we set up on the fringe of the firebreak where the first stand of green timber began. Fresh elk sign was plentiful, but week-old boot prints told the story that hunters had already been in the area. Not good.

My biggest concern was that the elk would be call shy, so I kept calling to a minimum. I’d gotten one bull to respond, but by the time I climbed to the bull’s general location he had
hushed. The remainder of the afternoon/evening was uneventful. As we descended in the dark, a bull (not big) bugled from the vicinity of where I’d just been.

Sunday–Day 2
The first morning we awoke to the ring of the annoying alarm clock ar 3:45 a.m. The skies were clear and the temperature was hovering around 40 degrees. By 5 a.m. we were climbing up the face of “Hamburger Hill” and 45 minutes later we arrived at the top.
I pulled out my Primos Terminator bugle tube and let out a couple of immature bull bugles. Almost instantly the deep-growling grunts of a herd bull echoed off from the mountain on the opposite side of the canyon. Even from that distance the raspy bugles of the king pin made the
short hairs stand up on the back of my neck.

My friend’s eyes lit up like a kid in a candy store. There wasn’t any chance of persuading him to stay put. I had been in a similar situation some years before and was quite confident the elk would
be long gone before C.J. could arrive. The sun was just beginning to peak over the eastern horizon when he took off down the mountain. I
elected to stay put.

Shortly after working my way around to the north face of the mountain, a bull responded to my calls. After 45 minutes of playing cat and mouse I had closed the distance to maybe 100 yards, but I still hadn’t laid eyes on the bull. It wasn’t long after the wind betrayed me ‘for the first time. The bull slipped off into the dark timber without making another peep.

A muzzleloader shot echoed through the canyon and the bull C.J. was chasing had gone silent. When arriving at camp I wasn’t all that surprised to learn that a muzzleloader hunter had slipped between C.J. and the bull. As it turned out, all C.J.’s efforts that morning were fruitless.

That evening, about an hour before dark I thought it was all going to come together when a mediocre sounding bull blasted out a bugle in close proximity.  We quickly set up and began calling. The bull responded and started shaving off the distance.

I caught a mere glimpse of a tan rump circling downwind.  We tried to make a quick move to avoid detection, but when the elk let out a screeching bark we knew the jig was up and
the hunt over.  We tucked tail and headed back to camp.

Monday – Day 3
The second morning brought on a heavy frost and temperatures approaching the 30-degree mark. By 5:45 a.m. we had reached the mountaintop and split up.  We both had bulls answering our calls that morning, but by 10 a.m. they had shut up.

The evening didn’t bring much excitement  Although two bulls were answering our calls, we were bitten again by the unpredictable winds.

Tuesday – Day 4

On Tuesday morning C.J. and I split up in order to cover more area. I had no more than made my first setup when a small 4×4 bull came running to the Primos Hoochie Mama call. Although he stopped perfectly broadside at 18 yards, I opted to pass on the opportunity with hopes of tagging something a bit bigger. My friend had a bull working his way, but it failed to show itself.

That afternoon we hunted the same area as the first day.  I had three different bulls answering my calls plus what was almost certainly another hunter. In all my years of elk hunting, I,ve only been called in once and found it somewhat embarrassing. I’ve since been a bit more reserved about rushing to everything that sounds like an elk.  We opted to stay put and saw no elk that evening.

About an hour after dark we heard splashing in the stream outside the cook tent and rushed outside with a flashlight,  I spotted movement in the bushes and not long after Karl appeared. Evidently, he had used a log to cross the stream, lost his balance and fell in. He was soaked from head to toe. As it turned out, Karl was our mystery elk hunter. Having hunted up the opposite side of the mountain range in the afternoon, he had two close encounters with 5×5 bulls. On one instance he stopped in a small meadow and not long after he began calling and a bull suddenly
appeared from behind. As Karl tried to get turned around to shoot, the bull spotted him and vacated the area. The second encounter was nearly the same scenario, but again
Karl was unable to get the shot off.

Based on the number of elk seen and the amount of fresh sign Karl found on the way up, we made a decision to hike over the mountain the next morning. Karl had recorded the coordinates of several park meadows on his GPS, including where he had the encounters with bulls.

Wednesday -Day 5
For the week we had a couple of close encounters and one shot opportunity. Our skimpy luck wasn’t due to our lack of effort nor because the elk weren’t there. There were plenty of elk, but the cards just weren’t falling in our favor.

The temperatures dropped into the low 20s that night, Leaving a thick layer of frost on everything. We took a different route up the mountain. After reaching the top we quickly moved toward a meadow where Karl had called in one of the two bulls. Moving from meadow to meadow, fresh calf-size rubs, wallows and droppings littered the landscape. Unfortunately, even though there was plenty of evidence of elk in the area, we failed to get a response.

Around noon Karl decided to begin hunting his way back down the mounrain. C.J. and I split up and hunted two meadows that were about a half-mile apart that afternoon.

About an hour before sunset two cows walked across the meadow and began feeding. I brought out the Lead Cow and Hoochie Mama calls and made a few chirps and mews. A raspy sounding bull answered almost immediately from the fringes of the far side. I continued using chirps and
mews, but threw out an occasional spike squeal to hopefully tick him off. I couldn’t see the bull, but heard him ripping up a tree with his antlers. The bull wouldn’t commit, so I decided to make the first move.

As I began skirting the edge to close the distance the wind shifted ever so slightly and the bull stopped calling.  Suddenly one of the cows let out a bark and elk took off running every which way.

A few minutes later I heard C.J. calling, then three distinctly different bulls answering him. This went on for nearly a half hour before they suddenly quit. At that point I was almost certain C.J. had connected. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

When meeting at dark, I was surprised to learn that he hadn’t seen or heard anything. As it turned our, he was set up too close to the edge of a fast-moving stream and the noise had drowned out all the elk bugles. The best I can figure is, the bulls had circled around and caught his scent.

Considering all the activity that evening, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out where we’d be hunting the following afternoon.

Thursday-Day 6
I was up early with renewed enthusiasm. We decided to hunt the north face of the mountain in the morning and the south side that afternoon. Just before sunrise the growling bugle and chuckles of a herd bull echoed off the canyon walls. I was almost certain it was the same bull we
had nicknamed “the chuckler” and C.J. had chased the first morning. Other than that, the morning was a bust.

Wanting to arrive early to our newly found honey hole, we made record time climbing to the top that afternoon. We quickly hoofed up the steep ridge where I heard the three bulls answering C.J. the evening before.

Shortly after setting up, a bull answered further up the mountain. To confirm the location, I bugled once and got a response back.  We hustled up the mountain to cut the distance in half. Alternating between spike squeals, cow mews and chirps, the bull answered almost immediately.
I moved back 30 yards from C.J. and called again. A stick cracked and suddenly a bull appeared
from behind a cluster of stubby cedar trees, maybe 25 yards from C.J. I listened for the shot but
heard nothing.

Within a couple of seconds, the bull swapped ends and split the scene. As he headed for higher ground I could see four points on both sides. Although most first-time elk hunters dream of shooting a record-book bull, C.J. was just hoping to connect on something legal. Unfortunately, in this instance he couldn’t tell if the bull was legal or not until it charged off.
No problem, I thought, we’ll just see if we can’t call up
another.

Continuing to work the mountainside, we had three other bulls respond. In one instance I thought the bull was going to commit, but for unknown reasons he shut up. About a half-hour before sunset we began working our way down and came upon a relatively flat shelf. There was
a lot of fresh sign and it looked like a great location to call up a bull. I moved back 30 yards from C.J. and put out a few drops of Mrs. Doe Pee’s Fresh Cow Elk Lure in two locations, both upwind and downwind.

Alternating between the Primos Lead Cow and Hoochie Mama, I made several cow calls and bugled once.  A couple of minutes later I heard a stick crack and then heavy foot
steps from above. I looked up just in time to see the antler tips and ran rump of a bull prodding down the mountain. Suddenly the bull stopped 30 yards from C.J. I felt the wind at the back of my neck blowing toward the bull, so I quickly pulled out my wind checker containing elk scent
and gave it a couple of squeezes.

I watched C.J. draw, but he didn’t shoot. Something told me that he didn’t have a clear shot,
so I made a few soft mews. About the same time the bull made one step forward, I heard a thump. Instantly the bull whirled around and charged back in the same direction.

Although C.J. felt the shot looked good, the results of a quick search of the area for blood didn’t paint a very promising picture. Blood was sparse and we didn’t find the arrow, which meant it might not have passed completely through. Like any other suspect hit, rather than make matters worse we decided to return in the morning. Temperatures had been hovering near freezing so we were confident the meat wouldn’t spoil.

Friday-Day 7
It was a restless night for both of us, but more so for C.J. I reassured him that we’d find his bull.

By 8 a.m. we had climbed the mountain and began our search. Starting where we left off it wasn’t long before the blood trail petered out. Rather than wander around aimlessly looking for blood, I flagged the last location and we started a grid search looking for blood. After an hour of fruitless searching, we split up. It was maybe 10 minutes later when I heard C.J. hollering, “I found him!”

I found C.J. sitting proudly over his first elk, a 5×5 Colorado bull.
Unfortunately our decision to leave the bull overnight had cost us part of, the hindquarters to the coyotes.
It took nearly three hours to skin, quarter and pack the meat to a location where Karl could get to it with the packhorses.

As mentioned earlier, my first priority on this hunt was to call in an elk for my friend. I was able to
accomplish that, plus I had an opportunity to shoot a 4×4, but I chose to pass. I’ll be the first to
admit that every hunt hasn’t ended with filling my tag, but for me elk hunting is more than that. The lore of elk hunting is spending time with good friends each fall chasing one of
the most elusive big-game animals of all. If I take home an elk, that’s just
icing on the cake. <–<<

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Published by archerchick on 20 Mar 2010

Early Bucks – By Steve Bartylla

Early Bucks – By Steve Bartylla  September 2005

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com


Don’t let non-rutting bucks intimidate you. Here’s the key to successfully ambushing these seemingly wary deer.

This is too good to be true. That was my first thought when one of the owners of the hunting outfit I was with confidently stated that I would leave Alberta with the opportunity at a 150-inch or better buck. Now, I could see that he hadn’t been exaggerating. There, 20 yards away, stood a clean 10-point that would measure somewhere in the 160s. Because I was shooting expandable heads, I was unable to cover the windows of my Double Bull blind with shoot through mesh. To safely conceal my movement, I would have to wait until the buck dropped his head.

As the buck pawed to reach the snow-covered alfalfa, seconds seemed to drag on for minutes. finally he dropped his head to feed and gave me the chance I was waiting for. However, what happened next is not nearly as important as the events that lead to this point.

An unexpected family matter had trimmed my scheduled eight-day hunt to merely three days. To complicate matters more was scouting land I’d never stepped foot on and a fresh snow that had erased the deer trails. The final kicker was that the rut cycle in Northern Alberta lags significantly behind the upper Midwest. The result was that despite the snow and cold temperatures, I’d be hunting non-rutting bucks still in their early-season patterns.

The first day of the hunt was interesting, to say the least. Because of my unfamiliarity with the area, I set a stand that provided the best view of a large alfalfa field. I reasoned the odds of a monster naturally traveling within bow range were slim, but I hoped this placement would allow me to spot and pattern a mature buck.

I also had an ace up my sleeve. With timber wolves being the greatest threat these deer would face, I was told that the deer found safety in numbers. To create this illusion, I set two Montana doe and a Custom Robotic Wildlife buck decoys out in front of my stand. To my amazement, this approach produced 21 different buck sightings in a single afternoon!

Though this group included several good bucks and one true slammer, the mission was not accomplished. As things so often go when hunting, the big boy entered the field from one of my stands blind spots. I was unable to narrow down his trail, and an overnight snowfall eliminated any chance of backtracking. However, I was closer than when I began. I knew it was very possible to take a mature buck off the field. With having already hung a low-impact morning stand in the woods with my scouting efforts.

The next afternoon was the true key. With no one location along the woods providing a view of the entire field, I did what I should have the first afternoon: I pulled the truck into some cover that provided a full view of the large field and strictly observed. As luck would have it, the mid-160s buck entered the field again just before dark. I was in business.

The next and final day, I did what I believe is one of the keys to consistent success on early-season bucks. I set up where my observations had dictated. I positioned myself where I observed the slammer entering the field.

With the morning hunt out of the way, I was ready to make my move. Having mentally marked a strategically positioned round bale the afternoon before, I made a bee-line across the field. After clearing the snow from the floor area, I positioned the Double Bull blind behind the bale and covered it with excess snow. Retracing my path across the field, I had managed to keep my disturbances to a minimum.

Later that afternoon, I followed the entrance path through the field back in. Thirty yards before reaching the blind, still 50 yards from the wood line I placed the RoboCoy buck decoy. It was my hope that any nearby deer would focus their attention on the decoy, pulling their eyes away from the blind. With some buck urine placed between it’s back legs, I entered the blind and settled in for the hunt.

Several close encounters with does and young bucks later, we return to big boy entering the scene. As I slowly raised my bow to shoot, tragedy hit. The inability to cover the windows in mesh and a perfect sun angle allowed for light to reflect off my bow. Just that quick, the buck’s head snapped up and he began staring a hole into the previously unnoticed blind. Freezing, not quite in position to draw and unable to move undetected, I knew the gig was up. Two explosions of snow from his hooves and he was gone.

As light began to fade, an eight-point in the mid120s strolled by the blind at 10 yards. i spent the closing minutes of my brief 2004 Alberta hunt watching his interaction with the RoboCoy. Though the hunt ended with an unfilled tag, I feel it beautifully illustrates the key to taking mature bucks that are exhibiting early-season behavior.

Find the Food Source

To begin with, consistently taking early-season bucks starts with identifying the best food and/or water sources. This is typically the foundation from which early-season tactics are built upon. The first of this groundwork can be laid in summer. One step in accomplishing this is glassing oaks. Doing so allows you to gauge the coming fall’s acorn crops. An oak tree doesn’t produce acorn crops each year. For one thing, it takes the acorns of most members of the red oak family two years to mature. Therefore if an individual tree produced last year, it isn’t capable of producing again this season. White oaks are able to produce fruit every year , but that doesn’t guarantee production. Droughts, untimely high winds, late frosts and insect infestations are just some of the things that can cause crop failure or low rates of production. Glassing oaks during summer can go a long way toward pointing you to which ones should be hunted in the fall.

As with the oaks, various factors can affect farm crops as well. For example, late-planted soybeans are more likely to still be in the highly desirable green state when season opens. Lack of fertilizing, heavy weed infestations, too much rain or too little all have adverse affects on crop production. A late summer inspection shows the health and maturity state of the crop. Simply put, each plant species has a maturity state at which it’s most desirable, and thriving crops have a lot more drawing power than ones struggling to produce. Summer inspection can go a long way toward showing the hunter where the big boys will be feeding when summer begins.

That proved helpful in taking my 2004 Wisconsin buck. A long east-west ridge paralleled valleys filled with corn and alfalfa. With the area yielding a nonexistent acorn crop, it was easy to determine that alfalfa, would be the best draw. After that, it was a simple matter of observing the buck and following his previous year’s rubline to a good ambush point. The third day of season the mid 146 4/8-inch 10-point was mine.

Find The Buck

As was the case with both the Alberta and Wisconsin bucks, finding them is incredibly important. The vast majority of off-season buck movement occurs between bedding and water and food sources. Without knowing a specific buck’s patterns, we must rely on blind luck. Furthermore, because bucks are moving so much less than when the desire to breed begins kicking in, placing our faith in luck is most often an endeavor wraught with disappointment.

Seeing a mature buck removes any doubt if there is one in the area to harvest. As obvious as that sounds, it’s amazing how many hunters don’t take the simple steps to determine if a buck meeting their standard is present. The easiest way to accomplish this is to observe the food source. In many situations, this can be done without having to leave the truck. In the case of both bucks, all it took was arriving before dark, pulling the truck into some cover and watching what came out where.

When the setting isn’t suited for vehicle observation it’s often impossible to perform in-field observations. When doing this, it’s important to keep the odds of being busted by deer to a minimum. Playing the wind, calculating the best route and observing from a distance are all helpful. Infrared trail cameras can also be helpful tools for finding mature bucks. Determining if a shooter is present can be as easy as placing it over a water hole or hopping the units around around the food source.

When covering food sources, I begin by placing infrared units in the areas that show the heaviest signs of feeding. If the food source is too large for one setup to do it justice, after a week or two, it can be relocated to cover another section. Commonly, a month is more than enough time to determine if and where a mature buck is entering the food source.

Nail His Trail

The “where” component is nearly as critical as the “if.” As already mentioned, early-season buck movement is rather limited. Because bucks aren’t roaming all over the woods it becomes more important to be sure that your stand is covering one of his primary trails. Obviously, both trail camera and observations can answer what trail(s) he uses most often. When relying on observations, be sure to mentally note a landmark that will later lead you to the trail. In the excitement of seeing a shooter on your hunting ground it becomes remarkably easy to not notice the exact trail he uses. Disciplining yourself to note a landmark before drooling over his rack increases the chances of of finding that trail later.

Another means of identifying a mature buck’s trail is by looking for fresh rubs. Rubbing activity is inspired by two factors. The first is to aid in the velvet shedding process. Next is the gradual rise in testosterone levels. During velvet shedding, young bucks don’t commonly exert the energy to truly rip up a tree. Shredded trees are more often the result of testosterone levels. Furthermore, the blood levels of testosterone in mature bucks rises higher and faster then their little brothers. Because of all that, well-worked September and early October rubs are good indications of a mature buck.

Though there are fewer rubs in early season, there are often enough to determine a mature buck’s trail. Doing so can be accomplished by circling the food source and following each trail a short way into the woods. Because many early rubs occur as the buck stages up just before entering the food source, following each trail no more than 100 yards is typically enough and also keeps our disturbances down.

Minimize Disturbances

Minimizing our disturbances is important. Ideally preparing our stands should be done during midday hours without leaving leaving tell-tale odors or signs of our stand preparations behind. The setting for the Alberta buck was ideal. With the buck trail located from a distance, I slipped in and prepped the blind with out stepping in the woods. With the wind blowing out into the field and the round bale hiding the blind, no deer could pick up on my intrusion until after they were already within bow range.

More commonly, some intrusion into the woods is often necessary. Taking odor control steps, proper timing and and keeping trimming low all will help. Another way to minimize disturbances is planning the best route in and out of the stand. Hunting in and near food sources is a productive early-season tactic. If pressure is kept low, it’s possible to intercept mature buck feeding activity before dark. Still the bucks don’t always cooperate and can certainly show up after dark. It goes without saying that it often takes more than one hunt to fill a buck tag. One of the primary reasons that a stands odds of producing go down with each hunt is because of sloppy entrance and exits.

When selecting routes, be sure to take the most low-impact choice, regardless of the extra effort it may require. Irrigation ditches, erosion cuts or any other feature that limits the chances of crossing deer trails and keeps our profiles low should be explored.

When a good route out doesn’t exist, having someone drive to the stand to extract the hunter is an option. In most settings, deer will be much more tolerant of a vehicle than a hunter walking through the field. Minimizing disturbances also includes simply hunting smart. Mature bucks are rarely tolerant of hunting pressure. This is particularly true early in the season. During this period food sources are commonly abundant. When safer alternatives are available, the incentive for a buck to subject itself to danger is minimal.

It therefore becomes important to employ sound-hunting tactics. It can be hard to stay away from a stand you know covers a mature buck’s trail. However, playing the wind and refraining from over-hunting stands is well worth it. The alternative is driving the buck from the area.

Early season can be a great time to fill a buck tag. Keying in on food and water is a great way to do it. After sighting a mature buck and determining his trail, it really comes down to keeping disturbances low and a bit of luck. The funny thing about most lucky hunters is that they do what they can to make their own luck. Following these guidelines may just help you become a luckier hunter and fill out early as well.

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Published by archerchick on 20 Mar 2010

Javelina Country – By Dennis Sturgis, Jr.

Javelina Country – By  Dennis Sturgis, Jr.  September 2005

This west Texas hotspot made the perfect bowhunting adventure.

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

The van’s headlights stabbed into the darkness as we turned off the blacktop. A gravel lane led to the  west Texas ranch house that would be our home for the next few days.   Numerous cholla cacti loomed up in the headlights along the lane.  The Cholla Cacti have a stick man appearance and they seemed to be waving hello as they flashed by.

My hunting partners were Rich Niblock and Darryl Quidort from Michigan, and Dale Karch from Indiana. Earlier in the day we flew from South Bend to El Paso. After renting a van we drove on to Marfa. The drive was uneventful other than Dale getting a friendly warning on speed from a state trooper. Dale and his wife, Sandie, own 3Rivers archery. Dale sent the trooper back to his cruiser with a new catalog. In Marfa, we picked up our groceries and continued to the ranch.


I’d hunted this area before and really enjoyed it. The mountainous desert terrain made for great spot-and-stalk hunting. The land is desolate yet beautiful and full of mystery. the town of Marfa is known for it’s ghost lights. These lights first appeared reported by one of the early settlers in 1883. Apparently they existed before as they were spoken about by the local Apache. The lights can be viewed at night and have been described in several ways. Generally they are viewed at a distance, but there have been isolated reports of tiny fireballs of light just outside and inside vehicles. More than one scientific study has been conducted with different theories presented. In the end, the source of the ghost lights remains a mystery. Good friends, miles of remote country, a healthy population of  javelina and a little mystery all added up to the recipe for a bowhunting adventure.

At the ranch house we met up with the other members of our hunting party. Eric Radcliffe. also from Indiana, had driven down since he wanted to see the country. Dale’s longtime friend, Dick boss from Colorado, was the final member of our hunting party. Eric and Dick had already been into javelina. They stalked a group that afternoon and Dick shot a nice boar. After unpacking and putting away the groceries, we hit the sack for an early start in the morning.

We rose early and dressed in hunting clothes. The typical cheerful pre-hunt chatter took place as bows were strung and quivers loaded. I listened to the bragging, teasing and equipment comparisons with a smile. It felt good to be in hunting camp.

Wayne Weimers, our guide, pulled in before daylight. Over breakfast, we discussed our plans for the day…and Dick’s snoring. One of the neighboring ranchers, Dave Williams, also drove up to help get everyone into javelina on the 116,000 acres we had available to hunt. At sunrise we shot a few practice arrows and prepared to head out. Dale, Eric and I jumped in Wayne’s Suburban to check out some brushy canyons to the south. Dale had hunted this ranch for javelins the previous winter and wanted to video the action this year for an upcoming 3Rivers DVD production. Today was my day to be cameraman.

On the way to a vantage point where we planned to glass, Wayne spotted some javies in the distance. They milled around, feeding in some prickly pear. We checked the wind and planned our approach. After making a wide circle to get the wind in our favor, we split up. Eric stalked to one side of the small group while Dale and I snuck to the other side. I tried to stay practically in Dale’s hip pocket as he edged nearer to the javelina. The warm sun felt good on our shoulders as we slipped through the cactus, and in several minutes, we sandwiched our quarry. The wind held steady, and we slowly closed the gap. Javelina backs appeared occasionally above the cactus. I pushed the record button when Eric Pulled his longbow to full draw and released an arrow. A fatally-hit boar flashed between the cacti and disappeared into a thick tangle of cat claw. Eric used a pair of hand pruners to wade in and claim his trophy.

We rode back to the ranch house to care for the javelina and grab some sandwiches for lunch. In the afternoon, Rich and I went out with Wayne. Although we had several stalks, a good video shot never came together. Arriving back at camp, we learned both Dale and Darryl had collected javelina. Eric set a nice stand for feral hogs and collected a nice meat hog.

On day two of our hunt, I videoed Rich take his first-ever javelina. Later Eric punched his second javelina tag. Eric also found a an arrowhead. Dave, the rancher, said it was made by the “old ones.” He said the last time it was touched by a human was 1,000 to 2,000 years ago.

Rich and I started day three out with a double on two huge javies. We skinned them out for full-body mounts. Wayne took us to a big rock overhang with an aqua-colored pool in front of it. The rock walls were covered with pictographs made by people who had hunted here long ago. We enjoyed setting around a campfire that evening, and Wayne prepared a delicious wild-game supper.

Our hunt passed quickly: each day was full of excitement. On our final day, we had to leave at noon to catch our flight out of El Paso. I was the only hunter not to shoot my second javelina. Wayne was insistent that we get my second javy. I told him I was perfectly happy, but I wouldn’t mind taking some photos of javelina sign. He agreed, commenting that we could hunt along the way. We jumped in the Suburban and drove to a part of the ranch that had good sign to photograph.

Wayne is a retired patrolman as well as hunting guide. I enjoyed listening to his stories. Between photo sessions, Wayne spotted a javelina. “Let’s go get him,” he blurted. After giving Wayne a quick video camera lesson, we stalked into the wind after the boar. The stalk was classic. Using cactus clumps for cover, we ended up 10 yards from the javelina. Wayne was right over my shoulder: I rose up and shot and arrow right over its back. I quickly nocked another arrow. The javelina stood about 20 yards distant now. I glanced at Wayne. He said “I’m on him.”

I shot again and groaned when my arrow bounced off a rock. I nocked another arrow. The javy was out there now but in the open. “I’m on him, I’m on him,” Wayne spewed. Feeling obliged to shoot: I took my time and shot again. The arrow arched out and centered the kill area. The boar ran 15 yards and fell over. “that was a hell of a shot!” Wayne exclaimed. “Well, it was a lot harder than the first two,” I answered, shaking my head.

At noon we drove back down the gravel lane toward the highway. I glanced at the cholla cacti again. They seemed to be waving good-bye, and I hoped it wouldn’t be too long before I could return.

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Published by admin on 03 Mar 2010

UNCLE TED BOWHUNTING TECH TIPS

 
UNCLE TED BOWHUNTING TECH TIPS-The Road to Backstraps
by Ted Nugent
 

I bow hunted 360 days in 2009. Being the first year in my life that I didn’t tour, at the tender age of 61 I figured why not! And let me tell you, dear Lord it was exciting!
 
I started bow hunting around 1955 with my dad. We didn’t know exactly what we were doing, but we sure loved doing it. Rarely killed anything in those early years, but we learned the hard way. Eventually, we began to figure it out.
 
In 2009, I killed numerous bears, moose, hogs, kudu, impala, warthog, nyala, sable, eland, waterbuck, wildebeest, Lechwe, Oryx, Aoudad, axis deer, fallow deer, sika deer, Nilgai antelope, blackbuck antelope, mule deer, javelina, whitetails galore, black tails and a bunch of turkeys. It was a spectacular hunting dream come true.
 
The only thing better than bow hunting is more bow hunting. I give away sacred meat as gifts to the deserving. It is a beautiful thing.
 
And as always, it takes constant trial and error and a relentless determination and tenacity to kill game consistently with sharp sticks. As a perfect human being, I blow it royal on occasion. It is how we are made. Pretty darn good, but ultimately incomplete, and mistakes will be made. The real trick in life is to learn from our mistakes, and as someone who bow hunts more than probably any human being alive, my mistakes are aplenty. And hence, so are my lessons.
 
From these often painful lifetime bow hunting lessons comes a few clear and present truisms that I am pleased to share with my Blood Brothers of the mystical flight of the arrow. Fortunately in this day and age, unlimited lessons abound from the plethora of bow hunting TV shows, informative articles by professional bow hunting writers and shared information at the ubiquitous archery shops across America and beyond.
 
My first recommendation is to pay close attention to the master bow hunters on TV. The best of the best like Chuck Adams, Michael Waddell and his Bone Collectors, Fred Eichler and his stunning bow hunting wife Michelle. Great information on strategies can be found on nearly every show by Randy Ulmer, Greg and Jeff Miller, Pat Reeves, Lee and Tiffany Lekosky and so many others. Some provide more instruction than others, but I for one watch as many as I can in order to glean applicable info from them.
 
Great writers like some of those above, plus Joe Bell, Brandon Ray, Mike Ray and numerous other die hard bow hunters will steer you straight, and if paid attention to, provide lessons from them before you have to make mistakes yourself.
 
If I had to chose one word to overview bow hunting, it would be “stealth”. Quiet, ultra aware, sneaky, tuned in stealth.
 
Stealth is ultimately all about a higher level of awareness. For modern man to attain a higher level of awareness than the beasts we hunt is not an easy thing. In fact, it is almost impossible. But it can be done, and by tuning to our surroundings with every ounce of our fiber, our actions, everything, our chances at penetrating the mystical defense zone of prey animals increases exponentially to the effort we put forth. That’s bow hunting 101.
 
Hunt ultra slow. Even in our tree stands. Remain crazy still. Move like a sloth. Radar our surroundings. Examine every detail. Stop often and go as slow as we possibly can. Fred Bear always told me to stay in the shadows and to not step on anything I can step over. Sneaky is as sneaky does.
 
Not just the stealth necessary to get within bow range of the beast, but the imperative stealth of coming to full draw without alerting the animal. The number one violation of this stealth consideration is the self imposed curse of so many archers choosing a bow with too heavy a draw weight. This is a pet peeve of mine, as I am convinced that it is the number cause of attrition in our sport. The archery industry itself is mostly to blame, as it is oftentimes nearly impossible to find a bow under 70 pounds at a pro shop anywhere.
 
Many of my bow hunting friends and I kill everything that walks with 45-50 pounds draw. My petite little wife Shemane, and others, kill consistently with less than 40 pounds. This way we can draw our bows without lifting them up in the air or contorting our bodies which is certain to alarm game. Bottom line, lighter is better. Graceful bow hunting kills game, not kinetic energy and velocity. Know it.
 
Silence is imperative, and that comes from soft, quiet clothing and gear, and how we move. Our arrows sliding across the rest is often the cause of close by game becoming alarmed to our presence. Silence that bow and arrow rest.
 
Scent is always critical. Even with the incredible scent reducing clothing and sprays available today, that I absolutely believe in and use, it is nearly impossible to remain scent free to the degree necessary to fool the nose of prey animals. Wind direction should always be considered and utilized. The nose knows.
 
Timing is a key component of stealth. Even with perfect camouflage, critters can pick up on the slightest movement. Don’t draw that bow if you can see the animal’s eyeball. And not just the target animal, but any animal that might pick up on our movement and alert the others. Wait for the best shot opportunity possible, and then when you decide to draw, do it. Do not get caught at partial draw, or you’re done.
 
Obviously, those who bring home the backstraps do so because they hunt where the game is. Advance scouting will save us time, so we don’t waste any hunting where there is no or little game. Zero in on the best habitat with the most game activity to maximize opportunities.
 
Do not underestimate the benefits of baiting game. If you don’t like it, don’t do it, but I am a big fan of baiting. When acorns are raining down, or alfalfa fields provide the bait, take advantage of them. But if a little spilled corn or C’Mere Deer will help present a shot, for God’s sakes why not?
 
A mock scrape it bait. Food plots are bait. Apple trees, or apples tossed about are bait. Acorns are bait. Waterholes are bait. Doe pee is bait. Use it all. Have fun. Kill game. Live it up.
 
Practicing with archery tackle is more demanding to reach deadly proficiency than with firearms. I believe it is a daily thing. Aim small, miss small. Pick a spot. Shoot 3D animal targets to memorize the exact spot on a form so it all falls into place naturally at the moment of truth. Practice makes perfect, particularly in bow hunting.
 
A cocked, locked and ready to rock bow hunter must be in good physical and mental shape. Good sleep, a smart diet, and overall health is essential to be at the top of our game. Archery is 90% mental, so good physical conditioning and a solid, at ease confidence is imperative.
 
These are some of the Nugent Bow hunting Rules my family, friends and I adhere to. They can make the difference between backstraps and heartbreak. And we all know that backstraps are better every time. Backstraps or bust.

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Published by archerchick on 22 Feb 2010

Aquatic Archery – By Mark Morrison

Aquatic Archery – By Mark Morrison
April 2005

Spark up the off-season by hunting these underwater targets.

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

April 2005

To archers like myself who eat, sleep and bleed bowhunting, it seems there’s never enough time to bowhunt. When there is ample time, sometimes our prey is scarce and the waiting game we play can become monotonous. The same can also be said for sport fishing. However, when you combine these two great past-times-bowhunting and fishing-you’ll step into an all out action-packed activity called bowfishing, one of the fastest growing segments of archery today.

The list of rough fish species available to bow-fishers across the United States is nearly endless. Due to their wide distribution, common carp, buffalo and gar are the species most often pursued. Because of their ever-expanding range and penchant for rapid reproduction, carp are the top fish hunted by bowfishers. Average size “bronze-backs” range from 10 to 15 pounds. But they regularly reach 40 pounds and monsters as large as 80 pounds have been harvested by fishing archers! Carp are strong fighters that prefer wild close-in, fin-to-toe battles.

Arguably the most aesthetic of rough fishes are buffalo (including bigmouth, black and small mouth), which have a distinctive color scheme that features jet-black dorsal areas that fade into shiny silvery-blue sides. Typical buffalo weigh 10 to 15 pounds and trophy specimens grow as large as 30 to 60 pounds! Buffalo are speed merchants, well known to knowledgeable bowfishers for their tremendous battling skills. When struck with a well-placed fishing arrow buffalo don’t hesitate to employ their inherent speed to streak bullet-like for deep-water sanctuary. It sometimes takes a Herculean (but always fun) effort to bring the fast departing fish under control!

Although gar (shortnose, spotted, long-nose and alligator) are found throughout the U.S., they are more predominate in southern waters. Typical spotted and shortnose gar encountered on the water average 5 pounds and hefty specimens will weigh as much as 10 pounds. Longnose gar (easily recognized by their ultra-long, tooth-filled ‘noses”) weigh 5 to 20 pounds and monsters as large as 50 pounds have been bow-bagged in the extreme southern tier of their range. Alligator gar are the monarchs of the rough fish world. “Gator” gar inhabit rivers and reservoirs in the gulf coast regions of states like Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and Florida. These gar are formidable opponents that can tip the scales in excess of 200 pounds! Although any size “gator” gar can test a bowfisher’s mettle, seasoned fish hunters agree that the bench-mark for trophies is 100 pounds.

Longnose gar are plentiful only in a few water ways in my home state of Minnesota. Still every spring and summer, I make many treks to a few select area lakes and aim all my efforts at chasing these challenging fish. One steamy Saturday last July still stands out in my mind. The wind was dead calm, the air sultry and the intense sun had sizzled the temperature to near 100 degrees – nowhere near ideal conditions for any other bowhunting pursuit but perfect for hunting heat-loving longnose gar.

I cranked my outboard to life and raced across the lake toward a small inlet stream. I figured where the creek emptied into a weed infested bay, good numbers of gar should be there to feed and loaf. To avoid spooking the gar I shut the outboard down 100 yards from the inlet. After scrambling upon my elevated platform and lowering the electric foot controlled trolling motor, I began a methodical stalk toward the weedline. The coon-tail weeds were unusually thick…perfect habitat for gar.

Approaching the inlet I was astonished to observe an estimated 100 gar lazily hanging out at varying depths within the weeds. I immediately stopped the trolling motor and silently drifted through the incredible school of gar. My search for a suitable trophy didn’t take long, because a huge long-nose unexpectedly surfaced and gulped air not 5 yards off the boat’s bow!

I carefully brought my recurve to full draw, picked an aiming spot on the gar and drove my heavy Muzzy Penetrator arrow at the gar’s enameled hide. The arrow’s impact was akin to striking a match to gunpowder. One moment the gar was slowly slicing through the water, the next it was displaying acrobatic maneuvers that would’ve made a sailfish seasick! The sight of a 5-foot gar completely clearing the water and shaking it’s toothy beak from side to side was awe-inspiring.

The sharp Stingray fishing point and 350-pound test BCY synthetic line held firm and I soon had the gar reeled alongside my boat. Since I didn’t relish having my hands raked to shreds by the gars protruding razor-like dentures, I was very careful when I grabbed my arrow to hoist the fish aboard. As soon as that was accomplished I permanently silenced the gar with a sharp rap from my “bonker” ( a short section of steel pipe).

This is necessary because a gar of this size coming to life in the confines of a boat can cause a lot of havoc including spilled tackle boxes, shredded clothing and lacerated body parts! Hanging the substantial fish from my electronic
scale revealed it to weigh an incredible 19 pounds. I couldn’t have scripted a better start to my day. Bagging trophies like the above
mentioned gar is the result of pre-season scouting and realistic “on the water” archery practice. Successfully arrowing underwater prey requires you to compensate for light refraction. Simply put, refraction bends light rays in such a way that fish always appear higher (or closer) than they actually are. To compensate for refraction you must aim low to connect with your quarry.

How low? That knowledge only comes with shooting experience. The best rule of thumb is to aim low, then aim lower! Soon your instincts will take over and you’ll begin hitting with surprising consistency! Since no two bowfishing shots are alike in range or depth, sight-equipped bows are a hindrance. Shooting instinctively and letting the shot happen naturally is the ideal method for arrowing rough fish. Also, to block out annoying surface glare and make the task of spotting and arrowing fish easier it is a must that you wear a quality pair of polarized sunglasses and a hat with an efficient sun blocking brim.

My above gar hunt represented a typical, (albeit very exciting) bowfishing outing. Previously, I started my season in early May hunting for bowfin (dogfish) and common carp. I usually continue to hunt carp, buffalo and gar throughout the summer and into early fall. I also travel to neighboring states to hunt Asian bighead carp (a plankton feeding river-ine fish that can easily attain weights in excess of 50 pounds) and white amur (grass carp).
Even with all this variety, I always find time to make several forays for “dusk to dawn’ hunts. My bowfishing rig sports a 2,000-watt generator which sends power to a bank of halogen lamps that pierce the inky blackness, illuminating the water around my boat for 10 yards. Despite the constant humming produced by the generator rough fish like buffalo, carp, sheephead and gar are more relaxed at night and far easier to approach. In fact nighttime bowfishing is so productive many bowfishers (especially those in southern states, where day- time temps can reach dangerous levels) ignore day-light hunting altogether and do all of their bowfishing under the cover of darkness.


I’ve been a self-proclaimed bowfishing addict for 20 years and I’ve acquired all the latest gear to make myself a more efficient predator of fish. I didn’t start out that way though. Like many other youngsters, I literally cut my bowhunting teeth on rough fish at an early age. Each spring when the annual sucker spawning runs were in full gear my buddies and I would grab our little fiberglass recurves and wooden arrows (equipped with crude homemade barbed fishing heads) and dash for the nearest creek in anticipation of filling our stringers with cold water suckers.
Those early days provided a lot of action (which is what restless young archers crave) in the form of endless shot opportunities and heavy bags of fish. But, the real challenge was bringing our fish to shore after a successful shot, You see, at the time we neither had the inclination or resources to attach a reel and line to our bows. So…after arrowing a fish we’d simply ditch our bows and race downstream after the fast departing fish! Knowing where the fish was in the stream was fairly easy; we just had to keep an eye on our brightly colored fletchings juning up like oversized pencil bobbers through the water’s surface. Of course, we had to sprint well ahead of our quarry and ambush them on a shallow stretch to finally bring them to hand. This was accomplished by grasping the arrow and fish simultaneously and tossing the squirming, slippery prize onto the bank.

It was definitely great fun for neophyte archers like us. Because bowfishing is a year-round, day or night sport in many states, it is ideally suited for passionate bowhunters of any age looking to extend their hunting season. Be careful, however because bowfishing excitement is contagious. Your bowhunting goals may soon include harvesting trophies like 4O-pound carp, 50-pound buffalo fish and maybe even 5-
foot streamlined predators with bony armatures and mouths stuffed full of needle sharp teeth!

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Published by archerchick on 22 Feb 2010

One Day Gobbler- By Joe Bell

One-Day Gobbler – By Joe Bell

Bowhunting turkeys is no gimme, yet with the right tactics and a drive to succeed, luck will eventually shine through.

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com


We strolled across the darkened field as dawn’s orange-red plume was rising above the horizon. Double Bull specialist Tom Carroll pulled a crow call from his pocket and blasted through the pre-dawn silence to rile up any nearby gobblers. Immediately a tom fired back, giving us his approximate location. Tom and his good hunting buddy Jeff Zimmerman, who designs game calls, are experts at this trade. Me, I’m more of of a western big-game fanatic, so I just watched and admired these guys who have such intense enthusiasm for bowhunting long beards.

We set up in a meadow of trees, a natural strutting site for big gobblers, according to Tom. Quickly we popped up the Double Bull T-5 Pro Staff blinds. Tom and I would be in one while Jeff would set up 50 or so yards to our side-just in case the birds did something unorthodox. The Flambeau decoys were in place 15 yards from the shooting window, and I was on ready with my bow clutched in my hand.

Minutes went by, the sound of his gobbles telling us he was on the ground now. The hunt was on. Soon the sound grew louder as he closed in on us. Tom and Jeff worked in tandem, reverbating clucks, purrs and yelps with such precision and smoothness.

He was close now, and I got the feeling that the shot would come fast. I was running on one maybe two hours of sleep thanks to a full day’s worth of airports and plane delays. By the time tom and Jeff picked me up it was late into the evening. Then we drove for a couple of hours, grabbed a snack and hit the bunks. Tom informed me that we were looking at a two-hour drive or so to reach the hunting area so this meant little sleep.

About the time the excitement began, so did the confusion. Oh, the tom got close but decided to pass us by. By the sounds, there were too many hens in his entourage to get excited about one more.

As we assembled blinds and decoys, I couldn’t help but admire this Kansas prairie land. It was my first time hunting in the Land of Oz, and I was digging it.The country was very open, with strips of trees and scrub brush laced along waterways. As a big-bodied buck sprung from his bed (with heavy bases and tines), bounding down the ripples in the tall grass, I felt a twinge of romance for the country. I will definitely return to hunt giant bucks here.

Our Tactics
We were hunting Rio Grande birds on 15,000-plus acres of land so we had plenty of options. When it comes to avoiding human calling attempts, eastern gobblers could be the toughest to trick, But in my experience, a wise, old Rio Grande turkey is no slouch in this department. They can go call-shy at the flick of a switch. And that’s what these birds did to us. This meant improvising.

Throughout the bulk of the day, we made typical setups with blinds and decoys and calling, but birds didn’t seem to move our way. We continued to cover ground furiously, looking for that one lonely gobbler. We never found him, but we did spot a big gobbler walking in an alfalfa field, along with a horde of hens.

Our window of opportunity was to dash a 1/2-mile or so to the edge of the field, slither our way down a cut that would hide our approach, then wet up in their travel path. (Hey, this is my kind of hunting- spot and stalk.) Tom And I were staking in the decoys when we got busted. Really, we probably didn’t need the decoys on this setup, which made it that much more frustrating. Tom expertly handled the blind, erecting it ever so slowly.

Tom gave his best calling renditions, piquing the birds’ curiosity. A couple of hens, along with the gobbler began a slow approach, but something was obviously wrong, I’m sure they thought. We watched them return to the field, and after hours of sitting in the blind intermittently, we watched as they slowly filed around the blind – 60 yards past.

I was about to think these birds weren’t killable, bur Tom’s success the day before proved that wasn’t true. Tom and Jeff were out testing the water, so to speak, before I arrived. The winds were gusting, yet Jeff and Tom coaxed two birds off the roost and within 15 yards of the blind. After a few soft purrs, the bird came a-runnin’. A shot from Tom’s bow sent an arrow perfectly through one of the bird’s chests. He captured it all on video.

What I Learned
I’m not a very experienced turkey hunter, but I’m learning quickly just what it takes to consistently bag longbeards with a bow. I know first-hand that you need calling expertise, call-shy birds or not. If you don’t know how to verbally entice a tom, he’ll go somewhere else. You must know what to announce and when to announce it. How do you learn? You follow experts around, and then learn by trial and error on your own, calling a lot and making mistakes.

Also, the turkey hunting I know doesn’t incorporate morning and evening setups only. If you want a bird badly, then you’ll need to stay out all day. Further, a good turkey hunter adapts to changing conditions. This means doing whatever it takes to get your bird. Thin of off-the-wall ideas, and you’ll make it as a turkey hunter. This could mean stalking birds, ambushing them along fields or getting more aggressive with your calling.

Near Day’s End
With little sleep, water or food, the day was turning long. I had a couple of energy bars in my pack, and Tom shared his Kudos bars and dried fruit. By the time evening rolled around, I was becoming dreary eyed. The plan was to go back to a roost area- a possible hen pickup area for gobblers. It was about 5 p.m. when our setup was complete. Tom and Jeff fired up their Bad Buzzard slate calls- a design made personally by Jeff- and instantly the show was on.

We had two gobblers coming at full throttle. The video camera was rolling and the adrenaline was flowing. The longbeards came at us in a zig-zag pattern. Suddenly they were 30 yards away and closing. I wanted to shoot the lead bird, but he passed my shooting window like lightning. I slapped the gap pins on the rear bird and took the shot as he slowly walked by.

He jumped, swayed and stumbled until he came to rest 100 yards away. A finishing arrow put him down for good. It’s kind of bizarre how only one day of turkey hunting could bring about so much. Maybe that’s the nature of the beast, the nature of bowhunting turkeys.

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