Archive for the 'Bowhunting' Category

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Published by archerchick on 22 Feb 2010

12 FEET UP – By Rob Evans

12 FEET UP – By Rob Evans
April 2005

After 32 record-book bucks, this Minnesota bowhunter doesn’t see any disadvantages of low treestand perches.

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

My hunting partner had told me that my perch for the day would be a mere 12 feet above the floor, so I was pretty certain that I could keep my dramatic fear of heights at bay. I climbed up the tree at “0 to dark-30,” and waited for the sun to wake up.

As the darkness began to slip away, I looked below me and found that while one part of the tree was only 12 feet high, the stand that I was sitting in was over a ravine. There I sat, staring at an abyss that was no less than 80 feet below. My job, my partner told me, was to simply shoot across a narrow ravine to a well-use trail. All I could do was fight off a panic attack. Sweat Poured out, I was shaking, and my fingernails were blood red as I hugged the tree down to safety. We came back later, and my friend retrieved my bow and other gear as I sat firmly planted below.

I won’t lie, my hunting style was born due to my fear of heights, but I’ve learned that there is no reason a person needs to sit 20-plus feet high as many trophy hunters claim. In fact, I can sit and look at some 32 record-book bucks mounted in my home that prove my point. I don’t unveil my buck kills to boast, but rather to prove that there is no shame in hunting low.

I’ve taken my fair share of ribbings from my "expert" buddy trophy hunters. But the fact is, while in the Army, I learned to improvise, and that’s just what I find myself doing by hunting low exclusively out of ladder stands.

Precautions Are Needed
First off, I don’t believe that hunting low always that deer will be able to scent a person. In the morning and evening when hunting, when hunting is often best, many time the wind is often low. With that in mind, if I’m sitting at 12 feet and whatever scent that exists might disburse similar to a cone, like sonar. Say my scent goes down and out from the tree at ground level out about 8 feet. Well I better make sure that the shots I need to make are 20 yards or better from my stand so that the bucks just won’t nail me. If a person is 20 feet or higher, their scent has a longer time to expand before it hits the ground, meaning that a buck has more scent surface area in which to detect you.

As with any hunting situation, I am almost overly cautious with the way I enter and leave my stand. At no time am I going to sit a stand if I have walked an area where my scent could blow into a buck’s lair. Further I often have two stands setups for hunting-one spot so that I can manipulate the wind in a matter that will keep my scent safely away from the deer.

My de-scenting preparation is extreme. Wildlife Research offers plenty of elixirs that not only mask, but also kill unfriendly odors. A Scent Lok suit is all the additional insurance needed to keep scent bottled up.

I also de-scent all my equipment- from my bow to my ladder stand. As I set up, I’m wearing rubber gloves, and I douse my equipment with spray. Once I set up my ladder, as I descend the the stand, I soak every rung of the ladder with spray so it is literally dripping when I’m at ground level. When I come back to hunt the spot, the stand and all around it is void of any impure smells.

One buck, shot in Minnesota back in 2002, was taken not more than 10 to 12 feet above the ground. I was hunting a small 1/2 -acre wood lot off of a picked corn field and slough. The spot was small, so most hunters would think with it being in the open that a person would have to get really high to evade a buck’s glance.

I found a low cedar tree off a fence row that was perfect, but not very tall. I passed up several nice bucks in the couple of times I hunted, having and eye on a nice 150-class eight-pointer. Having no luck, I laid a scent trail from the slough from a hot area I had located about 60 yards from my stand. I put just a drop of scent from the hot area all the way to my stand and just past. I never put too much scent down, just enough to spark curiosity. In this case, we were talking about and early December hunt, so the bucks were by no means in peak rut.

After laying the trail a few hours later a 187- inch 12- pointer walked right where he needed to be. He returned to his slough about 60 yards away and fell over dead.

Aren’t Ladders Cumbersome?
A friend of mine who was sold on portable hang-ons and tree steps once bet me that he could get set up much quicker than I could. The bet was that we had to set up the stand, fire an arrow, and return to the truck. He had 12 tree steps and a hang-on; I had my ladder stand. We both set up and I was back at the truck sipping on a glass of port I had in my backpack. He never gave me the business again about my ladder stand and it’s cumbersome qualities.

Customize Your Stand
When I hunt, I do it with intelligence about the area I plan to use. I scout during, before and after the season so that when I need to set up I’m in and out quickly. For the early season, I set up by midsummer and have everything ready to go for an opening weekend hunt. For the pre-rut and rut, I will have a stand ready in the general area that basic hunting principles show: funnels, bedding areas and food sources. The same goes for late-season hunts; you need to have some stands set, but I always carry extra in case I need to improvise.

When I set up a ladder stand, I always try to do it in a cedar or pine tree. For one, they offer added scent blocking, And two, they offer good cover. I try to never cut any branches from the tree I’m hunting in, but instead, tie off limbs to my stand for an ad-hoc blind around me. I carry some twine and a large bolt with me. When a limb is in the way, but too high for me to reach, I tie the twine to the bolt and toss the bolt up above the limb. Then I pull the limb down and tie it to the the rungs of the ladder. I can make a blind in this fashion in just a few minutes and literally envelope myself in a cocoon of limbs that no whitetail will see through.

I’ve had big bucks bed right below me, and even have had them scratch their backs on the ladder itself. If you do things right, with regard to scent control and camouflaging the stand there is no better cover out there.

Subtle Tips
Often times guys tell me that they set up stands high so they can get away with more movement on the stand. To that I say, if you are comfortable in the stand, you don’t need to be shifting around and stretching every few minutes. I’m 60 years old now and I like to be comfortable and safe when I hunt. A nice ladder is easier to climb, has a big platform and a comfortable seat that many smaller portables don’t offer. You have to be in the woods to shoot a deer, and ladder stands just make the hunt more enjoyable. To further the ladder’s benefits, I have often used individual sections of them to carry/drag game out of the woods.

Beyond Strategy, Luck Plays a Factor
Beyond the tools a person chooses to use in their pursuit for big bucks, I want people to know that I don’t think of myself as the most skilled hunter in the world. I’m lucky. And luck plays 75 percent of the game. Sure, a person needs to hunt using sound strategy, and they need to play the wind; they need to hunt smart. But the bottom line is that a person needs some luck to take large bucks, and for that matter, they need to hunt in an area that has large bucks.

Each person may have their own standards for what they call a trophy animal. But I think that when they pursue that animal, they can do it from the 5- to 12 – foot range just as I have and be just as successful as the cowboys out there who claim there noses need to bleed from their stand.

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Published by archerchick on 22 Feb 2010

Get Aggressive – By Bob Robb

Get Aggressive – by Bob Robb

April 2005

There are times when normal stand-hunting tactics just don’t work on whitetail bucks. Here’s how to be bold to find success.

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

April 2005

As a born and bred western spot and stalk hunter, being aggressive is ingrained into my psyche. I like to find ’em and then go get ’em. Sitting in a tree stand for hours and hours, still as a piece of oversized bark, is just about as easy for me as sitting on a bed of nails. Still, I learned years ago that scouting for hot sign, setting a tree stand as quickly and quietly as possible, then waiting for a buck to come by is by far the best way to fill tags.

And yet, there are times when that doesn’t work. The deer simply may not come by. And even if I’ve set my stand in the right place, the deer often walk out of range – and out of my life. Few things frustrate me more.

Lately, I’ve taken to becoming more aggressive in my whitetail hunting. I still scout hard for hot sign and patiently sit in treestands in the belief that this remains the best way in the world to get a controlled shot. But when stealth tactics don’t pay off, I’ve taken to becoming bold, trying to make something happen rather than passively adding another untouched tag to my already impressive collection.

How It All Started
It was a bitter November day in southwestern Ohio, the wind adding a real bite to the 15-degree air temperature. Set up on a power line cut surrounded by some serious thickets, I was watching a doe lead a 140-class nine-pointer along a trail away from my stand.

After a week of nothing, I was not going to let this happen without trying something. Using an inhale/exhale combination grunt/bleat call, I first gave a pair of doe bleats. As the doe stopped and turned, I gave the deer a short series of moderately loud grunts while ticking my rattling horns together. I was hoping to fool the deer into thinking there was an estrous doe in the thicket directly behind my stand, and she was the focus of a pair of young bucks who were sparring over the right to breed her.

For whatever reason, it worked. The doe took several steps my way, staring into the thicket. The buck now had his attention momentarily diverted from his current amour, and when I bleated again, he bit, trotting my way to have a look.

In Fantasyland I could tell you that he stopped broadside at 20 yards, where he took my arrow through both lungs. In reality he stopped at 27 steps, slightly quartering away and looking back over his shoulder. I had so much “stuff” out trying to call the deer that I couldn’t get it stowed away in time, so when I grabbed my bow and tried to draw I knocked my rattling horns, clanking them loudly against the metal of my treestand. Adios, amigo.

That episode stuck in my mind, though. Why can’t I make things happen more often, I thought, by using a controlled aggression approach? the answer is, I could. You can, too.

One, Two, Three…
Since that time I’ve begun experimenting a bit by combining several different aggressive deer hunting techniques in an effort to add realism and excitement to my hunting. That isn’t to say that I’ve abandoned the stealth bomber approach. It remains my favorite way to hunt. But when it isn’t producing, I’m no longer afraid to get with it and try to make something happen.

One common way to make things happen is with the rattling horns. Nor during the pre-rut, when clashing and banging them hard and loud to stimulate a real knock-down, drag-out fight is the common technique, but instead earlier, in mid-to late-October before the pre-rut phase of the rut is in high gear.

At this time bucks like spar with each other as much a social activity as two bucks getting rid of their aggression. When they spar they don’t bang each other around a lot. Instead, they carefully put their horns together to push, shove and twist in a “pre” pre-rut test of strength.

When there’s nothing happening around my late-October stand, I might try “sparring” with my rattling horns or, just as effective, a rattle bag, while making a short series of grunts. I like to this in an area where I know the buck-to-doe ratio is 3:1 or better, and that I’ve seen small bachelor groups of bucks hanging together. I might even add a basic doe bleat or two when I rest between sparring series. The goal is to make any nearby bucks think there is some friendly competition over by my tree and have them come investigate. I fooled a nice Mississippi 10-pointer a few days before Halloween one year with just such a sequence. This time I didn’t bozo it and made the 25-yard shot as he stood looking and listening for the group of deer he just knew he were right there someplace.

When aggressively rattling during the pre-rut and rut periods, I’ve taken to getting down out of my tree and working the horns from the ground. That’s because real buck fights cover lots of ground and will include the sound of stomping, trees being thrashed, brush being mashed to bits, and grunting and bellowing. This is no time to be shy. If  I’m going to rattle, I’m going to make it sound like two big boys are fighting to the death. I have a spot picked out to rattle from, often making a makeshift ground blind set 40 or 50 yards away from my treestand.

It does work. I’ve had good bucks come to the horns this way, but I’ve yet to get a shot at one of them for a variety of reasons. One time a nice ten-pointer rushed up behind me, stopping within 10 yards of my blind and pinning me like a pointer pins a covey of quail. Obviously, I still have some refining to do with this technique, but that day was one of the most exciting I’ve ever experienced in the whitetail woods.

Fake Deer
Perhaps the hottest technique in whitetail hunting today is the use of deer decoys. The options are endless. Standing bucks, bedded bucks, bedded does, big bucks, little bucks, mature does, fawns….you name it.

When decoying first became popular, the common method of use was a single deer, be it buck or doe. Then some folks began using several decoys, which I’ve found to work very well from time to time, too. In fact, a young buck standing over a bedded doe, with or without another “confidence” doe in attendance can be a dynamite way to draw roaming bucks to you in a flash. Why? Because during the rut a buck will relentlessly chase a doe until she’s ready to be bred. If he pushes too hard , though, she’ll simply lie down to prevent the buck from mounting her prematurely. A passing mature buck seeing this scene knows that he can kick the snot out of that tending buck, then take his place as he waits for the doe to stand up. When she does, he’ll be the one all over her. If I see a buck passing by a setup like this, I like to add some breeding bellow-like doe bleats, which are the sound a doe makes when she’s ready to be bred.

Another relatively new technique is to use a doe decoy in combination with a doe-in-heat scent stick like those from Deer Quest Products. When a buck travels by and sees the doe, the estrous scent is often enough to make him come closer to check it out.

The key to decoys is to use them in areas where they can be easily seen by passing bucks. These spots include field edges, open stands of hardwoods, creek crossings and similar places. Using decoys in thick cover can startle deer, though. It’s best to give them a bit of time to see your fake deer and get comfortable with it.

Aggressive Deer Calling
This is by far my most favorite way to try and make it happen instead of letting bucks walk past my stand and out of my life. While there are a ton of variations on the basic deer calls-grunt, bleat, and snort- I like to keep it relatively simple. Instead of using lots of variations, I’ll combine two different calls together.

The “breeding bellow,” also known as doe-in-estrous bleat, was first popularized by game call maker Jerry Peterson of Woods Wise Products. It is a drawn-out wailing sound that imitates the sound of a doe that’s ready to be bred, right now. When used in combination with some toned-down buck grunts, it can be a dynamite way to get a roaming buck to come see what’s happening by your tree.

Or, how about this one: Combine the breeding bellow with two different tending buck grunts, made with the grunt tubes from two different call makers? In this scenario, I’m trying to tell a large buck that a very hot doe is being chased by two small bucks that he should have no trouble whipping.

Regardless, when deer calling there are a couple of things to keep in mind. “You will have your best luck calling if there is some thick cover around your tree stand,” said David Hale, half of the legendary Knight & Hale game-calling team. When a buck responds to your calling, he’s going to be looking past your tree trying to see the deer that are talking. If there is some thick brush, he may be fooled into thinking they are hidden from his view, and to see them he needs to com closer. But if it is wide open and he can’t see any other deer, the majority of the time he is going to get suspicious and keep walking.”

Hale prefers calling at deer he can see. However, when it’s dead quiet in the woods, he’ll call blind, hoping to draw a passing buck’s interest. ” a lot of people are afraid that by blowing their deer calls blind, they will spook deer they have not yet seen,” Hale said. ” I think the other way. I have lots of confidence in my calling and believe that if there are no deer passing by my stand on their own, it’s better for me to try and draw them there than sit for hours looking at nothing but squirrels and woodpeckers.”

Hit the Silk
For most whitetail hunters, the thought of bailing out of their treestands and hunting from the ground is a frightening proposition.There’s no doubt that a treestand is a tremendous deer-hunting tool. However, when the deer aren’t coming past your stand, or there isn’t a good tree to use over some smoking-hot sign, get aggressive and try hunting from the ground. You might be surprised at the results.

My friend Bill Vaznis, an outdoor writer from upstate New York, is a firm believer in hunting whitetails from ground level. In fact, still-hunting with his bow has produced a good buck for Bill for several years in a row. ” I like to be mobile so tat the deer can’t pattern me in a treestand,” Vaznis told me one day as we shared an Alabama deer camp. “There are some things you have to do to be an effective still hunter, like never hunt the wind wrong, wait for a fresh rain or fresh snow to dampen footing and move slow as a snail. But it can be a great way to sneak up on good bucks that never know you’re there.”

I’ve been known to jump out of my tree and try to intercept bucks that are passing through my area and are obviously not going to come within range. One day in New York, I was set up on the intersection of three heavily used trails passing over a wide oak flat. When I saw the big eight-pointer moving up out of the bottom, I knew he was going to miss my tree by a hundred yards. So rather than try to call him in, I quickly climbed down the ladder and , like a torpedo, used a small depression as cover and set off at a trot on a course to intercept him. The plan worked perfectly. I got set up behind the trunk of a large oak, drew my bow, and as the buck stopped to the sound of a mouth grunt I released.

Unfortunately I guessed the range at 35 yards when it was only 25. That was the days before the days of laser rangefinders, a tool I never leave home without anymore. I like to hunt from ground blinds too, especially when the leaves are off the trees and a treestand sitter sticks out like a sore thumb against the steel gray of a winter sky. After six days of frustration in Kansas, I grabbed a climbing stand and went scouting for five hours, finally locating a spot where fresh scrapes, large cedars freshly rubbed to the quick, and fenceline crossings were all within 50 yards of each other. Unfortunately, it was on a bald knob, and the only trees were bare as toothpicks. I quickly made a ground blind that put me downwind of the sign, got comfortable and waited. Right at slap dark a nice eight-pointer came and worked the scrape, then began moving past the rub to the crossing trail. This time I had my rangefinder, and the 35 yard shot was a slam dunk.

When hunting from ground level, I have become a firm believer in wearing scent-adsorbing clothing and liberally using scent-eliminating sprays on both my clothing and my equipment. A combination of the new Windstopper Supprescent outerwear from Bass Pro Shops, which features a soft, quiet micro-fleece shell and a breathable Gore Windstopper membrane that also blocks 100 percent of the wind together with the new Rocky Gore-Tex Supprescent hunting footwear is the best way I know to help keep deer from smelling me when the wind takes a turn for the worse.

Be Bold!
In all big game hunting, there comes a time when you have to take a chance, roll the dice, break the mold and try to make something happen. When bowhunting whitetails, that’s not to say you should abandon the tried-and-proven stealth method of of setting a treestand over fresh sign, then patiently and quietly waiting ’em out. But when that isn’t working, being bold and aggressive can turn a boring day int the woods into one filled with close encounters of the exciting kind. Use your imagination and experience to guide you, then go get ’em. You just might be glad you did.

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Published by archerchick on 21 Feb 2010

Whitetail Savvy – By Eddie Claypool

Whitetail Savvy – by Eddie Claypool

May 2005

Here are some key elements that go with arrowing monster bucks with a bow

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

May 2005

When it comes to a pursuit such as whitetail bowhunting there is only so much gear that can be bought and information that can be ingested.  Also, there are so many that try to cut corners on the road to success.  Inevitably, it is only experience that can produce results.  Certainly, some of the bumps in the road can be lessened by gleaning knowledge from others and/or using quality gear.  Such being the case, I’d like to offer you some of my personal do’s and don’ts on this subject.

GET REAL
Don’t set yourself up for a fall”  In today’s high-tech hunting world, the image projected is one of the top-end success.  Every media outlet ingested by the whitetail hunting public continually spits out image of big bucks, along with tactics and gear that will produce them.  The fact is even the most consistently successful trophy whitetail bowhunters (the average do-it-yourselfers) are unsuccessful 99.9 percent of the time.  Let me clarify that – for every one hour I’ve spent in the presence of a trophy whitetail buck, I spend 999 hours trying to get there.

I started my whitetail bowhunting career 30 years ago at age 14.  I didn’t harvest my first trophy deer until I was 28 years old, my second at age 30 and my third at 32.  Somewhere around this point, I seemed to get a clue in relation to the big picture involved in top-end success.  It was at this point that I became obsessed with the desire to consistently bow-kill trophy whitetails. I made the lifestyle commitments that were necessary to pursue this goal – it was a tough row to hoe. Now, a
dozen years later, I’ve reaped the consequences (both good and bad) of having put forth the top-end effort necessary to achieve my goals. I relate all this as a means of showing the ladder of bowhunting maturity that I’ve climbed. In summary let me say this -don’t plan on starting at the top or on skipping many rungs of the ladder. Set realistic goals, bowhunt and be happy with the deer you harvest.

PRIORITY #1
You Can’t Get Blood out of a turnip: Because of my tremendous success at consistently bow-killing
large-antlered bucks over the years, I’m constantly aware of the fact that many people feel that I must have some supernatural powers in this field. Fact is, I don’t. I refuse to be like many of the other so-called experts that feed on this misconception.

When it comes to the truth of how and why I’m so successful, one thing is clear: The answer isn’t rocket science – I hunt where the big bucks are. For me, this requires travel. Give me some time and a little gas money, put me in my old pickup truck and throw in an ice chest full of food, and
I’ll find a good place to bowhunt.

Yes, in today’s world, outfitters are quickly tying up all the good spots, yet there are still places available to the do-it-yourselfers who are willing to expend the time and effort necessary to ferret them out. Get behind the wheel and start knocking on doors. Find good hunting the old fashioned way -after all, the satisfaction involved in accomplishing this should be a large part of
what the overall bowhunting experience is all about anyway.

The Zone
Timing is Everything I’m blessed to have been able to arrange both my work and personal life into a system that provides me with plenty of time to bowhunt each autumn.  The fact is that few other blue-collar bowhunters can accomplish this task. At best, most bowhunters can invest no more
than two weeks at one time into a hunt. Let me say this -that’s plenty of time to take a big buck if your’ve done everything else to be prepared.

Over the past dozen years, fully 90 percent of my big bucks have been harvested during a three-week time frame-Nov.4 to Nov. 24. No surprise there, right? At no other time of an entire three-month bow season have I been able to come up with a way to consistently harvest
trophy bucks. If you’ve got a way to get the job done outside this peak-rut time, more power to you. If not, this approach to success: Spend your off season time accessing and scouting excellent habitat. You should scout/hunt your area in October during the weekends. In early
November, take a couple of week off work and be prepared to spend all day in your best-bet spots.  I carry a badlands 2200 Series backpack loaded down with everything (Scent-Lok clothing included) necessary to accomplish this task.

FLEXIBILITY IS KEY
An Open Mind is your Greatest Asset: One of the greatest mistakes that the average bowhunter makes is to go afield with pre-conceived rules concerning whitetail deer behavior and/or hunting tactics. For many years when I first started to become serious about my bowhunting, I followed a fairly ridged approach in relation to how I determined stand locations, hunting times and tactics.
I’d read a lot about whitetail hunting and the behavior of the deer themselves. Other experienced (?)
hunters had also fed me a lot of so-called facts. I knew the rules by which the game was played…right?

For years, I had bowhunted according to average mainstream  advice. I reaped exactly that kind of result – average.  With time, I began to realize that something was missing. I don’t know why it took so long for me to finally reach my day of revelation, yet when I did, it forever changed my entire bowhunting life. Let me try to articulate the gist of my brilliant revelation. If you re deer hunting, you’re deer hunting, and you’ll kill deer. trophy bucks aren’t deer, at least in a normal sense. Average hunting locations, times, tactics and efforts will produce average deer, which trophy bucks aren’t.There is nothing normal about consistently bow-killing trophy whitetails so it would be safe to say that to do so must require a willingness to go out on a limb-in other words, depart from normal locations, times, tactics and efforts.

When I finally grasped hold of this mentality, it rocked my bowhunting world from top to bottom. I began to hunt longer, in off-the-wall places, and outside mainstream tactics.  By throwing out a lot of the knowledge that I’d been conditioned to believe was the gospel, I began to become a real student of the deer and their environment.  With time, I began to develop a hunting approach that was based on feel. In other words, I simply hunted wherever, whenever and for whatever reason I wanted. If I had any far-fetched question in the back of my mind about anything, I searched out the
answer. I began to accrue experience (outside the bubble),
confidence and, finally, success” I was finally over the hump.

Sign Off
Waylay Big Bucks in Travel Corridors: It sure is exciting to find a honey hole-a place where big rubs and scrapes are so concentrated that the hair on the back of your neck stands up. No doubt, finding such a place is the epitome of all scouting efforts; a sure ticket to consistent success on trophy bucks, right?  Well, yes and no. For what it’s worth, here’s my take on that.

From my perspective, finding a concentration of deer sign of any kind is important -it’s another piece of a big puzzle. However, my goal isn’t to find any one piece of a puzzle, then guess what the big picture is. It’s my goal to put enough of the puzzle together to make a highly educated guess as to the composition of the entire picture. When it comes to consistently bow-killing mature rutting whitetail bucks, this is the best that anyone can do.

Once I feel that I have the big picture, I put into perspective the areas of concentrated deer sign that Ive found. concentrated sign is usually found in two places-feeding areas and bedding areas. Such being the case, I refuse to hunt in either location due to the fact that doing so will quickly begin to educate and/or relocate the deer. It is my choice to hunt from a low-impact approach. In other words, I leave the deer alone in their areas of high interaction so they remain at ease and feel free to move about unconcerned. I don’t even like to hunt between doe bedding areas and their feeding areas. Basically, I leave the does entirely alone if possible. As long as I know the general area where the does bed during the day, I’ve got the knowledge that I need. It’s my goal to intercept mature rutting bucks as they move from one doe concentration to another It is a fact that bucks use certain perennial travel corridors to accomplish this task. The real trick comes in locating these travel corridors because, as a general rule, they contain very little deer sign and are often viewed as non-traditional and/or unproductive habitat.

Finding and hunting these big buck travel corridors requires a good mix of savvy, confidence and patience. You must be willing to take a leap of faith and stick to your guns to make this
approach work. It’s been my experience, however, that in the final analysis, the rewards far outweigh any other approach to success on large-antlered whitetails.

GOT SOLID
Mental Confidence is Critical To Success: If you’ve done everything necessary to become a savvy big buck hunter, one of the greatest things you can do to make the moment of truth successful is to be rock solid in your ability to make the shot count. It doesn’t make sense to go through the entire process necessary to bring the deal to fruition, then not be able to consummate it.

For some time after I became fairly proficient at placing myself in the immediate presence of big bucks, I had dismal success at getting them bow-killed. I plainly remember thinking the same thought again and again- I’m not sure I can make a killing shot”-and usually I didn’t. I knew that this had to change-soon.  It seems funny to me now but as I look back on the reality of those times, one thing was apparent: I was so wrapped up in my infatuation with learning everything about the deer and how they moved through their habitat that I totally neglected my archery equipment and shooting competence. As I said, this cost me more than a few big bucks.

After a few years of missing out on some excellent opportunities that I knew should have resulted in dead deer, I faced the facts and decided to make some changes. Outfitting myself with top-end gear, I set about working on my shooting skills. For most of one off-season period, I experimented with different bow, arrow and rest combinations. I played with broadhead and arrow fletching setups. I tested different front-of-center combinations, draw weights and varied draw lengths. I tried different releases and shooting techniques. I practiced “till the cows came home,” and to say that I learned
a lot would be an understatement. By the beginning of autumn I’d refined my equipment setup and shooting form to a new level.

When I took to the woods that year, I felt completely different. No longer would the moment of truth find me second-guessing my abilities. I absolutely knew that I could drive nails with this rig, and I intended to prove it. This newfound confidence in my shooting ability actually translated into a mental peace that had been missing before. Little did I realize just how much this confidence had permeated my subconscious mind and would later express itself in an ability to remain calm, and execute properly, when faced with the adrenaline rush of a big buck encounter.

The following autumn came and went. At the end of the season I’d shot three arrows, at three big bucks, and had cleanly harvested all of them.  Having eliminated a major flaw in my trophy-hunting armor had taken me to an even higher level of success than I’d ever thought possible.

These days, I never go afield without top-end gear and the ability to operate it at such a level.
Currently, my archery gear consists of Mathews bows, Bodoodle rests, a metal pin sight by PSE, Beman shafts, Rocky Mountain broadheads
and a Scott release. <–<<

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Published by archerchick on 21 Feb 2010

HI-SPIRIT Father And Son Adventure – By Ted Nugent

HI-SPIRIT
Father And Son Adventure – By Ted Nugent

May 2005


Here’s some real giant-deer excitement!

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

May 2005

Enormous antlers emerged from the impenetrable scrub bordering Moose Lake deep in the Yukon wilderness. Guttural grunts came forth with every long-legged stride of the dark-brown behemoth, and what we had here was a timeless standoff in the primeval hunting grounds of the majestic North Country, our predator nerves on fire. Twenty-seven-year-old son Toby was facing the beast with his NugeBow at the ready, his old man shaking over his right shoulder, video camera rolling, spirits electrified. Behind me was Keith Mark, owner of the MacMillan River Adventure concession, operating camera number five, and behind him was Master Guide Rod McGrath raising moose hell with grunts and tree-smashing sounds of his own. And on came the beast-step by brutish step, brush thrashing and grunting up a storm, ready to crush the Caucasian foursome who dared tread on his sacred breeding turf. What I was capturing on digital tape was gold!

After a year-long preparation, we were finally enjoying the glory of the mystical Canadian Yukon Territories. The breath-taking wilderness setting way out here on Moose lake was in itself worth the entire logistical endeavor. Keith and Rod have a slice of heaven on earth here in this unspoiled God’s country. With a beautiful log cabin with a generator and motorboats, we were both remote yet cushy in the heart of trophy moose habitat. In fact, more than half the recorded trophy Alaska- Yukon moose entries in the big-game record books come from this MacMillan River concession, and Keith and Rod’s camps produce 100 percent trophy book kills year after year. Truly amazing, but understandable when one witnesses the sheer gargantuan effort put forth by such masterful guides and outfitters. These guys live hunting, moose hunting in particular, and it is impossible to distinguish real moose sounds from the sounds these guys produce themselves. Thrilling stuff.

With bad weather and a giant full moon compromising an already difficult hunt that was to be much too short in duration, we had a few close encounters on our first three days of hunting, but no shots as of yet. Now we had the beast in our face in the proverbial last hour of light on the last day of hunting, and the boys were cocked, locked and ready to rock, doc!

We had spotted this huge bull from a mile away and had circled the big lake to get the wind in our face for our final half-mile stalk.’Walking slowly and cautiously along the shoreline, carefully stepping over slick rocks and ducking noisy vegetation, we heard the telltale huff-grunts of the old bull ahead. Moving at a snail’s pace, we weaseled our way amongst the thick stands of saplings and blow-downs when Keith said, “Here he comes!”

Making his entrance from the heavy spruce thicket 70 yards ahead, the old boy gave us the show of our lives, doing every exciting thing God designed a moose to do as he defiantly strode toward us. As badly as I was shaking, I was surprised to see such a clear and steady video unfolding in my viewfinder. Being as moosified as one can get, I was even more excited that my son was in front of me, experiencing this electrifying dynamo that only a close bowhunting encounter with a territorial moose can deliver. I was in total nerve control mode at this point. And on he came.

At 35 yards, he hung up and terrorized some innocent vegetation, slobbering, grunting and tongue wagging the whole time.With the beast facing us square on, Toby knew there was no shot here. After ample nerve-wracking face-off time, he turned broadside, but of course there was a bent spruce hanging directly over his vitals, negating any arrow shot. ‘We stared down. The giant turned to leave and Rod emitted a perfect, chesty, grunt-huff that stopped the bull. I could now see Toby and the bull in full frame together as Toby began to draw his bow. I slowly zoomed past Toby’s
flexed form to the moose as the dull thud of the release brought his white arrow into frame, chunking square into the bull massive left shoulder just above his outstretched foreleg. The 30-inch zebra-striped arrow was now showing only 10 inches as the bull frantically pivoted to escape the sting. That my video footage remained smooth was nothing short of a miracle, for the hardcore bowhunter that I am wanted to leap maniacally for joy knowing exactly what this ail meant. You can hear a tense whisper from me on film, “He’s had it son! You got him! Perfect!” I was about to implode!

How my camera remained steady as the huge bull trotted 30 yards and fell over dead in a matter of seconds, I will never know. Somehow I maintained the wherewithal to actually slowly pan wide back to Toby as he thrust his bow into the air and exalted,”YEAH! Unbelievable!” Panning slowly to Keith
and Rod, the celebration was well out of control now. We all but danced naked upon the tundra with sheer joy and abandon. The beast is dead-long live the beast!

Just up the knoll a short way before us lay the largest deer in the world, and one of the largest moose you could ever dream of, We filmed a joyous yet solemn recovery and marveled at what we had just been a part of Tobys Renegade NugeBow, set at a very lightweight 50-pound draw, had sent a 100-grain Magnus Stinger four-blade broadhead on a 400- grain Gold Tip carbon arrow clean through the behemoth chest cavity of a monster bull moose from 32 yards. At 50 pounds, he was shooting the lightest bow we have in our archery arsenal, and proved irrefutably the terminal killing efficiency of the lightweight bow and arrow. The bull had traveled but a short 30 or so yards after the hit and had died in mere seconds. It was captured on film as proof positive that anyone can cleanly kill the biggest of North American big game with lightweight tackle. Surely the killer design of the Stingert scalpel sharp cutting edge is a critical ingredient’ but ultimately it was Toby’s dedication to responsible proficiency that put that arrow dead center into the pump station of the mighty beast. That’s how ya do that.

Of course, now the fun begins as the four of us worked diligently to render the beast into family-sized portions of the greatest pure protein God has ever offered mankind. There is something deeply stirring in working on the carcass of any animal killed for food, but a more than 1,500-pound beast such as this bull moose truly humbles one to better appreciate the amazing creation and balance of it all. The animal was ultimately respected by reverently handling the sacred flesh as the precious gift that it is. And the Spirit of the Wild soared on.<–<<

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Published by archerchick on 21 Feb 2010

HIGH ALTITUDE MONARCHS – By Lon Lauber

HIGH ALTITUDE MONARCHS  Story & Photos By Lon Lauber

September 2002

Among the crags of North America’s steepest mountain country are two incredible bowhunting animals

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

I’ve had the good fortune of bowhunting all over the North America and nothing compares to hunting Dall sheep and mountain goats.  Dense alder thickets turn to scarlet tundra, then it gives way to craggy peaks.  Amongst those daunting spires you’ll  ever dream of hunting.

Let’s climb right into the ups and downs of bowhunting Dall sheep and mountain goats.  First, to build a solid foundation as a mountain game bowhunter, you must learn the senses, habits and habitat of sheep and goats.  Here’s a comparison of the two white monarchs of the north.

RATING THEIR SENSES
Dall sheep and mountain goats have excellent vision.  They live in wide-open terrain and rely heavily on detecting movement as their first line of defense. The difference in their vision is what they do once they see a human. In areas where either species is hunted heavily. they’ll turn and climb into the heavens upon the first sight of man.

However. in most sheep and goat habitat, hunting pressure is moderate to minimal. Depending on the individual sheep. they may bolt when you peek your head over a ridge. Or, they may act curious at first. The big difference is goats are almost always phlegmatic (slow to respond,).
So, a billy upon seeing you may just stand up and stare, gauging the potential danger. before sauntering up into cliffs.  Frequently. this will give you enough time to execute a good shot – even though the animal is looking at you!  Sheep are not as likely to stand around.

For example, after a week of scrambling up and down the hog-backed ridges of Alaska’s Kenai Mountains. I finally found a dandy Dall ram. He was nibbling lichens in stair step ridges. This terrain provided the ultimate concealment from his sharp eyes. I circumvented the mountain to get the wind and terrain in my favor. Hours later. I had stalked within spitting distance of this full-curl ram. His head was down feeding and a rock blocked his vision. I thought  l’d made the perfect stalk. But it was so steep; I was standing one foot on top of the other. Maintaining my balance was
tough: shooting an accurate arrow would’ve been impossible. I eased forward to better footing. The ram whipped his head up and looked my way. I Froze. Shortly his head was down feeding again. I was on steadier ground. Unfortunately, the ram must have seen movement with peripheral vision. When I drew in slow motion, he blitzd! In a flash of white hair and golden horns, my perfect stalk vanished.

Two days later, in a similar scenario -except I waited until the ram’s eyes were obscured by his horns-l killed a larger ram. I’m quite certain, in similar circumstances. a mountain goat would have stayed and taken the shot.

Both species have excellent noses. I’ve had sheep and goats head for the hills when a swirling breeze telegraphed my presence. One time, I remember glassing up five full-curl rams in a steep, rocky basin. l spent four hours climbing snow-and-ice-covered cliffs to get above and behind these sheep. When I finally had position, the wind shifted. It was drifting right down the canyon to the rams. It didn’t take long for them to catch a whiff of me and haul butt In a matter of minutes. they raced down the mountain, across a boulder-strewn glacier and up and over the opposing mountain.

In regard to hearing, sheep and goats have rather small ears on their body size (compared to deer, elk and moose). But they can hear sounds just fine. Once again, it’s a matter of how they respond. Realize gravity and the constant freeze/thaw action in their domain creates falling rock on a daily basis. If you tumble an occasional rock its no big deal. The biggest problem you’ll have with sound is a predator’s cadence. If you walk at a steady pace and rocks are sliding constantly. this sound alerts all mountain game. From their perspective, this is the noise of a traveling bear or wolf. If’ you tumble a boulder, just sit tight for a few minutes. I remember unintentionally kicking loose a mist of scree that cascaded down on a billy. He never even blinked. I killed him just a few
minutes later.

HABITS
Each species has similar daily routines. Understanding these routines will improve the odds of success.  Typically, mountain game spend the night in predator-free cliffs. At first light, they’ll rise, stretch a bit and then carefully study their domain.When all is dear, they’ll head for lush vegetation. Most of the time that’s at lower elevation than bedding areas. After feeding for several hours on sedges, grasses or low shrubs, sheep and goats climb back up to a safe ledge and chew their cuds. While ruminating, they may rearrange or change bedding locations. However, unless disturbed, they’ll be in the same general area for several hours. By mid afternoon, the white ones head for food again. By dark, they are in the safe confines of treacherous terrain. This outlines undisturbed mountain game behavior. However, hunting-pressured animals may stay in the cliffs for days without coming out.

Mountain critters live mostly in the alpine. Regardless, both species occasionally feed in alder and
evergreen thickets in the lower reaches of their vertical domains. Don’t overlook these areas when glassing habitat that seems void of game.

One time when hunting white rams in the Chugach Mountains, I had glassed the upper reaches of a mountainside. After glassing the cliffs, I glanced at the lower ledges. These were spotted with alders. Surprisingly, I found an old, black-horned ram feeding in alders next to a cliff. I had lots
of steep terrain to obscure my approach. Hours later, after a hair-raising cliff climb, I was precariously standing on a ledge just 20 yards above this old Pope & Young-class ram.
When he stuffed his snout into the alders for another bite, I quietly stepped to the cliff’s edge and zipped an arrow through his lungs. This is one occasion when glassing the lower, brush-choked canyons paid off

HABITAT
Dall sheep can be found in a variety of terrain, anything from rotten vertical cliffs to steep-sided mountains with relatively flat tops. I’ve even Found sheep in almost flat country.  However, escape terrain is always nearby. Goats on the other hand are generally on or very near cliffs all the time. In many regions both species live above steep,  thick  , brush-choked basins that require the ultimate in physical stamina. Busting up though Devil’s Club and alders only to break our into even steeper alpine will test your mettle.

The lateral moraine of glaciers is a good place to look for mountain game. These rugged corridors where the glacier has receded contains the youngest, most tender plant life in the area. One easy way to find productive habitat for sheep and goats is to apply for lottery drawing hunts. That way, the game department dictates the hunting area. This narrows down the research necessary to pinpoint productive habitat.  When studying maps, locate basins or stream drainages with several side canyons so you have alternative hunting areas. If you spook the only white monarch out of
a box canyon, all your effort is wasted. Learning to interpret topographical maps is paramount too. I recall planning out a hunting route by studying a map. After two days of climbing. I learned circumventing this particular mountain was impossible without tactical climbing gear.

HUNTING TACTICS
Most of the time sheep and goats will be easy to locate. Yellowish-white game on dark rocks is like looking for popcorn on a black carpet. Getting to them is the challenging part! It’s difficult because they live in open alpine where they can see for miles (except where steepness blocks their vision).
Especially glass into the dark shadows and every nook and cranny you can find. Frequently, you’ll catch just a glimpse of white hair or horn jutting our near a promontory.

Basically, there are two tactics for sheep and goat hunting. The most productive is spot and stalk. The second method is patterning undisturbed game. I’ve seen sheep and goat use the same general travel route in consecutive days but they don’t pattern like whitetails. Either way, you must eventually stalk to kill a mountain animal. Here are my preferences for getting within bow range of sheep and goats.

For sheep, I like to glass ’em up at long range with binos and size up trophy potential with a spotting scope. I’ll watch them for hours or even days if necessary before making a stalk. What I’m waiting for is the sheep to move into vision-blocking terrain that provides the best chance of getting within bow range. If that happens when they are grazing. fine. If a Dall ram beds in a stalkable area, I’ll go after him there. Regardless. I’m most concerned with concealing terrain. lf I start out on a stalk and realize it won’t come to fruition because it’s too open or the wind is iffy, I carefully abort the stalk. If you spook a ram, he’s likely to head for the next mountain range or spend a few days in rope-rappelling cliffs until he’s forced to greener pastures.

For goats, it’s a similar concept just more physically demanding. Sooner or later a billy will saunter into somewhat humanly traversable terrain.  When that occurs, get above and approach from his blind side. This is the chink in the otherwise impenetrable survival armor of a mountain goat. They are so confident they can out-climb predators; they rarely flee immediately-even if you’re within bow range. This is especially true if goats are on or near cliffs when they spot you. Furthermore, this arrogant climbing attitude-almost always prevents goats from looking up. ‘ Thus, if you can get above a mountain billy without being detected, you stand a good chance of killing him.

A few years ago I used this tactic to kill my biggest billy. He and two comrades were bedded on a small tundra-covered ledge just yards above 1,000 feet of vertical cliffs. From nearly a mile away, I mapped out the safest and most concealing stalking route. When I was about 400 yards away, I set up my spotting scope and determined which of the three billies had the largest horns. From there I crawled on hands and knees, utilizing a crossing breeze. I was in plain sight of all three goats for most of that last quarter mile. The billies never looked up or behind. At2 5 yards, just beyond a mogul, I could see the goat’s head and hefty shoulders. After several minutes of standing in view, the goat noticed my presence. Instantly, his hair bristled and he stood up and stared.
Looking dumbfounded he calculated what danger I posed. I’m certain no animal had ever
approached him from above and behind. His hesitance cost him his life.

SHOT PLACEMENT
On the grand scheme of things, picking a spot and killing a Dall sheep is very straightforward. Textbook shot placement, a third of the way up from the brisket and in the crease behind the
front shoulder, is perfect. Generally, sheep are not very tenacious. Any internal body hit should put them down. I know one guy who killed a big Dall ram by a broadhead cut to the “wrist” area just above the hoof. I’m not advocating sloppy shooting, I’m just saying that if you do make a marginal hit, do not give up.

Goats are tough as titanium nails! They have thick coats to insulate them
from their icy environs. Plus, billies have dense muscle and stout bone
structure.  Additionally -. they have a die-hard mentality. Understand a
goat’s vitals are more underneath his massive cliff climbing front shoulders
than behind it
.
For example. one teeth-chattering September evening, my partner shot a huge billy right behind the front shoulder and one-third the way up from the brisket. I was watching through binos and thought it was textbook shot placement. When the goat was still alive and standing in a vertical chute at dark, I was astounded. We recovered the billy from the bowels of that cavernous canyon the next morning. An autopsy showed the broadhead had clipped the back of one lung and completely impaled the liver. This shot placement on a sheep would have taken out both lungs.

However, with goats, I’d advise shooting tight to the shoulder or even better, take slight quartering-away shots.  This will undoubtedly angle the arrow into the vitals. Furthermore, will you be able to
physically recover the downed animal.  There is little sense in shooting a white monarch only to have it freefall over a 500-foot cliff with no human access.

One goat I shot tumbled several hundred yards down a rock ledge and slide area. Gravity eventually sent him to the glacier’s edge. It took about an hour to safely climb down and recover him. After killing one ram, he tumbled off a 200-foot ledge. Upon impact, he literally exploded. Forty-five minutes of cliff descending were needed to reach him. Hopefully these illustrations will alert anxious bowhunters to carefully approach mountain game hunting.

Sheep and goat hunting are financially, physically and mentally taxing.
However, if you ever get the chance to quit dreaming and actually hunt the white monarchs of the north, go for it. Both species are excellent table fare and unique trophies. Combined with
their awesome habitat it’ll be a breathtaking experience to say the least. <–<<

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Published by archerchick on 21 Feb 2010

NEWFOUNDLAND COMBO – By Joe Bell

NEWFOUNDLAND COMBO  – By Joe Bell
September 2002

Down to the wire best describes this bowhunting adventure for moose and caribou

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

With eight days of walking across inhospitable landscape.  Dean MacDonald and I were just about worn clean.  Besides that, it was 9:30 in the morning and the bush plane would arrive at 3:30 to take us back to civilization.  We were still an hour and a half walk from the lake’s edge where our boat was docked, and then we’d have another half-hour gliding the lake.  There simply wasn’t enough time to think about moose.

“We might as well start back,” remarked my trusty guide and good friend.

As we marched up a steep embankment, overlooking a wide basin we had glassed earlier with our binoculars, Dean turned and peered once again across the massive piece of mountain tundra,.  Essentially it was a giant land sponge dotted with trees and shrubs, water puddles and streams.  With a light snow falling overhead, the country looked dreamlike.  It was one of the most beautiful vantage points to look upon.

Seconds later, as Dean studied the landscape with his 10-power glasses, a blurry fleck caught his eye.  A tweak on the binoculars focusing dial turned doubt into positive affirmation.  “Moose!” There was not only one moose, but an entire group of about a dozen, including two nice bulls.

Simultaneously we glanced at our watches and stared each other in the eyes. My Casio wristwatch read 10:10.   “If we’re going to go, we better do it fast,” I enthusiastically announced.  “The pilot could always wait.”

Without hesitation, we double checked the wind and began our jog across the mile or so of bog.   I’ve hunted a few places where the spot-and-stalk bowhunting is on par with Newfoundland.  The country is plenty open, with just the right amount of cover and jagged topography to make it a stalker’s paradise.  Big game is plentiful too, which includes Canadian moose, woodland caribou and black bear.

Though moose are abundant in Newfoundland’s mountain country, they can be tough to stalk.  The moose usually hug tight to the dense spruce woods, making them difficult to approach.  During the pre-rut, however bulls can be called in close enough to give you goose bumps.

Black bear sightings aren’t all that common but I’ve seen enough to warrant a tag riding in my pocket.  Tags by the way are only $100 so it’s a no-brainer.

Really it is the woodland caribou that provide incredible stalking appeal.  In the past three seasons I have arrowed three nice woodland stags with Dean.  Every one was gorgeous big-bodied caribou with unique compact-size antlers.

But what makes woodland stags more attractive to the hunter is that they are more of a “roaming” caribou than one that migrates in masses.  Essentially, they behave like a meandering mule deer.  Woodlands are also hunted during the cool months of September and October where you’ll experience no threat from bugs.  You can’t say this for other caribou hunting.

On the first and second days of my 2001 moose and caribou combo hunt, Dean and I covered nearly 15 miles looking for an outsized woodland stag.  I was hoping for a giant stag, something that would well exceed my largest woodland that net scores 251 2/8 Pope & Young points. I simply love to hunt these critters, and trophy hunting them makes it all that much more fun.

During this intense hiking and glassing, we saw a good number of animals.  I counted six moose (two small bulls), one black bear, and nearly six dozen caribou.  Most of the moose and the bear were out of striking distance, but I had plenty of chances at caribou.  The largest stag we spotted wore nice antlers with immense double shoved points but lacked crucial heavy top points.  I simply knew the area held larger trophies.  Besides, it was only our second day on the tundra.

A unique stag was the author's first ever archery woodland caribou. Bell shot the animal after it approached within 10 yards, then turned and ran. It eventually stopped for a 35-yard shot.

But good times don’t always last this far north.  Constant weather changes simply occur, and by the next day high wind, fog and freezing rain plummeted the region, making sitting in one place and glassing tough enough, let alone trying to glass through the dense fog.  The animals didn’t seem to like the cold and wetness anymore than we did.  There was the occasional stag here and there, but we didn’t see anything eye grabbing.

The next day Dean and I came up with a hunting plan and headed for a far-off honey hole
destined to hold some super stags. It was a good 7-mile hike just to get there, 7 miles to get back and of course plenty of foot time in between stalks.  How’s that for foot hunting? Caribou may not be the wariest animals on earth but they demand physical ability

With us hunkered against a huge piece of granite, shielding ourselves fi:om the pelting wind and rain, Dean and I would step from the rock from time to time to glass what we could of the huge bogs surrounding us.

Constantly wiping our binocular lenses clean and attempting to see something other than solid white was becoming annoying.   Plus we knew the clock was ticking. Though my goal was not to shoot a big Canadian moose. I did want a bull on this trip. And time was running thin. We had three and a half days left to get a moose.

I’ve hunted with Dean for long enough to know he was thinking what I was’ “We better go after the first decent stag we see” I declared. “Don’t you think?” I said already knowing his response.

An hour or so later the fog rose just enough so we could catch a glimpse of a small herd of caribou. “There’s a stag  in that group.  He’s not a huge stag, but he’s not bad”‘ muttered Dean as the wind belted our sides.

We followed the caribou until they rounded a small hill, then I made my move.  I raced across the open at a hunkered jog.  Just reaching the hill, I spotted the tops of antlers including a mob of ear tips that belonged to the harem of cows accompanying the stag.  I dropped to my chest and slithered forward.  Dress in Gore-Tex rain gear, top to bottom, I was staying dry until the nearly frozen bog water seeped in from my sleeve cups and waistline.  With no cover at all I was nearly in the open. I would move only when the caribou bowed their heads.

As I kept slithering along, I came to a section of tanglefoot spruce – a heavy scrub bush responsible for more ripped clothing and twisted ankles in all of Newfoundland.  Trying to snake my way through these natural clinging vines with my hip quiver on was death.  I removed the quiver and laid it on my bow and pushed it ahead foot by foot.  This awkward traveling, along with the frozen water now tainting my body had me screaming for mercy.

An hour later, I had crept to 50 yards of the now bedded stag.  I slowly removed an arrow from the quiver, cleaned what brush and bog grass that I could from it and snapped it onto the bows string.
I warmed my  hands, “ranged” the distance with my Bushnell rangefinder, and slipped forward on bent knees.  As I did so, one of the cows picked me out.  I quickly and smoothly hit full draw.  The stag stood confused by the herd’s spookiness, and turned sharply quartering away.  I waited and waited, knowing the angle was wrong.

Eventually, he took one step to his left and I sent the Beman Metal Matrix shaft on its way. The arrow covered the 45 yards in a blink, hitting the caribou perfect along the last rib to angle forward into the chest. The stag bailed downward. I ran a few steps to catch a glimpse of what appeared to be a perfectly hit animal.

To my amazement the arrow. had skidded off  the animal’s ribs, shaving a line of hair from the last rib to the armpit, then embedded into the shoulder blade . I was dumbfounded.

I quickly made a half circle, got in front of the moving herd and eventually got a long shot opportunity to down the stag. From what we could figure. it must have been the sharp angle
(causing the arrow to fly tail left) and a faulty prototype broadhead that I was trying that caused the arrow to glance off the rib bone. He was a nice, mature caribou -a trophy for sure.

Over the next couple of days Dean and I did what we could to get a crack at a moose. We scoured the landscape with binoculars from prominent hilltops, took up position and called, still-hunted woodlots and even did a couple of drives. We had seen 11 moose up to this point, but only
one cow that walked within bow range.

So it came down to the last day. The last hour. The last minutes.

In that moment as Dean and I hop-scotched across the big bog, with puffs puffs of snow sheeting the sky, I had forgotten all about the clock. I was on a stalk of a lifetime!  Possibly it would end with my first archery moose.

Though Dean and I travel across rough country well together, our cadence on this particular stalk surprised me.  It seemed in only a few minutes’ time we were there . I could hear the moose.  By the sound of it, two bulls were issuing low grunts as they embraced in a minor sparring match.They were in the perfect place to ambush too – a deep sparsely wooded gully bordered by a small bog.

As we neared the gully’s edge, Dean fingered for me to move in front.  I peeked over the lip of the edge, saw a carpet of brown hair and antlers, and took a step back.  I drew my bow and crept slowly forward.  The 30-yard pin was just about to touch the bull’s chest when he darted away.  I swung until the bull stopped on a huge mound.  I quickly guessed the distance, aimed and shot.

The arrow flickered in slow motion as it arched above the bull’s lower chest.  It arrived high, square in the spine. The crunch of metal hitting bone was followed by an immediate collapse.  The earth seemed to shatter as I ran down the slope and issued a finishing arrow.  My first archery moose was stunning.  His 30-inch spread and nine points glimmered in the wet Newfoundland grass.  It was something I just couldn’t believe.  So good, so fast <—<<

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Published by archerchick on 20 Feb 2010

Two Is A Charm – by Kathy Butt

Two Is A Charm -By Kathy Butt
Those serious about tagging and archery bull will be sure to take a partner along

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

Any hunter who has experienced an up-close-and-personal encounter with a screaming, slobbering, pissing-all-over-himself bull elk will have a vivid memory of that encounter etched forever in their heart and soul.

There’s no doubt about it.  It’s quite addictive.  And it’s encounters such as the one I just described, that I look forward to each elk season with great anticipation.  In fact, I experienced one of those up-close encounters just this past fall.

It was during the second week of the New Mexico archery elk season when my husband, Foster, and I moved in tight to work a very vocal bull in the dark timber early one morning.  After making a mad dash up the wet and slippery mountainside, we caught a glimpse of the bull as he ran from one ridge to another.  And although this bull was extremely vocal, he was

playing hard to get. Actually, it after closing the distance for the third time that I finally was in th right position and ready for the shot as the bull came charging down the ridge ahead.

Foster had backed up behind me 125 to 150 yards and his realistic and urgent cow calling sequence was working like a charm.  The bull just couldn’t stand it any longer and came racing down the ridge ahead.  I drew my bow as he threw his head back and charged down the game trail into the open meadow 25 yards away.  He stopped broadside and looked in my direction, but it was too later.  I was sighted in, my top pin positioned low and behind his front shoulder.  I touched the trigger of my release and watched as the white fletchings of my arrow disappeared into the bull’s chest.

The 6×6 bolted up the ridge to my right and I bugled just as he reached the edge of the dark timber.  This was hopefully to confuse the bull, so he wouldn’t travel far before going down, but also to signal Foster that I’d shot the bull.  I was experiencing and absolute whirlwind of emotion, my knees were shaking uncontrollably, and I was trying to gain my composure as Foster carefully and quietly worked his way back to me.  Just as Foster arrived, we heard the bull crash in the timber.  The bull was down.  We faintly heard the bull taking his last laboring breaths, and tears were sliding down my cheeks as my hunting partner smiled at me and gave me a victorious thumbs up!

Thirty minutes later, Foster and I cautiously approached the bull. I couldn’t help but think of how other successful encounters such as this one confirmed what we’d known for many years-that teaming up with a hunter partner tremendously increases a hunter’s shooting opportunities.

There’s no question, teaming up with a hunting buddy and taking turns calling backup for each other can greatly increase your odds of calling bulls into shooting range, rather than you just calling solo. It doesn’t have anything to do with the vocal rate of today’s elk, for I believe elk are just as vocal now as when my husband and I first began hunting them back in the 1980s. But, I do believe that calling elk into bow range has become increasingly difficult, or let’s say perhaps more of a challenge now than when hunters first incorporated bugling and cow-calling tactics into their hunting strategies.

My husband and I have been running a private-land elk hunting operation in northern New Mexico since the mid-1980s and have discovered through our own personal experiences, as hunters and guides, that hunting with a partner, and having them call behind you as much as 50 to 150 yards, will increase your shooting opportunities by almost 100 percent.

The 6×6 bull mentioned in the beginning of this article is not the first bull my husband has called into archery range for me. Another prime example of how productive tag-team hunting can be is the day I called in a 5×5 bull for one of our guided hunters during the third week of the New Mexico archery season. This incident occurred just last fall. I was guiding a first-time elk hunter, Lance Rider, a good friend of ours from Tennessee, when we located a bull that seemed to be real excited. He was quite vocal and we didn’t hear or see any cows. Having worked a bull in this same area the day before, one that had a small harem of cows with him-particularly one very bossy lead cow that yanked the bull’s chain and convinced him to follow her in the other direction-I felt we should slip in as close as possible before making a sound. I explained to Lance that I was going to back up and call in hopes of pulling the screaming bull upwind of him.  I then told Lance to move in as tight on the bull as he felt he could without being detected. Then I told him to keep his eyes open and be ready for a shot.

This bull was ripe for the picking and our strategies worked like a charm. Lance was able to slip through the timber undetected, moving quickly and carefully while weaving his way through the shadows of the dark timber.  He hadn’t gone far before the 5×5 came charging in and was looking for the cows that seemed to be moving in the other direction. Lance was drawn and ready when the bull stopped 12 yards away to bugle. I was positioned almost 100 yards slightly to the right of Lance’s setup and couldn’t see a darned thing, but when the bull bugled that last time, I knew he had to be right on top of Lance.  Almost immediately I caught a glimpse of the bull running through the timber and heard him stumble less than75 yards from where I stood. Oh, what I would give to have seen the look on Lance’s face when that bull stopped and bugled right in front him!

Setting Up for Success
Using the proper setup is the key to not only calling a bull into range for the shooter, but is also crucial for calling a bull upwind and broadside of the shooter, which is what you want. And always check the wind before ever moving in to set up on a bugling bull and position the designated shooter in front of, not behind, a large tree or bush. Standing behind something, as well as shooting from a kneeling position, somewhat limits your shooting opportunities.

The caller should back away from the shooter’s setup a few yards, angle slightly to one side (upwind of the shooter) and then call. Move another 25 to 50 yards and call again, making noise as you move away. Elk make a lot of noise when moving through timber, so kick rocks, step on branches, do anything that will further convince a bull there are other elk in the area.

The shooter should keep a mouth diaphragm in his mouth in order to stop a bull for the shot.

Suggested Calling Strategies
Your elk-calling strategies will vary throughout the season and here’s what I ve found to work best during the various stages of the elk rut. Bulls aren’t very vocal during early September, so I’d suggest bugling only to locate a bull and then switch to using only soft cow mews. As the season
progresses and the first cows start coming into estrous, then use a bugle more, but still mostly to locate a bull. Even when we use a bugle call, my husband and I prefer to tone it down and sound like a young bull.

As the rut commences we then switch to using whinny, aggressive-type cow calls, calls which create a sense of urgency or pleading. And what we’ve found to be especially effective is to use two different types (brands) of these calls, making it appear as if there are two or more cows begging for company. This technique works especially well toward the end of the archery season. when the bulls are screaming non-stop. There are many styles available, including open-reed (mouth calls) and hand-operated mechanical-type calls, and most manufacturers offer instructional audio cassettes to teach the proper techniques for using them.

This demanding, whinny-type call may sometimes even entice the bull’s harem right into your lap.
No, it doesn’t always work, but on numerous occasions I’ve been able to get the cows all worked up. They come in to investigate the source of the call and the bull comes following close behind. The key to using this type of call is attaining the right pitch and the sense of urgency with which you apply it. I will also warn you that we’ve had black bears come to this call as well. In fact, we’ve had bears run in behind a bull on two separate occasions. So, be aware of that possibility.

As for bugling, we all enjoy sounding like the biggest, baddest bull of the woods, but throughout our years of guiding elk hunters, we’ve found it best to use bugles sparingly, mostly to locate bulls. There are occasions when a bull seems to respond well to bugles, and when it’s then, we keep the volume down and the bugle short. You’re more likely to call in a bull that doesn’t feel as though he’s going to get his butt kicked by a bigger bull, so keep your bugle weak and short.

If you plan on heading west rhis September to hunt elk, consider buddying-up for bulls. You’ll be amazed at how this tag-team hunting will tremendously increase your shooting opportunities. <—<<

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Published by archerchick on 20 Feb 2010

Staying On The Trail – By Randy Templeton

Staying on the Trail – By Randy Templeton

Here are some well practiced blood-trailing tips to help you on our next deer recovery

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I’ve tracked down a good number of whitetails of my own and taken part in trailing numerous others for friends and fellow hunters over the years. The greatest majority of those animals were recovered, but for the few that weren’t it seems that the shooters had one thing in common: They couldn’t remember much detail after taking the shot. I truly believe the root cause for the temporary amnesia was more likely brought on by the sudden surge of adrenaline after releasing the string.

Prior to the sound of the bowstring dissipating and the first few seconds thereafter are often the most crucial moments in time that will assist you in effectively recovering an animal.

Rather than clutter these pages with information of little interest or value, lets look at some fundamental steps that I as well as others use to track down wounded deer!

CAPTURE THE MOMENT
I can’t express enough how important it is to identify where the arrow entered the animal. Also important to etch in your mind is the exact shot angle, the deer’s reaction and the line of sight in which the deer ran. The terrain looks much differently from your treestand than it does at ground level. So, it’s to your advantage to pick out a landmark such as a tree, bush, fence post or rock formation that will help guide the way to that specific spot.

After the deer have vanished from site, continue listening for familiar sounds like thrashing of leaves, sticks cracking or possibly a crashing noise that would indicate the deer went down.

ON THE TRAIL
After taking up the numerous blood trails I’ve come to understand that fatally wounded deer, like healthy deer, follow the path of least resistance

For example, it’s rare a wounded deer will travel up steep ridge inclines or cross deep ravines. such a deer is more likely to travel downhill until reaching flatter ground or cross in a saddle between ridges.

Wounded deer typically head for the security cover of their bedding area. Therefore, try to locate the trails on flat ground or those with downward trends that lead to areas of thick cover. Don’t walk on the blood trail itself but rather off to one side, otherwise you could destroy or cover up critical sign.

When you’re down to finding speckles of blood, it’s a good idea to hang surveyor’s tape or toilet paper in brush or limbs to mark the trail. With any luck at all you’ll pick up new sign that will lead to your deer.

NEVER GIVE UP
There’s no such ting as giving up when it comes to trailing a wounded animal. It’s time to dig down deep and put forth 110 percent all the way!

Even when the trail appears to have dried up, it’s your duty as a hunter to exhaust all your knowledge and resources. I say this because all too often I’ve been on a blood trail when a single piece of evidence surfaced that turned a seemingly doomed situation completely around. This was such the case for me this past season.

It was mid-November and the rut was underway. The stand hovered over the intersection of three pieces of property where several trails snaked through a coulee bottom and converged toward a damaged section of barbed-wire fence. It was the ultimate funnel, and every deer in the neighborhood seemed to be crossing there. Shortly after slipping into the stand that morning a pink

glow on the eastern horizon announced another perfect day to be in the deer woods. Maybe. a half-hour later a mature doe meandered across the grass field. A deep grunt and a flicker of antlers in the sunlight drew my attention toward a buck standing in a patch of multi-flora rose briars near the creek. The doe continued toward the fence, drawing the buck into the open. It was a nice eight-point and a shooter by my standards.

As good luck would have it she crossed the fence and the rut-crazed buck followed. At 25 yards I drew my Fred Bear bow. When he stepped into the clearing I let the string slip free, sending a Muzzy,tipped arrow toward the target. The shot looked good, but the buck barely flinched as the arrow blew through both sides and stuck in the ground 5 yards beyond. The deer looked somewhat

stunned at first, but eventually turned and walked away. Watching through my binoculars, the buck stood near a fence at 100 or more yards away and appeared to contemplate crossing. He then turned and walked along the fence to a section that  had been busted down by a fallen tree and soon disappeared. Mentally marking the spot, I sat back and waited another 45 minutes before climbing down.

Inspecting the arrow, the dark burgundy-colored blood indicated the broadhead had passed through the liver. Unless my eyes had totally deceived me, there was no way the arrow hadn’t taken out a lung too!

Following the blood to the fence crossing wasn’t a problem, but shortly thereafter I lost it when the deer trail forked three ways. Searching each trail, I failed to turn up one shred of evidence that would point me in the right direction. Considering the circumstances, I felt it was best to give the buck more time and return a few hours later with help. My brother, Tracy, and I were back on the scene by noon. After another hour of fruitless effort, we decided to try a grid search. Walking 20 yards apart we swept one small section at a time until the entire creek bottom had been covered. A hillside laced with multi-flora rose briars divided by another fence was the only thick cover left to search.

Searching the fence line. I found a faint deer trail leading to a sagging top strand of barbed wire. Much to my surprise, a tuft of white belly hair in the fence drew my attention toward faint blood on

a weed on the opposite side. Not more than 50 yards from that, I spotted the buck buried beneath

the briars! The liver/lung-shot deer had obviously doubled back and died less than 100 yards from where he was shot.

A heavy, bright red trail such as the one on the left indicates a major artery was severed. on the right Before taking up the blood trail, examine the arrow first and determine the type of hit and the severity. The animal may require more time and pushing too soon could result in disaster

THE NULL ZONE?
There’s been a lot of talk over the years, concerning whether or not a null or void zone truly exists

under the spine. Perhaps you’ve been told by another hunter or read somewhere about someone who shot a deer in the upper back and then saw the deer a month or more later apparently doing fine. I’d venture to say that in most instances the wound was superficial, whereas the broadhead didn’t sever the primary artery running along the spine or it didn’t penetrate the sealed portion of the chest cavity. I don’t believe there is such a thing as the null zone, but I do believe an animal is capable of surviving minor injuries to a vital organ.

SINGLE LUNG SHOTS
The previous statement begs an answer to a frequently asked question regarding whether or not a deer can survive with only one lung. My answer to this is yes! I say this because I have witnessed it more than once.

For example, many years ago during the gun season my friend Danny had just shot his first buck. While field dressing the deer, Danny found one shriveled lung and the other with a fresh 12-gauge slug hole through it. It was obvious the “one-lunger” had been shot the year before and survived to see another season.

Therefore, if you suspect you have only clipped one lung, I might suggest continuing to push the animal, especially if the arrow is still in the chest cavity. Chances are the broadhead will continue working around, doing further organ or artery damage in the process and improve your odds of recovery.

High-Lung Shots
A sharp broadhead center-punched through both lungs will have a good blood trail to follow and the animal generally goes down within 100 yards or so. However, as with a liver-shot deer, a high-lung shot can create similar problems for tracking. The animal doesn’t bleed much out of the gate and the majority of the bleeding takes place internally. Therefore, the lower chest cavity normally fills up first before it starts pumping out the top. Similar to priming an old water well, it takes a few pumps to fill the lower well shaft before water starts flowing out the spout.

My good friend and hunting buddy Craig Owens experienced the same scenario this past whitetail season. He shot a deer that was quartering away slightly to start with, but at the sound of the string twang, it lunged downward and turned at the same time. The three-blade Thunderhead broadhead entered the chest high, sending the buck racing to parts unknown, leaving virtually no trail to follow. It took a few hours of searching on his hands and knees, plus a grid search, to find the double-lung-shot deer that expired 150 yards from the hit sight.

Therefore, don’t assume the worst just because you didn’t find blood right away. Continue to follow up!

Shoulder Shots
I’d venture to say shoulder shots have one of the worst recovery rates, but also one of the highest survival rates. This is likely due to a whitetail’s amazing clotting capability especially when a vital organ or major artery isn’t involved. Similar to what you might learn in a first-aid course with regard to applying pressure to a deep cut, when a deer lies down on a wound the applied pressure helps seal it off. On more than one occasion I’ve seen shoulder-shot deer leap from their beds and flee without spilling any blood. Even worse is the fact that they wont bleed much (if at all) for quite some distance and it’s easy to lose the trail all together!

Although some may disagree, I truly believe a suspect shoulder shot warrants immediate follow-up to keep the wound open.’With any luck at all the broadhead will worm its way around and do further damage in the process and improve the odds of recovery.

Paunch Shots
Depending on whom you speak with, some claim a paunch shot is a non-lethal hit. Call it what you want, but there’s no doubt in my mind that a belly-shot deer is a dead deer!

Unfortunately, the biggest mistake hunters make is letting their eagerness to take up pursuit override all common sense. The old stand-by. rule of waiting a half-hour before tracking was never meant to apply to a gut shot.

It’s fairly easy to identify a paunch shot if you have the arrow to inspect. Typical to this type of hit, you’ll normally find green or brown stomach matter mixed with bright red blood on the arrow If unsure, give it the nose test. The stuff generally reeks with a foul-and-sour-smelling odor.

Depending on the exit wound the arrow and broadhead may be coated with a greasy fat or tallow, which is typical if it passes through the intestines and exits the belly.

In cases where the arrow wasn’t found, watch the deer as it walks away. If the deer is walking with it’s head down or hunching up with tail tucked between its legs, it’s a fair indicator of a paunch shot.

The minute,you identify this type of hit, mark the last sign and slip quietly out of the area all together. You have nothing to gain and everything to lose by pursuing the deer. Provided they’re not pushed, a gut-shot deer will generally bed down within 150 yards from where they’re shot On a

couple of occasions I’ve found a deer the following day that was still alive. Because of this, I always wait a minimum of 12 hours before taking up the trail!

It would be great if there were a dead animal at the end of every blood trail. Unfortunately, in real life it doesn’t always end that way. If an animal falls within eyesight, then obviously the task of tracking is a no-brainer For those that don’t, however, take a calm approach to avoid missing the small details that could point you in the right direction. Be persistent, and above all, never say never when it comes to recovering your game. <—<<

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Published by archerchick on 20 Feb 2010

Keeping the Challenge – by Sam Hossler

Keeping the Challenge – By Sam Hossler

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No, not that one. We’ll get you a bigger one,” the guide was whispering in David Erich’s ear. Dave relayed the hushed conversation to me later that evening. I was sitting in a blind about 75 yards away watching events unfold in the forest at Paradise Ranch in Centre County, Pennsylvania.
It was the hunt of a lifetime for two Pennsylvania disabled hunters. and the whitetail buck Dave was told not to shoot would have been a real trophy on just about anybody’s wall.  In fact, I had the camera trained on the animal just knowing at any second the crossbow bolt would slice through the evening air at more than 300 feet per second and nail the biggest whitetail I had ever seen in the wild.

And I knew Dave could do it; I had watched him practice that afternoon with his crossbow. At 40 yards he grouped his bolts in a 2-inch circle every time.

You may think that’s not much of a feat but consider this: Dave is  paralyzed from the waist down plus in part of his torso which gives him no use of his fingers and very limited use of his arms. His wheelchair, which he must hunt from, is motorized and offers the left to right movement in lining up his bow. To gain or lower elevation his dad, Butch, a machinist, built a hydraulic cylinder into the bar that holds the bow (this is operated by two buttons that Dave can activate by hitting them with his hand). The crossbow is securely clamped into the bar that is attached to the cylinder and the trigger has been elongated so his hand can release the bolt by moving his whole arm slowly back.

According to Butch, each wheelchair is different and the mechanism musr be customized for each. This was a new chair for Dave, and Butch redesigned and rebuilt the shooting platform just before archery season this year. To his credit over the years, Dave has taken two does and a five-point buck with his crossbow up until this hunt. He said he went spring gobbler hunting once but all he saw was a gray squirrel.

Erich has hunted since he was in his teens in 1979, and the desire never left him, even after suffering a near fatal automobile crash while in the military. The accident left him paralyzed but he never gave up hope of hunting again. In 1992 he was well enough to try and with the help of his father found that even with his disability he still enjoyed the outdoors.

The other hunter, Gordon Sisler, was from south central Pennsylvania and had been disabled from birth.  Gordon has been a rifle hunter up until now and bought his crossbow when he heard he was picked for this hunt at Paradise Ranch. His bow is mounted on a cross bar by Velcro with no method of raising or lowering it. The release is triggered by a string he holds in his teeth and sets off by pulling his lips together. In practice his shots were somewhat off, due to his bow not held tight to the mount. However, Pat Strawser, his guide, felt his accuracy was plenty good enough for close,range shooting at deer. With two weeks of crossbow experience he was taking a dream hunt of a lifetime for whitetail.

Paradise Ranch is tucked back in the mountains of central Pennsylvania, just north of State College. Almost 1,000 acres of prime whitetail habitat is enhanced with extensive wildlife management. Only 4 years old, the ranch has already gained the reputation of producing trophy-size bucks and unparalleled comfort in the lodge for its guests. Trophy bucks were brought in
supplement the herd and the gene pool. Not only did they look for good genetic factors with the
bucks but with the does as well. Selective harvesting and a good gene pool have given them a magnificent herd.

Ernie Kramer, who heads up the United Bow Hunters of Pennsylvania disabled program, explained that they arranged a hunt in Alabama for 1999. It turned out both Erich and Sisler had been at the top of the list to go, however, Alabama doesn’t allow non-residents to use a crossbow, disabled or not, a disappointment all around. He then contacted Donny Beaver at
Paradise Ranch to see what a hunt of this type would cost. Beaver quickly donated two hunts for these disabled hunters. Kramer said the hunters were selected because they were wheelchair bound and used crossbows. Both Erich and Sisler fit the criteria.

Kramer has a database of 77 Pennsylvania disabled hunters and is looking to expand that. By receiving these hunts as donations the United Bowhunters of Pennsylvania were able to take the money that would have been spent and send donations to Hunt of A Lifetime, Physically Challenged Bowhunters of America and Buckmasters Disabled Services.

Kramer said, “I can’t thank Donny Beaver enough for his generosity” I arrived at the lodge just as lunch was being served by two lovely ladies who catered to your every wish. Then we went out to have some practice with the crossbows.

Along about 4 o’clock that afternoon, the two wheelchair accessible vans were loaded with hunters, helpers and equipment.  I rode with the guide. Uncle Phil Scheryer who would take Erich to his blind.

On the way I spotted a spike buck slinking away through the underbrush, and as we rounded a curve there were two bucks, a doe and a yearling at the edge of the woods.  One was a nice eight and the other a dandy six-point.  They definitely weren’t shooters at Paradise.

We pulled into a wide spot on the trail with the van right behind us.  A blind of fallen logs and branches was at the edge of the woods looking out over the trail and an open grassy area on the other side.  Maneuvering the wheelchair in position, branches had to be cleared away to give Dave a clear view.

Later I watched from the distance as deer began walking near Dave’s blind.  at one moment, two good bucks came out.  Unfortunately, neither gave Dave a shot.

The following morning, Dave got his chance and sent a well-placed bolt through a big buck.  The deer went less than 50 yards and dropped.  Gordon also had a shooter buck come within range that evening and made a good shot.  It was a great trophy for a first-time bowhunter.  No hunt could have had a happier ending <—<<

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Published by archerchick on 20 Feb 2010

Interview with the ELK EXPERT – By Bow & Arrow Hunting Staff

Interview With The Elk Expert  By B&AH Staff
If you’re looking for elk hunting wisdom, bowhunter Dan Evans of Plains, Montana has a lot to offer.

NOTE: With 16 record-book bull elk to his credit, Dan Evans – designer and owner of the famous Trophy Taker Drop-Away rest – is considered one of this nation’s most successful elk bowhunters, Even more impressive is that Dan killed his first archery bull in 1992, and most if not all of Dan’s big elk have come from public-land areas.  Given Dan’s success, we took the opportunity to survey his knowledge.  We asked Dan a variety of specific questions that should help you become an elk expert yourself.
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Bow & Arrow Hunting: Looking at your success at bowhunting elk, you’ve obviously done very well, especially at harvesting trophy-class animals. If you had to summarize your formula in how you approach hunting big elk, what would it be? Where should an average bowhunter start?

Evans: First off. you have to hunt where there are big bulls. To find good elk areas, surf the Internet, read magazines, talk to biologists and game wardens and even join a club like Garth Carter’s Hunter Services to keep up to date on the hot areas. Once you’ve found a good area to hunt,
spend as much time as you can there, Learning the terrain and the animals. There is no substitute for time. With enough time, sooner or later you’ll get your opportunity.

Second, once you’ve found a bull to go after, you must do what’s necessary to get within bow range of this animal. This means making the right calls when needed and staying mobile to ambush or tail a bull. You just have to improvise in each situation on what to do, but you must be ultra cautious by constantly monitoring the wind, mimicking sounds like a real elk would make, and simply being as stealthy as possible.

And last, but certainly not least, you should be fully confident in making the shot once it’s presented. I know too many guys that hunt smart but when it comes down to the shot, they blow it. Do what you can to work the bugs out of your equipment and mental shooting ability.
Remember that it really only takes about a minute to set up on a bull and make a killing shot. Make it count!

B&HA: How do you go about accessing trophy-rich elk areas?
Do you day-hunt away from the truck, or do you pack in
using your two legs, horses, ATV etc.?

Evans: I do it all. I day-hunt close to the truck or a four-wheeler and even
spike out every now and then. You have to remember that you don’t have
to be way in the backcountry to kill elk. In fact, I’ve shot every one of my
bulls within 5 miles of a vehicle. I really think a lot of hunters fail to hunt the
‘buffer zone’ which I classify as the areas 1 to 5 miles away from roads.
This is because most do-it-yourself hunters hunt about a mile or so lion
their trucks, and when going with outfitters, hunt areas well beyond 5 Miles
from the nearest road, This leaves a lot of non-hunted areas in between.

B&AH: Would you recommend hiring an outfitter if you’re limited on time or have little experience hunting elk?

Evans: Yes, time spent in the field is the key to taking big elk. If you don’t
have the time, then you should hire someone who does.

B&AH: What hunting technique do you prefer to employ when hunting
elk-calling, taking a stand, or spot and stalk? Also, do you often hunt alone
or with a buddy? If alone, are you still able to call effectively?

Evans: I use all of them. I’ve killed a lot of my elk by calling, a few by
taking a stand and by spot and stalk. I hunt almost exclusively alone. It’s
more difficult to call alone, but I make it work, plus I like the sense of
accomplishment I get from killing an elk all by myself. Really you shouldn’t
limit yourself to one hunting method.

B&AH: In preparing for an elk hunt, what would you suggest to our readers
on how to properly prepare? Is physical fitness all that important?

Evans: Being in good shape is definitely important. But, and this is a big but, being smart and patient is more important. You have to have mental stamina too. This is very important.
Honestly it comes down to being in the right place at the right time, and you need the right
mindset (mental toughness) to get you there. Remember – it only takes a couple of minutes to be successful on a two-week hunt, so don’t give up!

B&AH: Do you think bugling works well on today’s hard-hunted, call-shy elk?  If so, do you use a bugle just as a locator call?

Evans: My theory on calling is simple. If you can convince an elk you’re in fact an elk, it’ll work. If not, it won’t. You must call well enough to not leave any doubts in an elks mind that you’re artificial. I’ve been pretty successful at this by imitating the bull’s bugle and tone. But this only works when
I’ve done everything else right like getting close enough to entice a fight. I’ve found in most cases, big elk will move away from you almost always, so I continue to follow the bull until I can eventually get him turned. I like to close the gap to about 40 yards or so. This way the bull only has to turn back 20 yards before he’s in range. You have remember-hunting big bulls and small bulls are two entirely different things. A big bull is careful even if you sound like a real elk.

B&AH: Most serious elk hunters admit that cow calls when used properly can lure in even the most pressured elk. Do you agree? Also, when you use a cow call, how do you use it and can you recommend your favorite models?

Evans: Producing the right cow sounds at the right time will coax in a big bull, but it has ro be perfect. Otherwise, even a cow call wont do it. Elk have to believe it’s real. I highly recommend a smooth-sounding diaphragm call in conjunction with a raspy blow-through call. I have used
several different diaphragms by Larry D. Jones, Primos and Barry Game Calls; blow-through calls by Primos, Sceery, Carlton and Woodswise; and I use bugles by Prirnos and Barry Game Calls. My advice is to master the diaphragm call. When a bull comes in, you’ll need to stop him, and
you’ll need a mouth diaphragm to do this.

B&AH: What about calf sounds or other alternate methods, such as raking a tree, kicking a few rocks, or other common sounds elk often make when challenged by another bull?

Evans: When calling, I don’t try to be silent. In thick country, like where I hunt a lot in northern Idaho, the key is to make any sound an elk would make. I even sometimes pull grass out from the ground to imitate an elk grazing. Be noisy, just don’t do anything that doesn’t sound natural.

B&AH: Have you tried decoys?

Evans: I’ve tried decoys a few times, but so far I haven’t been real impressed. I do like the designs by Montana Decoy and plan on putting them to use this fall. If you use a decoy, make sure you can set it up easy and that it’s quiet.

B&AH: What would you consider the biggest mistakes most bowhunters make when hunting elk?

Evans: One, not watching the wind enough. Two, making too many non-elk-like calls. Three, expecting a bull to come to them. Four, not being in the right places at daylight and dark. And five, not being prepared to take the shot when it arrives.  When hunting mountainous country where elk
reside, you have to remember that the wind is constantly
changing-so keep an eye on it, always. Also, don’t make an elk sound (calling or tree-raking noise) if it doesn’t fit with the situation you’re in. And never expect a bull to come to you. Instead, move, and make something happen. Moreover, I can’t state how important it is to be in the woods at prime time-meaning at your specific ambush spot (wallow, saddle, meadow etc.) at light and just before dark. Most hunters time their hunt so they leave the truck or camp at light and arrive back at
dark. If being in the dark scares you, you’ll have to overcome it. And last, be sure you and your bow setup are ready to perform when needed. Do whatever you can to expose yourself to high-pressure situations by shooting in front of friends, competing in 3-D tournaments, and so on.

B&AH: What about shooting equipment? Do 4ou think light arrows and mechanical broadheads dispatch big elk cleanly? Or do you recommend medium- to heavy-weight arrows and conventional broadheads?

Evans: The bottom line is to hit what you’re aiming at, so, shoot the heaviest bow you can handle comfortably in  awkward shooting positions, like from your knees and butt. Regarding mechanical broadheads, I’ve killed five bulls with mechanical-type heads, but I’ve gone back to fixed-blade heads. I don’t like two-blades, and to get the penetration needed with a mechanical you should shoot a two-blade or a three-blade model with a small cutting diameter. Besides, I’ve had mechanicals deflect on impact and not always leave an entry hole. This is another reason why I’ve
designed the Trophy Taker rest. It allows you to shoot great groups using fixed-blade heads. In arrows, I recommend medium- to heavy-weight shafts.

B&AH: What does your personal hunting setup consist of?

Evans: I shoot a Martin Scepter IIXRG with Fury Cams, somewhere between 75 and 80 pounds of peak weight.  This bow is a great long-draw bow that’s 43 inches long with an 8 inch brace height. It shoots Easton 460-grain ACC 3/7l arrows, using a 725-grain head, at 285 fps. I use 360 Flex Fletch vanes with a strong helical, Winner’s Choice custom bowstrings made of BCY’s 452 material, and a tied-on string loop. I also use a bow quiver, Sims Vibration Labs products, my Trophy Taker rest and a prototype Trophy Taker pin sight (available next year). I prefer the Carter Lock Jaw 2000
release (open head) because I can adjust the trigger for zero travel. For most bowhunters, I recommend keeping arrow speed under 275 fps with fixed-blade heads. I can shoot a touch faster, but I constantly tinker with my equipment for perfect arrow flight.

B&AH: It’s obvious you believe in your Trophy Taker drop-away rest.  Do you think it has added to your success as well? If so , in what ways?

Evans: I’ve been using the rest for six years, and I’ve never had a failure. What I like best about this rest is that its simple, it tunes easy, allows for great arrow flight with any style fletching and nock twist, and its quiet-on the draw and after the shot. I designed it to have no “problem points,” like small screws, exposed springs and plastic construction. Plastic works for a lot of things, but I don’t want it on my arrow rest.

When it comes down to it, Dan attributes most of his success to spending plenty of time in the field. He'll hunt no less than seven to 10 days. This way he's assured he'll eventually get the right opportunity

B&AH: When preparing for an upcoming elk hunt, what does your shooting practice consist of?

Evans: I like to keep all of my arrows in a 6-inch circle on elk-size animals. So I do
what is necessary to shoot this accurately. I shoot in 3-Ds, shoot small game constantly
and I practice in my backyard from all different shooting positions. I also always sight my
bow in to my rangefinder. And I shoot broadheads as much as possible. This is absolutely critical.

B&AH: Taking into consideration all the elk you’ve bagged over the years, what would you consider an average shot distance using archery tackle?

Evans: Of the 17 bulls I shot with my bow, my average shot distance comes out to 34 yards. But I wouldn’t get hung up on averages. You should become as proficient at the furthest shooting distance possible. But remember, you must be 100-percent confident in making the shot before
you draw your bow. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t take the shot. I’m very proud of the fact that I’ve only taken shots I know I could make. Since taking my first elk in 1992, I’ve shot 18 bulls and recovered 17. And I’ve never missed a shot. If you prepare correctly and are careful, this kind of record is within every bowhunter’s reach. <—-<<

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