Archive for the 'Bowhunting' Category

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Published by archerchick on 20 Feb 2010

Keeping the Challenge – by Sam Hossler

Keeping the Challenge – By Sam Hossler

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

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.
http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

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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Published by archerchick on 19 Feb 2010

MAKE FLU-FLU ARROWS EASILY – By Carroll Holl

MAKE FLU-FLU ARROWS EASILY -by Carroll Holl
June 1977

Carroll Holl has been published in several outdoor magazines, belongs to the Colorado Bowhunters Associations, and is a Bowhunter member of the NFAA

When Game Takes To Trees Or Air, Flu-Flu Arrows Are A Necessity.  Here’s How To Make Them With A Minimum Of Effort And Equipment

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

June 1977

MATERIALS NEEDED

  • Whole Turkey Feathers (one for each arrow)
  • Nail Clippers
  • Small Electrical Clips (with teeth filed into a concave surface)
  • Fine Tooth Comb
  • Shaft Material
  • Fletching Cement (use cement normally used on shaft material of your choice)

WHEN BIG-GAME seasons close, many bowhunters hang up their sticks for another year.  This is unfortunate since one must use the bow regularly to become really proficient with it.  The big-game seasons themselves do not provide us with  an overabundance of practice at all.  Even punching a stationary target does not make us skillful with the bow – but it does develop aiming and release techniques that are definitely valuable to the hunter.  In order to become skilled one must develop these techniques in conjunction with in-the-field situations such as moving targets and spur of the moment decisions.

Opportunities to develop these skills exist throughout the year in the form of small-game hunting and novelty shooting in the form of Aeriel targets requires a special arrow – the flu-flu.  Standard fletched arrows can be used on game that is on the ground, but when that game takes to the trees or the air, flu-flu arrows are, for the sake of safety and saved time in pursuing wayward arrows a necessity.

Flu-flu arrows are of various designs but all have a common function.  The fletching is oversize so the range of the arrow will be curtailed after the initial thrust out to thirty or forty yards.  Maximum range of a flu-flu would fall in the sixty to seventy yard range.  Compared to a standard hunting arrow which has a range out to two hundred yards, the advantages of shooting a flu-flu arrow for aerial shooting can easily be appreciated.

The simplest and, I believe, most economical flu-flu can be constructed as opposed to multiple feathers for the other styles, Interested?  Read on.  The following will eliminate the mysteries of making flu-flu arrows.

At right is the finished flu-flu; on the left, a variation

The first step is to procure suitable feathers since the ground-base feathers used in standard fletching aren’t satisfactory. The logical place to obtain whole feathers is, of all places, a turkey ranch. When the birds are loaded out in the Fall they lose some of the pointer quills which we use for fletching. Last Fall my son and I gathered a grocery sackful in a very short time. We had no problem getting permission; in fact, the manager even went out and showed us the most likely places to find the feathers we were seeking. If a turkey ranch is not available, the better archery shops should be able to supply them or direct you to a supplier.

The reason for acquiring whole feathers is so the feather can be stripped from the quill leaving a thin
skinlike base rather than the thick bulky base of ground-base -.feathers. This thin base allows for ease of wrapping, neatness, and durability since there is no bulky base to catch on targets, etc.

To strip the feather grasp the quill in one hand and, with the other, bull the feather in a steady, sharp angle towards the base of the quill. Always begin at the tip of the feather pulling downward toward the base of the quill. The tip is the easiest end to start the stripping process and, as the stripped portion gets longer, the base gets wider – lessening the possibility of breakage during the process. With a sufficient supply stripped, cut them all to a uniform length and, with nail clippers, cut approximately one-eighth inch of feather from each end leaving the thin, skinlike base
extending beyond the feather.

Before proceeding any further, assemble all of the necessary equipment and supplies so everything will be ready when you need it. Equipment for this process is minimal, which places this type of arrow making within the grasp of everyone. In addition to the nail clippers mentioned earlier,
you’ll need several small electrical clips from which the teeth have been filed into a concave surface, a fine-tooth comb for separating the vanes and your shaft material. Use the same fletching cement you would normally use for the type of shaft material being used.

First of all, make a dry run by wrapping the feather around the shaft without cement and, using the comb, separate the vanes. Once the cement has been applied to the feather it
becomes a messy project if the vanes don’t separate during the wrapping process. Proper feather placement is of primary importance. Always place the end of the feather that came from the heavy end of.the quill near the nock with the cupped or shiny side towards the nock. If this sounds confusing, turn the feather over, base up, and you’ll notice that one end of the base is much wider than the other. It is this wide end that is placed nearest the nock. Using one of the electrical clips,
clip the feather to the shaft about one-half inch from the nock and, holding the tip of the feather in one hand, rotate the shaft allowing about one-fourth to three-eighths of an inch between spirals. When the end of the feather is reached slip the second clamp over the tip of the base and the
shaft, and comb the vanes apart.

Having completed the dry run, apply the fletching cement and follow the same procedure. After the cement has set firmly remove the clamps and apply a dab of cement at each end of the fletching to lessen the possibility of unwrapping. Recomb the feather to separate the vanes and the arrow is
complete.

A variation of this style utilizes a regular fletched arow with a short length of feather wrapped around the shaft between the fletching and the nock. The length of feather to be used will vary depending on the diameter of the shaft. An approximately 2-3 18- inch feather will fit the space on an 11/32-inch shaft. Because of the limited space involved, I find that contact cement works best for this style.

This variation will not slow the arrow as much as the full wraparound,but it does restrain it enough for some types of aerial shooting *here open space exists and the location of the arrow is not difficult to spot. This is the route to go if you have no flu-flus on hand and need some quickly. The
wraparound can be easily removed later to return the arrow to its original status.

There are a lot of possibilities for flu-flu shooting – waterfowl over decoys, upland birds, squirrels or just plain fun shooting at targets thrown into the air. A little imagination – a lot of fun.<–<<

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Published by archerchick on 19 Feb 2010

Moose Madness – By W.A. Hughes

Moose Madness  by W.A. Hughes February 1977

W.A. Hughes is a part-time writer and a teacher in Chehalis, Washington
The Bloopering Bowhunter Finally Gets His Moose, Then Argues With A Grizzly For The Horns And Head!

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

February 1977

YOU MAY NOT believe this, but I’m one of those highly educated individuals with a long string of initials behind my name.  Each day I meet with troubled folks -many with serious problems – listen and offer advice.  Once out of the office, like Jekyll and Hyde, I undergo an almost schizophrenic change of personality.  No longer the suave, educated counselor, I return to being myself – a guy to whom funny things, weird things, unusual things happen as a matter of daily occurrence.

To be quite frank, I do a lot of dumb things, Things that would drive even the most macho individual right to the psychiatric crib.  But W.A. Hughes is accustomed to unfortunate incidents – he thrives on them.  Perhaps in some masochistic way even enjoys them.  My wife describes me as an accident looking for a place to happen.  Perhaps she’s right.

My Alaskan moose hunt was a typical example of the things I do.  My partner Ken Calluso and I drove practically nonstop to Alaska in his pickup truck.  It was a trip I’ll never forget.  You know Alaska has three seasons: dust and mosquitoes, damn cold, then rain and mud.  Well, we drove up during the dust and mosquito season, hunted during the damn cold and drove out during the rain and mud.  But it was super fun, and I’d go back tomorrow if I could talk someone into it.  You see I’m slowly running out of hunting partners.  I guess they just can’t take it, or else my deodorant just isn’t doing the job.

We drove three nights and four days to get up north, through a sea of grey-brown dust, flying gravel, flat tires, busted fuel pumps, cracked windshields and a few other minor inconveniences.

My left arm was covered with tiny white blisters where I got sunburned hanging my arm out the window.  I had bags under my eyes the size of a No. 10 can of peas, and my entire body was covered with little red bumps where AlCan mosquitoes and other tiny creatures fed off me when I went swimming or washed up in an isolated Yukon River.
My entire body looked like something I once saw in a Marine Corps training film of guys that had been indiscreet.

When we arrived at our destination on the Denali Highway in Central Alaska I felt as if someone had beat me with a club, but now was no time to slow down.  Calluso and I unloaded the Trail 90s from the pickup.

Calluso and I broke fast with a delicious meal of a Baby Ruth and a Snickers bar and took off on the bikes.  Now those bikes just scare the hell out of me.  I don’t know why I even ride one because every time I do, I have to replace all the skin on my knees and invariably end up picking little chunks of gravel out of my hands.  It might be that I just can’t control my emotions.

This time was no different, I know better –I don’t know why I do these things — but after the bike warmed up a minute I cranked the throttle full open like some care free kid.  The front wheel reared up in a wheelie and I rolled off the back over my pack and dropped all 256 pounds of my weight on a rather pyramid-shaped piece of quartz sprinkled with shiny pyrite.  Oh, the pain!

Calluso displayed his usual sardonic sympathy:  “Will you knock off the horseplay, Hughes?  Let’s scout this place out.”  That’s not really what he said, but this being a family magazine I wouldn’t want to embarrass the editors by printing a factual account of what my retired Marine partner really said.  Or what my reply actually was, for that matter.

Not to be put off by the aching part of my anatomy that later showed a bruise the size of a milk bucket, I picked up the bike only to discover that my kick starter was broken off – gone completely.  I searched but couldn’t find it.  No doubt it was kicked off into the brush by the tire.

For the rest of the trip I did encounter some difficulty starting the machine.  Fortunately there was a nub there to push and sometimes I’d just run along and kick the bike into gear.  Just another minor inconvenience that I’ve grown accustomed to

Five miles down the trail we entered a spruce forest in a beautiful park-like setting.  The ground was getting a little boggy.  As we turned a sharp bend in the trail, a pool of water about twenty yards across the hardpacked path.  Calluso braked his bike to a stop.
“Shall we walk them through?” he asked.
“Let’s hit it, Calluso.” I goosed the bike and hit the pond at about twenty miles per hour.  Well I mean to tell you, I goofed.  Although I could see the bottom of the pool and it was only about 6 inches deep, the bottom was mud-soft peat.

Halfway across, the back wheels spun out kicking up a comet of mud and water.  I eased back on the throttle and put my foot out to balance the bike.  Almost in slow motion, my foot sank ankle deep, then deeper.  The bike slowly tipped further and further until it fell over on me.

It was a beautifully sunny day, but that water was cold.  I squirmed out from under the bike and walked it to shore.  Calluso just walked alongside his bike and gave it a touch of throttle. No problems.  When he climbed back on his bike and rode down the trail he smiled, then he laughed until the tears rolled down his cheeks.  Lord was I cold, but I hung in there.

We rode fifteen to twenty miles back on the trail.  The country was beautiful.  Puffy white clouds dotted a pale blue sky.  Gentle rolling hills, covered with mattress-thick layer of moss and red-leaved wild cranberries, stretched out to the horizon.  Blue-green lakes speckled the tundra.  Spruce forests covered the valley floor.  A river, loaded with grayling and rainbow trout snaked its way across a lush green valley.

“Wow,” Calluso said  “The whole trip is worth the view.”
I sat on the soft tundra, my back braced against a six-foot spruce tree. “I can’t believe it,”  I hissed.  “Take a look down there.”  I handed Calluso the Bushnell lens and pointed to the far side of the valley.

Where the creek widened out to form a pool, two gigantic bull moose grazed along the edge of the pond, belly deep in water.  One was chewing the tender roots of a lily pad.  A small herd of seven caribou grazed on the side of the hill.

“This is it, Hughes,” said Calluso.  “Let’s go back a mile or two and set up camp, I don’t want to disturb this place.”

Early the next morning, which was August 20 and the opening of the moose season, we dressed full camouflage, hiked back to the top of the hill and glassed over the valley.  Almost immediately we spotted a brown speck on the valley floor.
“Put your glasses on him,” Calluso ordered.
“He’s a big one, Calluso.”  Was I excited.  My heart was thumping like a jackhammer, the muscles in the back of my neck were wire-fence tight.  I could swear a cannonball was lodged somewhere between my craw and stomach.  Even the little bones in my knees were doing the Watusi.

We talked it over for a few minutes and planned our stalk.  Calluso would follow the trail to the pool’s edge and try for a shot.  I would get above and behind the moose, but I never made it.

Halfway down the hill a bull with a fifty-inch spread of horns jumped out of its bed in a head-high stand of willow.  I didn’t have time to think about what action to take.  I drew, anchored the twenty-eight-inch glass shaft on my chin and released.

The razorhead sunk into the moose’s side nearly to the feathers just behind the front shoulder.  I snapped another arrow out of the bow quiver and missed a running shot about fourteen feet.

Now I was excited.  My hands shook so bad I had trouble getting another shaft out of the quiver and on the bow. “Settle down, Hughes,” I kept saying to myself.  “Wait it out.”  Well, I couldn’t take my own  good advice.  I took off through the brush like a D-12 cat.

When I’m in top shape I can run  about one hundred yards without risking a coronary, and that’s about how far I ran.  There was my moose –standing in the middle of the trail, head down, facing me.  I put the brakes on fast, set up and took a shot.  The arrow hit a horn and went straight up.  I whipped another razorhead out of the quiver, but didn’t need to pull.  The bull went down. “Whooopeeeee!”  I cut loose with a rebel yell that would have sent chills up the back of U.S. Grant.

Like a big dummy I ran over to the moose and guess what? He got up, staggered about two steps and went down again, right on top of me.  I couldn’t budge.

What do you do in a situation like this?  I lay as quiet as a church mouse and when the moose made a last valiant effort to get up, I rolled free.

“Hughes, where are you?” Calluso yelled. “I need a hand.”
“Over here Calluso.” I grabbed a tall birch sapling and shook it.  In a minute Calluso came into sight.  When he saw my trophy he turned all smiles and shook my hand.
“He’s a dandy,” he admitted. “Almost as big as mine.”

Well gang, the fun was over.  It took tow days to quarter the meat and hang it up.  We hauled it out of the brush a piece at a time on the back of the Hondas – but my luck held.

On the last trip for the head, horns and the ribs on one side.  I had a terrible shock.  It was all gone.  You didn’t have to be a mountain man to see what happened.  We found bear tracks in the soft mud down the trail.

I wasn’t about to give up that easy.  That set of horns meant a lot to me.  Fortunately the grizzly wasn’t difficult to locate.  That evening we saw a big mama bear with two cubs and the moose head.  From a long way off, we started hollering, yelling and waving our arms in the air.  Calluso blew the horns on his bike and we must have just scared the devil out of those bears as they took off fast.

Calluso and I rode the bikes down the hill as far as we could, grabbed that head and took off in the opposite direction.  Three hours later we were  at the Alaska Game Department check in station on the Denali.

When I explained to the biologist what happened he looked at us like we belonged in the puzzle house.  “You mean you shot this moose with a bow and arrow and then ran down the hill and took the head away from a grizzly?”  He handed back our license and turned to his paper work.

Why argue? Nobody believes the things that happen to W.A.Hughes <—-<<

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Published by osnapchuckie on 18 Feb 2010

Hoyt USA Vantage Bow Set $475

This is a complete set, Tuned and Ready to go.
Hoyt Vantage Ultra sport model bow: Draw weight 50-70lbs, i believe its 80% let off. 27-30 Inch Draw. Cam and a 1/2 setup. New strings, kept waxed.
Simple target rest, Limb Savers, silencers, stabilizer, True glo quick adjust target site, Quick release quiver.
With Full set of carbon hunting and target arrows and hard case.
Bow is tuned and shows it. Bow is priced at  $600 for the bow alone…

Price is $475.00

Please email me at: osnapchuckie@hotmail.com

Located in Port Huron, MI 48060

Hoyt USA Vantage Bow Set

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Published by archerchick on 17 Feb 2010

The Spring King – By Randy Templeton

The Spring King by Randy Templeton
April 2006
When bowhunting springs longbeards, use these tips to help boost the odds in your favor
April 2006

After gathering up my gear I made my way up the ridge in the pre-dawn blackness.  Once at the top, I placed a half-strutting tom and hen decoy near the field’s edge. then quietly sneaked into the timber and parked my rump against an ancient burr oak before first light, a low-volume owl hoot initiated a response from a roosted tom not more than 100 yards away.

As the sun began to light up the eastern horizon, I spotted several birds in a big cottonwood tree along the creek behind me. I hunted the general area two seasons before, so I had a good idea where the turkeys would go when they pitched dawn from their roost. My ambush was near the edge of a green strip where three gobblers had been strutting their stuff quite frequently. A couple of soft yelps lit up the woods with a string of gobbles, one right after another.  The best I could tell, there were at least three toms. maybe more.

After a few more purrs, clucks and yelps, I heard the turkeys fly down from their roost. Not long after, the gobblers came strutting along in the field. When they reached the crest ans saw the decoys, they picked up the pace and started running with their beards-a-swinging. As the lead gobbler (and biggest) spread his fan and danced his best jig in front of the decoy, I settled the sight pin and released the string. The Thunderhead zipped through the vitals, sending the hefty tom leaping into the air. When he hit the ground I ran to his rescue. He had a 10 3/4-inch beard, 1 2/-inch spurs and weighed 24 pounds. It was my second mature bird that spring.

Those who have bowhunted turkeys already know how tough it is to kill one of the spring kings, but you also know that it’s gratifying and a challenge well worth exploring. Let’s review a few basic tactics that could help you tag a longbeard with your bow.

A tom’s droppings are typically elongated and often shaped like the letter “J”

LEARN THE LANGUAGE
Of all the turkeys I’ve killed, I’ve yet to take any two under the exact same conditions or using the same tactics. In other words, there isn’t any set of rules or script to follow for killing a gobbler. Some days a turkey might respond to soft yelps and purrs. Other times they may come running at the first sight of a decoy, and other times they won’t.

The same goes for calls –not all are created equal. Some days it might be a box and other times a diaphragm or slate that strikes the fancy of an ol’ tom. Even the best turkey hunters have been made to look like a fool at some point in time by a wily old gobbler. It only takes on bad call to take you out of the game, so you should master more than one call and carry three or four. When the moment of truth arrives, you’ll need both hands free for shooting. If a turkey hangs up or you need him to take one last step, there won’t be time to use a slate or a box. With that in mind a diaphragm call is one you’ll want to practice using.

On a hunt in Nebraska with Cabela's this past spring, Mike Capps of Howard communications killed this beautiful Merriam with a Cabela's F3 broadhead

One of the first things that I learned about turkey hunting was that continuous calling got me in trouble almost every time. I would venture to say more birds have been killed that came to investigate soft calls than those that would shatter your eardrum. Through the school of hard knocks, I learned that it’s always better to start out using calls sparingly as opposed to bellowing out loud, excited repetitions. Remember, if you take the bird’s “temperature” using light intermittent calls and he doesn’t get fired up or cut the distance, you can always increase the volume and pick up the pace.

TAG TEAM CALLING
Anytime you’re able to draw attention away from yourself, the better the chances are of fooling an “old sultan” of the woods. Despite their differences in size, elk and turkey hunting are similar in many ways. One of my favorite elk tactics is tag-team calling with a friend, and it works very well on turkeys, too! For this strategy, one person is the designated shooter and the other is the caller.

With that in mind, the first thing on the agenda is to decide who’s shooting and who’s calling. To keep it fair, I usually flip a coin. Second on the agenda is to anticipate the direction in which the tom will come from. Third, find a tree or bush to set up behind that will conceal your movements when drawing. The caller sets up and calls from 10 or 20 yards behind or off to one side of the shooter. When the unsuspecting turkey struts into range, wait until he gives you a broadside shot or turns facing away to take the shot.

GET IN THE ZONE
Like the tom in the beginning, I knew where he had been strutting and made sure I was there when the sun came up that morning. The gobbler had been using a green strip of grass along a cornfield that hadn’t been tilled to strut his stuff. In fact, I’d seen him there twice the week before.

If time allows, it’s always a good idea to do some pre-season scouting. By scouting I don’t mean going out to your favorite spot and try calling a turkey up. In fact, calling before the season opens is probably one of the worst things you can do. The only thing you stand to gain from it is educating the birds before opening day. Like any other game, the element of surprise is your biggest ally.

Similar to deer, turkeys have certain locations where they hold up before feeding. They also use certain terrain features for entering feeding and roosting spots. Take for example, a point that extends from an oak-ridge flat. The point might also serve as a crossover to another roosting location or feeding area. Many of these terrain features are natural funnels that turkeys use going from feeding to roosting spots. When scouting, follow the outside edges of the timbered areas and look for tracks, droppings and dusting sites. If there’s a creek bottom with big cottonwood trees or perhaps an oak ridge with mature trees, look around beneath them for sign like droppings and feathers that would confirm turkeys are roosting above.

Because patterns can change quickly due to breeding activity or hunting pressure, the week or so before opening day spend the first and last two hours glassing to determine what’s coming out and when to the spot where you found fresh sign. Although strutting areas are typically found in open areas like ridge tops, field edges and logging roads, unless you’ve actually seen the turkeys strutting they’re pretty tough to locate. When scouting, look for sign such as tracks that appear to go both directions, droppings and wing-drag marks in soft powdery soil around field edges, dirt roads and such.

All too often, the toms that were henned up first thing in the morning start looking for other breeding hens around midday. In many cases, the toms leave the hens and head for their strutting zones. It’s for that reason you might spend time glassing during the late morning and early afternoon to locate strutting areas. If you find an honest to goodness strut zone, get there before the turkeys do and set up.

Although a single decoy will enhance a setup, multiple decoys can further increase your chances

SETTING UP
If you’re using a blind, get it set up (or build one) before opening day. If you know where to the turkeys are roosting, slip in under the cover of darkness and get within 100 yards or so and set up. If you’re hunting from the ground, then pick out a tree big enough to hide behind and conceal your movements. Be sure to clear all the leaves and debris away from the tree base. When you sit down, remember to position yourself in such a way that you can draw and shoot in the same direction the bird is expected to come from with minimal movement. For example, face your bow -grip shoulder toward the turkey’s approach route or decoy spread. In doing so, you’ll have a wider range to wing and shoot without needing to adjust. Set out one or two decoys to enhance the setup. From your scouting you already know where the turkey is going, so there’s no need to call very much, perhaps every 20 or 30 minutes is plenty.

PREPARING FOR THE SHOT
One of the toughest parts of bowhunting turkeys is getting drawn and shooting without getting picked off first. More often than not, the proper decoy setup can significantly improve your chances of beating the turkey’s keen sense of eyesight. When most toms approach, I’ve learned that they like to make eye contact, regardless of whether it’s another tom or a hen. Because of that, I found it’s better to face a decoy towards me or sideways rather than facing away. As a tom comes in to investigate he’ll eventually turn his read end in my direction, allowing me to draw and shoot.

Chances are, any shot you get won’t be from the standing position. So, long before the season practice drawing and shooting from the sitting and kneeling positions.

PATIENCE
Older birds that have survived a few seasons are usually hunter-wise and harder to kill. Although you’ll often need to be persistent when hunting wily birds, you’ll also need to show some patience, too.

I remember a time a few seasons back I’d been hunting an old tom for several days and anything that could go wrong, went wrong. I couldn’t sneak within range nor could I call him away from his hens, no matter how hard I tried.

Much to my surprise, one morning, the boss gobbler answered my calls with some real enthusiasm. Minutes later he flew down from the roost and landed just out of range from the decoy spread of two hens and a half-strutting  jake named “Bubba.” I refrained from calling too much and it wasn’t long before he strutted into range, spitting and drumming all the way. It was one time where a combination of patience and persistence paid off.

Bowhunting the spring king might be tough, but the rewards are well worth the efforts. Sound scouting and hunting strategies are the keys that unlock the door to success <—<<

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Published by archerchick on 16 Feb 2010

GLASSING PROS – By Joe Bell

GLASSING PROS –By Joe Bell
April 2006
Consider these effective tips and techniques for spotting game out west
April 2006

The outcome was quite typical. There I was with my handheld 10-power glass while my elbows were braced against my knees, intently scoping out the surroundings, while my good buddy Ron was using his 15×56 Swarovski binocular mounted atop an ultra-sturdy Bogen tripod. I was coming up dry while Ron, who was pretty comfortable leaning against his Jeep, was identifying bucks all over the rugged, desert hillside. It became apparently obvious that I was using a poor glassing system, which was certainly limiting my chances of spotting and stalking a buck that day.

No matter what you hunt, to be most effective you must tailor your equipment to the type of hunting you’ll be doing. Out west, first and foremost this means employing clear, high-power optics and various glassing techniques that will enable you to spot game so the hunt can begin.

Personally, I don’t know anyone more gifted at spotting game in wide-open western country thatn some of the hardcore bowhunters and guides who live and do most of their hunting in the Southwest.

Here’s how many of these hunters approach glassing in such country. And due to their success on tough-to-bag critters, such as trophy mule deer, elk, desert bighorn sheet and Coues deer, I know you’ll want to begin employing their tricks and tactics.

Glassing Speed: Good or Bad?
As an outfitter in the Southwest, Chad Smith has one of the best reputations I know of. One of the reasons why he’s so successful with clients is due to his experience and savvy at spotting game amid the vast desert terrain. He’s done it for most of his life -20-plus years – so this guy knows his stuff.

When I quizzed Chad about his glassing techniques he kind of stunned me with some of his advice. It’s not what many so-called experts have been telling us over the years.

“I use 10-power binoculars 90 percent of the time, even in the most expansive country,” Chad told me. “I’m more effective this way, since I can look over a lot of terrain, and in a short amount of time.”

Also, Chad doesn’t use a set pattern when glassing hillsides. He glasses those areas that appear best for holding game and then he moves out to the secondary locations. “I consider myself the world’s fastest glasser,” said Chad. “Some guys set up and just stare at terrain, virtually picking it apart. Personally, I think this technique limits your ability to cover a lot of terrain. That’s why I don’t glass this way. It sounds romantic to say you glassed up a leg, antler or ear of a deer, but nearly most of the time you’re glassing the whole deer,” said Chad, who obviously believes glassing speed can make the difference in success or failure. Of course, this goes against what many say, and that is to pick apart terrain slowly, not sweep past it. But Chad’s technique is well-honed, and what many would consider a “sweep” is a fast but well-orchestrated view of the surroundings.

Chad also routinely mounts his favorite 10×42 binocular (either a Leica or Zeiss) to a Gitzo 1228 LVL tripod that is equipped with a 3130 Bogen fluid head, doing a lot of long-range glassing this way. When at a high vantage point and he has already looked over the area with this 10-power glass, only will he then employ a big binocular to scour the terrain. For the past 10 years he’s used a Doctor 30×80 binocular for such work, which is no longer available. However, at this time, he’s working with the Outdoorsman in Phoenix (800/291-8065; www.outdoorsmans.com), on a prototype binocular that will offer 20-45 magnification with 55mm objective lenses, which he feels will be the ultimate long-range glassing tool.

According to Chad, one of the biggest mistakes he sees novice hunters make is failing to look over a valley or basin with the naked eye first before sitting down to intently glass. Sometimes game can be below you within 100 yards or so, and not a mile away. If you don’t scan terrain first, you could spook or limit our chances of the essence, particularly during the early seasons when the window of time when deer are on the move and more visible is 1 1/2 hours or less.

One big misconception out there is always glassing with the sun at your back. You have to learn to glass with the sun in your face. This allows you to look over terrain that is more shaded and more accommodating for animals to bed and feed in. Also, when it’s hot, says Chad, it’s a good idea to glass the shade all day long because that’s where you’ll find the animals.

Beyond knowing how to glass, you must know when to start your stalk as well. “If a buck isn’t in the right place for a stalk, you’ve got to wait,” said Chad. “We’ve sat on deer from daylight till dark waiting for the right moment to strike. And even then, you might have to try the next day, or the one after that.”

Glass All Day
Jay Scott has been hunting the Arizona mountains and deserts since he was 15 years old. However, he wasn’t very effective early on since he relied more on foot travel to locate game, rather than using good hunting optics to do the work. “I was introduced to hunting by my friend Jason Melde, and he was always a very good glasser,” says Jay. “Eventually, I ended up catching on over the years and began upping my success.”

When glassing, Jay prefers very prominent vantage points. “I feel the more country you can see, the better your chances are of finding the game you’re after.” Some hunters routinely glass from the truck, which Jay feels can be effective in some cases, particularly when you ‘re hunting a new place and you need to cover lots of country quickly. “I have been known to stand on top of my truck in some situations, especially in country that’s flat with no vantage points,” said Jay.

“I really don’t have a particular pattern and quite frankly don’t necessarily fall for the grid system,” said Jay. “I first glass what looks good to me, work the other areas and then do it all over again. If you get too caught up in a glassing grid it may cause you to miss something. For instance, if you are stuck in a grid and a buck walks through a saddle, you may miss the buck. If there are areas that you know will be consistent travel routes you need to be constantly checking back to them and then continue on with your glassing grid. Regardless of your technique, don’t leave any bit of terrain unturned with the binocular.”

While others consider prime time just that –prime time, Jay believes mid-day glassing has a lot of merit. “Me and my hunting partners have found some of best bucks during the middle of the day. You simply can’t quit glassing.”

Jay considers the following as the biggest rookie mistakes: not using a tripod, or using a flimsy cheap one; using low-quality optics; not getting comfortable enough to glass for long periods of time; failing to regularly clean lenses; arriving at key glassing spots too late in the morning. “Also, it is absolutely necessary to bed your quarry and then keep your buddy watching while you make your stalk.” said Jay. “By bedding the animal you usually are guaranteeing yourself 45 minutes to get into shooting position. A buddy who can signal you during the stalk is a deadly advantage.”

Favors Grid Glassing
As a hunting guide, consultant for Swarovski Optik, and native Arizonan, Chris Denham knows more than a thing or two about glassing game in the Southwest. Put more precisely, he knows a lot, and I consider him one of the best I’ve seen.

“Utilizing quality optics has been the most important part of my hunting for 25 years,” said Chris. “I was raised in Douglas and had the good fortune to hunt with Marvin and Warner Glenn. The Glenn family guided for Coues and mule deer using quality binoculars like Zeiss 10x40s and the better Bausch & Lomb models. I quickly learned that my success would be dependant on my ability to find deer before they found me, and quality binoculars gave me the advantage I needed.” “All of my optics are made by Swarovski,” said Chris. “I carry an 8×32 EL around my neck and a 15×56 SLC, and a STS-80 spotting scope in my pack. The EL is very easy to hold with one hand, which I think is beneficial to the bowhunter during the stalk. The 15-power binocular mounted to a tripod allows me to study fine details and find deer and sheep out to three miles, while the spotting scope is generally used to evaluate trophy-quality. When using the binocular I am not always able to determine if that funny-looking spot is a deer or an inanimate object; in a situation like this, the spotting scope will answer the question and allow you to move on or start stalking.”

When chosing a glassing area, Chris sizes up things very methodically. “I pay more attention to the sun than the wind direction,” said Chris. “On a cold morning animals will often move to or stay in a sunny spot, while on warm afternoons they will seek out some shade. Either way, don’t put yourself in a position that requires you to look directly into the sun.”

You must be comfortable when glassing. Here the author's friend Ron Way is using his Jeep as the perfect resting spot.

Like Chad Smith, Chris prefers to initially look over his immediate surroundings without optics. However, once he sits down to glass, he looks over the area systematically, glassing in a grid pattern. “I start at the bottom left corner of the area I want to cover and look at it for 10 to 20 seconds (depending on the species, terrain and vegetation),” said Chris. “After 20 seconds I will move a ‘half frame’ to the right, so I am essentially looking at each field of view twice. In areas that have a lot of concealed terrain or excessive vegetation, I may go through this routine three to four times.”

“Glassing effectively is much like reading a book with fine print; you need to be comfortable and relaxed to be effective. If you are shivering after a long hike, or you are forced to sit on sharp rocks, you will not want to glass for long. Carry a cushion or small chair (especially if the ground is wet) to sit on. I like to carry an extra shirt so that when I get sweaty on a hike I can put on the warm dry shirt when I stop to glass.”

“Talent is a gift you are born with and skill is something that can be obtained through proper training. Glassing is a skill, not a talent,” said Chris. “The first time I glass with a new hunter I always put them in charge of monitoring each deer I see. When trying to keep track of 1 to 10 deer at a time they learn to recognize deer when they can only see a small part of the deer. The more you watch an animal in multiple presentations, the more likely you will be able to recognize that animal in the future. This is glassing ‘practice’.”

One of the chief mistakes rookie glasser make is arriving at vantage points too late in the morning, you must be set up by first light

“When stalking, I like to get within 200 yards with the wind in a safe direction and then study the stalk. You may have a prevailing southwest wind, but there may be a back draft in a small draw or canyon. In the winter (in the Southwest) it is not uncommon for the breezes to change 180 degrees as the frosty morning air reaches its afternoon peak. Pay close attention to what the wind is doing every day, even if you are not on an active stalk. This will improve your decision making when the adrenaline rush of a stalk sets in.” <—<<

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Published by archerchick on 16 Feb 2010

SOUTHWESTERN BIG GAME – By Eddie Claypool

Southwestern Big Game – By Eddie Claypool
April 2006
In the wide-open space of the desert southwest lies spectacular scenery and trophies to boot –all available to you during the off-season!

April 2006

As the cold winds of winter usher in the end of most bow seasons, many hunters hang their gear up for another year. The off-season doldrums set in, and the thoughts of most serious bowhunters turn toward hunt planning for next autumn. There is, however, an alternative to this course of action –an often-overlooked opportunity to extend your bowhunting efforts another full month. Look to the desert southwest, the land of sunshine and wide-open spaces.

Often viewed as desolate and foreboding, the southern regions of Arizona and New Mexico offer pristine country rich in history, flora and fauna; a land as big as your imagination, most of which lies i nthe public domain. Herein lies a whole new bowhunting horizon, one ripe for the picking for the wilderness adventurer. Our most elusive whitetail lives here, as do wide-antlered mulies, which rule over a vast domain that stretches from earth to the sky and from horizon to horizon. Throw in some “pigs”–Javelina, as they are most often called –and you have a mix custom made for the daylight-to-dark bowhunting action.

A decade ago, my first trip to the desert Southwest produced a very secure hook-set on me. The vast solitude of the country stirred an extreme feeling of freedom and adventure inside me — a world of unlimited and unanswered questions. In the land of the Apache, I soon came to understand how the Native American people prospered, and why they loved their homeland so dearly and fought so fiercely to keep it.

Every winter I longingly anticipate the chance to take my bow and arrows and quietly melt back into a time and place where the spirits of Cochise, Victorio and Geronimo still move like the wind. Let’s take a look at some of the logistics involved in pulling off just such an adventure.

GEAR UP
In relation to my outings, I place an emphasis on remoteness. In other words, when I hit the high-desert backcountry, I must be totally self-sufficient. The first item necessary in order to accomplish this is a dependable vehicle, one with good rubber on it, spares available and extra fuel readily accessible. A four-wheel-drive is recommended, and it’s a good idea to take some tire chains. A winch, or cable hoist and nylon strap can be a lifesaver also. Throw a high-lift jack in the mix to top off the deal.

Desert weather can fluctuate wildly from week to week. Commonly, you’ll enjoy endless days of sunshine, warmth and arid conditions, though seemingly out of nowhere, you can have repeated days of soaking rains and/or snow. When the desert gets wet, vehicular travel can literally come to a standstill; be prepared to wait such spells out in the comfort of a well-stocked base camp.

I take an elaborate array of gear for my base camp, including two large tents, propane stove, heaters and lanterns. Sturdy foldout tables and comfortable chairs make the cook tent a pleasant place to hang out in the darkness of a cold desert evening. If you can stand the noise and fumes a generator can supply electricity for many uses.

Long before leaving home, I prepare numerous large meals for my trip, vacuum packing all of them into single serving portions, and freezing them. I then line the bottom of an extremely large cooler with a block ice, place a sheetmetal cover over the ice then stack all my pre-prepared meals on top. Another medium-sized cooler suffices for all other miscellaneous cold items, including drinks. I also have a large dry-storage container well stocked with countless other food supplies, which I conveniently place in a corner of the cook tent. Also, I make sure my cook tent has no floor — there are many pluses to this. Such being the case, I am able to hang a solar shower from the frame of my cook tent, fire up a propane heater and take a shower in comfort. I take a piece of 2-inch thick corrugated rubber as a mat to stand on while showering, for obvious reasons. Be sure to take a large amount of water with you; I have a 50-gallon container neatly mounted on my ATV trailer. With such a setup, I’m able to eat well, lounge comfortably and stay clean for many weeks. Yes, I believe in good, long outings!

For my sleep/clothing tent, I use a long, wide, high-quality cot, sleeping pad and cold-weather goose-down bag, I place a small foldout aluminum table at one end of my bed and a 4×4-foot section of thick carpet on the tent floor beside my cot. A propane heater will be within close reach when I go to bed, so that I can light it directly from my sleeping bag in the mornings. I line one side of my living quarters with two to three large plastic tubs containing all my clothing, neatly and smartly arranged. Such a setup keeps the wheels turning smoothly from day to day.

Another big desert mulie shot by Claypool. This buck sports a 30-inch-wide mainframe that grosses 175 inches. Big mule deer are found in the desert

Okay, here’s where I am going to shame myself: I used to blaspheme ATVs, but now I own one – ha, who’d a thought it! Honestly, they’re very handy for maneuvering around the countless two-track roads that most desert areas offer, especially when things are wet. Even when Mother Earth is dry, an ATV can sure save a lot of wear and tear on your pickup truck. Just remember; Please don’t take them cross-country — that’s when their use falls into the classification of abusive.

THE GRAY GHOST
For a Midwestern Whitetail hunter like myself, the chance to extend my whitetail season by a month is an appealing thought. Throw in the fact that the climate in Coues (pronounced “cows”) country is much more hospitable, and the fact that Coues whitetails are the ultimate bow challenge, and you have a very tempting mix. Reasons enough to point my old Ford south many years ago.

From the get-go, I was led to believe that spot-and-stalk was the only way to effectively bowhunt Coues deer. Well, let me tell you this: Maybe such is the case for the died-in-the-wool western bowhunters out there (whatever blows your skirt up!), but as for me –a heartland ambusher– I’m here to tell you that there is more than one way to skin a cat. I’m talking about tree stand and/or ground blind hunting in rutting-buck travel corridors, and along scrape and rub-lines (Double Bull archery makes some extremely portable and effective blinds, perfect for just such applications).

In other words, what I’m saying is this: If you’re a good Eastern whitetail bowhunter (add a lot more hump-and-get-it to the mix), you can be a good Coues hunter too. Since the main difference between Eastern and Western whitetail hunting lies in the “size” of the land out west and the dispersion of the deer in it, you have to be willing to put in a lot of vertical and horizontal miles in search of deer concentrations. Then, once reasonable concentrations are found, narrowing down ambush spots can prove to be an even more daunting challenge. But then again, what more challenge could a hard-core bowtoter ask for?

Whenever I’ve done all that I can to place my warm body in a high-quality ambush spot, I make sure that I carry a lunch in my Badlands 2200 series backpack, along with my Scent-Lok clothing, and stay on stand all day. At this point, nothing else you can do will up your odds for success more than sheer time spent on stand. And honestly, I’ve found rutting Coues bucks to move just about as liberally during midday times as they do during the early-morning and late-evening hours.

DESERT MULE DEER
Last, but certainly not least, comes the opportunity to possibly cross paths with a mule deer buck whose antlers may be as expansive as the desert sky. Don’t kid yourself into thinking that all the big mulies live in the “traditional” haunts of the Rocky Mountains. Though, admittedly, finding a top-end buck in desert terrain can be like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack, certainly it can be done. Personally, I’ve taken a 30 incher and a 34 incher!

For desert mulies, concentrate on extremely remote locations; mulies don’t tolerate human intrusion well at all. Also, concentrate on foothills regions, but don’t overlook desert “flats” either. I’ve run across some real bruisers in the seemingly uninhabited cactus and mesquite country far out in the desert valleys.

During the rut, mature bucks lord over harems of does, constantly vying for breeding opportunities. This can make them extremely susceptible to approach, yet, on the other side of the coin, you’re dealing with the wariness of a large group of does. In such a scenario, I attempt to simply “hang out” near the rear of the herd, waiting for the boss to make a pass through the area. With patience and stealth you can expect a golden opportunity in time.

Claypool's firt Coues buck is also his largest --a 108-inch giant ambushed from a tree stand

Since spot-and-stalk is the usual tactic of choice, good optics and a flat-shooting bow are prerequisite for success. Here I rely on Nikon optics and a Mathews Switchback bow, which launches a Beman ICS 340 tipped with a Rocky Mountain Ti-100 at 275 fps. This rig –groomed with a Black Gold sight and rest — is a dependable nail-driver out to ranges farther than I feel comfortable mentioning. For just such times as this, a quality rangefinder can prove worth it’s weight in gold.

THE “OTHER” CHOICE
Finally, if you’re so inclined, “porkers” may be the order of the day. Javelina offer a different and unusual bowhunting break from the pull-your-hair-out daily grind of Coues deer hunting. With javelina, the key to success lies mainly in locating the little buggers. Chances are, if you find ’em, you can kill ’em. They don’t see particularly well, and they don’t have the ears of a mule deer. Their sense of smell, however is excellent,and they won’t question what their nose tells them. Stay downwind, and move slowly, and chances are good that you’ll pull a string on one.

Cover a lot of ground, looking for rootings and tracks in zones where desert flats blend into mountain foothills. Glass open hillsides at any time of the day for javelina, because they haven’t heard about the early morning and late-evening rule. When stalking them to within bow range, consider the use of fleece overboots to muffle your footfalls.

WRAP IT UP
Of all the do-it-yourself bowhuting trips that I make each year, I look most forward to my annual pilgrimage to the high desert. It’s hard to put into words why this is so, yet, suffice it to say that I consider this trip to be the “coming together” of a fine mixture of all the true ingredients of what bowhunting is all about –this trip is truly a smorgasborgh of experiences. From the day I arrive in this land of stark contrasts each season, I begin dreading the day that I’ll have to head home –that’s the definition of a cherished trip indeed. <—-<<<

In the wide-open space of the desert southwest lies spectacular scenery and trophies to boot–all available to you during the off-season!

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

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Published by archerchick on 16 Feb 2010

HI-SPIRIT-My Christmas Eve Buck – By Ted Nugent

HI-SPIRIT By Ted Nugent
My Christmas Eve Buck
April 2006
Enjoying a profound holiday ritual

April 2006

The icicles hanging from my mustache and beard were the real McCoy. No fake decorations allowed in my Christmas tree. And my Christmas tree just happened to be a towering white oak atop a majestic forested ridgeline bordering our stunning Nugent family Michigan swamp. Instead of a handmade angel on top, a frozen guitar player clung for dear life to the crows-nest branches way up high, trusty bow and arrow in hand, waiting for an American whitetail deer to bring our Christmas dinner on by –on the hoof. For, as usual, I was bowhunting on this frigid evening, celebrating the birth of The Creator’s son in the lap of God, doing my own little personal shivering prayer for peace and joy across the land.

The wiser members of the Tribe Nuge were just a shot away, snug around the home fireplace preparing a hot meal for the old hunter’s return, blue-spruce tree aglow in the corner of our home with celebratory decorations aglitter. With the 30-below wind chill numbing my inner bones, I could hardly wait for dark to take over the swamp so I could join them for a Nugent American tradition of grand Christmas spirit. Meanwhile, Old Man Winter was doing all he could to blow me clean out of my tree stand. Motor City MadMan indeed. Motor City NutJob is more like it.

But now he came, and a powerful, inner instinct overwhelmed the frozen wind and any thought of comfort. I could hardly believe my eyes that such a beast was approaching on this horrendous, brutal night. He was a great stag, and he was coming my way. I pushed and pulled on my frozen muscles in preparation to draw my bow as does and young deer crunched the icy snow below me, luring the old monarch into range. The magnificent buck paused every few steps to test the wind and my patience, and on he came.

As he turned his head to follow an old doe, I initiated my hunter’s prayer, my arrow coming back gracefully, like the Zen ballet of life and death that is, and in and instant, the razor sharp broadhead had sliced clean through the old boy’s vitals and it was all over except for the jubilation. He died in but seconds before me, tipping over in the pure white snow of the marsh, just 25 yards away. In astonished disbelief, I looked to the heavens and said another prayer of thanks, thank carefully descended my icy perch and proceeded with the stirring recovery of rituals of such a precious gift. The purity of my act was obvious to all who are honest about nature. Balance, biodiversity and perfect protein for the table were the irrefutable win-win-win of the occasion.

With the help of my family, we jubilantly dragged the amazing animal back to the barn and soon my frozen garments were replaced with a nice, warm, cushy robe, slippers and a scrumptious hot meal. The Santa Claus of fresh meat has landed.

The American Dream is truly amazing any way you choose it, but this hands-on outdoor conservation lifestyle of hunting, fishing and trapping keeps one honest to the cause and effect with the good Mother Earth and all her creatures and resources. The gorgeous spruce Christmas tree we so joyously decorated together was once again harvested from the thousands of various trees we plant each spring. The natural season of planting is as important to us as the natural season of harvest, and it means so much more to us knowing we personally plant thousands of trees for every one we utilize. Just as the thriving deer populations prove, a reasoning predator will always put more back than we take. The Christmas season is surely a time of giving, but the Nugents don’t limit such conscientiousness to a single time of year. We just go a little wilder at Christmas.

The mouth-watering, aromatically stimulating spread on our Christmas dinner table is not only delicious and invigorating, but also happens to be the healthiest food available to mankind. Our wild turkey is pure, organic food; the roasted venison haunch and mallards a testament to the perfection of God’s natural, renewable bounty. We do it every year, and will forever.

Watching my children grow up in such a spiritually connected lifestyle has served them well, and their integrity and quality of life is my proudest accomplishment. They are all giving, loving, caring, independent, resourceful, funny, clever, productive American citizens solidly in the asset column of life. Now with grandchildren at the party, the traditional Nugent family fun factor continues off-the-charts. Though the gift wrapping and unwrapping can be best described as a consumer orgy, steps towards practicality are being upgraded every year. We try to provide as many gifts to U.S. Military families as we possibly can, for but by the blood of warriors can any celebration take place at all.

We keep Christ in Christmas regardless of trends or the PC denial curse. We celebrate the gift of life, we celebrate American freedom, and we celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ.

Communicate and ask Uncle Ted directly at NugentUSA@cs.com or visit tednugent.com.

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Published by archerchick on 16 Feb 2010

WHITETAIL TACTICS -By Fred Bear

WHITETAIL TACTICS – By Fred Bear
The Master Offers Some Little-Known Tips For Whitetail Success -1977
http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

I THINK MOST HUNTERS, whether devotees of the rifle or the bow, are in agreement that there are very few trophies more coveted than that first whitetail that “makes the book.”

There are no shortcuts to trophy hunting. The confidence and positive attitude so necessary for success requires dedication, time and, yes, hard work. The latter, however, can be compared to being head judge in a beauty contest – while classed as work, it certainly has its high points and a sustained interest level.

Many books and countless articles have been written on the subject of hunting the elusive whitetail. Rather than rehash the basic hunting tactics that can be read about in many other such sources, I will here dwell a bit on factors which perhaps are not usually stressed enough.

Fred Bear, founder and president of Bear Archery, takes a break while scouting for new territory.

For example, the movement of deer from bed grounds to feeding areas and back again is a daily occurrence under normal circumstances, and along this trail the success or failure of a bowhunter lies. In periods other than the rutting moon, understanding this route and the time element involved is the secret of success.

What motivates deer to move or bed down, other than satisfying their hunger? Why do all deer in an area start to move to or from feeding areas at almost the same time? The main reason for this is the temperature, or, more correctly, the changing of it. A deer’s very existence depends on the constant use of its well-tuned senses and probably the keenest of these is the sense of smell. The message that it is time to eat is received not merely by his stomach, but also through his nose. He moves to and from feed and bed on air currents. The motivation is a thermal air drift, caused by the changing temperatures.

Two Hunters, two bucks - a good average on whitetails.  After you have downed one, the work begins.

During the day, the thermal air drift is to higher ground due to the warming trend. As the weather cools towards evening, a reversal takes place and the drift is to lower ground. Deer move daily before these reversals take place. They move toward the lower feeding grounds while the thermal air currents are traveling upward. This affords them the knowledge of any impending danger ahead. By the same token, they start moving to the higher bedding ground in early morning before the reversal, while the direction of the drift is still downward. Any hunter who has sat in a blind in the evening near a meadow or corn field has experienced this reversal – like a cold, clammy hand – as the thermal drift settled around him.

In comparatively flat country, a marsh, swamp, pond or larger body of water acts the same as a low meadow, ravine, canyon or flat below higher, rougher or more timbered areas. That is, the thermal flow is toward them during the evening and hours of darkness and away from them as the air warms during daylight. Deer normally bed on slightly higher ground due to the rising air drift which affords them advance warning of anything approaching from below.

In choosing a bed ground, they invariably will pick a southerly exposure, at least partially, meaning either south, southeast or southwest, to obtain some benefit of warmth as they rest. This choice may be altered if foul or extremely adverse weather such as high wind, rain or snow comes in from these directions. They may then choose the lee side of a slope to obtain a break from the elements. Keeping this in mind, the hunter may save many fruitless hours by not hunting slopes that parallel the storm direction, as both sides of such slopes are hit directly by the bad weather. So, let thermal air currents and prevailing winds govern your choice of hunting elevations while still-hunting, or in the placement of blinds while watching.

While still-hunting or sneaking is the most challenging and exciting form of deer hunting, by far the majority of archers depend upon blinds or stands for ultimate success. The reason of course is the limited accurate range of the bow, which, when combined with the deer’s natural protective screen of finely honed senses, makes a close approach in the open extremely difficult.

In recent years, laws have been amended to allow bowhunting from elevated blinds in a majority of our states. The use of windfalls or portable tree platforms, or – as is the practice in Texas – the use of man-made towers, if located and used properly, is a tremendous equalizer in overcoming the odds against success. However, contrary to what many people think, it does not insure you the choice of any animal in the area. The placement and use must not be haphazard.

One distinct advantage the elevated stand offers is that it normally allows the flow of the hunter’s scent above any approaching animal. Also, because of the way their heads are set on the necks, deer seldom raise their heads at a sharp angle. Moreover, they are not inclined to look up, because in their normal range they have no natural enemies which attack from above. They often ignore movement or sound overhead, apparently believing it to be branches rubbing in the breeze or the movement of a bird or squirrel. Precautions are necessary, however, to insure retaining the advantage of elevation.

From what I have experienced in the past few seasons, during which the use of elevated tree stands has greatly expanded in legality and popularity, one should not count on a deer never looking up. These animals have survived for eons, often on the very fringes of civilization, by their ability to learn. It is my belief that within the foreseeable future one of the advantages of the elevated blind will be largely negated by most of our deer, especially the trophy bucks, looking upward as they move along.

For this reason, you should choose your background for a tree stand carefully as you would for a blind on ground level. If you silhouette yourself against the skyline you’re asking to be seen prematurely with any movement you make. The higher your elevation above eye level, of course, the less this is true, but many states have a stipulation on total elevation varying between six and fifteen feet.

A large-trunked tree or one with heavy foliaged limbs behind you will help blend your camouflage-suited figure into the trunk. If you choose to take your stand in a tree at the top of a rise, don’t place yourself in a direct line with any trails coming toward you. You might be fifteen feet above the trail, but because of the slope of the hill, the angle of vision of any animal approaching from below would be higher than usual and it might be looking right at you.

Caution should be exercised in removing branches and brush to clear shooting lanes near the approach to a stand. Deer are cautious of new breaks on a well-known route and sometimes will shy around them.

It is most important to try plenty of practice shots from your chosen stand before you hunt from it. It is unbelievable how often very close shots at deer from an elevated stand fly harmlessly over their backs. The angle will fool even the experienced shooter unless he is prepared to compensate properly for it. This can only be accomplished by practice shots from that position. I make it a habit to carry a couple of blunt arrows in my bowquiver, and each time I finish a watching period I shoot them at a fallen leaf or other mark before descending from my perch. If you don’t do this your chances of missing that nice buck when he does come along are great.

Fred Bear in 1974 field testing the Bear Alaskan in western Ontario.

All in all, this method of hunting is the most effective one for deer. I’ve had numerous animals within twenty feet of my stand with no realization whatsoever of my presence.

If your heart is set on an encounter with a trophy buck, you must first find his home territory, and this will not necessarily be in or on the fringe of the highest concentration of deer in the area. Scrapes are the best indication of a buck’s presence and the approach of the rut, during which time he is more vulnerable. Scrapes are just what the word implies – spots where the ground cover is pawed or scraped away exposing the dark soil, much like a fresh garden plot ready for planting. These can be a few feet to a few yards in diameter.

The earliest scrapes your scouting turns up are usually along the edges of cover, on or near defined trails, and mark the buck’s territory. These scrapes will often be beside a small tree where the buck has stripped off the bark in the process of polishing his antlers and preparing for the battles to come. The scrape may also be under the limbs of a tree or branches of a large bush showing signs of being severely thrashed by the buck’s rack.

Don’t be satisfied to settle down near the first scrapes found. Later scrapes will be made as the rut approaches its peak. These scrapes will be in or near heavier cover and usually off the regular trails. They will be larger and more defined than the boundary scrapes and will retain the strong scent the buck has left there.

Erecting a tree stand near the latter spots can really pay off. Don’t make the mistake of positioning your stand too close to the scrape. Get back fifteen or twenty yards, where you can cover the most likely approach lanes as well as the scrape itself. This will give you the possibility of a side-angle shot which is the easiest to make. Even though you’ll be elevated, be sure to take the prevailing wind drift into account and choose a spot downwind of the key area, the same as you would for a ground-level blind. Otherwise, a tricky air current could betray you at just the wrong moment. A little scent at ground level can be used to overpower whatever wisps of your odor linger, but don’t overdo it. Sweet apple cider seems to work as well as any commercial scent, even in areas where there are no apples.

Fred Bear with a Michigan whitetail. Some tips he gives for this kind of success are a well-elevated stand in a large-trunked tree and lots of tree-stand practice shots

Once a stand is erected in such a location, don’t spend any more time scouting or milling about that immediate area. Leave too much of your scent behind and a smart buck will not come in. On those occasions when you hunt from the stand, approach it quickly from the direction opposite the hot spot, climb up immediately, and then remain quiet. No smoking, no candy bars, no fidgeting around if you are really serious about getting a crack at “old rockin’ chair.” One bit of carelessness can overdo all your careful preparations and, even with you well-positioned, elevated blind, you’ll need all the breaks you can get in reducing a trophy whitetail to meat in the pot and a bow rack on the wall. <—<<

You should choose the site of your tree stand with as much care as you would for a blind on ground level says Bear.

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According to the author, a tree skinned of its bark is a sure sign your are in a buck's home territoryThe hunter above found a natural tree stand

The hunter above found a natural tree stand

 

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