Archive for the 'Bowhunting' Category

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Published by Casey Stutzman on 17 May 2012

Real Fitness for Bow Hunters

Here are some great additions you can make to your workout routine to keep your most deadly weapon in tune and ensure it is ready to perform during the moment of truth.

 

Choose athletic exercises

 

Simple or single joint exercises do not teach the body how to move better.  Hunters are athletes and need to train as such, choose exercises that have multiple joints moving simultaneously and require focus and concentration to perform.For example a bicep curl is very will not help a hunter move better, an exercise like a squat & row on a TRX suspension trainer or with a resistance band will have much more value.

 

·        Resistance band squat row

 

o  Loop a resistance band around a stationary object and grab both handles.  Begin standing facing the anchor point with your elbows driven back and your wrists touching the lower portion or your ribs.  Simultaneously squat and reach your arms towards the anchor point until they are straight then stand and return to the row position.  8-12 reps

 

Balance training

 

Simple balance training will challenge your nervous system and strengthen your brains ability to communicate with your muscles which will have a direct positive effect on your reaction time and reflexes.  Another added bonus is you gain better body awareness and control makes your shot routine more consistent and effective.

 

Balance training exercises;

 

·        Simple – single leg balance with eyes closed

 

o  Stand on one leg in an athletic stance and close your eyes.  Stand on a BOSU balance trainer or other unstable surface to increase the level of challenge.  Hold on each leg for 20-30 seconds, this is a great exercise to do between strength or conditioning sets as active recovery.

 

·        Advanced – Lateral bounds with stick holds

 

o  Start on your right leg and explosively bound to your left landing on your left leg covering as much distance as possible.  After landing on the left hold for 2-3 seconds trying to maintain your balance before going back to the right.  Do 8-12 reps

 

Core stability

 

we often think of shoulder strength and core stability as two different things, fact is that they are very interconnected; a stable core equals a stronger shoulders

 

Core stability Exercises;

 

·        Simple – 10 second Planks

 

o  A plank is holding a push up position.  Perform short intense 10 second reps with 3-5 sec rest between.  Make sure your toes are pulled towards your shins, your quads (front of legs) are tight, glutes (butt muscles) are tight, abs are braced (like you are about to take a punch) and shoulders are tucked back and down (towards your back pockets)

 

·        Advanced – Bird Dogs

 

o  Begin in the plank position on your elbows. Keeping the body as stable as possible lift your right arm and left leg a few inches off the ground and hold 1-2 seconds.  Return back to the start and repeat on the other side.For a greater challenge begin with a plank on the hands.  Do 8-12 reps

 

 

Cardio target shooting

 

Next time you are out at the range take a jump rope or hit up some jumping jacks for 45-60 seconds right before shooting a couple groupings.  This will elevate your heart rate and force you to get it and your breathing under control before you shoot.  This will help mimic that excited state most hunters get when they see a deer and will improve your accuracy in those situations.  It will also help strengthen your shot process by making you really concentrate on your breathing in your pre shot routine.  Bow hunters are often also pressed for time; this is a great way to stay up on your fitness while still getting in time to prepare with your bow for the season.  I also like to hold plank positions before shooting or before I start my jump roping.  This will tire out my shoulders and core, at first it might have a negative effect on your accuracy but after a while you will find that you are more sold and stable in full draw and are able to hold the position much longer without shaking.

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Published by Casey Stutzman on 17 May 2012

What should a Bow Hunter look for in Gyms of Fitness Programs

If you are a serious bow hunter than you are serious about your fitness (if not see artice on “why athletes make better bowhunters”).  Whether you are just getting into fitness to improve your hunting skills or you are looking get the most out of your current workout program, here are a couple simple suggestions to steer you in the right direction.  There are TONS of fitness offerings, finding the ones that can be the most beneficial for hunters can sometimes be tricky, use these suggestions below to find what is right for you.

·         All the skills we talked about don’t happen by sitting on machines, find workouts that take place standing and allow participants to “move in space”.  Bow hunters should be looking for more functional fitness offerings, which should not be hard since that is the new buzz in the fitness industry.  Look for places that offer things like TRX, Rip trainer, work with resistance tubes, BOSU balance trainers, medicine balls and performance/athletic training.  I am a huge fan of Kettlebells but make sure you find a place that offers a progressive program for various levels.  Kettlebells are wonderful but are a skill in themselves and take time to master.  I am not a huge fan for Crossfit but feel it can be beneficial for bow hunters if you are able to hook up with a good Crossfit trainer.  Be very careful picking a Crossfit gym, to find the right one for you do your homework and talk to people in your area. Many of the popular Crossfit exercises and workouts require mastery of some basic skills before attempting; when you turn 16 you don’t hit the track at Daytona right after getting your license, find a location that has a progressive system for getting new members involved.   Look for a Crossfit gym that does not have beginners doing any Olympic lifting and encourages short strength workouts and rest days not just met cons day after day.

·         If you are already active take your training to the next level by getting off the machines and incorporating exercises on items like the BOSU balance trainer and TRX suspension trainer into your workout, you can find great TRX trainers and gyms at www.trxdirectory.com  Try doing your cardio by running or bike riding outside for some new variety.   Participating in more performance based workouts will help you increase your athletic machine and vastly improve your bow hunting.  These workout are also fun and very engaging making time at the gym very enjoyable.  A simple way to do this on your own is adding reaction components into your exercises. To find a great local performance trainer look for professionals that hold a Combine360 certification you can find them at www.combine360.com

·         Look into myofascial release techniques to help improve posture and recover from long and numerous sits in the stand.  Lots of personal training studios and specialty fitness business are now offering classes and sessions on the foam roller, some even offer body work by trained professionals.  This is also something you can do on your own where ever you choose to workout but it will take some research.  One of my favorite companies that deliver great MFR products and education for athletes is Trigger Point Therapy www.tptherapy.com

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Published by archerchick on 21 Apr 2012

My Introduction To ELK ~By Tim Dehn

My Introduction To ELK By Tim Dehn
Bowhunting World FEBRUARY 1990
Like many bowhunters, I’ve dreamed for years of hunting elk. That’s an appetite increased by the elk hunting manuscripts I review each month for possible use in Bowhunting World.
Some of the best have been submitted by Pat Meitin, who grew up in New Mexico and today lives part of the year there, part of the year with his parents in Lubbock, Texas.  Meitin wrote Choose When To Bugle for the October 1989 issue and Elk Hunting’s Agony And Ecstasy for our 1989-90 Bowhunting Guide.
What came through both those articles, and through letters and calls back and forth, was Meitin’s respect for the quarry and considerable skill in hunting them successfully.  So when Meitin offered to introduce me to New Mexico’s elk, my only concern was whether I could meet the challenge.
This would be nothing like hunting whitetails or small game in my native Minnesota.  If we drew permits for a game rich area of the Gila wilderness, we’d be camping on the perimeter and hiking the better part of each day in search of elk.  In the semi open country I’d need to be able to shoot well at least to 40 yards, Meiten said, and 50 would be better.  He warned me to expect plenty of walking.
Yes the staff here could spare me for a week, And yes, I assured my wife, most of the gear I’d need to buy would be put to use later for family camping trips.  I made the April 27 permit application deadline and a few weeks later got the word we’d been drawn.  Then I started whittling away at a rather considerable equipment list.  Obviously I couldn’t hunt a magnificent animal like elk in the camo clothing I’d bought piece-meal over the past few years.  Two shirts, fleece and poly/cotton pants, and lightweight gloves came out of the checkbook.  Hiking boots, an external frame backpack and  the camping gear to fill it were put on the charge card.
The card came out again when I found that boosting my bow’s draw weight by 10 pounds totally destroyed the good braodhead flight I’d enjoyed the previous year.  With the extra string, tab, broadheads and sight pins I needed anyway, the pro shop visits set me back $120. I had to invest in a better rest and new arrows to solve my tuning problems, but the people at Bwana Archery in St. Paul made sure that bow could shoot!
Ready To Hunt
And so could I, at least good enough to satisfy Meitin I’d have a chance at a bull if they were still in the areas he’d scouted the previous two weeks.  Meitin had met me at the Albuquerque airport and then stopped at a friend’s house in Socorro to pick up his own gear and get in some last-minute practice.
“Let’s see how your bow shoots at altitude,” he said, meaning, I think, “Let’s see if this desk jockey can hit anything? I found his cam bow, Catquiver, single pin, ultra-light shafts and Zwickey broad- heads a strange combination of high-tech and traditional. He shook his head over my launcher-style rest, wrist sling, bow sling, bow quiver and four pins set for 20 through 50 yards.
“You sure do have a lot of gadgets on that bow.” Stocking up on gas and food, we filled the back of the 4-wheel-drive Toyota and headed west toward Magdalena. The 1988 rig was on loan from Steven Tiesdale, Meitin explained, a friend from Lubbock who would be up to hunt the following week. Quiet and comfortable, it would have lulled me to sleep without Meitin’s lively tales of trapping and guiding in the Gila National Forest we were winding through. Camp was an abandoned shack a few miles from the boundary of the sub-unit we’d drawn.
We tumbled into our sleeping bags under a sky filled with more stars than I’d ever seen before, thanks to the 7,000 foot elevation. Hours seemed more like minutes before the 4:15 alarm brought hurried preparations for a morning afield. It was opening day of New Mexico’s 1989 archery elk season. Meitin had spotted a herd the week before on a mesa within a couple miles of the wilderness boundary. Hiking past another camp we headed out on one of the many marked trails used by hikers and the ranchers who lease grazing rights there.
As the sky began to lighten we heard hunters bugle behind us, but no elk. So we kept moving farther from the road, deeper into the wilderness where motorized traffic is banned. And then we saw them. Distant dots on a hillside resolved into feeding elk as we focused our binoculars. They were a mile and half away, across at least two ridges and three draws. We trotted downhill, and I labored up, suddenly conscious of the altitude and the weight of my well-equipped bow. By the time we reached the peak of the second ridge I was drenched in sweat and struggling to try and match Meitin’s combination of speed and stealth.
Then I heard him. Awesome, thrilling, magical — how do you describe the first moment you hear an elk bugle? I stood there transfixed till Meitin whispered. “Come on. He’s right up ahead .” The bull was upwind not more than 100 yards from us. We could smell elk, and I confess to thinking “Hey, this is easier than I thought.” We quietly cut the distance to 40 yards, to where we could see the waving top of the cedar he was shredding just over a rise. But we could also see four cows and a calf between us and the bull, and as they moved slowly in front of our still forms the wind changed. One of the cows winded us and the whole group trotted down the canyon. We were in hot pursuit, keeping brush between us and them, when Meitin signaled a sudden halt.
Bedded in the bottom of a canyon, ignored by the elk striding by, was a solitary cow elk. We climbed a ridge to skirt the cow, then we had a bit of luck. The small herd we were chasing bumped into another group of elk in the same canyon and as the bulls bugled back and forth to keep their cows collected, we caught up to them. We crouched under the limbs of a tree, arrows nocked, as one of the herds moved in front of us. They were alert, but unsure of our location.
We were pinned, with no cover for approach and no way way to retreat. Meitin hissed at me when I started to draw on the bull, so I waited, only to watch the monarch round up his ladies and head further down the canyon. All we could do was lay back and stretch our cramped and aching legs. “Why didn’t we shoot?” I asked. “They had to be within 30 yards .”
“Didn’t you hear me whisper 60’?” he replied. We had to pace it off before I would believe it: 63 yards from where we crouched to where the 5×5 bull had stood broadside. lt’s size had fooled me. The elk disappeared as they bedded, and Meitin and I did the same. I dozed fitfully in the heat, dreaming of elk all around me. I could hear them walking and munching grass, but couldn’t wake up. When I did, Meitin and I shared some crackers, a candy bar and a few swallows of water.
We hunted back towards the truck, a distance that seemed far further because there were no elk to lure us on and there was so little in our stomachs. The spring had long ago gone out of my steps and by dusk my right knee was signalling a halt. We reached the truck two hours later. The next morning when the first of Meitin’s three alarms began to chirp I awoke to find my knee red and swollen. I had visions of spending the rest of the hunt hobbling around camp but a few aspirin and a few hours later I was mobile again.
Meitin told me about a far mesa where he`d scouted a bachelor herd of bulls, if l didn’t mind getting wet. We parked our rig by two others and dropped down a 20-foot sheer cliff into a river bottom, fording and refording the water that wound down between the distant banks. The sun was shining, there were wild flowers all about and the periodic dunkings actually felt good. We left the river to follow a rocky streambed toward the mesa, then cut up the hillside toward the top. My lungs were burning as I breathed fast and deep in the thin air.
Glassing across the canyon we were climbing out of, Meitin spotted one bull bedded below a dead tree and four others feeding about it. The next 90 minutes were the most exciting I’ve spent as a hunter. We skirted the head of the canyon and tried to pick a route to the bedded 5×5. The mesa had few trees and we kept having to retreat to keep cover between us and our quarry, as additional elk seemed to sprout from the trees and threaten to expose us.
“There’s too many bulls,” Meitin smiled ruefully, heading back toward the canyon rim where we could use the slope of the land to cover our approach. Now most of the feeding elk were to our right, the dozing bull straight ahead. We dropped our packs and made the last 300 yards on hands and knees, avoiding the loose rocks and small cactus. Our last cover was a cedar no taller than ourselves. Meitin whispered the range. “Forty yards. When that feeding bull lowers its head, take your shot .” I tried to still my pounding heart as I rose and the bedded bull came into view. The arrow bounced off the rest but the moleskin saved me. I was able to draw without being spotted.
I picked a spot about one-third of the way up the bull’s chest, finished a prayer, re-leased.  And watched in disbelief as the arrow struck the bull ’s hind hoof where it lay folded against his chest. He was up and away before I could connect with a second shot, and if Meitin had suggested digging a grave I would have climbed right in. The angry bull led eight others off the mesa. We followed for half a mile, to pick up the arrow and satisfy ourselves the wound was not serious, then climbed back up to figure out what had gone wrong.
“You were shooting good this morning. Maybe I had the range wrong,” Meitin said. I was convinced he had, but kept my mouth shut about it. A few minutes later I was glad I hadn’t tried to duck the blame. I paced the distance off at 41 yards. Meitin’s long legs made it 39. I’d simply used the wrong pin. There wasn’t much time to worry about it. The thunderstorm we’d seen building for the past hour was starting to sweep across the mesa, and Meitin claimed an aversion to being struck by lightning.
The rain-slicked slopes wouldn’t support us so we followed the streambed down. Water slides can be fun, but not in the gloom when you’re carrying a bow and pack. The moss-covered rocks were treacherously slick. The third time I fell it was in a pool up to my chest. I had decided the night before that Meitin could see in the dark. Now I accused him of being part mountain goat.
Wet and cold, we pushed through the willows that choked the lower part of the stream bed and found where a mountain lion had pulled a big mule deer down. “Great,” I thought, “If if do break my leg I’d probably get eaten before morning.” We huddled under a tree in the river bottom, ate the last of our trail food and began the long walk downstream. The water was higher, faster, and colder and I counted how many crossings we made on the way out. Seventeen.
In The Fog The next morning we awoke to a thick blanket of fog. We were out before dawn anyway, following game trails through the dew- laden grass where elk had gone before us as they climbed out of a river bottom. Fresh rubs enticed us on, but the bulls weren’t bugling and there was no way to find them in the fog. Instead of spooking what might be just ahead, we huddled beneath some bushes until the mid-morning sun broke through. I was glad I’d followed Meitin’s advice about bringing something warm and waterproof — a Stormtek fleece parka from Fieldline.
It was late afternoon before we spotted elk, three cows and calves feeding in a valley. Constantly checking the wind with a plastic scent bottle he’d refilled with talcum powder, Meitin led the stalk. We froze when a 250- pound calf appeared on the opposite side of a
 bush, 8 yards from me and even closer to my partner. “If you want to take a cow, that’s okay with me,” Meitin had whispered minutes before. So I drew as one stopped in a downhill opening 35 yards away. and mentally chalked her up. We’d been seeing bulls everyday and midway through the hunt it was too hard to give up the hoped-for rack.
We headed back through another rain-storm, lightning striking the high mesa around us. Warming up with a cup of hot chocolate back at camp, Meitin checked the map of our hunting area. “You know where we saw the cows, and then crossed the fence at the bottom of the canyon. The map says that ’s eight miles from where we parked the truck.” “So we walked 16 miles today?” “Plus some wandering around  he responded.
Tuesday started off with promise. Driving to an area we’d hunted two days before, we caught elk in the headlamps. A small herd, including an average bull, was leaving a river- bottom pasture and a frantic calf couldn`t find its way through the fence. We parked the truck out of sight and hurried uphill, hoping to catch up with the bull at dawn. Waiting on the ridge we heard him bugle below us and decided to give chase. The herd passed us halfway down and it turned into an uphill race again, with more hunters joining from the road below.
Meitin fumed at their repeated bugling and cow talking; it seemed to quiet, not encourage the bull in front of us. We were within 60 yards of the 240 bull, a spike and two cows when the leader decided he had enough and chased his charges over the hill. They were out of sight down the ridge when we reached the top. Two receding bugles kept us pounding along until Meitin screeched to a sudden halt. We’d burst into a herd of cattle and with a stomp and a snort an old cow stampeded the lot of them down the ridge, directly after the elk.
There followed a short discussion on the merits of cattle and of how satisfying it might be to blunt a particular cow. There were still elk to be hunted. With Meitin`s direction I could pick out the tan blobs with my Steiner’s at a range of three miles. but we needed a break.
We drove 40 miles into town and filled up with gas and cheap burritos, then returned to our unit to check two hunting areas close to the road. Both had plenty of bowhunters. Dirty and a little discouraged, we decided to take a rancher up on an earlier offer of a hot shower. We got wet all right, but it wasn’t quite what we expected.
Blocking a river crossing in front of us was an older El Camino with Wisconsin plates. Pulling it out was a new four wheel drive Chevy pickup and three helpful Florida bowhunters. We smiled as the Toyota cruised through with no problems, but 30 minutes later our expressions had changed. The rancher wasn’t home, and the river had doubled in size by the time we returned to the crossing. Rain upstream was swelling it by the minute.
Bowhunters from two rigs watched as we eased into the water and then punched it.  We made it all of one-third of the way across before the engine drowned. Water was lapping at the hood as we crawled out of the windows. It took agonizing minutes for our would-be rescuers to hook together their chains and tie a rope to the end. When Meitin leaned into the torrent to catch the rope his feet were swept out from under him. He caught at a bush; I caught his wrist. Then we both fought the current and the branches it was sweeping along to get the chain hooked to the top of the bumper.
Moments later we were out of the flood with the Toyota bumper bent a crazy angle. The engine compartment was packed with pine cones, sticks and bark. It took us 30 minutes to get the motor going, rising water lapping at our feet like a reminder of the mistake we’d made in challenging this rugged land.
Down To The Wire
We slept-in the next moming. I was down to two days but not yet discouraged. Meitin had been getting us within range every day; now all we needed was a change in luck that would bring him another trophy bull or me my first elk. That afternoon we parked near a roadside hunting camp and headed up a dry wash, then followed a winding ridge into the wilderness area.
We skirted a video crew and followed the fresh tracks past wallows and beaten cedars. It wasn`t long before we heard, then saw. cow elk just over a rise. They were 35 yards away and should have been easy targets, but our greed got in the way. The herd bull was approaching and we stayed crouched over, then slowly rose when he passed behind some cover 40 yards away. Not slowly enough, apparently.
The bull took his herd out of there in a hurry. We blew a second stalk, this time on a lone cow. That was too much for Meitin. “I couldn’t stalk a dead dog this week,” he said, throwing his bow to the ground. But the elk weren’t through with us.
Turning for home we stopped on top of a ridge and spotted more elk across a canyon. We hurried after them and snuck within 80 yards before running out of cover. Crouched behind a tree, Meitin alternately bugled and cow talked to try and bring the elk off the wooded hillside and within range. There was a rag bull, about 10 cows and a wall hanger that Meiten estimated would score 340 or better.
Every time one of the cows would head our way the big bull would round it up like an angry sheepdog. Before long he got them into a bunch and literally prodded them over the hill and out of sight. It was getting dark fast, and we were in for a nasty surprise. A shortcut back to the truck turned into one canyon after another, some so steep they sent us doubling back. It didn’t help that my compass and Meitin`s dead reckoning didn’t agree.
“I don’t know which direction North is. I just know where the truck 1s.” He was right, but it was midnight before we knew it. If grit alone were rewarded, we should have gotten an animal the next day. Because dawn found us in the woods again, trailing elk up from the river bottom. We caught the group within a mile of the road, close to a fresh rub we’d seen the day before. But there ’s a big difference between seeing elk and getting close enough to shoot.
We were still 50 yards from the cows and another 30 from the bull when they got suspicious and moved out. Meitin kept us on the fresh trail and four miles later we caught them moving up a wooded valley. We moved down the hillside, keeping in the sun so the rising thermals would carry our scent from them. Then, some motion or sound betrayed us and again our quarry strode over the ridge. We hunted into evening, but not as intensely. I tried to drink in the scenery, the majestic pines, the blue mist on the distant mountains, the rosy sunset. They were part of the memories that were all I would be bringing back. They were enough.
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Published by archerchick on 21 Apr 2012

Russell Hull Calls Deer, You Can Too~ By Russell Hull

Russell Hull Calls Deer,
You Can Too!
Archery World February 1987

By Russell Hull
On October 12, 1982, during the fall
deer season here in Kansas “yours
truly” had the experience of a lifetime.
On that calm beautiful fall evening I was
bowhunting with my daughter, Linda, who
was seven years old at the time. We were sitting
back-to-back in portable tree stands,
watching a freshly opened scrape that I had
found a couple of days before. Linda was be-
coming very fidgety and was needing to go to
the bathroom. I informed her that there was
no way she was going to go to the bathroom
around this scrape area. I gave her a piece of
sandy to help take her mind off the problem at
I slipped a piece of candy in my mouth,
under my face mask, when suddenly into the
grape walked a huge 12 point buck. After
waiting a few moments until the buck was in
line right position, I released my arrow and it
went completely through the deer’s heart and
stuck in the ground.
This was my daughter’s first time in a tree
sand and the unexpected had happened. I was
delighted and felt like I was living a dream and
at any moment I would wake up!
On that very same evening in another part
of Kansas another bowhunter by the name of
Mike Rose was also having a dream come
me. Mike shot a new state record whitetail
minutes after I shot my buck. His deer
ended up scoring 182 P&Y. (Mike later entered his buck in my “Cover Up” contest and
won lst place.)

I never miss a chance at asking a 10t of
questions when a hunter takes a really super
buck like Mike’s. I wanted to know just what

he had done to arrow a huge buck so early into
season. I was surprised when he mentioned
that he was hunting near some scrape sign and
was using a deer call. He felt that he had actually called the deer in.

I immediately became
skeptical, but very interested.
Before the next fall’s deer season rolled
around I purchased several different deer
calls and even made a couple of calls and began

experimenting. About ten years ago, I had
tried deer calling and after a few attempts had
given it up. I decided this time to give it a
better trial.
Deer calling is becoming very popular
with bowhunters because most bowhunters
are solitary hunters who are trying to kill a
deer on a one-to-one basis. Deer calling is
really nothing new as far as a hunting technique
is concerned, for it’s probably been
used for thousands of years. Early Indians
used the method with success to get close to
deer, and they were hunting at a time when
bringing home venison was essential.
As bowhunters, we have a tendency to
scout out an area, then set up our stands and
wait for something to happen. With the use of
deer calls and the right hunting techniques, I
believe you can make it happen. Don’t get me
wrong, deer calling is no different than the
success you might have at turkey calling, bugling
elk or antler rattling. It’s not going to
work 100 percent. But if you could improve
your success just 1/3 of the time wouldn’t it be
worth a try.

 
Deer are very alert and wary animals, but
they also have a natural curiosity about them
that makes them respond to a deer call. Recently
while hunting turkeys, I saw two deer
passing by. When I called on my turkey call,
they actually changed directions and came
right up to me at a distance of about 10 yards.
They walked over, smelled the decoy and
walked on up the trail. Just another example
of how a deer will respond to a natural sound
in the woods. They will almost always stop
and look towards the sound.


Deer calling won’t always bring a deer in,
but neither will it scare or spook them away if
done properly. Sometimes they are just not in
the mood. Other times they may be cautious
or bold and aggressive. I also find this to be
true bugling elk, calling turkeys or rattling
deer horns. Rattling deer horns is Mother
Nature’s deer call. However, as with any type
of rattling or calling game the most important
thing is the right set up. This is why still hunting,
scouting and choosing a stand location is
so critical. You can’t expect to just walk out
into the woods and start rattling and calling
and expect immediate results. Using a deer
call without applying proper hunting techniques
is certainly not a short cut to success.
You must do your scouting ahead of the season
and try to plan your calling locations near
fresh scrapes, rubs, food and bedding areas.
if you can get into your stand quietly and without
being detected near a bedding area, you
will sometimes call deer out of their beds before dark.
Another good place to set up for deer calling is on a deer run
between two large areas of timber. This works well before, during and
after the rut as the bucks will be traveling a lot
looking for does in estrus. This is also a good
time to use a doe in heat lure and combine
deer calling with antler rattling.
The best weather for calling deer is on
cold and windless days. When the wind is
very calm the sound of the call will travel farther
therefore increasing your chances.
Some hunters say they don’t need to carry
a commercial call because they can make the
sounds with just the human voice. I feel it is
probably better to use a man made call because
of the louder volume which is needed
sometimes. I also hate to start coughing when
a deer is near by.
Until I see deer I call about every 15 minutes.
Then I quit calling and watch the deer to
see if they will come close. If a deer is coming
toward you, keep quiet, but if his line of travel
is taking him away from you, start to call.
Control the volume of the call depending on
how far away the animal is. Try to call in a
rhythm pattern but not too often and not too
loud.
Deer seem to be able to almost pin point
the location of a person rattling or deer calling,
and for this reason it is better not to over
call or rattle, when deer are within 50 yards or
so. This is likely to arouse the deer’s suspicion.
It also seems to work better if the terrain
for calling isn’t too open. This causes the deer
to have to look for the source of the sound.


Types Of Calls
There are three types of deer calls being
made at the present time. Let’s briefly look at
the use of each one.
The bleat deer call is designed so that the
sound it makes will cause a deer to react to the
call out of sheer curiosity. It is the cry of a
fawn or doe in distress. Big bucks will often
respond to this sound as well as does. (Ask
Mike Rose who shot a state record.) The
bucks will sometimes be following the doe
when tl1e doe comes to the call. The bleat call
will work on mule deer as well as whitetails. I
was hunting with Jim Dougherty, Jr. , last fall
in Idaho when we called in several mule deer
one evening. The bleat call is probably best
used during the early part of deer season,
when they are just moving randomly about
and are not using any specific trails.
Bleat calls can also be used in early mule
deer seasons in the mountains. Let’s say you
are sitting high on a ridge with your spotting
scope and you locate a trophy buck. The buck
beds down and you try to get a landmark on
his location so you can begin your stalk. It
takes an hour to get to the location and when
you do you have trouble relocating the buck.
Things just look different than they did a half
a mile away. But wait, you’ve got an ace in the
hole in your pocket! You take out your bleat
deer call and blow softly while you are still
hidden in the brush. Invariably a deer will get
up to investigate the sound. If you are close
enough, when he gets up take your shot, if not
let him lie back down and relax then continue
your stalk. This time you know his exact location
and the position he ’s facing.

One of the newer calls is the snort deer
call. The snort that a whitetail makes when it
is nervous and unable to identify its intruder is
generally thought of as an alarm signal. This
sound can be imitated by a smart hunter when
he is entering a tree stand in the dark or stalking
a deer that isn’t quite sure what has disturbed him.

When the intruder snorts back at
the deer, it puts the deer at ease because he
then begins to think the sound he heard is an-
other deer. I used this, one morning last fall
when I was hunting around some fresh
scrapes. I was snorted at one time on my way
to the stand; I took out my snort call and blew
one time back at the deer. After a few minutes,

I proceeded on to the stand and within
about 20 minutes I passed up an eight pointer
at l0 yards. If I hadn’t snorted back at the deer
it would have kept snorting until every deer
had vacated the area. Later in the morning I
checked the tracks and it appeared to be a
huge buck working his scrapes just before
daylight. Sometimes, during the rut a snort
will bring a buck running for a light.
The other type of deer call that I use is a
grunt deer call that is designed to imitate the
sound a buck makes when he is trailing a doe
in estrus. This grunt is sometimes described
by hunters as a “burp” or “urp” sound. Quite
often several bucks will follow this sound because
they all are scent trailing the doe in
heat.


I personally like to combine the grunt call
with rattling deer horns. I feel it makes for
more realism while trying to imitate the
sounds of a buck fight. The best time for this
is just a few days before the main tut begins
and again right after the breeding season.
Once the big bucks are with the does in estrus
it’s hard to call them away from their girl
friends.
In November of 1985, I killed two P&Y
bucks while using deer calls and rattling. The
one from Kansas was an uneven 7 x 4 (139 6/8
P&Y). I shot this buck near some scrapes and
was surprised when he let me shoot him again
after the first arrow had found its mark. This
buck was really worked up as I’ve never had
this happen before.
Three weeks later in Nebraska, after their
rifle season, I took my first non-typical whitetail
at a distance of 15 yards while using deer
calls and rattling. The buck had 16 points and
went 154 P&Y. I felt very lucky to take this
deer because they had harvested 450 deer out
of this area the week before during rifle season.
A week later they had another rifle season.
Learning to use a deer call is really very
simple and only takes a little practice. But a
little practice can pay great dividends. Just
remember to call softly and not too often.
Deer calling to me is fascinating, fun and
another extra edge that you can give yourself
while bowhunting. >>—>

 

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Published by archerchick on 21 Apr 2012

How To Hunt Javalina – By W.R. Tony Dukes

How To Hunt Javalina By W.R. Tony Dukes
Texas holds more javelina than any other state.
Stretching like a vaquero awakening from his siesta, the Texas brush country sweeps south and west away from San Antonio, a badland full of wild critters. From deer, mountain lion, bobcat and coyote, to dove, quail and turkey, it’s a paradise for those tough enough to withstand the country’s dry and thorny character. Javelina, the “desert pig,” thrives here.
Hundreds of miles away, west of the Pecos River, the terrain changes but the Texas toughness of the land- scape remains the same. This too, is home to the Lone Star state’s many roaming, squealing javelina bands.
Some quarter million of these bristly little beasts call this area home, creating a bowhunting opportunity too good to be missed. Actually, the quarter million figure is a conservative estimate by Texas game managers.
No detailed surveys. of javelina numbers have been done, but the state reports 18.000-20,000 harvested each year, mostly as kills incidental to firearm deer hunting. Texas holds more javelina than any other state. Also know as collared peccary, these pint sized “pigs” look a lot like hogs, but are not of the same family as pigs or wild boar. Features like a single dew claw on the hind foot, and four teats (only two are functional) separate them from the Old World swine.
Although javelina are classed as big game, they really fall somewhere between big and small game in size. In a Texas study, live adult javelina averaged 55 pounds, while an average, field dressed peccary falls somewhere in the 30-40 pound range. Nevertheless, Texas game management accords the javelina big game status, and fortunately, some protection. At one time, javelina were hunted for the soft, thin leather their hides provided. Many ranchers sought to exterminate them, but in recent years, attitudes have changed.
Today, javelina are no longer considered pests, and some ranchers are beginning to realize the peccary’s value as a bonus game animal for their regular, deer hunting clientele and for special javelina only hunts. Javelina require two things — food and cover. The most dense javelina populations invariably are found where prickly pear cactus is abundant. On almost all ranges, this succulent plant provides more than half of the javelina’s diet while providing most of its water requirements. The prickly pear diet is supplemented by forbs, vines, grasses, and green browse from woody shrubs. Thick brush provides cover from weather and enemies.
Whitebrush or beebrush, and blackbmsh, all acacia types, are favored in south Texas. In the hill country, cedar breaks and turkey pear offer the same protection. The javelina’s only natural enemies are mountain lions and coyotes.
Most bowhunters seeking javelina do their hunting in January and February, a time when brush has lost its leaves and daytime javelina activity increases. However, the season is open year round in most of south Texas, and from October to nearly the end of February in other areas.
During the summer months, javelina are active almost exclusively at night, laying up in the shade during the hot daytime hours. A band of javelina, usually 10-15 animals, inhabits a range of about one square mile, making them predictable if a fair amount of scouting has been done. By carefully scanning mesquite flats, scendaros, roads and other open areas, javelina can usually be spotted if they are in the area.
The animals seem to have no aversion to feeding in and crossing openings, explaining why spotting and stalking is the most popular method bowhunters use to purse the little “pigs On a stalk, the only thing a bowhunter has to worry about besides thorns and rattle- snakes is a javelina`s keen nose, its best defense.
The critters are nearly blind and have only a fair sense of hearing. So with caution, it`s not difficult for a skilled hunter to move within easy bow range. For the patient bowhunter, baited areas and watering holes make productive stand sites. Stands are typically located on the downwind edge of an opening in the thorny thicket, with the bait placed in the clearing. Javelina have a never-ending appetite for corn and can smell the grain at a distance of one-quarter mile. In good “pig” country, it is not uncommon to have bait visited within 24 hours of its placement. Like bear hunting, a persistent hunter that can keep still will usu- ally be rewarded with the opportunity for a shot. Since there are few trees capable of hold- ing a tree stand in the brush country, tripods are the elevated stand of choice. The little “pigs” can also be taken successfully from pit or ground blinds, however, their sense of smell must be respected the same way as that of a whitetail.
It`s impossible to talk about the javelina’s sense of smell without mentioning the rank odor the animal itself gives off. When down-wind from a bunch of javelina, a hunter can easily smell the beasts, and its not an odor easily mistaken, or forgotten. The cause is a musk gland located on the animal’s back, used as a means of communication. By far the most exciting way to hunt these Southwestern animals is by calling them. By imitating a young javelina in distress, a whole herd of calm, feeding peccary can be transformed into a charging, tooth-popping gang. Calling can make for some fast-paced, hair- raising action as the little critters come running.
Another great thing about javelina hunting, particularly calling, is that it ’s not critical to be hunting at dawn. This allows the bow-hunter to savor an extra hour in the sleeping bag or a chance to check out gear and sling a few practice arrows. A hunter won’t be rushed if he decides to do both. Unlike rattling whitetails where the shooter sets up in front of the rattler, when calling the javelina shooter positions himself as close to the caller as possible.
The “pigs” will come directly to the source of the call, often nearly bumping the caller and shooter as they move through. Some hunters have been unnerved by the response of the javelina, mistaking the action for an aggressive attack. The same type of activity is often observed after a band of javelina are spooked by a bowhunter trying to stalk the animals.
In fact, the javelina “at tack” is seldom more than the blind movement of the nearsighted animals as they try to leave the area in the quickest way possible. Javelina do possess vicious looking teeth, but they seldom show real aggression unless cornered. They do, however, seem to fight constantly among themselves making woofs, growls and grunts in the process, a factor that can aid hunters scouting for the animals.
The javelina`s mean looking dental gear are not tusks as referred to with wild boar. The 2·inch, razor sharp extrusions are actually canine teeth used for rooting and tearing some of the tough desert plants they eat. The teeth can inflict injury in a battle, a factor that has led to a decline in the number of hunters and outfitters that will risk running dogs on the little beasts.
Weather conditions on a January or. February Texas javelina hunt can range from that of a summer safari to cold and wintry, all within a few days. Long underwear and a good warm jacket are items to pack along. Rain gear is a must because this is the time of year that Texas gets most of its precipitation. Many hunters wear chaps and snake leggings to protect them in the endless brush. A good pair of tough leather boots are standard fare.
Camouflage clothing is helpful, but neutral tone outerwear will work just as well for this type of hunting. Javelina aren’t know for being tough to kill. Actually, when compared to other big game animals, the peccary goes down easily. Any well-placed broadhead from a medium weight hunting bow will do a nice job dispatching them. Shots average 2-20 yards when javelina come to the call. Usually darting through the underbrush, javelina make small, deceptive targets. The fast-moving, close-range shooting gives instinctive shooters an advantage here. Bait hunters can dictate their own distances by their setup and personal confidence.
Felt-lined rugs, full or shoulder mounts or a pair of handmade leather gloves are some of the exciting options the successful javelina hunter can have produced to remember his
hunt by. It’s a good idea to find out in advance how the taxidermist wants the trophy caped or cut. A bleached skull, canines glistening, always makes a nice addition to any trophy room. Anyone who has field dressed a javelina knows too well the smell of these critters. The musk gland, located high on the rump of the animal, is a four-inch dark area lacking hair. It can easily be removed by taking a knife and cutting around the area. However, because javelina often are loaded with fleas, many hunters prefer to skin the animal on the spot. In this case, there is no need to remove the musk gland because it comes off with the skin.
Javelina, with their almost exclusive vegetarian diet, make good eating at a young age. When hunting for meat, select the medium sized animals in a group. Trophy sized javelina, whether boar or sow, are not palatable, Don’t expect to get much meat from these “pigs.” An average animal yields only about 15 pounds.
Javelina Shoot Out
Way down south near the Texas border town of Laredo is a particular tract of land chock full of javelina. The Callahan Ranch lazily encompasses some 135,000 acres of Texas badlands. Here is the home of the annual Texas Javelina Shoot Out, originated in 1980. Behind a Texas-sized handlebar moustache, a squealing javelina call and a razor sharp Snuffer, you find Ron Collier, co-organizer of the annual javelina shoot. Collier and long-time hunting pal Ed Foreman are pioneers of javelina calling in Texas. Both are veteran bowhunters.
Each year these two, along with about 450 other bowhunters, visit the Callahan Ranch to camp, exchange hunting stories and chase the desert “pigs  Precision Shooting Equipment (PSE) is a major sponsor of the gathering. The hunt is open to the public for a nominal registration fee and 1990 marks the tenth an- nual event. For more information write to Ron Collier, 7700 Delafield Lane, Austin, Texas 78752.
Whether you team up with the other bow-hunters at the Callahan Ranch or set up your own “javelina shootout,” hunting these animals can be a quick cure to the midwinter blahs. Javelina can`t compare to a trophy bear, deer or any of the other animals listed by the Pope and Young Club record keepers, but they are just challenging enough, and just easy enough to score on, to make the hunt well worth the effort. And when that first bunch of javelina is encountered, the excitement will easily over-shadow any doubts about the small size of this animal. The thrills are big!
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Published by archerchick on 12 Apr 2012

Bowhunting in Paradise ~By Dale Schlehuber

Bowhunting in Paradise  By Dale Schlehuber

Bowhunting World April 1990

There ’s a bunch feeding about 300 yards below us in that brushy pocket,” whispered my father. Clifford Schlehuber had spotted 20 of Hawaii’s axis deer through his 10x binoculars from a bare knob on the ridge that divides the island of Lanai. “I’ll head over to that notch where that bunch ran Friday and try to ambush them if they get spooked,” he advised, “and you can try stalking them. But go slow! Remember, every bush and clump of trees has a deer hiding in it! ” At various times during our week-long hunt, we had spooked as many as 10 or 15 deer while stalking other animals. We had learned that the spotted axises had used the same notch to escape a hunter, so this time Clifford would be in position to arrow an animal before it could disappear into the bottom of a 500-foot-deep, two-mile-long volcanic gulch.

 

After waiting a half hour while Clifford circled behind the available cover to get to his “stand”, I started down the steep hillside, slowly stepping to avoid any leaves or twigs, following any strips of bare, red volcanic dirt, while trying to maintain visual contact with the grazing herd. The axises had routinely come out for an afternoon lunch after
disappearing early in the morning fog that is common in Lanai. Their routines and escape patterns had been learned only alter three hard days of hunting. Too often a “perfect stalk” had been thwarted by an unseen deer, so each step was followed by a careful inspection of every bush and tree. To my right a 15-foot-high mound provided an excellent observation point high enough to clearly see the herd of deer above the surrounding thicket of trees blocking my planned path. As I topped the mound, I saw movement out of the corner of my eye, freezing me in my tracks.

 

Achingly. l sat down and spun on my rump toward the movement. A half-grown fawn was eating leaves only 35 yards away. After five minutes, junior’s mother appeared from behind a clump of brush 30 yards away. I had pre-set my moveable SightMaster crosshairs for that exact range, and I knew my 65-pound PSE MagnaFlite bow would send the 2114 XX75 arrow tipped with a Razorback 5 broadhead through her chest and might hit the fawn directly behind her. Waiting until the fawn moved out of the line of fire, I slowly raised, drew and picked the spot for a heart shot.

 

Just as I was releasing half my breath and increasing back tension, a set of antlers moved above the bush the doe had been in. Letting down as slowly as my burning muscles allowed, I watched the upper fork of the small buck bob back and forth as he fed. Although not a trophy class deer, he was a buck, and we hadn’t seen any horns while glassing the herd. As this was our last day of hunting, I didn’t want to return to Montana empty handed (Sure, you went to Hawaii hunting! See any two-pointers on the beach?), so I resolved to take back a tanned cream and spot-covered doe hide to add to my collection. Now, I had the opportunity for the dark brown and spotted hide of a buck along with plaque-mounted horns!

 

Distinctive Coloration

 

Axis deer are natives of India and Ceylon that are spotted for life. Does have a dark chocolate dorsal stripe that turns to a golden honey brown down their sides, becoming a creamy color and white on the belly. Nickle size spots are arranged in rows throughout the body. Bucks tend to be chocolate colored down to the belly, with older males having a charcoal color on the front shoulders and neck. The horns of axises usually have three points to a side; brow tines with a forked main branch are the norm. Large bucks will have horns in the 30-inch-plus category, and make an impressive mount. Although the average buck weighs 160 pounds, some have been known to reach 250.

Axises prefer open parkland forests, but will adapt to dense rain forest. Lanai ’s kiawe (mesquite type) mid zone and the upper ridge’s eucalyptus forest provide ideal habitat. For 15 minutes the antlers moved about the thicket, without my getting a glimpse of the buck. The entire time the doe remained broadside 30 yards away, making any attempt to move impossible. Adrenaline surged through my system. as nothing can make me get “buck fever” quicker than hearing my quarry nearby but not being able to see it. Trying to calm myself, I recalled the first day of our hunt. We had spotted six deer, one a huge charcoal colored buck with 32 inch V horns and long, heavy brow tines. After a two-hour stalk covering only 200 yards, and spooking a jackrabbit-sized fawn at 10-feet that, fortunately, ran away from the herd, I finally positioned myself for a 25-yard, head-on shot.
As the buck exposed his throat while feeding on an overhead limb, I drew and released too rapidly, resulting in the arrow being deflected left of the mark by a small branch that in my haste, I had not seen. The buck and the herd disappeared into a deep gulch in seconds. Lanai is a small island forming a triangle with the islands of Molokai and Maui. The volcanic island rises steeply from the ocean, with most ofthe shoreline being 200- to 300- foot-high cliffs. The steep slope continues from the ocean upward to the plateau on the center ofthe island. This flat portion is where pineapples are grown. The northern edge of the plateau is bordered by a high ridge that rises to 3,000 feet, high enough to catch the moist trade winds. Often, this ridge is shrouded in fog and rain, providing the island with water from deep wells. Lanai City, the only town, has a population of 1,400 inhabitants, most of whom are of Filipino, Japanese and Hawaiian ancestry, brought to Lanai to cultivate 19,000 acres of pineapples by the island’s original owner, Dole.
Now, Lanai is  owned by Castle and Cook Co, whose CEO is David Murdock, a main-land businessman. Koele Company manages the islands pineapple operation, and administers the year-round fee hunting program for axis deer on the eastern half of the island. Archery permits good for the entire year cost $100, while rifle hunters must pay $280 for a one-day hunt.
The fee half of the island is divided into several zones so that each hunter can reserve an  area for himself. For a nominal fee. a guide can be hired through the Koele Company. The best time to get trophy antlers is from May through November. Horns in all stages of
developement can be seen due to the length of the matinig season. Now the real good news! The western half of the island is mantained for public hunting of axis deer and maouflon sheep. The archery season for deer is usually the last two Sundays of February (It’s a great way to take the wife on vacation and still get in some hunting.)
The nrst two Sundays of August constitute the mouflon season A one-year, non-resident license costs, get this, $20! Not only can you hunt axis deer and mouflon sheep on Lanai. but you can travel to neighboring islands and hunt feral pigs, feral goats, feral sheep, and if you draw a special permit, blacktail deer. Depending on the island and zone of the island, the limit can be two pigs and two goats . . . per day!  Also, Hawaii has over 15 species of game birds. including three varieties of francolin grouse. three types of pheasant, three types of dove, and Rio Grande turkey. All this for $20.
Summer Vacation Hunt
My mainland friends could not believe that I was going to Hawaii exclusively to hunt, especially in August. However, low summer airfares and the ability to combine the public hunt for mouflon with the private hunting for axis deer had me anxiously awaiting August’s arrival. We had decided to hunt deer for three days, then take a day off to participate in a tournament sponsored by the local archery club, No Nuff Archers, for the over 300 hunters that arrive for the mouflon season. The tournament is held on a Saturday, followed by a banquet and awards ceremony.
Hawaiians really know how to have fun! We were greeted at the airport by Assistant Game Warden Ken Sabino whom I had met in February on my first visit to Lanai. Ken had arranged for us to use his jeep, although vehicles are available at local service stations. If you rent be sure to ask for a four-wheel drive or pickup as there is little asphalt on Lanai, and most roads to hunting areas are poorly maintained.
Ken then gave us some bad news. The deer had so badly damaged the pineapple fields that the usual surrounding archery zones had been opened for shotgun hunting during weekends. Additionally, special wardens had been spotlighting and shooting the troublesome deer. We were in for some tough hunting, as the axises are normally spookier than our deer of the mainland.
Currently Lanai has only a 14-room hunting lodge, but Koele is building a first class hotel to entice scuba divers to Lanai’s crystal clear waters which are considered the best in Hawaii. However, I recommend the Hotel Lanai not only for its great dinners, but also the evening sessions on the hotel`s porch, where locals usually gather to swap hunting stores. I hope the flavor of the lodge and island will remain even after the larger hotel is completed.
Also there is an excellent beach where camping is allowed, but reservations must be made in advance. Toilets, showers and fire pits are available, and a quick swim in the ocean after a hard day of hunting really relaxes a fellow.
Pre-Hunt Tour Helps
 After we had settled in, we took a brief tour of the hunting area. Clifford was amazed by the ruggidness and variance of terrain and t His preconceived notion of a tropical rainforest covering the entire island were dashed by the island’s desert zones. Only the 3,000 foot high ridge north of Lanai City was vegetated, covered by a eucalyptus and pine forest. The other two zones were totally different mainly because of the constant mist which provides moisture on the ridge top. The coastal zone vegetation is similar to southwest of Texas mesquite. In this zone, the axises drink the brackish water of tidal pools, since there are no flowing streams on the island.
The steep, rocky, deeply gulched kiawe zone lies between the coast and cultivated plateau zones. This zone is very similar to the arid hills of the Snake and Columbia Rivers of  eastern Washington state.
For three exhausting days we traveled up and down ridges and gulches rising out of abandoned pineapple fields. Later, we learned that in their native India the deer are preyed upon by tigers. Natural selection had made them  warier than even whitetail deer.
Each day we took a two-gallon jug of water to fill our bota bags. The 85-degree humid climate resulted in an empty jug each evening. Our best discovery was that the abandoned fields had volunteer pineapples the locals called sugar pines” because they are much sweeter than those that are harvested.
Sugar pine juice and a sandwich was our lunch. On Friday the mouflon hunters began arriving on DC-3`s used to transfer them from other islands. That evening we exchanged hunting tales with the Hawaiian hunters who had rented a house for the weekend, The Hawaiians were as eager to hear our Montana elk hunting stories as we were to try the local dishes some hunters had prepared for the communal meal. Never have I met people who became friends as easily as the Lanai hunters.
Saturday, I participated in the 28 target tournament, designed as a warm-up for Sunday`s opening day of mouflon hunting. That evening, the No-Nuff Archers held an awards banquet. There were trophies for each division and three flights of first. second, and third places were presented.
Early Sunday morning, we jumped into the jeeps after a quick breakfast of rice and fish balls, which also were wrapped in dried seaweed and placed into fanny packs for our lunch. A large jeep caravan headed towards the public portion of the island. the caravan’s headlights lighting up the spiny tops of the acres of pineapples. That morning the sheep moved up and down the kiawe zone due to the pressure of 300 hunters moving about. I saw at least a dozen full curl rams, but couldn’t cross to the other side of the rimrocked canyon in which I was hunting.
Later in the afternoon. the sheep bedded down in the thick. man-high silver koa brush, somewhat like a thick, twisted willow. Mouflon sheep, natives of southern Europe, are the smallest of the world’s wild sheep. Ewes are usually a light sandy color, while mature rams have forequarters and backs that are black with a white saddle. Ram`s horns are large for the size ofthe animal, similar to a desert bighorn, with full curl and 1 1/4 curl trophies found on Lanai.
Occasionally, rather than curling outward, the horn will come back in close to the ram’s head, much like an aoudad or Barbary sheep. Non-residents may hunt mouflon only during the archery season, while Hawaiians must enter a special drawing lor licenses to hunt them with rifles.
I spotted two groups of rams and decided to try stalking the nearest trio bedded in the koa. After an hour and a half, I managed to get 80 yards from two full curls and a three-quarter curl. The stalk suddenly ended when another archer appeared on the ridgeline and spooked the rams. Five minutes later. I spotted them two canyons away, at least two hours of hard hiking for me. I elected to try for the other group of five rams and hiked in their direction. Again, just as I was nearing reasonable bow range, they were spooked by other hunters.
That Sunday no mouflon were taken, y although several archers had opportunities. David Yasumura. one of the Honolulu hunters with whom l had become acquainted. would have qualified for a “ram fever” award if one had been given. Despite having finished second overall in the previous day`s tournament, he emptied his quiver twice. trying to knock down a mouflon ram.
Buck Ignores Warning
 As I recalled the week`s events. the favorable breeze decided to swirl. The doe stared at
my unmoving form. I avoided eye contact, and my thoughts became serene and peaceful, reminding me of a superstition I have. I believe animals have senses other than the five humans have, and can “catch” thoughts.
It didn`t work, however, and she began a “head bob” routine that I had seen many whitetails perform: Fake a move for a bite of grass . . . head up quickly . . . fake the head down a little lower. . . spring up with the head and stare for 30 seconds . . . down again almost to ground level this time . . . and, up again. Then, she had my scent because the wind was directly to her. Three sharp stamps of her foot alerted the fawn, and, I assumed, the buck. also. A high-pitched “bark” and away she and her fawn sped. but without the buck. Where was he?
Doing a “duck walk” around the left side of the mound allowed me to see one of his escape routes. I hoped he hadn`t headed for the herd and spooked them, too. Wait! Freeze! There he was 50 yards away. and not running, but leisurely eating. The young buck had ignored the doe’s warning and was now broadside, neck stretched upward as he nibblcd at the fruit of a pukawie tree. The 50 yards downhill were almost bare, providing no chance of getting closer. However, I had spent the summer at our local club range and felt comfortable taking a shot at this distance. l set the sight for46 yards, allowing for the slope. I drew, let out half my breath. held the left arm solid with hand relaxed. increased back tension. and smoothly released.
The arrow sped toward the lung shot I had chosen, however, at this distance there was enough time for the buck to react to the string noise. He stepped forward. the arrow hitting him in the middle. As he circled towards where the doe had been. I could see that the liver shot was going to require some tough tracking in the dense brush in the basin.
I waited an hour before beginning to track. The orange XX75 shaft, minus the last six inches. was laying  10 yards from where the deer had been hit. The surrounding brush`s green leaves were splashed with small, almost misty red dots. making blood trail tracking more difficult. And I knew there would be no blood trail from the liver shot anyway. But, I
still looked. I began making sweeps in the general direction me deer had gone, using the  broken shaft as the center of each increasingly bigger arc.
I heard an animal crash through brush as if it had been spooked from its bed. I was sure  it had been the buck, and searched the area roughly. Three hours later we headed back in the dark. I spent a sleepless night. knowing a wounded animal was suffering. In six years of bagging several deer, two elk, an antelope and a rocky Mountain goat,  I had never lost a hit animal.
The next morning we packed our gear for our trip home. Clifford suggested we drop our bags at the airport and return to the hollow for one more hour or searching. Dad knew how much I wanted to find that buck.
Parking the jeer, Clifford headed up the hillside while I went toward the spot where I thought I had jumped the bedded deer. “l found him! I found him!” Clifford yelled. He hadn’t walked 50 yards in the waist high ferns before he almost stepped on the hidden carcass Bowhunting rarely goes as planned, and this trip has been no exception. We both had missed some relatively easy shots at deer and had had an excellent time chasing the sharp-eyed Mouflon. However. I am dreaming of returning next August not only for the hunting and beautiful scenery, but especially for renewing contacts with the friendly people on the pineapple island of Lanai.
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Published by archerchick on 12 Apr 2012

Bowhunting The Midwest -By Randall P Schwalbach

Bowhunting The Midwest

By Randall P Schwalbach
Archery World Bowhunting Guide ’88
Is that a deer, or is that a horse?” Ben I exclaimed as the eight-point whitetail buck leaped in front of the truck. “Just an average Wisconsin buck,” my father replied. Two hours earlier, I had picked Ben up at the airport, and now we were within a couple miles of camp. Ben had come up from Texas for a November hunt with my father and I, and he couldn’t believe how large the first deer he saw in Wisconsin was. That deer didn’t stop and let us weigh it. but l said it might go 140 pounds dressed. Just an average Midwest whitetail. Now to put that in perspective; two weeks later, Ben killed an east Texas buck that scored 126-1/8 Typical — and weighed 88 pounds.
That’s why the Wisconsin buck we saw leap across the road surprised and impressed Ben. Midwestern deer not only have large bodies, they also have the potential for trophy antler growth. The all-time high scorer (206 1/8) was taken by Jim Jordan in 1914 in Buffalo County, Wisconsin. In the number-two spot is a Missouri buck (205) taken in 1971 by Larry Gibson. Next comes an Heinous buck, a bowkill that scores 204 4/8, taken by Mel Johnson in 1965. Just last year, another big Wisconsin buck came to the attention of Boone and Crockett scorers. Taken by Joe Haske in 1945 in Wood County, the buck scores 204 2/8 and ties for fourth place. Wisconsin is the only state to have produced two trophies scoring over 200. Not to mislead anyone, I must also point out that most midwestern deer never reach trophy size.
In Wisconsin, for example, the average whitetail supports a small six or eight-point rack. That’s because an average Wisconsin buck is a year and a half old. Very few bucks make it through their second winter because they are shot during the November gun season; a fact that archers who like to hunt bigger bucks have to deal with. If hunting big deer is your primary objective, your first challenge is to identify habitat that will hold big deer. Such habitat will have one characteristic: It must be overlooked  most deer hunters.
Finding The Bucks
To use my home state of Wisconsin as an example, some of the largest deer are taken from the southeastern counties surrounding the city of Milwaukee. Don’t let the number of subdivisions fool you. There are deer here Big deer. They become big by living in areas
where hunters typically don’t look for deer – in the shadow of development.
Gaining access to urban areas is admittedly difficult. To go out the week before hunting season and ask permission to hunt such farms is usually futile. But if you keep your eyes and ears open, you may learn of an opportunity not far from your doorstep. The point is, you are looking for a place that everyone else has overlooked.
Public hunting areas are sometimes also in the overlooked category, especially those places that are primarily marsh and river bottoms. It is likely that the only hunting pressure these areas get is from duck and pheasant hunters. Often you can use the waterfows and upland hunters to your advantage, by being there on opening day and letting the brush pants brigade drive the deer to you.
A third area in which to look for trophy bucks is the wildest, most rugged country you can find. In Wisconsin, steep hills, such as the breaks of the Mississippi river, and the big woods and swamps of the Nicolet and Chequamegon National Forests tend to keep hunter pressure at low levels. A standard rule of thumb I use in wilderness-like areas is: If you can get there by road, somebody else already has. Find a place where the roads are few, and then walk in.
Hunting the Midwest has a different flavor from deer hunting in other areas of the country. Unlike southern states, where liberal bags (some allow a deer a day) are common, the seasons in the midwest are far more restrictive. In Wisconsin, an archer is allowed one deer of either sex per season. This leads to a hunt where the bowhunter is likely to place more emphasis on killing a trophy buck. After finding an area where deer can live long enough to become trophies, the second step to shooting a big buck is to learn to pass up smaller bucks.
This should be obvious. But I know of many good hunters who do everything else right, and who always end up shooting deer with average size antlers. Then they ask why they’re never seeing trophy deer.
My first shot at a trophy was not by design. It was September, and the evening was hot. So hot that I began to feel ill while perched on an oak branch and had to kneel down on the branch (it was a big branch) and put my head low. While in this position, I heard a deer approach and looked up to see an eight-point buck, probably a yearling or 2 1/2 year old, walk by within five yards. Unable to get into position to shoot, I watched him walk away. Once he was out of sight, I regained a standing posture, in the hopes the buck would circle back. He didn’t. But on his backtrail came a much larger buck. I counted 14 tines, some of them appearing to be a foot long. I missed a five yard shot. Lesson one: Early in the season bucks travel together, so let the smaller buck pass if you’d like to see a trophy.
Time It Right
September is my favorite month to hunt the midwest. It is a perfect time of year,  when there is still abundant natural camoflauge left in the trees (leaves), yet the nights are cool enough to slow down the majority of flying insects. During the middle of these early autumn days, it warms up enough t0 make a nearby trout stream the place to be.
Beyond the  weather, I like September because the deer are still feeling relaxed from a long summer of undisturbed feeding. The first week of the bow season is when the element of surprise is in the hunter’s favor. I have taken more bucks with a bow during this first week than any other time, including the rut.
During the first week of the season, usually, the third week of September in Wisconsin, I concentrate my efforts on the oak  woods. That’s when the acorns of the white oak begin to fall.   These acorns are the sweetest of all the oaks, and they will also not last long on the forest floor before they begin to decompose. The deer know this, and they some to eat these acorns at all hours of the day.
The rut is probably the second best time to score on a buck. In the midwest, the rut occurs during the first two weeks of November. In central Wisconsin, the eighth through the 11th is when I look for the rut to peak. Given the recent increase in bowhunter pressure, however, the rutting behavior in my area has become more and more nocturnal. On the other hand, late-season hunting in December seldom sees crowded woods. A week or two after the gun season closes, the deer resume their normal feeding schedules.
The closer to winter, the more active deer seem to become, as if they are trying to put on a few more pounds before the real cold starts. This is especially true of big bucks that burned their energy reserves during the rut. If they are going to make it through the winter, they have to replenish those reserves.
Bucks start to travel together again in the late season. In this regard, it’s a lot like the early season. Don’t try and hunt the whole day during the late season. I find mornings unproductive then, because that’s the coldest time of the day and the deer remain in their beds. Afternoons when the wind dies early have been best for me in the late season.
Hunting the midwest has a charm because of the large variety of habitat types. This forces a bowhunter to be flexible in his hunting style. In wide open farm country, for example, the best use of a tree stand is not for hunting, but rather for scouting. If you spend a few evenings or mornings in a tree in a fence line, you will likely discover some patterns to deer movement. Perhaps you’ll see a small herd of deer using a corner of an alfalfa field. Try to determine the best natural funnel to that feeding area, and set up a ground blind in it.
Make sure you’ve practiced shooting from a sitting position, because you’ll probably use a stool in your blind. For a good blind, wear camouflage that matches the background, and make sure you can shoot over any kind of screen of brush that you place in front of you.
Another way to hunt farm country is to still-hunt through standing corn. This technique is best employed on windy days, when the corn is noisy. By moving across the rows, looking up and down each row before you proceed to the next, you will get amazingly close to deer, some of them bedded down.
Although I don’t personally own one, a suit of corn stalk and cattail camouflage would seem ideal for this type of hunting. Skyline or winter camouflage, with a lot of white in it, also works well, because bedded deer are looking up at the sky.
Midwestern states are full of rivers, and boat hunting is some of the most enjoyable hunting I’ve ever done. Both my father and I made our first bow kills from a canoe slipping
 silently by the alders, and both deer were shot in their beds. This technique is dynamite if nobody else is doing it. Once locals caught on to our technique, they gave the deer on that river a thorough education in what paddles banging on gunwales sound like.
The best river for floating is one small enough that allows you to shoot to either bank. However, I find it works best just to watch one bank, and let the person paddling watch the other. On my first bow-kill, Dad actually whispered to me, “Right bank,” and I still had time to locate the deer and release. One of the disadvantages of hunting from a canoe is not having prepared shooting lanes. You’ll get extremely close to a lot of deer that you’ll just have to pass up because there’s no shot. Wait it out. As you drift past, a lane may open up, or the deer may step into one on its own.
Probably the most unorthodox tactic I ever employed in a farm country situation was an amphibious ambush from a drainage ditch. I used the ditch as an approach to a cornfield where I knew the world record whitetail was hiding, then submerged my folding stool in a clump of reeds, and sat down with waders above my waist. Mallards whistled over me and sandhill cranes exulted the dawn with raspy, prehistoric voices. A family of raccoons wandered past, busy poking their hands into silt at the waters edge and never noticing me. And finally, the sound of deer feet, precisely placed on the sandy bottom of the ditch. Slow but steady, the deer approached.
I could see the reflection of his antlers in the ripples that pulsed toward me. And then, 10 feet away, his gaze met mine, but not for very long. There was no shot opportunity as the buck raced straight away from me, up the ditch and back into the safety of the corn. By that time, I was fairly chilled from the water (what did I expect from wet wading?) and went back to the car for a cup of coffee and a sandwich, which I chewed very slowly while planning my afternoon hunt. Finding a dry, leafy oak tree was what I had in mind.
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Published by Casey Stutzman on 04 Apr 2012

Why Athletes Make Better Hunters

 I am always amazed how much money hunters will spend on the newest gear and technology to gain an advantage in the woods, all while ignoring their fitness and hunting skills.  Your body is your most lethal weapon; a bow is just an extension of that weapon.  We spend time and money to make sure our equipment is in proper working order that during the moment of truth it will perform but somehow don’t see the value in that same amount of care a preparation of the “human machine” which requires far more care and matinance to perform than any bow or rifle.  Simply put athletes make better hunters because their body and sense are finely tuned to be at its best when the game is on the line.  Before you dismiss the rest of this article because you have never been into sports let me assure you hunting is a sport and you are an athlete.  Everyman is has an athlete with in him; it is that sprit that drives us to compete and seek risks and adventure.  Your instinct to be an athlete is just as strong as your instinct to hunt; the feeling you get when you triumph over a challenge is no different than the one you get when you provide for you family from the fruits of the wild. Below are 3 benefits you will receive as a hunter when you choose to release your inner athlete.
Communication – Fit athletic individuals are often thought of as having strong bodies but their true strength lies in their nervous system.  To keep it simple let’s just say the function of the nervous system is to run communications throughout the entire body.  Improved “communication” can have many benefits for hunters including;
·         Improved reaction times.  “Quick” athletes are made not born. Consistent training improves the speed of communication from the brain to the muscles and vice versa,  this allows the body to react more rapidly to a stimuli.  Vision works into the equation as well, your brain gathers enormous amount of information from your eyes, and improved communication makes this process more effective.
·         Body Awareness.  The term used to describe a person’s awareness of their body and movement is space is call proprioception.  Again through training athletes have very high proprioceptive abilities; this same ability will benefit bow hunters during their draw cycle.  Being able to “turn on” certain muscles (especially postural) at will leads to more accurate and consistent shooting.  Often in archery articles you read about the importance of practice at short ranges to develop “muscle memory” for your draw cycle, athletes will more quickly develop that memory and it will “stick” in the brains better.
good posture – the benefits of good posture are 2 fold; first it will lessen the stress put on upper and lower back from excessive sitting in a tree stand.  The second is a biggie, more accurate shooting!  Posture is all about putting the body in the proper position so that everybody shows up to work; good posture is the cornerstone of core stability.  What I mean by that is if my shoulder blades are in the correct position in relationship to my ribcage and pelvis there are more muscles active to give my “structure” rigidity and a stable platform.  In this sinerio the work of drawing and holding at full draw while keeping a steady pin are shared throughout all the muscles in the body (when standing).  It’s the difference between having 2 friends come over to help you plant a new food plot or 20.
Breathing and heart rate – this is kind of a given.  A trained body has a lower resting heart rate and is able to make better use of oxygen.  Translation for hunters; when you see that buck and your heart begins to race it will not rise to the levels that will affect your shooting because it is starting at a lower rate.  Second you don’t need as much oxygen because your body has become efficient at using it, this gives you more control of your breathing and allows you to take smaller breaths that will keep your pin on target better even at an elevated heart rate.
Recovery – Sitting all day long can be very demanding on the body.  Sitting puts us in a very negative posture that causes excessive stress and tension on specific areas, when standing this same stress provided by gravity is better distributed throughout the entire body.  A fit athletic body will recover better and faster from the stress of sitting allowing you to sit all day and then recover better so you can do it again!  Bodies that are inactive do not deal with stress well because they are not as used to it.  A fit and athletic person’s body is under the constant stress of training and exercise and responds in a very positive manner by adapting to that stress to become stronger and speed up its recovery process so it is ready for the next round.  Think of a cell phone battery, if I want to make a 30 min phone call and my battery is full I have plenty of power to make the call and can expect that the phone will recharge quickly to full power.  If I start my call with only a 50% charge on the battery that same 30 minute call will leave my battery almost fully drained and it will take me much more time to charge back up
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Published by archerchick on 04 Apr 2012

OUTSMARTING TROPHY BRUINS ~By Dr. Ken Nordberg

OUTSMARTING TROPHY BRUINS ~By Dr. Ken Nordberg

Bowhunting World June 1990

Hunters Never See Most Of The Really Big Black Bears

Urr-AUGH!” The throaty roar came from almost directly beneath our tree stand. Hair standing on end (an universal affliction among all smaller bears and humans present), the twin yearlings immediately dropped their beef bones and sprinted south, appearing from behind like a pair of rapidly bouncing, black rubber balls.

Seconds later, a scarfaced, chocolate-colored brute charged malevolently into the small opening before us. Normally, the mere appearance of a mature black bear is enough to start one‘s heart thumping and knees trembling, but this one — some 250 pounds of fulminating inferno — cast an added complexion on matters. Even though black bears, as a rule, are extremely unlikely to vent rage on humans, at this particular moment, a couple of Nordbergs, mouths agape, could not shake the feeling there are exceptions to this rule.

“There’s your bear,” I croaked softly to my youngest son.
After several tense and agonizing minutes of waiting for the
bruin to present a perfect shot angle, the tranquility of the
dripping forest was suddenly shattered by Ken’s shot, Six notable events followed immediately there-after. The heart-shot,
chocolate-brown bruin barreled into rain-soaked hazels on our
right; a bolt of lightning stabbed through the crown of a nearby
pine, showering the forest floor with sparks, and one of the
yearlings reappeared, streaking directly toward our stand.
Lurching to our feet, we found my portion of our years-old,
treestand platform cracking, the unseen (obviously near) chocolate-brown bear beginning to roar and me dangling from my armpits, camera equipment askew. I was inordinately concerned over the realization that my legs were within an easy chomp of least two crazed (and perhaps vengeful) beasts with
large and powerful fangs. Happily, the oncoming yearling
spooked at the sight of my flailing legs, rapidly opening a new
path in yet another direction, and the chocolate-brown bruin succumbed during its third roar.

This somewhat extraordinary, yet somehow typical, bear
hunting episode was the Nordberg family’s introduction to unguided, do-it-yourself black bear hunting. Being a veteran of several guided bear hunts during earlier decades, at least half of which were unsuccessful, I was not only pleasantly surprised by the relative ease with which the chocolate-colored bruin was taken, but flabbergasted by the number of unsuspecting bears we had observed within 30 yards of our stand. We’d seen  in only two days of hunting. Suddenly, we were struck with the realization that rarely-seen black bears — one of world’s largest, most powerful and most cunning land carnivores — are not only much more abundant than thought possible, but very obtainable by the do-it-yourself hunter. During the following decade, drawing l-to-3 Minnesota hunting permits in all but one year, my adventure-loving sons, Ken, Dave and John, my son-in-law Kevin Stone, and I hunted black bears with a passion.

Though 100 percent successful, we began to realize early
on, not all black bears are easy. The bears that proved to be
fairly vulnerable to our baiting techniques during legal shooting hours
were small-to-medium in size, sows and younger
boars up to 250 pounds. Most hunters would not call a 250-
pound black bear merely ‘“medium.” In the wilds, they not
only appear to be very large, but when taken by a hunter they
even feel very large, being much more difficult to move than a
whitetail deer of the same weight. Compared to “average”
bears taken by hunters, weighing significantly less than 200
pounds, they “are” large.

But we knew we had much bigger bears in our favorite
hunting area — monsters that would go 300-500 pounds, One
might even weigh substantially more than 500 pounds. Such
bears were proving to be frustratingly difficult, if not impossible,
to attract to bait during legal shooting hours. Thus, we began to experiment, knowing it would take something “special.” We knew these bears were largely nocturnal, astonishingly cunning and wary, very determined to avoid short-range encounters with humans. We knew they had excellent noses,
and we were fast becoming aware of the black bear’s extraordinary sense of hearing.

Then, it began to happen. Adding big-buck-effective know-how to our thinking, we at last began to draw large to very-large bears to our bait pits, Last fall, I put an arrow through the heart of our second-largest bear from a range of five yards. It was a 422-pound boar that will score very high in the Pope And Young Record Book, proving without a doubt that the do-it-yourself approach can provide the very best in hunting adventure.

Here`s how we do it:

Step 1—Sharpen Marksmanship

A bear hunter’s number-one enemy what facing a large bear is the hunter himself (or herself). As both Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone once observed, taking on a large black bear, one on one, is a true test of a hunter’s mettle. Neither, from what I’ve read, tried it with a bow. Of` course, they did not have the deadly archery equipment we have today, but even with a tireann in their hands, they too felt the extraordinary excitement, the suspense and the danger (whether justified or not) that is an inescapable part of every encounter with a black bear at short range. It’s a heart thumping, knee-rattling experience, all right.

The trouble is “normal” human responses in this situation contribute to inaccurate shooting. Ordinarily, when a large bear is the
target, the average hunter will be at least four-times less accurate than when shooting at a paper target. What that means is, the hunter who can comfortably put all practice arrows into a 3-inch by 5-inch target (the size of a bear’s heart) from 20-30 yards will have a devil of a time putting one arrow into a 12-inch by 20-inch area when the target is a live
bear. What that further means is, to be confident of a heart shot in the field, the hunter must either be capable of putting all practice
arrows into a l-inch circle from 20-30 yards, or limit shooting to the range from which all practice arrows can be shot into a 1-inch circle.

“Confidence” is the key when hunting bears. When you absolutely know you can hit a bear’s heart, every time, you will not be nearly as unnerved when one approaches. That‘s important. Is the heart shot so necessary? No. A lung-
shot bear (both lungs) will usually go down fairly quickly — typically within 20-30 seconds — but, if the arrow does not pass through a bear’s chest, it might be tough to track and recover. Being as fat as they are, high, single
chest wounds do not bleed much, and in 20 seconds a larger bear can easily barrel 200-300 yards. When an arrow passes through a bear’s chest, making an exit wound, the low side wound will usually bleed profusely, providing an easy-to-follow trail. If you can’t be sure of a more deadly heart shot, limit your lung shots to 10-20 yards using heavy arrows shot from no less than a 60-pound bow. Shooting through rib bones only, this should give you that
low-side wound that will lead you unerringly to your bear. Keep in mind, a large bear’s lungs are about one-third smaller than a large whitetail deer’s lungs.

An old sheep guide once advised me. “When you shoot a bear, you want to shoot it dead. You don’t want to just wound it and make it mad. Once a bear gets its adrenalin up, even if it isn’t dangerous, it can be very hard to kill.” No shot kills a bear more quickly than a heart shot, or a shot that severs major blood vessels at the top of the heart. A heart-shot bear will usually drop within 35-50 yards, and it will be very easy to follow the blood trail to the bear.

Step 2-Scout Early

Even where bears are especially abundant, to Lhe untrained eye, bear signs are unlikely to be obvious or common. Ignoring the need to find bear signs, many hunters select stand/bait sites at random, thinking mostly of
themselves in the process. They pick sites close to roads, sites easy to get to, sites with good views and such. Only about 50 percent of randomly selected stand/bait sites are likely to be productive. Once you have spent
weeks hauling hundreds of pounds of valuable groceries to an unproductive stand, you’ll start thinking, “There`s gotta be a better way.”
And, there is.

First, key on edges of heavily-forested, wet lowlands, cedar swamps, areas flooded by beavers and tangled creek bottoms, for example, I don ’t know whether well fatted bears during the fall suffer from heat and need tc
drink a lot of water. if they like to bed in heavily-forested. wet lowlands, if the foods they eat are more common there or if we simply do better hunting bears where their tracks are easy to distinguish, Whatever the reason,
our most productite stand/bait sites are almost always located very near water. Not just any water. It has to be water near tangible bear
signs such as traclcs. droppings, scratch trees and evidences of feeding.

Second, key on available bear foods. In our favorite hunting area. the only wild berries available to bears during the hunting season are wild cranberries and bunchberries Both grow in wet soils, cranberries in a large
spruce bog and bunchberries beneath mature lowland cedars and other evergreens. Where oaks are common bears will spend considerable time eating available acorns. Domestic farm crops like oats. apples, sweet corn and
melons will attract bears from considerable distances. as well as garbage and carrion.

Black bears especially relish sweets of any kind. wild honey being their most common type of sweet in the fall. Insects and grubs also make up a large portion of their fall diets, evidenced by torn-open rotten logs and trees, and
ripped-open ant hills.

Third, key on big bear signs. Intending to hunt older bears exclusively, my boys and I spend considerable time searching for “big” bear signs. We ignore areas that only have signs of small to medium-sized bears, regardless of how common they may be.

No matter how much bear food is available in any one region during fall, older bears seem to forage almost continually along specific routes, unlike younger bears which commonly bed nearby and exploit a good source of food for an extended period of time, perhaps even for weeks. Unlike younger bears
which seem to remain in the vicinity of a food source long after it‘s exhausted, older bears quickly abandon the area and resume traveling widely.

Some older bears I’ve known will range over 20 square miles. The very large
bear I took with a bow last fall was occasionally seen in farm fields 10 miles apart, east to west. I have personally trailed it up to two
miles north and south from the spot where I eventually shot it.

A big bear on the move may not find a new bait for several days, It may not find it at all if the bait is not located near its usual foraging route. Even if it can smell your bait within an infrequently traveled area, a big bear may not go out of its way to visit it unless other foods are scarce. When hunting big bears, then, bears` signs are very important. Droppings
large in mass, claw marks higher than a man can reach on a bear-scratch tree (a rare find) and hind paw prints 8 to 9-1/2 inches long generally mean you’ve located a big bear’s foraging route. Without such signs in the
vicinity of your stand, you may see bears, but it’s unlikely you’ll see a trophy-class bear.

Upon discovering food placed in the woods by a human, an adult bear will fully
understand how that food got there. Nonetheless, the bear will cautiously make use of that food daily, either until the food is exhausted or until it cannot feel secure there like discovering 21 human there during regular feeding hours, for example. Once the food is exhausted, an older bear will not likely return for 3-4 days. Upon being spooked from the site by a human, it either may not retum at all or it may retum during nighttime hours only.

Where unexpected, near-encounters with humans are likely at a bait site, such as at one near a road or trail frequently traveled by humans, an older bear will either completely avoid the bait site or visit it during nighttime
hours only. Trophy-class bears are therefore unlikely to be taken near roads or trails frequented by humans. To be effective, stand/bait sites should be located at least 1/2-mile from frequently traveled roads or trails.

Hunting bears that far off-trail means the hunter must be prepared to transport heavy bait and possibly a heavy bear over considerable distances over rough terrain. This means the hunter must also locate, brush-out and
mark a conservative trail to a bait site. Once an older bear realizes a human is depositing food at a specitic site periodically, it will be very reluctant to approach during daylight hours unless the site is surrounded by
dense cover. This means a spot with a good view is unlikely to be effective for taking a big bear. It means the hunter will likely find it necessary at a good, heavily-timbered site to create a small clearing for the bait pit and a
conserative shooting lane, preserving as much surrounding cover in its natural state as possible. Wide and obvious, new clearings and shooting lanes spook older bears. Preserving cover commonly makes it necessary to position the stand very near the bait. For this reason, I often end up sitting within 10 yards. This is not usually a handicap as long as the hunter can remain reasonably calm while a bear is present. Nearer than 10 yards is not better though certainly more exciting Shot angles can become difficult at shorter
range and at five yards a bear can hear the strong beat of a human heart.

Step 3—Prepare Stand/Bait Sites

Essential to the effectiveness of an elevated stand intended for hunting any black bear is cover enough to screen a large portion of the hunter’s silhouette. Black bears do not have sharp vision. but older bears, nonetheless, readily recognize the exposed silhouette of a feared human, even when the human is completely motionless. Being tree climbers, black bears frequently gaze up into trees. Perhaps older boars, the most dominant of bears, expect to see younger bears in trees, as climbing is a common escape from possible attack.

Encounters between bears are especially common at bait pits, and so is tree climbing. Sometimes, I feel big bears mistakenly identify breathless. well-camouflaged humans on elevated platforms as cowering lesser bears.

Without adequate silhouette-hiding cover, you’re sunk. I’ve had all classes of bears identify me in trees. When that happens, I am amazed at how abruptly a black bear can disappear. With a big bear, one such alarm is all it takes. That bear won‘t give you a second chance at that site, not even a year later.

Though black bears are less intimidated by new stand sites than whitetail deer, the stand, should be erected no less than two weeks before hunting. With good cover at the platform level, such as provided by a mature evergreen,
a stand nine feet above the ground is adequate.

In Minnesota where we can begin baiting two weeks before the opener, we usually set up our stands and brush-out shooting lanes and
stand trails during the first baiting.

As illustrated, we dig bait pits about 3 feet in diameter and 2 feet deep at well-drained locations. All of the soil removed is carefully spread out around each pit so bear tracks can be measured more easily. |
Track measurements tell us how many bears are visiting our pits and how large they are. Bears eventually pack this soil down so that tracks become indis-
tinguishable. Thus, we make it a habit to loosen this soil each time we add more bait.

After depositing bait in our pits, we cover it with tive or six 100 pound plus logs six feet long. We arrange these logs tightly side-by-side, at right angles to the expected path of the hunters arrow. These logs serve several functions. For one, they protect our baits from other animals and birds. I have seen ravens clean up 100 pounds of exposed meat scraps in one weekend.

The logs also serve as measuring sticks. Any bear that compares favorable in length (nose to tail) with a six-foot log  is “a keeper? The way these heavy logs are moved from pits is also a measure of a bear. Small or medium-sized bears usually roll two or three logs to one side, opening a narrow window to the bait. Large and very large bears flip two or more completely out the way,
sometimes tossing them end-for-end several feet to one side. Placing logs at a right angle to arrow flight promotes ideal shot angles. Bears usually stand parallel to the logs — on top or to one side — providing broadside or slightly
angled positions that make heart shots easy.

Step 4—Bait Heavy & Often

There are probably as many effective baits and bait combinations as there are bear guides. Because bear diets vary from region-to-region and allowable baits vary, too, from state to state or province to province, it ‘s difficult to suggest baits that are universally effective or allowable. Rather than do that, I’ll simply explain what we Nordbergs use in Minnesota. Here, pork is prohibited (to prevent the introduction of trichinosis to bears), as well as glass, metal or plastic containers.

‘With such great latitude, we’ve had plenty of opportunity to find out what our wild bears like best. Our current “per pit” recipe for big bears is as follows:
75-100 lbs. fresh meat scraps, bones and suet
10 lbs, dry dog food
1/2 peck sweet corn on cob in husk
50 pounds of fruit preserves (dated and
unsalable)
1/2 peck backyard apples and/or other fruits
1/2 watermelon, smashed
Assorted table scraps
Bacon and cooking greases saved up during
off season (initial baiting)
2 gal. used cooking oil (initial baiting)
1 pt. honey (used only when hunting}

As you can see, we give our bears plenty to eat. We add the above amounts to our pits very four to seven days during the two weeks before the opener. As we have learned over the years, smaller amounts of bait will not keep a
large bear satisfied very long. Once bait is completely consumed, a large bear will typically resume its extensive foraging and not return again for three to four days. We try to keep this from happening by renewing baits
every four days after a large bear is on a pit.

I`ve had as many as six bears, including cubs, regularly feeding at one pit, but rarely will even this number of bears clean out a pit in less than four days. A particularly large bear will scent its food source with plenty of urine and droppings to warn off other bears, thus making our generous offering last about four days.

Occasionally, we are unable to renew baits for a week. It may take up to four days for a large bear to return. Younger bears will usually stick around a few days after a pit is exhausted, commonly returning within hours after a pit is replenished. Normally, we re—bait two to three days before hunting, and then again at noon on opening day. From that time on, additional baiting is rarely necessary. By the fourth day of hunting, our allotted permits
have been filled, and our bruins are being converted into gourmet cuts of meat.

Our bait recipe evolved over a decade of experimenting with different foods. Fresh meat scraps are our staple. Though many guides swear by ripe meat — the stinkier the better- our bears have shown time and time again they much prefer fresh meat. We freeze it and store it in 75-pound blocks to assure
freshness in the pits. Dried dog food is used like a spice, mostly because bears have often tried to steal some from our dogs dish in camp. Sweet corn is a much-relished side dish. Our last two bears were shot while nib-
bling com from our pits. We dump highly aromatic fruit preserves
from 50-pound bulk containers over the logs covering our pits. It”s likely this bait alone could do the job. Apples are a perennial favorite, and they hold up well in pits for extended periods, whatever the weather. After honey,
the first thing bears reach for is the water-melon we provide. To enhance its sweet odor, we smash it into small bits just before closing our pits. While baiting and hunting, all left-over foods and scraps from our tables become
bear bait. Anything humans like, bears love.

All during the off-season, all cooking greases, especially bacon, and oils are carefully preserved in coffee cans in the back of the refrigerator. Few substances in a bait pit can draw bears from a greater distance. Using
ordinary paint brushes, we spread bacon grease on tree trunks along at least two paths.

Step 5- Hunt Afternoon to Evening

Like whitetail deer, black bears normally begin feeding well before morning’s first light. It is impossible to approach a stand at first light, or shortly before, without spooking any bear that might be there. Unless it is stormy, no human can move quietly enough.

Once you spook that big bear you’d like to take at your stand/bait site, it is unlikely you will ever see that beast again at that site during
daylight hours. Don`t take that chance. Sleep late in the morning.
Expect to ambush your bear alter 4 p.m. Head to your stand at least five hours before sunset, however. Occasionally, a bear will come in three hours before sunset. Usually, it will be younger bears first, and then progressively larger bears as the sun sets at a pit where several bears are feeding. The very largest bear probably won‘t appear until 30 to
45 minutes before sunset. And, some very large bears have a habit of appearing right after legal shooting hours are over. All you can do with a bear like that is keep trying, hoping it will eventually make a mistake.

Being at your stand at least five hours before sunset is recommended for a good reason. A wiser, older bear will commonly check for human scents, at a safe distance along the trail to your stand before approaching your bait pit. If your scent is several hours old, the bear will move in. If your scent is
relatively fresh, it will quietly leave, likely without your knowledge. This is probably the most common reason why smart, old black bears aren’t seen by average hunters, and why smart, old black bears become only nocturnal
visitors at stand/bait sites.

When hunting and fresh bait is needed, either replenish your pit at noon, and then sneak in later to hunt, or wait until five hours before sunset and use the “buddy/baiting system .” Two hunters noisily carry in bait. While
one climbs into his stand, the other noisily leaves. In the old days, we used this system routinely, but later in the day. Quite frequently, a younger bear, bedded nearby, would rush to the pit within 15 to 30 minutes after the noisy buddy had disappeared. The older bears were never fooled, however.

Step 6—Minimize Sights, Sounds & Scents

Hunting a wise, old black bear is a lot like hunting a wise, old whitetail buck. With a bear, however, eliminating identifying sounds is most important. Though bears have excellent noses, the air around a bait pit characteristically reeks with food and human odors.

Having poor eyesight even at short range, a bear at a bait pit is mostly dependent on its ears. That’s not a handicap as a bear ’s sense of
hearing ranks with the best. That doesn’t mean the hunter can afford to
be careless about sights and scents, as the honey episode reveals. The hunter must be well camouflaged from head to foot, with camo that fairly well matches surrounding cover. Normally bright and reflective human skin, both face and hands, must also be covered with appropriate camo colors.

The hunter’s clothing and body must be free of strong odors. Clothing should be washed in scentless soap, hung outside to dry and protected in scentless plastic bags from odors until shortly before you head to stand. Before wearing this clothing, however the hunter must wash his body with scentless
soap and should brush his teeth with soda Well-scrubbed, all-rubber boots are recommended.

When heading to a bear bait/stand early, the hunter should move quietly and
steadily, only pausing to ascertain that a bear is not at the bait pit and to pour a generous offering of honey on an adjacent tree trunk. Climbing carefully on to the platform making no unnatural squeaks or bumps in the process, the hunter must then sit silently and motionless until the quarry arrives, while avoiding the notice of woodland sentinels that might spill the beans — red squirrels, deer, bluejays and such. When biting insects are prevalent, put on a headnet rather than use a smelly repellent.

Step 7—Prepare For Adventure

Imagine being in my size-11s last Labor Day evening:
A swarm of yellow jackets, heavy with honey purloined from the bait pit below
danced sluggishly on buzzing wings without the warmth of a beam of evening sunlight stabbing through the heavy balsams. Slowly they drew nearer, guided by the swinging shaft of light.

Suddenly, the beam of light fades and the buzzing ceases, but you are not aware of that because your astonished eyes are riveted on the gigantic black form that has just emerged from the deep grass of the ash slough 75 yards
west of your stand. Unconsciously your body tenses, your heart lurches and begins beating more profoundly than ever before, your knees start quaking uncontrollably. It’s the biggest black bear you’ve ever seen. Inadvertently,
the shaft of your mounted arrow slips softly to the moleskin guard from beneath, you wince as bear freezes, its malevolent eyes intent upon the
landscape that hides you. Breathless, you dare not even blink an eye. Several suspenseful moments pass. Finally, the bear tums and effortlessly pads on silent feet through brush and windfalls north of your stand. It seems to
be purposefully staying out of range. Shortly, it disappears from sight behind you. You wonder, “Did I goof`? Was that arrow noise enough to keep that bear from coming in? Should I turn — steal a peak?” Then, you hear a soft shuffling beneath your stand. From the comer of your left eye,
you see the bear moving toward the pit. With your back arched so your clothing will not brush against the rough bark of your stand
tree, you begin the slow, oozing motion that will eventually end with a full draw. Although its body appears fuzzy at the edge of your vision, you’re avoiding now the alarm-triggering direct gaze, you note the bear is facing
you. You see its tawny muzzle rise; it‘s looking right at you. Again, you freeze, totally motionless. Then, you hear loud lapping. You passed the test . . . so far. As the bear intently laps honey, you resume your grand movement with the bear becoming more visible as you turn. Again it looks up. Again you freeze, your eyes diverted obliquely and your heart settling down now. Noisy lapping begins again. The upper limb of your bow rises
slowly upward from your lap. The bear turns, effortlessly sweeping three, 100-pound logs from the pit with one fore paw.

Now, the lower limb of your bow is sweeping slowly downward. Your eyes tell you lean farther outward to keep this limb from hitting the metal platform brace. Concentrating now, and hardly seeing the bear, you watch your
lower limb slip safely beyond the brace. At last you tum your eyes more toward the bear. The bruin snatches a cob of sweet corn out of the pit and drops it just to the left of the pit.

Head down, the bear rips the husk from the cob while pinning it to the ground with its forepaws. Your eyes widen as you realize the bear cannot see you now. It is standing quartering away, its left flank toward you. Anxiously, you begin your draw, stifling the urge to move quickly and listening intently as your arrow slides slowly over your padded rest and plunger. Suddenly, the strain in your right arm and shoulder is gone, your bow has let-off.

Your right forefinger resting firmly behind the trigger of your release begins to slide upward. Through the fuzzy ring of your string peep, you see the red bead of your sight surrounded by jet black fur. You visualize a vertical line immediately behind the bones that make up the bear’s left shoulder. Your bead lowers, now centered on that line. The range is a mere
five yards. Your time has come. Your right index finger eases to the front of your release trigger and slowly squeezes.

Whap! You see your bright blue and green fletches disappear into the exact spot of your aim. Instantly, the bear is gone, crashing with astonishing speed and power north through tangled alders. Then, there is no sound. You
lower your bow. Fifteen seconds pass. Then, you hear it: urr-augh. . .urr-augh. . . urr. . .

You did it! You’ve taken a monster black bear. You obviously did everything exactly right. It just couldn’t have been done any other way. You measured up. Shaking almost violently now, your body free at last to be normally human, you take in a deep breath and let it out. You look upward and see the evening star. “Lord,” you murmur, “it just doesn’t get any better than this.” For the first time in your life, you really know what that means.

 

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Published by jmtompki on 29 Mar 2012

Attention Outdoorsy Women!

For the last two years I have been working on developing my own women’s outdoor apparel line. Recently I received my samples from the manufacturer and to save time/money they used what materials they had to build the basic form. The fabric they used on my light weight shooting jacket was a brown with gold thread, making it shimmer. I liked the look of it, and asked other hunters if it would affect birds when hunting in the field and they said no.

Would you wear a jacket like this?

All of your input and suggestions are greatly appreciated!

Jess

 

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