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Published by archerchick on 05 Dec 2011

Extreme Tactics For Monster Elk ~ By Chuck Adams


Bowhunting World Xtreme 2004

Extreme Tactics For Monster Elk – By Chuck Adams

On September 24, 2003, Chuck Adams defied all
odds by bagging yet another monster elk—the fifth in a row gross
scoring over 370 record·book points. Chuck’s ’03 giant is a symmetrical
6×6 with main beams over 60 inches, an inside spread over 60 inches,
and average tine length over 18 inches. With a green gross score of
423 and a green net score of 412, this bull has a chance to eclipse
Chuck’s own Pope and Young World Record from 2000. P&Y panel
judging will occur in early 2005.

What follows here are exciting details about this huge bull plus
specific tactics Chuck uses to locate and shoot oversize elk like this one.
was scrambling down a near-vertical slope when the accident; occurred. Pine
I needles gave way underfoot, and I fell on my butt as I skated toward a cliff 50
feet below me.
The wild ride ended after I smacked a four inch pine, pinwheeled upside-down,
and collided with another small tree. I hugged the trunk like a long»lost friend, my
body aching but my bow miraculously still in my fist. My feet dangled over a five foot ledge.

Seconds later, the bull I was after bugled just below. I saw antler tips first, and
then the animal sauntered into view. At less than 20 yards, he looked immense.
But fortunately for me, my first really clear look showed massive beams and long
brow tines but little else to write home about. I say “fortunately”, because I could
not have shot my bow to save my life.
The bull’s rack had seven points on the left and eight on the right, but main beams
were short and tine length petered out near the top. The mature but only moderately large monarch climbed higher and veered directly beneath me. Shooting distance, had I been able to shoot and had I wanted to shoot, was less than ten yards.

After the elk disappeared, I dug in my heels, scooted away from the edge, and
crawled uphill to safety. Unless you’re dead, things can usually be worse. I was
tickled to still be in one piece with no broken bones and a promising elk season
ahead of me.
The very next day, I saw the monstrous bull I finally shot three days after that.
I had found a great elk area—a place I’d never hunted before with fresh sign and
enough undisturbed animals to allow a quality bowhunt. How I found the place
is a story in and of itself.

In Search 0f Extreme Habitat
My guide and I have hunted together for years. We are friends, we think alike,
and we dearly love to chase big elk. So after seeing a number of so»so bulls in
places we’d hunted in times past, we decided to pull up stakes and try new ground.
We weren’t interested in ordinary elk, and we knew that somewhere there had
to be a brute.

I looked at topo maps for hours with specific things in mind. I passed over
places with classic alpine elk habitat, because I knew there’d be other bowhunters
there. I was looking instead for corncob»rough, extremely steep ground on the
ragged edge of known elk»producing places. Modem elk are expanding their range
in many parts of the West, and I wanted to find a spot where elk hunting might
not yet be popular.
My 2000 World Record elk had lived in such a place—difficult to penetrate, even
more difficult to hunt, and just enough off the beaten path to not be hammered by
guns or bows. A truly monster bull elk is at least six years old, sometimes eight
or ten. Very few animals reach ripe old age
without having a hideaway with light hunting pressure.

Some bowhunters believe the best elk
are found on private, expensive guided
ground. It’s to think the grass is greener
in such places. In fact, some archers have
told me they assumed my biggest elk have
been taken in pricey outfitted areas where
hunting is easy.

No so. As a matter of fact, I believe that
places frequented by outfitters might be
the very worst spots for genuinely huge
bulls. Serious, hard»hunting outfitters
know every inch of their private leased
ground, and they tend to keep elk age in
such places lower than it needs to be for tip-
top antlers. One very successful elk outfitter
recently told me he deliberately harvests
bulls at about five years of age. He
explained that most hunters are tickled
with a 330 or 340 elk, and added that he
made more money by managing for nice elk
rather than extraordinary elk. Savvy outfitters
concentrate on the bottom line, not
World Record antlers.

If I wanted a decent 6×6 bull and had
the money to spend, I might bowhunt such
a place. Quite a few privately owned elk
properties in New Mexico, Wyoming, Colorado, Montana, and other
states will consistently produce record·book bulls in the
290 to 320 range. A few will yield even better elk.
But for truly huge old mossbacks, I
prefer offbeat pockets not routinely hunt»
ed by guides. Such places are often public
land or private property where free trespass
permission can be obtained.

Covering The Ground
The place my guide and I circled on my
map on September 20 was typically untypical
elk habitat. It was dozens of miles
from known and popular hunting places,
but close enough to hold at least a few
elk. It was murderously steep, with contour lines almost overlapping on the map.
Although I’d never been there, my guide
told me the general area had been heavily clear cut decades earlier, with nasty
timber-choked draws surrounded by wide·
open country. It did not look like elk terrain,
he said, and we probably would not
see other bowhunters. He said we could
probably get permission to hunt sections
that were not public land—an important
factor for elk success. When bulls rut,
they move with track shoes on. You can-
not score if you are stuck on one isolated
square mile of real estate. You’ve got to
move, and sometimes move quickly, over
mile after mile of rugged habitat.

When I first saw the new country on
Sunday, September 21, I was not impressed.
It was indeed open by elk»hunting standard,
with ancient pine stumps littering yellow»
grass hillsides. But slopes were cratered
with sudden pockets of timber and brush,
and deceptively deep canyons knifed
downward off the peaks.

On the second ridgeline we hiked, I
found a string of sap-oozing antler rubs
and piles of fresh elk droppings. Just over
the top, out of sight from an old road, was
a giant gorge with trees as thick as dog
hair. Loggers had taken the easy trees and
left the difficult ones behind. Despite a
severe drought in the West, stem»cured
grass was knee-deep under the trees. Somewhere below,
a stream bubbled merrily
over rocks.
Here, tucked out of sight, was a little
piece of elk heaven.
As if on cue, a bull growled deep in
the draw. It was the single, throaty rumble
of a wild elk that didn’t want to be
chased. . . just the sort of elk I love to chase.
The bull never made another peep, and it
was late in the morning, but I went after
him anyway. My trusty guide was lurking
a safe distance behind.

Going Strong All Day
Covering ground in the elk woods does
not only mean looking at plenty of places
with maps and vehicles. It also means
hiking long distance, both to scout and
to hunt.
Here I was, slipping downward
through very thick trees, late in the
morning with daytime heat settling into
the canyon. I do not believe in penetrating elk-bedding zones, because
bumped animals don’t always come back.
But the bull sound below me had been
too tantalizing, I had not yet seen a really large elk despite days
and days of hunting, and I just wanted a peek.

I got my peek in spades a few minutes
later. The pungent barnyard odor of elk
suddenly hit my nostrils, and then a big,
amber-colored cow exploded from her bed
directly in front of me. Suddenly, the
whole hillside was churning with elk
hooves and dust. I ran to a nearby point,
poked my head over the edge, and spotted
colossal elk antlers twisting downward
through the trees. The bull was hot on the
heels of eight females, hazing them like a
cutting horse after cows. Seconds later,
with the vision of giant antlers burned into
my brain, the small herd vanished beyond
a ridge.

I could not believe my eyes. This
bull was definitely larger than my 2002
elk, and the one in 2002 had officially
gross scored 377 2/8 and net scored 368 4/8
The back “whale tails” on the rack I had
just seen were immense, the main beams
dropping downward on both sides of the
rump. The spread looked impossible-
the widest I had ever seen on a live elk
or in a picture. As I compared my snap
impression with the World Record I had
taken in 2000, I kept coming back to a
startling possibility. This elk might be
just as big!

As my guide and I tramped the high
ridges the rest of the day to look for sign
and orient ourselves to the area, I kept
second·guessing my judgment. As I report»
ed in a 2001 issue of Bowhunting World,
bull elk scoring over 400 points are incredibly rare.
I had said then, and I kept telling
myself now, that seeing two such bulls in
a lifetime was impossible. Despite several million elk harvested in North
America during the past l0O years, fewer than
three dozen typical bulls had officially beat
the 400 inch mark.

We covered ground all day long, and
walked all the next day as well. We did not
hear or see so much as one elk during those
20·plus hours. There were pockets of fresh
sign, but not a lot of animals in the area. It
didn’t matter to me. At that point, I was
only interested in one elk-—the whopper in
the deep, dark canyon.

Refining The Game Plan
On Tuesday, September 23, I saw the big
bull again. It was mid-morning, and we
had just about given up on hunting. Glassing distant slopes had turned up one
raghorn 5×5, two spikes, and one cow.
just as we dropped our binoculars and
stood to leave our prominent perch, ell;
began streaming from a cut in a mountain
half a mile away. At the rear was a huge-
bodied bull with ivory·tipped antlers.
Even from 800 yards, the bull was unmistakable. My guide was flabbergasted The animal was a true rump scratcher, and all the tines were
long. I was beginning to believe that lightning just might strike twice
in the same place.
Before we could get anywhere close, the bull and his eight-cow harem
vanished in the very same canyon were I’d seen them two days before.
As many readers of Bowhunting World know, I prefer not to call elk.

Calling is certainly exciting, and young bulls certainly respond to well
practiced bugles and grunts. But old, hard»hunted bulls are wise.
I suspect they recognize the voices of other real elk in their area, and I know
they move away from imitation calls. You simply do not live six or eight
years by charging every bugle and grunt you hear.

The bulls I hunt don”t even call much themselves. They know from
past experience that mouthing off can be hazardous to their health,
Only when pressed by a rival bull or an overly aggressive pipsqueak do
they bother to answer back.

Such elk require you to refine your game plan. Call only to locate
bulls from a distance. Be quiet and stalk through heavy cover that trophy bulls prefer.
Dog the edges of elk herds, Sooner or later, the big
guy just might swagger into bow range. Never, but never let him know
you’re there. You should stay out of sight and out of his mind—a total
surprise to the bull when your arrow smacks him through the chest.
Going For The Shot

I hiked the mountainside downwind from the elk bedding canyon
till dark on Tuesday. Elk seldom move much before dead dark in
warm weather, and it was certainly warm. But my goal was not
shooting an elk that day, anyway. It was learning terrain so I might set up a shot
tomorrow.

First light on Wednesday morning
found me crouched on a knob near the
bottom of the mountain. A long slash of
wide»open ground stretched upward to the
top….a slash I now knew by heart. With
luck, the bull might push his cows across as
he had the morning before.

Bingo! Three elk appeared high on
the slope where the ones had been the day
before. My heart leaped. . .and then I
relaxed. These were small bulls, not the
macho kind capable of holding cows.
The trio wandered out of sight. Seconds later,
a string of cows appeared a little lower down.
Hot on their heels was the
massive bull.

I ran 125 yards like a madman, scrambling up an open cut that rose sharply I
toward the elk. Out of breath and shaking from excitement, I peeked beyond a bank
of dirt. Here came the cows, mincing along a narrow trail beaten into the hill,
They were barely 2O yards away! I ducked, nocked an arrow, and buried
my shoulder in the near-vertical slope,

Only my eyeballs moved as the females
slipped past me on the upwind side. I could
see the shine of their noses, the glitter of
their eyes, and the delicate flutter of their
eyelids. As the eighth cow moved past
and disappeared, I tensed to take the shot.
Nothing. No antlers, no sound, and
not even any dust, I waited as endless seconds plodded by,
Still no bull, Far uphill, a squeaky bugle erupted from
a patch of timber. Suddenly, polished
antlers appeared much closer above a hill.
They glittered like the mouth of hell as the
giant bull strolled out well above the cows.
I groaned, drew my Reflex bow, and tried
to estimate the distance over the arrow. It
was now or never, and I was determined to
make it now, When you think you can
make the shot, you should go for the shot!

The bull stopped and whipped his head
uphill, gawking toward the elk that had just
called. I guessed 45 yards, planted my sight
pin, and let the bowstring go. Half a second later,
the shaft hammered home with
a meaty, satisfying thump!

The bull staggered ahead, but he did not
go far with a broadhead through both lungs.
I had my elk, and I was thunderstruck by
the size of the beast.

Extreme hunting in an extreme elk
area had paid off with an extreme but very
makeable shot. The animal was also
extreme——extremely big and extremely
exciting. My guide and I rough scored
him well over 4OO points, and even after
half a year, the antlers still unofficially
score nearly three inches larger than my
current P&Y World Record.

Only expert panel judges can sort out
the fine points of officially measuring tines,
assessing main beams, and determining
exactly where the inside spread should be
taped. Half a dozen P&Y points can magically appear
or vanish in one serious measuring session, so l do not know for sure
how this animal will stack up.
But I do know he’s big. That bull
stunned me to my boots when l first laid eyes
on his antlers, and I’m still in awe of his
heavy headgear today. The memories of the
hunt and the thrill of wrapping my hands
around those massive beams are the things
that matter most. >—->>

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Published by archerchick on 05 Dec 2011

Lovin’ Fightin’ Elk – By Ralph Ramos


BOWHUNTING WORLD Xtreme
2004 volume 53, no.6

Lovin’, Fightin, Elk ~ By Ralph Ramos

With today’s call-shy bulls and early
archery season hunting pressure,
bowhunters need hard-core team efforts to produce trophy public land
bulls. These team efforts may include a combination of modern elk cow
calls, decoys, and resonating bugle tubes. But creatively putting them to
use with rattling is what works best! During my 15 years of experience
guiding elk hunters in New Mexico with San Francisco River Outfitters, I’ve
been blessed in harvesting over 120 bull kills in team efforts afield. In the
past seven elk seasons, l have employed my creative elk-calling techniques for others. And they work. My client hunters have multiple opportunities at shooting bulls on an average three-day hunt. Because of creative
calling, out of ll hunters, we average killing nine bulls in any dry or wet

season. Dur average kill ratio is one bull harvest for every two days of hunting.

I witness at least one live elk fight every two sea-
sons. But none stand out as my very first elk
brawl. I remember distinct evening bugles, popping back and forth at each other, as these hulls
walked downhill off the same ridge and headed
toward a marshy meadow. Suddenly I heard a
cracking, popping, loud noise throughout the canyon.
It sounded like many baseball bats banging against each other
at full swing, coupled with muffled moaning and furious breathing.
Two massive bulls fought with their heads down, locking
horns, pushing, shoving, swinging heads and antlers at each other.
Upon witnessing this and subsequent elk fights, l began to
notice that, as we walked out of the battle zone, we would continue
seeing and hearing multiple bull elk in the area after the
real fight ended. Perhaps these area bulls came in hoping to
see a fight, but the brawl was over.
This type of elk fighting and rattling reminded me of high
school students running towards a fray, hollering, “Fight,
fight!” in the school yard when a dispute occurs. Naturally,
these young bull-students like to see the sparring between two
warriors in battle. This intrigued me to try simulating a rattling battle in areas where bulls are bugling.


Rattling & Cow Talk In Action
Arizona elk enthusiast Ron “The Rattler” Way strongly
believes in rattling. He carries a large set of 6×6 antler sheds,
rattling in several bulls per season. Because it is so uncommon
to draw an elk tag in Arizona, Ron practices his method by
going out on friends’ hunts, rattling and refining his technique
for when he draws a permit.

The first time I saw Ron and his rattling technique, he helped
me produce a 340 class Pope & Young 6×6 bull. It took just 45
minutes.l even passed up three opportunities at young bulls, holding out for a herd bull as the elk approached the rattling noise.
First, Ron told our calling party what to do when the rattling
began. “The bulls will start bugling, walking toward the direction of my rattling,” he stated. “Select a bugling bull that interests you and move in towards the bull. Be aggressive. Don’t expect
bulls to come in all the way into my rattling; you need to stalk
the live bugles. Normally, bulls will come in from all directions
and hang up around 50 yards from my rattling. Get the wind right
and move on in. The key is to try to intercept a bull as he
approaches the battle. If you don’t like the bull you see, don’t
stop hunting. Approach another bull’s bugle, and keep working the area for more action. Remember, be aggressive!”

As soon as Ron began to rattle, we heard at least 10 bulls
in the area start bugling toward the ruckus. Amazed, l quickly stalked into the closest bugle for a setup. After the first elk
walked by heading toward the rattling noise at 20 yards, I quickly had my two callers, Joe Sellars and Jerome Sanchez, produce
lovesick excessive cow mews. Because elk are both lovers and
fighters, I knew we were onto a new technique, simulating what
naturally happens in the elk world. Give elk a loud battling
brawl and sweet cow talk, and you’ll get immediate results!
As Ron continued to rattle, bang and clash those huge 6×6
antlers, l continued to move in, jogging to the next closest
bugle. Jerome and Joe followed, trailing me about 30 yards.
They cow talked in multiple tones, as if they were my satellite cows. Mimicked cow talk, battling bulls brawling, and live
screaming bulls filled the surrounding area.
The next bull we called in during the rattling session seemed
to prefer cow talk over the battle. He approached Ron’s rattling,
but changed his mind as if he were advantage of an opportunity to steal the ladies, who belonged to a fighting bull.
At this point we had moved about 300 yards from Ron’s
rattling, still hearing his antlers clattering clearly. The young
6×6 bull came within 20 yards, stopped and stared past me as

another bull snuck in between Joe and Jerome. I decided not
to shoot at this particular bull, as he only allowed a front-end,
quartering-toward»me angle shot. I passed up this unethical shot
and quickly moved in on another bugle. Morning bugles continued
all around us. Meanwhile, 20 minutes into the setup, Ron
continued rattling — what energy and endurance his arms had!
Finally, as I approached another bugle, I spotted cow elk mov»
ing toward my right into the cedar trees. I quickly figured by the
bugle’s location that it could be my herd bull following behind
them. Instantly, I closed in, jogging toward the bull as he
walked through a cluster of trees. For a moment his cows separated
from him to my right.I kneeled down — steady, at full draw
with my PSE bow — selecting a possible shooting lane as a 340
class bull approached, bugling from my left side.
]oe and ]erome continued producing excessive cow talk a good
80 yards behind me while the canyon clattered with echoes from
Ron’s rattling. My top sight pin steadily settled behind the herd
bull`s shoulder as he not only walked in, but stopped between
brush and two cedar trees in the only available shooting lane.
I don’t even remember squeezing my Scott Little Goose trigger as I released my shot. The Carbon Force arrow, tipped with
a Rocky Mountain Ti»l00 broadhead, plunged forward through
both lungs, leaving a remarkable blood trail to follow for a quick
recovery. As we posed with my trophy 45 minutes into the hunt,
bulls continued to bugle at a distance. What a wonderful
bowhunting experience!

Rattling & Calling How To’s
Find Your Battling Antlers
My preferred antlers for rattling
includes at least one large 320 class
6×6 shed as a base antler and a broken antler
— minimum of three points from the bottom
antler base or spur — as the second shed. This
broken antler allows you to swing with more
force, clashing both sheds together furiously
to create a faster, more aggressive rhythm,
Furthermore, less weight on the broken antler

shed means less fatigue on your arms and upper body during a rattling session, helping you produce a true battling noise.
Elk antler sheds may be purchased from antler furniture
shops. However, many elk hunting enthusiasts prefer to indulge _
in a favorite pastime and look for shed antlers in the field. People comb the woods as early as February. They’re more likely to
find world class bull sheds during this early shed season when
the larger bulls loose their antlers before younger satellite bulls.
Because the impact from jumping a fence often causes elk to drop
their antlers, I like to get out and walk fence lines. Antler shed
hunting not only allows people to be outdoors, but offers the
chance for some valuable scouting and exercise for a new year
of hunting. Remember, sheds may be found anywhere, even while
you’re hunting, so keep your eyes open.


Scouting, Season
Considerations

Rattling requires some pre season scouting to determine where
bulls are hanging out (as Ron did during previous hunting seasons). Our rattling
and calling technique is successful during early season archery hunting when bugling is slow, but Ron
found that it works better when the bugling picks up during
the later part of archery season. Multiple bull bugles are easier to locate.
assisting hunters as where to set up for a rattling
session. He would rather set up in an area where he can
already hear two bulls bugling rather than none at all.

Entice With Rattling
Once you have located bugling bulls, set up down»
wind to begin your rattling session. Try to set up
above or level with the elk bugling when you start to rattle.
Elk tend to hang up. They don’t come in as easily if you call
them downhill. First, bang the antlers abruptly and aggressively
against each other. Clash your antlers together six to seven
times, creating a continuous loud, thundering, popping bang.
Let all bulls in the area know that a fight has just begun. When
it comes to drawing their attention, the louder, the better!
Continue clashing, rubbing, and creating clatter for IO to
15 minutes. Once you have started a rhythm for a fight;
bang the antlers two or three times loudly with greater force,
just like the loud, thundering bangs you created at the beginning of your session. This needs to happen at least every three
minutes. Real bulls tend to back off from one another and
approach each other for a second, then a third round, creating
loud antler popping banging sounds.
Be patient, hang in there and rattle for 30 to 40 minutes.
Remember you are trying to simulate a loud aggressive elk fight.
It at all possible, get a friend to call as you rattle. Focus on
vocal calling with bugles and cow calls to add flavor to your
simulated elk fight. I like to imitate bugles and groans with a
resonating tube such as the Primos Terminator bugle. If a caller
is not available, carry a bugle tube to produce these groans and
bugles yourself during the middle of the rattling session.
Rattling takes a physical toll on your upper body; upper~body
strength and endurance are musts. If an additional caller is avail»
able you might even switch roles from caller to rattler and vice
versa. The important thing is don’t give up. Whether rattling
or making vocal elk calls, keep up the noise to keep bulls
interested. Bulls normally bugle as they approach giving up their location, but
silent bulls sometime come in, so don’t let your guard down.

Enhance With Cow Calling
Most importantly, the
hunter taking the shot should have an
additional caller producing cow talk
behind him as he moves in toward elk that are approaching the rattling fight. This caller should follow the shooter, staying a minimum of 20 yards behind. The
cow talk will help entice a bull to walk by the shooter, giving the shooter a good shot.
Even with a supporting calling and rattling party the shoot»
er should have a diaphragm mouth call ready at all times and call
while moving in toward the bugling bull. Another reason to have
a mouth call ready is to stop a bull. As he walks by toward the
rattling light, a sweet cow chirp may stop him for a better shot.
Once your rattler has begun rattling and live hulls are walking toward the battle, begin your calling, producing lovely
tones of a female elk. Mimicking multiple cows and calves

with excessive cow talk works extremely well during the rut. Use
different elk calls simultaneously non~stop as bugling bulls
approach. Once you start the excessive bursts of cow talk,
don’t stop until the bull comes in running past the shooter.
I like to place all my elk calls in front of me when calling to
keep them within a hands reach. l imitate varied tones of cow talk,
starting with diaphragm cow calling, then shuffling the open
end of a bugle tube in and out in front of my mouth rapidly. This
“shuffle” of volume produces the “near and far sounds” of mingling
cows in a herd. Next, swap to an open reed call, using it without
a bugle tube. Try to vocalize one cow in heat by producing a loud
hyper heat call once every three to four minutes. The greater your
variance of cow sounds, the better your chance of calling in a bull.
These types of sounds are best created with Primos elk calls such
as a sound plate diaphragm, single and double reed calls, and — the
most user friendly — a “Hoochie Mamma” push and squeeze call.

Elk hunting is an ongoing mental and physical challenge. There is no question that elk have become more
educated game animals. To remain effective, hunters need
to make changes. This is why l strongly believe in creative methods outlined in this article. Don’t forget to combine these methods with in depth scouting, physical
conditioning and conducting year round homework —
they are essential. No matter what, mere is nothing
that is more enjoyable than the rush of calling in a
bugling bull elk!

the Author
Ralph Ramos is a prostaff member for Primos Hunting Calls, PSE
Archery Products, Rocky Mountain Broadheads, Scott Releases, and
Montana Decoys. A New Mexico native and guide for San Francisco
River Outfitters (www.gilanetcom/sfroutfittersl, he guides elk hunters
in the “Land of Enchantment? He presents elk calling seminars
throughout the Southwest, educating hunters on creative calling
and rattling techniques as well as his x—zone method. Ralph also
owns Ramos Hunts & Video where he produces hunting videos. To
book an elk-calling seminar, purchase his hunting videos, or just get
simple advice about elk hunting, contact Ralph at (505) 526-4514 or
email him at rramos@mh.lcps.kl2.nm.us.X

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Published by dandu005 on 13 Nov 2011

Bittersweetness of Hunting

I feel that I am not alone when I say that there is most definitely a bittersweet side to the harvesting of game and the hunt being over. I was fortunate this year to once again fill my Minnesota archery tag with a nice buck. Not only that, but it also was the third consecutive year that I took my buck on Halloween weekend. So to say harvesting my 2011 buck made me happy is an understatement, although deep down there was a strange feeling that was oddly not surprising.

Looking down at my buck lying in the bed of my truck, I couldn’t help but feel somewhat upset. I had spent the last 364 days since I killed my last buck getting ready for that moment, and now it was over. The thought that my 2011 season was over really struck at me, and thinking about a whole year of preparation until the next season seemed depressing. I found it very interesting that despite my success I had mixed feelings about it. This was supposed to be a time of utter celebration and nothing more. Which we did celebrate the harvest, and I most certainly couldn’t have been more happy with a happy ending to a hunting season, but the emotions I felt still kept me uneasy deep down.

Finally an epiphany happened, and I realized why I was feeling these mixed feelings. The happy feelings go without any need for explanation. However, the unhappy ones I found to be caused by the end of a season. I would no longer get to go out into the woods, sit in a tree stand, observe mother nature, and enjoy God’s work. I anticipate that opportunity all year, it is what I essentially live for among other select things. I have also found that it is inevitable that these feeling will come when you put in so much time and effort into the preparations for your hunting season, then have it all come down to the climax and have it end only to start the cycle all over again. The important thing to remember is that you get the opportunity to do it all again. For many this chance doesn’t come. Half the fun of hunting is the off-season preparation isn’t it? The anticipation, the prepping, all working up to that fleeting moment, that is why we do it. So don’t let those end of the season woes get to you. Always remember there is another season coming, so reap the rewards of the recently ended one and start getting ready for next year’s adventures, and remember why we do what we do.

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Published by archerchick on 05 Nov 2011

FOR WILD TURKEY ~Starting From Scratch ~By Stan Chiras

Archery World August 1988

By Stan Chiras

I really couldn’t see what all the fuss was
about. But, as they say, that was then and
this is now.
I had been on a couple Wyoming elk hunts
with Dick Kirby of Quaker Boy Game Calls in
the past. Now, when you’re with Dick you
can’t help getting infected with his ever-
present enthusiasm for the game he hunts;
whether it be elk, deer or turkeys. Hearing
him recount some of his episodes with gobblers
easily convinced me to give it a try. I had
heard a number of deer hunters say that if they
had to give up either deer or turkey hunting
that the deer would have to go. I can’t say I
totally agree with that but I certainly can see
their point after my spring of 1987.
. Wyoming is one of my favorite places to
hunt and the native Merriam subspecies of
turkey found there is a stunningly beautiful
bird. So, one evening after talking with Dick,
I gave outfitter 0.B. Caudle a call and made
some arrangements to go turkey hunting with
him. I had had an enjoyable time hunting
with 0.B. the previous fall for elk and he
promised me an equally rewarding time in the
Black Hills of Northeastern Wyoming. The
trouble was, neither of us knew anything
about turkeys! We decided to just go out and
have some fun trying.
Luckily, we both knew Dick and a phone
call netted us videos, calls and assorted equipment
to shape these two neophytes into some
semblance of turkey hunters. Our last bit of
advice from Dick was that we were making
matters a little too difficult for a first time
attempt. You see, I hunt exclusively with bow
and arrow and getting a gobbler with one
would be a tough bill to fill. It has its rewards
though, as we would soon come to know.
Likewise, it has its drawbacks, to be felt convincingly as well.
Let me say right away that five days of turkey hunting has made me a better hunter, for
the birds proved unforgiving in their treatment of us. I am also hooked for life on these
magnificent creatures.

Our hunt began on the first afternoon with
an answer to a very limited vocabulary of
yelps from a canyon far below us. I don’t
know if it was the aggressive nature of the
gobbles or the closeness of the responses as
we moved in, but as we set off to pursue these
birds (two were talking to us), I became an
addicted turkey hunter. I became this gladly, I
might add.
Now, O.B. is an experienced elk hunter
and, acting on some of the advice given to him
from Bob Wozniak, also of Quaker Boy, he
prompted me to get in close in a hurry —- as
though our quarry was an angry six-point bull
elk. This was becoming fun in a hurry! The
difference was that with an elk you just crash
up to them noisily, with a turkey you must
contain your sounds.
We slipped down a blind ravine to the can-
yon floor and quickly surveyed the scene. The
bottom was about 150 yards wide and covered
with scrub oak. It seemed ideal — but then,
what did we know’? Thankfully, it was graced
with an old logging road that made for a quiet
approach. O .B. yelped and was interrupted by
the two gobblers before he had made his third
sound. These toms were anxious and so were
we! In elk-like fashion, we looked for a set-up
that would be conducive for a shot and settled
in.

Added Inducement
There was another member of our party
that I haven’t mentioned yet. She became
fondly known to us as “Henrietta,” our turkey decoy.
She was a prototype from Duffel
Decoy, and just like their deer decoy, she
folded up nicely for traveling and popped to
shape conveniently when needed. She proved
to be a valuable asset to our efforts.
I had moved off to the right and nestled
into some brush, feeling secure in my Tree bark
sweats. I kneeled at 90° to the decoy (that
O.B. was now setting up) so that I would have a
good body position for the shot. O.B. then
moved up the road fifteen yards to call and
draw the gobbler past me and to Henrietta.
He yelped and a gobbler fired back instantly
and very aggressively from no more
than fifty yards away! Within seconds, and
long before I had time to compose myself, he
appeared into a twenty yard opening to my
right, coming in like a freight train! He was
fanned out in full display and puffed up like a

balloon. In the bright afternoon sunlight (we
later found out that we shou1dn’t have been
out there in the afternoon . . .) his white, blue
and red head appeared to be made of brightly
painted plastic, for it seemed to me that nothing on earth could look quite like this. He was
almost stumbling as he hurried directly to-
ward me. I was in trouble.
He was supposed to come down the road
– not through this clearing where I couldn’t
bend my body to shoot without being noticed.
Luckily, he dipped out of sight into a small
depression and I quickly pivoted and readied
my bow. I crouched down flat in the spring
grass. I was no sooner turned and flat out
when he reappeared, still hurrying, apparently anxious to beat the other, more distant,
gobbler to our hen yelps. This was most definitely the way to start off our turkey hunting
career!
He was gobbling every ten yards or so and
waiting for the response from 0.B. , who was
doing surprisingly well for his first turkey serenade. Just like with an elk, you must react to
your quarry and Caudle was doing it nicely.
The problem became one of how to draw
with a turkey coming directly at me without
spooking the bird. The solution was to not do
a damn thing! It wasn’t my intention to be in
this position, but I was most definitely stuck.
He came to within the width of a dinner table
of me and redeemingly saw the object of his
affections, Henrietta. I think I might have
seen a little extra twinkle come from those
dark little eyes at that moment as he stepped
into a small clump of trees to move over to the
roadway and continue his advance. What a
show this was! Six feet away was a strutting
Merriam in full sunlight! I was practically
stunned!
Almost any archer knows the golden rule
of this situation if he has shot at much
game. And that rule is to “take the first good
shot you get,” which is just what I did. He
approached the decoy at a 45° angle to me
which eventually put his fanned-out tail be-
tween his head and this very anxious archer.
The very moment I lost sight of those beady
little eyes I pivoted, aimed and shot. The arrow covered the 12 yards between us in an
instant. It made a soft “pufft” as it hit the bird.
Giving Chase
He rolled forward and came up, pausing
for a moment to look at me, now bolting
madly at him. Seasoned turkey hunters will
tell you to run to any turkey that you shoot
immediately; so there I was in motion. He
took off like a jackrabbit and I hung a hard
right tum in pursuit, still clutching my bow, I
guess for another shot should the occasion
arise. There was no thought going on here,
only primordial instincts. And those instincts
told me to catch that bird fast!
The bird was out of there in a hurry. He
flew a little but came back down on the log-
ging trail like a roadrunner. A hundred yards
in front of me was a thick patch of scrub oaks.

He dove into them and became a memory. I
crept around the brush, hoping to locate the
gobbler, but he was gone . . .
I went back to O.B. and we searched for
some sign of a good hit. To my dismay, all we
found were feathers and a clean arrow. It appeared that I was chasing a healthy turkey
down that valley and qualified myself for
some sort of lunatic award. It left me in awe of
the bird and their courting displays and very
much anxious to continue.
Let me slip in one short comment here. I
have lost chances at more nice bucks and bull
elk than I can shake a stick at due to one factor
that we all know only too well. That curse of
the hunt is called the wind. One of the refreshing differences
between deer and turkey hunting is that for the first time ever, you don’t
really give a damn what the wind is doing or if
your clothes are camp fire-smoked or if you
had garlic dressing on your salad the night
before. It just doesn’t matter because these
birds can’t smell. It truly simplifies the hunt
in that respect. If they could smell, they would
be very close to unkillable!
Some time later we crossed the canyon,
climbed to the opposite ridge and let out some
yelps. To our astonishment, we got an immediate answer! This was looking pretty easy,
especially for 3:45 p.m. of the first day. But
little did we know . . .
After five minutes of coaxing, the gobbler
came uphill to us in some pretty dense pines
that we were situated in. He picked me out
immediately and turned off to my left side. I thought he was simply circling the source of the sound like an elk
or whitetail will sometimes do. I let him go,
expecting him to circle, and he never returned. He did blast us with a “so long,
sucker” gobble from 100 yards out. I deserved it. It was hard for me to believe that he
had seen me, but he had. Kirby told me that
they have tremendous visual acuity; that is the
ability to pick out even a well camouflaged
hunter by his shape alone. I was to learn this
the hard way a few more times. These birds
put deer and elk to shame in this category,
believe me!
We headed back to camp and took our time
to enjoy the sights and rest our bones. This
was a lot like elk hunting! We had hiked several miles
and crossed some serious elevations in the process. It was not what I had
anticipated; but it was very enjoyable none-the less. Half the reason I hunt elk is for the
quality frequently referred to as “wilderness
experience,” and this trip was providing me
with just that. As we peaked our climb we
were treated to a magnificent view of Devil’s
Tower and the rest of the Black Hills. Certainly, there is easier turkey hunting; but I
doubt that there is any more picturesque.

Coupled with these wily and exciting turkeys, the
hunt was becoming a real dream experience for me.
We drove to the top of a 200 acre hay
meadow that evening, hoping to locate some
birds on the roost for the next morning ’s hunt.
Within the borders of the fields we saw an
estimated 200 whitetails feeding in the sunset.
It’s amazing that those same deer became so
elusive last autumn. O.B. circled the top,
calling over the edge while I worked a valley
back to camp. I beat him back to a pick-up
point and decided to catch some sleep. There
I sat in the fading light, totally relaxed, when I
heard what I thought was a very distant gobble. I ran
a couple hundred yards in the direction of the sound and let out a couple yelps. I

thought I heard an answer so off I ran again —
hoping to beat darkness. This continued for
almost a mile, until I was only a couple hundred
yards from the bird. He was a talkative
fellow and I had little trouble pinpointing his
location. I shut up and slipped off to find 0.B.
at the pick-up point. As I excitedly told him
about the bird he told me about one he had
located as well. We decided to go after my
gobbler, since he was a lot closer to camp. We
could chase his later.
Outwitted
We were about to learn another lesson
here: It’s best to be very sure of a gobbler’s
location before you set up in his bedroom.
Turkeys in this neck of the woods often get
into their roost by going up a hillside above
their roost tree and then they simply fly across
to a perch.
We thought he would be in the highest tree
on the hill so the next morning we snuck to a
location just below the top of the knoll they
were on. These two seasoned hunters slipped
quietly into position in the darkness. As dawn
emerged, 0.B. let out, or rather began to let
out, a series of soft yelps. What happened
next was nothing short of comical. The tom
fired off an emphatic burst of gobbles in the
middle of O.B.’s yelping, cutting him off
rudely. The trouble was, and I do mean trouble, he was in the tree directly above us! We
looked at each other and held back our laughter, knowing we could only sit still and enjoy
the spectacle.
He gobbled half a dozen times before fol-
lowing the hens to a small ridge 50 yards distant
to our location. I have to say right here
that the word “gobble” does not do justice to
the sound. It’s as good as “bugle” or
“screaming elk” in real life. The sound is like
no other and stirs the soul into addiction. If
you’ve never heard it in the woods, then you
must. This gobbler and his hens poked around

for a few minutes — he was strutting and they
were poking. He was the king of this place;
there was no doubt of that from where we sat.
The decoy was in O.B.’s pocket, my arrows
were deep in the quiver and our headnets were
not where they should have been as we sat
there, enjoying the show. It was well worth the
price of admission.
When they left we set up quickly and let out
some yelps. They didn’t reappear and we

doubted that he would leave those hens any-
way. I was to come back to see this fellow
later, although I didn’t know it at the time.
It seemed (because it was) miles before we
got our next answer. Actually, it was another
double so we decided to go after one first,
then if needed, the other. A little optimism
never hurts!
We slipped onto a small outcropping over-
looking a valley that was peppered with large
oaks and almost no underbrush. We thought
the tom was just up the other side, so we
didn’t dare go any closer since the visibility
was so good. I tucked in against a fallen log
and 0.B. got behind me. Henrietta was 10
yards in front of us. That was our mistake. If I
could do it again I would have put her behind
and up the hill a little off to our side to draw
the turkey past us. I never said we were quick
learners . . .
The gobbler interrupted our first yelps and

gobbled almost constantly as he came down
his side of the valley and up ours, in full view
of these two eager hunters. I could hear his
footsteps as he climbed to the edge of our out-
cropping. It was at this time that I realized that
we had once again goofed. He was just about
to crest the rim. At 15 yards he would be looking directly at the decoy but also straight at
me. It was too late to do anything. He came up
in full color and display. It was breathtaking.
At first I thought he didn’t see the decoy.
He sort of half dropped his display and strut-
ted off course, to my right and uphill into
some trees. He had seen me and was easing
gently out of the picture, like any sane turkey
would do in this situation. I don’t think he
really knew what he saw, but he wasn’t stick-
ing around to find out more, either. I held my
shot since I didn’t think he was leaving. You
probably know the rest of the story. He did
keep going and gobbled at us from the trees
above as if to say “Nice try, guys! ”
We had a conference and decided that I
had to get behind a real solid backdrop and
position the decoy so the gobbler would have
to strut by me enroute to the hen, then I could
shoot after he passed me and was facing the
decoy, presumably in full strut. That first turkey we had shot had also been our best set-up,
although it had been quite by accident that the
turkey came as he did. We would try to duplicate something like it on our next bird —— a
bird who was only 200 yards away and still
gobbling regularly as we whispered our strategy.

We simply slipped over the ridge and then
set up on the other side. 0.B. was nestled be-
hind some brush and I chose to sit in front of
four tightly bunched pines. There was no
good place for me to get into as we wanted and
this looked pretty safe. Henrietta was off to
my right about 15 yards. I felt that since the
decoy and source of sound were to my, side,
the gobbler wouldn’t look over to me at all. He

would hopefully crest the hill and see her — no
way would he notice my still form over by the
dense pines. When he went to her I would be
able to draw unnoticed.
This was a stubborn gobbler and O.B. was
becoming a better caller. I could see the entire
opposite hillside from where I was. O.B.
would yelp and the tom would gobble. For the

next 20 minutes this went on and it was beginning to look like a standoff. My legs were
cramping but I was unwilling to move for fear
he might see me from wherever he was. Finally, O.B. let out a gobble on the faithful
Quaker Boy Grand Old Master box and that
was too much for the old boy. He had wanted
the hen to come to him, but when he heard the
gobble he decided that he had better travel!
Gobblers get jealous when it comes to a single
hen, it would seem!
He appeared across the valley and proceeded to strut back and forth for another ten
minutes. gobbling his lungs out. He was a
proud bird with a beard that almost touched
the ground. It was great!
Another gobble from a perceptive guide
(who couldn’t see any of this show from his
location) brought him down his side of the
valley and up ours in about 60 seconds flat.
When a gobbler decides to move, he can do so
very quickly.

Now if you told me before this incredible
discourse had taken place that he could ever
spot my outline against those pines, I would
have bet you ll) cents on the dollar against it.
And I would have lost. He rose over the hill,
saw his love. farmed out and then immediately
dropped his plumage and began letting out a
series of troubled “pritts”. I was flab-
ergasted. but this time knew it was over. I
drew and shot as he paced off, now about 25
yards distant. The arrow sailed harmlessly
over his back and he half jumped and flew
another ten yards out. I already had another
arrow on its way.
In midflight an archer usually knows if he
is about to hit his mark. This arrow had “turkey” written all over it. Somehow, a small
twig grew up off a dead log and gently deflected the shaft to the ground under tl1e gobbler. Figures.
That was enough for him and he flew to the
opposite hillside and took off running. I was
drained but happy that we had done so well,
especially once he had spotted me. A little
luck and he would have been ours.
We finally figured out what we had to do to
get the next bird in, position him and get off
an undetected shot. We wished we had known
all this before. but we were ready now! Boy,
were we ready?

We headed back to the truck for lunch.
Along the way we pestered a reluctant porcupine for some photos with this hunter and
guide. It provided us with a needed break
from the intense search for gobblers we had
been experiencing. From a peaceful hillside
we talked over setup, calling, camouflage
and approach; all in anticipation of our next
encounter. We were both hooked on this new
sport.
As we approached the truck I almost jokingly said to O.B. “O.B. let out a yelp just in
case there’s a gobbler nearby.” O.B. quipped
back, “Sure thing” with a sarcastic tone.
Sometimes it seems like you can’t miss.
The gobbler came back instantly and
wouldn’t shut up, apparently anxious to meet
the hen he thought we were.
We, in some great quest for a better location, moved closer, yelping as we went. I
imagine the gobbler took our yelping as an
indication of an easy conquest and came on
the gallop.
There I was, settling in behind some
brush. O.B. was placing the decoy past me so
the gobbler would go by and let me get him
from behind while he was concentrating on
Henrietta. There was no way he would see me
from where I was. This was, finally, the perfect
setup.
As I said, he was coming fast if the in-
creasing volume of the gobbles was any indication. He was coming so fast that, in fact, he
caught O.B. flatfooted next to the decoy. He
was anxious, but not that much! He bolted the
opposite Way.
We were getting a little tired of these “lessons learned” and decided to make no more
mistakes on the next bird. We had experienced a lifetime of encounters with turkeys by
now and were ready to cash in.
The trouble was, there was to be no next
bird to come to the call. For 2 l/2 days we tried
repeatedly to locate birds and only heard one
distant gobble that never answered again.
Getting a gobbler with a bow is a difficult
task at best. And no bird in the bag is a price a
bowhunter must pay more often than not; but
there is another side to this story.
We called in a total of seven gobblers, five
to under twenty yards, with the first one being
as close as six feet at one time. Had it not been
the very tail end of the season we may have
done better since their breeding activity was
winding down rapidly by then. But how many
men have had a magnificiant gobbler strutting
by practically in their laps? I wouldn’t trade
those memories for anything, including a bird
on the ground. I no longer wonder what people see in turkey hunting (or is it called Gobblin’ Fever?). Their secret is safe with me, but
I wonder how we can keep it from other non-
turkey hunters out there?
Last Chance
On the last night, we returned to the roost
site that we had bungled by being too close to
on the second day. I had sent for my Ghillie
Suit from back home and hoped to put it to
the test with these birds. (Developed for use
by military snipers, Game Wirmer’s Ghillie
Suit uses hundreds of fabric strips sewn to

mesh lining for a 3-D camo effect.)
At 7:30, three hens and a gobbler appeared from an adjacent comer of a bordering
field. Although they were headed for this
roost, their path would carry them through
the woods 100 yards to my right; so I yelped,

hoping to steer them my way. The tom gob-
bled back repeatedly but they stayed on their
course for the 1‘0OSt tree. With my best still-
hunting attempt ever, I began to sneak over to
intercept them.

Miraculously, I saw a hen coming before
she saw me. When she crossed behind a tree I
dropped down behind one of my own and
nocked an arrow.
Soon the hens were all heading down a
deer trail directly toward my location. They
would pass within fifteen yards of me! This
was too good to be true! They passed by and

never even noticed my still form, clad in the
disheveled looking Ghillie Suit. I remember
wishing that I had brought it with me to begin
with and used it on our earlier attempts.
That’s for next year. Soon the gobbler would
follow. I remained still and quiet and very
much full of anticipation.
After what seemed like an eternity, he appeared, strutting back and forth and carrying
on as if to tell the world that he was indeed the
king of this place. It was beautiful. The silence was awesome. My private view into
his life was incredible. I felt as though I was
the most privileged person on earth. The hens
had flown to their tree about 75 yards past and
a little below me. He was next.
As I said, he had been strutting out in front
of me. He seemed hung up at about 40 yards,
so I decided to coax him along. I had my Easy
Yelper box next to me for just this type of development so I carefully reached over and
gave it a few purrs. The forest was so silent
that I could hear his footsteps and feathers
rattle as he strutted and puffed and pounded
the air with his lungs. I knew he could hear
my purrs but to my surprise, he totally ignored them! I tried some more but he continued to parade around in oblivion to me. This
party was about to end. It was apparently bed
time.
He went straight down the slope and flew
into a tree of his own. I guess that is, as they
say, life! It was an anticlimax, but an easy one
to take considering the circumstances.
I had to go home that night so I carefully
snuck over to his tree for one last look. The
hens spotted me and began plucking nervously, with the one highest in the tree standing so tall that she appeared to be willing her-
self (or me) out of there!
Knowing they wouldn’t fly, I slipped to a
spot where I could see his silhouette against
the sunset. I smiled and shook my head in
admiration to salute a friend goodbye, or
rather: until we meet again. He was every
gobbler in the world to me then, and there he
sat, just a few yards from me acting as though
he barely noticed my presence. I turned and
padded up the deer trail, filled with memories
I’ll never lose.
O.B. was waiting a couple hundred yards
away and expressed relief that I hadn’t gone to
shoot the gobbler out of the tree (a concept we
had not discussed). He said he heard the hens’
plucking and was surprised at me, thinking I
had moved in for a shot.
I just softly laughed and said “Right . . .”
Gobblin’ fever won’t let you tip the scales that
way . . .

. . . It was fall and the crisp air felt good on
my face. Instead of deer, my thoughts were
with turkeys once again. A thirst from spring
had remained unquenched and the antlered
ones would have to do without me for a few
days.
Fall hunting is a different affair, for the
gobblers aren’t booming out their calls and
enchanting the countryside like they do in the

spring. It’s pretty much a matter of locating
flocks, rushing at them and yelling like a nut-
case to scatter them away from each other.
Then you call them back together and arrow
one. Simple.
My first flock took a lot of effort to disperse. They insisted on ruffling and staying
together. I circled ahead, caught them by surprise and they took flight in every direction.
The thickest clump of brush in the vicinity
made a great blind. I dove in and quickly
smashed out a shooting lane.
Surprisingly, since this was my first at-
tempt at fall birds, they answered my yelps
from everywhere. Soon, I had some in sight
and I became very, very still. I remembered
my spring lessons only too well!
It seems these birds always have some-
thing in store for me. A lone Jake walked up

from my right side and peeked into my shooting lane — at a mere ten feet. I was unable to
even breathe, much less draw the bow. I had
been hoping for a 10 to l5 yard pass and not
this! He cautiously slipped off, offering me no
shot.
A small rustle in the brush behind me
caught my ear a moment later. Ever-so-
slowly, I turned my head to check it out.
There, in the bush with me, were two turkeys
picking the ground intently. I froze, knowing
this was another loser. The birds never saw
me (due to the thickness of the brush) as they
worked their way inward.
A new personal record was about to be set
— at three feet they laid down to rest. THREE
FEET! !! I quickly decided what to do, since I
was about to burst out with laughter anyway! I
reached over and patted the closest one on the
back. She didn’t seem to appreciate the situation
like I did and commenced clucking and
clawing at the turf in an effort to leave at warp
speed. I got no shot but that episode was better, I was sure!
The next day I was lucky enough to scatter
another of the plentiful Wyoming flocks, this
time in the vicinity of one of my deer stands. I
didn’t kr1ow if it was kosher to hunt turkeys
from treestands but I was up quickly anyway.
This time I had one of the limited edition
Quaker Boy boxes with me. This particular
box makes a very coarse yelp — a lot like an

older hen would make. Apparently, it was
music to these turkeys’ ears. Shortly, a group
of five birds came into view, calling back frequently to my call. Knowing they could pin-
point my tree easily, I became quiet and still,
with my new Oneida Eagle 600 poised and
ready.
The group was made up of four hens and a
Jake. He was sporting a five inch beard which
I deduced would someday be a trophy append-
age. I’m one that believes that there are never
enough bucks or gobblers of trophy caliber; I
decided to let him grow up and meet with me
another day.
They came in to 20 yards and began milling
about, seeming uncertain of their purpose. I

drew on the nearest hen, facing away from me,
aimed for her back and released.
WHACK! The arrow was stuck in the bird
as it tumbled across the forest floor. The startled flock scattered as my bird became still. I
waited a minute and then slipped down the
tree to claim my prize.
My drought was finally over. This infection called “turkey fever” was now a full-
fledged disease in me. It will be a long winter
waiting for the rites of spring. Now, besides
snow melting and warm air and greening
trees, the new season will explode my senses
even further with the series of majestic “gobble . . . gobble. . . gobble. . I can’t wait!

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Published by dandu005 on 25 Oct 2011

Bowhunting in Reality

Looking through today’s hunting publications, what do you see? Page after page of celebrity hunters holding up freakishly large deer that surpass even the limits of our dreams. Usually these images are displayed on the ad pages promoting some sort of product that is supposed to be the cause for the fall of the monarch. While I will say I do like watching some of these celebrity hunters and enjoy their shows, I feel what they are promoting is being misinterpreted by the public. We the public are starting to believe we must shoot big mature bucks, and that trophy hunting is coming to be the one accepted method in the woods. Shooting a young buck will lead to scoffs and criticisms from “much greater” hunters who think highly of their commitment to trophy hunting. In reality, the typical deer hunter doesn’t have access to land that is capable of producing record book bucks consistently like TV hunting personalities do. Big mature bucks are far more rare than most people realize, and that is where this misinterpretation can lead to problems for us hunters. We work so hard for something that quit possibly may not be possible that we no longer enjoy the sport and forget what hunting is about. In these modern day magazines, I am also noticing a rise in the number of articles being published about this issue. The authors are attempting to pursuade people into seeing what the world of hunting is turning into. More and more hunters are losing sight of what is important to the hunt, that is the hunt itself and not the kill. The world of hunting is turning into an unquenchable thirst for shooting the biggest deer in the woods, and if you don’t do so you fail as a hunter. Much too often it seems we find ourselves scrutinizing others for taking lesser deer than our standards. This is brought about by the false interpretations we get from the media. Remember this, the memories we make afield with our friends and family beat any trophy that can ever be harvested. Realizing what hunting really means to you and hunting within your means and reality will lead to an enjoyable experience for all rather than a struggle amongst ourselves.

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Published by mitchie on 24 Oct 2011

Special 3-D Indoor Shoot

Possum Hollow is having a 30 Target 3-D Archery Shoot on December 16, 23 and 30. Cost is 10.00. kitchen open for the events. It is at Possum Hollow Sportsmens Club 352 Possum Hollow Road, Wampum, Pa. 16157. www.ph-sc.com or email us at thepossumhollow@gmail.com. Hope to see you there.

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Published by olecowpoke on 04 Oct 2011

Second Place to the Old Man

While on vacation, I visited a new Bow Shop in North Carolina. I was excited to find they also had an indoor Archery Range. As we talked, the Shop Owner told me there was a friendly local competition every Thursday night and he invited me to join them. I told him I was “just a hunter”, not a competitive shooter, but he encouraged me nevertheless. Although I’d never shot competition before, I could hardly wait for Thursday night.
I showed up early Thursday night, accompanied by my Son in Law. I plunked down a meager entry fee and was assigned a shooting station along with 18 other Archers. All I had was my camoflage hunting bow and my field tipped hunting arrows. Other Archers had red, pink and purple target bows with three foot long, double stabilizers and half inch diameter arrow shafts…or so it appeared to me. I was a little intimidated but reminded myself, “I’m here to have fun, not to impress anyone”. I kept muttering things to myself, like “just shoot what ya’ brought”. My beloved Son in Law offered encouragement, saying “You can hit deer vitals at 40 yards, surely you can hit that little twelve inch (12”) target at 20 yards”. I reminded myself, ”we’re indoors, standing flat footed on the floor, with no wind, no elevation, nothing to compensate for”…… What? Me nervous?
As I remember, they called this a “Ten Ring Elimination”, which was completely new to me. They explained, all three arrows had to be within the ring that matched the round…..in other words, in the first round of shooting, all three arrows had to be inside the outermost ring on the ten (10) ring target. In the second round, you moved in a ring and all three arrows had to be inside the next smallest (9th) ring, and so on until you were shooting at the two inch (2”) bullseye on the tenth round. If you ever failed to put all three arrows inside the proper ring, you were eliminated. If you had a flier…you were eliminated. The yardage was fixed at 20 yards. Sounds easy enough…….
We began shooting and I was having a blast. This was so much better than the solitary shooting I was accustomed to, in my back yard. I was truly surprised when the first 6 rounds of three arrows retired about half the shooters. I was actually surprised to still be shooting. This sort of bolstered my confidence and I just “zoned out” as if in my treestand, drawing down on a big buck. “Concentrate”, Focus”, “Aim small, miss small”. I settled on “Aim small, miss small” as my matra…..and it was working.
After a couple more rounds, there were only three other shooters. We took a short break before the last three rounds. That’s when my Son in Law whispered, “Check out the old guy down on the far end….he’s shooting a long bow and…..no sight. “Watch him shoot”….”he just draws and releases the arrow”…..”he doesn’t even take time to aim”. I shouldn’t have, but when we began shooting again, I paused between my own arrows to watch him send a couple arrows down range…..just like my Son in Law described.
This old guy was “instinct shooting”, or at least that’s what I’d call it. He’d draw back and let the arrow fly in one smooth motion. Within half a second of reaching full draw, the arrow was released. “Hes not even aiming”….”Hes just spot shooting”. Even my non-archer Son in Law realized this was something to behold. Even more amazing, I noticed the old man was hunched over a walking cane as he hobbled down to retrieve his arrows. It was all I could do not to just watch him shoot. As they say, He was “poetry in motion”. Over and over, He’d nock an arrow, raise up, draw back and let fly…..in one smooth motion. There was no hesitation in his motion for aiming, He’d just draw back and let fly…..right in the bullseye.
By now, it’s just He and I shooting the Nine ring. All others had been eliminated and I am totally distracted. “Concentrate, Focus” I told myself. On the final round we were shooting at the two inch (2”) bulls eye. I would not let myself watch the old man as I sent three arrows downrange. When I walked up to extract my arrows, I was elated…..I’D PUT ALL THREE OF MY ARROWS IN THE BULLS EYE….but so did the old man. Are you kiddin’ me. He put all three in the bullseye, with no sight, using a long bow? I was using a Single Cam Compound Bow, with a peep sight, a cam release, weight forward carbon fiber arrows….all the latest technology….and he was using a wood bow with no sight.
When both of us put all three arrows on target, we had to shoot the Bullseye again….I had two center hits and one “flier” in the four ring. You guessed it, the old man laid all three arrows, touching each other, in the bulls eye. Those who had hung around offered a round of applause…..as did I. The Shop Owner walked out, presented a ribbon to the old man and took a flash picture, while I was packing up all my gear to go home. We hung around and small talked with the Shop Owner and a few locals. I was pleased enough with second place, in my first archery contest….but I just couldn’t get over being bested by the old man with a long bow and no sight….until we were walking out of the store. There on the bulletin board were nine pictures….count ‘em….nine pictures of the Old Man with his Long bow….holding up ribbons and trophys in each picture. In one picture, the Trophy was almost as tall as he was.
As you might recon’, I had to go back and ask……It seems, the old man had been shooting that same long bow his entire life….yep, he was an instinct shooter, with no sight, no mechanical release…..nothing but an old bow and arrows that were as much a part of him as breath itself. In his earlier days, He had killed more bucks and bears than anyone could count, for as long as anyone could remember, he’d been taking his game with that same bow. The Shop Owner sort of blushed and chuckled…..”I’m sorry Sir, I should have warned you in advance….you didn’t have a chance”…..and with that, I went home feeling really satisfied being “Second Place to the Old Man”.
Now every time my arthritic shoulder gives me a fit, I remember that hunched over old man, leaning on his cane while he extracts his arrows. When I think I’ve got to spend a thousand dollars for that latest, greatest, newest model bow, or when I “need” that new illuminated bow sight or those newfangled mechanical broadheads…..I remember that old man with his old long bow and no sight ……and I go shoot another practice round with MY same old bow and arrows. Yea, I still use my peep sight.

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Published by Double s on 09 Sep 2011

Tough Buck Falls

I took this fella around 4 pm on the 2nd in a CRP field. I call him “Tough Buck”. He was bedded down in some sage. I had the wind to my advantage as I made my way to him…slowly. When the wind died down…I stopped…When the wind picked up…I moved. I basically crab walked sideways making sure that I was in Shooting position just in case he heard me and got up. I got to 21 yards and stopped. I had one sage blocking his view of me. I must have ranged the bush he was beside 100 times. I got into shooters position and Yelped at him. I saw his Antlers move left then right…then he got up. I place my 20 yard pin on the right front armpit and fired. I couldn’t even hear the impact because of the wind. He bucked up once and dropped to his front knee’s. I figured this is it….Nope!. He gets back up and trots off away 40 yards and beds down under another sage. It felt like a great shot but I started to second guess myself. I waited about 20 minutes glassing him. I thought he had expired but he picked his head up again, I knew he was wounded bad. With the high heat I couldn’t back out and come back later, the meat would spoil plus i didn’t want him to suffer any more. I slowly made my way toward him again using the same tactics. I got into 20 yards of him again and got into my shooters position. I had a west to east wind and it was picking up. I yelped to him and nothing happened…I yelped again, His antlers moved…He was weak. I finally just yelled. He slowly gets up and I aimed for the same right front armpit again. Fired. I see the impact and the blood blow out. He turns around facing east to try to go uphill to get away from me.,he didn’t make it. He made it about 25 yards east and rolled. I could see all four hoofs up in the air in the sage. A couple of jerks of the hoofs and he expired. My son Arrived as well as a friend to help out. I gutted him out and we used a tarp to drag him out. After I got him skinned out I could see two puncture holes on the right side, the entrance, almost touching. I call him a “Tough Buck”.

He has 6 points on the left side but the eye guard is under the 1 inch rule. So I’m calling it 5.
The right is 4 plus 1 eye guard way over the 1 inch rule. That’s a 5.


Two entrance holes from 2 blade BH. Right side right above the armpit. I have him hanging head down with head already removed.

left side of the pass through

 

Preping for skinning and boiling

Muley Skull almost complete

 

 

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Published by gmoore on 02 Sep 2011

Distance Estimation and Arrow Fall

Arrow FallDistance estimation is important for archers. Without an exact estimate of the range, a hunter could shoot from the improper sight pin and entirely miss the target. Making use of a bow mounted rangefinder removes the estimation of distance, and will provide a hunter more success.

Even unskilled bow hunters know that arrow fall is impacted more as the distance of the shot increases. Modern compound bows are especially fast, and often experience a small amount of arrow drop at ranges within 20 yards.

An arrow will begin to drop at a greater pace at a distance of 30 to 40 yards. This is due to the effect of gravity and a decrease in arrow speed. A poor gauge at distance will limit the chances for success. If you make a poor estimation of the range of a 40 yard shooting opportunity by as little as 5 yards, it can result in an injured deer, or a complete miss. Estimating distance precisely is by far the most significant variable for success in the field.

It is recommended that a bowhunter be aware of what their bow is capable of and be aware of the degree of arrow drop experienced at different distances. Hunting bows are frequently equipped with sights that make use of a few fiber optic sight pins of various colors. Each of these pins are generally sighted in at 10 yard increments from 20 to 50 yards.

Once your bow sights are properly adjusted, you can do a simple test to see how you may miss your shot if you misjudge the range. Lay a paper plate on your target. This is approximately the dimensions of the vital area of an average whitetail deer. Step off or range your target to a distance of 40 yards. Then draw your bow and place your 30 yard pin right in the middle of that paper plate. With your 30 yard pin in the center of the target, examine where that 40 yard pin falls on the target. You will most likely see that your arrow will land short and miss the vital area of the deer. You will probably end up missing the shot, or possibly wounding the deer.

I’ve never attempted a shot on a deer inside 25 yards, and not delivered a fatal shot. There have been a number of missed shots and a few bad shots that only injured my game. Those shooting opportunities were typically at distances near 30 yards or greater. At a range of of 30 to 40 yards, I was never completely confident. It was rare for me to take a shot past 40 yards. It is tough to regain that confidence in the deer stand. There is a big difference between shooting at the archery range at pre-defined distances, and shooting from the treestand with approximated distances. Small miscalculations in range from the deer stand yielded missed shots and diminished confidence.

Making use of a little, hand-held laser rangefinder helped to bring back a lot of the confidence that I had lost. Deer would mostly be on the move as I ranged them though. So there was still some uncertainty by the time I could draw my bow and accurately shoot my arrow.

There are some high tech and low tech products that can correct the issues with distance approximation. The Leupold Vendetta is an electronic bow mounted range finder, and the Dead-on rangefinder is a non-electronic model. So you can easily determine the range to a deer a split second before actually taking your shot, and know that you are selecting the proper sight pin.

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Published by Kevo on 29 Aug 2011

Hogbash Hog Hunting Competition

Wanted to post a link on a statewide hog hunting competition, starting in October and running through opening weekend of rifle season, day or night.  Rifle division and archery division, gonna be lots of fun some great prizes.  Awards ceremony with some awesome door prizes and live band afterwards.  Check it out at www.hornstarsoutdoors.com/hogbash

 

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