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Published by admin on 03 Mar 2010

UNCLE TED BOWHUNTING TECH TIPS

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

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

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Published by archerchick on 22 Feb 2010

Aquatic Archery – By Mark Morrison

Aquatic Archery – By Mark Morrison
April 2005

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

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

April 2005

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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Published by archerchick on 22 Feb 2010

One Day Gobbler- By Joe Bell

One-Day Gobbler – By Joe Bell

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

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Published by archerchick on 22 Feb 2010

Nutrition That Kills – By Steve Bartylla

Nutrition That Kills – By Steve Bartylla

May 2005

Quality bucks are the result of quality foods.  Here’s how to provide the nutritional value deer require for each phase of the year.

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

May 2005

Catching a glimpse of movement, I poked my cameraman’s foot and pointed to the approaching buck.  Knowing Craig was burning tape, I engaged myself in debate on whether he was a shooter deer or not.  At first glance, his rack didn’t overly impress.  The profile view displayed respectable mass and high main beams, but his times were relatively short.  Turning to face me, the internal debate ended swiftly upon seeing the 20-inch-plus inside spread.  This was most definitely a 3 1/2 year-old animal, and I wanted him.

As he continued on, I positioned myself for the shot and waited for his headon approach to change.  That’s when things started going wrong.

With the buck barely 5 yards away, I began drawing my Mathews bow.  Unfortunately I’d forgotten about Craig’s filming stand directly above me.  While drawing, I clanked the top wheel of the bow on the bottom of the stand just above my head.

As the buck skipped 20 yards away, I still believed that I could make the shot.  Chances were good that the steady, light rain would cause the mature buck to doubt his ears.  At about 30 yards out, I drew and settled my knuckle behind my ear.  As he now calmly walked straight away, all I needed was for him to make a slight turn.

Luckily, by the time I reached 35 yards out, he had forgotten all about the phantom noise.  Coming to a stop, he paused to scan the creek bottom for does. Turning just a bit as he did, I let the arrow fly.  With the Rocky Mountain Snyper burrowing into his vitals, the buck exploded for the creek bottom.  Just as he neared the bank, he fell to the ground.  The mature nine-point was mine.

The previous year, the hunting outfit www.PerformanceOutdoors.com contacted me as a consultant to help set up their “Sanctuary Farm.”  From a personal standpoint, this buck was the culmination of many hours spent scouting, instituting an advanced food-plot plan and pegging more than 30 stand sites.

In this article, the first of a two part series, I will delve into the advanced food plot strategies I put in place on this specific deer property.  In the next issue, we will cover scouting, marking stand locations for each phase of the season and selecting low-impact stand routes.  Best of all, this seldom seen inside look at a premier outfitter’s approach can be applied to any whitetail hunting land, allowing you to get the most from your property.

YEAR ROUND NUTRITION
For a deer property to reach it’s full potential, the deer themselves must have an adequate amount of high-quality, year round nutrition.  Having plots that draw and hold deer during the season is also important, but deer simply can’t meet their own generic potential unless adequate nutrition is available 365 days year. If quality food sources are lacking during any one season the resident deer will have poor reproduction rates, body size and antler size, and their overall health will suffer.

Furthermore, drawing and holding deer on wwwPerformanceOutdoors.com;s properties has obvious benefits. The more time deer spend on their properties; the better they can protect the local herd from other hunters and poachers. This allows young bucks to grow old, which will increase their hunter’s odds of harvesting what they helped to produce.

However, before any of this was possible, we first needed to. identify what nutrition the deer required.  Much like people, deer need to consume a balance of fats, carbohydrates and protein.

Food high in fats and carbohydrates is great for building fat reserves and supplying energy. When deer are preparing for enduring winter, this can be critical, particularly in  the Upper Midwest and areas further north. it’s also equally important for southern deer that must endure drought induced food shortages.

Though seldom mentioned, fats and carbohydrates also indirectly play a significant role in antler development.  During the spring, the first thing bucks address ls building their bodies back up from the toll that both the rut and winter took on them. With a worn-down body, they’ll  have little energy-energy that can go into growing healthy, large antlers. Since diets high in fat and carbs help to build
and maintain fat, they create potential energy reserves for deer that must endure the negative energy balance. This is why it’s important during the late fall and winter for deer to get the energy they require for healthy antler growth.

On the flip side, the important role that protein plays in antler development is well documented. A buck requires  diets consisting of 20 percent or more protein to produce quality antlers. Recent studies have shown that this level is needed even before velvet antlers begin to form. To get maximum antler production, these levels should be provided from mid-winter on through the shedding of velvet.

Furthermore, protein levels are also important for fetus development, milk production, muscle development and overall health. Though certain vitamins and minerals are also important, satisfying a whitetail deers needs for fats, carbohydrates and proteins is a great place to begin.

HOLDING PLOTS
My first task is always to ensure that the property has enough nutrition to draw and hold deer. In doing this,  I want  many holding plots to be centrally located on the property.  First, that positioning makes it much harder for neighboring hunters to take advantage of my efforts. Second, it helps inspire more deer to bed on the managed properly.

Finally, it provides the hunter with much lower impact routes to and from stands. All too often prime food sources either dot or surround the outer edges of hunting properties.  When that is the case, the hunter is often forced to kick out deer when crossing the fields. Furthermore, it becomes much
more difficult for the hunter to slip into stands between bedding and feeding for morning hunts. A centrally placed food plot fulfills all concerns a hunter might have.

Size is another concern for holding plots. Since they will be the backbone of our nutrition plan, holding plots must be large enough to produce the volume of forage that resident deer will require. There is no set formula for determining this size requirement. It becomes a balance of other available forages, crop yield and deer density. When other feeding options are limited, our planting yield is low and deer density is high we must have larger holding plots than when the reverse is true. As a general rule of thumb, I never make holding plots of grains less than five acres
and plots of greens less than two acres.

Luckily, The Sanctuary Farm already had hay, soybeans and cornfields centrally located.  In this case, it was simply a matter of buying standing corn and beans from the farmer.  Doing so ensured that adequate carbohydrates and fats would be available to deer on the
property, and the hayfield would provide the initial supply of protein.

HARVEST PLOTS
With a good start on holding plots, I shifted my attention to creating harvest plots that would
further address the protein deficiency during late winter, spring and summer. Though harvest plots
certainly can help address nutritional needs, they are also geared more toward effectively positioning deer for a shot. To do so most effectively, they must contain the most highly desired food source in the area, and they must provide a feeling of safety, which means they must be ideally located.  Since harvest plots are designed for on-site hunting, it stands to reason they require plantings that are most effective at drawing deer. When selecting a crop, I most often
go for greens. It has been my experience that deer will gravitate to certain greens as long as they are in an ideal growth state. The only food source that I have found that can consistently draw deer better are acorns.

Because of this, I commonly plant a harvest plot in half clover or alfalfa and half Antler King’s Fall/Winter/Spring or Buck Forage Oats. Clovers and alfalfas can be counted on for drawing in deer until a heavy frost turns them sour.  Once that occurs, few native or planted greens can still be desirable.

However, Antler King’s Buck Forage Oats can survive and thrive in all but deep frosts, as can the
Fall/Winter/Spring mix. Splitting a harvest plot between clover or alfalfa and half Fall/Winter/Spring or Buck Forage. Oats creates a location that will draw deer from the season’s opener on through the closing day.

To provide the feeling of safety the harvest plot should either be tucked in remote corners of open fields or in their own one- or two-acre opening. Surrounding them as much as practical with escape cover encourages daylight feeding.

Achieving ideal location for a food plot requires knowing
the habitat and how deer use it.

To put things in perspective, before I even began planning  wwv. PerformanceOutdoors. com’s harvest plot locations I had already spent several days scouting in both the winter and spring. This was important to get an accurate picture of early-and late-season deer-movement patterns.
While scouting, I placed a premium on locating bedding areas and funnels.

These findings led me to select the locations for the harvest food plots. By knowing where the bedding areas and funnels were. I could position the plots to force deer through funnels while going to and returning from the food sources.

It’s occasionally possible to do that and also have a funnel divide two existing food sources.  That’s the position I took to shoot the buck at the beginning of this article by knowing the deer’s patterns before planning plot locations, I was able to encourage them through an already good funnel.  Bucks traveling between feeding an bedding, as well as those cruising between food sources to check for does, would likely pass this stand site.

When funnels don’t exist, placing harvest plots between bedding areas and holding plots is a good option.  Often, mature bucks aren’t willing to step into the larger holding plots until after dark.  However, those same bucks commonly will engage in daylight feeding in the smaller, seemingly safer harvest plots.  By positioning it between bedding and the holding plot,  many deer that would otherwise go directly to the holding plots will first snack in the harvest plot.

Finally, the shape and size of these harvest plots can be molded to further maximize shot opportunities. Relatively. narrow elbow or horseshoe-shaped plot’s, between one and
two acres in size, provide the ultimate in close encounters. When given the choice, deer prefer to be able to see the entire plot at once. To do this, they must feed at the point in the bend where they can see both ends. At the very least, the majority of bucks will walk through that point to investigate the other side.

In either case, stands positioned at the mid-point of the plot, on both sides of the bend point, will provide shots at any of these animals. As a bonus, this placement also allows one of the two stands to be safely hunted during any wind direction. Something, as seemingly little as the shape of our of harvest plot can dramatically increase the number of deer harvested from these stands.

During the 2004 archery season,
www. PerformanceOutdoors.com’s hunters took four trophy bucks and missed shot opportunities at three others on their 55-acre Sanctuary Farm. Just as important, trophy buck sightings continued throughout the entire season.

As you will see in the next part of this series, many factors played into this success. However, the well-planned food plot strategy played a significant role. -When a property possesses adequate protective cover, a combination of well-planned holding and harvest plots, it will increase the health, quality and number of deer on a property as well as make them easier to harvest. Instead of guessing where the deer will feed most, we can dictate to them where they want to be. That alone provides the hunter with a tremendous advantage. As almost any serious whitetail hunter would
agree, we can use every ethical advantage we can get. <— <<

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Published by archerchick on 22 Feb 2010

12 FEET UP – By Rob Evans

12 FEET UP – By Rob Evans
April 2005

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

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Published by archerchick on 22 Feb 2010

Get Aggressive – By Bob Robb

Get Aggressive – by Bob Robb

April 2005

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

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

April 2005

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Published by archerchick on 21 Feb 2010

Whitetail Savvy – By Eddie Claypool

Whitetail Savvy – by Eddie Claypool

May 2005

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

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

May 2005

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Published by archerchick on 21 Feb 2010

HIGH ALTITUDE MONARCHS – By Lon Lauber

HIGH ALTITUDE MONARCHS  Story & Photos By Lon Lauber

September 2002

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

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Published by archerchick on 20 Feb 2010

Two Is A Charm – by Kathy Butt

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

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Published by archerchick on 20 Feb 2010

Staying On The Trail – By Randy Templeton

Staying on the Trail – By Randy Templeton

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

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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