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Published by archerchick on 20 Feb 2010

Tarzan’s Tips For Beginners -by Steve Barde

Tarzan’s Tips For Beginners by Steve Barde

December 1975

Jock Mahoney’s Archery Feats Are On Film, But The King Of The Jungle Shows He Hasn’t Forgotten The Rudiments In This Primer For All Beginners!

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

December 1975

TARZAN MOVIES ARE as popular today as some decades ago, and a good portion of today’s younger ticket buyers recognize the loin cloth-clad hero mostly for his ‘gator  ‘rasslin’, vine swingin’ and yodelin’.

What most have forgotten or didn’t know in the first place is that the character created by Edgar Rice Burroughs was supposed to be a regular tack-driver with the bow and arrow. Not only could he outshoot the late Howard Hill, but he also could manufacture all of his tackle from raw jungle materials with relative ease.

Normal folks realize that authors sometimes create fictional characters with larger-than-life abilities. After all, who really believes that Tarzan could bring at a run all manner of wild game simply through a series of vocal contortions? But, as more than one screen actor has been known to comment, most movie directors are anything but normal!

As an example, ten years ago BOW & ARROW reported the exploits of the then-current Tarzan, Jock Mahoney, on the set of Tarzan Goes to India. Besides riding the herd bull on various elephant stampedes, Tarzan Mahoney was required – among other things – to cluster three fresh-cut, crooked shafts into a half dollar-sized group in a tree trunk some fair distance away. Though remote, this was conceivably possible, if the archer had a good bow. Mahoney’s bow Was anything but. As he describes it:

“One end was a sort of arthritic, partial recurve. The other end was twice as thick and curvy as a broom handle. Torque? Yes, the heavy end had twice as much as the small end and in the opposite direction. Every time I shot an arrow in the air, I had to tighten the string, because the bow lost some poop somewhere.”

Somehow, the actor managed to put the three arrows into the designated spot from about twenty feet, thus proving the director might have been right all along. There wasn’t any doubt in the latter’s mind following a later feat with bow and arrow, however.

In this case, Mahoney was astride a charging bull elephant, leading a herd that was stampeding wildly toward a wall in the distance. The script called for Tarzan to launch an arrow far in front of the stampeding herd, the dynamite stick strapped to the shaft blowing a hole in the wall so the elephants could continue rushing forward. As Jock Mahoney relates, he shot the shaft and, after glancing at the elephants surrounding him, looked forward to see the shaft slowly arcing
earthward far short of its intended destination. In fact, it was descending close to the spot Mahoney would reach as his elephant raced ahead!

Perhaps out of self-preservation, he reached out and caught the falling arrow, then renocked and fired it again.  All this from elephant-back at thirty miles per hour, no less! That feat surely would convert even the most skeptical director!

It only was natural, then, to take beginner lessons from a man who’d performed these miracles – especially if he’s your father. At least, that’s what Princess Meliss O’Mahoney thought.

Brought up on the banks of the Mississippi, Jock Mahoney – legally Jacques O’Mahoney – received his introduction to archery at a young age. His first bows were fashioned from green willow wands, but he later advanced to a sixty-six-inch recurve made of modern materials that generated sixty pounds of pull at his twenty-eight-inch draw length.

So when daughter Princess asked for instruction, Tarzan was ready. He outfitted the lithesome, five-foot, ten-inch actress with an Eichoitz Bowhunter model scaling twenty-five pounds.

“The greatest problem for beginners in archery lies in the fact that they won’t admit they can’t handle a heavy bow,” Mahoney told his pupil, standing in the backyard of his Del Mar, California, home. “They read articles about hunters who shoot sixty and seventy-pound bows, or target champions who shoot all day with forty or forty-five-pound bows, but they find, when they try to pull these heavy units, they just don’t have the knowledge or the muscle.

“You build a whole new set of muscles when you take up the sport of archery,” continued his daughter’s gray-haired mentor, “and it’s not just brute strength that puts an arrow in the center of the target. It’s a knowledge of how to pull and hold, among other things.”

Mahoney then launched into a discourse on the nomenclature of the bow and its assorted accessories, so Princess would know to which part her instructor was referring. He then braced the bow and handed it to the aspiring archer. Being right-handed, she immediately switched the bow to her left hand.

“Don’t question, just listen,” ordered Tarzan, explaining the process of drawing the arrow back to a constant anchor in this case, the corner of the mouth – with the first finger of her right hand.
“This system seems the easiest to learn, since you have less to think about,” informed Mahoney. “Besides, it works great for me and if I can do it, you can”

A Port Orford cedar shaft was withdrawn from a box and the nock, fletching and field point next were explained. The discourse was meant to reduce tension and prevent his pupil from trying to shoot too soon.  “Now, assume a comfortable stance,” commanded Mahoney, who recently finished filming To Speak As Brothers in Oregon for release in late 1975. “Set your feet at right angles to the target. Space them apart enough that you’ve got good balance, but not too wide, Now raise the bow and pivot towards the target.”

The tall actor then circled his pupil several times, adjusting and altering her stance slightly. He then moved the target to within approximately ten paces and addressed himself to the matter of proper grip. “There are many styles and methods of gripping a bow handle,” he informed his student, who was becoming restless. “You can grip it until the knuckles turn white, but if you do, the bow will have a tendency to torque.”

The puzzled expression on Princess O’Mahoney’s face led to more in-depth explanation of torquing. “This means erratic flight of the arrow and inconsistency in your shooting and hitting ability,” elaborated. her mentor. “Hitting a target consistently is enough of a problem without making additional ones.”

Returning to the matter of grip, Mahoney added, “If you open-hand the bow, hold it in the web of the left hand and allow drawing of the bow to hold it in place until the arrow is released, you can develop the habit of grabbing for the bow just prior to release. This also gives bad arrow flight to the target.
“Perhaps the simplest and least-complicated method is to hold the bow lightly but firmly in the bow-hand and, after you’ve overcome some of the basic problems, you can experiment to find the system that works best for you.” “If I have to listen to another
lengthy discussion like the last one. I’ll be too old to worry about shooting at all!” grumbled the aspiring archer under her breath.

“We’re getting there,” answered Mahoney with a paternal glower. “Don’t rush me!”

An arrow then was nocked on the bowstring. The nocking point had been installed in the proper position, a quarter-inch above the right angle to the string at the point opposite the arrow rest. “The arrow goes under the nocking point, since it’s perhaps easier for the beginner – that’s you – to place an upward pressure on the arrow,” interjected Tarzan. “There’s also less chance of the arrow riding up and causing wild shots. Okay, now draw the bow.”

As she began pulling back on the string, her illustrious father reached over and deftly plucked the arrow off the string. In response to her quizzical expression, the erstwhile King of the
Jungle instructed Princess O’Mahoney to try full draw several times before nocking an arrow and shooting.

Realizing it was almost time to shoot, the archer dutifully did as instructed. The arrow was replaced on the string. “Now come back to full draw, then hold until I tell you to shoot,” he said, Grinning, she began to draw the shaft, but found it wanted to flop off the left side of the bow, away from the handle. “That’s from trying to use your thumb,” explained Mahoney. “Cut off the thumb with your mind and forget you have it. You unconsciously try to grasp the arrow with the thumb and you just don’t need it in this sport; at least, not with the normal three-finger draw and release technique.”

As instructed, Ms. O’Mahoney forgot her thumb and smoothly drew the arrow to her anchor point. Her head bobbed up and down as she tried to see what the arrow and target relationship would look like. When told to shoot, the arrow sailed high and over the target.

“What happe….”
“Don’t worry about hitting the target,” Mahoney advised, cutting her off. “Just try to get an arrow in the backstop. After you get one in it, then try for the target. You can start trying to drive tacks or whatever later on. Learn to shoot first, then where to shoot.”

Another arrow and another miss brought a pained look to the archer’s face. “From thls close range, hold the tip of the arrow below the target on the Korky backstop,” her mentor instructed. “You don’t really see what you shoot at; you see under it at some ranges, over it at others.”

With a dubious shake of her head, Princess O’Mahoney came to full draw, held and, when the arrow plunked into the rubberized cork of the backstop, it was dead-center in the square target.
There’s nothing quite like that first good hit to bring smiles to the faces of both student and teacher.
“That’s great!” Mahoney erclaimed. “Now all you need do is practice’and keep putting them in the same spot. Problems will develop, but we’ll work them out after you acquire them. Telling you about them now could influence your shooting. “All you need for target shooting is to try turning yourself into a shooting machine,” added Tarzan, “to put all the arrows in one spot. The oniy difference between the hit you just made and one at a hundred yards is a matter of elevation and aiming. There are factors of wind and temperature, but don’t worry about them now.”

No matter how advanced she becomes, it’s doubtful that this sister of actress Sally Field, and an actress in her own right, will find herself adorned in a loin cloth atop a charging elephant. That would be stretching Tarzan a little far, even for a director!
<– <<

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Published by archerchick on 20 Feb 2010

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

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

NOTE: With 16 record-book bull elk to his credit, Dan Evans – designer and owner of the famous Trophy Taker Drop-Away rest – is considered one of this nation’s most successful elk bowhunters, Even more impressive is that Dan killed his first archery bull in 1992, and most if not all of Dan’s big elk have come from public-land areas.  Given Dan’s success, we took the opportunity to survey his knowledge.  We asked Dan a variety of specific questions that should help you become an elk expert yourself.
http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

Bow & Arrow Hunting: Looking at your success at bowhunting elk, you’ve obviously done very well, especially at harvesting trophy-class animals. If you had to summarize your formula in how you approach hunting big elk, what would it be? Where should an average bowhunter start?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

B&AH: Have you tried decoys?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Published by archerchick on 19 Feb 2010

MAKE FLU-FLU ARROWS EASILY – By Carroll Holl

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

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

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

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

June 1977

MATERIALS NEEDED

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Published by archerchick on 19 Feb 2010

Moose Madness – By W.A. Hughes

Moose Madness  by W.A. Hughes February 1977

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

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

February 1977

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Published by archerchick on 17 Feb 2010

The Spring King – By Randy Templeton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Published by archerchick on 16 Feb 2010

GLASSING PROS – By Joe Bell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Published by archerchick on 16 Feb 2010

WHITETAIL TACTICS -By Fred Bear

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The hunter above found a natural tree stand

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Published by admin on 03 Feb 2010

Modern Fletching By Joe Bell

Modern Fletching
To achieve accuracy with broadheads, straight arrow flight must follow,
and nothing decides this more than the fletching on the arrow.
By Joe Bell

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com/

 Ask any qualified engineer and they’ll tell you that aerodynamics is a complicated subject.  Variables are far and wide when dealing with air resistance and the shape of things.  This is why designing aircraft is such a high-paying profession – it’s not easy.

 This is also why tuning arrows for straight flight ca n sometimes wear out even the most experienced archers.  We’ve learned over the years that to obtain precisely straight arrow flight, we must first choose the correctly spined arrow shaft for our bow.  To find this out, we shoot this “bare” shaft through taut paper to see if it punches a neat bullet hole (or slight horizontal tear with a finger release).  If it does, then it’s the correct shaft for our setup.

 

Once this is done, we’re left with choosing the proper amount of fletching for our arrows.  The fletching on an arrow are responsible for one thing: to cause drag – or friction – that will help stabilize the arrow in flight, therefore allowing it to fly straight through the air and to its intended target.  Of course, when you add a fixed-blade broadhead to the picture, this steering effect becomes much more complicated – similar to the aerodynamics behind building airplanes – because now the front end of the shaft wants to “steer” as well.

 

So in a sense, with fixed-blade broadheads – and even with mechanical broadheads – fletching size, configuration and the orientation in which they are attached is the only element that can control whether or not your arrows fly straight.  This is why the subject of arrow fletching is so important.

Flight Dynamics
 According to Bob Mizek, one of New Archery Products’ top engineers, the most critical time the flight of a broadhead-tipped arrow is affected is when the arrow first comes out of the bow and before the arrow starts to rotate.  “Aerodynamically speaking, the blades of a broadhead act like canards on an airplane,” Mizek said.  “Anyway, unless the arrow comes off the string perfectly with perfect center-shot, perfect vertical orientation, perfect nock travel, and with no torque on the grip, the air stream will push against the side of one or more blades, forcing the arrow away from its desired path.  Aerodynamically, this is called yaw if it’s left to right and pitch if it’s up and down.

 

“When the arrow rotates, centrifugal force pushes the arrow back towards its true center and reduces pitch and yaw (this would be a bad thing in an airplane for obvious reasons but is a good thing in an arrow since an arrow does not have a pilot to do course corrections),” Mizek added.  “The sooner you can get the arrow rotating, the sooner yaw and pitch can be reduced or eliminated, resulting in tighter groups.  Arrows that are tipped with field points or mechanical broadheads still benefit from the arrow rotating because one side of an arrow experiencing yaw or pitch feels air pressure more than the other, causing the arrow to fly inconsistently.”

 As you may know, New Archer Products invented the new QuikSpin plastic vanes that were designed to maximize arrow spin, and therefore maximize arrow control and accuracy.  The vanes are said to begin spinning an arrow almost immediately out of the bow.  This in turn allows the arrow to experience air drag sooner in flight, which theoretically should make the arrow more stable and less susceptible to the forces of side air resistance that could push it off course.
 “For reference, a typical arrow fletched offset with 4-inch QuikSpin vanes start rotating in only 18 inches.  It reaches full rotation in two to three yards,” Mizek said.  “The same arrow set up with conventional vanes typically requires 12 yards.  The effect on accuracy by getting the arrow spinning sooner and then faster is incredible.

Are the Rules Changing?
 Over the years, we’ve been told that the amount of air drag cased by fletching is dependent on its size and shape.  For more air drag, you use longer fletching.  For less, you use shorter fletching.  For the ultimate in air drag, use the same size feathers.  Right?  Well, in the pat couple of years I’ve learned the rules may be changing.

 

While on a hunting trip with my good friend Bruce Barrie, I noticed his arrows were dressed with target-size vanes (they were Duravane’s 3-D vanes).  I asked him how he could be shooting such a small vane, but he swore by what great arrow flight he was achieving with small fixed bladed heads, even at sever high speeds.

 Later, a rep from Norway (the company that makes the Duravanes) told me that the secret behind these 2.3-inch vanes was its design.  The vanes may be short, but the design is very rigid to deduce blade “flap” through the air, which increases its ability to create air drag.  Plus, the vane’s compact size optimizes clearance with arrow rests.

 This same concept is the premise behind Bohning’s excellent new Blazer vane.  At only 2 inches long, this vane is said to offer all the stabilization required to properly steer fixed-blade broadheads.  The Blazer vane is slightly more than 1/2-inch tall and the vane is very rigid so wind flap is nearly if not completely eliminated.

 Personally, I believe some longer/larger fletching is more prone to “flapping” when they are subjected to high speeds.  With slower arrow speeds, air resistance isn’t as violent, therefore arrows fletched with longer/larger fletching provide excellent air drag and arrow control.  But with modern speed bows and carbon arrows, reducing arrow speed isn’t really an option, nor do most bowhunters want slow arrow speed.

 NAP’s QuikSpin vanes, I’m told, were not only designed to spin the arrow faster but also to prevent from flapping wildly in the air stream.  How is this done?  The vane incorporates micro-grooves on one side that promote rigidity, even at that critical moment when the arrow immediately leaves the bow.

 Arizona Archery Enterprises uses a “rough” finish on its Elite Plastifletch that promotes better steering in flight.  The vanes are also made of special material that has better memory (ability to flap back to shape) to reduce the affects of vane flap.

 Norway adds a unique, slightly tapered “blade” on their Duravanes from the base of the vane to the top to enhance steering power and to reduce vane weight.  This same feature is said to eliminate blade flap and noise, too.

 What about feathers?  Feathers are said to offer about twice the amount of air drag as equal size vanes.  The reason for this can be attributed to a feather’s surface, which is rough and full of natural “slits” that apparently cause for more air resistance or drag.

Fletching Orientation
 What about the orientation of fletching, the manner in which they are fletched on the shaft – either straight, offset or helical offset?

 While designing the QuikSpin vane, New Archery Products has conducted many tests on the affects of air drag caused by various types of arrow fletching.

 “We determined with a rather detailed and complex series of tests that to stabilize a broadhead at about 260 feet per second the arrow needs to turn about one rotation over 3 yards,” said Cary J. Pickands, technical support specialist for New Archery Products.  “Our previously recorded data was then able to provide even more information, and in this case, very useable information.  We looked at each data set and found the range at which each fletching type produced one full turn.”

 During testing, Pickands and other members of NAP’s staff discovered that standard 4-inch vanes (AAE Plastifletch, Duravane, Bohning Killer Vanes, etc.) fletched with a 1/16-inch offset reaches one full rotation between 12 to 15 yards; 5-inch helical feathers fletched with a 3- to 4- degree wrap reaches one full rotation in between 4 and 7 yards; NAP QuickSpin 4-inch vanes fletched perfectly straight reaches one full rotation between 4 and 7 yards; and NAP QuikSpin 4-inch vanes fletched with a 1/16-inch offset reached one full rotation between 1 and 4 yards.

 “As far as we can tell arrow speed has no effect on whether the vane will control the arrow,” Pickands said.  “We’ve shot broadhead-tipped arrows in excess of 330 fps with phenomenal accuracy and precision.”

Testing Fletching: What Really Works?
 Ultimately, only you can decide what fletching type and orientation provides adequate steering for your particular arrows and broadhead combination.  Shooting different combinations of fletching with your chosen broadhead usually does this.

 My good friend Ron Way, who is an engineer in the aerospace industry, told me that there are many variables that affect aerodynamics and stable flight, whether it is an aircraft or an arrow.  “Very small variation can change the dynamics of flight such as the grip on the handle, a poor release, out-or-position anchor (from leaning/twisting), wind, or low or high altitudes (air density),” he said.  “An arrow that is marginally stable can show decent flight when conditions are good but can be horrible if one or more of the variables change.”

Arrow Trajectory and Fletching
 Ideally you should equip your arrow shafts with the smallest possible fletching that will stabilize your broadhead.  This way, you can maximize your arrow’s downrange speed for flatter trajectory.  Smaller fletching also means less side air resistance of the arrow that translates into less horizontal arrow drift.  Also, consider the orientation of your fletching; the more offset and/or helical you apply to fletching, the slower the arrow will fly because more drag is occurring.

It Comes Down to Accuracy
 The bottom line with fletching is what produces the best accuracy for you.  While testing some of today’s modern fletching.  I’ve noticed that in some cases the length of the fletching is not as important as the stiffness (or in other cases the memory) and the height of the fletching.  The greater the stiffness (or memory) and the taller the fletch air drag becomes more pronounced for increased arrow stabilization.  But then again, that’s just another impression in the world of aerodynamics.

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Published by admin on 22 Jan 2010

Western Connection by Tom Tietz

Western Connection
Word on the street says that big mule deer are
almost impossible to find.  But this is far from true
Story and Photos by Tom Tietz

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com/

 Mule deer herds are declining throughout the west.  There are no longer any trophy mulies to be found.  This is the talk of the day throughout the western states.  Some pundits make it sound like a waste of time, money and effort to pursue trophy mule deer bucks these days.  Well to that, I say HOGWASH!

 

Although mule deer herds and trophy bucks are nowhere near the levels as during the heydays of the 60s, there are still sustainable populations with quality bucks out there for the hunting.  It just takes a little more effort on the part of the hunter nowadays.  Granted, the days of driving your truck down a road and having your pick of big four-pointers are probably gone forever, but good bucks are still out there, on both public and private lands.  A bowhunter with reasonable expectations of taking a buck that qualifies for P&Y can find success in any western state.  It just takes a little homework and pre-season effort on your part.  While there are very few, if any, areas that consistently produce 190-class mule deer, there are a myriad of areas where one can pursue and have a reasonable chance at harvesting 150-plus class mulies.

Getting a Tag
 The first thing one has to do to find big bucks is to learn how to play the draw.  Most of the better hunts in the West are now on some type of limited draw system for tags.  At first glance this may look incredibly complicated, what with bonus points, preference points, multiple choices, hunt codes and the like, but it really isn’t all that difficult to learn.  The key is to start early.  The days are gone when you can decide in July that you’re going deer hunting in August.  You need to start getting your act together in December.  Every state has a somewhat different system, and application deadlines can range from January to May, Contact the states you’re interested in hunting in late fall and get on their list to receive information and applications as soon as they become available.

Playing the Odds
 Drawing a tag can range from literally once in a lifetime (due to astronomical odds) to something you can do virtually every year.  Usually the tougher the draw, the better the quality, but you can find P&Y bucks in nearly every unit in nearly every state.  Some areas may be excellent for 150-class bucks but you will have no realistic chance at a 190.  These areas are usually much easier to draw.  Believe it or not, some areas are still capable of producing 200-point bucks, but getting a tag in these areas can be another story altogether.  Some guys try to hit a home run and apply for only the premier areas in every state, in hopes of drawing at least one really special tag every couple years, whereas other guys prefer to hunt more often and apply for areas that have the better odds of drawing.

 

Some states reward those who apply but don’t draw a tag with bonus or preference points for future drawings.  This way the hunter who puts in every year has a better chance to draw the more sought-after units.  Others just have an all out draw, where every applicant has an equal chance of drawing every year.  The key here is to start getting points in the states that offer them and keep trying to draw prime units in the other states.  If you set up a system for drawing different states, you can pretty well assure yourself of a good quality hunt somewhere each year.

Selecting an Area
 The first key to getting a trophy mulie is to find out where thy live.  You can be the world’s greatest hunter, but if the area you’re hunting doesn’t hold big deer, you’re not going to get one.  There are several ways of finding areas that harbor trophy bucks.  Read as many articles and books on mule deer as you can find.  Although you may not get much on specific areas through these sources, you can still glean a lot of valuable information.    For example, an article on trophy mulies in Nevada’s high country will narrow your search down to units in Nevada’s high country will narrow your search down to units in Nevada with high mountain ranges.  Or an article about hunting in CRP will narrow your search to those areas and states with large expanses of CRP.

 Another source for information is state game departments, where you can get harvest data, herd data, draw odds and hunter distribution.  Look for areas with light to medium hunter pressure, high buck-to-doe ratios and stable or increasing deer numbers.  Don’t just rely on one year’s data either.  Get at least three years up front, then update your information each year.  Set up a file for each state or area.  From this you can determine trends in overall quality for each area.  Areas that meet these criteria have the highest likelihood of producing trophy bucks.  The best areas will usually be the toughest to draw, but there are some gems out there with good odds of drawing, you just have to look.  Put this data together with things you’ve read and you can narrow your search drastically.

 

Another way to get up-to-date information is from sport shows and conventions.  Talk to other hunters about where they have had success.  Again, most won’t give you specific information, but put what you hear together with what you’ve learned and your search becomes even narrower.

 I know you’re thinking, “man this is a lot of work.”  It really isn’t as bad as you might imagine.  You can do a lot of your research in the winter months when you’re relaxing after a few hours of snow shoveling.  And what could be better than planning your next trophy mule deer hunt?  Just sifting through the information you accumulate will get you pumped up for the upcoming season.

 

One last thing is to watch the weather.  Is the area you’re wanting to hunt having an unusually sever or mild winter?  This will have a lot to do with the health of the herds and trophy quality come fall.  If an area looks good statistically but had a very sever winter within the past couple years, it may be best to shy away from it.  On the other hand, if the area has put together a string of mild winters and the statistics add up, you may have discovered one of those uncovered gems.  Remember that just because an area produced some big deer in the past, things can change, and it may not live up to your expectations next fall.

When to Scout
 You’ve done your research and drawn that coveted tag.  Now it’s time to find out where the big boys play.  A lot of where to look will be based on the time of year you’ll be hunting.  Mule deer are generally migratory and where you find them in August could be miles from where they are in October.  Even though you may not hunt until later in the fall, the best time to do some pre-season scouting is in late July or early August.  Due to their reddish summer coat (which sticks out like a vegetarian at a barbecue), mulies are very easy to find this time of year.  Their antlers will be nearly fully developed, although the velvet coat that covers them will generally make them look about 15 percent bigger than they really are.

 The first step towards successful scouting is to obtain topo maps of your area.  These can be obtained from USGS, or Delorme has some neat software that enables you to print up-to-date topo maps right from your computer.  They also have state atlases that are very detailed and show basic topography and access roads.

Scout Smart
 When scouting, do so with little or no impact.  Glass wide expanses from a distant high point using a high-quality binocular or spotting scope.  With their reddish coloration, deer will be easy to spot from a distance, and you will be able to observe them without disturbing them.  This is especially critical if you are going to hunt in August or September, as the bucks you see will probably still remain in the same general area.  If your hunt is later in the fall, the bucks probably will have headed for lower elevations, but at least you’ll have an idea of the overall quality available to you.

 If scouting early isn’t a possibility, you can still get some pre-season scouting in.  The best chance you’ll get at a real trophy is in the first couple days of the season before other hunters have stirred things up.  If you are going to take seven days for your hunt, for example, you would be better off scouting for two or three days prior and only hunting four or five days, than to arrive the night before season and hunting for the full seven days.  Your best chance of taking a real buster buck is to locate him before opening day and then try to nail him in the first day or two of your hunt.  Once the deer get stirred up, all bets are off.  Those big guys didn’t get that way by being stupid.  They had to survive a number of hunting seasons to grow trophy antlers and know where to go to get away from hunters.

 Remember that scouting is important, but scouting smart is even more important.  The less you disturb the deer before the season, the better your chance of taking your trophy come opening day.  If you continually disturb the animals and the area while scouting, the bucks, especially the big ones, can be miles from where you first found them.

 Trophy mulies contrary to some beliefs, are still out there for the taking.  With just a little common sense and by using the information that is readily available, you will uncover areas that you can consistently hunt for that trophy of a lifetime.  Although luck always plays a part, trophy hunting is an endeavor where you usually get out of it what you put into it.  Research is an essential part of today’s trophy mule deer hunting.  It can be hard work and somewhat time consuming, but the rewards can make all the effort more than worth it.

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Published by admin on 21 Jan 2010

Arrow Crafting By Mike Veine

Arrow Crafting
Not only does building your own arrows save money,
but it can greatly improve the quality of them.
By Mike Veine


I’ve always been a stickler for details, and that panache for near perfection is readily apparent with my bowhunting equipment, especially my arrows. I’ve been building my own arrows for 30 years. I save $10 or more per dozen by building my own and I have fun in the process. I also use premium components, and by following proven techniques my arrows are always the best they can be.


A few years ago, a friend of mine was bowhunting for whitetails from a ground blind when a good buck presented a high percentage, close-range shot opportunity. At the shot, the buck recoiled and scampered away a short distance before stopping to look back at what had scared him. The buck then snorted an alarm and ran away unscathed.


Baffled, my friend recovered his arrow and upon examination he was shocked to see that all of the vanes had torn loose. In fact, all the arrows in his quiver suffered from the same malady. He had just purchased those rather expensive, new, carbon arrows from a discount sporting good store and had not shot them yet. Because they were the same model and size as the ones he had been shooting, he just assumed that they’d be OK. His lack of attention to detail cost him dearly. Savvy bowhunters that properly build their own arrows can avoid such a disaster.


Shaft Selection and Cutoff
Bulk shafts are typically purchased by the dozen, which is where the main savings comes in when building your own arrows. Depending on the manufacture, raw shafts are typically sold in 34-inch lengths. Unless you have exactly a 34-inch draw length, then you’ll need to size the shafts by cutting them off.


Shafts can be cut off using two different methods. The cheapest, and the one I mostly use, requires a shat cut-off tool that functions like a pipe cutter. These tools cost $20 to 30, but will only work on aluminum shafts. The cut must be perfectly clean to provide proper alignment of the insert or bushing. After cutting my shafts with such a tool, I then smooth off the end that was cut off using a jig made from scrap 2×4. The jig has several holes drilled through it to fit various sized shafts. The holes hold the shaft straight while I lightly file the end until it’s smooth and flat. I then use a dremel rotary tool to ream out the interior of the cut to remove any burs.


For carbon arrows you’ll need to use an electric arrow cut-off saw. Those saws also work great on aluminum shafts. An electric cut-off saw represents the largest investment that an arrow builder might consider. The A1-Arrow Saw made by Apple Archery Products is a good saw that retails for about $115. I’s sometimes wise to get together with a few friends, pool your funds, and buy one together. I just take my carbon shafts to an archery pro shop to have them cut. Even with a cut-off saw, though, the edges sometimes must be smoothed out using a dremel tool.


Installing Inserts
Inserts should fit snugly and must align perfectly. I prefer aluminum inserts like the ones made by Easton. For aluminum shafts, I use Bohing Ferr-L-Tite hot glue. Screw an old field point into the insert and then clamp onto it with vice-grips. Using a small propane torch, heat up the insert and the end of the shaft. Apply a small amount of the glue to the insert and then push it into the shaft until seated fully. Before the glue cools and hardens, wipe the excess off with a rag. Installed in this manner, the inserts can be rotated for broadhead alignment or removed by simply reheating them.


Carbon shafts require the use of an epoxy to adhere the inserts. I’ve used Bohning’s AAE Epoxy, which is a flexible adhesive ideally suited for inserts and bushings on carbon shafts. Once inserts are installed, screw n a broadhead and spin test it. I use an arrow straightener for this function, which will also check shaft straightens in the process. Spin the shaft by quickly rolling it and if the head wobbles at all, remove the insert and install a new one. With carbon shafts, this process must be done before the epoxy sticks.


Vanes or Feathers?
Bowhunters have been debating the virtues of feather fletching versus plastic vanes for as long as I can remember. I started out using feather as they provided more forgiveness off the crude arrow rests used in those olden days. When tests evolved to allow total fletching clearance, I switched over to plastic vanes and haven’t looked back since. Vanes are just about impervious to the weather and much more durable than feathers. Feathers are also much noisier in flight and the racket made from brushing anything against feathers has been the undoing of many bowhunters. I may take some flack for this, but unless you’re having arrow flight problems, I recommend using quality plastic vanes for bowhunting.


Many top archer use feathers. Scott Purks, one of the country’s best 3-D archers, prefers feathers even with his Mathew’s bow equipped with a drop-away rest. He says, “Feathers are kind of a pain, but they seem to shoot a little more accurately, especially at extremely long ranges.” Feathers are lighter than vanes, which equates to slightly faster arrow speeds.


When you build your own arrows, you can pick and choose from various fletchings. I prefer vanes that are very thin and flexible. Because arrows will be smashed in bow cases and otherwise bent and folded, vanes that pop back to their original shape are especially desirable. I’ve been using Easton vanes for many years and have been very happy with them. Bohning, Duravane, Arizona, Sims Vibration Labs, Flex-Fletch and others also make high-quality vanes.


Fletching color choices are virtually limitless and arrow builders have the ability to mix and match what ever colors they desire. Some bowhunters prefer colors that blend in. For them, camo fletching is available. Years ago, I used olive-drab fletchings, but today I prefer bright-colored fletching and florescent nocks so that I can watch my arrow flight better. Red and orange colors are my favorites as they provide good visibility, yet they still blend in with the fall woods as the leaves turn colors. Bright colors also make it easier to find arrows on the ground.

Most bowhunters use either 4- or 5-inch fletchings. As a rule, use longer fletching on larger-diameter shafts. For skinnier shafts, 4-inch or smaller fletching usually work best. It often pays to experiment though for optimal broadhead flight.


Applying Fletching
A fletching jig is required for proper fletching alignment o the shaft. I recommend a single arrow-fletching jig, which will ensure identical fletching alignment on every arrow made. I’ve been using the same Jo-Jan Mono Fletcher for as long as I can remember, and it works great, costing less than $40. Bitzenburger, Cabela’s and Bohning also offer quality fletching jigs.

When purchasing a fletching jig, you’ll have three options: right helical, left helical and straight fletch. Most bowhunters prefer a right-helical fletching. Right helical means that if you look down the shaft from the nock end, the fletching will angle to the right. Right helical will spin the arrow clockwise. Feather fletching users should be aware that the wing of the feather must match the helical direction. For instance, right-wing feathers require a right-wing helical fletching jig. You can also choose from three-fletch or four-fletch models. Most bowhunters use three-fletch arrows.

Ron Quick builds custom arrows at Outdoorsman (317/881-7446) a full-service archery pro shop in Greenwood, Indiana. Ron says, “Cleaning the shaft thoroughly before gluing on the fletching is the key to making them stick properly. We fist soak both aluminum and carbon shafts in acetone prior to fletching them. After that we go over the shaft with a Scotch Bright pad and water. The final cleaning step is wiping the shaft with denatured alcohol. Be warned, though, that acetone and alcohol are both highly flammable liquids.” Bohning offers a product called SSR Surface Conditioner specifically designed to degrease and prepare aluminum or carbon shafts for painting and fletching. I use acetone, but I just put some on a rag and then wipe the shaft with the stuff.


Quick added, “After the alcohol dries we glue on the fletching using Bitzenburger jigs. We just started using the new Bohning Fletch-Tite Platinum glue and love the stuff. It will glue any type of fletching to any shaft material, even the slippery carbon ones. Some of the quick-set glues that we have tried have not held well to graphite.”

For release shooters, place your fletching in the clamp so the back of the fletching is 3/4-inch from the end of the shaft( not the end of the nock). Finger shooters should use a 1-inch spacking. I set my fletching jig for a five-degree right helical, which is a common setting for a bowhunting arrow. I lay a very small bead of Fletch-Tight glue down the length of the vane and then gently press the vane in place on the jig.

With Fletch-Tire glue, I wait about five minutes before removing the fletching from the clamp, rotating the shaft and then repeating the process for the next fletching. It takes about 15 minutes for the glue to harden completely and that’s when I apply a small dab of glue on the from and back of each vane for added durability. After the fletching are installed, check for any excess glue that may have bulged out along the edge of the fletchings. I use a scalpel to trim away any excess.

Fletching Removal
Just about every one of my shooting sessions results in damaged fletchings. Arrow maintenance is another good reason to get into building your own arrows. If I had to take my damaged arrows to the pro-shop for repair, I’d go broke in a hurry. I remove my fletching with a dull knife. However, for those that need a special tool for everything, Cabela’s, Saunders and Norway offer fletch strippers. Bow & Arrow Hunting Editor Joe Bell really likes the Zip Strip model by Norway Industries.

After scraping most of the glue off the shaft, I then go over it with coarse steel wool and then follow the same procedure as described earlier for cleaning the shaft prior to applying the fletchings. Incidentally, for small tears in the vanes of my practice arrows, I sometimes just use a little Super Glue to reconnect the tear. The next time I replace a fletching on that flawed arrow, though, I replace the cobbled vane.


Dipping, Cresting and Wrapping
Dipping, cresting and wrapping arrows allows archers to customize their arrows. Adding a personal touch to your arrows is fun and the colors and designs one can create are limitless. I personally don’t bother to dress up my arrows anymore, although I’ve experimented with dipping and wraps in the past. Before cresting, dipping or wrapping, it is highly recommended to clean our shafts using the same procedure used prior to gluing on fletchings. In fact, dipping and cresting is typically done prior to installing the nock and fletchings.

I’d recommend buying a cresting kit like the one offered by Bohnng. Their kit contains everything needed to create personalized arrows including a motorized spinner to rotate the shafts for painting. Bohning also sells an instructional video for customizing your arrows.

Arrow wraps are also available through Bohning or Easy-Eye. Wraps are stickers that are rolled around the arrow shaft to create designs. Buying and applying wraps is much easier and cheaper than cresting arrows, but the degree of personalization is limited to the wrap designs available.

Dipping arrows is nothing more than painting the end of the shaft under the fletchings. Most bowhunters dip their arrows in paint to allow better visibility of the arrow when shot at game. The proliferation of video taping of bowhunters has certainly increased the number of bowhunters dipping their arrows. It’s much easier for the camera to pick up arrows dipped in brightly colored paint. White is the color choice of most pro videographers.

As a final step in the arrow building process, I apply a light coat of silicone to my arrows. This serves three purposes: First, it causes water to bead up on the shaft and run off. It also allows the arrow to be drawn over the rest with much less friction and resulting noise. Lastly, the silicone may enhance penetration.

Building your own arrows allows you to experiment with different components, helical settings and other arrow nuances to fine-tune your setup for optimal performance. It’s a lot like a rifle reloader working up a particular load to perform best in their firearm. Arrow builders fine-tune their load as well, but we just go about it a lot quieter.

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