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Published by huntermt on 30 Jan 2012

reality hunting

I have been waiting for a reality based hunting show to come out on on of the networks for a long time, I want something I can be involved in and go online and vote for hunts I liked and recommend thing I want to see. I recently stumbled upon Outlanders on the Outdoor channel and although the hunt I watched didn’t appeal to me, the idea behind the newish series is what I wanted. They take everyday hunters and build an eposide around their choice hunt. In the hunters everyday honey hole. Next season you can enter in a drawing to have this be you, they opened up like 10 spots. I love this! I cant wait to see me and my buddies on tv.

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Published by archerchick on 11 Dec 2011

Choosing Knives and Sharpeners – By Tim Dehn


Bowhunting World June 1990

Choosing Knives and Sharpeners – By Tim Dehn

Like your bow and broadhead -tipped arrows, a good hunting
knife is standard equipment for bowhunters. Here’s a
look at the wide range available, along with other cutting tools and
sharpeners designed for the sportsman.

I’d owned and lost more than a dozen  jackknives before I bought my first hunt-
ing knife, but I hadn’t learned much about cutting tools. The knife I bought as a
teen had a long, narrow blade more suited to stabbing than cutting, and a smooth and slippery plastic handle. I learned later that the tang collected blood and din, the leather
sheath collected odor, and the gleaming blade wasn’t rust proof.

Today, I use two hunting knives, worlds apart in form but both capable of chores from
digging a broadhead loose from a log to field dressing and butchering big game.
The knife I love to show off is a fixed-blade model that retails for about $95. It has a
heavy, stainless-steel blade with thumb serrations on the back and a groove for my index finger below. The polished stainless guard and hilt flow smoothly into the tough Micarta handle. The knife is a work of art that feels like part of your hand when you use it.

But I rarely do. That knife weighs nearly a pound and on hunting trips it’s usually back at camp or in the truck. The knife I carry is a folding lock blade from Western Cutlery with a green, checkered Valox handle and simple Cordura sheath. The 3 1/2-inch stainless steel blade is longer than I need and yet the knife and sheath together weigh under four ounces.

There’s more than a dozen companies producing folding hunting knives today and I
wasn’t surprised to find Field Contributor Deano Farkas also prefers that style, though
his Lightweight Lockback by Schrade incorporates a gut hook cut into the back of the drop-point blade.

Farkas said it is impossible to over-emphasize the importance of a sharp knife that will
hold an edge. He has field-dressed more than 100 whitetails, and adds “Ninety-nine percent of them have been by myself. You usually don’t have anyone to help you hold the legs, and often by the time you get out of the stand and track your deer it’s pretty late at night.

With the gut hook, I’m not sticking them in the stomach under conditions like that .”
Lightweight folding knifes aren’t the best for splitting bone, but that’s not how Farkas
uses it. He cuts around the rectum and pulls it out, rather than splitting the pelvis to get at it.

“I’ve found if you split the pelvis in the field, and you have to drag the deer any distance, you get a lot more dirt in the body cavity.” Farkas reaches up inside the chest cavity to cut the windpipe and to free the diaphragm from the ribcage. “That’s another thing I like about a folding knife. With a fixed blade, I’ve often cut myself doing this. With a folding knife I can hold the blade almost closed as I slip it inside, then flip it open once I’m in position to start cutting.”

The nylon sheath most hunting knives come with today may not look as nice as
leather, but it’s far more practical for scent-conscious bowhunters. “Even if you try to
wipe your blade off, some blood is going to get in the sheath and that can really start to
stink,” Farkas said. “When my nylon sheath gets dirty, I just wash it off with a little baking soda and warm water.”

Back home in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Farkas uses other knives to skin and butcher
big game. “I do my own deer, 100 percent. A buddy and I have invested in a meat grinder, a meat slicer, the whole bit. I hang the deer on a gambrel in the garage or the backyard, weather permitting. Then I skin it, cut the two front quarters off, take the loins out, split the deer down the backbone, and take the ribs and hind quarters off.

Farkas owns a D-shaped meat saw, but said he usually uses a PVC-plastic pipe saw to
split the backbone. The wider blade doesn’t bind even when he’s working alone, and he
said the sport saws popular with hunters today would probably work just as well.
I’d have to agree, judging by the way my Gerber folding saw zips through hard and
softwoods as I’m clearing shooting lanes.

Like similar models from Game Tracker and Coghlans, the folding saw has a lightweight plastic handle and an aggressive tooth design that cuts on the return stroke to minimize pinching. In my treestand, it adds a foot to my reach as I zip twigs and small branches out of the way. And at ground level, I’ve huffed my
way through a 4-inch dead oak in under two minutes.

Anyone who has spent much time in front of display cases knows hunting knives today
come in an almost infinite variety that makes categorizing them very difficult. You could call the Buck Fieldmate a sheath knife, but don’t picture a staghorn handle and harness leather sheath. This 1989 introduction has a finger—grooved olive drab Kraton handle, a camo nylon sheath and a 5 1/2-inch blade we’ll let the people at Buck Knives explain. The back of it features “an emergency saw for cutting wood, metal or ice and a sharpened, serrated clip for cutting rope, wet or dry.”

Try to describe the Game Skinner from Outdoor Edge, and you better have a picture
with you. David Bloch designed the unique cutting tool as a senior design project in engineering school. He got his degree in mechanical engineering, but he has been using it at the cutlery firm he now heads in Boulder, Colorado.

“My Game Skinner combines the T—handle grip of a push knife, the blade of an Es-
kimo Ulu, and a gut hook. It ’s designed to do the whole job on animals as big as elk — gutting, skinning and quartering.” While the Game Skinner has a thick, 3-
inch blade Bloch said you can pound through a bull elk’s pelvis, the 2 5/ 8-inch blade on the Game Trapper will easily handle whitetails and mule deer. Both knives can be reversed in the hand as you are pulling on hide. “You just keep the blade outward of your fingers as you work and you don’t have to sit it down and risk losing it or getting it dirty,” Bloch explained.

Like most hunting knives on the market today, those from Outdoor Edge use rust-
proof stainless steel blades that are easy to care for but so hard that sharpening on natural stones can be difficult. That’s one reason for the popularity of the diamond embedded whetstones like those from Diamond Machining Technology (DMT).

DMT used to build diamond segments for the stone-cutting industry, Elizabeth Powell
told Bowhunting World, and when most of that work went overseas in the late l970’s she and husband Dave sought other markets for the company’s expertise in industrial diamonds. “Our first knife sharpener was a round, 3-inch Diamond Whetstone that
looked a lot like a hockey puck. We were making grinding wheels at the time and had to cut the center out, and we sent some of those to L.L. Bean & Company in Freeport, Maine.

They liked how fast they sharpened knives, but not the shape .” It wasn’t long before DMT’s Marborough, Massachusetts, plant was cranking out rectangular Diamond Whetstones from 3-inch to 12-inch, all with a unique, polka-dot appearance because the diamond-embedded metal has circles of plastic interrupting it. “Our pat-
ented process gives you an interrupted cut that is much more aggressive than a continuous surface. The plastic dots provide a place for the filings to collect and let the diamond portion cut like the teeth on a saw.”

Anyone investing in a Diamond Whetstone ought to also invest in the time it takes to
read the instructions. These “stones” are used with water, not oil, and a light touch is
best. “Depending on the type of steel, Diamond Whetstones can sharpen from 10 to 100 times faster than natural stones,” Powell said. “We tell people to stroke their diamonds, don’t hack them.”

While the smaller DMT models will fit in carrying sheaths, hunters may prefer the
Diafold models because of their built-in handles. Originally produced in round, rod styles ideal for touch up, the Diafolds are also sold with 4-inch Diamond Whetstones capable of restoring the edge to any hunting knife. Offered in fine, coarse and extra coarse, the fine is the most popular because it is easy to use without removing too much material from the blade. “You really just need a single Diamond Whetstone,” Powell acknowledged. “You can get a super clean edge with just the fine even if
it takes a little longer that way. And we don’t sell our Diamond Broadhead Sharpener in anything but fine, because broadheads don’t get that dull .”

The broadhead sharpener from DMT uses a pair of 3-inch Diamond Whetstones on an
angle-adjustable plastic base. Depending on what you spend for broadheads or replacement blades, it could pay for itself in a couple seasons.

Broadhead hones are also available from Bear Archery dealers, because Bear offers
hones with natural or ceramic stones from TruAngle. New for 1990, Bear’s own Check-
point Broadhead Sharpener combines carbide cutting wheels with an Arkansas Stone on a comfortable composite handle.

Sharpening Guides

Firms that build sharpeners are also beginning to offer sharpening guides, recognizing that in today’s world many of us didn’t learn how to put the right angle on a cutting
tool at our father ’s knee. Two I’ve seen in use are sharpener systems from Lansky and GATCO, the latter an acronym for the Great American Tool Company. Both firms team a selection of oil stones in plastic holders with a knife-sharpening guide that adjusts for different angles.

The Lansky honing guide can be hand-held or mounted on its base and bolted to a work-bench. With the knife blade clamped in it, a rod is attached to one of the hones and then placed through a slot in the guide. With a series of smooth, even strokes you can quickly put a uniform edge on one side of the knife, then flip the clamp 180 degrees to finish the job.

GATCO uses synthetic oil stones it claims are more uniform and faster—cutting than most natural stones. The stones are mounted in color-coded plastic handles and the gold-anodized guide rods slide back into the handles for storage. GATCO lets you start with a single stone system, choose one with three or five synthetic stones, or invest in the Diamond Hone Sharpening System and really put an edge on your hunting knives fast.

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Published by archerchick on 11 Dec 2011

The Top 10 Trophy Whitetail States – By David Freed


Archery World September 1984
The Top 10 Trophy Whitetail States
By David Freed

ave you ever wondered which state
H harbors the most trophy whitetail
bucks? Your days of wondering may
be over, if trophy distribution statistics of
Pope and Young whitetail entries can be considered
an accurate indication of where those
big bucks can be found and are being taken.
It may not be a shock to you that the top 10
states for trophy whitetail bucks (with typical

antlers) are all located in the Upper Midwest.
The states among the top 10 go no farther east
than Ohio, no farther west than Nebraska or
South Dakota, and no farther south than Kansas.
The state farthest north is Minnesota.
And Minnesota just happens to be the top
state overall.
According to the statistics, which include
animals taken up to the 13th recording period

that ended in 1982, Minnesota has had 210
whitetail deer that have exceeded the minimum
score of 125 in the typical category.
Minnesota’s top entry scored 181-6/8. far
short of the 204-4/8 all-time record that M J`
Johnson took in Peoria County, Illinois. in
1965. Minnesota’s top entry ranks just eighth
on the all·time list, but more than half of Minnesota
deer on the Pope & Young record
books exceed the 140 mark.

The states that round out the top 10 for
total number of typical whitetail entries with
Pope & Young are: Wisconsin 177, Iowa 173,
Illinois 147, Kansas 124, Ohio 119, Indiana
94, South Dakota 83, Michigan 71, Nebraska
50.

Altogether, the top 10 states account for
1,248 of the 1,627 typical whitetail deer that
were entered with Pope & Young through
1982. It means that a whopping 77 percent of
Pope and Young typical trophy whitetails have
been taken in those 10 states alone.

And if you turn to trophy Whitetail deer
with non-typical antlers, you get close to the
same results, Minnesota again is the leader,

with 34 entries above the 150 minimum mark.
Iowa pulls in second with 18, Illinois is third
with 13, Kansas, Wisconsin, and Ohio tie for

T
fourth with nine, Nebraska is seventh with
seven, and South Dakota,Montana, and
Michigan tie for eighth with five. The only
difference between the typical top 10 and he
non—typical top 10 states is Montana is
included in the non-typical category instead of
Indiana. (And Indiana ties for 11th place with
Kentucky with four. Montana. by the way,
does rank 11th among states for typical
entries.)

So we’ve pointed out the top 10 states as
far as sheer number of whitetail deer entered
with Pope & Young. Minnesota. for now, is in
the lead. But where have the top 10 all time
deer been taken?

As stated before, M.J. Johnson leads the
typical antler whitetail pack with a 204-4/8
entry that he shot in Peoria County in 1965
Two of the top 10 all—time official entries are
from Illinois.

Meanwhile, Iowa has three entries in the
top 10 — the second and third place entries
and the fifth place entry. Right there are three
typical whitetails that reach above the 190
mark.

Nebraska has two in the top 10 (Sixth and
ninth) and Colorado (fourth). Kansas (seventh),
sigh ». and Minnesota (eighth) each have one.
See the accompanying chart for localities,
renters, and dates.)
As far as the non-typical whitetail all-time
top 10 list, Del Austin holds the record with a
279-7/8 deer he shot in Nebraska’s Hall
county in 1962. It is Nebraska’s only top 10
entry. Illinois leads all states with three top 10
enties (third, fifth, and eighth).
Iowa has two in the top 10 (seventh and
ninth, while Kansas (second), Wisconsin
(fourth), and Minnesota (10th) each have one.
So what do all these statistics prove?
It definitely proves Minnesota has had the

most trophy whitetail deer make the Pope &
Young record books.
And it definitely proves the Upper Mid-
west is a hotspot for bowhunting whitetail
deer. The statistics bear out the fact that the
most Pope & Young entries are from states in
the Midwest.

But it cannot be considered a totally accu-
rate way to judge where the most trophy
whietails are or where they’ve been taken.
“Mlinnesota is one of the best states, but
there are may be areas as good or better than
Minnesota,” says David H. Boland, Pope &
Young member who has been figuring out trophy
distribution statistics since 1978. “The
interest in entering with Pope & Young may
not be as high. Not all archers enter deer —
due to the lack of measurers, economics, or
lack of interest or time .”

It does cost $25 to get an entry made with
Pope & Young and there is a process to go
through and though there are more than 500
official Pope & Young measurers in North
America, they are not always conveniently located

“In Minnesota there are a fair amount of
measurers who are quite interested and want
to get animals entered.” Boland said. “It
proves you have to have the interest .” Boland,
by the way, lives in Minnesota.
Boland estimates that only 1/3 of record
book heads are measured. And without a
higher percentage of heads entered, “you
don’t have a totally accurate representation of
where the trophies are,” Boland says.
And, in Minnesota, about all a bowhunter
can go after are whitetail deer and black bear.
“‘The amount of people who hunt deer figures
in ,” Boland says. “The more hunters, the
more entries .”

A combination of factors are necessary for
a deer to be trophy size and Minnesota, along
with all the other Upper Midwest states, has
that combination.
“You have to have heredity,” Boland says.
“The father and mother have to have characteristics
that provide for offspring to be trophy
size.”

Good feed is also necessary, Boland says.
And deer simply need X amount of years
to grow racks to trophy size, which means
they must be able to survive hunters, weather,
and food shortages.

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Published by archerchick on 11 Dec 2011

Big Deer In The Dust Bowl – By Wayne Van Zwoll


Archery World September 1984
Big Deer In The Dust Bowl – By Wayne Van Zwoll

The Rules On Big Bucks

Dust bowl. Wheat. Prairie. Such are
the things we think of when someone
mentions Kansas. If you’re up on your
history, you might also remember the Dalton
Gang and Carrie Nation. But what isn’t so
obvious about Kansas are the spectacular
bowhunting opportunities it offers today.
Dennis Rule knows about those opportunities.
His home state tendered him a whitetail
buck in 1982 that scored an even 202 Pope
and Young, making it the second largest ever
taken in Kansas — and number 15 on the alltime
non-typical Pope and Young list. It happened like this:

Rule, a 31-year-old Wichita resident, was
hunting in Clark County, in the western part
of the state. He and his brother Bill are seasoned
bowmen and had scouted their territory
well, putting up portable tree stands as early
as August. Some of the stands had proven
more productive than others, of course, and
by rut the brothers knew where to spend their
time.

November 13 was a cold, windy day, especially
in a tree stand. But Rule is a persistent
archer and believes that time in the woods is
often all that separates successful from unsuccessful
whitetail hunters. He shivered and
waited.

By 4 p.m. he had passed up numerous
does and four mature bucks, including one he
thought would have scored 150, well over the
P&Y minimum of 125. “It was a big, even
eight-point,” he reminisced later. “But the
wind was strong, and I didn’t think I could
make a clean shot. Besides, the rut was just
reaching a crescendo and I didn’t want to set-
tle for a mediocre buck yet.” Mediocre, in-
deed! But this is Kansas.

At about 4:30 a movement in the surrounding
thicket resolved itself into a deer
a big one, “This buck’s rack was enormous; I
could see that right away,” Dennis remembers.
“Wind or no wind, I had to take a shot at
him .”

Slowly the archer drew and anchored.
When the buck stopped, he released the string
on his 55—pound PSE Laser and drove a four-
blade Rocky Mountain Razor toward his tar-
get.

The wind tugged at the arrow and the
broadhead entered too far back. The buck
wheeled and bolted, then halted in a tangle of
brush. Rule could barely perceive the outline
of his quarry, but he saw the animal reach
around and bite off the shaft.
Within minutes the deer joined a group of
lesser whitetails feeding in a green wheat field
just outside the perimeter of the thicket, but
before long the big buck left them and headed
across the field toward some heavy brush.

“I was really afraid I’d lose him if he made
the trees,” Rule recalls. But he needn’t have
worried. The broadhead had nicked the
buck’s femoral artery and the animal collapsed short of the timber.

“I didn’t see him go down, so after gingerly
trailing him for a few yards across the
field I decided it would be best to finish the
job in the morning.” Like all savvy bowhunters,
Rule is almost paranoid about pushing an
animal that has sustained a hit. “When in
doubt, it’s always better to leave the trail and
come back to it later,” he says.

The next morning Rule trailed his buck to
where it had fallen and claimed the huge 17-
point rack. “It was a dream come true. I knew
there were bucks like that in the area, but I
have a great deal of respect for such monsters
and wondered if I’d ever get the chance to
arrow one .”

Dennis’ hunt was over, but brother Bill
still had a tag to notch. He wasted little time.
While his brother was hauling his trophy from
the field, Bill downed a fine typical whitetail
that also made Pope and Young. He would repeat
the performance a year later — in 1983
— with an even bigger buck!

Are the Rules hunting on a private deer
preserve? What is responsible for their success?
I was curious. So I asked Dennis. His
answers are valuable, not only for Kansas
bowmen, but for others hunting the agricultural Midwest.

First, Dennis, like many ambitious
archers today, is finding big bucks in places
that weren’t given much consideration just a
few years ago. The entire state of Kansas
might fall into that category! It wasn’t until
recently that the Sunflower State even had a
firearms deer season, and now more rifle permits
are being issued each year. Bowhunters
have an advantage here. in that there is no tag
quota for archery permits. Still. no over-
counter sales of any big game tags are allowed
in the state; even bow licenses must be purchased
(before October ll at regional fish and
game offices or at the headquarters (Rt. 2,
Box 54 A, Pratt, KS 67124). The 1983 bow
season ran from October l through November
30, and December 12 through 31. Dates for
1984 are similar.

Kansas’ deer population is on the up-
swing. Biologists estimate there are approximately
15,000 mule deer in the state now, and
80,000 whitetails. Like deer in other farmed
areas, Kansas bucks grow fast and big. It is
not unusual for a yearling to sport an eight-
point rack. Really massive antlers are more in
evidence at locker plants each season. It’s not
surprising that Fish and Game Commission
big game specialists expect the state whitetail
record to be broken any day.

“We’re always looking for new areas to
hunt,” Dennis explains. “The first year in
new territory is always a little tough. because
you are unable to draw on past knowledge of
buck movements there during the rut. Sure,
we do a lot of preseason scouting, but scouting
in summer and early autumn isn’t nearly
as beneficial as being in the woods when the
deer are rutting.”

Dennis and his brother build some of their
tree stands and use commercial ones as well.
“If we’re hunting a familiar area, we place
our stands where they’ve been effective before.
In new country, we locate them on the
main trails and near likely scrape pockets and
secondary trails. One of our most successful
ploys is to use a “bottleneck” in a shelter-belt
or creek bottom to funnel the deer to us. The
strips of timber bordering farmlands nearly
always have a narrow spot. Deer will stick to
the brush when moving during daylight
hours, and a stand at a bottleneck will give
you coverage of a large patch of cover.”

The Rules have been known to construct
their own bottlenecks — with spectacular
results. “Several years ago Bill had a tree
stand in a very good location and had spotted a
fine buck from it repeatedly during the season.
But the animal just wouldn’t come close
enough. Or the angle would be wrong. Or
brush would be in the way. So in mid-season
Bill constructed a brush barrier out of natural
materials he found near the stand. Normally
we don’t like to disturb a stand site once we’ve
started hunting from it, but Bill was desperate.
His efforts paid off. He arrowed that buck
the next time it came in. It was really a beautiful
animal – didn’t score well typically be-
cause of all the deductions, but a bragging-
size buck nonetheless.”

Bill and Dennis install their stands early —
usually in late August or the first week in September.
“But I like to save two or three for
emergency placement after the season
opens,” Dennis notes. “Especially if I’m
hunting a new area, the added flexibility pays
off. Sometimes buck movements during the
rut just can’t be predicted early. Extra stands
erected at last-minute notice near scrapes
have produced handsomely for us

The brothers like to hunt from tree stands.
Dennis maintains that in much of the Kansas
brush, still hunting trophy bucks is all but futile.
“I’m not saying it’s impossible to kill a
big buck that way, but it’s probably 10 times
as hard as from a tree stand ,” he asserts.

Proper camouflage is vital to success, according
to this bowman. “I wear camo clothing, of course.
And I mask my scent with a
commercial preparation that smells like prairie
vegetation. Skunk scent will also cover
your odor, but a skunk only sprays when it’s
alarmed. I think deer may be more alert when
walking into a scent pool left by a skunk then
when sniffing the odor of natural vegetation”

When not hunting, the Rules store their field
clothes in sacks, adding a bit of this scent before
sealing them. That way, their entire wardrobe
smells like prairie plants.
Though both men hunt most of the season,.
Dennis says he prefers the last week in October,
the first two in November. Why?
The bucks are a bit more predictable then.

They’re all fired up for the rut, of course. and
are beginning to make scrapes. But most of
the does haven’t come into estrus yet, and the bucks are
methodically making their rounds
in search of those that have.

Later, during the peak of the rut, bucks may be just
a little active, but they’re a whole lot less predictble.
A hot doe may draw a buck away from his
travel patterns; he may not behave at all like
you expect him to. He’s crazy.”

During the rut Bill and Dennis use scent
pads soaked in doe-in—heat scent to lure bucks
to their stands. “We hang the swatches on
bushes about 20 yards from the base of our
trees. I like to put my stand about 15 feet
up. This arrangement guarantees an easy shot
if the buck stops to sniff the scent pad.

Many hunters handicap themselves unnecessarily
by climbing too high or putting scent pads too
close to their trees. Either tactic makes for a
steep-angle shot and often a poor presentation.

Bill Rule frequently uses shed antlers to
rattle in his buck. Over the last three seasons
he has rattled in 12 trophy-class deer. “I rattle
for about 45 seconds, then wait 15 to 20 minutes
before repeating,” Bill explains. “If a
buck is going to come, he’ll generally show
up by the third rattle. Sometimes they come in
right away, throwing caution to the wind.

Bill’s 1982 buck was a huge 13—pointer
that scored 134 on the Pope and Young scale.
The buck came to his rattling at a dead run
and Bill arrowed the deer at 15 yards. “It was
an easy shot,” he recalls. “The four-blade
Rocky Mountain Razor from my 55-pound
Bear Kodiak went through both lungs. The
morning before I took this buck, I’d rattled in
two smaller, 10—point bucks and a nice six-
pointer.”

Bill maintains that, to be effective in rattling,
you must use large antlers and make the
clashing sound like two dominant bucks engaged
in serious battle. “Mature bucks that
may be listening just won’t pay attention to the
light ticking of little antlers,” he says. Bill of
ten uses small elk headgear to get the desired
effect. “Dennis has a dandy pair of shed
whitetail antlers at home that would be just
perfect for rattling,” he laughs. “But he
doesn’t have the heart to damage them!

The last buck Bill Rule brought home
dressed at 264 pounds and scored a whopping
159 typical points. It was shot at 14 yards. A
part-time taxidermist, Bill has been an avid
bowhunter for many years and has arrowed 47
big game animals, including 14 Kansas
whitetails.

What are the most important things to
keep in mind if you’re after a trophy Kansas
whitetail and or, for that matter, a big buck in
any agricultural area? The Rules offer this advice:
1. Be persistent. Don’t expect to connect
with a big deer the first time out, or the 10th.
Dennis spent over 150 hours in tree stands in
1983.
2. Do your homework. Not just before the
season, either. Start early. Know where
you’re going to hunt by mid-summer. Scout in
August, and have the majority of your tree
stands up by mid-autumn. Continue scouting.
Be observant.
3. Know your quarry. You cannot expect
to kill a big buck unless you’re intimately familiar
with the habits of whitetail deer and
with his habits specifically. Never underestimate
your quarry; his survival instincts are at
least as keen as you can imagine.
4. Be very, very careful going to and com-
ing from your stand. Do everything possible
to disassociate any human disturbance from
that area. Never get down from your stand
without first clearing the area of deer. If deer
are present when Dennis wants to leave, he
waits until they move away. Should a few individuals
choose to stay and loaf, he tosses
small objects into the brush until the animals
become nervous and leave. He doesn’t get
down until they’re all gone.
5. Stick to your standards. Trophy hunting is
not just shooting the biggest buck you
see. It’s setting a minimum acceptable standard
and passing up anything that doesn’t
measure up. You’ll never kill a big buck if you
insist on shooting little ones. The Rules will
occasionally take lesser animals late in the
season — “meat deer” — but never until the
rut is over and their chances for a trophy all
but gone.

Kansas deer are healthy, well-fed and plentyful.
Yes, Bill and Dennis hunt private land;
most of Kansas is privately owned. But their
hunting grounds — and areas just as productive
– are open to other bowmen who show
courtesy for landowners and respect for their
property – and who ask permission early in
the summer.

Yes, Bill and Dennis are experienced
archers. But they have no secret formula for
success. Hunting smart, spending time in the
woods, and paying attention to detail augment
the hard work we all know is a prerequisite for
putting big racks on the wall.

Do their tactics work for others? Well , last
year Dennis’ wife Janie arrowed a fine eight-
point whitetail. It was her second year of
hunting. Perhaps that says as much about deer
hunting in the dust bowl as any statistic. And
it certainly supports her husband’s contention
that big farm-country deer are available to
every enterprising archer!

>>>—>

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Published by archerchick on 11 Dec 2011

Persistent Tracking Pays~ By Shirley Grenoble


Archery World November 1976

Persistent Tracking Pays – By Shirley Grenoble

by Shirley Grenoble —
JUST BY THE WAY Fred yanked open the door to the coffee
shop and hurried to a stool I guessed he had something exciting
to tell me. Before I could even say “Hi” he began gushing. “Hey
Shirley, guess what?”

I poured him a cup of coffee and hoped business would be
slow for the next few moments. I was anticipating sharing the
savor of success with a fellow hunter.
“You got your deer!” I countered.
“No, but I put an arrow into one yesterday afternoon.
Yeah,” he continued, “I got an arrow into his middle. I followed
him about forty yards but there wasn’t much blood so I
gave up. Figure I can go back and get another one. Maybe I’ll
even go back this afternoon.”

I hoped I’d misunderstood. “You mean you wounded a deer
and then gave up trying to find it? Why?”
“Well,” he said, “Why should I knock myself out tracking
that one? ‘I`here’s plenty of deer on the hill and I’ll get one
sooner or later.” He was actually beaming, feeling that just
putting an arrow into a deer was some sort of accomplishment.
I stifled the impulse to knock the coffee cup into his over
abundant lap. “You are talking to the wrong person if you
think I’m impressed,” I snapped. “I think what you did is
despicable.”

The red flush that crept across his face told me my reaction
was obviously not what he’d been expecting. `°Huh,” he
blustered defensively, “I suppose you never missed anything.”
“Fred, the truth is, I’ve missed shots lots of times, as much as
anybody. But an arrow in a deer isn’t a miss, its a hit. And that
calls for every possible effort to recover it.”
Little did I suspect then that before that very week was up a
whitetail would make me prove my words.

Tracking wounded game is an art which is perfected with
experience. However, even the expert faced that first time. One
need not, indeed should not, go afield with bow and arrow
without some basic knowledge of tracking, the more the better.
There is usually an “old-timer” within the circle of every
hunter’s acquaintances who would be glad to give some basic
instruction in tracking. There are excellent books or chapters of
books devoted to the subject. They could be obtained at the
local library or through the Bookshelf in this magazine.
For over twenty years my husband Ken and I have shared an
unquenchable passion for hunting. We are both NRA-certified
Hunting Safety instructors. Ken’s father was a Pennsylvania
Forest Ranger. In the small town where we grew up, hunting
was the biggest event of the year. Getting your first deer meant
you had marched into manhood. (Or womanhood in some
cases.)

So about three days a week, when noon comes, I leave the
coffee shop, jump into my four-wheel-drive vehicle and head
for the hills. The hills in my case being the heart of the Endle
Mountains in Bradford County, Pennsylvania.
My first afternoon in a gnarled jack pine next to an old
orchard, a fat doe and two yearlings came in and ate apple
until they were pot-bellied. I was tempted to shoot the doe be
held off, in hopes that the buck that had made some nearby
rubs would appear. He never did show up. But the doe came
regularly to the tree and she began to look better and better to
me as the season wore on.

Ken was having much the same experience at his stand
which was about 1000 yards from mine. He was situated in a
clump of spruce trees that border a small clearing. A couple of
does were browsing in the clearing before moving on to the
orchard. So in the last week of season we made a pact: If the
does came to our stands, we would shoot. We rather liked the
idea of our both bagging a deer with the bow in the same
season.

I was settled in my pine tree about fifteen minutes when the
doe and yearlings came tip·toeing in. Slowly I raised my bow-
nocked an arrow and waited. The classic symptoms washed
over me——trembling, heart pounding, chills—the whole works?
But at last she moved away from the yearlings and stepped
into an open spot. I drew and released. The arrow hit too low-
in the shoulder I thought. She jumped slightly, then whirled
and ran off into the brush.

Fighting to remain calm, I waited a while and then climbed
out of the tree. I had marked in my mind the spot where the
doe had stood. When I got there I could find no blood. So I
started in the direction she had run, carefully scanning the
ground with each step. I covered twenty yards before I found
the first spot, a very small spot I marked the place with 2
piece of tissue paper and went on. I had to return to that spot
three times. Each time I’d go in a different direction until I
found the next spot, which I would then mark with another
piece of tissue. After a half hour of this I had covered less than
fifty yards.

I knew it would be best to stop awhile and give the deer a
chance to lie down. I used the time to hike back to Ken`s stand
to pick him up so he could help me unravel the trail.
But when I arrived at Ken’s stand, he was not there! I felt 2
surge of utter frustration. Where had he gone? “Perhaps hes
off trailing a deer of his own,” I thought. However, I didn`t
have time to spend wondering about Ken’s whereabouts. It was
only a short time until dark, so I hurried back and picked up
the trail.

The track was scant, just a few drops every few yards. The
doe kept in a fairly straight line close to the edge of thick brush.
About 75 yards from the hit site I found the front half of my
shaft.

The trail led up to a small grove of pines. I trailed her
through them by watching where the pine needles were kicked
up. At the point where she left the pines I found the rear half of
my shaft. But I could find no more blood. By now the deepening dusk
made it very hard to see. I marked the spot with 2
tissue and scouted in small circles, but I c0uldn’t find the trail.
She had taken a sharp change of direction I guessed, but I
couldn’t locate just where.

I was reluctant to forsake the search but darkness left me no
choice. I cut through the woods to the logging road where I
found Ken waiting for me. I quickly, explained the situation.
Curiosity then prompted me to ask him why he’d left his stand.
It seems that while waiting he decided to eat an apple. He
propped his bow against some spruce limbs, got the apple from
is pocket and his pocket knife to peel it. The knife slipped
from his grasp and fell to the ground. Enroute, it neatly sliced
bow string. So he had hiked back to the car to get a spare.
What ensued was a slight discussion about one’s need to peel
apples while on a deer watch and about not having one’s spare
string on one’s person. But I was too excited about my deer to
spend much time discussing anything else.

Ken suggested we try to pick up the trail by flashlight. It had
been two hours since I’d shot her, time enough for her to have
Laid down and died. So we hid our bows in some thick brush
and hiked back to the place in the pines where I’d left the trail.
Ken searched the ground by flashlight in one direction while I
searched in another. It was a backbreaking task.

“Shirley, over here!” Ken called in a stage whisper. I quickly
scooted over to him.
“Look,” he said as he pointed the beam of light on a dime-
sized drop of blood. So we dropped a tissue there and repeated
our procedure. I went one direction and Ken went another. I
found the next spot. The blood trail followed in a straight line
for about 35 yards. I was surprised to see how shiny the wet `
blood was in the flashlight beam.(It’s from the phosphorous in
the blood.) It wasn’t long however, before it was farther and
farther between drops of blood. It was a dark red blood, indicating
a muscle shot or perhaps the spleen, definitely not a
heart or lung shot.

At 8:30 p.m., realizing that it had been nearly half an hour
since we had found any blood at all, I suggested to Ken that we
give up the search for the night. It was obvious we were not
going to find the deer lying dead somewhere. We realized it
would be best to let it bed down. Hopefully, it would die
during the night and we would find it in the morning, or else it
would stiffen up sufficiently to allow one of us to get a finishing
shot.

So we cut through the orchard, retrieved our bows from
their hiding place and drove to Towanda to make the necessary
arrangements for an overnight stay. We each had to call someone
to cover for us at our jobs the next day. We also obtained
permission to stay in a friend’s cabin that night.
It was a restless night for both of us. We each entertained our
private thoughts as to whether our tracking ability was sufficient
to enable us to recover this deer with such a scant trail to
follow. I reprimanded myself for having made a poor shot. I
realized I hadn’t compensated enough for the fact that I was
shooting at a sharp downward angle.
Finally it was morning. We were back on the trail at dawn.
We started at the last droplet of blood we’d marked and began
searching in two directions. After 45 minutes of fruitless searching,
it dawned on us that perhaps the deer had backtracked on
own trail. So we began working backwards from the last
got. And there we picked up the trail again. The doe had
indeed doubled back for a few yards, then taken an abrupt
turn and headed for the big woods.

Now our problem was compounded by the autumn leaves
which carpeted the forest floor. Every leaf bore red markings,
and every red mark looked like a blood spot. The blood was
dried by now and only by carefully picking through the leaves
on hands and knees were we able to find the pinpoints of
blood. It must have been quite a sight, both of us on hands and
knees examining leaf after leaf and muttering to ourselves.
The search led up to a tiny brook, about three feet wide,
which trickled through the woods. Knowing that wounded
deer often seek sanctuary in water, we thought perhaps we’d
hit the jackpot. Ken tied his handkerchief to the bush beside the
blood we’d found. Then he went downstream and I went
upstream. We were looking for one of two things: blood to
indicate which way the deer had gone, or the deer itself,
bedded in brush near the brook or even lying in the water as
wounded deer sometimes will do. We spent an hour in this
search and scored a fat zero.

We returned to the handkerchief and stood talking. We were
tired and discouraged, feeling we’d reached an impasse, yet
neither of us quite had the heart to suggest to the other that
maybe our quest would have to end here. We stood on the
bank of the little brook and scanned the woods on the other
side almost as if by a sheer exercise of will we could call forth
the clue we needed so badly.

And then that clue seemed to leap right out at me Across the
water, starting down in the woods a short way, was a barely
perceptible trail, made by something having walked heavily
there, scuffing up the leaves as it went. I nudged Ken’s arm and
pointed to it. His eyes widened, he nodded and wordlessly we
hopped across the brook and followed the trail. There was no
blood, but the trail of ruffed-up leaves was easy to follow.
When the trail began to zigzag we deduced that she was looking
for a place to lie down. Soon we spied a rock with a spot of
blood on it the size of a half dollar. From here there was a
steady blood trail. We found a log she had crossed, smearing
blood all over it. She was zigzagging badly now; surely she
would be lying close by. However, the blood trail went on for
another thirty-five yards, right up to the edge of a marshy area,
and there the water washed out the blood sign.

“Ken, what are we going to do now?” I wailed. I gazed in
absolute frustration at the marsh. We wouldn’t be able to find
a blood trail in that.
“I don’t think she would go through there, Shirley. A
wounded deer will follow the easiest route and that is too tough
for her to slog through. Let’s go back to that last blood spot and
search to the right and left,” Ken counseled.

TRAIL ENDS IN SUCCESS
Ken was right. She’d taken a sharp right turn, walked along
the edge of the marsh, then crossed the very corner of it. But
once on the other side we could find no blood. So we marked
the place and again began our two-directional searching.
Twenty minutes or so had passed when Ken called to me.
Something in his tone of voice told me he’d found her. And so
he had!

Ken told me that as he went in ever-widening circles his eyes
fell on a large patch of mountain laurel about forty yards distant.
A hunch told him he’d better check it out.
The doe had bedded down, then died in that laurel patch.
She was still warm, apparently having died sometime in the
early morning. My arrow had hit low behind the front leg,
slicing into_stomach and intestines.

I was jubilant at recovering this deer. We congratulated
each other on this tracking job, happy not to have left a
wounded animal unrecovered. We suddenly realized how hot
and hungry and tired we were. All told, we’d been tracking a
little over seven hours. But we weren’t finished yet. We cleaned,
and tagged her and carried her to the Scout, picking up all our
tissues as we backtracked.

Ken was happy for me about this deer. But the fact of my
now having bagged two deer with a bow sort of picked away at
his male vanity. So Friday, the last day of archery season, he
drove to Barclay, hiked into “my” pine tree and made a quick-
killing lung shot on a doe that came to the apple tree.
So we had fulfilled our goal. We’d each gotten a deer with
the bow in the same season. It was all most satisfying.

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Published by archerchick on 09 Dec 2011

The 10% Club – By Tim Burres


Bowhunting World Xtreme 2004
The 10% Club – By Tim Burres

Only 10% of the bowhunters consistently bring home the trophies. Here’s what you can do to join this elite club.

If you don’t belong, you won’t find a bouncer to
turn you away at the door of the 10% Club. There’s no
specific meeting place. But, you will know when
you’ve met one of the card carrying members. He will
be the guy with the trophy room full of big deer. To
join the club, you don’t have to be famous and you
d0n’t have be the founder of an oil empire. You don’t
even have to be a particularly winsome fellow-
which makes membership a possibility for everyone.
You pay your membership dues over a period of
years with countless weeks spent in treestands.

Members of the 10% Club may seem like geniuses when you
dissect some of their hunting strategies, but Mensa is
one club very few will ever make it into. They may not
scare Einstein in an IQ contest, but what these members
do have are open minds that permit them to view
every hunting situation as if it were a blank slate.

These 10% Club members enter every hunt without preconceived
notions of what is “supposed to happen” or some idea that
they must do things “the right way.” And they are meticulous
to the 9th degree in everything they do involving deer
hunting. Here’s what you can learn from the Board of Directors
at the 10% Club.

THINKING OUTSIDE
THE BOX

I ran across a perfect example of why some hunters are consistently successful while others are not. This example shows the
power of thinking outside the box and being aggressive when the situation calls for it.

Stan Potts has been a regular fixture around central Illinois’
Clinton Lake Wildlife Management Area for at least two decades.
Some years he has hunted on the limited draw public lands and other
years he has hunted private land in general area. During the early
‘90s a great 6×6 buck lived on the public management area. All the hunters knew about him and everyone wanted to get a crack at him

One day Stan was hunting a stand in a fence line along the edge of a picked cornfield when he saw the buck bedded with a doe in a thin patch of giant foxtail grass in the middle of the field. It was the peak of
the rut and Stan knew the buck was holed up out there with the doe. In fact, Stan even saw the buck breed the doe once during the morning session.

Rather than wait and hope the buck would eventually get up and come past,
Stan decided the best strategy was to take the hunt to the deer. There is never a better time to make your play for a big buck than when you know where he’s at.

They are so tough to even get a look at that when one is right there in front of you it’s important that you do everything possible to get the shot right then. Stan knows that from having hunted big bucks for all his adult life.

After a few quick plans were made Stan climbed down from the tree and
carefully began stalking the buck. Unbeknownst to him, a bowhunter from Oklahoma was watching the show from a stand on the other side of the field.

“Later the guy told me that when he saw me start the stalk he said to himself ‘Oh no, whats this moron doing?”’ said Potts. “The situation was right or I never would have tried the stalk. The wind was blowing hard and it was misting rain. The cornstalks were soaked and the ground
was soft so there was no way the deer would hear me. Also, the wind was perfectly in my favor so I could sneak in on the deer from behind.

If they had stood up at any time they could have seen me even if I was lying down. I moved along one row at a time. I’d rise up on my elbow, make sure they weren’t looking and then roll gently onto my back in the next corn row.

“The suspense was killing me as each row brought me another yard closer. Finally, I counted only 50 rows between the deer and myself but I didn’t have an opening to his chest. There was no way I could wait until they stood up or they’d see me instantly. I had to make the shot while he was still bedded. There was an opening in the grass a short ways to the side so I eased into position. From there I was only 25 yards from the buck.

I turned the bow sideways and drew it as I rose up slowly onto one
knee. He never knew I there. The shot was perfect and when they blew out I could see the nock of the arrow sticking out of his chest. I knew he wasn’t going far. The buck only ran about 50 yards before making a
button hook and going down.

“The excitement had been so intense that I could hard stand it When he went down I was in shock still standing there staring at the buck when the guy from Oklahoma runs right up from behind and yells at me he about scared me out of my skin. Then we celebrated together. He was a great guy and was just as excited as if he’d killed the buck himself. He told me how he had watched the whole stalk from the treeline. After things calmed down he told me that he had been watching the buck for two days. His ear-to-ear grin immediately disappeared when I casually asked him why he hadn’t tried the stalk himself. His eyes fell to the ground and he shook his head and said in a very soft voice ” I don’t know.”

Stan’s buck was a local legend with a massive rack having a gross score well over 170 inches and a net that came in just under 170. He got the buck because he was able to think creatively and adapt to the situation at hand. He didn’t get bogged down in what he was suppose to do, but rather focused on what he knew about mature buck behavior (they are very hard to see more than once) and what might work. Taking advantage of the situation permitted an effective stalk, he did something most bowhunters would be afraid to even try.

The ability to think creatively is one of the traits that set the members of the 10% Club apart from all the other deer hunters. Textbook strategies will sometimes work, but mature bucks are individuals. To tag them consistently you have to treat each one as if he were the only deer
on earth. It is unwise to assume anything about a particular buck beyond the fact that he is sure to be wary.

From bits and pieces of sign and sporadic sightings, you may be able to piece together enough information to learn the buck’s particular personality and within that you may be able to find some type of
behavior that makes him slightly vulnerable.

You won’t find much to work with, because these deer are not very visible and they are the most cautious creatures on earth.
Once you get to know a little bit about the buck you can determine such things as whether or not he’s aggressive (if he is, rattling might work). You might figure out where he most often beds and feeds you
might be able to find an ambush between these points) and whether or not he is an active participant in the rut (if he isn’t your only real hope is catching him at his bed or late in the season at a food source.

If you enter the hunt with a cast-in-stone idea of what mature bucks are
“supposed to do,” you will have a very hard time adapting to what the buck you are hunting actually is doing. The ability to keep an open mind in your approach to hunting specific bucks is one key that
opens the door to the 10% Club.

ATTENTION TO DETAILS

The second trait that club members share is an overpowering belief in the notion that if it can go wrong it will. Therefore, they are detail oriented people that aren’t willing to let even one small aspect of the
hunt that can be controlled slip through their grasp. For this reason they are extremely thorough in everything from shooting practice and equipment maintenance to scouting and stand placement.

Here are some of the details that 10% Club members wake up in the middle of the night fretting about that other deer hunters barely consider.
Entry and exit is the key: I remember a stand one of my buddies offered me while I was hunting with him a few years ago.

Even though we sat on the county road looking at the stand across a picked grain field, it still took him five minutes for him
to explain what I had to do to get to it without being detected. “Go behind that house and around the pig lot, get into the creek, grab the roots under the high bank and climb up, etc.” I knew instantly that
this was going to be a good stand. Anyone who understands the importance of the exit and entry routes this well is bound to
have great stand locations.

I can always tell a good hunter when listening to his explanation of a stand because he is obsessed with the perfect entry and
exit routes. Experienced hunters know that these routes are even more important than the sign the stand overlooks.

Average deer hunters can all tell you where to find buck sign. Members of the 10% Club have mental maps too, but they aren’t marked with buck sign and deer trails; they are marked with all the undetectable entry and exit routes that dissect their hunting areas.

Shooting lanes; Once you start to realize how hard it is get a giant buck within range of your stand you’ll do everything possible to capitalize on these infrequent encounters. In other words, you need to be
able to get a good shot at him. Members of the 1O% Club know all too well the importance of having shooting lanes in every direction. By this, I’m not talking about dropping napalm on the acre of cover surrounding your stand; all you need is a window — some kind of gap — that allows you to get a shot at anything that passes your stand in any direction and at any distance within your maximum range.

Before you relax after climbing into your stand, take the time for this exercise. If you will do it every day you will be rewarded during the moment of truth. Imagine a buck approaching from every possible direction. How will you handle each possibility and where will you shoot?
If you don’t have a good answer it’s time to get the saw out and create an answer.

Intelligent diligence; I recently returned from Alberta where l was hunting with an outfitter who is a new bowhunter. He is a great gun hunter but not a great bowhunter. I was pretty much on my own.
After we discussed bowhunting strategy for a week—and applied some of it in the form of stand sites-Ron made a very insightful comment to me. He said, “Successful bowhunting can be summed up as intelligent diligence.”

Ron had quickly figured out that you have to combine equal parts of
hard hunting with smart hunting. It was clear to me right then that Ron was on the fast track to getting his membership card.

OTHER REQUIREMENTS
FOR CLUB MEMBERSHIP

Keen instinct; Some guys will never meet the 10% Club’s minimum requirements for membership for “hunter’s instinct”. Quite frankly, they aren’t interested enough in the behavior patterns of mature bucks to learn everything they possibly can about them. Sure, they want to shoot one, but the animal doesn’t fascinate them to the extent necessary to stimulate their need to know more.

Highly successful buck hunters are more than just students of the latest biological research; they are on the cutting edge of research. They are always coming up with theories to explain some kind of behavior they see and then focus on trying to prove it or disprove it. The final goal, of course, is to find weaknesses they can exploit. I respect everything that
comes out of the mouths of the top biologists, but I put just as much stock in the words of proven buck hunters.

Making the shot: Not only are the members of the 10% Club hard and smart
hunters, they are good at converting opportunities into venison. Even the best hunters may only get a very limited number of close encounters during a season —sometimes none- so they take each one of them very seriously. They condition their minds so that they are prepared to convert on every decent chance that comes along. This is not a skill that
people are born with. It is something that is built through-you guessed it—attention to detail and lots of practice.

When a big buck causes your throat to tighten, the only thing that will pull you through is the many hours of disciplined practice that came before. Great habits during practice translate into great performance when the chips are down. If you are serious about getting into the Club,
realize that your ability to shoot well— without having to think about it- will someday be the only thing that stands between you and a wall full of trophies.

CONCLUSION

Membership in the 10% Club requires that you go beyond the simple preparations and actually do all the things that you know you should do. Most guys that have read magazines about deer hunting know what to do, they just don’t do it. Rising to the next level takes dedication, effort and time. But, if you love deer hunting, the quest will become its own reward.

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All Rights Reserved

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Published by archerchick on 09 Dec 2011

The Secret of Instinctive Shooting ~by Mike Strandlund


Bowhunting World Xtreme 2004
The Secret of Instinctive Shooting ~ By Mike Strandlund

After 10 years of hunting with compounds,
here I was, learning how to shoot a bow.

The slender longbow felt feather light in my
hand, yet mule stubborn as I strained back the
string. And as I gazed through the void normally occupied
by sight pins, I had not a clue how to guide the
arrow into the vicinity of the target.
“Just look hard at your target and shoot,” the old longbow
shooter had told me.

“But how do I aim?” I`d responded, trying to pry from him
the mysterious secret of successful instinctive shooting.
“Just look hard at your target and shoot.”
I pulled back, looked hard, and shot. The arrow glanced off
the sidewalk 2 feet in front of the target, ricocheted off my garage
door, and smashed into a block wall. “Just as I thought,” I thought.
Undaunted, I moved the target to a place where my archery
education might prove less costly. I kept shooting. After a few
weeks, I found I could hit the target quite consistently. It was
interesting, and I kept shooting. Eventually I found I could hit
the target almost at will, with only the occasional mental-lapse
miss that kept it challenging. This was fascinating. But the most
satisfying part was the productive hunting I enjoyed in the following
years, taking whitetails, mule deer, antelope, bears and
caribou with only a stick bow, some arrows and my instincts.
It’s a wondrous thing, this instinctive bow shooting. I’d like
to share with you what I’ve learned.

The first step is to understand that the term “instinctive
shooting” is a misnomer. We have the capacity to shoot a bow
quite accurately without the aid of devices, but it does not come
from instinct. It is achieved through highly trained hand/eye
coordination and concentration learned from hours of practicing
the mechanics of good form.

Some people can’t believe this method of shooting a bow is
practical, or even feasible. “Instinctive shooting can never be
as precise as shooting with sights, so a bowhunter who shoots
that way is always at a disadvantage,” they say. But they`re wrong.
We’re talking bowhunting, not an archery tournament. A
bowhunter is not required to hit a spot the size of a quarter to
be successful. He needs to hit something the size of a dinner
plate—the vital zone of an animal. Precision beyond that is purely
academic. At normal bowhunting ranges of O to 25 yards, a
well practiced traditional shooter should be able to kill deer just
as consistently as an average archer with all the gadgets. And in
cases where he must shoot very quickly the target is moving, the
shooting position is difficult, the weather is horrendous or shooting light is minimal—all quite common conditions in bowhunting—he should be able to do it better. And of course, he will never
miss due to a loose sight pin, a faulty launcher, a jammed release,
or plugged peep-all of which, by the way, have cost me animals.
Beyond that, there are instinctive shooters who are so accurate
they can pick off rabbits, squirrels, even flying gamebirds consistently
Mastering the aft of instinctive shooting to that degree
requires mental concentration and well»practiced fundamentals of
shooting form. But mostly it takes being connected to that mysterious
energy that allows you to just think about
hitting a target with an arrow, and then making it happen.
It’s that last part that baffles most people. How, exactly, do
you achieve that “instinctive” accuracy?

The way instinctive shooting always seems to be described
is picking a spot, concentrating on it, and releasing. I have never
found that description sufficient to do my shooting any good.
I groped, experimented and struggled with bare bow shooting.

But l think I’ve found, and can describe, the secret. Yes, it
does involve concentrating on a spot, but it is much more than
that. lt is not just looking at a spot, but looking at it in a way
that your eyesight is, in a way, projected into it. In preparing
to shoot, imagine your eyesight as the sun’s rays through a magnifying
glass—that you could burn a hole in the target if your
sight is focused and intense enough.

There is a second part to this equation, which is that you must
project with your entire body. You feel (don’t peek!) how your
arrow is pointed, and put everything into a straight line by drawing
with your back muscles, not your arms. You bum a tiny hole
in the precise spot you want to hit, while being subliminally conscious
of how your muscles are directing the arrow, with it all
connected and working in synch. That is the simple secret.
There are several ways to screw this up. It is quite possible
to look at the spot you want to hit without doing it in a way
that promotes accuracy—without really focusing on it. Again,
you have to project your sight feels confusing and you become
conscious there is little likelihood of making the shot.

Do not even dream of consciously looking at your arrow, bow hand, or the gap between your
arrow tip and the target. To do that is to destroy the process,
and if you do hit the target after peeking at how your arrow
is pointed, it will be largely by accident.
What all this amounts to—and why it works—isn’t really
magic. It’s focus. It just feels like magic.

Of course, no degree of perfection in “aiming” is going to help
unless you have a good release and follow-through. It really
doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you do it consistently. We
just use an “on»target” draw, a solid anchor point, back tension,
finger~slip release, and keeping the bow in place during follow
through for the simple and effective reason that all these things
are much easier to do consistently than their alternatives.
Beyond that, the instinctive release and follow~through
should be an extension of “pointing with your muscles.” It
should be almost unconcious, with no last moment movement of either hand
not even a blink.
When you get the technique down, it is truly amazing. In certain cases it is more
accurate for howhunting than mechanical sighting devices. When you’re in the groove, you
just can’t miss. You can feel that acutely and it feels great.

Describing the perfect instinctive bow shot and how to
achieve it is probably the most difficult concept I’ve ever tried to put on paper.
I’d like to go further and describe it as a flow of energy from the eyes to the
target back to the hands, a circuit of something like electricity that, provided your
form is right, will send an arrow as true as a laser beam. I’d like to say it comes
from the heart, or the soul, or maybe our genes that still carry DNA from the
hundreds of generations of our ancestors who depended on bows and arrows every
day to stay alive. Something spiritual wells up through your hands, arms, brain and eyes, and when everything is right, there’s a spark in the mind that knows with ultimate certainty, the instant of your release, that the arrow will slam into the center of whatever it is in your “sights.”

Sometimes you know it before you even draw the bow, which is one of the
highest highs in bowhunting. But people who have yet to discover and understand the beauty of true
instinctive shooting might scoff at all this as some kind of quasi»Zen weirdness.
So I just tell them to look hard at your target and shoot. >>—>

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Published by archerchick on 09 Dec 2011

Sneak & Peek Whitetail Strategies ~ By Bill Vaznis


BOWHUNTING WORLD Xtreme 2004
Sneak & Peek Whitetail Strategies – By Bill Vaznis

6 steps to arrowing a buck from Ground Zero

There is no doubt about it. Still-hunting whitetail bucks with archery tackle is the most
difficult way to bow-bag a racked deer. You must not only move quietly through his baliwick,
striving to see him before he sees you, but you must also learn to sidestep that incredible sniffer of his
before he hightails it to parts unknown. And, if that isn’t enough to worry about, you must
also learn to stay low and only take high percentage shots at relaxed animals.

Impossible, some say, but over the years I’ve learned that if you have a plan for the day’s hunt,
your chances of scoring will soar dramatically. Indeed, walking aimlessly about the deer woods in
search of a buck will surely leave you empty-handed by season’s end. Here are six still-hunting strategies
guaranteed to get you a crack at a racked buck this fall.

EARLY-SEASON Food Sources
Opening day can be your hottest day afield, especially if you know where the bucks will be feeding that evening.
You can start by glassing suspected strongholds from a safe distance in the late summer and early fall. The better
bucks always seem to be popping up at the last minute in out-of-the way clearings adjacent to doe feeding areas. Old mowings, grown over pastures, deserted vineyards and abandoned apple orchards are all good places to begin your search. You’ll need to
stay until the last scintilla of light yourself, and then scan the shadows with a
good pair of light gathering optics, like
my Nikon 8x 5Es, for a glimpse or these
secretive critters. In Learning the general whereabouts
of several mature deer at this time of the year is half the battle to filling a tag.
However, you’ll need more information before you can get close enough for a
ground shot, and you do that by some midday scouting. You will want to keep
your presence as secret as possible, so wear your knee»high rubber boots and
be careful what you touch. The season’s first rubs and oversized tracks should
give you some good clues as to where the bucks are bedding and the routes they
are using to reach early fall food supplies.

The good news is that they are on the clock now making their feeding
bedding routines quite predictable. In farm country, I like to start the season
off by pussyfooting through these feeding grounds. l also like to work ravines
and fingers of brush that lead to the edges of active agriculture. Other good
routes include hedgerows, creek beds, fence lines and irrigation ditches that
bisect large fields of standing corn. Also really good are the edges of small wood lots
and brushy meadows that border overgrown openings and green fields of alfalfa, beans or peas.
In big woods or wilderness areas,
prime early season still hunting routes include gas lines, power lines and other
rights of way, edges of the clearcuts and creek beds. And if there is a good mast
crop, try the ridges just above beaver dams, two to seven year old clear cuts
and river basins.
You’ll be surprised how close you can get to these early-season bucks as long as
they have not been disturbed by your previous scouting forays, I’ve passed on
racked bucks three out of the last five years on opening day by simply working
the cover surrounding their preferred early season food supplies.

Transition Zones
A second strategy is to still- hunt around and through a
transition zone. These openings in the forest, once devoid
of vegetation, are now likely to support finger to wrist sized saplings, raspberry
and blackberry briars, goldenrod, staghorn sumac, dogwood, hawthorn
and various grasses instead.

Old farmsteads are good spots to begin your search for these
early season and pre rut magnets, which can be in the form of
grown over pastures and long abandoned crop fields. Other good
places to check out include dilapidated beaver dams, natural slides,
clear cuts and two or three year old burns. The best part is that
many transition zones can be found adjacent to a brush riddled
apple orchard, a transition zone itself or mature stands of nutbearing oak,
hickory or beech trees.

The better transition zones are not close to active agriculture, however, but
instead are located near or en route to a buck’s preferred bedding grounds. In
fact, “good” transition zones can be a half-mile to a mile or more away from an
alfalfa lot or large corn field in farm country, or a big woods feeding area
such as the banks of a river or the periphery of a swamp,
Typically, a racked deer will leave his early-season or pre-rut daytime
bedding area late in the day and enter a transition zone to munch on goldenrod,
leaves, various plant stems, etc.

There is plenty of cover here, and, feeling safe, a buck will linger here for some
time. Then using a ravine or even a nearby stand of open hardwoods as a
conduit, he will time his departure so that he arrives at a large opening at or
near dark.

In the morning he will again pass through this transition zone, or another
one nearby, and linger for a bit until bedding down soon after sunrise. He may even bed down in the
transition zone.

However, do not still-hunt these areas more than once a week. Be careful what you brush up against, and always wear a cover scent on your feet. Fox or skunk seems to do the trick most of the time. Once a buck knows you’ve been snooping around, he will avoid that particular transition zone – often for the remainder of the season.

PRE-RUT Food Sources

As the urges of the rut begin to take ahold, you will find bucks spending the predawn hours on patrol looking for the years first estrous does instead of heading directly to their bedding area by pink light.
As a result, normally nocturnal bucks are late getting back to their preferred bedding areas.
Indeed, seeing a racked buck an hour or
so after sunrise is a sure sign the prerut is in full swing.

A good strategy now is to still hunt
known, food sources that are on the beaten path, Not the edges of open
alfalfa plots for even standing corn, for
example, but abandoned apple orchards, or ridges laden with acorns.
hickory nuts, and beechnuts that lie
well above the valley floor.

These late morning food sources
must offer plenty of cover in the form of
thick tangles of uneven terrain if you
expect to catch pre-rut buck off guard.

You are not likely to catch a buck out in
the open as you might expect to do later
on when the rut really heats up.

Spring and Summer scouting trips can help you locate these much desired
food sources. If you know the where-abouts of an apple orchard or can find
one on a topo map, Check it out several times during the growing season to
keep tabs on the upcoming harvest.
And, while you are there, take note of
prevailing winds, deer trails, old rubs
browse lines as well as their juxta position
to suspected nearby bedding
areas for future reference.

Oak, hickory and,beech ridges can
be monitored, similarly. Simply peer
through your binoculars at the upper
most branches on and off during the
summer and see which trees have the
best crops. This and any knowledge of
what particular trees the deer seemed
to prefer in past season will go a long ways
toward developing a still-hunting strategy once the
pre rut is underway.

Scrape Lines
Another hot pre-rut
strategy is Still-hunting
along a fresh scrape line. Indeed, I have
tagged several bucks this way, including a 9-pointer
that grossed in the mid 140’s. I took that buck at 30 yards,
but shots can be

much closer. In fact, I arrowed a wide racked 7 pointer at 3 yards one
morning as he fed on acorns along a well worked scrape line in upstate New
York. I’ve also had several other close
encounters along scrape lines that left
me shaking as the buck disappeared
back into the thick stuff.

The best time to sneak along a scrape
line is the very next time you expect
the buck to return. You can generally
determine when the buck will freshen his
scraped line by examining nearby racks,
rubs and the debris tossed to one side of
the scrape

If debris is tossed toward a nearby
crop field, then it is safe to assume it was
remade by a morning buck. He will likely return
to the scrape lined in the wee hours, whereas a scrape line coming out
a stand of thick pines a half mile away
wouldy indicate the buck freshened the
scrape line in the evening soon after he
left his bedding area.
You must always keep the line of
scrapes in view are still hunting.

Last fall I caught a tall-tined 8-pointer
flat footed as he worked his evening
scrape line. I dropped to one knee,
nocked a broadhead and then watched
as the buck moved steadily toward me,
freshening one scrape after another.
Unfortunately, a thick stand of dogwood
blocked my view just as the buck was
about to hit his last scrape,

A few long seconds passed before I
realized the buck had already scooted
past me and was now staring at my quivering
form some 40 yards distant. He
snorted when we made eye contact and
then hightailed back into the heavy
sewer. I never did see that buck again,
and the scrape line was abandoned.

Grunt Tube

One advantage with a grunt tube is that you can easily use one with any still-hunting strategy.
For example, I will periodically blind call when I think
I am in the vicinity of a deer. You must
be ready to shoot on a moments notice.
I got caught flat footed myself a few years
back after I imitated a young buck with my variable grunt tube;
immediately a fat 8point through the goldenrod and
stood looking for me 6yards off to my right. By the time I
managed to nock an arrow, he wandered off.

You can also lure a buck that is about
to walk past you into bow
grunt of a young buck seems to work best
but you must call loud enough for him to
hear you. If you get no response, call louder.
Once you have him coming, nock an
arrow and crouch down for the shot.

My favorite call, however,is a fawn
bleat. I use it whenever I stumble
in order to help mask my clumsiness. Fawns
are always making noise in the woods,
and I hope my renditions relax any nearby deer.

Over the years I have used a fawn
bleat to lure several bucks into bow range
You can use it by itself or with a doe bleat
or a tending buck grunt. One year in Iowa
I doubled up on a fawn bleat and
called a doe to me that had a “booner” in tow.
I started to shake a bit, thinking I was
about to arrow, the buck of a lifetime,
but a sudden shift in the wind scared both deer
away from me.

Late Season
Still hunting whitetails in the late season with archery tackle is
no walk in the park. For starters, there are fewer bucks afield, especially
if your state has a lengthy firearms season. And, to make matters more difficult,
these remaining bucks are not only quite skittish, they have also taken refuge in
places most hunters can’t penetrate, such as steep hillsides thick with downed timber,
deep swamps and that bane of all of us -posted land.

The key to locating a racked buck or two now is on available food supplies.
In farm country, corn fields and wind-swept alfalfa lots are two favorites. If
undisturbed, they can easily draw bucks from a mile or more away. In heavily
wooded areas, south facing hardwood ridges, hardwood river bottoms, creek beds,
swamps and clear-cuts attract the most deer, especially if there is adequate thermal
cover nearby. Long-forgotten apple orchards are another favorite.

Your job now is to sneak and peak these feeding areas with caution by using terrain features
and all available cover to your advantage. keep your mind that the colder temperatures, the more
likely the bucks will be bedding nearby. If the temperatures plummet to single digits, you
might even catch one feeding in the middle of the day.

The biggest impediment however, is snow. A fresh snowfall can help muffle your forward progress, and
it may help you locate a racked buck or two more quickly. But when a crust appears, still-hunting can be
a most demanding adventure. Here’s what you can do.

Evening hunts are more productive to sneak into your own trasition zone adjacent to a preferred late season feeding
area an hour or so before dusk, and wait a half hour or so for things to calm down. Then by taking only one
or two steps at a time, slip forward, keeping your eyes and ears sharp. Don’t plan on still-hunting more
thank 50 to 100 yards under these conditions.

The good news is that when the snow is load and crunchy you are more likely to hear a deer breaking
through the icy crust first. The bad news is you will not be able to move once you hear him, and that means
he might just saunter by without giving you a clear opportunity. In the world of the still hunter such occurrences
are nothing new.

The only consulation is knowing that bucks general whereabouts for next fall.
>>—>

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Published by archerchick on 08 Dec 2011

Alberta Double Header – By Bob Robb


Bowhunting World October 2003
Alberta Double Header – By Bob Robb

Eye-popping whitetail racks and massive mulies in the Canadian Rockies foothills

Shivering silently in my treestand, I watched as the sun went down on the final day of my hunt, while grasping onto my last ray of hope that enough time might remain for a shot opportunity to present itself.
After all, a hunt is never over until it’s over—right?

At this point, the fact that I had not even drawn the bow was really immaterial to me. In six days I had seen a herd of nine mule deer bucks on four different occasions, and the largest four would have scored
in the 150 – to l75-inch Pope and young range.

One day they were as close as 90 yards to me. On three different afternoons I had seen “shooter” whitetail bucks, two different 8-pointers 1 estimated to score between 140 and 150, and one absolute hog of an 8-point buck that I am sure wou1d have pushed the 160 mark. That monster came within 65 yards of my stand, but it was too dark to see
sight pins when he approached.

Combine all this with the fact that we’d shot the coyotes to bits (see accompanying sidebar), and you understand why I was a1ready eager to return here to hunt the fie1ds and woods north of Ca1gaiy A1berta.

Just then, I turned my head to the right. Standing between the trunks of two thick pines, silhouetted against the green alfalfa, was a staggering whitetail buck. The deer had tall, thick-webbed beams, large eye guards,
and a total of 10 well-defined points. He was at least a 160, and I wanted him.

There were problems, however. Like the fact that he was 100 yards away, the sun was already below the horizon, and he would never feed along the field edge close enough to come within bow range before my light Was gone.

Realizing this was not the time to be timid, I lowered my bow on the pull rope, I unsnapped my safety harness, and scrambled down the tree. I unhooked the bow, nocked an arrow, and headed in his direction with the
wind in my face — trying to be as quiet as possible, yet not going so slow that I would completely lose my light before I got there.

Despite my good intentions, my light did run out before I got there. When I spooked the deer, he was feeding in the thick brush only 35 yards from me. He bounded off into the dark timber, stopping maybe 60 yards distant. I could see him plainly using my binoculars, but couldn’t
without the aid of the light-enhancing glasses. So close, and yet so far.

Now, looking back, this was one of those bowhunting experiences I remind myself that if a guy feels he just has to kill something, he should be toting a rifle. The big buck and I stared at each other for 30 seconds, then he whirled and bounded off into the thick, black timber, taking with him the final, fleeting memory of one of the coolest and most fulfilling deer bowhunts I have had in a long time.

Deer Hunter’s Mecca

Alberta needs no introduction to serious whitetail hunters. Though it has been somewhat overshadowed in recent years by the upper Midwestern
states, this prairie province continues to produce many whitetail bucks each year with eye popping racks. It has also become one of the best places around to find large mule deer bucks. One of the great things about Alberta, is that you can hunt both mulies and whtetails on the same hunt picking up tags for each.

For the traveling bowhunter, the key is finding an outfitter
who has access to excellent land, works hard for his clients, and
also understands the unique needs of bowhunters. On my previous
Alberta hunts, I have been with fine outfitters—but only if
you`re a gun hunter. When it came to bowhunting, they didn’t
have a real clue how to set up close-range shots.

Chad Lenz of Savage Encounters is my kind of outfitter. Young
and aggressive, Lenz earned the nickname “Savage,” first through
his take-no-prisoners personal bowhunting style, and later as a
guide for mountain game in the Northwest Territories. The man is
locked and loaded when it comes to bowhunting, totally focused on producing quality shot opportunities for all his clients.

Lenz hunts about 150 miles northwest of Calgary, an area at the base of the eastern foothills of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. This is sparsely-populated country that combines hilly and swampy terrain with the good cover of large pines and aspen that help guarantee its ungulate inhabitants can reach maturity. The area is also farmed heavily
covered with large alfalfa and wheat fields,sliced with timber stringers, and dotted with large sections of both mature and cut-over
woods. Can you say “ideal deer habitat ?”

Lenz has lived and hunted here for more than 30 years, giving him the
advantage of local experience when it comes to understanding
the habits and haunts of local game. He also has excellent relationships with many of the areas large landowners and is able to obtain permission to hunt lots of land that is off limits to others.

“We offer standard hunt packages for a wide variety of big game,
but we can and will customize any hunt and combine any species
to fit a persons individual needs and style,” Lenz said. “We also
limit the number of clients to keep both the quality of the hunt and
the amount of personal service we provide to the maximum.

Whitetails, Mulies – Or Both?

Alberta is renowned for its large whitetail deer, with many
mature bucks tipping the scales at well over 3OO pounds, and
Lenz’s area is no exception.

“We have Whitetail bucks in the 130- to 200-inch class, and our clients
usually see a couple of these giants each week, along with several smaller bucks and lots of does,” Lenz said. “All of our Whitetail hunts are conducted from tree-stands or ground blinds, hunting crop or
timber country.

“Most people are aware that Alberta is a real sleeper for great
mule deer, and our area has some bombers” Lenz continued.
“Most of Alberta is on draw for mule deer, and with limited pres»
sure and great habitat, the result is a good number of older age»
class bucks. We have mule deer in the 140 – to 200 – inch class, and
our clients usually see large herds of deer. Most of our mulie hunts
are conducted by stalking or stand hunting near cropland or large
blocks of timber.”

On my mid-October hunt I saw a fair number of mulies and
lots of whitetails. One bachelor herd of nine mulie bucks contained
five animals that would easily have exceeded the Pope
and Young minimum of 145 inches, and the top three would
have pushed the 170 mark. And each day I sat in a treestand
near an alfalfa field, I saw at last one “shooter” whitetail that
would have made the record book with lots of room to spare.

A Great Week

As you probably remember, the fall of 2002 was marked throughout North America by unusually warm weather, and central Alberta was no exception. I encountered a couple of days of sleet and hard rain, but generally the days were quite mild. Deer were moving primarily at dawn and dusk, spending the days bedded in thick stands of timber or large cut-over blocks.

Guide Kris Brophy placed me in a stand along the field, then
later in the hunt we moved one additional stand to try to intercept
deer on a different approach to the field. Brophy, in his early 20s, has already stacked ’em up as a bowhunter, and his skill and enthusiasm
helped make him a superior guide.

Each afternoon I saw at least one exceptional buck. One day it was a l40-
class, 8 – pointer, the next day a young 10 – point that would have bumped l50. One day it was a pair of good bucks, one the aforementioned l60-class, 8-point, the other a l45ish 8-pointer, traveling with
four smaller bucks. They came within 65 yards of my stand but it was just too dark to even think about a shot.

On three different days I saw the herd of mulies in the field Brophy and Lenz had told me about. I could have taken shots at a couple of the smaller bucks, but was hoping one of those bruisers would venture close enough. Naturally, that never worked to my favor, but it was still quite a thrill to see them at less than 100 yards.

In addition to the deer, from this stand I saw a herd of elk (and heard two different bulls bugle), a small moose, and many, many coyotes. On two different days I watched as coyotes came into the field mid-morning and lay down, catching some warming rays while I watched, undetected, 200 yards away.

My friend Jake Kuntz, who works with his father, Al at their Minnesota·based hunt booking agency, Al’s Worldwide Adventures (6l2-433-5366, www.alsadventures.com) showed us all how to get it done the final day of his hunt. Jake had been chasing a small herd of mulie bucks around for days, sitting a treestand or trying to sneak up on them. He hadn’t had a a good break until the last morning, when he able to sneak within 25 yards of a 4 x 4 and make the perfect shot. It was
Jakes first-ever mule deer buck, an accomplishment to be proud of.

I’ll Be Back

The one thing I told myself when this hunt was over, was, “Man, you could have just as easily punched both your whitetail and mule deer tags on really good bucks. The cards just didn’t play out right. Next year, though, my luck has got to change!”

I have always believed that if you are hunting bigger than-average game, the first thing you have to do is locate the place where there are some above average, mature animals. This is one such place. Before I left
to return to the states, Lenz I discussed a
2003 deer hunt. I’m already packed.

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Published by archerchick on 05 Dec 2011

Bad Weather Whitetails~ By Rick Sapp


Archery World April, 1989
Bad Weather Whitetails – By Rick Sapp

My cotton camo gloves were soggy and cold. Rain dripped persistently
from the white arc of string-tracking line attached to my broadhead. Thunder was followed immediately by lightning. As I left my stand, the pine forest murmured, alive with wind. That night, the thermometer dropped off the wall. Sleet and a whirling northwest gale ripped at the oak-red and poplar-yellow fall colors, blowing their remains by the windows of the hunting lodge. Morning dawned gray and understated. Sleet gave way to snow. The morose bowhunters took a second helping of buckwheat pancakes.

?

I was a guest at Foulkrod’s Archery Camp, deep in the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania. Deer were plentiful, owner Bob Foulkrod had written months before, and in early October the fall colors would be at their peak. I expected to spend several days in a comfortable hunting lodge, making friends and swapping stories by a fire in the evenings.
What I did not expect was a week of “character-building” weather.

?

Bowhunting Weather

Bob Foulkrod is the kind of man who can bowhunt comfortably and effectively in almost any kind of weather. Self-assured, but not cocky, the raven-haired Pennsylvanian has hunted deer in swamps along the Gulf of Mexico and polar bear on windswept ice packs north of the Arctic Circle. To Foulkrod, good bowhunting weather is almost any weather at all.

When I helped myself to a second cup of coffee, looked wistfully out the window at the blowing snow and then settled down in front of the huge field stone fireplace, he just laughed. “Well, that’s fine with the deer. They don’t care of course, weather does affect deer movement just like it affects the movement of hunters. The trick is to match your activity to that of the deer. To do that, you must first be comfortable and confident in the deer woods— a tall order in poor weather.

?

Perfect combinations of temperature, humidity, wind strength and direction and all the other ingredients that must be considered when you hunt are rare. According to Murphy ’s Law, any warm, sunny day during hunting season will be a Monday and any drizzly, freezing, flag-snapper will be a Saturday. Consequently, a hunter who prepares for”character building” weather will dramatically increase his odds of scoring.
?

Staying comfortable on a bluebird day isn’t a problem. When sunshine and 70 degree weather are forecast, the problem will be staying alert, maintaining that keen edge of attention and excitement which allow you to locate deer before they locate you. Some bowhunters take camo-covered paperback books to read on stand. Others listen through earphones to battery powered radios stuffed inside their jackets. A few people have incredible powers of endurance and concentration, an ability to sit or stand motionless and quiet for hours.

When it’s miserable outside, the bowhunting problem is just the opposite. You’ll be alert – perhaps too alert – shivering, brushing snow flakes off your nose, continually moving your head and shoulders to try and stem the trickle of rain leaking down your neck. In bad weather, the problem is bowhunting comfortably, because when you’re comfortable,
you’re not only alert, but you can be effective, too.


So, how do you bowhunt successfully in bad weather? “It all depends on what you mean by bad weather,” Bob Foulkrod says, reducing the question first to definitions. Bad weather for one bowhunter, for instance, who despises hunting in the cold, may not be a bad weather situation for another who has greater tolerance for freezing temperatures. And obviously, a cold, overcast day requires different preparations than a drizzly, foggy day.

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Rain

“If it’s raining out,” Foulkrod says, “you want rain gear that’s as quiet as possible. If it isn’t quiet, when you move to draw a bow or turn your head, a nearby deer will spook Pull a garment over it if it isn’t quiet, like a cotton camo jump suit. Most of the deer stands at my camp are set up for 10 to 15 yard shots. If you’re rustling around in a tree, believe me, deer know the difference between you and a squirrel.
“I try to set up for this distance at my bear camp in Canada, too – and for my own bow-hunting. In bad weather, a 20- to 25-yard shot is a long shot.

“If it’s a warm, gentle rain late in the day, deer will move without paying much attention to it. They’ll get up in a light rain and do their basic routine – get up from their bedding ground, go feed and come back again. “If the wind is blowing and it’s raining, though, deer lose one of their senses. Their ears are always flicking back and forth, listening. If they can’t hear, they get nervous.

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In heavy rain or snow or wind, they’ll bed down and wait it out. If a bowhunter likes to do some slow, quiet stalking, this is an ideal time. “If you’re going to hunt in the rain, I’d recommend you use a Game Tracker string tracking unit. If you hit a deer and it’s pouring rain, and you’re not using one, you’re going to lose the deer. A lot of guys go out whatever the weather because, like here in Pennsylvania, they only have four Saturdays to hunt.

“So, if it’s raining and you want to bowhunt, you’ve got to consider whether it’s best to use feathers or vanes. It’s a matter of personal preference. Remember, you’re only going to shoot that arrow one time. Personally, I shoot right wing helical feathers and a 90 – pound Golden Eagle Turbo bow.” Unless chemically treated, feathers absorb moisture; vanes repel it.


Whether there will be a significant difference in flight characteristics between vanes and wet feathers on a shot of 10 to 20 yards is a matter of speculation. Foulkrod, who has taken dozens of whitetails with a bow puts his faith in the forgiving characteristics of feathers,
While many will argue that Foulkrod is mightily over-bowed for whitetails, he believes in shooting the heaviest bow he can shoot comfortably.

“My bow is adequate for anything. I’ve never seen anything it hasn’t put down,” he says. “You should be able to pull your bow not just over your head, but out in front of you. You should be able to stand in a treestand, feet no more farther apart than your shoulders, point your bow at the ground and pull it to full draw in that position. Most hunters can’t do that, but in bad weather you want to punch through what you’re shooting You want a blood trail out both sides of an animal.
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When bowhunting in the rain, you should consider:

• Wearing a short-billed cap with a 360-degree
brim to keep rain away from ears, nose
and neck.
• Folding collars tight to prevent water from
trickling down your back. Remember that
if the weather is wet and cold, you must
guard against hypothermia, the rapid loss
of body heat, a killer of the careless.
• Rolling a hood outside-in so that if you decide
to use it after it has rained for a while,
it will unroll dry. If you roll it inside-out or
pay no attention to it during a drizzle,
you’ll pull it over your head surprisingly
wet, just what you wanted to avoid. And a
hood can hold up to a pint of water!
• That if it works to repel rain, your rain gear
is probably noisy. Just twisting your head
from side to side inside a hood or raising
your bow arm will sound loud enough to
alert deer. Pulling a shirt and trousers or a
cotton jump suit over rain gear will muffle
its crinkling but will not eliminate it.
• Wearing wool garments, which will shed
water for hours or unless immersed completely.
Even wet, wool acts as an insulator
and helps prevent heat loss.
• That your rain gear will block the wind, but
if you go for a walk to limber up stiff muscles,
or if you scout a different section of
woods or try a long stalk, you should take it
off. Most rain gear will just as effectively
trap your perspiration inside as it keeps
rain outside.
• That rubber boots will help you stay comfortably
dry and will also serve to minimize
the scent you carry to stand. Uninsulated,
however, they are dangerous in cold
weather because your body will try to
warm them to body temperature – an impossible
task for the feet which, on a cold
day, get less than their share of body heat,
anyway.
• That many of the new, insulated Cordura
and rubber hunting boots are designed specifically
for use in inclement weather.
• That your shooting glove or tab, when wet,
will tend to “grab” the string, thus throwing your
shot off target as surely as an uneven release. Try to keep your shooting hand
as dry as possible. A bow holder helps immensely.
• That you can avoid sluggish performance at
a critical moment if you wax your bow-
string. A well-waxed string sheds water.
• Drying equipment immediately upon your
return home can prevent problems such as
rusting, dulled broadheads or wooden-handle bows which swell and crack from absorbed moisture.
• Never bowhunting in more than a light
drizzle and even then, taking extreme care
with any bow shot. Remember. Murphy
was right and, it is said, he was also an
optimist. ~

Frigid Temperatures

“If it’s freezing, you’re only going to be able to sit on stand comfortably and right – and by right, I mean, you can’t be fidgeting – for a short time,” Bob Foulkrod says, stressing that a bowhunter should know his limitations. “If an hour is your limit of patience or
endurance in cold weather, pick out the best hour for deer movement – just before it gets dark or just before the sun comes up.

“When it’s extremely cold, like it can be in late fall, as a rule I take my hunters out after the frost starts to burn off. We hunt from semi-permanent stands over apple trees in the state forests around my camp. Even when hunters are assured of seeing deer if they can be patient, it’s hard for them to sit well when deer activity doesn’t seem to be great. When there’s a real heavy frost, deer will normally start to move after the sun is up and is burning the frost off the apples. I want hunters on stand then. On days like that, they can sit longer than if they go out real early.

“Now, anything can make you a liar, but if you can’t sit there quietly and comfortably, if you’re fidgeting around, you’re giving up your location. If you give up your location, you’re not going to be able to take deer.” Foulkrod believes complete camouflage is as essential when it’s cold and miserable as when it’s warm and comfortable. Because the
trunk of the body will normally be bundled in several layers of bulky clothing, clothing which holds body heat in but wicks perspiration away from the skin, special attention must be paid to the extremities – head, hands and feet.

Finger shooters must have their hands free to take the bowstring deep into the first crease of their fingers, draw and make a smooth release. Some bowhunters simply wear light gloves and stuff their hands in their pockets or wear a mitten on the bow hand and a light glove on their shooting hand – imperfect solutions at best, for if a deer “hangs up” or is shy to approach a shooting lane, your shooting fingers will shake with cold (and adrenaline) within a short period of time.

A better solution for cold hands and stiff fingers is to use mittens specially adapted for bowhunters like The Fingermit from Tempo Glove in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. One hundred percent wool, The Fingermit’s thumb and finger sleeves are attached to the rest of the mitten, including leather palm and thumb pads, by a knitted “hinge.” This hinge allows
the bowhunter to easily slip his fingers out for fast and accurate bowstring control.

Stuffing inexpensive Hot Pad hand warmers from The Game Tracker in each pocket isn’t a bad idea, either. Hot Pads are activated when they are removed from the package and come in contact with air. They are non-toxic odorless and disposable.

Estimates of body heat lost from the top of the head in cold weather range from 60 to 80 percent. If you can control heat loss there, you will go a long way to staying comfortable while you’re outside. For the bad weather bowhunt at Foulkrod’s Archery Camp, I was fortunate to have included in my duffel bag a heavy pull-over cap which incorporates a
wool outer shell with an inner polypropylene lining.

The pull-over leaves the oval of my face open to the wind, but barring some high-tech solution, I find that bearable if my head, hands and feet are warm. I consequently add heavy blotches of camo paint to my nose and cheeks. The pull-over protects my forehead, neck and chin, but does not inhibit my breathing by covering my mouth and nose. A typical face mask, with holes only for the eyes, traps the moisture from your breath and soon you have a wet or icy mask and fogged glasses, too.
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Cold weather is a special challenge for feet which, in the North, are typically confined inside multiple layers of wool socks, Thinsulate boot liners and rubber/ leather boots with thick, removable felt liners. The problem is that feet sweat and, if you walk any distance with your feet swaddled in all these layers. they sweat profusely. The sweat chills and
your feet freeze.

Although there are numerous fine boots on today’s market which incorporate aerospace materials, for me the best solution to cold weather hunting is the combination mentioned above: thick wool socks, a Thinsulate boot liner and Sorel-style boots with rubber bottoms and leather tops incorporating removable felt liners. I change the sock/liner combination to a fresh set at mid-day. That way, I start the morning and the afternoon with warm, dry feet.
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Once I’m home from a day bowhunting in cold weather, I want to throw everything – bow, fanny pack, boots, clothes – into a corner, gulp a cup of hot chocolate and crawl immediately under an electric blanket. It’s a temptation I face after each hunt and I have to force myself to take care of my gear and clothing right away. The felt boot liners and pull-
over should be machine washed on gentle cycle in baking soda or an odorless soap like Tink’s Non Scent Camo Soap and then hung to air dry. Machine drying shrinks wool and destroys many synthetic fibers. When you remove your boots to change socks and inserts, you’1l notice that the boot shells are thoroughly wet inside, too. While it isn’t necessary or practical to try to clean and dry them in the field, once you’re home you should wipe them out with a dry cloth, spray them generously with a human odor-eliminating spray like Scent Shield, and then leave them out to dry before you wear them again. Usually, they will dry overnight.

When hunting in cold weather, the archer will also want to consider:
• That a thermos of hot coffee or soup may
emit odors a deer can detect, but the psychological
value of the added warmth on a
cold day is tremendous.
• That metal handle bows feel significantly
colder to the hand than wood handle bows
when the temperature falls below freezing.
• Screwing a bow hanger into the tree (where
legal) or attaching one to your stand will
help you keep your hands warm and reduce
your movement on stand.

• Layering your clothing, beginning with a
heavy polypropylene or insulated long underwear
and proceeding through — as necessary — wool shirt and trousers, down
vest, a nylon jacket to prevent the wind
from penetrating to your body, an insulated
coverall and so on.
• Wearing suspenders rather than a belt. A
belt constricts blood (and heat) flow below
the waist.
• Warm-up exercises like drawing and holding
your bow several times on your way to
or immediately after you arrive on stand to
help prevent muscle fatigue and strain. In
cold weather, the tendency is for the muscles
to knot. You can feel it usually as you
hunch your shoulders and draw your arms
tightly against your side.

The Camp

Bob Foulkrod describes himself as a deer hunter rather than a trophy hunter. “I have no qualms taking a nice doe, if I’m hunting a state that allows me to take a doe — and a lot of states are doing that, such as Michigan where you can take a doe or buck. I think of the shot.
I had a deer come in the other night in Michigan. It was very fidgety. Silent. I mean, if anything moved it was edgy. It was a nice doe, a mature doe and I made the shot on it. It was a good shot and I feel good about it because I had to be doing my part. In other words, if I had moved too quick or if my bow hadn’t been quieted down or I hadn’t cleaned the bark off the tree behind me or if I made just the slightest little noise, I wouldn’t have gotten that deer.

“You’ve got a job to do when you get in a treestand and that’s to take the deer down, take it out. That’s what you’re up there for. I have no qualms shooting a doe. If a buck comes out — and it doesn’t have to be a Pope & Young class buck for me to take it — I’ll shoot at it, any nice deer: spike, four-point, six- point. But if a nice buck comes out, I’m
going to take it, too.

“That’s really the philosophy of my deer camp. Have a time. Most of the people come there to get away from the telephones. They want the companionship of other hunters. They want to hear how they did. If someone gets a deer down, we take the whole camp out and we look for the deer as a team. It’s almost like a basketball team. The whole camp is a team. They want to know how you did, they get excited about it. No arguing, no disagreements. Everyone comes in and has a good time and when they go home, whether they got a deer or not, they still had a good time with a nice bunch of guys hunting whitetails.”

Despite the rotten weather the week I hunted at Foulkrod’s Archery Camp, both Rex Blankenship of McLean, Virginia, and Ed Moore, Carleton Place, Ontario, took deer. Rex, shooting a 70-pound Golden Eagle Cam Hunter took his deer at four yards with a heart/lung shot at 4:30 p.m. Ed’s deer fell to a double lung hit from his 60 pound Martin Cougar Magnum at 8:15 a.m.

Ed Martin, camp manager for Foulkrod’s Archery Camp in 1988, said the fully modern lodge (which doubles as Bob Fou1krod’s home) has accommodated bowhunters for a decade. Inside the lodge is a complete bar and wide-screen television. Dozens of hunting videos, including many that Foulkrod himself has appeared in, are available. The lodge, in-
side and out, is stunningly decorated with trophies of Fou1krod’s bowhunting adventures: bear skins, whitetail racks, life-size caribou mounts, wild hogs and much more. The lodge feels like a hunting lodge — a place you really can get away from it all.

A week of hunting costs $500 and includes home-cooked meals by Bob Fou1krod’s mother, Prudence Foulkrod, whom everyone calls “mom.” It also includes linens in the downstairs bunkhouse, transportation to and from your hunting stands, and transportation to a nearby butcher when you take a deer. In 1988, that butcher charged $15 to cut, wrap and freeze a deer, a bargain in any state.

For further information about deer hunting at Fou1krod’s Archery Camp, write: Bob Foulkrod, Foulkrod’s Archery Camp, Dept. AW, R.D. 1, Box 140, Troy, PA 16947.
Authors Note: A 1988 Pennsylvania bowhunting license cost $12.75, resident, and
$80.75, non-resident; bowhunters must also purchase a $5.50 archery stamp. The deer archery season, statewide, opened October 1 in 1988 and closed October 28. It was open again from December 26 through January 7, 1989.

For information about bowhunting Pennsylvania, write: Pennsylvania Game Commission, 2001 Elmerton Ave., Harrisburg, PA 17110-9797. 4

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