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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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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Published by archerchick on 05 Dec 2011

Extreme Tactics For Monster Elk ~ By Chuck Adams


Bowhunting World Xtreme 2004

Extreme Tactics For Monster Elk – By Chuck Adams

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Published by archerchick on 05 Nov 2011

FOR WILD TURKEY ~Starting From Scratch ~By Stan Chiras

Archery World August 1988

By Stan Chiras

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Published by KurtD on 18 Jul 2011

It’s All About The Memories By: Ted Nugent

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MEMORIES
By: Ted Nugent

Growing up in the new musical whirlwind of Chuck Berry, Bo Diddly, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and the thrilling new bowhunting world of Fred Bear was very, very exciting. Inspired by these masters of rock-n-roll, I attacked my guitar and musical dreams with a passion fire the likes of which I had no control over. And as far as the mystical flight of the arrow went, I was long gone, addicted, hooked, in love L-U-V, bow and arrow crazy.

Driven by the love and discipline of my incredible parents, I practiced my guitar with a vengeance and shot my bow and arrows every day. I literally could not get enough of either of these passions, and pursued them with every ounce of my being. It was a fascinating, wonderful way to grow up in America, and my memory bank bursts at the seams with glowing, powerful images of family joy and happiness with guitars, guns, bows and arrows.

But as jam packed as my memory bank is, unfortunately the family photo album is a little sparse on snapshots from the old Brownie automatic camera. We have a few dazzling photos of our wonderful family doing all sorts of fun stuff in those early years of the 1950s and early 60s, but I sure wish we had taken the time to take more photos.

As I think back to those annual excursions Up North for opening day of bow season in October, my mind reels with graphic details of the gas stations with bows and arrows and guns and ammo on display. The firestorm of colors in those Michigan hardwoods is as if they are silkscreened on my soul.

I can see my hero Fred Bear sitting next to me at the counter of the Grayling restaurant eating our cherry pie and sipping big glasses of milk together.

How I wish we had captured those incredible memories on film.

We don’t have photos of us catching little blue gills at the woodland lake. No photos of the little log cabin on the beautiful Titabawasee River, gathering wood, hauling water, frying bacon, roasting marshmallows, shooting our bows and .22 rifles.

There are no photos of my first squirrel, my fist deer, my first rabbit.

I would have never imagined I would grow up to be a professional outdoor writer or New York Times Best Selling author, much less the American rock-n-roll guitar guy. No one could have ever guessed I would dedicate my life to promoting our honorable hunting heritage and Second Amendment rights. Photos of my early years living that life sure would have come in mighty handy for such a career.

And even if such a career had never taken shape, I would really love to be able to show my kids and grandkids photos of the old man in action as a little boy who cherished my outdoor lifestyle from the very beginning.

So here’s to everyone out there who loves the great outdoors and thrills at taking our kids, grandkids, family and friends hunting, fishing, trapping, shooting, camping, boating and exploring.

Do yourself a favor and always bring along a decent camera with plenty of spare batteries and memory cards. Take that extra time to stop and document what I believe to be the most cherished lifetime memories of all; families having fun living the outdoor lifestyle.

Capture those life forming moments when we are celebrating the outdoor life we all so love. Get a photo of the young boys and girls with their first fish, their first bulls-eye, a first burnt marshmallow or a hot dog on a stick over an open campfire. Document those glowing smiles, not just for the happy, forever memories, but also to share with other friends, neighbors and classmate just how much fun all these great outdoor activities are for everyone fortunate enough to live them.

By sharing such photos with others, I am convinced the joys will be contagious and a darn good tool for luring more and more families into the shooting sports, and we can all agree just how great that always is.

You and your entire family will be happy you did.

Guns; check. Ammo; check. Bows and arrows; check. Tent; check. Stools; check. Canoe; Check. Fishing poles; Check. Tacklebox; Check. Bait; Check. Camera and batteries; Check. Happy

 

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Published by archerchick on 07 Jul 2011

Mark Of The Whitetail – By Steve Brockmann


Bowhunting World
February 1990

Mark Of The Whitetail By Steve Brockmann

Almost everyone enjoys seeing deer while stumbling around the outdoors
even if they’re not hunting. But, while an encounter with wild deer is almost
universally a valued experience, for the deer hunter such an encounter is
the primary objective.

?

For those specifically searching for deer, the quest can be frustrating. Deer
often avoid humans, so finding them may be difficult. This is especially true
of whitetail deer, which in general inhabit heavy cover, and are usually warier
than western mule deer.

Whitetails do leave a number of signs in their passing, however, and the careful
student of the outdoors can often tell a great deal about the deer in the area from
these signs. Correct interpretations of deer sign often lead to a direct encounter
with this elusive species.

Signs left by the whitetail include droppings, tracks, trails, rubs, scrapes, beds,
browse marks, hair and shed antlers. Each can tell something about the local deer
but the best understanding always comes when all possible sources of information
are considered.

Droppings are perhaps the most commonly encountered , and most easily recognized
deer sign. Researchers have used fecal pellets to to determine diets, habitat use patterns
and population sizes. Bowhunters can determine many of the same things, though perhaps on a rougher scale, by observing the consistancy and location, and abundance of deer droppings
they encounter in the field.

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The most common form of dropping is the pellet. These cylinders range from about one-half to
over an inch in length and from about one-quarter to one-half inch in diameter. This is the deer dropping most of us are familiar with, but it is not the only type. Pellets are produced whenever deer are eating dry vegetation or browse (twigs, buds and leaves of woody species rather than grasses and forbs). Across most of the whitetail’s range, this means late summer through early spring.

The other form of deer dropping is produced when deer have been eating succulent green forage.
These are globular masses of indefinate shape. Sometimes they resemble blobs of mud, while at other times they appear more like a segmented mass of many small blobs. For the lack of a more
universal term, these soft droppings are sometimes referred to as “plops”. Plops may be up to two inches in diameter and are usually green when fresh and black or dark brown when older. They are most commonly produced during spring and early summer, when new growth is abundant.
Where palatable plants occur near banks, lakes or bogs, deer may produce plops throughout the summer and into the fall.

The distribution of droppings can be a clue to the habitat use patterns and distribution of the deer.
Successful interpretation lies on a general knowledge of deer habits, however. Whitetail deer usually bed in heavy cover during the day, and move to open areas, such as meadows, agricultural fields or timber cuts during the night. In some cases ,shrub patches or dense stands of trees are the preferred feeding sites.

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Deer usually defecate upon rising in the evening, and droppings are often deposited in a distinct pile. If you can find an area of dense brush with many such piles, chances are you have found a
frequently used bedding area. Look nearby for beds, where the vegetation has been flattened by
deer lying down.

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A relatively open, but timbered, ridge may be used as a travel corridor between the bedding area and feeding area. These corridors can sometimes be identified by the large number of deer pellets scattered along them. Deer often void while on the move, so droppings may be spread out, rather than in small groups. in some regions, bedding areas are immediately adjacent to feeding areas
so distinct travel corridors may not exist.

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Feeding areas will also usually contain deer droppings, but these are likely to be scattered at a much lower density than in either bedding areas or travel corridors.

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Areas with abundant droppings usually hold more deer than those that with fewer droppings, but one can be fooled. In the northern portion f the whitetail’s range, deer frequently concentrate in relatively small areas during the most severe weather. These wintering areas often hold high densities of deer pellets, but very few deer during most of the year. Whitetails usually select stands of mature evergreens for winter habitat, so large concentrations of deer pellets in a stand of large old pines, firs or cedars may tip you off to a winter yard.

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Shed antlers which are usually dropped in early winter, are another clue as to the location of winter ranges, and can give a good idea of the size of the bucks in the area. In most areas, the largest antlers are usually found shed on the winter ranges rather than on the heads of hunters-harvested animals.

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On winter ranges, deer are most likely to be encountered during winter, of course. It is important to realize, though, that deer coping with deep snow are often walking a fine line between starvation
and survival, and that running from humans can represent a critical drain of the deer’s limited energy. Wintering areas are usually best avoided during the time that deer are using them.

?

The age of droppings can be very helpful in deciphering the routine of the local deer, but this is often difficult to determine. Very fresh droppings are wet, warm, and often steaming. Within a day
they often have adried outer coat, but are usually soft easily crushed and moist inside. Many factors including temperature, precipitation, eposure and deer diet affect the rate at which pellets
dry. In moist areas, pellets may decompose within weeks, while in drier areas they may last for many years.

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Because whitetails habitually follow the same routes, and because deer often travel in groups, whitetail habitat is usually laced with a network of trails. Researchers have found that larger deer populations make more trails than do smaller deer populations, given similar habitat. Thus an area with lots of trails usually has lots of deer. But comparing the number of deer trails in two areas of habitat types will not necessarily provide a reliable comparison of the relative sizes of the deer populations.

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Some trails connect food or water to bedding cover. Others lead to fence crossings or through heavy cover. Many of the trails are used only after dark, especially wide trails in open habitat. Chances are best of seeing deer where many trails funnel together, for example where a broken fence makes crossing easier, or where a narrow strip of cover connects two forrested areas. These areas can be very productive for the bowhunter who can slip into such an area and wait patiently down-wind, perhaps in a tree stand.

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Low fence wires, especially those marked with tufts of deer hair, often reveal where deer cross from one pasture to another. These sites should be noted by those trying to determine travel routes of deer in a given area, as they may provide another good opportunity to ambush a buck.

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Deer tracks are frequently encountered, and, depending on the circumstances, one may be able to tell where the deer was coming from from or going to, how fast it was going, what it was doing, how long ago it was there, and perhaps the sex and six=ze of the deer.

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Tracks may be found in snow, soil, or vegetation. By far the easiest to identify are those tracks left in fresh snow. If the snow is very recent, there is little doubt about how long ago
the deer was there, and there will usually be a clear record of where the deer came from and where it was going. Tracks can be followed forward, in an attempt to find the deer that
made the track, or they can be followed backwards, to find out what the deer has been
to. Some hunters have developed tracking to a fine art, and several books have been written on the subject.

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Careful tracking and persistence has led many hunters to fine bucks, but the technique is not usually an easy shortcut to a trophy, especially for the hunter. The tricks a whitetail can pull to throw a pursuer from his track are legendary; From mixing with other deer tracks, to walking in streams, to constantly circling downwind to check for followers, a wary whitetail is a challenge for any tracker.

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For the bowhunter interested in learning about deer, but wishing to avoid direct harassment of the deer, backtracking can be rewarding and often more enlightening than forward tracking. It allows one to interpret the behavior of undisturbed deer something that is difficult to do when one is forward tracking. It is also an effective way to learn the location of local feeding areas, bedding areas, and travel routes between the two.

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Whether forward-tracking or backtracking, the process is the same find a track and follow it for as long as possible, The interpretations made along the way can help you determine what the deer was doing when it was there. Gait is an obvious attribute one can determine about a track. Short, staggered strides indicate that the deer was walking slowly. It
may have been hiding, watching, and sneaking, or it may have been feeding through an
area. Nipped buds and twigs can help make a case for feeding. By noting which species are
most heavily browsed, and which not browsed, one can learn a great deal about food preferences in the area.

?

Longer strides laid out along a straighter course indicate a deer moving along with a
destination in mind. Such movements are common when deer travel between feeding
areas and bedding areas. A buck in search of receptive does during the breeding season
also moves along at a good pace, so keep this in mind if tracks are found during the November rut.

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When frightened, whitetails run in long bounds, which have distinctive marks. Tracks
of all four feet register together, with distances of up to 20 feet separating each landing
mark. Snow or dirt is often thrown forward from the force of the landing and push-off of
each bound. Sometimes backtracking will reveal what scared the deer. A car, coyote, dog
or human is often the cause. If the track is very fresh, you may well have frightened the
deer yourself.

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As with droppings, aging very fresh tracks is not difficult. Tracks in snow will usually
freeze overnight, so check for a think glaze of ice in the track if a track looks crisp and fresh. In some conditions, tracks may appear new for several days, but truly fresh tracks will almost always have loose snow in the hoof print itself or along the drag marks left in
front of or behind the print. After a few hours in sunlight, or a few minutes in strong wind,
some tracks may be obliterated. In these cases, it is best to reserve judgement on the
age of the track until they are followed into a sheltered site.

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If the edges are melted out and indistinct, or an icy glaze has formed on the tracks in the
shade, they are likely a day or more old. Fresh tracks in fluffy, powdery snow may be very
indistinct, and might appear to be very old at first glance. Again, however, the snow filling
the tracks will be loose and fluffy rather than either frozen solid or wet and slushy. Knowledge of how long since the last snow, and of weather conditions since then, can be helpful in determining the age of a track.


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Obviously, small deer make small tracks and large deer make large tracks. The tracks
of fawns are relatively easy to distinguish, and the medium-sized deer traveling with them
are usually does, though small bucks could be among the does and fawns. During the November rut, bucks of any size may be traveling with the does and fawns.

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Like fawn tracks, those of the biggest bucks are not particularly difficult to identify,
though it may take a bit more experience to know what qualifies as a truly large track. In
very heavily hunted populations, few or no bucks reach trophy size, so the largest tracks
may well be those of the oldest does. Bucks continue to grow for several years after the
age at which does reach full size, however, and bucks are almost invariably larger than
females of similar age. In populations where some of the bucks are able to survive to a ripe
old age the biggest tracks are usually made by big bucks.

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A number of other clues can be used to separate tracks of bucks from those of does.
These clues become especially important when trying to decide if a moderate-sized
track was made by an adult doe or by a young to moderate-aged buck. No one sign is fully
fool-proof, and each has been contested by experienced hunters. A combination of factors, however, can usually be relied upon to reveal the sex of the deer.

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In shallow snow (under about one inch) bucks tend to drag their feet, while does tend
to lift theirs. In deeper snow, all deer show drag marks, so this cannot be relied upon in
all cases. Probably the next most reliable sign is the pattern of urination revealed in the
snow. Bucks usually leave a small, neat hole with crisp edges, where a steady stream has
entered the snow. Does, by contrast, tend to leave more of a puddle. During the rut, bucks
may dribble urine along their track, rather than stopping to relieve themselves.

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Individual tracks of a buck also tend to be staggered from side to side and pointed outwards, rather than in a straight line, like those of a doe. Some authors claim that bucks will walk around dense brush patches and trees, to avoid tangling their antlers, while does will wiggle their way through or against such obstacles. My experience has been somewhat different on this matter, as I have tracked bucks through very dense brush patches. In fact, bucks have frequently been noted to use the most dense tangles of cover to a much greater extent than do the females.

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If you find a bed along the track you are following, you may be able to make out where the deer laid its head when it slept. Occasionally an antler will leave an impression in the snow here, which will give you solid evidence as to the sex of the deer. Similarly, you may be able to detect antler marks in the snow where the deer has fed, if the snow is fairly deep.

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One final bit of evidence, which pops up with a fair degree of regularity along a buck’s trail, especially during the rut, is the rub. If a lone set of tracks leads to a sapling which has had bark or branches stripped, and that material is lying on top of the snow, accept that as
final proof that you have found a buck’s trail.

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Rubs are created by bucks as they scrape their antlers on small trees. This is done in late summer to remove the velvet from the fully grown antlers, but the activity continues through the rut. Scent glands in the skin of the forehead are thought to produce a personal odor, so rubs become a business card, of sorts, for individual bucks. Be aware of rubs , even when you’re not following a trail in the snow. These indicate that a buck has passed through the area, and may be living nearby.

?

Some very successful hunters maintain that individual bucks mark their consistently used travel routes by a series of rubs. These marked routes are usually found downwind of major deer trails, and are located in heavy cover. Observing a buck in such an area is
often difficult because these routes are hidden and may be used only under cover of darkness.

Scrapes are another sign left by bucks only, and have fascinated hunters and researchers for years. Scrapes are triangular impressions in the soil, pawed out by the buck during the rut. Again, a personal odor is deposited, this time from the interdigital glands found between the toes of the front foot.

?

The scrape apparently serves as a meeting place for bucks, who are ready and willing to breed through much of the fall, and the does, who come into heat for only 24 hours at a time. If not bred, the doe will recycle and come into heat between 21 and 30 days later, but this happens only two or three times per year for each doe. When her time comes, each doe
must seek out a suitable buck. This is most easily done, apparently, by leaving a message
on the buck’s answering machine: she urinates in his scrape. When the buck checks back later he will notice the message and search out the doe, who is usually nearby.

?

These scrapes, then, are an important sign to the deer herd, and should be noticed by the
bowhunter interested in learning about whitetails in the area. Scrapes are usually from one
to three feet in diameter, and consist of a shallow fan-shaped depression of bare soil from
which all leaves, needles, and other litter have been removed. Scrapes are often found along edges between brushy areas and mature timber, or along field edges. Often a series of small scrapes, each approximately 100 yards or more apart, will lead to a larger, more active “primary” or “hub” scrape. This primary scrape will usually be under an over-
hanging branch, which will be licked, nuzzled, and rubbed by several of the bucks in
an area.

?

For the hunter, the primary scrape is the best sign of all to find, for it means that one or
more mature bucks are in the area, and probably will return. The trick becomes approaching the scrape and waiting patiently, undetected. Scrapes are usually checked from downwind, so hunters are often detected as they wait. Stands situated well downwind of scrapes have proven to be the most reliable.

?

The approach to the stand must be planned carefully if one expects a reasonable shot at a
calm animal. If the wind carries your scent through the cover he is hiding in as you walk
to your stand, you likely will never see him at the scrape. The scents associated with your
boots and pants alone are enough to alert a whitetail if he encounters them on his way in.
He will probably either sneak off quietly, maybe without your even knowing, or perhaps he’ll snort, raise his tail, turn, and break into graceful, but heartbreaking, bounds.

?

The route to the stand should be planned to minimize the chances of winds carrying your
scent to the deer (think about the locations of feeding and bedding areas). A cover scent,
applied to pant legs (from the knee down) and boots (the toe and the sole are the most critical) can help hide the entry trail from deer that cross it in their wanderings. A lure made from the urine of estrus does can even bring a rutting buck to your stand, right along the path you followed.

?

Scrapes are perhaps the ultimate sign to the hunter, and a fascinating phenomenon for
others, but those illiterate in the more basic language of droppings, tracks, and rubs will
likely find few scrapes, and may use the scrapes they do find inappropriately. Once
daily movement patterns of the local deer are worked out, likely places for scrapes can be
predicted, and logical strategies can be plotted.

?

As experiences in an area accumulate, more of the details of the deer population can
be filled in. Conjecture can be replaced by observation, and familiarity will replace
confusion. One emotion that probably will not disappear is a near constant amazement at the survival capacity of the whitetail, and a respect for the resourcefulness of a species that
continues to expand its range in the face of increasing human populations and the pressures they place on the environment. >>—>

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Published by archerchick on 06 Jul 2011

Boone & Crockett Buck ~ By Tad E. Crawford


Bowhunting World
June 1989

Boone & Crockett Buck
By Tad E. Crawford

Normally, I try not to let my deer
hunting success result from pure,
unadulterated luck. Somehow, I’m
not very proud of a trophy unearned. The hunt
of 1987 might have been a series of lucky coincidences,
all right, but I have to say, I also
worked to bring home that trophy.
The best pre-season dreamer would not
have conjured up the series of fantastic coincidences
surrounding my taking of that fabulous animal.

After all, just what are the
chances of finding both sheds, 20 yards apart,
from a Boone and Crockett whitetail? What
about the prospects of bowshooting that same
whitetail just one month later — and from an
evening ground blind five yards away! And
how about the likelihood of recovering this
huge deer, hit and lost the day before Thanks-
giving, after three days of small game hunters
and their dogs combing the area?

Now, it’s no secret we bowhunters are ever
stalking ways to improve the chances of taking
a true trophy whitetail. One of the most important
keys is patience and, as I see it, pa-
tience is twofold. First, a trophy whitetail
hunter ought to have a patient and loving wife
like my Cathy. She has to be patient with me
hunting every day in November. She must patiently
explain to all of my taxidermy customers why I could
take such a long vacation- before I had finished their
trophies. (I pity the guy whose wife can’t love him enough not
to nag when deer season starts and he is out
doing the thing he loves most.)

The second type of patience comes in
when spending time in the field and on stand,
evaluating actions and reactions of whitetails.
This is an important time: more is involved
here than just killing a deer. Even when
you’ve done your pre-season and in-season
scouting, you still have to be able to see what
you’re looking at. Interpretation of sign — or
perhaps the sudden lack of it — is very important
for success.

I estimated I had logged some 300 hours
“air time” —— time actually spent in tree
stands — when I tagged the big one. Many
was the day I spent all day, daylight to dark,
without coming down to ground level.

As I bask in my victory of last year, I can
afford to think back to all those missed shots
and opportunities at really big bucks. I do not
have a lot of record racks on my wall, but the
experience gained over the years helped me to
harvest this deer. I guess a guy has to hunt
where the big bucks are before he gets a
chance to bust one.

Northeastern Ohio has produced some
fine whitetails. Dense, overgrown strip
mines, moderate cultivation, and suburbs
provide good trophy habitat. Somehow the
deer I harvested managed to elude hunters,
poachers, cars, and who knows what for several
years. Good health and good fortune allowed him
to grow to outstanding proportions
and horn development.

Up until that year sightings of a huge buck
had been sketchy. Some said the last time he’d
been seen was three years before. Was he still
around? Then, in October, my friend Dave .
Unkefer and his weimaraner found both sheds
of a tremendous whitetail. Well, now, I mean
to tell you, these were nice horns! I rough
scored these 13-point typical sheds at about

183 Boone and Crockett points. So, the big
one was still at large.
Throughout the month of November we
found fresh. extra-large, three-inch tracks and
many large rubs on hardwood trees six to ten
inches in diameter. Then, the rut appeared to
pass and even button bucks were observed
chasing does in heat. Believe me, that’s depressing.

But the big tracks persisted. Dave and another
hunting buddy, Steve Slatzer, tracked
some very large bucks after a fresh snow. Was
the 13-pointer among them?

With snow still on the ground, the three of
us checked out a hidden cornfield we knew of.
Bingo! Buck Heaven! We kicked out six big
bucks- this cornfield was hot enough to pop.
At least a dozen good scrapes surrounding it
were rototilled.

The deer were pounding this field so well,
I couldn’t resist locking up my Amacker portable
in an adjacent oak. Covered with Camo
Leaves, it looked great, just like an old squirrels
next. I was ready.

On Monday morning, I climbed up into
that oak, which was to be my daytime home
for the next three days. But by Wednesday, the
only game I had seen were two fox squirrels,
one red squirrel, and a crossbow hunter. All
sign had grown cold — I figured we had left
too much scent when scouting — and my
thoughts drifted to a newly planted winter
wheat field about a half mile away. The deer
had to be somewhere.

It was noon and I decided to check it out.
More mindful this time of leaving too much
scent, I approached into the wind and checked
only the nearest edge of the bare dirt for
tracks. Large tracks were everywhere —-
large, fresh tracks. I resisted the temptation to
scout the edges for the best approach trails,
afraid to show any more presence than necessary.
It was possible that my target animal was
bedded on the adjoining hillside overlooking
this field, so I stayed in the shadows as much
as possible.

A tree stand was out of the question. No
large trees existed, and besides, this was November 25th,
and all of the leaves had fallen.
Little cover existed anywhere, so I quickly
gathered some light-colored weeds and constructed
a ground blind.
Once settled in, I felt good and things
seemed right. I spent the next five hours sit-
ting on a cold, bare patch of earth behind the
blind, but the balmy, sunny afternoon was
comforting. And I did not rise once for any
reason. I napped, ate a late snack of Kool-Aid
and granola bars and listened t0 the semi-
trucks rolling down a nearby highway. I had
not slept long when I was awakened by the
distress call of my bladder. I whisked out my
porta—potty, a hot water bottle I carry in the
field to keep my stands free from the scent of
human urine. Then, I settled back behind my
blind.

I dozed until the five o’clock whistle blew
at a distant coal mine. I peeked out through
the pokeberry weeds to see two deer feeding
intently in the wheat field about 80 yards
away. Both heads were down and, because of a
slight depression in the ground where they
stood, no antlers could be seen. The deer on
the left raised its head first, a nice “skinhead”
doe. The deer on my right seemed larger and
-holy cow! What a buck!

Now he was looking in my direction. The spread of his horns
was well beyond his ear tips. As he looked at
the doe, I counted at least six or seven points
on his left antler. At that moment, I thought I
was probably looking at the 13-point Boone
and Crockett deer of last year’s sheds. What a
privilege to be able to watch such an animal,
undisturbed, at close range and in such good
light. If only I had had some video gear.
I don’t remember getting nervous about
shooting that deer — excited, yes, but not nervous.

All I could think of was that darkness
would soon engulf us and I would have to
leave the stand, possibly spooking them. I
watched and waited.
Twenty minutes went by like 20 seconds.
The doe quit eating and slowly walked past
my blind at about six or eight yards to my left.
The wind was just right, still in my favor. Now
it was Mr. Big’s time to move. Slowly closing
the distance, he stopped about 40 yards out.
I was still glassing him when he started grunting
low, sustained grunts. He put his head
down and started walking directly at my blind.
I chucked the binoculars and grabbed the bow,
slowly.

If the truth were known, I think I was now
in a state of acute hypertension. I was talking
to myself, “The one thing you can’t do is
move quickly. Get that bow up. Wait for the
right moment to draw. Yeah, the bow is up,
and oh, *?%@$, there he is! ”

Standing broadside, only five yards away,
he just happened to stop in the two foot shooting
lane I had cleared earlier. “OK, easy does
it. Make the draw. Center the pin on that
shoulder. Smooth release and — ” What a
temptation to snap shoot. “He’s too close.
Any moment he’ll be gone.”

I talked myself into completing the draw.
Like a homing pigeon, the pin centered on the
shoulder and instantly the arrow was on its
way. A solid thunk sent the deer bolting in the
direction he and the doe were headed. I re-
member thinking, “No way could I have
messed up that shot. Had to be a perfect lung
hit. Probably find the arrow laying on the
ground from a pass through — great blood
trail. Quick recovery.” Soon I would discover
just how wrong my wishful thinking was.

You readers will now have to pardon an
interruption for a commercial. As you wait to
read what happened to the trophy buck, this
is, after all, my golden opportunity to tell you
about Camo Leaves, a product I invented and
manufacture. Camo Leaves are artificial foliage
that attach to your clothing and equipment
with Velcro. Camo leaves are designed to
break up the human silhouette and provide
better three-dimensional contrast. Picture me
— my suit, headnet, bowlimbs, gloves, all
covered with little Camo Leaves. With Camo
Leaves your prize buck — just like my prize
buck — may never know you ’re there, never
notice your draw, never think of a slight movement
as anything more than the movement of
leaves attached to branches, fluttering in the
breeze. Camo Leaves concealed me from a
buck at eye level less than five yards away!

And now, about that buck my Camo Leaves
and I took.
I waited a few minutes in the blind, my
heart racing like a runaway freight train. Sud-
denly it was raining — pouring, the first time
since I’d been hunting this year. Of all the
luck. I ran as fast as I could to a field about a
half mile away where I caught Steve making
his way back to the truck. All but out of

breath, I blurted out, “I just hit the big one! ”
Steve said he would call Cathy to tell her l
would be home late and that he would return
with a better tracking light.
I returned to the site to search for the blood
trail in the pouring rain. Three hours of
searching turned up nothing. The rain had
done a job and I was more than a little dejected
as we sloshed the mile and a half back to the
truck.

It rained all night, but at break of day we
began again in earnest, confident we would
walk right up on my deer. We found the fletch
end of my arrow almost immediately. It had
only penetrated about seven inches when the
shaft broke off.
I remember grumbling about poor penetration
when I spotted something. “Steve.
look there, a rifle! ” There lay an old 22-caliber
lever-action Marlin 39A, very rusted.

The wood stock was so rotted, it fell off in my
hands. The strangest fact of all was that the,
hammer was cocked. I didn’t know what to
look for first, deer parts. or people parts! l
figured the rifle had been there for 20 or more
years and it could wait a little longer to tell is
story. I opted for deer parts.

For three days Steve and I searched. The
few short hours of sleep I had gotten in the last
two nights began to wear heavy on me. We
were both tired from combing every briar
patch and swamp in a half-mile arc around the
hit location. I just knew that deer was hit too
badly to survive. Still, we came home empty
handed. We had been dodging rabbit hunters
and beagles for two days after Thanksgiving. I
was afraid someone had found my buck, but I
had to keep looking. Gun season would start on
Monday, an added threat that someone else
would find that deer.

Things were looking a little hopeless that
evening as I prayed to the “Great Guide” in
the big deer camp in the sky. “Lord,” I said,
“I expect you to deliver that deer to me Ill
how. I’ve worked hard. I know he’s there. Just
show me the way.”

Saturday morning came early. The
weather finally broke. As I looked into the
clearing sky, I was wishing I had a bird’s eye
view of that hunting area. Then it hit me,
could get a bird ’s eye view from a helicopter!

In an hour I had found a pilot at a local
airport and we were up. The initial thrill of
my first chopper flight faded as we circled my
hunting area for an hour and a half. I was almost
glad to hear the pilot say we would have
to head back for gas. I was getting airsick —
and heart sick. I still had seen no sign of my
buck. The pilot suggested we fly back over the
area my deer had come from, since it was on
the way back.

The pilot spotted him first. “‘Wow!” he
said. “Now I know why you rented a chopper!
is looks like an elk. Got to be the biggest
deer I’ve ever seen.”
Yep, there he was, lying in a briar patch,
only 75 yards from some guy’s back door. Of
course, I hadn’t looked in people’s backyards
for the deer. The pilot wanted to set down
right there, but I was afraid this guy would not
appreciate being awakened on Saturday morning
by a helicopter landing in his yard. We
flew off and flew back — this time in my Subaru
— and I can’t say which flew faster. New
land speed records were set that day.
It appeared my trophy buck had run about a quarter
mile from where I hit him, apparently
dying relatively soon. The Terminator double—cut
broadhead had just missed the heart,
puncturing one lung.

I tagged him immediately. We took hero
shots of me and the deer and then we salvaged
as much as possible. Somewhere in between
the photos and the excitement, I managed to
give thanks and take some measurements.
His rack now officially scores 207 Boone
and Crockett non-typical points and has 18
points over one inch in length. He was a rare
animal in that he could pass as a typical at 171
4/8 or as a non-typical.
If you count all the ring-hangers, the buck
is a 28-pointer. The inside spread is 25 inches
and the outside spread is 27 inches with 27-
inch main beams. The deer’s gross score is
214 3/8 and he has 18 2/8 inches of non-typical tine.
His girth at chest was about 52 1/2 inches
and his jaw aged him at about six-and-a-half
years old. The pads on his feet were three-
and-a-half inches long. Field-dressed weight
was 342 pounds.

For all you statisticians, my bow is a Darton 1000MX box, set at 59 pounds. I shot an
Easton XX75 Camo Hunter arrow, size 2213, and, of course, I used the best camouflage I
know — Camo Leaves. They just had to have made the difference.
Now, I will ask you again, just what are the prospects of all these
remarkable coincidences happening to one guy? Once in a life-
time? Once in two lifetimes? What are the
chances? >>—->
Editor’s Note: Camo Leaves are available
direct from the author at Camo Leaves, 6645
Cleveland Ave. S., East Sparta, OH 44626.
Under license from him they are also being
marketed nationally by The Game Tracker

ARCHIVED BY
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ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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Published by archerchick on 06 Jul 2011

Elk Hunting’s Agony & Ecstasy ~By Patrick Meitin


Bowhunting World
February 1990
ELK HUNTING’S AGONY & ECSTASY
By Patrick Meitin

“What time is it!” I jumped from my sleeping bag and threw on my
clothes. It was opening morning of elk season in southwestern New Mexico
and the alarm clock had not gone off. With a lot of panicked rush we zoomed
out of camp on the four-wheeler, clutching precious bows and daypacks for
dear life. A line of silver began to crack in the eastern horizon. We zipped
around corners, bounced over rocks, and just in the nick of time arrived on
the mountain we would hunt. We were off to a hectic start, but I was elk hunting
and I could have cared less.

I started up a canyon that I knew had elk in the past. I heard a faint bugle at the
head of the canyon and pressed hard to reach it. The forest was damp and quiet, as
a soft mist fell from the low, fog-like clouds. Upon reaching the head of the canyon
I again heard the bugle, but much closer this time. Wooeeeeeeeock! Bugles began to
sound from all directions, at least five of them – mostly bad. Damn, I wasn’t alone.
It looked as if my surefire spot had been discovered. “There is at least one real bull
up here, maybe I can find him before the crowd does.”

I slowly approached the saddle at the head of the canyon I had been following noticing
the three sets of fresh elk tracks in the rain soaked ground. I heard a faint click of hoof
against rock and dropped to the ground beside a well worn game trail. I grabbed an
arrow from my Catquiver and felt the razor sharp edge of the Zwicky that tipped it, and
quietly nocked it. The two beasts rounded the spruce tree—–horses!

The riders stopped to chat a while, noting
all the “elk bugles” they had been hearing.
They seemed real proud with their logic of
bugling from horseback, saying, “The elk will
think it is another bull walking toward them.”
My somewhat sarcastic response, “More
likely you will get shot.”

That was it. I shifted my pack for a better
ride, looked skyward hoping it wouldn’t rain,
and made a beeline for parts roadless and remote.
Five miles later I sat huddled under a
tight branched pinion tree singing, “Rain,
rain go away . . .” It must have been about two
in the afternoon before the cat and dog rain
finally subsided.

I began to stillhunt down a thickly covered
ridge and really started to get into the sign. It
looked like a hundred bulls had gone on a tree
thrashing rampage. I caught movement
through a hole in the thick brush and froze in
my tracks. A yearling elk calf walked into an
opening only 20 yards away.

As I stood motionless, mostly in the open,
several cows began to filter out of the brush a
little farther than the calf. I knew there had to l
be a bull with the herd. A deep, throaty bugle
not far away confirmed my suspicions. It began to
rain again, I slowly reached around and
slipped an arrow from my quiver. Just then a
small 4×5 bull walked out to join the calf. I
didn’t want him. I had decided long before the
hunt, having killed two nice bulls previously, I
wanted at least a 300-inch class Pope and
Young bull.

The wind began to swirl a bit and I anticipated
that it was about to betray me. No
sooner had the thought crossed my mind
when the small bull and the calf grew nervous
and began to tiptoe to my left. The farther
cows sensed something was up and also grew
fidgety. The elk began to move away through
the thick brush. The deep bugle again
sounded from the trees behind the now moving elk
and I readied myself, hoping it would
be a trophy bull. I glimpsed a set of dark,
heavy beamed antlers moving toward the
opening — he was big enough. I drew my
bow.

The elk filtered down the ridge. The bull
walked quickly through the opening and offered
only a split second of shooting time. I
got my pin on his chest, panning the bow with
the moving animal. A tree jumped in the way.
He entered another opening. Just as my pin
found its place he disappeared again. I would
not see the bull again. I let my bow down,
exasperated and frustrated. “It’s only the first
day, calm down He was a good bull — about
three—forty, but it was not his day to go. I
walked down to a saddle and found a place to
get out of the rain. I fell asleep against the dry
side of an ancient juniper tree, waiting for the
rain to cease.

Suddenly my eyes were wide open, “What
was that?” A bull was bugling in the canyon
below. I glanced around and saw elk everywhere
I looked, mostly cows. I glassed all of
them, but none of them was the trophy bull I
was looking for. I still hadn’t seen the emphatic
bugling bull sol stalked down to take a
better look. The bull continued to bugle, making
him easy to home in on. When I sensed
that I was very close I let out a short, high
pitched bugle through my cupped hands. The
bull answered before the first echo sounded
from my own bugle. I grunted as best I could
through cupped hands, and waited. Crunching
rocks and snapping twigs prompted me to
nock an arrow.

As the 6×6 bull walked into the open at 30
yards. my pin settled behind the mud speckled shoulder.
I let the string down slowly and
looked a little harder at the bull’s rack. He
would go around two-eighty. It was only the
first day of the hunt, with several more days to
come, and it would be a long haul out of here
with 100-pound packs of elk steaks. I would
let him pass.

I watched the bull lose interest and turn to .
walk away, his ego inflated by having run off
the brave intruder. I noticed for the first time
that it was getting late in the evening. I drew a
deep breath and turned to walk toward the
truck.

I reached the four-wheeler around midnight,
glad to see it still there. Perry Harper,
my long time hunting partner and kamikaze
driver, dragged himself in just behind me. He
was also glad to see the four-wheeler. He too
had bee lined to the rough stuff. He had passed
up a nice 6×6 bull during the day, but having
bagged a 314-inch Pope and Young bull the
past season he was looking for bigger things.
We loaded up and zipped back to camp. Oh,
the dry sanctuary of the tent — dry clothes —
dry socks!

The alarm sounded early the following
morning. Our hunting party gathered in Perry ’s
camp trailer to compare notes and decide
where to hunt. Steven Tisdale, a college
friend on his first elk hunt hadn’t seen much
game the day before. When I told him he
could have anything that I passed up, he was
more than happy to come along with me. Arriving
at the end of the cow trail “road” after
dropping Perry off, we shut down the engine
and sat back to wait for shooting light. Soon
the sunlight began to creep up the valley. We
pushed the doors shut quietly and went forth.
It was cold and crisp alter the nightime clearoff,
the frost whispered quietly as we walked
through the knee-deep grass. Following a
barbed wire fence, we approached “the perfect
elk meadow,” a name that had come to
mind the first time I had seen it two seasons
before. I rounded a huge, ground hugging cedar
and stopped suddenly. I couldn’t believe
my eyes — a huge 7×7 bull walked tranquilly
across the meadow with his small harem of
cows. I excitedly waved Steven over to take a
look.

We huddled behind the cedar admiring the
majestic bull. A squirt of talcum powder from
a small bottle drifted back into my face. The
bull brought his head back and grunted deeply
without bugling, then lowered his head to rake
the ground with his horns. I adjusted the diaphragm
in my mouth, pressed my lips against
my grunt tube and let out my best bugle, followed
by five, throaty grunts. The bull
stopped, turned our way, and screamed at the
top of his lungs. I grunted at the enraged bull
and waited. The bull trotted toward us bugling
his head off. “He’s coming in.”

I shakily nocked an arrow, and looked up
to see the bull still coming our way. The wapati
reached the barbed wire fence 80 yards
ahead and walked behind a screening tree. I
seized the opportunity to move closer. The bull
hopped the fence without touching even a
hair. He continued past at a 90-degree angle,
caring the cedar I was using to hide myself.
I drew my bow. “This is too easy,” I thought.

The bull stopped for an instant as the string
slipped from my calf skin tab. At 50 yards the
bull had time to begin walking again, before
the arrow struck. I was in horror, as the arrow
met the elk after one long step. The arrow
disappeared into the bulls liver area. He was
hit, but was it good enough?

The bull spun and ran through the fence he
had jumped earlier and across the open
meadow. then vanished from sight. As we
watched, a small 6×6 walked into view across
the grassy meadow from a line of trees that
jutted into the open.

We watched the 6×6 through binoculars
for a short time, not believing how many elk
we were seeing already, not even 500 yards
from the truck. The small bull walked to one
of the ponderosas at the tip of the peninsula of
trees and stood beneath it’s boughs. We
turned away to start our stalk, wasting no time
in getting into the area.

We removed our shoes, and proceded.
Cold feet silent against the cutting ground, we
drew closer, feeling every twig and pebble.
Soon we were close and the chilled western
breeze still holding steady. Steven nocked an
arrow and drew a few deep breaths. He held
up the crossed fingers of his left hand and
smiled. then drifted ahead with me shadowing
him.

The bull rounded a tree 60 yards out, and
froze in his tracks at the sight of the two lumps
of moving brush. Steven slowly drew his bow
and anchored. “Sixty yards — 60 yards,” I
hissed quietly. Steven held his bow drawn for
what seemed a long time, then slowly let it
down. “Too far,” he whispered.
I cow talked very quietly to the bull but he
was no pushover. The curious bull let out a
loud bark and waited for a reaction. Pushing
the diaphragm to the front of my mouth I
barked back at him. He took a few steps toward
us then stamped his feet and let out another
ear piercing bark, This went on for at
least 10 minutes before the bull turned and
trotted away. Steven said, “If he had been 10
yards closer I would have shot. I just kept
thinking we already had one bull hit, we
didn’t need me to wound another. We still
have four days of hunting left.” That was a
hard decision for a guy on his first elk hunt.

After taking a short nap, we took up the
trail of my elk. We found one good puddle of
blood were he had entered the trees but from
there the drops were small and infrequent. We
followed mostly hoof prints in the soil when
we lost the blood. As we found even the slightest
sign it was marked so it could be referenced
if we lost the trail. We began to End less
blood sign and the ground had become rockier —
we were making very little headway.
The elks trail ended at the edge of a rim-rock
bordered canyon.

Steven and I split up to search for the bull.
I searched until the sinking sun forced me to
retreat to the truck. I was disgusted. I guess if
you hunt long enough, one day the odds will
catch up with you ~ and you will loose an
animal. Should I have taken the long shot? I
might have been able to call him closer — he
was interested enough. Why couldn’t I have
hit him better? I felt sorry for the magnificent
animal. and wished I had never seen him. I
tore my tag from my license — my hunt was
over. Sleep would be difficult tonight.

At first light the following morning Perry
and I returned to where the trail had been lost,
hoping that fresh eyes and bodies could better
follow the trail. I couldn’t believe how easy
the trail seemed after the day before. In a matter
of hours we trailed the bull to where it had
fallen. I was thankful that I had found the bull
in time to salvage the meat.

If that valiant warrior had gone to waste I
would never have forgiven myself. I still felt
hollow inside from the circumstances of the
kill, but remembered that nature is often
much crueler.

As Perry and I field dressed my bull we
heard a distant bugle. After we had gotten it
dressed and into the shade we walked in that
direction. We skirted a high rim hoping to
glass the countryside below. Finding nothing,
we sat down to eat our lunch. For no reason at
all I pulled a diaphragm from my pocket and
bugled defiantly to the valley below. Three
bulls answered me. Wide-eyed, Perry
squeaked, “Can you believe that! ”

We stalked down the mountain side toward
the closest bull, moving very slowly as we
went. After a few hundred yards Perry
dropped to the ground and nocked an arrow.

He could see elk legs a short distance down
the hill.
I bugled again adding a few deep grunts on
the end. Perry joined me with a variety of cow
calls. The forest became eerily quiet. I saw
the bull for the first time sauntering uphill at-
tempting to find his opponent.

At 25 yards the bull threw his head back to
bugle. Perry drew his bow. The bull took a
few steps forward and stopped again, broad-
side, in the open. Perry ‘s arrow shot forward
just as the bull stopped. The bright yellow
vanes spun in suspension, then stopped suddenly
as the arrow landed in the bull’s side.
The hit was good, and the bull lunged down
the hill with the Delta Zwicky-tipped wood
slicing through both lobes of his lungs.

After a short, easy trailing job we found
the bull down for good, he had gone only 90
yards. Now the work would begin. I left Perry
with his bull and returned to mine to start the
long work of whittling elk into manageable
pieces. I returned to the truck in the darkness
noticing, as I approached, that everyone was
gathered around Steven listening to his tale.
Seeing me, he excitedly continued, after filling
in a few details.

“l hid behind a cedar tree and waited,”
Steve was saying. “The bull kept coming —
straight for me. When the bull went out of
sight I tiptoed around the edge of the tree I was
hiding behind and drew my bow. The bull
walked through a gap at 40 yards. I couldn’t
get my pin on him soon enough so I waited. l
swung my bow to the next gap and put my pin
where I thought the bull would be when he
walked through. He walked through the gap
and my pin crossed his shoulder. I let the arrow fly.
The arrow hit him low in the chest
The bull whirled and limped out of sight the
way it had come. I trailed him a while, but
couldn’t find any blood so I just went the direction he
had gone — it was getting dark.”
I interrupted, “Think he’s hit good. Let’s
go back and see if we can trail him with a
lantern.”

Steven smiled widely, “I found him, he`s
dead! ” A handshake was in order.
With three bulls down, the following
morning was torturous work. Boning out
quarters, caping out hides, sawing antlers and
packing meat. But despite the sore muscles,
aching feet and sweat, I wouldn’t have traded
it for the world. As the last load of elk steaks
stumbled into sight under the light of the
moon and a blanket of stars, we would stop to
tally our rack scores. Steven’s 6×6 bull just
missed Pope and Young minimums at 256 5/8
inches. Perry’s heavy beamed 7×7, including
the “devil” points over his brow tines, taped
out at 295 5/8. My 7×7, after 15 inches of
deductions, scored a tidy 337. Not bad for a
bunch of flatland bowhunters!

AUTHOR ’S NOTE: New Mexico elk hunting
is at its best and getting better every season.
Elk populations are up in nearly all management
units and spreading into new areas each
year. Several areas have been opened for the
first time ever. Good elk hunting spots include
the Gila National Forest, units 13, 15A, 15B,
16A, 16B, 16C, 16D, and unit 17; Pecos Wilderness
areas, units 44 and 45; North central,
units 50, 52 and 4; and finally the San Pedro
Park area located in unit 6.
New season dates have been adjusted to
allow hunting during the peak of the rutting
period. Proposed season dates for the 1989
season are September 7-20. Resident license
fees run $38, while nonresident license fees
are $213. For more information contact, New
Mexico Department of Game and Fish, State
Capitol, Santa Fe, NM 87503. <—<<

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Published by archerchick on 06 Jul 2011

Baiting Up Black Bear – By Otis “Toad” Smith


BOWHUNTING WORLD
February 28, 1990

BAITING UP BLACK BEAR
By Otis “Toad” Smith

When it comes to baiting up a bear, you
can throw some meat into the woods on
a hope and a prayer, or you can plan and
design a functional bear bait.
Bear hunters who are consistently successful at baiting up bear
lay out a well planned bait –
one that will get a bear to feed on a regular basis, one that
will give the hunter the knowledge of which direction the
bear will come from and will force a bear to expose himself broadside to the hunter.

When a bear bait is laid out it must be set up to take
advantage of the prevailing wind direction. In the area that
I bait bear I can usually expect to have a wind coming
from the west. This being the case, my set tree is always
located southeast of the bait, and the trail I use to get to the
bait must also come from the southeast.

It pays to set up an extra bait or two for a south or an
east wind. but only hunt the baits that have the wind to
your advantage. It’s better to not hunt than it is to spook a
bear from a bait, because once you spook a bear it might
be days before he will venture back onto the bait or he may
turn into a night feeder.

For this article, we are going to assume that you have
done your scouting and have located an area that has bear.
We are going to also assume that you have picked out the
site for your bait and that you know which direction the
prevailing winds are coming from.

The accompanying illustration shows how I prefer to
set up a bear bait. The illustration indicates the prevailing
wind direction and shows the set tree located on the down
wind side of the bait. A bait setup like this illustration
would allow hunting with any wind direction except south
or southeast.

You will see in the illustration that a barricade is built
around the bait. It works best to place the bait at the base
of a tree and use the tree as a anchor point for the barricade.
Barricades are a useful tool because they prevent a
bear from approaching a bait from the rear. A barricade
will force a bear to expose himself broadside as he comes
around to feed.

To construct a barricade, use poles that measure two to
three inches in diameter. Either nail down or tie one end of
the pole to the tree, and rest the other end on the ground.
Build the barricade at least five or six feet high and if you
use nails, make sure you pull the nails when you’re finished hunting.

The illustration shows three cut trails coming into the
bait. When the bait is first established it works well to lay
some scent trails out into the bush. The scent trails are
dual fold: By laying a good scent trail, hopefully the bear
will find the bait faster and it will train the bear to come to
the bait on a designated trail.

Make sure you consider the wind direction when laying
out the scent trail. When done properly, the bear will
approach the bait upwind of the set tree.

Bear are like people, they will always take
the easy way, so make it convenient for them.
Cut the trail the last 50 to 75 yards as it approaches
the bait. Trim and cut the trail so it is
an easy route to the bait. Bear will naturally
use the cut trails every time. In essence you
will be training the bear to use the same route
each time they come to the bait. The hunter
has a distinct advantage if he knows where the
bear will approach from.

Ingredients to make a strong sweet smelling
scent can be purchased from most any
grocery store. All that is needed are small
bottles of concentrated mapleline and annise.
Mix two bottles of the mapleline into a gallon
of water along the two cups of brown sugar.
Then mix two bottles of annise in a gallon of
water. One-gallon plastic milk jugs work well
for this because of the built in handle.

Once you have the jugs mixed, punch
some sprinkle holes in the jug lids. With a jug
in each hand, walk away from the bait sprinkling
the two scents as you go. Spread the
scent for a quarter of a mile out into the bush,
then turn around and sprinkle your way back
to the bait on the same trail. Lay three trails,
in three directions from the bait. Hopefully a
passing bear will stumble onto one of the
scent trails and follow it to the bait.

Another handy item for spreading scent
are plastic spray bottles like those you use to
wash a car windshield. Carry two of the spray
bottles one filled with annise the other with
the mapleline. At the bait, spray the entire
area. Set the bottle nozzles so they will shoot
a stream, and shoot the stream as high as possible
into the surrounding trees. Lay as much
scent around the bait as you can, the riper the
smell the quicker you will get a hit.

Every bear hunter will have his own special
combination of bait that he feels is best.
What it all boils down to is cost and availability.
When you are baiting a string of baits it
can get expensive. Two of the best attractors
on a bait are beaver and venison, but neither
one is very feasable. Unless you have access
to large quantities of beaver carcass and large
volume freezer space it is out of the question
for the average hunter. The same goes for venison,
so you’ll need to find a suitable substitute.

The answer is beef. Beef trimmings are
available at a reasonable cost from locker
plants or large grocery stores. The main base
of your bait should be fresh beef, bear like it
fresh. Its a good idea to offer more than just
beef on a bait. Bear are like humans, foods
that appeal to one bear may not interest another,
so give them a mix.

A bushel of oats mixed with a gallon of
molasses and four pounds of brown sugar
makes a tasty and sweet smelling addition to a
bait. It never hurts to throw on some windfall
apples, sweet corn or pastries if they are available to you.

Once a bear is working the bait,
he will tell you what he does and does not like.
On the first baiting use about 50 pounds of
bait. Once the bear begins to work the bait,
then really load it up. Put on enough bait to
hold the bear there until your return baiting
trip.

Trails To Bait And Tree
You will notice in the illustration that the
hunter uses a trail coming from the south to
get to the bait. The purpose of this is to prevent
the hunters scent from blowing towards
any bear near the bait. Once you have the bait
established, refrain from walking down the
cut bear trails. Go directly to and from the
bait on your own trail.

Never walk from the bait to the set tree,
approach the set tree as the illustration shows.
If you walk from the bait to the set tree, bear
will get in the habit of doing the same thing as
they are quite curious. Its best to keep the bear
on the cut trails and around the bait. Even if a
bear comes to the bait on your trail, he will
still offer a broadside shot as he walks by.
Cut shooting lanes from the set tree to the
bait and to the trails leading to the bait. Pile
the brush that you cut from the shooting lanes
between the set tree and the bait to discourage
the bear from going to the set tree. It is alright
for the bear to go to the set tree, but when it
does this it leaves the hunter in a poor shooting
position. It also discourages the bear from
coming in behind you. It is best to keep the
bear in front of you where you are controlling
him and his movements.

Shooting Position
Bear are tough animals for an arrow to
penetrate. They are muscular and are protected
by layers of fat and thick hair.
If you put a sharp arrow through a bear’s
lung, he will die fast, even faster than a deer
and he generally won’t run as far. Bear do not
bleed heavily on the outside because their fat
and thick hair seals the blood inside the animal.
So, it is very important to cut a large
entrance hole and a large exit hole to insure
good bleeding.

Tree stand height plays a large roll in arrow
penetration. The lower you are to the
ground, the better your chances are for total
penetration and the larger target you will
have. If you get too high in a tree your target
becomes smaller and much harder to penetrate.

I think that a tree stand should not be more
than six or seven feet above the ground and
should be between 15 and 20 yards from the
bait. The stand should be far enough from the
bait to minimize body movement noise, yet
close enough to give you a high confidence
shot.

It does not matter what kind of bow you
shoot, be it a compound, recurve or long bow.
As long as the bow can deliver a heavy arrow
to the target with enough force to gain total
penetration. Penetration is the name of the
game when it comes to bear and arrow speed
means very little. Concentrate on your ability
to deliver a heavy arrow accurately. I’m not
saying that you can’t kill a bear with a light,
fast arrow, but that you can kill a bear much
more efficiently with a heavy arrow.

The bear hunting technique that I have described
and illustrated in this article is by no
means the only way to bear hunt. It’s just one
of many bowhunting bear techniques that con-
tinue to provide the bowhunter with a challenging
experience that he or she can appreciate and enjoy. >–>

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Published by kr5639 on 21 Apr 2011

ARMGUARD/Gear Pocket with Call Strap by Neet

I have found this armguard has many uses outside of just archery.  I was able to put a tackle box in the pocket and used 2 wine bottle corks by attaching to the call strap and it worked great for fishing.

I bought it from Neet (item N-AGP-1) and it can be found in the new 2011 catalog.

http://www.neet.com/contact.html

 

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