Published by archerchick on 12 Apr 2012
Bowhunting The Midwest
Published by archerchick on 12 Apr 2012
Bowhunting The Midwest
Published by archerchick on 12 Apr 2012
Published by archerchick on 11 Apr 2012
I only had about 5 minutes of light left, but I knew
the deer was there. Then, he stepped out of the
shadows, broadside at 15 yards. I drew my bow, but when I tried to see
the deer through my sights, all I could see was
a blur and my lighted sight pins. I held the bow
at full draw and pulled my head out to the side
to make sure the deer hadn’t moved. I could see
the deer clearly as he stood in the same spot.
Once again I took aim through my peep and
again couldn’t see the target. I tried to relax my
draw and when the cams rolled over, my arrow
fell off the rest and clanked against the bow
riser . .
Does this conversation sound familiar to
you? Have you ever experienced the frustrations
of this situation yourself? If you have,
don’t feel bad. My research shows that for
many bowhunters, all too often this moment
of truth ends in disappointment and frustration
because their shooting style renders them
helplessly inaccurate in low-light conditions.
Now that we’re in between bow seasons, this
is a good time to work on the mechanics of
shooting that can make you as accurate with
your bow in low-light conditions as you are in
To correct the situation, we must go
straight to the root of the problem: your vi-
sion. You can have 20/20 vision and still be a
terrible shot in low-light conditions. The
physiological process of shooting a bow accurately in dim
light obviously requires some
degree of quality in your vision. But more importantly
it requires quantity! That’s right.
Quantity! A vast number of bowhunters today
are learning to shoot their bows with one eye
closed and thereby reducing the quantity of
their visual process by 50 percent.
I was intrigued with this problem when I
became aware that so many of us were
plagued with this habit. I say habit because in
most instances a person can leam to shoot
with both eyes open and improve their low-
light accuracy to a large degree.
Of all the bowhunters in our society, there
are those who reach plateaus and realms of
greatness that lift them out to us as symbols of
excellence. I wanted to talk to a few of these
“champions” to get their ideas on shooting in
low-light conditions and let them offer advice .
on improving your abilities in these situations.
Learning Eye Dominance
A year or so ago, my wife Marilyn and I
were watching The Johnny Carson Show one
evening and he had this cute little blonde-
headed girl on the show with a bow in her
hand. Her name was Denise Parker. “Boy,” I
thought. “I bet she’s gonna pop some balloons or
something? Was I in for a shock!
E This “little” girl was shooting her target arrows
through the center of tiny Lifesavers
candy. Johnny said, “Denise, I see that you’re
left-handed? “No, I’m right-handed but I’m
left-eye dominant, so I shoot left-handed,” replied Denise.
Denise Parker has taken the archery world
by storm. She was the youngest member of the
U.S. Olympic team in Seoul in the summer
I games of 1988 and came home with a team
bronze medal. She is the youngest person to
ever win a gold medal in any sport at the Pan
American Games and she won the individual
I and team gold there at the age of 13 in 1987.
Denise held the world record, which she
broke again in the Indoor Nationals in Salt
Lake City during 1989. She also holds many
national records for indoor and outdoor distances
for both juniors and women. In 1989,
she also won the bronze medal at the World
Championships in Lausanne, Switzerland. In
July of the same year, Denise returned from
the Olympic Festival held in Oklahoma City
with the gold medals from both team and
To realize that Denise accomplished all
this by age 15 is unbelievable, but adding the
fact that she is actually right-handed but
shoots left-handed, puts Denise in a world all
her own. Through my conversations with her,
I came to realize just how important it is for a
bowhunter to know which of his or her eyes is
the dominant one. Denise tells how her archery career
started at age 10. “I started shooting because
my dad had just taken up bow-
hunting and it was something we could do
together. I had only been shooting about a
week when we realized something was
wrong. I was having a terrible time with left
and right misses. With help from my dad and
a local archery shop, we discovered that I was
left-eye dominant? Denise switched to a left-
hand bow and the rest is history.
Denise pointed out that she could have
continued to shoot right-handed. “I could
shoot right-handed if l wanted to, but I would
have to wear a patch over my left eye to keep it
from taking over while aiming.” She said that
there were toumament-level archers out there
that were wearing patches over their eyes to
prevent this from happening. Obviously,
Denise, her dad and the pro at the archery
shop thought that being able to shoot with
both eyes open was very important. Important
enough to learn to shoot opposite-handed.
Looking at Denise’s past, and looking at her
future, it was a wise decision.
She’s Hunter, Too
Although a champion target archer,
Denise is no longer just a “paper puncher”.
Having had a desire to bowhunt with her dad
from the very beginning, Denise drew her
bow on her first deer in the fall of 1988. “I
was hunting with my dad and some of his
friends when we spotted this nice 2-by-2 mu-
lie on a hillside. My arrow struck the deer’s
spine and he immediately rolled down the hill
and into the same path our vehicle was on.
From the time we spotted the buck, it was all
over in about 5 minutes.”
With target shooting and hunting alike,
Denise feels shooting with both eyes is very
important. “Although I see my sights with
my left eye, I am also looking at the target
with my right eye.”
After my discussions with Denise, I real-
ized that just as the toumament archer who
wears a patch over his dominant eye, many
bowhunters could be closing one eye because
they are not pulling the bowstring to their
dominant eye. Should a person who has this
problem, and who has been shooting a bow
for several seasons, now switch to an oppo-
site-handed bow? Denise had only been
shooting for a week when she made her
change, so the switch for her was not that
drastic, but for someone who has been bow-
hunting for sometime, this could seem an
Just how important is shooting with both
eyes open? Could someone who is left-eye
dominant and shoots right-handed leam to
shoot accurately with both eyes open, any-
way? At age 14, an accident left the nerves in
Alan Altizer’s left hand severely damaged.
He started shooting a bow at age 3 and was
shooting left-handed at the time of the acci-
dent. This incident left him unable to draw a
bowstring with his left hand so he promptly
started shooting right-handed. Even though
he is left-eye dominant, he continued to shoot
with both eyes open. Sixteen years later, Alan
Altizer is now one of America’s premier bow-
hunters. With nine Pope And Young class
whitetails on his wall at age 30, Alan has al-
ready accomplished what most could never
do in a lifetime. His shooting success has led
him to be co-founder and president of a video
company that specializes in bowhunting videos.
Alan’s success as a bowhunter is not some-
thing that just happened. “I shoot my bows all
the time. Sometimes I’m up ’til 2 or 3 o’clock
in the morning sh00ting,” says Alan. He believes
that shooting with both eyes open is as
important to bowhunting as breathing is to living.
Alan cites two important reasons. “First
of all, it’s almost impossible to judge distances
with one eye. I believe all your senses
are feeding your brain information when you
are hunting. You’re hearing, smelling, and
most importantly seeing what is around you.
When you draw your bow, these senses continue
to work and your sight is the most important at the
moment. Why would anyone I
want to reduce his visual perception by 50
percent at a time when you need all l00 per-
cent of it? ”
Alan continues, “Secondly, although I
shoot a Browning Mirage compound bow on
my videos, I also enjoy shooting a Black
Widow recurve bow instinctively. There is re-
ally no way I could shoot instinctively with
one eye closed.” Alan uses sight pins and a
peep on his Mirage, but he shoots it with both
eyes open just like his recurve.
Start Without Sights
On giving advice to a bowhunter who
wants to learn to shoot with both eyes, Alan
states, “I would recommend starting with no
sights or peep. Take a small piece of paper
and lay it in the lawn and start shooting at it
from about 15 yards. When you draw your
bow, don’t look at your arrow, don ’t look at
your bow. Just focus on the target with both
eyes and keep shooting at it. Once you be-
come comfortable doing this, it will be easy to
use your sights and keep both eyes open.”
Alan agrees that being proficient in low-
light conditions is important. “I’ve killed
some of my nicest deer very early and very
late. In each instance, I don’t believe I could
have done it with one eye closed .” In addition
to urging you to use both eyes, he has some
other tips for hunting in low light. “Early
morning and late afternoon, the horizon often
will be very bright compared to the shaded
woodlot that you may be hunting. Try to avoid
looking into this bright light which would
constrict your pupils and thereby reduce your
eyes’ light-gathering ability. Wearing a hat
with a brim that shades your eyes from this
light will help also, and just like the gunfighters
of yesteryear, try to position your stand so
that the rising or setting sun will be at your
Alan has some common sense advice
about low-light shooting. “When you’re
hunting early or late, always be familiar with
the area immediately around your stand, be-
cause small saplings, brush, limbs and other
arrow deflectors disappear quickly as the
light starts to fade.” He continues. “If you
know that you will be hunting in low—light
conditions, then you must practice shooting in
similar light. At night, the light from a street-
light or utility light is perfect simulation of
low-light conditions. This way you can practice
for hours instead of being restricted to the
15 minutes or so of dawn or dusk.”
Alan closes with some words of caution,
“When hunting late, always have a good light
with you. A good tracking aid like a spool of
Gametracker thread can help you track your
deer and it can also keep you from getting
lost! And whatever you do, don’t take
chancey shots. If you don’t have confidence
that you can make a good, clean killing shot,
don’t take it.”
Alan has gathered from his experience a
wealth of knowledge concerning hunting in
low-light conditions, and now would be a
good time to point out that when I speak of
low-light conditions, I ’m talking only about
legal shooting hours. These legal shooting
hours vary from state to state. In many states,
the hours run from 1/2 hour before sunrise to
1/2 hour after sunset. A general concensus
among bowhunters is that those two, half-
hour periods will provide the most opportunity.
But some states require you to quit at
sunset. If you live in a state with this law, then
your only real bout with low—light conditions
will come in that 30 minutes immediately
; Hunting Big Bucks
I One such state is Minnesota, and residing
I there is a man who loves to bowhunt that first
I half-hour before sunrise. “Of the 23 Pope
And Young whitetails I’ve taken, over half of
them were killed in the pink light minutes be-
fore sunrise,” states Myles Keller. Since
Myles hunts exclusively for big bucks, patterning
a big deer’s movements has a lot to do
with the clock. “I’ve been bowhunting for
over 20 years now, and I ‘ve seen a definite
change in the behavioral patterns of big bucks
in the last few years. Just like most bowhunters,
I really enjoyed hunting the edges of
fields in the late afternoon. But times have
changed, and so have the big bucks,” says
Myles. He feels the increasing hunting pres-
sure is changing the way a person should bow-
hunt. “For a buck to grow huge antlers, he
needs to reach at least 3 years of age. In order
to do this today, he must become almost exclusively
noctumal. If you’re hunting for this
kind of buck, your best chance to catch him is
very early in the morning as he tries to slip
into his bedding cover. If you’ve calculated
things right, and are at the right place at the
right time, you better be able to shoot your
bow accurately in these low-light conditions .”
Having started bowhunting at age 15 with
a recurve, Myles just naturally started shoot-
ing with both eyes open. “Although I ’ve been
shooting all these years, now that I ’m shoot-
ing a compound, I find myself tempted to
close my left eye sometimes when I’m practicing.
For some reason, I feel this is more of a
temptation for someone who shoots a com-
pound bow with sights. I think that they feel
they will be more accurate with one eye
closed, but this is not true, especially in low-
light conditions .”
Myles sums up what he feels is the key to
shooting accurately with both eyes in three
words, “practice, practice, practice.” He
adds, “If a person wants to learn to shoot his
bow with both eyes open, then he should practice
that way all the time. Not just in low-
light, but in the middle of the day also.” He
also feels many hunters overlook the help they
can receive from their local archery shop.
“Most of the pros at your local archery shop
really know what they’re doing. They can
help in areas such as bow tuning, equipment
selection and shooting problems.”
Myles believes the hunting instinct is natu-
ral for man. “Man is considered a predator
because he has both eyes in front. It is also a
proven fact that each eye has a separate and
specific function at all times. That alone
should be enough to encourage bowhunters to
learn to shoot with both eyes.”
Myles Keller is considered, by most, the
greatest whitetail bowhunter alive today. And
for good reason, too. His 23 Pope And Young
whitetails is a feat never accomplished before.
Of those 23 monster bucks, some provide
special memories. Myles remembers the
Christmas holidays of 1977, when “hunting
in Wisconsin, I had this enormous buck was
trying to cross paths with. After patterning
him for about 10 days, I thought for sure my
stand was situated perfectly to get him early
the next morning. As dawn broke on Christ-
mas Eve, the increasing light revealed the
buck slipping down a ridge on the other side
of the slough from where I was positioned.
Feeling the pressure to get home for
Christmas, at 10:30 I decided to move my
stand to the other side of the slough to try to
catch him if he moved back up the same ridge.
As I approached the area, I spotted a deer
through the hardwoods about 40 yards away. I
could tell it was a big deer, and it seemed very
busy with the job of digging acorns from underneath the fresh snow.”
“Slipping from tree to tree, I was able to
close the distance to 30 yards. From there, I
recognized the buck as the one I was after.
Momentarily awestruck by the massive ant-
lers, I paused behind a tree to warm my
hands, check my bow, and make sure there
was no snow or ice in my arrow nocks. I then
slowly eased to within 20 yards for a clear
shot at the still unsuspecting trophy. After a
deep breath, I released my arrow, which took
out both lungs. A few minutes later and 50
yards down the hill, I stood over the largest
racked Whitetail ever killed in the state of
That state record still stands today, and the
buck scored as one of the largest eight-
pointers ever recorded by both Boone and
Crockett and Pope And Young. Myles continues,
“Although I was ready for him very
early, he forced me to change my strategv. I
don’t want anyone to think that early and late
are the ‘on1y’ times to take big deer. Having
patience for an all-day hunt and the willingness
to change your game plan are important
After bow season, Myles Keller is a very
busy man. As the advisory staff director for
XI Bows, he spends many hours traveling to
hunting shows, operating a booth for XI and
setting up the display of his Pope And Young
trophies. “My most memorable deer did not
qualify for the record book,” states Myles.
“My most memorable deer only scored 92
Pope And Young points, but he was my ‘first’
deer. I know there are a lot of bowhunters going
after that first deer, and I believe that
shooting their bow with both eyes open will
help make it happen.”
After talking with Myles, Alan and
Denise, I wanted a professional medical opin-
ion from someone who understands the pro-
cess of aiming a bow. Dr. Phil Walters is an
ophthalmologist at The Johnson City Eye
Clinic in Johnson City, Tennessee.
Having competed on his high school rifle
team, Dr. Walters knows the importance of
understanding the functions of the eyes during
the aiming process. “First and most importantly,
a bowhunter should know which of his
eyes is the dominant one and then pull the
bowstring to that eye. As far as I know, there is
no correlation between eye dominance and a
person being right or left-handed. A bow-
hunter can’t assume that he or she is right-eye
dominant just because they’re right-handed.”
Which Eye Dominates?
Dr. Walters explains how to detemiine
your dominant eye. “Take a piece of notebook
paper and cut a small hole in the center about
the size of a dime. Then, hold the paper at
arms’ length in front of you. With both eyes
open, aim through the hole at a small target
across the room such as a door knob. While
doing this, cover your left eye. If you still see
the target through the hole with your right
eye, then you’re right-eye dominant. The opposite
would happen if you are left-eye dominant.
“By drawing the bowstring to the dominant eye,
this will allow the hunter to shoot
with both eyes open, and medically speaking,
provide him with ‘binocular vision’ .” Dr.
Walters says that binocular vision, or seeing
with both eyes, will not only improve a bow-
hunter’s accuracy in low-light conditions, but
improve his accuracy at all times. “Opposed
to ‘monocular vision’ , or seeing with one eye,
binocular vision helps in several ways. First,
with binocular vision, you have a wider visual
field and you have depth perception. But,
more importantly to the bowhunter, binocular
vision allows your brain to perform the act of
‘visual fusion’. This is the physical act of fus-
ing the two separate pictures that each eye
sees into one single picture. This is very im-
portant in the actual aiming process, espe-
cially if you use a peep and sights ,” states Dr.
Continuing, Dr. Walters explains, “When
you draw the bowstring and peep to your dominant eye,
you should focus on the target. Your
dominant eye will see the sights through the
peep and also the target. But, you must under-
stand, that with the peep, the sights, and the
deer or target, this is quite a confused picture
for just one eye to see. That’s where the im-
portance of the non-dominant eye comes in.
With the non-dominant eye open, it has no
objects interposed between it and the target as
the dominant eye does with the peep and
sights. It can, therefore, focus clearly on the
target. Your brain then fuses these two pic-
tures together to produce a single picture of
the target with the sights aligned over it. If a
bowhunter will trust this visual process, he
will be amazed at how his accuracy will improve.”
Using Both Eyes
Dr. Walters believes that most bowhunters
who shoot with one eye closed do so because
they learned to shoot that way and not because
they have to. He adds, “Some bowhunters
may complain that aiming with both eyes is
confusing. But once they become comfortable
with fusing the different pictures seen by the
two eyes, the hunter will begin to enjoy the
advantages of binocular aiming.” As far as
low-light conditions go, Dr. Walters adds,
“No one’s visual acuity is as sharp in dim
light as it is in bright light. Obviously, two
eyes will be better in these conditions than one
Dr. Walters’ medical explanation confirms
what many bowhunters have known all along;
that two eyes work better than one. In my own
experience, I have found that a sight light or
lighted pins like those in my Sight Master bow
sight improve my accuracy in these situa-
tions. The reason for this is that the bright-
ened sights, seen through my dominant eye,
enhances the fusion process. I can see the
deer clearly with my non-dominant eye and
the lighted pins are more clearly seen over the
How does all this relate to the general bow-
hunting public’? I conducted a written survey
through several archery shops in my area.
More than 500 bowhunters participated, answering
a questionnaire concerning this subject.
Over 53 percent of these bowhunters
said that they shoot their bows with one eye
completely closed. Of that 53 percent, 87 per-
cent said that they had missed a deer in low-
light conditions because they couldn’t see the
target clearly when they drew their bow.
Overall, more than 95 percent said that
they saw more deer early in the morning and
late in the afternoon than any other time of
day, emphasizing the need to be accurate in
I hope this information is something that
will make you a better bowhunter. Considering Denise Parker, Alan Altizer, Myles Keller
and their accomplishments, there should be
something you can draw from them to help
you, and the way you shoot your bow. By understanding and trusting your visual process,
and with some determination and hard practice, you too can develop “the eyes of a champion.” >>—>
All Rights Reserved
Published by archerchick on 11 Apr 2012
All Rights Reserved
Published by ElkAssassin96 on 11 Apr 2012
What do you guys think of these?
Published by archerchick on 04 Apr 2012
Effective Deer Calling by Joseph Blake
Bowhunting World June 1990
Being ready for the response is more important than the type of call or how you use it.
The evening looked like a total bust. My partner and I had flipped a coin
to see who would sit on which of the two locations we had chosen forth
evening hunt. Unfortunately, I wasn’t the winner. After I dropped him off at
the better of the two locations, I drove a short distance to my area. It was then I realized the wind had changed and was now coming out of the wrong direction. Since it was useless to walk the half mile into my treestand with the wind, I decided to check out a small piece of public land that I heard held a few deer.
When I arrived, I was disappointed; the area was smaller man a football field and it
was right next to a highway to top it off, it was only four miles from town. Not having
anywhere else to go this late in the afternoon, I decided to just walk in and enjoy the evening.
I slipped into the area, which was very thick and swampy, and sat down on an
uprooted tree. Despite the seemingly poor location, this place did look like it had seen some deer. As I was completely unfamiliar with the area and its pattern of deer movement, I decided to try my deer call for lack of a better plan. I fished the Burnham Brothers bleat call from my pocket and blew my first series. A deer bleat call is a god-awful sounding device and I always feel foolish blowing it. Besides that I had never had any luck with it. Even at times when I could see deer and knew they could hear me, the usual response was one of indifference.
Because the evening was a quiet one, my first series consisted of four or five soft bleats.
Because of my lack of confidence, the sound of a twig cracking and something large moving through the heavy cover surprised me. The sounds got closer and finally I could
make out the form of a big doe angling toward me. I’d like to say that I called her right in for a shot, but the truth is that while she did approach to within 10 feet on several occasions, I never got a clear view of her before she finally lost interest and melted away.
The whole episode was over so fast that I never had a chance to get nervous, but after she had gone I began to shake. The idea of actually bringing a deer into point·blank range with sounds that I had made was overwhelming; it opened a whole new world of hunting for me, just as it can do for you.
Trust Your Ability
Deer calling, in any of its forms, is certainly nothing new. One need only look to any
hunting magazine to find an article by a hunter about calling deer. All of these have at least
some good infomtation and a bowhunter can learn from them, but there is one point that
usually isn’t covered or else is only touched upon.
The most important aspect of deer calling isn ’t what type of call you use or even how you
use it. Assuming that you are in an area that contains deer, the most important thing to remember is always believe that each and every time you call you will bring in an animal. I
can‘t stress this enough; you have to “know” a deer is on its way each time you call or rattle.
Obviously, this isn’t always the case. It’s possible that there isn‘t even an animal within
hearing distance of you at the time you are trying to lure one in. But if you don’t believe a
deer is coming in, you’ll get complacent; thus, you won’t be ready if one does appear.
By the second or even the 20th time you call, you will have decided it ’s no use to be ready and that‘s when the big buck will make his appearance. Also, if you aren‘t looking for
deer, you may inadvertently overlook one hiding in the brush.
Three years ago, I was having a run of hard luck bowhunting. I had been calling off and on
for a long period of time with no results. On the day in question, I had already completed
one series of bleats and was going to call once more before sunset. When I finished my series, I didn’t get my bow up and ready because I didn’t expect anything to come in. When the 5 x 5 Pope & Young buck came trotting in to 20 yards, all I could do was watch because, by the time, it would have required too much movement to get into position.
Had I made a mistake and spooked the buck he would have been impossible to ever called
again. I stood there and let the deer leave on his own, but I never forgot the lesson that evening taught me. Since that hunt, I always get my bow in position with an arrow nocked as soon I finish my calling series. A deer can come on the dead run or it can sneak in quietly to see what’s going on. I usually try to stay alert and ready for at least l5 to 20 minutes after I call or rattle. If nothing shows up in this amount of time, it either isn’t going to come in or wasn`t able to pinpoint the source of the sound. On the chance that the latter is true always proceed with another series that is shorter in duration and more quiet than the first. If still nothing shows, I either move or if I’m in a specific location for an entire morning and evening, I wait about one hour and call again. This amount of time allows dccr that may have been too far away before to work their way into hearing range.
Types Of Calls
There are basically three types of calling for thc average deer hunter to consider: bleating,
grunting and rattling. Each has advantages and disadvantages, but all three methods can be deadly if used at the right time. Bleating is primarily a vocalization made
by fawns and young does; it is most effective on bringing in does, but at times a buck
also respond. Bleating can work at any time of the year, which sets it apart from the other two methods, which are effective mostly during the breeding season. Bleating is the call a young deer makes when it is lost or in distrcss, and I believe that most deer responding to this call are doing so out of curiosity. The exception to this is a doe trying to protect a fawn. This is especially true of a doe which may have lost her fawns during the year. This type of doe will often charge in with hackles raised and fire in her eyes. My favorite bleat call to use is the Burnham Brothers Long Range Deer Call, but I have also had good success with an old Herter’s Deer Call. I’m sure that most of the major manufacturers put out a good call that will get the job done.
Grunting is another type of call in which the sound is produced by the hunter’s breath
and mouth. Grunting is mainly a sound that bucks make and it is primarily used during the rut, so a grunt call is most effective then. Anyone who has spent much time in deer country during the mating season has heard a buck grunting, perhaps without realizing it.
The sound is not unlike that a big overgrown hog makes and it can be used by the buck in many different ways. There is the tending grunt that a buck uses when he is on the trail of a doe that is nearly ready to breed, and there is a louder and more defiant grunt that bucks use when confronting each other. I believe that the tending grunt is the best one for the bowhunter to use because it makes other bucks believe there is a receptive doe in the area.
To use the call, keep the sound level low and space the calls at a fairly steady pace. My normal series consists of five to six grunts, each about one second apart to simulate the buck grunting as he takes each step. As with any other type of call, be careful not to call too much; you want to get the deer interested, not alerted. The call I use the most is a Lynch’s Grunt Call which looks like a miniature elk bugle. It is fairly easy to understand and it comes with excellent instructions.
Another effective method of calling in deer is rattling. Up until a few years ago, this
method was thought to be a very regional one and was used mainly in the Southwest, espe-
cially Texas. I have personally rattled up and harvested bucks in North Dakota as well as
Minnesota, and I’m sure it can work anywhere there are deer. Rattling success relies
on a deer’s curiosity. The sound is like that of two bucks sparring. The premise is that the
curious deer will hear this and come to investigate. Some people feel that a buck will corne
in hoping to steal a doe from two combatants, but I mink that it is mainly because deer, too, like to watch a good fight. One mistake I made early in my rattling attempts was my failure to rattle hard enough; if you have ever watched two bucks fighting, you know there is no way you could ever make that much noise, so don’t be timid when rattling. I would recommend purchasing a pair of the new synthetic antlers that are on the market. These copies of mother- nature look and sound like the real thing and are practically indestructible. Also, they won’t lose their “fresh” sound after a few years the way real antlers are prone to do.
When rattling, I hold the left antler in my right hand and the right antler in my left hand with the tips facing away from me. This way, you can really work them together without having to worry too much about smashing your fingers. I usually begin a rattling series with a couple of violent clashes to get the attention of any deer in the area. These clashes represent the first thrust of the two bucks as they come together. After the initial contact, two bucks will then resort to a pushing and shoving match to prove who is the dominant animal.
To simulate this part of the routine, twist the antlers back and forth, all the while trying to
imagine two bucks actually fighting. Keep this up for about 45 seconds or so and at the
end of the series, snap your wrists as you pull the antlers apart to imitate the bucks pulling
violently away from each other. Immediately after rattling, get your bow up and ready
cause it’s not uncommon for a buck to come charging in to your lap. If you aren’t pre-
pared, you will miss a perfect opportunity
Wait for about five minutes and if nothing shows up, go through another rattling series
but this time do not start out with a loud crash and do not rattle as violently. This is in case
you brought a buck in with the first series; he is hanging back out of sight, you don’t want
to spook him by overdoing it. If still nothing shows, wait again and then
go through another series. If you are moving from place to place all day, stay in one loca
tion for only one-half hour at a timc; if you are planning to stay in a stand for scveral hours
wait at least an hour before repeating your rattling sequence. Always remain confident be-
cause, as often as not, your trophy will come in when you have just completed your last
series and are losing confidence, preparing too head for home. Always remember that you
have a chance up until the last minute of last day of the season.
Remember that when you are calling, it is often even more effective to use more than one
technique at a time. Use a combination of bleating and rattling or grunting and rattling
and you might just double your chances of bringing in a deer. I believe this works well
because, if you can convince a deer that there are a group of other deer in the area, it will put the real deer more at ease. This technique worked to perfection for me this past deer season when I was out hunting on the last day before rifle season opened. It was a cool,
clear November evening at about one hour before sunset. I hadn’t seen anything, even
though I had gone through a rattling sequence about an hour and a half earlier, so I picked up my horns and started into it again, trying to put all the emotion I could into it. I set down my horns and picked up my 7l-pound Big-horn Custom Takedown and stood at the
ready. Almost immediately, a buck started picking his way toward me down the other
slide of a dry slough. He came to within about 100 yards and stopped to rub his antlers on
some small willows. At that distance, and because of the lack of intervening cover, I didn’t
dare rattle again so 1 pulled out my grunt tube and blew four or five soft grunts. That was all it took; he was like a puppet on a string as he crossed the slough and started down the trail that led past my stand in a cottonwood tree. I let him walk right under me and pass the tree so I would have a better anglc. then took the 25-foot shot as he quartered away.
The Zwickey-tipped cedar shaft covered the short distance in a flash and took the buck high on the back part of the rib cage, angling down through thc heart. The buck bolted away, slowed and finally stopped at 40 yards to look back at what had frightened it, took one more step and went down for good; another quick, clean close range kill which resulted from proper calling.
No matter what method you try to lure in your deer, be it bleating, grunting or rattling,
you must have confidence to make it work. l would strongly suggest ordering instruction
records or video cassettes that have actual deer vocalizations, as well as expert callers
using various calls and techniques. Other than that, spend as much time practicing at home and under field conditions as possible, and always remember that at any given time, the sounds you are making could attract a deer. Always be prepared.
All Rights Reserved
Published by Casey Stutzman on 04 Apr 2012
Published by archerchick on 04 Apr 2012
OUTSMARTING TROPHY BRUINS ~By Dr. Ken Nordberg
Urr-AUGH!” The throaty roar came from almost directly beneath our tree stand. Hair standing on end (an universal affliction among all smaller bears and humans present), the twin yearlings immediately dropped their beef bones and sprinted south, appearing from behind like a pair of rapidly bouncing, black rubber balls.
Seconds later, a scarfaced, chocolate-colored brute charged malevolently into the small opening before us. Normally, the mere appearance of a mature black bear is enough to start one‘s heart thumping and knees trembling, but this one — some 250 pounds of fulminating inferno — cast an added complexion on matters. Even though black bears, as a rule, are extremely unlikely to vent rage on humans, at this particular moment, a couple of Nordbergs, mouths agape, could not shake the feeling there are exceptions to this rule.
“There’s your bear,” I croaked softly to my youngest son.
After several tense and agonizing minutes of waiting for the
bruin to present a perfect shot angle, the tranquility of the
dripping forest was suddenly shattered by Ken’s shot, Six notable events followed immediately there-after. The heart-shot,
chocolate-brown bruin barreled into rain-soaked hazels on our
right; a bolt of lightning stabbed through the crown of a nearby
pine, showering the forest floor with sparks, and one of the
yearlings reappeared, streaking directly toward our stand.
Lurching to our feet, we found my portion of our years-old,
treestand platform cracking, the unseen (obviously near) chocolate-brown bear beginning to roar and me dangling from my armpits, camera equipment askew. I was inordinately concerned over the realization that my legs were within an easy chomp of least two crazed (and perhaps vengeful) beasts with
large and powerful fangs. Happily, the oncoming yearling
spooked at the sight of my flailing legs, rapidly opening a new
path in yet another direction, and the chocolate-brown bruin succumbed during its third roar.
This somewhat extraordinary, yet somehow typical, bear
hunting episode was the Nordberg family’s introduction to unguided, do-it-yourself black bear hunting. Being a veteran of several guided bear hunts during earlier decades, at least half of which were unsuccessful, I was not only pleasantly surprised by the relative ease with which the chocolate-colored bruin was taken, but flabbergasted by the number of unsuspecting bears we had observed within 30 yards of our stand. We’d seen in only two days of hunting. Suddenly, we were struck with the realization that rarely-seen black bears — one of world’s largest, most powerful and most cunning land carnivores — are not only much more abundant than thought possible, but very obtainable by the do-it-yourself hunter. During the following decade, drawing l-to-3 Minnesota hunting permits in all but one year, my adventure-loving sons, Ken, Dave and John, my son-in-law Kevin Stone, and I hunted black bears with a passion.
Though 100 percent successful, we began to realize early
on, not all black bears are easy. The bears that proved to be
fairly vulnerable to our baiting techniques during legal shooting hours
were small-to-medium in size, sows and younger
boars up to 250 pounds. Most hunters would not call a 250-
pound black bear merely ‘“medium.” In the wilds, they not
only appear to be very large, but when taken by a hunter they
even feel very large, being much more difficult to move than a
whitetail deer of the same weight. Compared to “average”
bears taken by hunters, weighing significantly less than 200
pounds, they “are” large.
But we knew we had much bigger bears in our favorite
hunting area — monsters that would go 300-500 pounds, One
might even weigh substantially more than 500 pounds. Such
bears were proving to be frustratingly difficult, if not impossible,
to attract to bait during legal shooting hours. Thus, we began to experiment, knowing it would take something “special.” We knew these bears were largely nocturnal, astonishingly cunning and wary, very determined to avoid short-range encounters with humans. We knew they had excellent noses,
and we were fast becoming aware of the black bear’s extraordinary sense of hearing.
Then, it began to happen. Adding big-buck-effective know-how to our thinking, we at last began to draw large to very-large bears to our bait pits, Last fall, I put an arrow through the heart of our second-largest bear from a range of five yards. It was a 422-pound boar that will score very high in the Pope And Young Record Book, proving without a doubt that the do-it-yourself approach can provide the very best in hunting adventure.
Here`s how we do it:
Step 1—Sharpen Marksmanship
A bear hunter’s number-one enemy what facing a large bear is the hunter himself (or herself). As both Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone once observed, taking on a large black bear, one on one, is a true test of a hunter’s mettle. Neither, from what I’ve read, tried it with a bow. Of` course, they did not have the deadly archery equipment we have today, but even with a tireann in their hands, they too felt the extraordinary excitement, the suspense and the danger (whether justified or not) that is an inescapable part of every encounter with a black bear at short range. It’s a heart thumping, knee-rattling experience, all right.
The trouble is “normal” human responses in this situation contribute to inaccurate shooting. Ordinarily, when a large bear is the
target, the average hunter will be at least four-times less accurate than when shooting at a paper target. What that means is, the hunter who can comfortably put all practice arrows into a 3-inch by 5-inch target (the size of a bear’s heart) from 20-30 yards will have a devil of a time putting one arrow into a 12-inch by 20-inch area when the target is a live
bear. What that further means is, to be confident of a heart shot in the field, the hunter must either be capable of putting all practice
arrows into a l-inch circle from 20-30 yards, or limit shooting to the range from which all practice arrows can be shot into a 1-inch circle.
“Confidence” is the key when hunting bears. When you absolutely know you can hit a bear’s heart, every time, you will not be nearly as unnerved when one approaches. That‘s important. Is the heart shot so necessary? No. A lung-
shot bear (both lungs) will usually go down fairly quickly — typically within 20-30 seconds — but, if the arrow does not pass through a bear’s chest, it might be tough to track and recover. Being as fat as they are, high, single
chest wounds do not bleed much, and in 20 seconds a larger bear can easily barrel 200-300 yards. When an arrow passes through a bear’s chest, making an exit wound, the low side wound will usually bleed profusely, providing an easy-to-follow trail. If you can’t be sure of a more deadly heart shot, limit your lung shots to 10-20 yards using heavy arrows shot from no less than a 60-pound bow. Shooting through rib bones only, this should give you that
low-side wound that will lead you unerringly to your bear. Keep in mind, a large bear’s lungs are about one-third smaller than a large whitetail deer’s lungs.
An old sheep guide once advised me. “When you shoot a bear, you want to shoot it dead. You don’t want to just wound it and make it mad. Once a bear gets its adrenalin up, even if it isn’t dangerous, it can be very hard to kill.” No shot kills a bear more quickly than a heart shot, or a shot that severs major blood vessels at the top of the heart. A heart-shot bear will usually drop within 35-50 yards, and it will be very easy to follow the blood trail to the bear.
Step 2-Scout Early
Even where bears are especially abundant, to Lhe untrained eye, bear signs are unlikely to be obvious or common. Ignoring the need to find bear signs, many hunters select stand/bait sites at random, thinking mostly of
themselves in the process. They pick sites close to roads, sites easy to get to, sites with good views and such. Only about 50 percent of randomly selected stand/bait sites are likely to be productive. Once you have spent
weeks hauling hundreds of pounds of valuable groceries to an unproductive stand, you’ll start thinking, “There`s gotta be a better way.”
And, there is.
First, key on edges of heavily-forested, wet lowlands, cedar swamps, areas flooded by beavers and tangled creek bottoms, for example, I don ’t know whether well fatted bears during the fall suffer from heat and need tc
drink a lot of water. if they like to bed in heavily-forested. wet lowlands, if the foods they eat are more common there or if we simply do better hunting bears where their tracks are easy to distinguish, Whatever the reason,
our most productite stand/bait sites are almost always located very near water. Not just any water. It has to be water near tangible bear
signs such as traclcs. droppings, scratch trees and evidences of feeding.
Second, key on available bear foods. In our favorite hunting area. the only wild berries available to bears during the hunting season are wild cranberries and bunchberries Both grow in wet soils, cranberries in a large
spruce bog and bunchberries beneath mature lowland cedars and other evergreens. Where oaks are common bears will spend considerable time eating available acorns. Domestic farm crops like oats. apples, sweet corn and
melons will attract bears from considerable distances. as well as garbage and carrion.
Black bears especially relish sweets of any kind. wild honey being their most common type of sweet in the fall. Insects and grubs also make up a large portion of their fall diets, evidenced by torn-open rotten logs and trees, and
ripped-open ant hills.
Third, key on big bear signs. Intending to hunt older bears exclusively, my boys and I spend considerable time searching for “big” bear signs. We ignore areas that only have signs of small to medium-sized bears, regardless of how common they may be.
No matter how much bear food is available in any one region during fall, older bears seem to forage almost continually along specific routes, unlike younger bears which commonly bed nearby and exploit a good source of food for an extended period of time, perhaps even for weeks. Unlike younger bears
which seem to remain in the vicinity of a food source long after it‘s exhausted, older bears quickly abandon the area and resume traveling widely.
Some older bears I’ve known will range over 20 square miles. The very large
bear I took with a bow last fall was occasionally seen in farm fields 10 miles apart, east to west. I have personally trailed it up to two
miles north and south from the spot where I eventually shot it.
A big bear on the move may not find a new bait for several days, It may not find it at all if the bait is not located near its usual foraging route. Even if it can smell your bait within an infrequently traveled area, a big bear may not go out of its way to visit it unless other foods are scarce. When hunting big bears, then, bears` signs are very important. Droppings
large in mass, claw marks higher than a man can reach on a bear-scratch tree (a rare find) and hind paw prints 8 to 9-1/2 inches long generally mean you’ve located a big bear’s foraging route. Without such signs in the
vicinity of your stand, you may see bears, but it’s unlikely you’ll see a trophy-class bear.
Upon discovering food placed in the woods by a human, an adult bear will fully
understand how that food got there. Nonetheless, the bear will cautiously make use of that food daily, either until the food is exhausted or until it cannot feel secure there like discovering 21 human there during regular feeding hours, for example. Once the food is exhausted, an older bear will not likely return for 3-4 days. Upon being spooked from the site by a human, it either may not retum at all or it may retum during nighttime hours only.
Where unexpected, near-encounters with humans are likely at a bait site, such as at one near a road or trail frequently traveled by humans, an older bear will either completely avoid the bait site or visit it during nighttime
hours only. Trophy-class bears are therefore unlikely to be taken near roads or trails frequented by humans. To be effective, stand/bait sites should be located at least 1/2-mile from frequently traveled roads or trails.
Hunting bears that far off-trail means the hunter must be prepared to transport heavy bait and possibly a heavy bear over considerable distances over rough terrain. This means the hunter must also locate, brush-out and
mark a conservative trail to a bait site. Once an older bear realizes a human is depositing food at a specitic site periodically, it will be very reluctant to approach during daylight hours unless the site is surrounded by
dense cover. This means a spot with a good view is unlikely to be effective for taking a big bear. It means the hunter will likely find it necessary at a good, heavily-timbered site to create a small clearing for the bait pit and a
conserative shooting lane, preserving as much surrounding cover in its natural state as possible. Wide and obvious, new clearings and shooting lanes spook older bears. Preserving cover commonly makes it necessary to position the stand very near the bait. For this reason, I often end up sitting within 10 yards. This is not usually a handicap as long as the hunter can remain reasonably calm while a bear is present. Nearer than 10 yards is not better though certainly more exciting Shot angles can become difficult at shorter
range and at five yards a bear can hear the strong beat of a human heart.
Step 3—Prepare Stand/Bait Sites
Essential to the effectiveness of an elevated stand intended for hunting any black bear is cover enough to screen a large portion of the hunter’s silhouette. Black bears do not have sharp vision. but older bears, nonetheless, readily recognize the exposed silhouette of a feared human, even when the human is completely motionless. Being tree climbers, black bears frequently gaze up into trees. Perhaps older boars, the most dominant of bears, expect to see younger bears in trees, as climbing is a common escape from possible attack.
Encounters between bears are especially common at bait pits, and so is tree climbing. Sometimes, I feel big bears mistakenly identify breathless. well-camouflaged humans on elevated platforms as cowering lesser bears.
Without adequate silhouette-hiding cover, you’re sunk. I’ve had all classes of bears identify me in trees. When that happens, I am amazed at how abruptly a black bear can disappear. With a big bear, one such alarm is all it takes. That bear won‘t give you a second chance at that site, not even a year later.
Though black bears are less intimidated by new stand sites than whitetail deer, the stand, should be erected no less than two weeks before hunting. With good cover at the platform level, such as provided by a mature evergreen,
a stand nine feet above the ground is adequate.
In Minnesota where we can begin baiting two weeks before the opener, we usually set up our stands and brush-out shooting lanes and
stand trails during the first baiting.
As illustrated, we dig bait pits about 3 feet in diameter and 2 feet deep at well-drained locations. All of the soil removed is carefully spread out around each pit so bear tracks can be measured more easily. |
Track measurements tell us how many bears are visiting our pits and how large they are. Bears eventually pack this soil down so that tracks become indis-
tinguishable. Thus, we make it a habit to loosen this soil each time we add more bait.
After depositing bait in our pits, we cover it with tive or six 100 pound plus logs six feet long. We arrange these logs tightly side-by-side, at right angles to the expected path of the hunters arrow. These logs serve several functions. For one, they protect our baits from other animals and birds. I have seen ravens clean up 100 pounds of exposed meat scraps in one weekend.
The logs also serve as measuring sticks. Any bear that compares favorable in length (nose to tail) with a six-foot log is “a keeper? The way these heavy logs are moved from pits is also a measure of a bear. Small or medium-sized bears usually roll two or three logs to one side, opening a narrow window to the bait. Large and very large bears flip two or more completely out the way,
sometimes tossing them end-for-end several feet to one side. Placing logs at a right angle to arrow flight promotes ideal shot angles. Bears usually stand parallel to the logs — on top or to one side — providing broadside or slightly
angled positions that make heart shots easy.
Step 4—Bait Heavy & Often
There are probably as many effective baits and bait combinations as there are bear guides. Because bear diets vary from region-to-region and allowable baits vary, too, from state to state or province to province, it ‘s difficult to suggest baits that are universally effective or allowable. Rather than do that, I’ll simply explain what we Nordbergs use in Minnesota. Here, pork is prohibited (to prevent the introduction of trichinosis to bears), as well as glass, metal or plastic containers.
‘With such great latitude, we’ve had plenty of opportunity to find out what our wild bears like best. Our current “per pit” recipe for big bears is as follows:
75-100 lbs. fresh meat scraps, bones and suet
10 lbs, dry dog food
1/2 peck sweet corn on cob in husk
50 pounds of fruit preserves (dated and
1/2 peck backyard apples and/or other fruits
1/2 watermelon, smashed
Assorted table scraps
Bacon and cooking greases saved up during
off season (initial baiting)
2 gal. used cooking oil (initial baiting)
1 pt. honey (used only when hunting}
As you can see, we give our bears plenty to eat. We add the above amounts to our pits very four to seven days during the two weeks before the opener. As we have learned over the years, smaller amounts of bait will not keep a
large bear satisfied very long. Once bait is completely consumed, a large bear will typically resume its extensive foraging and not return again for three to four days. We try to keep this from happening by renewing baits
every four days after a large bear is on a pit.
I`ve had as many as six bears, including cubs, regularly feeding at one pit, but rarely will even this number of bears clean out a pit in less than four days. A particularly large bear will scent its food source with plenty of urine and droppings to warn off other bears, thus making our generous offering last about four days.
Occasionally, we are unable to renew baits for a week. It may take up to four days for a large bear to return. Younger bears will usually stick around a few days after a pit is exhausted, commonly returning within hours after a pit is replenished. Normally, we re—bait two to three days before hunting, and then again at noon on opening day. From that time on, additional baiting is rarely necessary. By the fourth day of hunting, our allotted permits
have been filled, and our bruins are being converted into gourmet cuts of meat.
Our bait recipe evolved over a decade of experimenting with different foods. Fresh meat scraps are our staple. Though many guides swear by ripe meat — the stinkier the better- our bears have shown time and time again they much prefer fresh meat. We freeze it and store it in 75-pound blocks to assure
freshness in the pits. Dried dog food is used like a spice, mostly because bears have often tried to steal some from our dogs dish in camp. Sweet corn is a much-relished side dish. Our last two bears were shot while nib-
bling com from our pits. We dump highly aromatic fruit preserves
from 50-pound bulk containers over the logs covering our pits. It”s likely this bait alone could do the job. Apples are a perennial favorite, and they hold up well in pits for extended periods, whatever the weather. After honey,
the first thing bears reach for is the water-melon we provide. To enhance its sweet odor, we smash it into small bits just before closing our pits. While baiting and hunting, all left-over foods and scraps from our tables become
bear bait. Anything humans like, bears love.
All during the off-season, all cooking greases, especially bacon, and oils are carefully preserved in coffee cans in the back of the refrigerator. Few substances in a bait pit can draw bears from a greater distance. Using
ordinary paint brushes, we spread bacon grease on tree trunks along at least two paths.
Step 5- Hunt Afternoon to Evening
Like whitetail deer, black bears normally begin feeding well before morning’s first light. It is impossible to approach a stand at first light, or shortly before, without spooking any bear that might be there. Unless it is stormy, no human can move quietly enough.
Once you spook that big bear you’d like to take at your stand/bait site, it is unlikely you will ever see that beast again at that site during
daylight hours. Don`t take that chance. Sleep late in the morning.
Expect to ambush your bear alter 4 p.m. Head to your stand at least five hours before sunset, however. Occasionally, a bear will come in three hours before sunset. Usually, it will be younger bears first, and then progressively larger bears as the sun sets at a pit where several bears are feeding. The very largest bear probably won‘t appear until 30 to
45 minutes before sunset. And, some very large bears have a habit of appearing right after legal shooting hours are over. All you can do with a bear like that is keep trying, hoping it will eventually make a mistake.
Being at your stand at least five hours before sunset is recommended for a good reason. A wiser, older bear will commonly check for human scents, at a safe distance along the trail to your stand before approaching your bait pit. If your scent is several hours old, the bear will move in. If your scent is
relatively fresh, it will quietly leave, likely without your knowledge. This is probably the most common reason why smart, old black bears aren’t seen by average hunters, and why smart, old black bears become only nocturnal
visitors at stand/bait sites.
When hunting and fresh bait is needed, either replenish your pit at noon, and then sneak in later to hunt, or wait until five hours before sunset and use the “buddy/baiting system .” Two hunters noisily carry in bait. While
one climbs into his stand, the other noisily leaves. In the old days, we used this system routinely, but later in the day. Quite frequently, a younger bear, bedded nearby, would rush to the pit within 15 to 30 minutes after the noisy buddy had disappeared. The older bears were never fooled, however.
Step 6—Minimize Sights, Sounds & Scents
Hunting a wise, old black bear is a lot like hunting a wise, old whitetail buck. With a bear, however, eliminating identifying sounds is most important. Though bears have excellent noses, the air around a bait pit characteristically reeks with food and human odors.
Having poor eyesight even at short range, a bear at a bait pit is mostly dependent on its ears. That’s not a handicap as a bear ’s sense of
hearing ranks with the best. That doesn’t mean the hunter can afford to
be careless about sights and scents, as the honey episode reveals. The hunter must be well camouflaged from head to foot, with camo that fairly well matches surrounding cover. Normally bright and reflective human skin, both face and hands, must also be covered with appropriate camo colors.
The hunter’s clothing and body must be free of strong odors. Clothing should be washed in scentless soap, hung outside to dry and protected in scentless plastic bags from odors until shortly before you head to stand. Before wearing this clothing, however the hunter must wash his body with scentless
soap and should brush his teeth with soda Well-scrubbed, all-rubber boots are recommended.
When heading to a bear bait/stand early, the hunter should move quietly and
steadily, only pausing to ascertain that a bear is not at the bait pit and to pour a generous offering of honey on an adjacent tree trunk. Climbing carefully on to the platform making no unnatural squeaks or bumps in the process, the hunter must then sit silently and motionless until the quarry arrives, while avoiding the notice of woodland sentinels that might spill the beans — red squirrels, deer, bluejays and such. When biting insects are prevalent, put on a headnet rather than use a smelly repellent.
Step 7—Prepare For Adventure
Imagine being in my size-11s last Labor Day evening:
A swarm of yellow jackets, heavy with honey purloined from the bait pit below
danced sluggishly on buzzing wings without the warmth of a beam of evening sunlight stabbing through the heavy balsams. Slowly they drew nearer, guided by the swinging shaft of light.
Suddenly, the beam of light fades and the buzzing ceases, but you are not aware of that because your astonished eyes are riveted on the gigantic black form that has just emerged from the deep grass of the ash slough 75 yards
west of your stand. Unconsciously your body tenses, your heart lurches and begins beating more profoundly than ever before, your knees start quaking uncontrollably. It’s the biggest black bear you’ve ever seen. Inadvertently,
the shaft of your mounted arrow slips softly to the moleskin guard from beneath, you wince as bear freezes, its malevolent eyes intent upon the
landscape that hides you. Breathless, you dare not even blink an eye. Several suspenseful moments pass. Finally, the bear tums and effortlessly pads on silent feet through brush and windfalls north of your stand. It seems to
be purposefully staying out of range. Shortly, it disappears from sight behind you. You wonder, “Did I goof`? Was that arrow noise enough to keep that bear from coming in? Should I turn — steal a peak?” Then, you hear a soft shuffling beneath your stand. From the comer of your left eye,
you see the bear moving toward the pit. With your back arched so your clothing will not brush against the rough bark of your stand
tree, you begin the slow, oozing motion that will eventually end with a full draw. Although its body appears fuzzy at the edge of your vision, you’re avoiding now the alarm-triggering direct gaze, you note the bear is facing
you. You see its tawny muzzle rise; it‘s looking right at you. Again, you freeze, totally motionless. Then, you hear loud lapping. You passed the test . . . so far. As the bear intently laps honey, you resume your grand movement with the bear becoming more visible as you turn. Again it looks up. Again you freeze, your eyes diverted obliquely and your heart settling down now. Noisy lapping begins again. The upper limb of your bow rises
slowly upward from your lap. The bear turns, effortlessly sweeping three, 100-pound logs from the pit with one fore paw.
Now, the lower limb of your bow is sweeping slowly downward. Your eyes tell you lean farther outward to keep this limb from hitting the metal platform brace. Concentrating now, and hardly seeing the bear, you watch your
lower limb slip safely beyond the brace. At last you tum your eyes more toward the bear. The bruin snatches a cob of sweet corn out of the pit and drops it just to the left of the pit.
Head down, the bear rips the husk from the cob while pinning it to the ground with its forepaws. Your eyes widen as you realize the bear cannot see you now. It is standing quartering away, its left flank toward you. Anxiously, you begin your draw, stifling the urge to move quickly and listening intently as your arrow slides slowly over your padded rest and plunger. Suddenly, the strain in your right arm and shoulder is gone, your bow has let-off.
Your right forefinger resting firmly behind the trigger of your release begins to slide upward. Through the fuzzy ring of your string peep, you see the red bead of your sight surrounded by jet black fur. You visualize a vertical line immediately behind the bones that make up the bear’s left shoulder. Your bead lowers, now centered on that line. The range is a mere
five yards. Your time has come. Your right index finger eases to the front of your release trigger and slowly squeezes.
Whap! You see your bright blue and green fletches disappear into the exact spot of your aim. Instantly, the bear is gone, crashing with astonishing speed and power north through tangled alders. Then, there is no sound. You
lower your bow. Fifteen seconds pass. Then, you hear it: urr-augh. . .urr-augh. . . urr. . .
You did it! You’ve taken a monster black bear. You obviously did everything exactly right. It just couldn’t have been done any other way. You measured up. Shaking almost violently now, your body free at last to be normally human, you take in a deep breath and let it out. You look upward and see the evening star. “Lord,” you murmur, “it just doesn’t get any better than this.” For the first time in your life, you really know what that means.
All Rights Reserved
Published by archerchick on 04 Apr 2012
Thump! That’s as close as I can describe the sound of hitting a 150-
pound wild boar with a pickup truck.
I know what that sounds like because I
did it, not on purpose mind you,
but I did it. Of course, hitting a wild animal with a
truck in Texas is noting unusual.
During any average 24-hour period in the Hill Country
there are nearly 100 animal/vehicle mishaps.
What happened after my collision however, was
quite unusual, and it leads nicely into my taxidermy
story, so let me tell you about it.
The boar wasn’t killed by the impact of my truck
and kept on going, crashing through a fence and into
a whitebrush thicket. When I backed up and got out
of my truck I could hear him in the thicket, growling
like a cornered dog. The only weapon I had in the
truck was my bow, so I hesitated to go into the brush
after him. I just couldn’t let the animal suffer
though, if indeed he was, so I started checking things
out. What made me wonder about his suffering or
not was the fact that the growling did not sound hurt,
just mad as the devil and looking for revenge. If I had
not found any blood at the scene I probably would
have left, but I did find blood on the fence, and a few
drops were also visible on the other side. Since I had
permission to hunt that thicket, I decided to try to do
something about the situation.
Clutching my bow, I made a circle downwind of
the growling. Thirty yards into the thicket, facing his
backtrail, there stood the hog, except he was only
using three legs, and one of those didn’t look too
steady. Slowly, I stalked to within 20 yards of him
and looked for a hole to put the arrow through. I
thought I found one big enough and let the arrow go,
but I ticked a limb and hit a little far back from where
I wanted to. Still, the shot looked good and I didn’t
figure he was going too far.
After an unproductive search for my arrow, I took
up the blood trail. I had gone about 50 yards when I
spotted a rabbit. It was an easy shot to make, so I
took the broadhead off the bow and put on a washer
backed field point. Just as I got the field point on the
bow I heard a grunt. Looking up, I saw the boar,
coming for me as fast as three legs could carry him,
his mouth wide open and looking like he had a hundred
teeth, each a foot long. I was scared, I don’t
mind telling you, but having absolutely nowhere to
go in that whitebrush thicket, I drew back the bow
and let him come. When he was where I knew I
couldn’t miss, I looked him in the eyes and let go of
the shaft. Fortunately, I got close to my mark,
smacking him in the bridge of the nose and passing
through into the throat, stopping the charge but not
dropping him. The hog then crashed into the brush
where the arrow hung him up just long enough for
me to get another arrow on the bow, off the bow, and
into him. This shot was right where it belonged, and
as the animal turned to run away, he stumbled; four
steps later he went down for good.
That late Spring afternoon is one I will never forget,
I guarantee you that, but still I wanted to have
some permanent memento of it. I decided that the
hog’s skull would do just fine, arrow hole and all.
This is the step by step of how I mounted it, and this
procedure works equally well on cougar, bear, wolf
or most any critter without antlers or horns.
Step 1: Using a small razor-sharp knife, cape out
the skull. Start at the mouth, opening it up and cutting
where the lips are connected to the base of the
gums in both the upper and lower jaws. Cut and peel
the skin from here up over the nose, and clown
around the lower jaw. It will start to get difficult
where the skull widens just in front of the eyes. At
that point, switch to the neck end of the skull and cut
and peel from there. Once you have the skin off, cut
off as much meat and connective tissue as possible.
Step 2: Boil water in a pot that will hold the entire
skull. When boiling rapidly, add two teaspoons of
Borax per quart of water, then put in the skull and
jaw. Let the water come back to a boil for 20 minutes.
Step 3: After 20 minutes of reboiling, remove the
skull and jaw. Using a hot pad and channel—lock pliers,
carefully remove the front teeth back to and including
the canine teeth. Pour the water used for
boiling through some kind of strainer to catch any
teeth that may have come loose and fallen out.
Step 4: Let everything air cool. Do not try to rush
cooling by pouring cold water on things or they will
most probably crack. Once it’s all cool, you will
need to either clean the pieces up. Use a wire brush
and/ or DULL knife to clean all the loose teeth. Use a
sharp knife to finish removing every bit of
flesh, including the eyes and tongue, from the
skull. The brain is then removed with a drill
and a whip made from a coat hanger. This will
break it up, and then a garden hose will blow
it out. Now, let everything dry for about a
week, longer if it’s very humid.
Step 5: While the skull and jaw are drying,
out out a plaque to mount them on. Make the
plaque big enough to stabilize the mount, but
not so big that it makes the skull look small, 2-
3 inches of space around the skull is about
right. For a more professional look, router the
edge of the plaque. Complete the plaque by
using a good prestain sealer, stain, and finish
that matches your decor. Follow the directions
given by the manufacturers of the products you
choose to use. They want your repeat
business, so they tell you the best ways to get
me best results.
Step 6: When the skull is done drying use
2 wire brush to remove the last little bits of
flesh and tissue that are still left, and to prepare
the surface for painting. Brush on a good
quality prestain wood sealer and let it dry to
complete the preparations for painting.
Step 7: Use a good quality, appliance
white spray enamel to paint the skull and jaw.
Apply several light coats rather than one thick
one, since a thick coat will run. Let each coat
dry thoroughly before applying the next or the
paint will peel. And, be sure to paint the parts
from every angle, People always seem to notice any
little spot that you miss.
Step 8: After the paint dries thoroughly,
set the teeth back into the jaw using clear silicon
sealant/adhesive. Wash your hands well
before handling the skull or jaw to minimize
ugly fingerprints. While resetting the teeth,
you will find that you can reset them with less
root, making them appear longer than they
actually were. In my personal opinion
though, they look really fake when they are
too long. It also makes assembly harder since
the bottom jaw will need to set forward of normal
to allow for the extra length. Experiment
with the length until everything fits together
firmly, yet you get the tooth length that you
want to show.
Step 9: Assemble the skull and jaw and
position them on the plaque exactly where you
want them to wind up. Find a bolt which,
when the skull is on the plaque, will reach
through the plaque and about 3/4 of the way
through the brain cavity. Remove the skull!
jaw and drill a hole through the plaque for the
bolt, right under where the brain cavity will
wind up. Countersink this hole so the mount
won`t sir up off the table or wall.
Step 10: Put the bolt through the hole,
tighten it into place with a washer and nut on
top of the plaque, then put a dab of paint or ink
on the top of it. Carefully lower the skull/jaw
onto the plaque exactly above the spot you
want it to sit. The ink will mark a spot on the
bottom of the skull where you should drill a
hole for the bolt. Be careful not to drill all the
way through the skull. Drill and countersink a
second hole through the plaque, right be-
tween the jaws and under the bridge of the
nose. Then repeat the bolt, skull, ink trick
again, using a bolt that goes 3/4 of the way
through the nasal cavities.
Step 11: We are now ready for final assembly.
Turn the skull upside down on a soft
towel or rag to prevent skuffing the paint job.
Fill the two holes you drilled in the skull with
silicon sealant/adhesive. Put the bolt assembly
into place and allow l2 hours to dry before
turning the mount over. Tum it over and
presto! , you have a mount to be proud of.
Felting the bottom of the plaque makes a truly
professional looking table top display, or add
thin rubber pads to the bottom and use as
bookends when you get two of them, or add
hanging hardware and use as a wall mount.
They all look great, and are sure to be a conversation starter. >>—>
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