Archive for the 'Hunting Stories' Category

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Published by Acts 10.13 on 13 Sep 2008

Most Unsuccessful Hunt of a Lifetime

The final day of deer hunting with my grandpa before his death was largely unsuccessful. 

Not unsuccessful because of a lack of deer-sightings or unsuccessful because of an off-target arrow that took flight.  Because to me success is not merely harvesting an animal.  Success is being able to fool your quarry.  To sneak into their woods, their home, their turf and to fool their eyes, ears and nose into believing that you’re just another piece of normality.

My last hunt with the man who passed his hunting heritage to my father and I was unsuccessful because I didn’t listen to him.  My beekeeping Grandpa put me into what I would ironically call his “honey hole.”  And he gave me very loud, very specific instructions when he and my dad dropped me off.  (Much like my father and my father’s father, I have little to no awareness of the volume of my voice.  Just ask my wife.) 

“Go into the woods until you hit an ‘ol fence layin’ ‘cross the ground.  Cross that fence and go about fifty yards up the side of that mountain.  To yer right is a big ‘ol rock.  Sit on it and don’t move until the deer come down the hill in front of ya on yer right.  They’ll give you a perfect qwarterin’ away shot before they head out to the field to feed at dark.”

The mean, old grump’s plan was simple enough and easy to follow.  But I ignored it.  Well, not all of it.  I did go into the woods and I did cross the fence and I did walk about 50 yards into the woods. But it was the sitting-on-the-rock part that I ignored.  I HATE sitting on the ground and I HATE even more sitting on the ground on top of a chilly rock in the middle of winter.  Because no matter how many icy hours you endure sitting on a rock in the middle of winter, it never seems to warms up.

So, what did I do?  I moved just a few yards to the left of the big, uncomfortable rock that my Grandpa told me to sit on and perched myself in front of an oak tree.  Okay, it was more than just a few yards.  It was more like fifteen or twenty.  Most would say that it was my young, naive pride that caused me to ignore my elder’s instructions.  They would be mostly correct.  The truth is I was carrying a brand new lock on seat that I was just dying to try out.  Like I said, I HATE sitting on the ground.

So, after twenty minutes or so of fidgeting with this brand new, fandangled lock on seat and surely scaring off every woodland creature for at least a county or so, I settled into my lock on seat for a night of doing things my way. 

Now, I should say that my Grandpa’s hunting style was very old fashioned and VERY solidified, at least in my mind.  In all my years of hunting with him, he never scouted.  Not once.  His philosophy was that he had hunted that property since God made it and by golly he had these deer figured out by now!  His schemes were tried and true.  So, had he known that I had ignored his instruction and set up in my own little sweet spot, he probably would have marched up into the woods and let me have it – curse words, chewing tobacco, spit and all.  Heck, I’m pretty sure that he would have left me and my noisy, unnecessary lock on seat at home were I not the only hunting grandchild of his that wasn’t locked up at the time. (My only hunting cousin was in the hokey for leaving the scene of an accident, driving under the influence, fleeing from a police officer, kicking a puppy and numerous other immoral acts that I dare not mention.)

I sat on my brand new lock on seat for about 10 minutes before I decided that it was the worst thing that had ever happened to a man’s hind quarters.  (I have since rid myself of it by means of a yard sale and a two-dollar wielding old man who probably hates sitting on the ground just as much as I do.)  But I endured.  I endured to prove to myself and my ritualistic old grandpa that although he thought my new lock on seat was a waste of metal and cushioning, change can sometimes be good.

And a fantastic change occurred after I had endured an hour or so on the lock on stand from Helena.  I began to hear the pitter patter of little hooves behind me up on the side of the hill.  And the great thing was that they were coming right at me.  I slowly placed my hands at the ready on my bow and waited for the deer to close the 40 yards or so between it and I.  But as an eternity of footsteps progressed closer and closer to me, I began to realize that something that initially brought me great excitement was now quickly causing worry to overcome my mind like hunger on an all-day rut hunt.  The fact was that the deer was coming right for me.  No really, RIGHT FOR ME.  As I sat there, as still as stone, I shot a glance as far left and as far behind me as my eyeballs alone would allow.  It was this glance that made me realize that in the midst of my lock-on-seat-excitement I neglected to notice the VERY prominent deer trail that sat a mere 3 or 4 yards to my right. 

I wish I could say that the wind was blowing directly across my chest and that the deer leisurely strolled right past me and offered the “qwarterin’” away shot that my Grandpa had talked about.  But the truth was the wind was kind of non-existent at that moment in time.  So, my scent, much like smoke when left alone, was kind of just bulging out and up around me.  I wish that I could say that I was decked out in Scent Lok or Scent Blocker and that the deer sniffed my right armpit and still strolled right on by.  But hey, I was a newlywed fresh out of college, which means that I wasn’t exactly a high roller.  I wish I could say that the particular deer in question was born without a sense of smell.  That away I could put an end to his years of suffering a few moments later.  But just when the footsteps sounded as if the next one would fall directly on top of my back, I heard that familiar noise deer make when they’ve called your bluff, “PHWOOOH, PHWOOOH,” which every experienced hunter translates to mean, “I know you’re there, you moron!”

I turned my head to watch the deer’s white, pointy tail bounce through the woods back up the hill and out of my life forever.  I sat there dejected for another ten or fifteen minutes before I heard the familiar pitter patter of hooves again, following down that familiar path, right up to my familiar tree.  This time I turned my head away from the trail, to the left, in hopes that if it couldn’t see me and I couldn’t see it that maybe it wouldn’t smell me.  (See no evil, smell no evil right?)  As I sat, waiting on the deer to close the distance to my tree I realized that I was staring directly at a big rock twenty yards or so away that I should have been sitting on.  And in that moment, as the deer began yelling at me yet again and again, “I know you’re there, you moron!  I know you’re there, you moron!”  My grandpa might as well have appeared magically on top of the rock and said, “You should have sat here, you moron!  You should have thrown that lock on in the fireplace, you moron!”

Four or five months after that hunt, my dad began to notice that when my grandpa walked across the yard after he pulled up to his house that he stumbled around a bit.  Over time the stumbling got worse and worse until one day he stumbled and lost his glasses.  Where he had lost them he didn’t know because his memory was fading as well.  The breaking point was when grandpa was squirrel hunting that next Fall on that same piece of property, he fell down pretty hard and had to hobble out of the woods in the dark without his flashlight or his hunter’s orange vest while using his rifle as a crutch.  Good thing he had hunted that property since God created it.

A few doctor’s visits later and we learned that he had a spiderous, cancerous brain tumor that was causing a lot of swelling and pressure in his head, hence the loss of balance and memory.  After an all-day surgery and some chemo, the cancer seemed to subside.  But only 3 or 4 months after his final dose of chemo, I began to notice that he was asking me if I had seen the surgical scar on his head three or four times per visit.  Others began to notice the familiar memory loss again.  And a little while later the loss of balance returned.  The cancer was back.

The stubborn, old codger decided that he would not have surgery or do chemo again and that he would live out the rest of his days as best he could, as happy as he could.  He was bed ridden within a month or so and required constant care and attention shortly after that. 

The hardest part about his final weeks for me was the diapers.  And I have a master’s degree in diapers thanks to my two little girls.  But there was something about seeing such a strong man, such an able man, refined to sucking water from a straw and eating blended mush twenty-four-seven and then in turn wetting and soiling himself time and time again.  It was as if every time I removed his diaper and changed him I wiped away another little piece of his dignity and pride.

The last hours I spent with him were typical for he and I because they revolved around the one thing that united us all my life – the woods.  I went to care for him one Saturday to give my dad and his sisters a break.  We watched a few deer videos.  Then he napped while I shot my bow in his front yard.  Then we watched a few more deer videos.  The entire day he said not one word.  But as I took out our last deer video, only ten minutes or so before my dad showed up to relieve me, he looked at me with his usual grin of orneriness and said, “You wanna go huntin’?”  I smiled and said, “Grandpa, we can’t go huntin’.  It’s July.”  And I thought to myself that even if I did break the law to give my dying, bedridden Grandpa his last hunt, that we would become the hunted as we were eaten alive by mosquitoes. 

Those were the last words I ever heard him say.  Over the next few days, his breathing became labored to the point where he was taking one breath about every 45 seconds or so.  Grandpa passed as peacefully as one can when they’re gasping for a single breath each minute.  And as sure as the sun, the typical funeral-time turmoil reared its ugly head as my family fought over funeral arrangements and the handling of his simple estate.  If he were a fly on the wall for a few weeks following his death, I’m sure he would have had some fly-size chewing tobacco to spit at a few of my family members as he gave ‘em what for. 

Grandpa was a simple man.  He had thousands and thousands in his bank account when he passed but yet chose to drive a nearly antique pick-up truck that he bought used and lived in a handed down house that was so old the electrical wiring was run outside of the stud walls.  His life revolved around two simple loves – his love for his family and his love for the outdoors. 

And on the last chance for me to ever soak up some of his love for the outdoors and some of his whitetail wisdom concerning a patch of property that my Father and I still hunt, he told me to sit on the stinkin’ rock.  And I didn’t listen.

13 votes, average: 3.15 out of 513 votes, average: 3.15 out of 513 votes, average: 3.15 out of 513 votes, average: 3.15 out of 513 votes, average: 3.15 out of 5 (13 votes, average: 3.15 out of 5)
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Published by theGhost on 13 Sep 2008

You know… Right?

There are times in my life where I feel the need to perch in a tree, feel the wind on my face, and watch the world pass me by. I dont say anything, and if I did who would hear me? I just sit in the tree and unwind, eyes scanning the shadows for a flicker of white, ears listening for the soft crunch of leaves. I love the early morning strategy sessions with friends, and the anxiety of which stand to hunt. I love walking in the moonlight with a best friend, to a place where the trail splits, the quiet “good lucks” and “shoot straights” as we head to our stands. I love taking a new hunter out, and putting him in my best stand, knowing that he could be a few hours from one of the best feelings in this world. I love seeing a missed text on my phone near primetime- that usually means something good!!I love meeting up with other friends that hunt for lunch during the week and comparing notes, sharing photos and high fives over successful hunts, and sharing each other’s heartaches over the monster that slipped away. I love a lot of things about hunting, some of them can be described in words, but some of them cant… you know what I’m talking about? Right? Good luck everyone, and shoot straight…Ghost

10 votes, average: 2.60 out of 510 votes, average: 2.60 out of 510 votes, average: 2.60 out of 510 votes, average: 2.60 out of 510 votes, average: 2.60 out of 5 (10 votes, average: 2.60 out of 5)
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Published by AdvanTimberLou on 09 Sep 2008

It could only happen at Deer Camp!

The names have been changed to protect the innocent.

I have been going to deer camp for the past 15 years and each year something new happens.  More often than not, more beer gets drank than deer get shot but its not always about success but the laughs and friendships made.  What happens at deer camp usually stays at deer camp but I have to share this one.  I still don’t believe it myself.

Deer camp consists of going to my buddy Ralph’s place. He has a 100 acre homestead that was given to him by his grandmother when she passed on. On it, sits a nice old farmhouse that is roughly 40 years old. Its got the basics that a group of 8 or so guys need.  Beds, kitchen, bathroom and a card table to pass the bull and share stories of work, women, deer, & jokes. 

Now this year’s deer camp had a new visitor. He was a friend of Ralph’s and seemed to be a very likable guy. Then again at deer camp, all the guys get along and take in whatever straggler who wants to be part of it. The only requirement, you do your fair share of the cooking and know what areas of the land you can venture out too and this is purely on the sake of safety.

Now after the day’s hunts Ralph and the rest of us would wander into town to the local watering holes. The parking lots would be filled with cars and during deer season most if not all were out of towners trying to see what the nightlife gave off and maybe hunt deer of the two legged kind. This is a two town bar and as soon as you enter one of them, all eyes focus on you until you sit down and the waitress takes your order. So when 8 of us roll in, we’re lucky to even find a table.

So this takes me back to the new guy Ralph brought to camp this year. As we enter the bar he buys the first round and right away you sense this guy is alright. Within minutes of getting our drinks he meets the bartender and finds out her story. This guy is smooth, very smooth. So after a little while we decide to go to the other bar in this town. A whole 100 yards down the street. The new guy in our group decides to stay at the current bar as he and the bartender are making small talk. As we leave some in our group questions whether he will be coming home with us tonight or going to the bartender’s home. Hard to say as the night is still young but I bet he’s coming back with us!

As we go to the other bar we get the same reaction when we walk in. All eyes draw to the city boys coming up to their area for hunting. Within minutes though they are back to nursing their beers and we are yesterday’s news. As we chat about the days hunt and what tomorrow brings we realize its getting kinda late. Now myself I am not much of a drinker. I came for the hunting but with this group that appeared to be hunting for Wild Turkey on this night. I didn’t have an issue with it as the group is pretty civil even when they are drinking.  I just try to keep them from making fools of themselves.

So after spending 2 hours at this other bar we realize Ralph’s friend still hasn’t come over to this bar and must be over at the other one. The group decides that we should go find him. As we walk back into that first bar we get that same initial reaction. As the door swings open all the locals look our way and we try to find a table and our buddy. Well at this time the place is full, its standing room only for us. We find Ralph’s buddy who is still mingling with the bartender and has made a few new friends and now understands what winter wheat and what an International Harvestor is.

We can tell its time to go as his speech is slurred a little and we know if he’s going to make the 5AM breakfast call he needs to go to bed soon. As he stumbles out of that bar he wishes everyone a good night and the group is headed back to deer camp.

Now from this point it seems like everyone would be ready to find their beds and crash for the night. I call it night when in reality its 2AM and in 3 hours its time to get up. This will separate the men from the boys. Ralph’s friend decides though he wants some food and makes himself a late night snack in the kitchen.  So after his snack he crashes in his bedroom.

Myself, I am on the sofa in the living room. That has been my official spot for about 5 years now and I like it because I usually fall to sleep with ESPN on. Well as I settle in most of the gang has found their beds or sleeping bags laying on the living room floow and its lights out for all except for the TV being on. A long days hunt will wear you out so within minutes of your head hitting that pillow your out.

For some odd reason I heard something in my sleep. The sound of a stream of water but not like a faucet splashing water in the sink.  As I adjust my eyes to the darkness I can’t believe what I am seeing. Ralph’s friend is standing up and peeing on the Lazboy chair about 8 feet away. I am caught off guard and I call out his name but he doesn’t appear to answer and at this point it appears his bladder is done. I can’t believe what I had just seen and with 2 hours left of sleeping before we get up I am not sure what to do. Either go back to sleep or be the next piece of furniture to get pee’d on!

I opted for option #2. I lay on the sofa with my eyes towards Ralph’s friend’s bedroom making sure he doesn’t have another urge to go again.

Well before I know it, its time to get up for the another day of hunting.  I am the only one getting up for the days hunt.  The others are deep in sleep and hungover.  I open the door to Ralph’s room and tell him to avoid the Lazboy as his buddy peed on it.  He says “what” but doesn’t comprehend and goes back to sleep.  I am off for the days hunt myself. 

When I return about 5 hours later for lunch I see my buddy Ralph sitting in that chair.  Staring at him I asked him if he remembered what I said about that chair?  He says, “no” I then tell him to feel his left leg which should be a little damp.  By that point I am laughing about it and telling others what I witnessed last night.  Ralph’s friend can’t believe it but said he tends to sleep walk after a night of hard drinking.  As my buddy decides what to do with the chair I simply laugh and say it can only happen at deer camp!

3 votes, average: 2.33 out of 53 votes, average: 2.33 out of 53 votes, average: 2.33 out of 53 votes, average: 2.33 out of 53 votes, average: 2.33 out of 5 (3 votes, average: 2.33 out of 5)
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Published by NYBOWHUNTER.COM on 08 Sep 2008

Potential New York State Record Buck

It was a brisk morning in May of 2007 when Keith Levick stepped into the woods with hopes of tagging a longbeard. While Keith waited for a gobbler to strut by his ground blind a group of deer began filtering into the field in front of him. The group of deer including six bucks and one of those bucks was the biggest Keith had ever seen in New York.

Keith is a chiropractor by trade, but also an avid bow and muzzleloader hunter. In addition to hunting his home state of New York, Keith also regularly hunts Michigan, Ohio, Iowa, and Illinois for whitetail, which he admits, is a lot different than deer hunting New York. Keith’s favorite state to hunt is Iowa – with 30,000 hunters, a short gun season in December and bow season beginning in October who could blame him!

I asked Keith about the location where he first spotted the buck and he told me, “It’s a farm where everyone hunts. I don’t do too much deer hunting there because the place gets pounded.” Soon after seeing the buck, Keith placed a trail camera on the property and started getting pictures of the deer. Knowing that the deer’s home range included a portion of the farm he approached the land owner and gained permission to deer hunt the property. Surprisingly – or maybe not for a deer of this caliber – the buck was mostly nocturnal showing up to feed between 1:00am and 2:00am.

Being the only person with permission to hunt the property, Keith took 10 days in November to hunt the bruiser during the rut. He had hunted the deer all bow season, but only saw the buck once as the deer chased a doe in the distance. Keith did not expect to see the deer again, but thought he might be back during the late season to visit the bean and corn fields.

It was the 20th of November, and Keith sat perched on a treestand overlooking a wheat field surrounded by a five acre pussy willow thicket. Out of the corner of his eye Keith noticed movement and slowly grabbed his muzzleloader. As the doe crossed by at 35 yards, Keith took aim. Right before squeezing the trigger, movement 10 yards behind the doe caught his eye. A drop tine gleamed off the antler and right away he knew, “Oh shoot! It’s him!” Keith quickly turned his sights on the brute and one shot with his smoke pole had the buck lying on the ground. The massive whitetail had over 20 points and scored 231″ – Keith had put down the New York State record buck!

I asked Keith what his secret was to bagging the monster buck. He hunted this deer as he hunts all deer – with a little cover scent and then some deer scent to stop the deer in his shooting lane. His favorite scent – a fresh tarsal gland off of a previously harvested deer. Keith suggests cutting the tarsal glands off any deer you harvest and placing them in Ziploc bags in the freezer. This allows you to have fresh, natural deer scent from your local deer herd.

So when your sitting in your treestand or ground blind this fall and you take aim at that doe, look behind her to see if anything is following her, it could just be the next state record. For updates on this buck and its status as the new NYS Record Buck check NYBOWHUNTER.COM for updates.

9 votes, average: 2.56 out of 59 votes, average: 2.56 out of 59 votes, average: 2.56 out of 59 votes, average: 2.56 out of 59 votes, average: 2.56 out of 5 (9 votes, average: 2.56 out of 5)
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Published by ruin2it on 07 Sep 2008

Down to the wire…

 

I just got back from a bow hunting trip for antelope in Eastern Colorado, where I spent four days belly-crawling in 90 degree heat through sagebrush, grass, gravel, and cactus after some of the sharpest-eyed, fleetest-footed animals I’ve ever hunted. 

I had the pleasure (and good fortune) of hunting with two extremely knowledgeable and experienced bowhunters, Jerry Viera and the legendary Russell Hull.  From the beginning it was obvious that they knew what they were doing.  We had the standard antelope decoys with us, but we also had a cow decoy that Jerry and Russell had fabricated, and used successfully on other occasions to sneak within shooting distance of an unsuspecting buck.  They schooled me right away on the proper techniques for stalking our keen-eyed quarry. 

We chased several nice bucks around the huge cattle ranch all weekend.  On one occasion, after helping me find an arrow after my first of many missed shots, Jerry spotted a huge buck and decided to stalk him, crouching with bow in hand as he crept in his direction, then stopping and hunching over every so often when the buck looked his way.  To everyone’s amazement, the buck decided to take a closer look, and came right in!  Jerry scrambled to get an arrow nocked, and took a quick shot just as the buck decided that things didn’t look quite right, narrowly missing him.  What an awesome experience!  Watching from a distance, we thought the buck was going to walk right up to him!

One buck in particular seemed to be pretty attached to his home range, no matter how hard we pressed him, never running too far ahead, and always returning to roughly the same area after a chase.  One evening, we decided to try to see how close we could get if we just kept up with him no matter where he went.  Jerry shadowed him for five miles that evening before he finally gave up, but got a couple more shot opportunities while he was at it.

By the end of the trip, most of the bucks were pretty familiar with us and our truck, and would get up and run off when we drove within a mile.  We’d all seen some nice animals, even had shot opportunities, but just couldn’t make it happen.  It was getting to be pretty discouraging.  On the last morning, while Russell was hunting from his blind, Jerry and I decided to go after the “home range buck”, the one he’d chased for five miles the night before.  Things were different this morning, though, because this time, he had a doe…We took up the chase and tried to split him away from her.  Eventually we did, and it looked like we might have a chance at him.  He would stop every 100 yards or so and make a scrape, so he was definitely frustrated.  But the closest I could get was 92 yards, and he finally tired of the game and ran off at full speed.  It looked like our last chance was gone.

It was getting close to time to leave.  We had agreed to quit at 9am so we’d have time to pack up and drive back to Kansas.  On the way to pick up Russell, we spotted a buck along a distant fenceline.  I bailed out of the truck and hurried toward him, knowing this was our last chance.  Using the fence as cover, I was able to close the distance to nearly 75 yards without alerting him.   I crept closer, still apparently unnoticed.  I was inside 60 yards, still creeping.  He turned and looked at me.  I drew and released.  After a number of missed opportunities, and with just six minutes remaining on the last day of the hunt, I finally connected with a nice buck.  Talk about down to the wire!

I want to thank Jerry and Russell, and the folks at B² Outdoors who helped get my equipment ready for the trip, for providing me with such an awesome experience!  It’s one I definitely won’t ever forget…

                    

13 votes, average: 2.85 out of 513 votes, average: 2.85 out of 513 votes, average: 2.85 out of 513 votes, average: 2.85 out of 513 votes, average: 2.85 out of 5 (13 votes, average: 2.85 out of 5)
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Published by tuckr1205 on 05 Sep 2008

Fat Man’s First Archery Hunt!!!

     Well ladies and gentlemen, I am about to embark you on a hilarious adventure into my first bow Hunting experience!!  I had been hunting whitetails with a shotgun for about 10 years prior to meeting my best friend Pat.  Once pat and i started discussing whitetail hunting, he encouraged me to get a bow and he would teach me.  After being a little reluctant I purchased a used bow and began shooting the Summer of 2002.  Pat took his time and patience and taught me the ins and outs of bow hunting.  By Fall of 2002 I was ready to get into a tree stand, or so I thought.  Opening Day of archery season in 2002 Pat takes me to his hunting property.  280 acres of timber right in the heart of Whitetail Country in illinois.  mind you that Pat and his 4 other friends that hunt this property are all in between 5’10 tol 6’4 all around 175 to 225 pounds, and most of them can climb a tree like a Monkey!!!  Well at that time I was a phelt 6’1 340lbs, without any gear on. So the entire 2 hour truck ride to the Farm and I kept asking Pat, “you sure you have a tree stand that I can easily get into?”  He assured me that he had the perfect stand picked out for me and he guaranteed me a shot at a whitetail. 

     Well October 1st, 2002 we arrive at the property and get all our gear on and our bows and head to the woods!!!  after about a 1/2 mile walk Pat and I are standing in front of a huge Maple tree and Pat looks at me and points 30 feet up in the air, and stated “there it is the best stand on the property, I look at him and then back at the stand and there was no ladder or even screw in steps.  I asked him how in the world was I suppose to get in the stand, ” I don’t have wings!!” He stated” oh it is so easy, just take the branches all the way up, well mind you it is October in Illinois, it is 85 degrees, and the wind is blowing a brisk 25 miles per hour.  So he leaves me so I can make my journey into the stand.  He walks to his stand which is only about 150 yards from me and I begin my journey to the stand.  I hook my bow and backpack to the tow up rope and start out on the bottom branch, and thinking to myself that people at my funeral will at leaset know I died doing what I loved!!!!!  So I climb very cautiously and carefully, taking my time sweating and cursing the enire way.  25 minutes later I am on the branch right beside the tree stand, which looks about as big as a shoe box!!!!  I tip toe into the stand praying the lock on rusted 12 inch by 12 inch platform would hold my girth, as i bear hug the tree, like that was going to save me I finally make it onto the platform and into the 6 inch wide cloth seat, mind you I have now sweated off around 3lbs so I am a hefty 337lbs in a tree stand rated for 250lbs, not a good situation.  Once situated inthe stand and get my bearings, the wind started to pick up and with every gust the tree top swayed and so did me and my toddler chair i was sitting in!!!, so at this point I go to pull u my gear, which has my safety belt in the backpack, and I start slowly pulling my pack up to me, when about halfway up, you guessed it, caught up and wrapped around three branches!!!!!!!!!  There was no way in He!! I was clmbing back down this tree, so I did what any hot, sweaty, fat man would do and screamed as loud as i could for my bussy PAT!!!!!!!!  Who got me into this situation!!  Pat made the 150 yards through a cut cornfield in less than 10 secs and standing at the base of my treee, scowling at me, he stated”I thought you fell or was hurt!’  I told him I was not hur but I needed a little assisstance in getting my gear untangled before I just gave up on bow hunting and went back to the house for a chair and a beer!!!!    So I get my bow and safety harness and he gets back to his stand.  The enitre hunt I don’t care about deer, but I am focused and praying not to fall with each and every gust of wind!!!  SO finally around a half hour before sunset a yearling made her way to 20 yards a stopped.  I got to my shakey feet, drew back and had so much adrenaline goign that I shoot a foot over back, but what an awesome experience even after goign through all that misery, I was hooked!!!!

    At dark my buddy and mentor came back to get me and I was still in the tree, telling him all about the yearling and how awesome bow hunting was and trying to climb down the branches in the dark was more of a challenge then climbing up!!!  I get to about 10 foot off the ground and I am hanging by one branch and trying to find the other branch with my foot, my buddy Pat is trying the best he can to help me but is crying from laughing.  I finally get to tired to hold on anymore, mind you I am 340 pounds, and I tell him I am going to jump to get out of my way, by this time Pat is vapor locked and can’t peak and I look like the Biggest Man ever to be on a pommel Horse going for the Gold in the Fat Man Olympics, so after about three good swings to clear from the tree, I land on the ground with a thunderous roar and all my weight going forward and I ran smack dab in between to saplings on my knees and come to a halt as the two trees fall completely over!!!!  What a ride.  Well I hope I have visualized for everyone my first boe hunt as a fat man and hopefully some of you Plus Size fellas can relate to the tradegy of being a big man in the Hunting Woods!!!

 

Thanks for Reading

 

Tucker

11 votes, average: 4.09 out of 511 votes, average: 4.09 out of 511 votes, average: 4.09 out of 511 votes, average: 4.09 out of 511 votes, average: 4.09 out of 5 (11 votes, average: 4.09 out of 5)
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Published by swerve duo on 01 Sep 2008

UNDER PRESSURE!

I had waited 7 long years to draw a coveted bull elk tag for the sought after Anthro Unit and here I was; settled into a patch of sage brush next to a pond, slow breeze at my face, at full draw with the bull of a lifetime at full broadside less than 40 yards away and I am under pressure. But, no hunt starts out like this. 

Putting in on limited entry hunts in Utah can be a frustrating experience. Not expecting anything in the first couple of years, because you know it’s almost impossible with the number of applicants in most limited areas, the pressure is not that great. Then as years 3, 4 and 5 roll around, the pressure begins to mount. You wait in eager anticipation for the inevitable “unsuccessful letter” to end the pressure for the year. In 2008, the “unsuccessful letter” didn’t arrive. Instead another one did and the pressure went up a notch. The game was on! 

Pressure is not a new thing for me. I have been shooting archery for about 4 years. My husband and I participate competitively both indoors and outdoors year around. We compete in 3-D events, field archery and basically any venue that involves a bow and arrow. I have hunted the last 3 years, but had been unsuccessful in harvesting a trophy class animal. With all the shooting that my husband and I do, practicing wasn’t going to be a problem. That at least dropped the pressure down a little bit.

Once we found out I drew a tag in the Anthro unit, Rod (my husband) and I began visiting with a few friends that we shoot with at our local archery club. We learned that two of the guys had Anthro tags in the past and had taken extremely nice bulls during their hunts. They were very helpful with information and advice. Then as luck would have it, another friend, Jared, who had been with both of the other guys during their hunts, offered his help during my upcoming hunt. Great news… the pressure turns down a bit more.

About a month and a half before opening days of the archery hunt, Rod, Jared and I head out to this monster unit to do some pre-season scouting. Learning water holes, guzzlers and pond locations is a must because the best hunting in this area isn’t as you would imagine. It’s not in the quakies and pines but rather down in the cedars, juniper and sage. One good rainstorm can ruin an entire hunt where every low spot becomes a puddle and the elk scatter everywhere. Getting caught back up can be a nightmare you don’t even want to face.

The time finally comes, the many hours of shooting, shopping and loading the camper were past. It’s now or never. Rod gets off work and we head out to camp. Running late as usual, we are hookin it up the road. At least Jared was able to go up earlier in the day to look around and determine the best place to start in the morning. We are about an hour out of town with the sun headed down in the west. Rods phone rings, it’s Jared. I overhear parts of the conversation “BIG BULL HEADED TO WATER, HURRY!!!”  “WHAT??” “YOU’RE WHERE?” All of a sudden we are screeching to a halt at the side of the road, Rod jumps out and starts unhooking the camper while saying “HONEY, get your bow and stuff out of the camper, we have to make it to this pond up there before the elk do!”  That thumping in my chest as I race to the camper door is just a little more of the pressure to come.

A half hour up the worst road in the world brings us to our rendezvous with Jared, as we lay out the plan of “you go this way, I’ll go this way and then…. well just shoot the bull if he comes in!” I hurry and get into my scent loc base layers and pull on my ghillie suit, I’m ready to go. We are barely a ¼ mile from the pickup where we spot some cows down the draw, around 300 yards below the pond that we are headed to. Rod says “see the raghorn bedded there in the grass?” my heart pounds harder, the pressure is building again.

When Rod and I finally make it to the pond after skirting around the base of a ridge, being careful not to skyline ourselves, I have ½ hour left of legal shooting light. The wind is light and in my favor at least. As the light wanes and the sunset rapidly approaches, nothing advances toward the pond. Pressure wanes as a little disappointment creeps in. Rod and I leave the pond while there is a minuscule amount of light remaining to avoid busting any incoming elk in the dark. There is no moonlight. As we get back to the pickup, Jared is waiting there for us.  We quietly discuss tomorrows plan, Rod feels that if the bull didn’t come to water tonight, then there is a pretty good chance that he will in the morning since it appears to be a new moon. Jared and I agree. Cool, we have a plan, pressure eases.

We head back down the worst road in the world to retrieve the camper so we can beat it to death getting it to the location we plan to spend the next few weeks. A few hours and 15 miles later we arrive at the pre-determined camping location from our pre-season scouting ventures. As we are setting up, we notice a couple of new water leaks in the camper’s water system. A direct result of the road no doubt.  We put the parts back together that had rattled off from the road, fix the water system and cook up a couple of brats for supper. I finally put my head on a pillow sometime after 1:00 a.m. That 4:45 a.m. alarm is going to come awful early. I can hardly sleep.

4:45 a.m. BEEP BEEP. We are all half awake and trying to get moving. Finally, we are all in our scent control and camo heading down the road. Jared is going to drop us off at a knoll near the pond while he scouts a few other watering areas. We’ll walk in from there.

Rod and I begin moving quickly and as quietly as possible through the rye grass and sage around the base of a ridge to the pond on the other side. I notice the trail we are walking on is fairly beaten down. First potential error but no pressure, it’s too dark to really tell, maybe the bushes just grew apart here, great quiet trail though. As we come around the ridge to the pond I notice a really nice clump of sage brush right on this trail with a great shooting lane directly to the pond below. Potential error #2. I plop down near this bush and start getting into position, what a beautiful night. There is not enough cover for both of us so Rod moves laterally from me about 7 yards to another sage brush patch. We settle in. I’m ready for a nap.

Darkness fades, with barely enough light I range a few spots around the pond, 30-40 yards, the pressure wanes, I set my range finders down next to me just in case I need them again. 40 yards to the upside, things look good. I get an arrow out of my quiver and nock it… rattle rattle, broadhead is loose. Probably from the road beating, I wonder to myself if my sight is loose too, or maybe even my rest. That road was pretty rough. I reach out and tighten up my broadhead, do a quick check on my sight and everything else, it’s all good.  Wind is perfect, blowing very lightly down the draw. I am high enough above the pond that anything coming above or below would probably not catch any scent. I glance over at Rod, he looks to be settled in as well. We had agreed that he would be the “judge” and give me the “shoot” or “don’t shoot” signal. I have done this sitting and waiting before. No problem, no pressure now. We wait.  

The path the bull and first calf take to the pond

This photo shows the pond from just over 100 yards away

Shooting light is upon us and things are starting to happen. I am watching up the draw when suddenly here comes a calf elk headed directly at the pond. The calf trots right out into the water bucking and playing like a little kid. I am thinking “this is too cool”. The elk calf then comes around to my side of the pond and starts to drink. I decide I better pick up my bow just in case a lot of “eyes” close in soon. I realize my bow is laying right in the middle of this monster trail we came in on. I get a little tenser and as I scoot a little deeper into the sage bush beside me on the edge of the trail, the pressure builds.

As I sit with my bow ready and still watching the calf playing in the pond, I hear the sounds of rocks rolling and footsteps closing in behind me. I don’t dare turn my head or make any undo movement because of the calf in the pond or whatever is behind me seeing any movement. Potential errors #1 and #2 are about to come into play. I can hear the footsteps getting louder and louder. “OMG, I want to look, there is something coming down the trail that I am practically blocking. No sooner had that thought flashed through my mind when these two calves burst down the hill headed for the pond.  As I squeeze in tight next to the bush thinking “be the bush, beee the bush” the first calf’s foot barely glances the edge of my range finder that I left sitting by my side as he heads past me toward the pond. The noise of my range finder sliding brings the second calf to a screeching halt at a distance of less than two yards behind me. The first calf stops and turns to look back up at about the same time. The only thought going through my mind now is “BUSTED, I am BUSTED!”

I am frozen, being the bush and praying silently that when the calves blow, they won’t head toward anything else that might be coming to the pond. Time stands still. Right now I am sitting frozen trying to be a bush with an elk calf less than two yards from me staring at me. I know it is staring at me because I can feel it’s eyes boring right through me. If that’s not enough, I hear a bugle that is almost on top of me and a huge bull comes screaming around the hillside. He is coming into the pond from the same direction as the calf that is playing out in the water. I am about to blow up, my heart is the loudest thing I hear, the pressure is at a crescendo now and I can’t even turn to look at him, let alone blink an eye.

The first calf that came down the trail finally turns and heads to the pond, thank God, two less eyes on me. I really want to focus on the bull that is getting closer to the pond but the other calf is less than 3 feet away from me now. Everything seems to be moving in slow motion. I catch a glimpse of Rod out of the corner of my eye with his jaw to the ground and then the truly incredible happens. This calf which obviously can’t smell to identify what I am or see what I am does the unthinkable. I feel its muzzle touching and rubbing on my shoulder. My only thought now is “this situation is going south in a hurry, you have got to be kidding me.” It was like the calf needed to try to verify what I was or was not. Pressure, you have no idea!

The touch of my shoulder makes the calf move, not explode, but he moves back up the trail the way he had come. At least now I have a little breathing room although I can still hear him behind me. Maybe it is only my heart thumping out of my chest that I can hear. The bull by this time is at the bank of the pond that sloped into the water. He lets loose another bugle, glunking at the end as he slides into the water. He looks huge, I hook up my Sensation release and make ready to draw my bow calculating in my mind how far I think he is. I look over at Rod expecting to see the “yes” signal but instead I am getting a “NO”. I wonder, “maybe he’s not that big, ok, no problem, I’ll just watch him instead” I unhook my release and reach for my binos. I start to slowly raise my binos to get a better look because I hadn’t had a chance during all the “touchy feely” stuff with the calf. As I raise my binos I must have grabbed a piece of my ghillie suit and was lifting the suit at the same time. As I come loose of the suit, my binos come up too fast and I whack the end of my nock which sends my arrow down into the bush in front of me. “well, at least I’m not supposed to be shooting this bull” I think since I now don’t even have an arrow nocked and I know the calf is still about 10 yards behind me. At least that didn’t scare anything. I take another glance at Rod and my heart sinks, his head is bobbing up and down like it’s on a string. Oh my gosh I think, I don’t even have an arrow nocked and my friend is still hanging out staring at me from behind. Shoot the bull, yeah right. The pressure completely and utterly explodes.

Somehow, I decide to just go for it, the bull somehow is still in the water, his head is down. I pull another arrow from my quiver and nock it. Out of habit I hook up my release again without a thought and slowly lean out away from the bush into my beautiful shooting lane (elk highway) and get this gorgeous bull in my sights. I slowly draw my bow and start counting pins, 20, 30, 40. He is standing at roughly 35 yards broadside. All I can think is “don’t hit the shoulder.” I have no memory of triggering the release. I hear the thump of the arrow hitting but not sure where it hits as the bull whirls and explodes out of the pond, headed back the way he came from. I am trying to stand up to watch him and I can hear Rod behind me saying “get down, get down, don’t let him see you.” I quickly reach in my fanny pack and grab my call and let out a couple of cow calls, the bull stops running and slowly moves away.  As I sit back down, I see the bull for the first time in my binos and watch as he lays down in the tall grass just over a 100 yards away with only the top of his antlers visible.

where he lays down in the grass

This photo shows the bull where he lays down in the grass

The last 20 minutes had been the most surreal experience in my entire life. To top it off, the first words out of Rods mouth weren’t words of congratulations but instead what I heard was, “my God if I would’ve had the video camera we could have made a fortune whether you killed the bull or not.” Rods first “NO” he gave me was because he was afraid to raise his binos for fear of spooking the calves that were hanging around me. Once he got the opportunity while I was entertaining our new friends, he took one look at the fronts of the bull and knew he was definitely a shooter. 

Pressure, what pressure? My first archery kill and the monster is mine.

338 bull
Kris and Rod 
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Published by tim9910 on 21 Aug 2008

Preparations for Fall

By

Tim Hicks

It’s almost upon us, the time of year that brings little tingling feelings on the back of our necks. The excitement of finding a heavily used trail and seeing the beginnings of a great mast in the canopy above your favorite stands can be almost overwhelming.

That is of course, if you go out and do some scouting and put your efforts into being prepared for opening day. For many, they poke around a week before season, half-heartily throw up a stand, blow the dust off their bows and hope for the best. But for successful hunters, it began right about the end of last season. Unfortunately for us in northeastern Oklahoma, a blizzard hit the last weekend of archery season. And now, heavy downpours and heavier clouds of mosquitoes are keeping us out of the field. But it’s always a good time to stay on top of your game, shooting the many 3D tournaments of the summer, and just practicing out in the back yard help keep your abilities tuned. Passing the time by thumbing through the catalogs and magazines to see the newest gear and read about the great far off hunts of the past season can also thwart the onset of preseason blues. It’s a great time to drag out your hunting garb and make sure the off season didn’t make your clothes “shrink”. You should also check your hunting arrows and broadheads, refletching and replacing blades as needed. I usually start shooting broadheads a month before season so there are no surprises when that opportune moment presents itself come October. I like to scout and hang a trail camera to get an idea of the deer using the area I plan to hunt. Plus this gives you something to get excited about, even though the patterns will change before opening day. Talking with locals in the area you hunt is also a great benefit, they can tell you about the “big one” that comes to pasture each evening right before dark. Anything you can do to get the mindset and the blood pumping for the days ahead.

A great thing about September is the fact that here in Oklahoma, dove season opens. That gives us a chance to rekindle our hunting spirit, and form friendships with other hunters. It’s also a good time to meet new land owners, most are not objected to dove hunting on their property, provided you remember to pick up your spent shells and take care of their land. This can lead to a possible archery hunt in the future as some will see you are a good steward, and grant permission on their land. This is also a great time to scout, usually the action of dove hunting dies off, and you can walk the crop edges looking for good trails. Following these trails back and finding staging areas and hopefully some good stand locations along the route. Then you can hang a trail camera or two, and check out the quality of the local population. Walking in the fields also helps to condition you for the hunts ahead, but jogging or a regular exercise program is recommended. I don’t know how many times I have had everything ready, take a deer in the first couple days, and then nearly have a heart attack dragging him out. I always seem to find reasons not to prepare myself, and usually regret it soon enough.

The great thing about early scouting, as opposed to right before season, is the fact that you can march right in and turn over every blade of grass. I even check bedding areas that I would normally avoid like the plague closer to season. This gives the chance to find any new trails or feeding areas you may have overlooked last season. You can hang stands early and get shooting lanes cut, and maybe block a trail or two and hopefully funnel the movement in your direction. One of my favorite things is walking the fence lines on our property, noting the heaviest crossing route. I also tighten up the fence and then tie down the top strand to the next lower near that area of travel. This insures deer will continue crossing here, as using the easiest route is in their nature. Then I will place a stand 20 to 30 yards back in the woods from this site to avoid detection before they cross the fence. Once they have crossed a fence, it has been my experience that if they feel something awkward they typically won’t go back over the fence but run towards me. That is if they haven’t seen me or caught wind of a two-legged predator. I also like planting a fall clover or the like, giving the deer and turkey a different menu than the normal summer browse. Hanging a feeder or two in the area also works great, I don’t hunt within sight of them but it keeps the deer moving on a predictable route prior to the pre-rut. I have seen more bucks this way early on in the season than I ever have during the rut. I always want to be in the field as much as possible during the rut, but the buck sightings seem more like a chance encounter if they are truly chasing does. It’s just the excitement of knowing that huge deer can walk out at any given moment that gives me the drive to stay on stand as long as possible. But the early days are a great time to stock the freezer and get a good idea on the herd you are hunting. I had so many pictures and regular sightings last season, I named most of the deer in the area. Passing up several different four and six pointers, and a couple of does that still had twins with them. There are enough deer in the area I hunt that I try not to orphan little ones prematurely, and let the young bucks grow a couple more years.

As I sit here right now, I am ready to go stomping about in search of that perfect spot not remembering the chiggers and seed ticks until I am already covered with them. My pulse is quickening just thinking about that first morning on stand, watching the world wake up beneath my feet. It’s one of the best feelings in the world, a time when one can relax and be at peace, if only for awhile. But then I awake from the daydream, and realize there is three months left before season, and about a million things left on the “honey-do” list. But at least I have run through a beginning stage of mental preparation for the season ahead.

11 votes, average: 3.36 out of 511 votes, average: 3.36 out of 511 votes, average: 3.36 out of 511 votes, average: 3.36 out of 511 votes, average: 3.36 out of 5 (11 votes, average: 3.36 out of 5)
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Published by tim9910 on 21 Aug 2008

A god friend of mine Dean Cote with a nice mulie taken with a bow.

A good friend of mine Dean Cote with a nice mulie taken with a bow.

Christmas in November

By

Tim Hicks

“The bucks are chasing!”. This statement brings excitement to the hearts of hunters. Towards the last week of October, the doe’s begin showing signs of the forthcoming mating season, more commonly known as the rut. The bucks have rubbing, and sparsely scraping for awhile now, but more territorially and “practicing up” if you will. But now you start finding the sign post rubs, highly visible rub lines, and what may have been a twelve by six inch scrape a week ago is now the size of a four wheel drive tire, sometimes with several under the same tree.

This time, for me, is my favorite time to be in the woods. The chances of trophy buck encounters are better, albeit early or late in the day typically, and they can be coaxed in since the doe’s aren’t completely receptive to the bucks displays of “alpha male syndrome”. Setups are simpler, because the deer are still predictable and the odds are still in your favor. When it gets into this stage, I usually target food sources just as earlier on in the season, making a point to locate heavy mast white oaks if possible. This will congregate doe’s, and therefore also lure in bucks. The difference as compared to early October, is try and find out of the way food sources, because even though the bucks are starting to chase they still have their wits about them. They are just a little more curious and likely to investigate potential mates or threats to their territory. I use a different approach for stand placement also, by finding likely routes for deer to move from bedding areas to food sources. But now I look for cross routes running perpendicular to these main routes. I have found that more mature whitetails in search of receptive doe’s cross main trails in this way to pick up on the pheromones left behind and are able to cover several travel routes quicker with less risk of exposing themselves to danger. To find a likely candidate, I look for things like a ridge with either a bluff or extremely thick cover on one end. If one side of the ridge is extremely steep, and their backs are protected by the bluff or cover, the bucks can bed with their backs to the cover and can see or smell any danger approaching from the front or the other, less cumbersome side of the ridge. When you can find a sanctuary like this, you will also find an escape route. Somewhere along this route is the place to ambush them. The trick is getting in and setting up undetected, and not having your scent carried by the thermals all over the ridge. You can almost bet there is another escape route you missed. Scent control is paramount, and staying on stand for the long haul is the best way to succeed.

There are many other ways to attack “grand daddy tall tines” at this time also though. A lot of hunters have good success lightly rattling and using grunt calls. Decoying with a smaller buck decoy also proves highly productive. Just don’t go setup a decoy that looks like Michael Waddell just arrowed it in Pike county, and go banging horns together like there’s an all out war.

You will scare the acorns out of every buck in the region around the places I hunt. Don’t laugh, I have seen it done before. Be reasonable with your approach, even subtle, and use scents sparingly. I have no doubts that quality pheromone scents produce good results, but at the same time I don’t want to be targeted as a doe-in-heat while I am walking the woods. I have also attracted other things besides deer, I once had a bobcat trying to climb my tree near Copan, OK. That will wake you up real quick!

As this session passes by, then the real thing begins. For about ten days, it’s full on rut time. Bigger deer are breeding as many doe’s as possible, and chasing away younger bucks from potential mates. Getting their attention now can be tough, once they catch scent of a ready doe, it seems like it takes a Mack truck to pull them off the trail. If you hunt in an area with an abnormally high buck to doe ratio, they may be more willing to respond to scents or more aggressive calling, if they are having a hard time finding a mate. Bucks are known to move very long distances at this time, so you may encounter deer that have never been seen earlier in the year. One of the biggest deer I have seen in my life came through right before dark on the last couple days of black powder season. I had never seen him before, or any sign that he had been around. Later that year I heard a farmer talking about a huge buck that lived on his property, about five miles away. His description of the buck he saw in velvet sounded exactly like the one I saw chasing does. I did get a shot off at that deer, but missed clean. After he heard the shot he turned his head towards me raised it high, he was about eighty yards out and the size of his rack got me so rattled that I opened the wrong end of my speed loader and all the powder fell from my treestand. Luckily I always carry two, and the second made it all the way out of my pocket before it bounced of the stand and landed some twenty feet below me. By now he was onto me, and I had my worst case of buck fever ever. Anyway, back to the point, big buck sightings are a lot more common during this heavy rut period. This is why in my opinion, everyone gets so excited about it. I like the opportunity to chance a sighting at trophy deer as much as the next guy, but have found that harvesting one can be pretty much summed up by being extremely lucky. They are cruising around, their caution is pretty much thrown to the wind, and if you happen to have a stand by a place a doe leads him, then you just won the lottery. I typically find myself driving by check stations grumbling at all the nice deer hanging on the scales, while I drive to the house empty handed and still shivering from hours on stand.

Then, as this period grinds to a halt, it’s like someone hit a light switch. The bucks are exhausted from chasing and fighting, and not getting proper nutrition, that they lay up and can be hard to come by. There is always a few immature bucks still looking for action, but the ones we dream about are usually bedded down and staying close to their lair. Going back to the locations like you hunted in the first phases of the pre-rut, near his home on an escape route, is a profitable option at this time. If you hunt public lands, gun season has usually passed, and the deer are much more alert and harder to hunt. Throw in all the quail hunters, and you have a real mess on your hands. But that shouldn’t slow you down, late season bow hunting can be a very good time to be in the woods. There are less deer hunters in the woods, and if it is a hard winter, food sources are in high demand. There is also the so-called second rut, where some of the does that were not bred before come in heat late. It’s usually not very eventful, but has been proven to occur by wildlife biologists. I try not to hyped up about that, and just get back to basics. Find bedding areas, water sources and feeding grounds, then find the yellow brick road in between. This is a great time to stock up on venison and manage the herd a little. Unseasonably warm temperatures which we seem to experience a lot in recent years, followed by a strong oncoming cold front, can really amp up the action. As soon as the barometer starts falling, it seems like the deer are running around like people preparing for a hurricane. Then after it moves through and you get those “blue bird” clear sky days, with a high and steady barometer, someone flips that light switch again. I wish I could find that switch myself, I would rewire it so it’s on in both positions.

In closing, I just wanted to give you a run down on some of my theories and experiences with this time of year. I dream of it like every other red-blooded American with a bow in hand, and hopefully this will be the year. I killed my biggest buck to date during the peak of the rut, yes I was one of the lucky ones who happened to be crossing the same opening as a buck at the same time. And that time I had a rifle that luckily held its own bullets, so I couldn’t drop them!

The next buck to see my living room though, will be harvested by arrow. I take more pleasure and remember smaller deer harvested with a bow at ten steps, than one I dropped with a rifle at a hundred yards. So as the rut approaches your area, have your spots ready and pack a lunch. I’ll be on stand from daylight to dark, and I don’t want to be the only one freezing and cramping up out there! Good luck on your hunts this winter, and remember to harvest a doe or two if you have the tags. It will help ensure a balanced herd for years to come, and more chances at a trophy for yourself or your kids. Hope to see you out there!

11 votes, average: 2.55 out of 511 votes, average: 2.55 out of 511 votes, average: 2.55 out of 511 votes, average: 2.55 out of 511 votes, average: 2.55 out of 5 (11 votes, average: 2.55 out of 5)
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Published by Benchleg01 on 21 Aug 2008

“Murphy’s” first Archery Elk

 

It was still dark when I softly closed the door on my old beater nissan pick-up truck and started up towards the ridge above me, the fog was so thick that I had only about twenty yards visibility. I had bedded down a monster bull (7×7) on the back side of the ridge the previous night, and was hoping to find him this morning. I was “still hunting” my way up through the middle of a two year old clear cut, and as luck would have it, my Ol’ pal “Murphy” was hunting with me.

I had not gone more than one hundred yards up the clear cut when I heard a noise off to my right, I slowly hunkered down and looked over my right shoulder, I could just barely make out through the fog, two Cow Elk at twenty yards and they were looking right at me. I slowly faced forward again and as the fog rose I could see another Elk directly in front of me, I pulled up my range finder and ranged him at seventy yards,  (25 yards beyond my comfort zone) it was a 5×5 bull, Not the monarch of the forest I had bedded down the night before, none the less he was a respectable “Freezer Pet” for a meat hunter like myself.

The fog was lifting fast now and I could see that there were Cow Elk all around me, I had sneaked right into the middle of his harem and he was not sure what to do about it. The “Lead Cow” was not sure what was going on either but she did not want any part of it, she turned an trotted directly past the Bull, headed for the timber line gathering the rest of his Cows as she went. I had not moved a muscle after rangeing the Bull, and I watched them as they hit the edge of the timber, and instead of dissapearing into the thick reprod, they turned, went up the ridge line, and bedded down on a small knoll just below the top. Three of the bedded Cows were positioned such, that they could cover every approach from below.

I very slowly backed out the way I had come in, this satellite bull and his harem were now bedded between me and the Ol’ Monarch bull; it was time for a new game plan. After about ten seconds of extensive and extremely agonizing soul searching, I decided that a “Rag Horn” in the freezer is better than a “Monarch” in the bush, and on the bright side….I can always horn hunt next year.

With Murphy hunting the same bunch of elk that I was, I did not feel comfortable attempting to stalk them up the middle of the clear cut; too many eyes to observe me. By the same token, the reprod was only about 25′ tall and thicker than the fleas on a dogs back, also not a good choice. After studying the approach very carefully through my binoculars, I finally decided to sneak up the edge of the timber line on the South side of the clear cut, using the stumps and root wads as cover.

Two of the Cows were looking my direction initially, I had to wait untill both were looking elsewhere before I could cross the open ground of the fire break to the saftey of the first stump. After that it was just a matter of moving quietly from stump to root wad to snag when they were not looking. After two hours and approximately 800 yards I was pinned down in a position directly below the the knoll the Elk were bedded down on, I was a little nervous as there was a 40 yard stretch of ground with no cover in front of me and I could only see two of the Cows.

I was trying to decide how to proceed when the Cow directly above me stood up, I ducked back down behind the root wad thinking that I had been busted. The fog was still moving in and out sporadically and what slight breeze there was was in my favor, as it was still fairly cool and the thermals were moving downhill. I peeked around the root wad in time to see that the Cow above me was gone and the other was just vanishing around the back of the snag that she had been bedded down at.

It was now or never; I crossed the stretch of open ground to an old snag that had been pushed over and left lying at the edge of what I took to be a small bench. I dropped my pack, removed the quiver from my bow, took out two arrows, knocked a muzzy 100 grain 3 blade broadhead, set my Parker Hunter Mag beside me at the ready and began to scan everything in front of me with my range finder.

I heard noise from above me and to me left, I set my range finder down on my pack, and peeked out around the left side of the root wad. It truly does not get any better than this; the Elk had dropped down around the timber side of the knoll, The Bull was leading the way and he would pass directly in front of and about 30 feet above me at approximately 40 yards.

I quietly slithered back over and picked up my bow; I came to full draw while still on my knees and hunkered down behind the log. When I heard the Elk passing directly in front of me, I slowly raised up bringing my bow to shooting position in the same fluidly smooth motion, I was in perfect form, my sight pin tucked in low and tight behind the front shoulder with a perfect, slightly quartering away broadside shot. Enter “Uncle Murphy”. It was a cow Elk filling my sight picture and not the Bull. They had traded places after I had ducked down.

The 5×5 Bull was about two paces behind the Cow and quartering to me, not a shot that I would take. I had a decision to make and not a lot of time to make it. I could wait, and hope that the Bull would take a couple of steps and give me a broadside shot before the Cow came to her senses and bolted, or I could flex my shoulder muscles and put this freezer pet where it belongs, in the freezer!

Just before I heard the Cow give her alarm “bark”, I recalled the words of my late father. “Horn soup don’t stick to your ribs the way Backstrap does”. So I flexed my shoulder muscles and sent out a dinner invitation, in the form of a Beman 340 ICS Hunter, and she graciously accepted my invitation with no reservations.

They would not leave after the shot ! they would not leave after the shot.

Its almost like he can not believe that he is still alive.

She dropped where she stood, and rolled down to me.

She dropped where she stood, and rolled down to me.

The Moral of this story is, If you are going to hunt with “Murphy”, you have to be prepared to change plans in mid stream without losing your game.

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