Archive for the 'Hunting Stories' Category

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Published by archerchick on 21 Apr 2012

My Introduction To ELK ~By Tim Dehn

My Introduction To ELK By Tim Dehn
Bowhunting World FEBRUARY 1990
Like many bowhunters, I’ve dreamed for years of hunting elk. That’s an appetite increased by the elk hunting manuscripts I review each month for possible use in Bowhunting World.
Some of the best have been submitted by Pat Meitin, who grew up in New Mexico and today lives part of the year there, part of the year with his parents in Lubbock, Texas.  Meitin wrote Choose When To Bugle for the October 1989 issue and Elk Hunting’s Agony And Ecstasy for our 1989-90 Bowhunting Guide.
What came through both those articles, and through letters and calls back and forth, was Meitin’s respect for the quarry and considerable skill in hunting them successfully.  So when Meitin offered to introduce me to New Mexico’s elk, my only concern was whether I could meet the challenge.
This would be nothing like hunting whitetails or small game in my native Minnesota.  If we drew permits for a game rich area of the Gila wilderness, we’d be camping on the perimeter and hiking the better part of each day in search of elk.  In the semi open country I’d need to be able to shoot well at least to 40 yards, Meiten said, and 50 would be better.  He warned me to expect plenty of walking.
Yes the staff here could spare me for a week, And yes, I assured my wife, most of the gear I’d need to buy would be put to use later for family camping trips.  I made the April 27 permit application deadline and a few weeks later got the word we’d been drawn.  Then I started whittling away at a rather considerable equipment list.  Obviously I couldn’t hunt a magnificent animal like elk in the camo clothing I’d bought piece-meal over the past few years.  Two shirts, fleece and poly/cotton pants, and lightweight gloves came out of the checkbook.  Hiking boots, an external frame backpack and  the camping gear to fill it were put on the charge card.
The card came out again when I found that boosting my bow’s draw weight by 10 pounds totally destroyed the good braodhead flight I’d enjoyed the previous year.  With the extra string, tab, broadheads and sight pins I needed anyway, the pro shop visits set me back $120. I had to invest in a better rest and new arrows to solve my tuning problems, but the people at Bwana Archery in St. Paul made sure that bow could shoot!
Ready To Hunt
And so could I, at least good enough to satisfy Meitin I’d have a chance at a bull if they were still in the areas he’d scouted the previous two weeks.  Meitin had met me at the Albuquerque airport and then stopped at a friend’s house in Socorro to pick up his own gear and get in some last-minute practice.
“Let’s see how your bow shoots at altitude,” he said, meaning, I think, “Let’s see if this desk jockey can hit anything? I found his cam bow, Catquiver, single pin, ultra-light shafts and Zwickey broad- heads a strange combination of high-tech and traditional. He shook his head over my launcher-style rest, wrist sling, bow sling, bow quiver and four pins set for 20 through 50 yards.
“You sure do have a lot of gadgets on that bow.” Stocking up on gas and food, we filled the back of the 4-wheel-drive Toyota and headed west toward Magdalena. The 1988 rig was on loan from Steven Tiesdale, Meitin explained, a friend from Lubbock who would be up to hunt the following week. Quiet and comfortable, it would have lulled me to sleep without Meitin’s lively tales of trapping and guiding in the Gila National Forest we were winding through. Camp was an abandoned shack a few miles from the boundary of the sub-unit we’d drawn.
We tumbled into our sleeping bags under a sky filled with more stars than I’d ever seen before, thanks to the 7,000 foot elevation. Hours seemed more like minutes before the 4:15 alarm brought hurried preparations for a morning afield. It was opening day of New Mexico’s 1989 archery elk season. Meitin had spotted a herd the week before on a mesa within a couple miles of the wilderness boundary. Hiking past another camp we headed out on one of the many marked trails used by hikers and the ranchers who lease grazing rights there.
As the sky began to lighten we heard hunters bugle behind us, but no elk. So we kept moving farther from the road, deeper into the wilderness where motorized traffic is banned. And then we saw them. Distant dots on a hillside resolved into feeding elk as we focused our binoculars. They were a mile and half away, across at least two ridges and three draws. We trotted downhill, and I labored up, suddenly conscious of the altitude and the weight of my well-equipped bow. By the time we reached the peak of the second ridge I was drenched in sweat and struggling to try and match Meitin’s combination of speed and stealth.
Then I heard him. Awesome, thrilling, magical — how do you describe the first moment you hear an elk bugle? I stood there transfixed till Meitin whispered. “Come on. He’s right up ahead .” The bull was upwind not more than 100 yards from us. We could smell elk, and I confess to thinking “Hey, this is easier than I thought.” We quietly cut the distance to 40 yards, to where we could see the waving top of the cedar he was shredding just over a rise. But we could also see four cows and a calf between us and the bull, and as they moved slowly in front of our still forms the wind changed. One of the cows winded us and the whole group trotted down the canyon. We were in hot pursuit, keeping brush between us and them, when Meitin signaled a sudden halt.
Bedded in the bottom of a canyon, ignored by the elk striding by, was a solitary cow elk. We climbed a ridge to skirt the cow, then we had a bit of luck. The small herd we were chasing bumped into another group of elk in the same canyon and as the bulls bugled back and forth to keep their cows collected, we caught up to them. We crouched under the limbs of a tree, arrows nocked, as one of the herds moved in front of us. They were alert, but unsure of our location.
We were pinned, with no cover for approach and no way way to retreat. Meitin hissed at me when I started to draw on the bull, so I waited, only to watch the monarch round up his ladies and head further down the canyon. All we could do was lay back and stretch our cramped and aching legs. “Why didn’t we shoot?” I asked. “They had to be within 30 yards .”
“Didn’t you hear me whisper 60’?” he replied. We had to pace it off before I would believe it: 63 yards from where we crouched to where the 5×5 bull had stood broadside. lt’s size had fooled me. The elk disappeared as they bedded, and Meitin and I did the same. I dozed fitfully in the heat, dreaming of elk all around me. I could hear them walking and munching grass, but couldn’t wake up. When I did, Meitin and I shared some crackers, a candy bar and a few swallows of water.
We hunted back towards the truck, a distance that seemed far further because there were no elk to lure us on and there was so little in our stomachs. The spring had long ago gone out of my steps and by dusk my right knee was signalling a halt. We reached the truck two hours later. The next morning when the first of Meitin’s three alarms began to chirp I awoke to find my knee red and swollen. I had visions of spending the rest of the hunt hobbling around camp but a few aspirin and a few hours later I was mobile again.
Meitin told me about a far mesa where he`d scouted a bachelor herd of bulls, if l didn’t mind getting wet. We parked our rig by two others and dropped down a 20-foot sheer cliff into a river bottom, fording and refording the water that wound down between the distant banks. The sun was shining, there were wild flowers all about and the periodic dunkings actually felt good. We left the river to follow a rocky streambed toward the mesa, then cut up the hillside toward the top. My lungs were burning as I breathed fast and deep in the thin air.
Glassing across the canyon we were climbing out of, Meitin spotted one bull bedded below a dead tree and four others feeding about it. The next 90 minutes were the most exciting I’ve spent as a hunter. We skirted the head of the canyon and tried to pick a route to the bedded 5×5. The mesa had few trees and we kept having to retreat to keep cover between us and our quarry, as additional elk seemed to sprout from the trees and threaten to expose us.
“There’s too many bulls,” Meitin smiled ruefully, heading back toward the canyon rim where we could use the slope of the land to cover our approach. Now most of the feeding elk were to our right, the dozing bull straight ahead. We dropped our packs and made the last 300 yards on hands and knees, avoiding the loose rocks and small cactus. Our last cover was a cedar no taller than ourselves. Meitin whispered the range. “Forty yards. When that feeding bull lowers its head, take your shot .” I tried to still my pounding heart as I rose and the bedded bull came into view. The arrow bounced off the rest but the moleskin saved me. I was able to draw without being spotted.
I picked a spot about one-third of the way up the bull’s chest, finished a prayer, re-leased.  And watched in disbelief as the arrow struck the bull ’s hind hoof where it lay folded against his chest. He was up and away before I could connect with a second shot, and if Meitin had suggested digging a grave I would have climbed right in. The angry bull led eight others off the mesa. We followed for half a mile, to pick up the arrow and satisfy ourselves the wound was not serious, then climbed back up to figure out what had gone wrong.
“You were shooting good this morning. Maybe I had the range wrong,” Meitin said. I was convinced he had, but kept my mouth shut about it. A few minutes later I was glad I hadn’t tried to duck the blame. I paced the distance off at 41 yards. Meitin’s long legs made it 39. I’d simply used the wrong pin. There wasn’t much time to worry about it. The thunderstorm we’d seen building for the past hour was starting to sweep across the mesa, and Meitin claimed an aversion to being struck by lightning.
The rain-slicked slopes wouldn’t support us so we followed the streambed down. Water slides can be fun, but not in the gloom when you’re carrying a bow and pack. The moss-covered rocks were treacherously slick. The third time I fell it was in a pool up to my chest. I had decided the night before that Meitin could see in the dark. Now I accused him of being part mountain goat.
Wet and cold, we pushed through the willows that choked the lower part of the stream bed and found where a mountain lion had pulled a big mule deer down. “Great,” I thought, “If if do break my leg I’d probably get eaten before morning.” We huddled under a tree in the river bottom, ate the last of our trail food and began the long walk downstream. The water was higher, faster, and colder and I counted how many crossings we made on the way out. Seventeen.
In The Fog The next morning we awoke to a thick blanket of fog. We were out before dawn anyway, following game trails through the dew- laden grass where elk had gone before us as they climbed out of a river bottom. Fresh rubs enticed us on, but the bulls weren’t bugling and there was no way to find them in the fog. Instead of spooking what might be just ahead, we huddled beneath some bushes until the mid-morning sun broke through. I was glad I’d followed Meitin’s advice about bringing something warm and waterproof — a Stormtek fleece parka from Fieldline.
It was late afternoon before we spotted elk, three cows and calves feeding in a valley. Constantly checking the wind with a plastic scent bottle he’d refilled with talcum powder, Meitin led the stalk. We froze when a 250- pound calf appeared on the opposite side of a
 bush, 8 yards from me and even closer to my partner. “If you want to take a cow, that’s okay with me,” Meitin had whispered minutes before. So I drew as one stopped in a downhill opening 35 yards away. and mentally chalked her up. We’d been seeing bulls everyday and midway through the hunt it was too hard to give up the hoped-for rack.
We headed back through another rain-storm, lightning striking the high mesa around us. Warming up with a cup of hot chocolate back at camp, Meitin checked the map of our hunting area. “You know where we saw the cows, and then crossed the fence at the bottom of the canyon. The map says that ’s eight miles from where we parked the truck.” “So we walked 16 miles today?” “Plus some wandering around  he responded.
Tuesday started off with promise. Driving to an area we’d hunted two days before, we caught elk in the headlamps. A small herd, including an average bull, was leaving a river- bottom pasture and a frantic calf couldn`t find its way through the fence. We parked the truck out of sight and hurried uphill, hoping to catch up with the bull at dawn. Waiting on the ridge we heard him bugle below us and decided to give chase. The herd passed us halfway down and it turned into an uphill race again, with more hunters joining from the road below.
Meitin fumed at their repeated bugling and cow talking; it seemed to quiet, not encourage the bull in front of us. We were within 60 yards of the 240 bull, a spike and two cows when the leader decided he had enough and chased his charges over the hill. They were out of sight down the ridge when we reached the top. Two receding bugles kept us pounding along until Meitin screeched to a sudden halt. We’d burst into a herd of cattle and with a stomp and a snort an old cow stampeded the lot of them down the ridge, directly after the elk.
There followed a short discussion on the merits of cattle and of how satisfying it might be to blunt a particular cow. There were still elk to be hunted. With Meitin`s direction I could pick out the tan blobs with my Steiner’s at a range of three miles. but we needed a break.
We drove 40 miles into town and filled up with gas and cheap burritos, then returned to our unit to check two hunting areas close to the road. Both had plenty of bowhunters. Dirty and a little discouraged, we decided to take a rancher up on an earlier offer of a hot shower. We got wet all right, but it wasn’t quite what we expected.
Blocking a river crossing in front of us was an older El Camino with Wisconsin plates. Pulling it out was a new four wheel drive Chevy pickup and three helpful Florida bowhunters. We smiled as the Toyota cruised through with no problems, but 30 minutes later our expressions had changed. The rancher wasn’t home, and the river had doubled in size by the time we returned to the crossing. Rain upstream was swelling it by the minute.
Bowhunters from two rigs watched as we eased into the water and then punched it.  We made it all of one-third of the way across before the engine drowned. Water was lapping at the hood as we crawled out of the windows. It took agonizing minutes for our would-be rescuers to hook together their chains and tie a rope to the end. When Meitin leaned into the torrent to catch the rope his feet were swept out from under him. He caught at a bush; I caught his wrist. Then we both fought the current and the branches it was sweeping along to get the chain hooked to the top of the bumper.
Moments later we were out of the flood with the Toyota bumper bent a crazy angle. The engine compartment was packed with pine cones, sticks and bark. It took us 30 minutes to get the motor going, rising water lapping at our feet like a reminder of the mistake we’d made in challenging this rugged land.
Down To The Wire
We slept-in the next moming. I was down to two days but not yet discouraged. Meitin had been getting us within range every day; now all we needed was a change in luck that would bring him another trophy bull or me my first elk. That afternoon we parked near a roadside hunting camp and headed up a dry wash, then followed a winding ridge into the wilderness area.
We skirted a video crew and followed the fresh tracks past wallows and beaten cedars. It wasn`t long before we heard, then saw. cow elk just over a rise. They were 35 yards away and should have been easy targets, but our greed got in the way. The herd bull was approaching and we stayed crouched over, then slowly rose when he passed behind some cover 40 yards away. Not slowly enough, apparently.
The bull took his herd out of there in a hurry. We blew a second stalk, this time on a lone cow. That was too much for Meitin. “I couldn’t stalk a dead dog this week,” he said, throwing his bow to the ground. But the elk weren’t through with us.
Turning for home we stopped on top of a ridge and spotted more elk across a canyon. We hurried after them and snuck within 80 yards before running out of cover. Crouched behind a tree, Meitin alternately bugled and cow talked to try and bring the elk off the wooded hillside and within range. There was a rag bull, about 10 cows and a wall hanger that Meiten estimated would score 340 or better.
Every time one of the cows would head our way the big bull would round it up like an angry sheepdog. Before long he got them into a bunch and literally prodded them over the hill and out of sight. It was getting dark fast, and we were in for a nasty surprise. A shortcut back to the truck turned into one canyon after another, some so steep they sent us doubling back. It didn’t help that my compass and Meitin`s dead reckoning didn’t agree.
“I don’t know which direction North is. I just know where the truck 1s.” He was right, but it was midnight before we knew it. If grit alone were rewarded, we should have gotten an animal the next day. Because dawn found us in the woods again, trailing elk up from the river bottom. We caught the group within a mile of the road, close to a fresh rub we’d seen the day before. But there ’s a big difference between seeing elk and getting close enough to shoot.
We were still 50 yards from the cows and another 30 from the bull when they got suspicious and moved out. Meitin kept us on the fresh trail and four miles later we caught them moving up a wooded valley. We moved down the hillside, keeping in the sun so the rising thermals would carry our scent from them. Then, some motion or sound betrayed us and again our quarry strode over the ridge. We hunted into evening, but not as intensely. I tried to drink in the scenery, the majestic pines, the blue mist on the distant mountains, the rosy sunset. They were part of the memories that were all I would be bringing back. They were enough.
>>—>
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Published by archerchick on 13 Apr 2012

Erv Plotz Hard to Keep this Bowhunter Down on The Farm by Jay Strangis

Erv Plotz Hard to Keep this Bowhunter Down on The Farm by Jay Strangis
Bowhunting World April 1990
Erv Plotz says he’s had his hunts and he’s settling down. No more playing tag with grizzly bears. No more chasing ghosts in the desert. No more freezing toes with Eskimos or fistfights in frontier lodges. No. Erv Plotz is fifty years old and he’s giving up the wild life. And why not? Not every world-class bow-hunter is able to retire to the peace of a Minnesota farm when he’s given up the chase. Just because that farm is home — always has been. It`s where he plans to live quietly the rest of his days, he says. And if anyone believes that, they also must believe muskox can fly.
An unlikely combination of farmer-trophy hunter, Plotz  has bowhunted on two continents, taken countless big game animals, placed nine trophies in the Pope and Young record book and notched several bow hunting firsts. People like Erv Plotz don’t just fade away. Try as he might to act reserved, the man still has  an uncontrolled “let’s go hunting”  look in his eye. A gleam that he’s no doubt carried throughout his 36 years as a bow-hunter, and one that’s not likely to dim. He probably displayed that gleam at age 14, while making his first bow.
Denied any use of guns, the farm boy decided he’d do like Native American Indians. The lemonwood limbs he fashioned were crude, as were the arrows he carved from dowels, with chicken feathers for fletching. But by the time he reached ninth grade, he had bow-killed his first deer. The man with a passion for bow-hunting and adventure has bow-killed 46 whitetails since.
Throughout Plotz’ life, others have seemed to identify his adventurous spirit, and the connection has resulted in some memorable experiences. When he joined the military in the l950s, he was sent to Europe. Of course, his bow accompanied him and his target shooting time actually increased. Plotz shot every day, and the longbow became a trademark of the young man. Native Europeans witnessing his skill and hearing of his passion for hunting, couldn’t resist inviting him into the field.
One such invitation came in France, where Plotz earned honors as the first modern bowhunter in Europe to kill a wild boar. He also arrowed a roe deer. Good fortune never has been in short supply for Plotz. An Austrian man whose family survived on American
C-rations during World War II met Plotz and his commanding sergeant, insisting that he take the two on a chamois hunt as a token of his gratitude. They accepted, and Plotz took a 13-year-old chamois ram in a hunt amidst the Austrian peaks. Today such a hunt is comparable to that for North America’s desert bighorn sheep, accessible only to the very lucky, or the very rich.
License To Brag
At home in the sleepy town of Clements, Minnesota, Erv Plotz sits at a dining room table, and directs his eyes past the buildings that house his hogs, across the sweeping soy-bean fields that line the horizon. He grew up in that direction, just two miles away, and like an old buck, he`s spent his life in the same territory, with an occasional foray beyond. Behind Plotz, on the other side of the farmyard, is a grassy area he uses to practice archery. He’s fired many arrows over that ground, most with a bare bow, the way his childhood idol, Howard Hill, had.
Only in the last two years has he shot with a compound bow. As a matter of fact, of the 14 bow-killed animals in Plotz’ trophy room, only his pronghorn antelope was taken using sights. Plotz still likes to handle the bow he used for many years, a 102—pound longbow made for him by Martin Archery. He’s also shot recurve and longbows by Bear Archery and Paul Bunyan Archery, but the Martin bow is a part of Plotz’ most memorable adventures. In fact, the bow itself, combined with Plotz’ ego, earned hunts in some very strange ways. On a hunt for stone sheep in British Columbia, Plotz first turned the bow to his advantage, even though his sheep hunt was a rifle kill.
Outfitter Frank Cook, Plotz` host and one of the most notable guides of the region. took a look at the longbow Plotz carried with him and scoffed at its 102-pound draw weight and slender design. Cook called the bow “a stick” and offered to wager that his son who would arrive in a few days could break the bow. Never one to avoid a good argument. Plotz accepted, but changed the terms of the wager. All Cook’s son had to do was pull the bow to win. At stake was the cost of a moose hunt. Plotz shot his stone sheep on the eighth day of the hunt. He was elated, but that soon turned to a case of nerves after Cook`s son arrived. The boy weighed more than 250 pounds and was as strong as an ox. The moment of truth had arrived. The bow looked like a toothpick in the hands of the overgrown youth. But as he prepared to draw he made one mistake. Instead of raising his elbow to draw the bow, he held the joint against his body and tried to draw from the hip, without raising the bow at all.
After the second attempt Plotz said he knew the moose hunt was his. The boy tired so much in the first two tries there was no way he would succeed if he pulled all day. Only a few years later, another run-in with a critic of Plotz’ bow would lead to a hunt for a trophy mountain lion. The “doubting Thomas” this time turned out to be a Canadian government cat hunter from the Kettle River area of British Columbia. Plotz met the man in a bar and had to listen to him cast insults at the bow’s ability to still a lion. Plotz argued with the man and invited him to “bring on the cat.”
The next day Plotz found himself waist deep in snow following a bunch of rough and ready cat hounds. He reached the treed lion first, but as agreed, had to wait for the government hunter and his pals to arrive to witness the shot. The cougar turned out to be the largest cat taken in Canada up to that time, scoring 14 11/16 P&Y points, weighing 147 pounds and measuring 92.5 inches from nose to tail.
Getting Physical
Plotz and his wife, Donna, have five children. Erv Plotz is especially proud of his sons. He says the boys are tough, and it`s obvious that’s important to him. Erv Plotz is a pretty tough customer him-self. At 50, he’s in better shape than many people half his age. Hard work has kept him that way. When the farm economy slumped. Plotz started a part-time hardwood logging business, a job which nearly cost him his life last year.
Felling huge ash trees in a boggy area with one of his sons, Plotz was struck by a misguided tree. The trunk pinned his leg against the ground, breaking it, and as the angered logger thrashed to pull himself free, he broke his arm against another tree.
One might say Erv Plotz is the physical sort. He also makes friends in strange ways. In a lodge at God’s Lake, Northwest Territories. Plotz happened to mix words with a stranger, another U.S. citizen. The two finished their debate with fisticuffs, but parted company  peacefully. So much so that months later Plotz got a call from another man inviting him on a Canadian fishing trip, and eventually their friendship led them to plan an Alaskan sheep hunt.
Plotz response:    ” When you go hunting you really meet super guys. I think hunters are a very elite group, the best people, especially bowhunters.”
Bringing ’em Back
Erv and Donna Plotz’ traditional attractive farmhouse looks like many other Mid-western country homes – until one gets inside. Past the friendly kitchen and through a warm dining room a menagerie of critters wait to greet the visitor. More than a trophy room, the Plotz’ living room resembles a natural history museum.
A full mounted grizzly bear guards the door to the patio, closely attended bythe full mount of Plotz’ British Columbia lion. On other walls, whitetail, caribou, pronghorn, mountain goat and sheep heads keep watch, while a full-mounted desert bighorn sheep perches on a corner rockpile, replete with a barrell cactus.
Perhaps the strangest creature of all, and certainlythe only one ever to grace the town of Clements, dominates the room: A full-mounted muskox. The muskox holds special significance for Plotz.
It is , he says, the first muskox ever killed by a white man in the Northwest Territories of Canada. It also ranked second in the world, at one time, among Pope and Young records. Plotz got a tip about the special muskox hunt from Jack Atcheson, a taxidermist in Butte Montana.
In February 1980, Plotz found himself accompanied by three rifle hunters who also held permits, two game wardens and seven Eskimos on a wild trip across the frozen tundra on 12-foot wooden sleds pulled by snow-mobile, with only snow drifts to guide them. The natives don’t use compasses, Plotz notes, finding their way by observing the prevailing winds’ imprint on the drifts.
That night, among a village of Eskimos, Plotz` and his bow attracted considerable atention. The natives were fascinated by the idea of a man who might kill a muskox with an arrow. The flattery couldn’t stem P1otz’ worries. He wasn`t sure what would happen when he loaded-up the 102-pound bow at 38 degrees below zero. The next day he got his answer.
Travelling with a native guide, Plotz and the man spotted a dark figure alone on the sea of white. Muskox! They circled for an upwind stalk after identifying the animal as what looked to be a large. bedded bull. They got within yards of the beast and the guide told Plotz to shoot as soon as the animal gained its feet. But at a temperature of almost 40 below, even the guides hollering couldn’t bring the animal from its bed.
When it finally arose, Plotz killed the 103 2/8 trophy. Only one other hunter succeeded in killing a muskox on that hunt, that with a rifle. Plotz` ever-changing luck took a sudden turn when he developed food poisoning from the native cuisine. He left camp only to be detained later by customs officials at Edmonton. Alberta, who confiscated his trophy and gear. Seems they hadn’t heard a rare muskox hunt had been established. It took Plotz more  than a day to resolve the situation.
Versatile Hunter
Erv Plotz loves to bowhunt. But over the years he’s also developed skills as a rifle hunter. One of the accomplishments that brings him the most pride is the completion of a Grand Slam for sheep in just three and one-half years. To complete the Grand Slam, Plotz needed 1 desert bighorn. In a wild piece of luck, he was one of six hunters drawn to hunt the trophy   animals in Arizona, and he hoped that his fourth sheep species would be the first he would take with a bow.
Plotz prepared for the hunt for four months, running over 12 miles each day on the dusty roads surrounding Clements, contacting  any  person who might help narrow down locations for a trophy desert bighorn,   practicing with his bow. By the time the December hunt came along, he was ready. Plotz learned that an Arizona game warden knew the general location of a ram with world record potential.
The warden had photographed the sheep in the Mount Wilson area. Upon seeing the photo, Plotz became obsessed. Interested in the novelty of bowhunting desert sheep, a crowd organized to assist Plotz in his pursuit. The game warden with the photograph took two weeks vacation to attend the hunt. The president of the Bighom Sheep Society would serve as guide and a flock of outfitters would come along to assist.
It was a big sheep camp to chase just one ram, but this was big territory. According to the game warden, the 2,000 square miles they could hunt held just 12 legal rams. The party never did find the once-photo- graphed monster sheep, but did manage to locate a very large ram which Plotz, bow in hand, stalked unsuccessfully four times before the animal finally left the territory.
Days later, when they finally spotted another good ram, Plotz knew the time had come to put away the bow and take out the rifle. His companions were furious. They had come all this way to see the sheep bow-killed. Plotz resisted the pressure. His permit allowed him to take the ram with a rifle, and he was through risking a rare Grand Slam just to appease his ego and the egos of his companions. He might never have this chance again if he lived 10 lifetimes. The next day, he carried the entire sheep, gutted, out on his back — Erv Plotz style.
Wh0’s Stalking Whom
The moose hunt Erv Plotz won years earlier never did produce an animal for him. A world-record class bull had been spotted, but between tangled country and overly aggressive young guides, Plotz’ yearning for a record book moose continued to be only that, a yearning. Seventeen days of brush-battling scratches and frozen toes sent him home only hungrier.
He returned to the northwest several years later. this time Alaska. with hopes of hanging that moose and a grizzly bear. Bowhunting the Christmas Creek area near Nome, Plotz sighted many grizzlies, and one morning saw a path to a stalk. The bear was out in the muskeg, a spongy area where travel was slow, but the low brush offered a chance for an open shot. After sneaking within range, he let go an arrow that zipped low, parting the belly hairs of the giant bruin. Startled, the bear began looking for its adversary, advancing in a slow, circling stalk of its own.
Plotz was unnerved. He managed to escape, but vowed not to put himself in such a spot again. Several days later he bagged a grizzly with his rifle. In the same camp, several hunters returned one day to report seeing a large bull moose on a small lake a short plane flight away. Plotz and the bush pilot took off immediately, knowing if they could spot the animal and land, they would have to sit out the r quired waiting period before legally pursuing the bull. Wind and bad weather greeted them as they reached the lake and spotted the bull. The pilot refused to land under the conditions. With no way to estimate the direction of mountain wind currents on the way down, an attempted landing could prove fatal.
Plotz would likely have jumped from the plane if he hadn’t had another idea. Snatching an arrow from his quiver, he tied a long ribbon to the fletching and dropped it over a gravel slide. The arrow planted itself firmly in the escarpment and the ribbon tailed away with the wind. With their windsock in place, the two put down safely on the lake. Plotz arrowed the bull, a 182 2/8 trophy, the next day, but the weather worsened and for three more days the hunter and pilot remained trapped with the moose carcass under the Alaskan fog.
Closer To Home
In addition to his adventures shooting three P&Y caribou and a P&Y pronghorn antelope with his bow, Erv Plotz takes great pride in the hunting he grew up with near home. Redwood County, Minnesota, is whitetail deer country — farmland, that holds more crop than anything else —where fence-lines mean cover and tiny sloughs hold giant bucks. Several miles away is the lush, forested Minnesota River valley. But Plotz says the bucks prefer the sparse upland habitat most of the year. He might know. Plotz’ many whitetail bow-kills include three P&Y qualifying bucks, with the best two of the three listed in the record book. Vacant groves, creeks and other islands of habitat hold the biggest deer in Redwood County, by Plotz’ estimation. The bucks may like to visit the vast river bottoms on occa- sion, but they don’t like to stay there, he says. He prefers to stalk the deer when he can, or take a ground blind where line fences meet small sloughs.
Last year he spotted what he called a “super buck,” but was unable to bowhunt following his logging accident. The gleam returns to the wild man ’s eye — he ’s checked with every meat locker in the county — the buck wasn’t taken before the season came to a close.
Always Something More
Cutting through the reserved exterior of the new Erv Plotz isn’t difficult, just mention elk or carp, two critters that light him up like a firecracker. For seven years Plotz has been chasing bull elk on an acquaintance’s 10,000-acre spread in Montana, and for seven years he has failed to score. Of course, he doesn’t want to just kill any elk any way. He wants a six by six or better, and he’s going to kill it with a bow.
He’s already practicing with one of his sons for the fall trip, and advising the boy that if he can’t hit the vitals at 60 yards, don’t bother coming to hunt. The area Plotz hunts is wide open country, with lots of bulls and very little cover.
Plotz now shoots an Oneida Screaming Eagle compound, something he picked up a couple of years ago, the same time he first began using sights. He says it just seemed like the time to start catching up with the advantages most other bowhunters enjoyed in speed and range. The feeling is enforced by his experiences watch- ing bull elk on the outside of his bow range.
Elk and a funny looking fish have little in common, except to Plotz. He`s been bowfishing carp for years in the springtime, and gets that crazy look when the subject arises. He wants a big carp as much as that big bull elk. As a matter of fact, he’s planning to shoot a new state record carp to add to the 40 and 42- pound fish he’s already harvested, and he says he knows where the big carp lives.
Seated at his dining room table under a mounted 40 pound carp, Plotz seems almost relaxed as he summarizes his career. “The farming hasn’t been as good as the hunting,” he quips. And he speaks of his 50 years as if it’s a lifetime come to an end —all the good luck and bad luck, close calls and the many people he’s met over the years. Suddenly, he perks up. Seems there’s this giant muskie waiting for him up at Lake of the Woods, Ontario, and he’s just got to get up there as soon as possible and catch that fish. The gleam is back.
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Published by archerchick on 12 Apr 2012

Bowhunting in Paradise ~By Dale Schlehuber

Bowhunting in Paradise  By Dale Schlehuber

Bowhunting World April 1990

There ’s a bunch feeding about 300 yards below us in that brushy pocket,” whispered my father. Clifford Schlehuber had spotted 20 of Hawaii’s axis deer through his 10x binoculars from a bare knob on the ridge that divides the island of Lanai. “I’ll head over to that notch where that bunch ran Friday and try to ambush them if they get spooked,” he advised, “and you can try stalking them. But go slow! Remember, every bush and clump of trees has a deer hiding in it! ” At various times during our week-long hunt, we had spooked as many as 10 or 15 deer while stalking other animals. We had learned that the spotted axises had used the same notch to escape a hunter, so this time Clifford would be in position to arrow an animal before it could disappear into the bottom of a 500-foot-deep, two-mile-long volcanic gulch.

 

After waiting a half hour while Clifford circled behind the available cover to get to his “stand”, I started down the steep hillside, slowly stepping to avoid any leaves or twigs, following any strips of bare, red volcanic dirt, while trying to maintain visual contact with the grazing herd. The axises had routinely come out for an afternoon lunch after
disappearing early in the morning fog that is common in Lanai. Their routines and escape patterns had been learned only alter three hard days of hunting. Too often a “perfect stalk” had been thwarted by an unseen deer, so each step was followed by a careful inspection of every bush and tree. To my right a 15-foot-high mound provided an excellent observation point high enough to clearly see the herd of deer above the surrounding thicket of trees blocking my planned path. As I topped the mound, I saw movement out of the corner of my eye, freezing me in my tracks.

 

Achingly. l sat down and spun on my rump toward the movement. A half-grown fawn was eating leaves only 35 yards away. After five minutes, junior’s mother appeared from behind a clump of brush 30 yards away. I had pre-set my moveable SightMaster crosshairs for that exact range, and I knew my 65-pound PSE MagnaFlite bow would send the 2114 XX75 arrow tipped with a Razorback 5 broadhead through her chest and might hit the fawn directly behind her. Waiting until the fawn moved out of the line of fire, I slowly raised, drew and picked the spot for a heart shot.

 

Just as I was releasing half my breath and increasing back tension, a set of antlers moved above the bush the doe had been in. Letting down as slowly as my burning muscles allowed, I watched the upper fork of the small buck bob back and forth as he fed. Although not a trophy class deer, he was a buck, and we hadn’t seen any horns while glassing the herd. As this was our last day of hunting, I didn’t want to return to Montana empty handed (Sure, you went to Hawaii hunting! See any two-pointers on the beach?), so I resolved to take back a tanned cream and spot-covered doe hide to add to my collection. Now, I had the opportunity for the dark brown and spotted hide of a buck along with plaque-mounted horns!

 

Distinctive Coloration

 

Axis deer are natives of India and Ceylon that are spotted for life. Does have a dark chocolate dorsal stripe that turns to a golden honey brown down their sides, becoming a creamy color and white on the belly. Nickle size spots are arranged in rows throughout the body. Bucks tend to be chocolate colored down to the belly, with older males having a charcoal color on the front shoulders and neck. The horns of axises usually have three points to a side; brow tines with a forked main branch are the norm. Large bucks will have horns in the 30-inch-plus category, and make an impressive mount. Although the average buck weighs 160 pounds, some have been known to reach 250.

Axises prefer open parkland forests, but will adapt to dense rain forest. Lanai ’s kiawe (mesquite type) mid zone and the upper ridge’s eucalyptus forest provide ideal habitat. For 15 minutes the antlers moved about the thicket, without my getting a glimpse of the buck. The entire time the doe remained broadside 30 yards away, making any attempt to move impossible. Adrenaline surged through my system. as nothing can make me get “buck fever” quicker than hearing my quarry nearby but not being able to see it. Trying to calm myself, I recalled the first day of our hunt. We had spotted six deer, one a huge charcoal colored buck with 32 inch V horns and long, heavy brow tines. After a two-hour stalk covering only 200 yards, and spooking a jackrabbit-sized fawn at 10-feet that, fortunately, ran away from the herd, I finally positioned myself for a 25-yard, head-on shot.
As the buck exposed his throat while feeding on an overhead limb, I drew and released too rapidly, resulting in the arrow being deflected left of the mark by a small branch that in my haste, I had not seen. The buck and the herd disappeared into a deep gulch in seconds. Lanai is a small island forming a triangle with the islands of Molokai and Maui. The volcanic island rises steeply from the ocean, with most ofthe shoreline being 200- to 300- foot-high cliffs. The steep slope continues from the ocean upward to the plateau on the center ofthe island. This flat portion is where pineapples are grown. The northern edge of the plateau is bordered by a high ridge that rises to 3,000 feet, high enough to catch the moist trade winds. Often, this ridge is shrouded in fog and rain, providing the island with water from deep wells. Lanai City, the only town, has a population of 1,400 inhabitants, most of whom are of Filipino, Japanese and Hawaiian ancestry, brought to Lanai to cultivate 19,000 acres of pineapples by the island’s original owner, Dole.
Now, Lanai is  owned by Castle and Cook Co, whose CEO is David Murdock, a main-land businessman. Koele Company manages the islands pineapple operation, and administers the year-round fee hunting program for axis deer on the eastern half of the island. Archery permits good for the entire year cost $100, while rifle hunters must pay $280 for a one-day hunt.
The fee half of the island is divided into several zones so that each hunter can reserve an  area for himself. For a nominal fee. a guide can be hired through the Koele Company. The best time to get trophy antlers is from May through November. Horns in all stages of
developement can be seen due to the length of the matinig season. Now the real good news! The western half of the island is mantained for public hunting of axis deer and maouflon sheep. The archery season for deer is usually the last two Sundays of February (It’s a great way to take the wife on vacation and still get in some hunting.)
The nrst two Sundays of August constitute the mouflon season A one-year, non-resident license costs, get this, $20! Not only can you hunt axis deer and mouflon sheep on Lanai. but you can travel to neighboring islands and hunt feral pigs, feral goats, feral sheep, and if you draw a special permit, blacktail deer. Depending on the island and zone of the island, the limit can be two pigs and two goats . . . per day!  Also, Hawaii has over 15 species of game birds. including three varieties of francolin grouse. three types of pheasant, three types of dove, and Rio Grande turkey. All this for $20.
Summer Vacation Hunt
My mainland friends could not believe that I was going to Hawaii exclusively to hunt, especially in August. However, low summer airfares and the ability to combine the public hunt for mouflon with the private hunting for axis deer had me anxiously awaiting August’s arrival. We had decided to hunt deer for three days, then take a day off to participate in a tournament sponsored by the local archery club, No Nuff Archers, for the over 300 hunters that arrive for the mouflon season. The tournament is held on a Saturday, followed by a banquet and awards ceremony.
Hawaiians really know how to have fun! We were greeted at the airport by Assistant Game Warden Ken Sabino whom I had met in February on my first visit to Lanai. Ken had arranged for us to use his jeep, although vehicles are available at local service stations. If you rent be sure to ask for a four-wheel drive or pickup as there is little asphalt on Lanai, and most roads to hunting areas are poorly maintained.
Ken then gave us some bad news. The deer had so badly damaged the pineapple fields that the usual surrounding archery zones had been opened for shotgun hunting during weekends. Additionally, special wardens had been spotlighting and shooting the troublesome deer. We were in for some tough hunting, as the axises are normally spookier than our deer of the mainland.
Currently Lanai has only a 14-room hunting lodge, but Koele is building a first class hotel to entice scuba divers to Lanai’s crystal clear waters which are considered the best in Hawaii. However, I recommend the Hotel Lanai not only for its great dinners, but also the evening sessions on the hotel`s porch, where locals usually gather to swap hunting stores. I hope the flavor of the lodge and island will remain even after the larger hotel is completed.
Also there is an excellent beach where camping is allowed, but reservations must be made in advance. Toilets, showers and fire pits are available, and a quick swim in the ocean after a hard day of hunting really relaxes a fellow.
Pre-Hunt Tour Helps
 After we had settled in, we took a brief tour of the hunting area. Clifford was amazed by the ruggidness and variance of terrain and t His preconceived notion of a tropical rainforest covering the entire island were dashed by the island’s desert zones. Only the 3,000 foot high ridge north of Lanai City was vegetated, covered by a eucalyptus and pine forest. The other two zones were totally different mainly because of the constant mist which provides moisture on the ridge top. The coastal zone vegetation is similar to southwest of Texas mesquite. In this zone, the axises drink the brackish water of tidal pools, since there are no flowing streams on the island.
The steep, rocky, deeply gulched kiawe zone lies between the coast and cultivated plateau zones. This zone is very similar to the arid hills of the Snake and Columbia Rivers of  eastern Washington state.
For three exhausting days we traveled up and down ridges and gulches rising out of abandoned pineapple fields. Later, we learned that in their native India the deer are preyed upon by tigers. Natural selection had made them  warier than even whitetail deer.
Each day we took a two-gallon jug of water to fill our bota bags. The 85-degree humid climate resulted in an empty jug each evening. Our best discovery was that the abandoned fields had volunteer pineapples the locals called sugar pines” because they are much sweeter than those that are harvested.
Sugar pine juice and a sandwich was our lunch. On Friday the mouflon hunters began arriving on DC-3`s used to transfer them from other islands. That evening we exchanged hunting tales with the Hawaiian hunters who had rented a house for the weekend, The Hawaiians were as eager to hear our Montana elk hunting stories as we were to try the local dishes some hunters had prepared for the communal meal. Never have I met people who became friends as easily as the Lanai hunters.
Saturday, I participated in the 28 target tournament, designed as a warm-up for Sunday`s opening day of mouflon hunting. That evening, the No-Nuff Archers held an awards banquet. There were trophies for each division and three flights of first. second, and third places were presented.
Early Sunday morning, we jumped into the jeeps after a quick breakfast of rice and fish balls, which also were wrapped in dried seaweed and placed into fanny packs for our lunch. A large jeep caravan headed towards the public portion of the island. the caravan’s headlights lighting up the spiny tops of the acres of pineapples. That morning the sheep moved up and down the kiawe zone due to the pressure of 300 hunters moving about. I saw at least a dozen full curl rams, but couldn’t cross to the other side of the rimrocked canyon in which I was hunting.
Later in the afternoon. the sheep bedded down in the thick. man-high silver koa brush, somewhat like a thick, twisted willow. Mouflon sheep, natives of southern Europe, are the smallest of the world’s wild sheep. Ewes are usually a light sandy color, while mature rams have forequarters and backs that are black with a white saddle. Ram`s horns are large for the size ofthe animal, similar to a desert bighorn, with full curl and 1 1/4 curl trophies found on Lanai.
Occasionally, rather than curling outward, the horn will come back in close to the ram’s head, much like an aoudad or Barbary sheep. Non-residents may hunt mouflon only during the archery season, while Hawaiians must enter a special drawing lor licenses to hunt them with rifles.
I spotted two groups of rams and decided to try stalking the nearest trio bedded in the koa. After an hour and a half, I managed to get 80 yards from two full curls and a three-quarter curl. The stalk suddenly ended when another archer appeared on the ridgeline and spooked the rams. Five minutes later. I spotted them two canyons away, at least two hours of hard hiking for me. I elected to try for the other group of five rams and hiked in their direction. Again, just as I was nearing reasonable bow range, they were spooked by other hunters.
That Sunday no mouflon were taken, y although several archers had opportunities. David Yasumura. one of the Honolulu hunters with whom l had become acquainted. would have qualified for a “ram fever” award if one had been given. Despite having finished second overall in the previous day`s tournament, he emptied his quiver twice. trying to knock down a mouflon ram.
Buck Ignores Warning
 As I recalled the week`s events. the favorable breeze decided to swirl. The doe stared at
my unmoving form. I avoided eye contact, and my thoughts became serene and peaceful, reminding me of a superstition I have. I believe animals have senses other than the five humans have, and can “catch” thoughts.
It didn`t work, however, and she began a “head bob” routine that I had seen many whitetails perform: Fake a move for a bite of grass . . . head up quickly . . . fake the head down a little lower. . . spring up with the head and stare for 30 seconds . . . down again almost to ground level this time . . . and, up again. Then, she had my scent because the wind was directly to her. Three sharp stamps of her foot alerted the fawn, and, I assumed, the buck. also. A high-pitched “bark” and away she and her fawn sped. but without the buck. Where was he?
Doing a “duck walk” around the left side of the mound allowed me to see one of his escape routes. I hoped he hadn`t headed for the herd and spooked them, too. Wait! Freeze! There he was 50 yards away. and not running, but leisurely eating. The young buck had ignored the doe’s warning and was now broadside, neck stretched upward as he nibblcd at the fruit of a pukawie tree. The 50 yards downhill were almost bare, providing no chance of getting closer. However, I had spent the summer at our local club range and felt comfortable taking a shot at this distance. l set the sight for46 yards, allowing for the slope. I drew, let out half my breath. held the left arm solid with hand relaxed. increased back tension. and smoothly released.
The arrow sped toward the lung shot I had chosen, however, at this distance there was enough time for the buck to react to the string noise. He stepped forward. the arrow hitting him in the middle. As he circled towards where the doe had been. I could see that the liver shot was going to require some tough tracking in the dense brush in the basin.
I waited an hour before beginning to track. The orange XX75 shaft, minus the last six inches. was laying  10 yards from where the deer had been hit. The surrounding brush`s green leaves were splashed with small, almost misty red dots. making blood trail tracking more difficult. And I knew there would be no blood trail from the liver shot anyway. But, I
still looked. I began making sweeps in the general direction me deer had gone, using the  broken shaft as the center of each increasingly bigger arc.
I heard an animal crash through brush as if it had been spooked from its bed. I was sure  it had been the buck, and searched the area roughly. Three hours later we headed back in the dark. I spent a sleepless night. knowing a wounded animal was suffering. In six years of bagging several deer, two elk, an antelope and a rocky Mountain goat,  I had never lost a hit animal.
The next morning we packed our gear for our trip home. Clifford suggested we drop our bags at the airport and return to the hollow for one more hour or searching. Dad knew how much I wanted to find that buck.
Parking the jeer, Clifford headed up the hillside while I went toward the spot where I thought I had jumped the bedded deer. “l found him! I found him!” Clifford yelled. He hadn’t walked 50 yards in the waist high ferns before he almost stepped on the hidden carcass Bowhunting rarely goes as planned, and this trip has been no exception. We both had missed some relatively easy shots at deer and had had an excellent time chasing the sharp-eyed Mouflon. However. I am dreaming of returning next August not only for the hunting and beautiful scenery, but especially for renewing contacts with the friendly people on the pineapple island of Lanai.
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Published by archerchick on 12 Apr 2012

Texas Record Book Weekend- By Thomas L Torget

Texas Record Book Weekend – By Thomas L. Torget
Archery World February 1989

Two Florida Archers Arrive At A Sprawling South Texas Ranch For a Weekend Bowhunt. They leave with THREE Pope and Young Whitetails. Is This Place Special?

For George Cooper, “buck fever’”, is
something that happens to the other
guy. After taking almost 100 deer during
the last 30 years of hunting, George is pretty relaxed
when facing yet another routine shot at yet
another routine buck.

At least, that’s how it used to be. Things changed dramatically at 9 a.m.
last October 11. That is when George was overwhelmed
with all the classic symptoms of this dreaded

hunter’s disease: dry rnouth, pounding heart
high blood pressure, shortness of breath,
sweaty palms and trembling fingers.

ln short, Cooper was completaly unglued.
“I had adrenaline up to my eyeballs!” admits
the veteran Florida bowhunter, “I.was so
shaken up I Was sure I’d have a heart attack
and crash right out of my, stand, I’ve.never
been so rattled in my life. It was horrible.”
The cause of all this emotion was a solitary
whitetail buck. When the deer lifted its, head
high as it stood 80 yards away, Cooper knew
this buck was special. Its thick rack sported
10 enormous tines that seemed to reach toward
the south Texas sky. As the buck stepped
out and began moving down the trail, the bow
hunter eased into position fo ra shot.

“There were several does and smaller
bucks nearby when I first saw him,” he
explains. “He walked slowly toward the pond in
front of my stand. When he reached the water’s
edge and lowered his head for a drink, he
was just 15 yards away. I tried drawing my 80-
pound bow, but l was shaking badly. The arrow
rattled against the rest and the sudden
noise spooked all the deer.”

The big buck, however, did not panic. He
slowly trotted off, stopping 45 yards away.
When the deer tumed broadisde and glanced
back toward the pond, Cooper didn’t hesitate.
He held his 40-yard sight pin behind the
buck’s shoulder and let the arrow fly.

“I flubbed the shot badly,” he concedes.
“I was sure he was 40 yards out, but he was
actually closer to 50. My arrow sailed right
under his chest and off he went. I felt totally
miserable about screwing up such an opportunity.
Bowhunters don’t get chances like that
every day. In fact, most of us never see a buck
that big, much less get a shot at him.”
Five minutes later, the impossible happened:

The big buck came back. As the
whitetail paused at the water’s edge just 18
yards from Cooper’s stand, the shaken bow-
hunter was determined not to miss again. The
buck was quartering slightly toward the
hunter as his arrow drove through both lungs,
putting the buck down for good after a 150-
yard sprint.

As Cooper stood over his magnificent trophy,
he had to pinch himself to be certain all
this was real and not just a bowhunter’s
dreamland fantasy. The events of the past
three days certainly seemed unreal. Cooper
and his hunting companion, Hal Arve, had
come to the Kenedy Ranch in south Texas for a
weekend bowhunt. They fully expected to see
plenty of deer and they were optimistic that
they’d locate some good bucks. But these veteran
bowhunters knew how slim the odds
were they’d be able to arrow a Pope and
Young record-book whitetail. So as Cooper
stared down at his incredible trophy, their
third of the weekend, a reality test pinch
seemed appropriate.

Reality Strikes
The adventure began several months ear-
lier when Cooper and Arve decided to travel
to Texas to hunt the largely unknown Kenedy
Ranch. From the perspective of a whitetail
deer hunter, this place is like no other. Headquartered
60 miles south of Corpus Christi,
the ranch covers 400,000 acres of some of the
finest deer habitat in Texas, a state that’s home
to more than 20 percent of all America’s
whitetails. And most amazing of all, the ranch
went virtually unhunted for more than a century. Hunting by anyone other than family
members and friends didn’t begin until 1986
when Sarita Safaris, Inc. , an outfitter based in
Corpus Christi, obtained commercial hunting
rights to some 66,000 acres of the ranch. That
year, 52 rifle hunters harvested 62 bucks that
averaged 6.5 years of age. Almost 30 percent
of the bucks taken scored between 145-166
Boone and Crockett points. Only seven of the
62 bucks taken scored fewer than 130 points.
How ’s that for a season’s harvest?

As the 1987 whitetail season drew near,
Sarita Safaris began receiving inquiries about
bowhunting opportunities on the ranch. A
bowhunting program was established and
Cooper and Arve were told they’d be welcome
to test their luck during Texas’ October
archery season.

“We arrived Thursday night, October 8,”
says Arve, a 36—year-old insurance salesman
from Homestead, Florida. “George had
hunted the ranch with a rifle the year before
and had told me it had plenty of big bucks. We
were really excited about the prospect of taking
a record—book whitetail with our bows.”

“This may sound crazy,” adds Cooper, a
50-year—old farm machinery dealer from
Princeton, Florida, “but the toughest challenge
we faced was making sure we didn’t
shoot the wrong deer! There are plenty of
young bucks on the ranch in addition to the
very mature bucks that are six to eight years
old. When you’re not used to seeing so many
mature whitetails, a three or four·year-old
eight—pointer can be very tempting. So we
made sure we spent the first day just looking
over what was available. We kept reminding
ourselves to be patient.

Friday morning Cooper and Arve were
both in treestands before daylight. Perched
high in their mesquite trees, they saw plenty
of deer, including several excellent bucks. But
neither archer was offered a close-range shot
at the buck he wanted. Arve watched a mas-
sive 10-pointer pass within 25 yards of his
stand, but a limb obstructed his shooting lane,
preventing a shot.

Saturday afternoon Cooper drove around
the ranch with guide Mike Mireles in an effort
to locate a big buck that might be stalked. The
pair found a handsome 10-point buck and
Cooper managed to sneak to within 40 yards.
After evaluating the buck’s rack, however, he
chose to let the deer pass in hopes of finding
something better on Sunday morning.
Arve, meanwhile, was back in his treestand.
At 7 p.m., he watched a beautiful 10-
point buck approach slowly toward the water
hole in front of his stand.

“He sparred pretty good with a big nine-
pointer,” says Arve. “He really intimidated
that other buck. After their bout, the 10-
pointer walked to the edge of the water and
lowered his head to drink. He was 20 yards
away and I knew this was my chance.”

The arrow launched from the 75-pound
overdraw bow struck the buck in the neck,
severing the jugular. The deer raced around
the pond and into the thick grove of oaks before
piling up 150 yards from Arve`s stand.
The whitetail’s rack scored 135 Pope and
Young points, easily surpassing the 125-point
minimum for a typical whitetail.

“I was really proud of that deer,” beams
Arve. “I’d taken 10 whitetails with a bow pre-
viously, the best being an 11-pointer I arrowed
near Lake Okeechobee in central Florida.
But none of those deer compared to this
one. This was a real mature trophy — six and
a half years old.”

Don Quixote
Sunday morning found Cooper perched
atop a unique “treestand” he’d constructed
out of a pair of two-by-ten boards.
“I wanted to hunt a spot where a game trail
passed close to a water hole,” he explains.

“The weather had been extremely dry for
months and the deer were really coming to the
water. The best spot seemed to be atop a metal
windmill. So I lashed two boards together
near the top of the structure and made what
looked like a swimming pool diving board. It
was a one-of-a-kind treestand, that’s for sure.
It may not have been pretty, but it sure
worked!”

It was from this stand that Cooper arrowed
his trophy buck. It was six and a half years old

and scored 149 3/6 Pope and Young points,
ranking it among the top five whitetails ever
arrowed in Texas.

Arve, meanwhile, decided to return to his
mesquite tree for Sunday morning’s closing
hunt. “l had been watching a big 10-pointer
come and go over the weekend,” he recalls.
“For the past two mornings, he’d come
across the field to the same spot at the edge of
the pond. He was never in a good position for
me to shoot from my treestand, so I moved to
a ground blind about 25 yards from the mesquite
tree. It was nearer the water and I
thought it might give me an opportunity for a
shot if that buck came by again.

Hunched low in the branches of his makeshift
blind, Arve squinted through dawn’s
first light at a faint movement near the mes-
quite tree 25 yards away. The 10-pointer appeared.
“The first time I leave my treestand,”
laughs the bowhunter, “the buck comes down
the trail next to that tree and stops tive yards
away — broadside! There was a lot of high
grass between us, so I didn’t have a shot right
away. I eased up on my knees and waited for
him to move into a gap in the grass that would
give me a clear shot. When things looked
right, I drew back and released. The shot
looked perfect, but I couldn’t be sure where it
hit. He only ran about 20 yards and stopped. I
tired another arrow and this one hit him in the
neck. He went down for keeps. My initial
shot, it turns out, was a good lung shot.”
Arve’s second buck was an amazing eight
and a half years old. Its rack tallied 144 4/8
Pope and Young points, placing it among the
top 10 bow-killed whitetails in Texas.

Whitetail Heaven
How can one ranch have so many high-
scoring whitetail bucks? The answer lies in
both the ranch’s location and its history. The
property is located in one of the best trophy
whitetail areas of the South, the well-known
“brush country” of Texas. More than 80 per-
cent of all Texas whitetails listed in the Boone
and Crockett record book were taken in counties
located south of San Antonio. The Kenedy
Ranch lies near the southern tip of the state,
where the terrain is a mixture of oak groves
and rolling grassland pastures. Much of the
ranch ’s eastern and northern borders lie along
either Baffin Bay or Laguna Madre, waters
which connect to the Gulf of Mexico. It’s a
unique experience watching trophy whitetail
stroll along a sandy beach, but it’s a scene
often witnessed on the Kenedy Ranch. And,
there’s plenty to see in addition to whitetail
deer.

“The ranch is loaded with wild turkeys,
javelina, feral hogs and nilgai,” says Gerald
Ashbrook, a member of Sarita Safaris’ board
of directors. “The nilgai is an antelope im-
ported from India. It’s a huge animal, almost
as big as an elk. We have about 10,000 bulls
and cows on the ranch. They’re tough _to hunt
so they make excellent trophies. The meat is
delicious, too, tasting much like beef.”

Ashbrook says the ranch was founded in
1866 when Mifflin Kenedy dissolved his part-
nership with Richard King. The result was the
formation of two enormous ranches, the
Kenedy ranch and the more well-known King
Ranch.

Until 1986, hunting on the Kenedy Ranch
was limited to the Kenedy family members
and a few friends. Much of the property is
now owned by a foundation established by the
Kenedys, and it is that foundation which
leases commercial hunting rights to Sarita Safaris.

“We’ve had two terrific seasons so far,”
says Ashbrook, “and we’re looking forward
to many more. Obviously, we’ve got lots of
land to hunt and we’re careful not to overhunt .
any part of it. Next season, we’ll use some
new areas and we’ll ‘rest’ some of the areas
we’ve hunted in 1986 and 1987.”

Ashbrook noted the ranch includes
230,000 acres that are off-limits to all hunt-
ing. “That area is a permanent game preserve
that will never be disturbed by hunting,” he
says. “We realize we’ve got something spe-
cial here. Our challenge is to maintain the
high percentage of mature deer that we have in
our whitetail population. The high numbers
of six, seven and eight-year-old bucks is what
makes this ranch unique. There just aren’t
many places where deer have the chance to
live that long. When they do, they can grow
some pretty impressive headgear! ”

George Cooper and Hal Arve agree. Even
before departing the ranch last fall, they made
reservations for a return trip in 1988.
“We saw more Pope and Young-caliber
deer in three days last October than we’ve
seen in decades of hunting elsewhere,” says
Cooper. “You can bet we’ll be back next October.
If there’s a better place in the world to
bowhunt whitetail deer than the Kenedy
Ranch, I sure don’t know where it is.”

Author’s Notes
Information about bowhunting the Kenedy
Ranch is available from Sarita Safaris, Inc.,
PO. Box 8995, Corpus Christi, TX 78412.

The ranch is located in Kenedy County and is
headquartered 60 miles south of Corpus
Christi. Out-of-state bowhunters can reach
the ranch via commercial airline service to
either Corpus Christi or Harlengen.

Bowhunting fees are $125 per day, plus a
trophy fee for each animal harvested. Trophy
fees range from $100 for a whitetail doe or
javelina to $3,000 for a whitetail buck. The
daily fee includes all meals and lodging in
modern cabins at either of the two hunting
camps operated by Sarita Safaris.

Texas’ archery deer season usually opens
the first Saturday in October and runs about
30 days. The state’s general deer season (gun
or bow) usually opens the second Saturday in
November and ends the first Sunday in January.
ln most counties, the fall turkey season
runs concurrently with deer season.
A Texas hunting license costs $10 for
residents and $200 for non-residents. A $6 arch-
ery stamp is also required of anyone bowhunting
deer or turkey during the October archery
season, In Kenedy and most other counties, a
hunter may harvest four whitetails,
two of which may be bucks. A copy of Texas` hunting
regulations is available from the Texas
Parks and Wildlife Department,
4200 Smith School Rd.,
Austin, TX 78744.

>>—>

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Published by archerchick on 12 Apr 2012

Bowhunting The Midwest -By Randall P Schwalbach

Bowhunting The Midwest

By Randall P Schwalbach
Archery World Bowhunting Guide ’88
Is that a deer, or is that a horse?” Ben I exclaimed as the eight-point whitetail buck leaped in front of the truck. “Just an average Wisconsin buck,” my father replied. Two hours earlier, I had picked Ben up at the airport, and now we were within a couple miles of camp. Ben had come up from Texas for a November hunt with my father and I, and he couldn’t believe how large the first deer he saw in Wisconsin was. That deer didn’t stop and let us weigh it. but l said it might go 140 pounds dressed. Just an average Midwest whitetail. Now to put that in perspective; two weeks later, Ben killed an east Texas buck that scored 126-1/8 Typical — and weighed 88 pounds.
That’s why the Wisconsin buck we saw leap across the road surprised and impressed Ben. Midwestern deer not only have large bodies, they also have the potential for trophy antler growth. The all-time high scorer (206 1/8) was taken by Jim Jordan in 1914 in Buffalo County, Wisconsin. In the number-two spot is a Missouri buck (205) taken in 1971 by Larry Gibson. Next comes an Heinous buck, a bowkill that scores 204 4/8, taken by Mel Johnson in 1965. Just last year, another big Wisconsin buck came to the attention of Boone and Crockett scorers. Taken by Joe Haske in 1945 in Wood County, the buck scores 204 2/8 and ties for fourth place. Wisconsin is the only state to have produced two trophies scoring over 200. Not to mislead anyone, I must also point out that most midwestern deer never reach trophy size.
In Wisconsin, for example, the average whitetail supports a small six or eight-point rack. That’s because an average Wisconsin buck is a year and a half old. Very few bucks make it through their second winter because they are shot during the November gun season; a fact that archers who like to hunt bigger bucks have to deal with. If hunting big deer is your primary objective, your first challenge is to identify habitat that will hold big deer. Such habitat will have one characteristic: It must be overlooked  most deer hunters.
Finding The Bucks
To use my home state of Wisconsin as an example, some of the largest deer are taken from the southeastern counties surrounding the city of Milwaukee. Don’t let the number of subdivisions fool you. There are deer here Big deer. They become big by living in areas
where hunters typically don’t look for deer – in the shadow of development.
Gaining access to urban areas is admittedly difficult. To go out the week before hunting season and ask permission to hunt such farms is usually futile. But if you keep your eyes and ears open, you may learn of an opportunity not far from your doorstep. The point is, you are looking for a place that everyone else has overlooked.
Public hunting areas are sometimes also in the overlooked category, especially those places that are primarily marsh and river bottoms. It is likely that the only hunting pressure these areas get is from duck and pheasant hunters. Often you can use the waterfows and upland hunters to your advantage, by being there on opening day and letting the brush pants brigade drive the deer to you.
A third area in which to look for trophy bucks is the wildest, most rugged country you can find. In Wisconsin, steep hills, such as the breaks of the Mississippi river, and the big woods and swamps of the Nicolet and Chequamegon National Forests tend to keep hunter pressure at low levels. A standard rule of thumb I use in wilderness-like areas is: If you can get there by road, somebody else already has. Find a place where the roads are few, and then walk in.
Hunting the Midwest has a different flavor from deer hunting in other areas of the country. Unlike southern states, where liberal bags (some allow a deer a day) are common, the seasons in the midwest are far more restrictive. In Wisconsin, an archer is allowed one deer of either sex per season. This leads to a hunt where the bowhunter is likely to place more emphasis on killing a trophy buck. After finding an area where deer can live long enough to become trophies, the second step to shooting a big buck is to learn to pass up smaller bucks.
This should be obvious. But I know of many good hunters who do everything else right, and who always end up shooting deer with average size antlers. Then they ask why they’re never seeing trophy deer.
My first shot at a trophy was not by design. It was September, and the evening was hot. So hot that I began to feel ill while perched on an oak branch and had to kneel down on the branch (it was a big branch) and put my head low. While in this position, I heard a deer approach and looked up to see an eight-point buck, probably a yearling or 2 1/2 year old, walk by within five yards. Unable to get into position to shoot, I watched him walk away. Once he was out of sight, I regained a standing posture, in the hopes the buck would circle back. He didn’t. But on his backtrail came a much larger buck. I counted 14 tines, some of them appearing to be a foot long. I missed a five yard shot. Lesson one: Early in the season bucks travel together, so let the smaller buck pass if you’d like to see a trophy.
Time It Right
September is my favorite month to hunt the midwest. It is a perfect time of year,  when there is still abundant natural camoflauge left in the trees (leaves), yet the nights are cool enough to slow down the majority of flying insects. During the middle of these early autumn days, it warms up enough t0 make a nearby trout stream the place to be.
Beyond the  weather, I like September because the deer are still feeling relaxed from a long summer of undisturbed feeding. The first week of the bow season is when the element of surprise is in the hunter’s favor. I have taken more bucks with a bow during this first week than any other time, including the rut.
During the first week of the season, usually, the third week of September in Wisconsin, I concentrate my efforts on the oak  woods. That’s when the acorns of the white oak begin to fall.   These acorns are the sweetest of all the oaks, and they will also not last long on the forest floor before they begin to decompose. The deer know this, and they some to eat these acorns at all hours of the day.
The rut is probably the second best time to score on a buck. In the midwest, the rut occurs during the first two weeks of November. In central Wisconsin, the eighth through the 11th is when I look for the rut to peak. Given the recent increase in bowhunter pressure, however, the rutting behavior in my area has become more and more nocturnal. On the other hand, late-season hunting in December seldom sees crowded woods. A week or two after the gun season closes, the deer resume their normal feeding schedules.
The closer to winter, the more active deer seem to become, as if they are trying to put on a few more pounds before the real cold starts. This is especially true of big bucks that burned their energy reserves during the rut. If they are going to make it through the winter, they have to replenish those reserves.
Bucks start to travel together again in the late season. In this regard, it’s a lot like the early season. Don’t try and hunt the whole day during the late season. I find mornings unproductive then, because that’s the coldest time of the day and the deer remain in their beds. Afternoons when the wind dies early have been best for me in the late season.
Hunting the midwest has a charm because of the large variety of habitat types. This forces a bowhunter to be flexible in his hunting style. In wide open farm country, for example, the best use of a tree stand is not for hunting, but rather for scouting. If you spend a few evenings or mornings in a tree in a fence line, you will likely discover some patterns to deer movement. Perhaps you’ll see a small herd of deer using a corner of an alfalfa field. Try to determine the best natural funnel to that feeding area, and set up a ground blind in it.
Make sure you’ve practiced shooting from a sitting position, because you’ll probably use a stool in your blind. For a good blind, wear camouflage that matches the background, and make sure you can shoot over any kind of screen of brush that you place in front of you.
Another way to hunt farm country is to still-hunt through standing corn. This technique is best employed on windy days, when the corn is noisy. By moving across the rows, looking up and down each row before you proceed to the next, you will get amazingly close to deer, some of them bedded down.
Although I don’t personally own one, a suit of corn stalk and cattail camouflage would seem ideal for this type of hunting. Skyline or winter camouflage, with a lot of white in it, also works well, because bedded deer are looking up at the sky.
Midwestern states are full of rivers, and boat hunting is some of the most enjoyable hunting I’ve ever done. Both my father and I made our first bow kills from a canoe slipping
 silently by the alders, and both deer were shot in their beds. This technique is dynamite if nobody else is doing it. Once locals caught on to our technique, they gave the deer on that river a thorough education in what paddles banging on gunwales sound like.
The best river for floating is one small enough that allows you to shoot to either bank. However, I find it works best just to watch one bank, and let the person paddling watch the other. On my first bow-kill, Dad actually whispered to me, “Right bank,” and I still had time to locate the deer and release. One of the disadvantages of hunting from a canoe is not having prepared shooting lanes. You’ll get extremely close to a lot of deer that you’ll just have to pass up because there’s no shot. Wait it out. As you drift past, a lane may open up, or the deer may step into one on its own.
Probably the most unorthodox tactic I ever employed in a farm country situation was an amphibious ambush from a drainage ditch. I used the ditch as an approach to a cornfield where I knew the world record whitetail was hiding, then submerged my folding stool in a clump of reeds, and sat down with waders above my waist. Mallards whistled over me and sandhill cranes exulted the dawn with raspy, prehistoric voices. A family of raccoons wandered past, busy poking their hands into silt at the waters edge and never noticing me. And finally, the sound of deer feet, precisely placed on the sandy bottom of the ditch. Slow but steady, the deer approached.
I could see the reflection of his antlers in the ripples that pulsed toward me. And then, 10 feet away, his gaze met mine, but not for very long. There was no shot opportunity as the buck raced straight away from me, up the ditch and back into the safety of the corn. By that time, I was fairly chilled from the water (what did I expect from wet wading?) and went back to the car for a cup of coffee and a sandwich, which I chewed very slowly while planning my afternoon hunt. Finding a dry, leafy oak tree was what I had in mind.
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Published by archerchick on 12 Apr 2012

Bowhunting the Southwest ~By Mike Lowry

Bowhunting the Southwest-By Mike Lowry
Archery World’s Bowhunting Guide ’88
I was just finishing winding up my winch cable as the old gentleman stepped onto the jeep trail. As I walked over to say hello, he set the lower limb of his bow on the toe of his boot, pushed back his sweat-stained cowboy hat and rested his arms on the top of the bow. After a friendly hello and a handshake, we talked for almost an hour about the bowhunting around Ely, Nevada, and how dry it was hunting here. “Here” was up in the cooler, greener, and generally higher and more forested area of the mountains that sat northeast of Ely.
The old bowhunter then told me that, because I looked like a nice “young fella,” he’d let me in on a little secret. ” I’ve lived in this country all my life,” he said, “and if ya want big trophy deer, get the hell out of these mountains and hunt the high desert .” He then went on to tell me of an area southeast of Ely that, though it didn’t look it, held some real wall hangers. “Most people just don’t believe those deer are down there, or if they do, won’t hunt them there. But I tell you what, if you want to work for a big one, that’s the place .” If there’s one thing I have learned over my bowhunting years, it’s to listen to people  especially older, more experienced people. The next day found me driving along a very dusty road leading into low, sage-covered hills that looked better suited for hunting jack rabbits or horny toads than big mule deer. As I eased along, looking for a good camp and hunting spot, I was reminded of the Jicarilla Apache Reservation of New Mexico, where I’d grown up. Some of the best mule deer hunting in the world was on that reservation; as old memories surfaced, my excitement about the hunt grew. Noticing some green growth in the bottom of one of the side canyons, I turned onto the little-used ruts of an old road, parked about 150 yards from the green and walked over for a look. The Bureau of Land Management had put in a stock trough that was full of clean water. The mud at the lower end of the trough, where the water had overflowed, told the story; deer tracks, lots of deer tracks, some very big, covered the bottom of the draw.
My partner, Mike Sagers, and I smiled at each other as we headed up the side of the draw for a better look at the surrounding country. Half-way up, Mike pointed out a deer standing by a little clump of grease wood. As we watched, it took off up the hill, followed by six others — all bucks. We sat down and watched in wonder as they skylined going over the top. I hurriedly picked my chin up off the ground and closed my mouth before a dozen or so blow flies could buzz in. Three of those bucks could have easily gone into the top of the Pope & Young listings and the rest were mighty respectable.
Giggling with glee like two school kids, we hurried back to the truck and took off to find a place to camp. Not for the last time I thought io myself, Thank the Lord for the 0ld f0lks!
Lessons Learned
 Memories of those big bucks and all the near misses hurried me along a year later as Mike and I picked our way up the hill in my old Suburban. We were far better prepared for the high desert hunt this year and ready to capitalize on last year’s learning period. The spot we had spent over an hour leveling for a tent last year was there just as we had left it, as was the fireplace next to the rock face and our pile of powder-dry firewood, still stacked as if it had only been an hour since we cut it. No wonder the deserts hold so many secrets of ancient times; change comes very slowly, We quickly put up my tent, one with large screened openings on all four sides. Next to it, we put a 12 x 12 sun shade to protect ourselves from the heat of the day. There was very little natural shade here — one of the lessons learned from the year before. After storing most of our gear away, we brought out the coolers — one with our food, one full of ice. Then came the water; this year we brought a ten-gallon Gott cooler filled with crushed ice and then water, and a 30- gallon plastic barrel for washing and cooking. In this country, you would be wise to saturate yourself with water. In other words, before you go out in the morning, drink all you can, then take another drink. I also carry a bota bag with me, which is a lot quieter than a canteen.
With camp set and a quick meal under our belts, Mike and I set off on foot to do some poking around before the next day’s hunt. The year before, we had learned some of the movement patterns of the deer. In most instances they started to hit the water hole about 5- 5 :30 p.m. You could almost set your watch by it, in fact.
The deer are thirsty by then and, unlike other places I’ve hunted, when these deer decide to come for a drink, they literally run up to the water, stick their head in and suck up a belly full. The trick is to be on the water well before they come in; failing that, you should be on a good approach lane. I say “lane” because these deer won’t really use any set trails, but are liable to come in from any direction.
Finding a good vantage point in the shade of a small bush, we sat down and began to glass. The area we were watching was where three good draws came together about 600 yards above the water. Brush covered the northern faces of the draws, and grew thick and twice as tall as a man in the bottom. Trying to glass every square foot of cover, I began searching the terrain for bedded deer. The 7 x 35 Browning binoculars were well suited for this kind of glassing, offering enough magnification to see everything, yet not so much as to cause objects to bounce around at every little movement I’d make. I’d tried other compact glasses and also stronger, larger glasses, but for me, after a half hour or so my eyes began to protest the harsh and unusual punishment. I agree with Dwight Schuh, who said that good quality optics are probably more important than the most expensive bow.
Gridding the area off, I slowly began to search the draw back and forth, looking at everything in the optical picture, then moving just enough to pick up a new area next to the one I had just looked at. Twenty minutes later on the third pass over the same bush, I thought I saw an antler. Intensely focusing in on a shadow under the bush, I saw a large set of antlers slowly turn and then return to the original position, blending perfectly with the larger stems of the bush behind them.
I put down my glasses, gently eased the 2OX spotting scope into position and zeroed in on the brush. Either this deer had some very large antlers or a tiny head because the main beams were at least six to eight inches out past his ears on both sides and somewhere around 24 inches tall. As I looked him over, I became aware of a pounding noise and found it hard to sit still. My breaths began to come faster — and all I was doing was looking at him from 500 yards away!
After everything I’d taken with my bow, these really big bucks still get to me the most. To be honest, I hope it never changes. Mike and I watched the buck for a while and then began to spot other deer getting up and stretching, relieving themselves and starting to feed. Before long, it seemed the whole draw began to move.
At last, the big boy stood up. I was surprised, though not disappointed, to learn that he was a monster three-point with about six-inch eye guards. What was more surprising, however, was the four-point that appeared just behind him. This buck was almost a carbon copy, with one more tine but a few inches shorter in height. Both had unusually long tines and heavy mass. They stretched and turned down the draw toward the water. As if waiting for this signal, all the other deer began to head in the same direction, the last ones hurrying to catch the others.
Looking at Mike’s watch, I saw it was 5:20; these deer hadn’t yet been disturbed out of their routine. As they went out of our sight line, we picked up the spotting scope and carefully backed out so as not to disturb them now.
Hunting The Draws
Two anxious bowhunters walked out of camp an hour before sunrise the next day. Mike
took off toward a water hole and I went over the saddle above him to see if I could make a stalk on the other side of the hill. The birds soon began to noisily announce the brightening eastern sky. Down the saddle, I could hear sounds of movement. Something coughed and I strained to see what was there through my binoculars. Gradually, the dark spots below me began to take on depth and form as the light of dawn grew brighter and brighter. I could now make out several  browsing around on the opposite hills. Where was Mr. Big? Soon it was light enough to see everything, though the sun was still minutes from its grand appearance. Does and fawns, small two-by-threes and a couple of larger bucks, though not the big boys, wandered below me. Sneaking along just under the skyline like the Indians in a Louis Lamour novel, I backed over the ridge through a small stand of brush so I wouldn’t be spotted.
A morning breeze blew against the right side of my face as I eased along, carefully feeling for anything underfoot that would give me away. Suddenly, a loud snort and the heavy “thump thump” of what surely must hare been the world’s record buck caused my heart to do 14 quick laps around my chest cavity.
Peeking through the bush in front of me, I was startled to see a very ordinary doe staring my  way as if trying to determine what I was. Frozen in position, I watched, trying to avoid any eye-to-eye contact. Within a few minutes, she turned and walked stiff-legged over to the ridge line and out of sight. Moving to my left about 20 yards, I snuck up behind a small bush and slowly raised up until I could see through the top of it.
Fifty yards below stood five bucks and a doe. They were alertly looking at the spot where the doe had just come in. If I had merely followed her over the ridge line, they would have had me pegged. As it was, they were alert but not yet spooked. A couple of the bucks were tempting, in the 140- 150 point range, but this was the first day of the hunt and I knew there were much larger deer around. Not knowing what was over the hill, the deer finally decided to leave rather than take a chance.
A loud snort and pounding hooves signaled Mr.  Big. I sat watching them walk single file down the hill to where Mike should be sitting. As they reached the bottom of the draw, they stopped for a quick drink within 25 yards of where I figured Mike had set up. It was exciting to see the drama unfold, and as I glassed the deer,  I kept waiting to see an arrow nail one of them. Nothing. I wondered what he was waiting for. Soon, they filed away and up the other side into the thick stands of mountain Mahogany to bed for the day.
Where was Mike? Later I found out that at the last minute, Mike had decided to move up the draw 100 yards, where he had to sit and watch the bucks walk directly past the spot I thought he had been in. That’s deer hunting; almost always in the wrong place at the right time. Working my way down the ridge, I glassed a tremendous buck already bedded down under one of only five or six bushes in the whole bowl. He had chosen his spot well; there was nothing within 300 yards that was more than knee high — and not much of that, either.
I watched him for quite a while and then backed over the ridge and hunted my way over to Mike. When I finally found him, he was pretty disgusted about not being in position for a shot at the group of bucks, so I asked if he wanted to see a really good one. Ten minutes later we were glassing the bedded buck. We didn’t think he was one of the two we had seen the night before, but he was in the same class. Since I had found him, and because stalking is my favorite way to hunt, Mike encouraged me to go for him.
Courting Mr. Big
By now, the sun was up and its heat was steadily pulling the wind up the draw to the deer. Dropping back over the ridge, I hurried around and well above the deer’s bedded position and into the bowl above him. Being sure to keep the bush between us, I started down into the bowl. Every move had to be painstakingly slow because there was no room for error. A broken twig, the crunch of gravel or carelessly dragging a branch across a pant leg could end the stalk prematurely.
 I took two or three slow steps at a time, feeling for anything that might make noise, stopping and glassing for other deer who might mess things up. I moved again, so slow and easy that I was sure I melted into the surroundings. Constantly checking the wind with the little feather glued to the fine thread on the upper limb of my bow, I was aware of everything around me. I tried to imagine being a cougar stalking his prey and wished I had his sense of smell and padded feet.
Finally, 30 yards from the bush, I nocked an arrow and eased closer. The pounding heart rate started again, for I knew he was there, not 15 yards in front of me. Closing my eyes for only an instant, I told myself to stay in control and pick a spot. I took two more steps to the right and still couldn’t see him. Doubt began to creep into my mind; is he still there? I glassed the bush and then up the ridge to Mike, only to see him frantically giving me the “stay where you are” signal. I waited, worrying that the wind might change and give my position away. My bow got heavier as I held it out, ready to draw and shoot at the slightest movement. I decided to wave Mike down toward the deer, hoping it would stand up and look at Mike. He started noisily down into the bowl in plain sight. This is brilliant, I told myself. The buck will see 0r hear Mike, stand up and I ’ll have an easy shot. Wrong! The buck didn’t move at all as Mike moved closer and closer. Suddenly, the bush exploded as the buck hit his feet at a dead run, right around the bush and straight at me. I had drawn my bow at the first movement, but what the heck would I shoot at on a deer running straight at me with his head down and closing fast? Our eyes met and I saw recognition_ in his eye as he veered off to my left. Swinging with him, I released as he ran by at the speed of light. . .squared.
As I watched him run over the saddle at the top of the bowl, I knew he wasn’t to be mine. Mike walked toward me. We just couldn’t believe the buck had let him get that close before leaving cover. Why hadn’t it stood up as he came down the hillside? The only thing we could think of was that the buck had been asleep and hadn’t known Mike was there until he was in the critical zone, and that’s why he took out at a dead run. What a let down!
That afternoon found me over the ridge and down the other side looking for the buck. As I tracked along, I kept scanning the small growth of cedar and mahogany that stood halfway down the hillside. It was much hotter and even the light, long-sleeved camo t-shirt felt like too much, but the memory of that big buck fueled my enthusiasm. Looking through an opening in the trees, I spotted a doe feeding and another lying down above her. As she turned away, I moved forward a couple of steps and then froze as I saw the buck with
them. He was between the doe and me — about 60 yards out — sitting on his butt like a big dog. I’d never seen a deer do that before and since he was looking the other way. I eased forward, hoping he would stay there I hadn’t taken two steps before he stood up and started feeding away from me. Since the wind was calm, I dropped back and below  planning to use the trees as cover.
If all went well, I would get within 40 yards. No sooner had I reached the trees than a doe and fawn went busting out the other side spooking the whole bunch over the little saddle and into the next draw. I ran uphill 100 yards or so and peeked over the ridge. Nine deer were crossing the next ridge and walking up the far draw. As I watched with the binoculars, they walked for a bit, then stopped to look back to see if anything was following Satisfied they had gotten away, the buck stopped to feed near the top and soon the big guy and a couple of others lay down under the only cedar on the hillside.
Seeing my chance, I backed off the ridge and ran up the hill, circling around above the deer. Gulping in great gasps of air, I began to wonder if I wasn’t too old for this, but then smiled , for I knew it wasn’t true. . .yet. After catching my breath, I crept over  the saddle and then crawled up to some small clumps of sage, looking down to the cedar tree. I could just see the tips of antlers, so I sat back and waited. Soon, I thought, they’d be up and would probably feed right through the saddle just below me. Some 30 to 45 minutes ater Mr. Big stood up and started feeding my say.
Here we go again, I thought. Just as he was coming into range, I heard a motor and turned to see a pickup come down the ridge behind me. This can ’t be happening, l thought. The driver stopped as he came even with me and saw the deer standing below him, looking up. He started to open his door, saw me and, to his credit, waved a “sorry” and went on down the ridge.
Turning back to the deer, I looked at the place the buck should have been. He wasn’t there. Hoping he hadn’t left the country, I crawled down to the next clump of sage and peeked over the top. There he was, feeding about 60 yards below me. I drew back, eased up, put the 60-yard pin right behind his shoulder and released. The arrow zipped over his back. Nocking another arrow, I drew back, eased up again and saw him looking downhill to where the first arrow had hit. He never knew what happened as the 2216 passed clean through him and off down the hill. The buck bolted down the hill, only to lay down within 100 yards.
A short time later he got up and moved around the hill out of sight. As I tracked him, my respect for this deer grew more and more. He’d used every trick in the book to lose me and even had me stuck for a while until I found where he had back-tracked and lay dead in the sage. This old boy was tough right to the end. While I took his picture and admired my trophy,. I thought back to the old man I had met on the worn jeep trail. His advice had been right — Thank the Lord for old folks.
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Published by archerchick on 11 Apr 2012

Northeastern Bowhunting ~ By Charles J Alshelmer

Northeastern Bowhunting -By Charles J Alshelmer
Archery World’s Bowhunting Guide ’88 – February 28, 1989
The slate-gray eastern sky was turning  to a pale amber as I headed across the frost covered hay field. Like many times before, the final two hundred yards to my treestand were relatively uneventful. What followed was anything but uneventful. From fifteen feet high in my favorite stand I could see the November forest come to life as it started to get light. First the chickadees began to buzz from branch to branch. Intermingled with this came the rustle of leaves to my left. Almost out of nowhere, a yearling six-point slowly made his way to the scrape thirty yards from me. After pausing for a few brief moments he started to work the over- hanging branch. For the next two minutes, the buck treated me to a sight I’ve never been able to get enough of — that of the scraping ritual. Once done working the branch, the buck urinated in the scrape, then finally walked off as silently as he had come. Though I was tempted, I never picked my bow off its rest next to me. Throughout the autumn months, thorough scouting had revealed the area contained a real trophy buck, one I had seen on several occasions. I was determined to hold out for him, regardless of the temptation lesser bucks might offer. Little did I know while watching that first buck that temptation would strike fast and furious. Almost as if on cue, a succession of five more yearling bucks visited the scrape before 9 a.m. Though the rut was in full swing, I knew this parade wouldn’t go on much longer as the sun started to warm the air.
The woods had been silent for nearly twenty minutes when I heard a twig snap to my right. Another deer was approaching. At first only muted patches of fur were visible, then the glint of an antler caught my eye. From fifty yards, I could see it was the buck I’d been scouting all fall. Ever-so-gently, I lifted my bow from its hanger and got ready. However, unlike the yearling bucks, the big nine-pointer started to swing downwind. It was obvious that he was going to scent-check the scrape rather than walk into it in broad daylight. I thought to myself, the jig is up, as he walked behind me. In an instant, the slight breeze carried my scent into his path and he exploded out through the woods and out of sight. At ten, I climbed out of the treestand and headed for home. Even though I had nothing tangible to show for the morning, I had a quiver full of memories from the four-plus hours I’d spent high in a tree. Whoever would have thought that seven bucks would visit the same primary scrape in one morning? Undoubtedly, avid hunters would envision this taking place in the more exotic places whitetails are found — places like Montana, Alberta or America’s heartland. Actually, it took place in the heart of New York’s Finger Lake region.
Northeastern Bounty
Though the Northeastern portion of the United States isn’t considered in the same breath as those places mentioned above, its popularity as a bowhunting mecca has been known for a long time to those living there. Within this group of states is found more whitetails than nearly any place else on earth. Scientifically, the whitetails found there are the northern woodland subspecies, the biggest of all whitetails. This area also has the distinction of being one of the most populated areas in America. As a result, confusion abounds when it comes to trying to figure out how to bowhunt Northeastern whitetails. In the block of states from Pennsylvania to Maine can be found a variety of terrain and habitats in which to hunt. Here a hunter can find farm country, remote regions and urban whitetail hunting within a reasonable drive of his home.
Non-resident hunters, on the other hand, can easily find accommodations close to the prime hunting grounds.
The Northeast offers every conceivable type of hunting and hunting  at its best.
Determining where t0 hunt, how to hunt and when to hunt is more difficult than getting there if y0u’re a non-resident bowhunter. One needs t0 determine such things as whether he wants to hunt during the rut and in what types 0f terrain he prefers t0 hunt.
The popularity of bowhunting has been phenomenal in this region during the past few years due to a host of factors. For the most part, deer numbers are stable or increasing in nearly every area from Pennsylvania to Maine. Also, due to extreme hnting pressure during gun seasons, more and more deer hnters are taking up bowhnting in order to hnt whitetails before the pressure-packed gun season begins.
Nearly all the states offer exellent bowhunting opportunites during the whitetail’s rut, which. in the Northeast, peaks around November 15 each year. One notable exception is Pennsylvania; the bow season runs through the month of October and usually closes just prior to the rut’s peak. On the other hand, New York, perhaps the best Northeastern bowhunting state, runs its early bow season from October 15 to mid-November. For bowhunters interested in pursuing farm country whitetails, the entire region, with the exception of the northern reaches of New York. Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, is excellent. For the most part, bow- hunting the farm country woodlots is the most productive way to hunt in the Northeast. When hunting the pre-rut (or prior to November 1), it’s been my experience that hunting a whitetail’s food source is the most productive. Pennsylvania is known for its oak trees and many bowhunters thrive where the oak mast is heaviest. New York not only has an abundance of oak and beech mast, but also is a big milk-producing state. As a result, alfalfa and corn are found in abundance. Though farming is found in New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, it isn’t as big as in Pennsylvania and New York. So, these latter states offer more urban and remote bowhunting opportunities. Whenever bowhunting in farm country, it is important to know the lay of the land as well as where various crops, orchards and mast stands are found. Though this sounds a bit basic, it can be the most important ingredient in being successful. Due to crop rotation and inconsistent mast and orchard production, the whitetails’ movement patterns change from year to year. Knowing this is vital in preparation for the hunt.
Whitetails are also creatures of habit;  their food source is fairly consistent from year to year, their movement throughout their territory is predictable. They’ll invariably bed the thickest cover nearest to their food source.
This may mean that they’ll bed in a corn field and seldom come out. However, they will usually travel to and from their bedding and food source along a given route. My experience has found hedge rows, diversion ditches, small connecting patches of woods, natural benches on hillsides and any other natural funnel or passageway to be preferred by whitetails as they move throughout their territory. Only proper scouting will reveal where the most heavily used funnels are. Once the natural passageway between the bedding and feeding area is located, it is important to make the proper blind setup. I do not hunt over a trail that often. However, when I do, I try not to set up on a curve in the trail or place the treestand too close to the trail. Doing either makes it too easy for a buck to spot you. Also, I put up two treestands in the area I want to hunt, one up wind and one down wind. By doing this, I am able to hunt the area even if the wind shifts from day to day.
Trophy Hot Spots
One of the beauties of bowhunting most Northeastern states is being able to hunt relatively undisturbed whitetails during the rut. Without question, the bucks are most active during the ten-day period just prior to the rut’s peak in mid-November. Rubbing and scraping activity are a fever pitch and it is at this time I hunt my favorite way – over scrapes. I scout for the scrapes in areas between the bedding and feeding areas, trying to locate a good primary scrape as close to the bedding area as possible. How do I determine a bedding area? Experience has shown me that the best way is to scout an area during mid-day; when I consistantly jump deer, it’s a good indication of a whitetail’s bedroom.
When hunting over scrapes, I usually erect my two portable stands 40-60 yards from the primary scrape. I also try rattling in bucks from my stand. The most successful rattling comes when there is no more than three or four does for every antlered buck.
Unfortunately, in some area of the Northeast the doe to buck ratio can run as high as nine to one. Ratios like this result in poor rattling success because there is little competition among the bucks. Another problem frequently encountered in this region is posting. Though this can be discouraging, it is a problem that can be over-come with a little tact on the hunter’s part. As a landowner, I’ve seen all kinds of techniques used to receive hunting permission. If p0ssible, the best approach is to contact the land-owner in the off-season rather than on the eve or middle of the season. The landowner will usually be more receptive then. Also, for the most part, those who post are often more willing to allow bowhunters than gun hunters. So, the proper approach will gain you permission most of the time. Though the Northeast is generally recognized for its high deer and people populations, few tend to view parts of this region as trophy whitetail producers. Any northeastern state can produce 140-plus Pope & Young whitetails, but three states, Maine, New York and Pennsylvania, are the best. For decades, Maine has been known as a hot spot for trophy whitetails. However, most of the whitetails harvested there have been taken with rifles.
But this is changing. During the last ten years. archers have been taking more and more whitetails in the trophy category. For anyone thinking about bowhunting Maine, the
bigger-racked bucks are found on land where the elevation is under 1,000 feet above sea level.
Maine has harsh winters and the lower elevation (counties along the Atlantic Ocean) produce bigger bucks on average. Maine has a very active big buck club and thorough information about the state’s trophy-producing potential can be obtained by writing The
Maine Antler and Skull Trophy Club, c/o Richard Arsenault, R.R. 5, Box 190 Gorham, ME 04038.
For years, New York has been known for its trophy class bucks. Though 140-plus Pope and Young heads can and are taken throughout the state, some areas remain the best. Interstate 81 cuts the state nearly in half, east and west. The counties lying west of this line are true trophy whitetail producers, with Monroe, Niagra, Livingston, Sneca, Steuben, Genesee, and Orleans being the better ones if a Pope and Young buck is desired.
New York has one of the most active and copied big buck clubs in the United States. Formed by dairy farmer Bob Estes of Caledonia in 1971, the club has over 1,000 Boone and
Crockett registered in its most recent record book. To date, there are over 200 archery bucks that exceed the minimum Pope & Young score of 125 typical. The biggest Northeastern archery buck was taken by New Yorker Jeff Morris in 1984. Arrowed in Niagara County, Morris’ typical 11-pointer scores 175 Pope & Young. Each year, New York’s Big Buck Club has a banquet at which are displayed bucks harvested from the previous year. Further information can be obtained by sending a postage-paid envelope to New York State Big Buck Club, 90 Maxwell Rd., Caledonia, NY 14423.

When it comes to trophy whitetails, Pennsylvania is not far behind New York as a place in which to bow-kill a big buck. The chain of counties south of Interstate 80 have consistently produced big-racked whitetails. It is in this area that much of Pennsylvania’s fertile farm land lies. No doubt this state would produce more trophy archery deer if bowhunters there were allowed to hunt during the peak of the rut. But even with this limitation, bow-hunters do very well in the Keystone State. Perhaps the northeastern portion of the United States will never gain the notoriety of the exotic whitetail locations being popularized today. But for the serious bowhunter not wanting to travel great distances, this area offers every conceivable type of hunting — and hunting at its best. If one wants remote hunting, the region has plenty of it.
If farmland bowhunting better suits the archer, one would be hard pressed to find anything better. The possibility of arrowing a trophy woodland whitetail is enough to tempt any bowhunter, regardless of where he lives.

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Published by KurtD on 25 Mar 2012

2X2X2X2 By Ted Nugent

There are some hunting destinations around the world that any, if not all hunters would do just about anything to experience at least once in their life. Africa, Alaska, across the wilds of Canada and pretty much every top hunting destination in North America have provided me many dream hunts so far. I’ve been so lucky it is inexplicable, but I shall continue to pursue, wrangle, manipulate, beg, borrow and almost steal to continue my good blessings.

I moved to Texas nine years ago for a series of coincidental reasons, but at the top of the list is the incredible quality hunting all across the mighty Lone Star State.

From the deer and exotic infested Hill Country to the world’s best kept muledeer secret of West Texas, to those maximum quality managed deer heavens around Albany, to the pig and Auodad dreams, waterfowling, varmints and beyond, there is no doubt that my favorite hunting is celebrated in South Texas where the deer are big and ubiquitous, the land is beautiful and endless, and the people are the best on earth.

I return to the famed Kenedy Ranch each winter to plunge headfirst into the dynamic tradition of deer hunting there, and can honestly say it is like no place on earth. The terrain is diverse, the land loaded with populations of wildlife that seem to defy the truism of carrying capacity. The huge, delicious, ultra wary Indian Nilgai antelope provides some of the most challenging hunting found anywhere. Javelina, feral hogs, Rio Grande turkeys and whitetails are everywhere.

And because the land is private and vast, these dense populations of game animals are minimally pressured and are more relaxed than any game I have ever encountered, except for Mexican critters. But only a fool would subject themselves to the evil dangers and corruption of the world’s most vile  government, and actually help finance the slaughter of innocents in Mexico. No thanks.

So BloodBrother and bowhunting/VidCamDude Bobby Bohannon and I returned to the fabled Kenedy with our BloodBrother Greg Curran and gang for another fantasy hunt.

Bobby and I prepared for venison liftoff. Unfortunately, bowhunting 101 was violated and we were directed to a brand new elevated box blind with too many windows that the deer had not become comfortable with, and all the bucks avoided it like the plague. Our first morning we were able to stealth into a big fat cactus donkey and I arrowed a pretty old she deer for Spirit of the Wild TV.

Having been boogered by some damn fine bucks that morning, we hurried to relocate our double ladderstand setup in the perfect cover for an afternoon ambush. They would never know what hit them.

We weren’t in our new killer stand very long when a sounder of eight hogs grunted their way into our grove. When a huge black sow got broadside, I managed to miss the quartering shot at thirty yards. But for what I may lack in accuracy, I more than make up for in tactics, and within two seconds, I zipped a perfect arrow into a fat brown boar.

Bobby is the best tracker I know, and he found where the coyotes dragged off my pig and he recovered what was left of the hams and straps at dark.

Two sets, two kills. This is fun.

At dawn the next morning, we were somewhat surprised to see a sounder of good looking hogs moving our way and got ready for pork. One giant, very tusky red boar was the only pig in the group that kept out of range, but after a long wait, he finally made the mistake of looking the other way, broadside, and I sent the prettiest arrow you ever did see smack dab into that pumpy crease.

With an instantaneous vicious snort, loud grunt and hyper squeal, the old warrior exploded through the scrub and tumbled porkchops over ham steaks in a swirling cloud of grey dust a short fifty yards yonder.

Big goofy grins on TV are a beautiful thing, and I couldn’t help myself as I ran to the fallen beast for TV recovery!

We hustled back into our tree, and like only South Texas can, it wasn’t long before deer could be seen skulking our way through the mesquite and live oak. Several does cautiously milled about snapping up kernels of corn, but were strangely fidgety for the area. As they moved off, three bucks appeared and took no time in stepping into the shooting zone. One real handsome eight point posed for a bowhunter education poster, and I obliged by giving it to him.

He tipped over right there with a severed central nerve, and I finished him instantly with another arrow.

More glowing celebration took place with Bobby and I feeling pretty pleased with ourselves. Ace bowhunter and guide Kris Helms fetched us a short time later, and we took care of the animals, had a good lunch and commenced to enjoy a live pigeon shoot into the afternoon.

Things didn’t go as planned on the afternoon set, with my most important arrow  of the season skimming low on a monster mature 150 class 10 pointer that brought painful consternation to our otherwise joyous hunt.

On our last morning with only an hour before departure from camp, we hit a distant thick area, corned the road, and settled in for a last ditch effort to try my brand new Ted Nugent Hunting Ammo.

Does filtered out of the forests, and then one heck of a dandy 10 point buck emerged from a few hundred yards. Bobby settled the vidcam and I anchored my GA Precision .270 on a solid rest as the bruiser followed the does closer and closer by the minute. At just under 200 yards, the big buck stood facing us and I told Bobby I was going to take him.

The 140 grain Nuge bullet slammed him dead center so hard, it throttled him straight up and back, flipping him up, over and upside down with only one or two kicks before he was still.

As we prepared to celebrate, a big doe darted out from the edge just beyond the buck, and Booby captured it on tape as my 2nd round found her heart, making a quick, perfect strapper double.

My new signature ammo proved itself, and we had pulled off a triple double. Two doe, two bucks and two hogs at the mighty Kenedy Ranch 2012. All is good in Tedland.

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Published by KurtD on 15 Feb 2012

THINK DEER – by Ted Nugent

THINK DEER                                                                                           by Ted Nugent

You can’t really close your eyes and read this, so instead, concentrate as you read and pump images of deer into your brain. Envision all those stunning beasts you have been so blessed to encounter over so many hunting seasons, and burn that beautiful picture deep into your cranium. Imprint it on your psyche, make it an actual element of your being. Now, doesn’t that feel good.

I am typing this little ditty in my Ranch King deer blind on a cold December afternoon, and I have eight whitetails in front of me right now, all within twenty yards. I sit spellbound.

An old matriarch doe is crazy alert, two doe fawns and a very handsome button buck with huge pronounced nubbins could care less as they nibble away. There is a yearling doe, a yearling three point buck, and a fat stud of a three year old eight point beast. They own me.

My heart is racing rather predictably, and I only keep typing because I am trying to convince myself to not shoot the handsome eight pointer.

Steady Uncle Ted. Steady as she goes.

For all the right reasons, I should kill that old doe as part of my Texas Parks and Wildlife Managed Land Deer Permit plan. We figure eight more does gotta go off our ground, and she’s an old gal that would be perfect to take out to better the herd. We shall see.

I really love hunting, ambushing and killing deer, love watching and videoing them, love being a natural part of their world, love grilling and eating them, really love sharing their sacred flesh with the regional Hunters for the Hungry program and the families of the US Military, but what turns me on the most is the intelligent, stewardship system by which we manage deer and all wild game for healthy, thriving populations and properly balanced conditions. By doing so, I can forever enjoy and celebrate all those other ways that I love deer.

I just looked up again from my laptop, and now there are ten deer. Another shooter doe and a scrawny spike horn buck arrived, and they are all bulking up on feed in the cold weather. They constantly look around and flinch at every bird, every breeze, and for many unknown reasons. What an amazing creature. I would propose that for millions and millions of us, our lives would be dramatically less enjoyable without deer. I know it has always been a powerful force of joy, inspiration and awe for me and my family.

The two big does just stood up on hind legs and went into that flurry of cartwheeling punches with their front hooves. That is some violent behavior right there, and any one of those cloven hooved blows could kill you outright. I am sure that while we are all conveniently tucked away in our cushy homes throughout the year, whitetail deer are knocking the living bejesus out of each other, including killing each other at a much higher rate that anyone really understands.

The button buck is way out of his league haranguing the old girl, as the rut is up and down for the last couple of months. I am real tempted to kill the puny spike and forkhorn, but at only one and a half years of age, their first set of antlers in no way provides a meaningful indicator of their genetic potential. Have you ever noticed that once we decide to not shoot a particular animal, that they pose perfectly broadside with their leg forward for the longest periods of time?

I just gulped a deep breath of freezing air, for a dynamo buckaroo just arrived on scene to take any deer hunter’s breath away. This majestic stag has ten perfectly defined points on his tall, wide, sweeping rack, and represents the kind of monster buck I would never have dreamed of coming in contact with growing up in the Midwest deer woods.

This incredible beast has no idea that a blood thirsty venison addict is only fifteen yards away in this dark blind, with a bow and arrow and razor sharp broadhead and the tags to go with them.

He noses the does and the other bucks give him lots of room, and with all the commotion, you couldn’t ask for a better opportunity to get to full draw on such a great deer. But I just gaze, video it all and type away, for though this buck’s antlers are very impressive and highly desirable, I can tell by his trim neck, brisket and body that he is only two and a half years old, the very definition of a quality deer management specimen to let walk.

I am so proud of myself. I am learning, and his presence literally increases my excitement just knowing such quality bucks are around. It wasn’t that many years ago that I would have killed him in an instant, but like so many other hunters these days, I know I can get all the venison I need by killing the right deer and letting the right deer grow to their potential.

Shooting light is gone now, all the deer have moved off, so I put away my vidcam, attach my quiver back on my bow and get ready to shut down my laptop, absolutely thrilled beyond words that I am a deer hunter. I head home with my soul filled with allthings deer.

Tomorrow in another day, and tomorrow is another deer. I will now fill my belly with some scrumptious backstraps and keep the spirit of the deer alive in everything I do.

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Published by KurtD on 15 Feb 2012

TEXAS TEN – by Ted Nugent

TEXAS TEN                                                                                 by Ted Nugent

 

I never really stop hunting. It is indeed a cherished, time honored lifestyle for me. A wonderful, totally alive, day by day celebratory outdoor lifestyle of great, deeply appreciated, heartfelt gratification. Self-sufficiency. Rugged individualism. Hands-on conservation. Private land ownership. Property rights. Privacy rights. Experimenting in “self-government”. We the people resource ownership and stewardship. The right to keep and bear arms. Live free of die. Don’t tread on me. Surely the ultimate American Dream the way I see it. Independent. Free. Self evident truth, God given right’s. Pursuit of happiness guaranteed. Perfect. You can’t do this in France.

 

The supremely enjoyable daily routines of checking my trapline, killing varmints, choosing and planting foodplots, running irrigation, positioning new deerstands, constructing groundblinds, upgrading old ones, checking fences and gates, filling waterholes and feeders, trimming shooting lanes, practicing with rifles, handguns, shotguns and bows, arranging and upgrading targets and ranges, training dogs and introducing new people to the joys of shooting, watching and studying wildlife and constantly strategizing ambush zones for my hunting clients, and more, are all chores and enjoyable outdoor activities that I really look forward to each day. Rocking my brains out nearly 100 concerts per year pretty much keeps me busy throughout the summer any way you cut it, so these wonderful activities which I live for in between rockouts do indeed keep me bright eyed and bushy tailed in a constant, energized way. When the actual official hunting season shows up in the fall of the year, my state of mind doesn’t need too much adjusting back to my natural predator mode and spirit. In fact, with the amazing year round hunting opportunities for exotic wildlife in my new adopted homestate of Texas, there are not any “No Hunting” days in my life. How cool is that? Godbless Texas, Godbless America and Godbless the beasts all!

 

Back in my ancestral homegrounds of Michigan, the seasonal changes are palpable. The air tastes different. Dramatic change is tangible. The planets do indeed realign and there is a mystically altered pulse in the wind. Ya gotta love that. Meanwhile, in the great Republic of Texas, one must routinely check the calendar so see if summer will ever end. Texas is hot. Usually hotter. For an old dyed-in-the-wool Michiganiac, it is a bit of a psychological adjustment to deal with all this blazing sunshine and brutal heat. But as a guitarplayer-cum-U.S. Marine, I can improvise, adapt and overcome with the best of them. And I do. There is no Plan B. It is time.

 

So it was, as the blistering fireball in the LoneStar sky grilled my inner being, nonetheless, the calendar read October and my spirit insisted on liftoff. All that dedicated boot time on my hunting grounds had kept me abreast of whitetail activity, and this day I chose a tall ladderstand nestled deep, and hidden within the green embrace of a tall pine tree overlooking a winding, rocky creek course amongst the thorny screen of greenbriar, assorted impenetrable tangles and relentless juniper. A line of huge, towering pecan and live oak trees made up the forest before and behind me, and with the gentle southwest breeze, my confidence ran high. It is always a roll of the hunter’s dice, but we had a full on backstrap mojo going on this day. I could feel it. You never know, but we always hope.

 

After a long wait, the eye-candy parade of beautiful, sleek, healthy does and fawns ghosted from the shadows as the sun dipped lower. Some of the whitetails were red, some brown, others slate grey. A few of the fawns still showed remnant spots, confirming that the breeding does indeed continue well into winter. Momentarily, a small forked horn, a spike and a fat, muscular, slick six joined the group. My elevated ambush hideout gave me a perfect viewing position to watch the group of 20 plus deer carryon undisturbed, and again provided me the greatest joy that is being a hunter. To be on the inside of their natural world has a powerful healing and calming effect on me, and I studied each animal in detail through my Yukon binoculars. Mutual grooming, prancing, kicking, nipping, licking, head butting, sparring, browsing and constantly examining their surroundings with an uncanny alertness entertained me completely. I love every minute of such encounters and it represents a prime allure to the great outdoors lifestyle. The critters never let you down and there is never a dull moment.

 

Early season bucks tend to hang out in bachelor groups, and the slight glint of bone through the scrub materialized into antlers as five stud boys emerged from the tangle down below. The first two were handsome 2-3 year old eight pointers, followed by a 3-4 year old 9, then another young eight. It was the arrival of massive, tall, wide, light colored antlers that got me. With a dandy set of impressive antlers towering over his distinctive, Roman nosed face, one hog of a mature buck strode up the creek embankment and waddled into view. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that Texas whitetails are small, for this old granddaddy of a buck was every bit as fat, muscular and heavy as a Kansas or Michigan brute up North. I could tell by the deep chest and brisket, and the fat belly that I had before me a 7+ year old trophy. Now the slight trembling began.

 

Slowly lifting my binocular, I examined this fine buck carefully and realized that I knew this old boy. I had encountered him in this same grove late last season. His distinctive white legs and exaggerated white facial markings clearly identified him as my old buddy. My bow was already at half mast, Scott release locked onto my bowstring, and my mind made up.

 

The does and fawns and younger bucks backed away as the old boy strode toward the small piles of Wildlife Innovations Buck bran I had put out as an attractant, and now my inner predator ballet was going into the gutpile pirouette hyper two step. I dance divinely.

 

A slight screen of leaves on a young cedar elm separated my arrow from his vitals, so I had no clear shot. It doesn’t take much interference to deflect a speeding arrow, so I held tight. As goes bowhunting, the big boy kept his forward shoulder toward my position for a long while, and life around me ceased to exist. It was just his ribcage and my broadhead that existed, nothing else.

 

With a graceful swing of his long neck and head, he took a step to his right, bringing his bulky chest clear of any obstruction, and the mushy 55# CP Oneida bow flexed back smoothly on its own. I zeroed in dead on the crease behind his left foreleg, and the next thing I knew, big white feathers were dangling out of his armpit as he and all the other deer exploded at once. Angling forward as he had turned, the zebra colored GoldTip shaft had surely sliced through his ribs and into the life pumping heart of the old beast, his sagging hindquarters telling of his imminent demise. Big Jim swung the SpiritWild vidcam from the now departed buck’s vaportrail, onto my now smiling, giddy face for the whole word to share, and I was one happy American bowhunter to say the least.

 

We captured on tape all the glory and joy of this wonderful, perfect hunting connection, then filmed the short, quick bloodtrail and recovery to the heartshot monster. Everytime we collect these wildlife gifts, a Nuge party erupts in the forests and wildgrounds of the world, knowing and celebrating the thrills of being so intimately functional as a beneficial, positive participant in this natural tooth, fang and claw world. Every exacting nuance and detail of the pre-event, anticipation, encounter, shot preparation and intense action is relived and articulated as clearly as possible, so that the viewer of our Spirit of the Wild TV shows and videos better understands the depth of spirit, form and function of the real world that we are living and documenting. Life and death is it. It is perfect. Shame on those who pretend otherwise. Rejoice to be a player.

 

For the Best of Spirit of The Wild DVDs or Ted Nugent Hunt Music CDs, contact tednugent.com or call 800-343-4868. Dealer inquiries welcome.

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