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Published by archerchick on 11 Jan 2011

The Perfect Morning Stand~ By Mike Strandlund

Bowhunting World October 2005


BOWHUNTING WORLD
October 2005

THE PERFECT MORNING STAND ~ By Mike Strandlund
?

On cool mornings during the rut, bedding areas may be your best bet.

If you hang around bowhunters enough, you’ll eventually hear some-
one say they were in the right place at the right time. Everyone nods
their head. The notion of time intersecting location is a well accepted
principle of bowhunting success. Nodding your head is easy, but really,
putting those two together is no simple matter. There are a lot of
trees out there and a lot of hours in the day. Making it happen by
design rather than by pure luck takes a little thought.

Big bucks can be taken at any time during the season and any time
during the day. They are always somewhere, even it you aren’t. If you
understand their behavior well enough to put yourself between their Point
A and Point B, you can manufacture your own right time and place. The
problem is, during most of the season they aren’t moving very well,
during the day, and these smart old deer are anything but predictable.
Year after year the rut comes to the rescue to put a little life into our
dreams. For a high percentage of hunters, the rut is the “right time.” But,
we deed to go a step farther. ?

In my experience, morning hunts produce more big buck sightings than
evening hunts. Hunters who spend a lot of time on stand will agree. Bucks
learn to let their guard down more in the morning and are on their feet
longer during daylight than they are in the afternoon. So, the “right time”
becomes a morning during the rut. But, why stop there? There’s more
we can use to narrow this down.

Studies I’ve read suggest that daytime buck activity north of the
Mason-Dixon tine starts to decline when the temperature gets above 45
degrees. It almost comes to a stop when the temperature reaches 60
degrees. So now the right time is a cool morning during the rut. Now all
we need is the right place.


The Right Place
For 50 weeks out of the year, bedding
areas are among the worst places you
could hunt. Try sneaking into Fort Knox
sometime. It won’t be long before the
alarms start sounding. That’s the level of
security deer exhibit in a bedding area for
most of the year. If a buck catches you
sneaking around his bedding area, he’s
gone. Just as a good burglar knows that
the best time to make a raid is when the
residents are out of town, we have our
own window of opportunity to hunt bedding
areas effectively during the rut.
During the two weeks that comprise
the peak-breeding phase of the rut, a high
percentage of the bucks are “out of town.”
They’re distracted from normal wariness by
the hope of cornering a doe, and they’re moving
more in the process spending time in places
where they haven’t taken a stick-by-stick and
leaf-by-leaf mental inventory.?

The one you see today may be miles away
tomorrow. You can afford to push a little
harder when the buck turnover rate is high.
When does are in estrus (characterizing
the peak breeding phase), mature bucks
spend most of their time looking for them.
Where do they go? Where would you go?
Feeding areas in the evening and bedding
areas in the morning.
Choosing the bedding areas you will
hunt depends a lot more on how you will get
in and out than on any other single factor.
Start with access, then move on to wind
control and finally worry about the specific
tree you’ll hunt.

Access
Bucks are slow to arrive in bedding areas
in the morning, so they won’t be the ones
that bust you if you make a sloppy approach.
Maybe you are thinking, “So what if I blow out
a couple of does?” It’s a big mistake because
if you push the does out, the bucks will stop
using the whole area eventually, plus any
deer that remain will display tense body
language that will bring the bucks to a
greater state of caution. Soon they will
stop moving naturally through the area. If
you can’t get to and from the stand without
spooking deer, you are actually hurting
your entire hunting area. That’s why getting
in clean is so important.


?

Bedding areas generally have a back
door that makes access easy. You have to
approach from the opposite direction as
the deer. In other words, you have to come
in from the direction away from the primary
food source. Surprisingly, some bedding
area stands can be hunted day after day if
the entry and exit routes are well-selected.
The only way you burn out a stand is if the
deer know you are using it. Keep them in
the dark and the stand can be productive
for the entire two weeks.
Take advantage of every trick to keep
deer from seeing you, smelling you and
hearing you as you approach the stand.
I’ve learned the value of setting stands
close to high-banked ditches and creeks. I
use the bank for cover as I walk right down
in the bottom, beneath the surrounding
terrain. I’ve walked right past deer this
way many times.
?

Another trick is to approach your
morning stands right at first light. It may
sound like heresy to hard-core bowhunters,
but I’ve found that sleeping in actually
works to your benefit when the woods are
dry and noisy underfoot. Wait until you can
just see the ground before heading to the
stand, and then walk rapidly. Rapid-fire
movements spook deer less than quiet
sounds of stealth. Also, there is a time
right at daybreak when the forest comes
to life and the sounds you make aren’t
singled out as easily.
?

Wind
The best bedding area stands
are located near ridge tops. Of course, you
have to go where the deer are, but given a
choice, hunt high where the wind is steady.
The wind is always steadier on high ground
than in areas that are protected and subject
to swirling. As a bonus, when you set up on
the downwind edge of a ridge top, the wind
will carry your scent above the deer down-
wind of your stand for a long distance. With
attention to eliminating odor, you should
be able to prevent most of the deer from
ever scenting you while on stand. If you’re
looking for a way to make your best start
productive for longer, this is a big one.

Be Conservative
While scouting I’ve seen a lot of stands
that are “one-hunt wonders.” I know
perfectly well what they look like because
I’ve put up my share of them over the years.
They are great for one hunt and then they go
downhill because too many deer scent you or run
across your ground scent. Generally, these
stands are the result of a combination of
greed and naivete. We long to be right in
the middle of the action, but that always
comes at a high cost. You will get busted
often – plain and simple. And, soon deer
will stop using the area around the stand.

There is no place I’ve ever hunted
where wild whitetails will tolerate human
presence without avoiding the area in the
future. Instead of hunting right in the Middle
of a bedding area and educating deer,
choose a tree on the fringe. Put your stand
on the backside of the tree, away from the
deer. You will have to stand facing the
tree most of the time, but the tree will
serve to keep you well-hidden even
from short range.
?

Accept the fact that you’ll have to watch
a few deer pass out of range. Be patient;
eventually one will come to the downwind
side of the ridge (your side) and you’ll get
a good shot. In the meantime, you will keep
the deer relaxed and moving naturally. Over
the long haul, that’s the key to successful
bowhunting.

Picking The Tree
Choosing an actual stand location in a bedding
area can be as much luck as skill. There is almost
no buck sign to guide you. By their very
nature, bedding areas aren’t travel routes.
You won’t find many trails or traditional
funnels to suggest the best stand location
There isn’t a single big rub, scrape or
trail visible from any of my best morning
stands. This is the hardest part for many
bowhunters to overcome. Too often, sign
becomes our only focus and we overlook
great stand locations as a result.

Buck movement patterns through bedding
areas seem on the surface to be
random. In most cases, the bucks follow
some kind of a pattern even if the pattern
is known only to them. In time, you will see
it start to develop. Certain places will seem to
be visited more often by bucks on the move,
or a certain tree will just seem to be common
to many of the paths taken by cruising bucks.
lt may take a couple of years for this to gel, but
you will end up with an awesome stand if you
are patient and watchful.

Occasionally you’ll actually find funnels
in bedding areas, though they tend to
be broad and very general in form. When
hunting ridges l look for areas where narrow
hogbacks in the ridge force traveling
bucks to come closer together. This simply
increases your odds that a buck passing through
the area will be within range.
Often, in other types of bedding areas,
you’ll find something subtle that pushes
deer toward one side or the other. It may
even be as simple as a big fallen tree
deer have to go around. Anything that
funnels movement (no matter how slightly)
tips the odds a little more your way and
is worth using to your advantage.

A saddle is another feature that really
improves ridge hunting success. Bucks
use the saddle to cross over the ridge
serving as a second travel route when hunting
bucks that are cruising along the ridge itself.

Remain Undetected
Does often browse for an hour or more
when they get back into a bedding area.
They rarely bed right down. This can be a
tough time because as the does mill around, a few
invariably start to drift over to your stand.
If the setup isn’t perfect you will get busted.

I’ve also had entire family groups bed
down for hours at a time within 10 yards
of my tree. That makes life miserable
because you can’t move to stretch or even
change positions. This is rare, however
because you can usually count on some
kind of buck to come along and run them
out before too long.

?

More Thoughts On Timing

When you start noticing bucks seriously
chasing does, it’s time to start spending
your mornings hunting bedding areas
Here‘s what you can expect.

The bucks that visit doe bedding areas
aren’t interested in bedding down, at least
not until late in the morning. After several
years of hunting bedding areas in the morning,
I’ve only seen a few bucks actually bed
down. instead of bedding, the bucks cruise
through with the intention of checking as
many does as possible before moving on.
They jump them up, sniff around and then
move on.

As the sun begins to rise, the does will
start to show up first, usually right after first
light. Generally, they are by themselves or
in small family groups with another doe or
two and a few fawns. The bucks usually
don’t start coming through until well after
sunrise. Some mornings they were so late
in arriving that l figured the show was over
before it even started only to see the first
buck about the time l would normally think
about climbing down. In other words, don’t
give up too early—bedding areas can produce
action well into the late morning.
Possibly the best part about hunting
bedding areas at this time of the season
is the sheer number of hours that bucks
are active. lf you’re hunting edges, the
activity slows shortly after sunrise. When
the deer disappear from these places,
where do you think they are heading?
That’s right, toward doe bedding areas.

Deeper in the cover the bucks keep
moving for hours. The majority of the action
occurs during the first four hours of the
morning—actual|y the second, third and
fourth hours. I challenge you to find another
stand location where you can expect three
hours of activity each morning.

I remember hearing a humorous remark
by noted gun writer Craig Boddington. He
said, “Bowhunting is like shopping. Gun
hunting is like buying.” Some mornings the
action in these bedding areas makes
bowhunting seem a lot more like buying, too.
At its best, the morning action is awesome
bordering on unbelievable, like the morning
I spent covered up by more than a dozen
bucks trailing two hot does that passed
right under my stand. The right time? That’s
easy; a cool morning during the rut. The
right place? That’s easy, too; A doe bedding
area is the handsdown pick. <–<<

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Published by archerchick on 06 Jan 2011

Ground Attack ~ By Jeff Murray

BOWHUNTING WORLD
October 2006

GROUND ATTACK – By Jeff Murray

When it comes to getting close, your tactics toolbelt should include blinds.  No longer the cumbersome contraptions they once were.  Today’s innovative blinds are proving their worth with top guides and outfiitters.

According to recent Pope and Young records, about three-fourths of all
whitetail entries involve treestands. But as much as I love a “height advantage”
I find myself land-lubbing it more and more each year. In fact, I’m just about convinced
that the portable ground blind—which used to be an oxymoron I0 years ago—is as
effective as the portable treestand.

Have I lost my mind? Some of it. I know I’ve lost my narrow-mindedness, not to mention
a few staunch opinions. And I’m also losing some habits, such as fighting with treesteps
in my sleep; dreaming about falling out of trees, and nightmares about swaying in wind
and rain from dark-dawn to dusk-dark.  My new outlook is fueled by two key factors.

First, the latest portable designs are, well. more portable than ever. And second, we’ve
learned a lot about ground pounding from a decade of hardcore experience. We’ve
learned for example that blinds are ideal for turkeys. But blinds are equally deadly on
pronghorns, mule deer and elk. We’ve even learned that whitetails are susceptible to the
right blind at the right place with the right tactic.

Need proof? How about the 200—inch 5×5 buck that Mike Wheeler guided New Jersey
bow hunter Aaron Moore last year.   If that deer isn’t big enough for you, consider the 2003 monster (38 points, 307 5/8
harvested by 15—year-old Tony Lovstuen.
Yes, it was taken from a ground blind.

OLD VS. NEW

The first portable blind I hunted out of was an Invisiblind that Mark Mueller asked me to
field-test. Erection and disassembly were a little time-consuming, no doubt, but it was a
leap in the right direction. Mueller figured out back then that camo netting goes
with portable blinds like peanut butter & jelly sandwiches go with kids. He relied on the
netting mainly for concealing hunters inside and the ability to shoot broadheads through
the material. But the netting proved to serve another important purpose .

In 1995 I first heard about Double Bull Blinds and I got my hands on a lightweight
model the following year. This blind date was made in heaven. The pop—out hubs
locked rods in place that, in turn, stretched the walls of the tent-like structure neatly
into place. In seconds l was up and running and down ‘n’ dirty bowhuntin’. My new blind
was a constant companion in turkey country, and I was madly in love with it.

Shortly thereafter I discovered the “coiled” spring steel concept. Today, anyone can stow
away, say, on Ameristep Doghouse portable, even if an airline ticket is part of the hunt; the
blind’s dimensions are a mere 2×24 inches. And blinds keep getting better and better.
Double Bull now offers the Matrix, a 360-degree viewing and shooting blind that has all
the bells and whistles. Not to be outdone,  Ameristep is promoting the Brickhouse Half-
N-Half that features two complementary camo patterns on opposite sides, just in case the
scenery calls for flexibility. Underbrush incorporates  3-D leafy material that blends naturally
with surroundings and moves in synch with Natures wind currents; the Bowhunter spans 5×5 feet and weighs—what else?—5 pounds.
Then there’s a series of Excent (carbon-activated fabric lined) models from Eastman Outfitters to help deal with scent buildup.

GETTING GROUNDED

Blinds offer several distinct advantages. Most are strategic, but the one topping my list
is psychological: l’m addicted to eye-to-eye combat, with game being clueless to my
presence. I feel like the Invisible Man inside a portable. Other advantages include:
*Extreme portability (no treesteps, no ladders, no safety belts).
*Surprising scent—control (top models sporting a roof and four walls confine scent
with remarkable efficiency).
*No trees, no sweat (set up where you want, not where a tree says so).
*Deke out turkeys and deer with a well-placed decoy.

*Hunt aggressively while relaxing (ignore wind, rain, snow; relax in a folding camp chair or recliner).
* Hunt trophy elk and pronghorns near waterholes without a pick and shovel.
*Make a mule deer’s frontline defense- acute eyesight—his Achilles’ heel.
This is all possible if you follow the rules. Start with no flappin’. lf your blind flaps in the breeze, it will spook game. Period. So
make good use of tent spikes, but also make a discerning purchase and eliminate models
that are loose-fitting and baggy. Another bugaboo associated with ground blinds is the Black Hole Syndrome. Deer are
especially spooky when confronted with a small, dark object. Perhaps its because critters such as fox, coyotes and wolves prey out of
dens. Regardless, the best antidote is camo netting. Because it reflects sunlight, it replaces dark shadows with greens, browns and grays.
“I remember the day we finally saw the Iight,” recalled Brooks Johnson, of Double Bull
Archery. “We got a tip from Mike Palmer, a custom bowyer from Texas with a ton of experience
hunting whitetails from the ground. He told us about the netting, and over the years we’ve
continually improved ways to eliminate the dark openings on our silent windows.
Ironically, after removing black from the setup, the next critical step is adding black-
today, all Double Bull blinds are jet black inside, as are the carbon-fabric-lined models
from Eastman Outfitters and Ameristep. “If a bIind’s interior is camouflage material
and you wear camouflage clothing,” adds Johnson’s partner, Keith Beam, “you’re fine
as long as you don’t move. But the instant you draw your bow, deer will usually spot
you. We learned that from twin-blind setups we filmed out of. Nowadays, we always wear
black inside—we even customize the upper limb of our bows—because black against
black is virtually invisible. You’ve got to experience it to believe it ”
To that end, Double Bull offers a complete  line of “Ninja” accessories, including a black
head cover and a black fleece jacket. When  the weather is warm (a little greenhouse
effect can really heat up these blinds), a   Scent-Lok Base layer long-sleeve top is ideal.
This ultra-lightweight polyester garment  contains scent-eliminating activated charcoal
plus an anti-microbial bacteria fighter.   “You get a great one-two punch,” says veteran
bowhunter Tod Graham. “Invisibility plus  personal odor elimination. But you still need to
go the extra mile, scent-wise, on the outside [of  the blind]. For example, when hunting out West,
cut some sage brush and place it on the roof.   In farm country, fresh cow pies will do. In deep
woods, cedar and pine boughs are great.”

SETUPS FOR BLIND LUCK

How you set up a blind is as important as  where you place it. What works for one
species likely won’t work for another. Let’s start with turkeys. l recently asked Ameristep’s
Pat McKenna if their blinds helped beginners with gobblers. He sent me a stack of testimonials.
Consider that 15-year-old Ashely Cole   shot her first big tom with her father on a
Wisconsin hunt; Justin Temple scored on   his first tom in Michigan; Mike Gaboriault, a
disabled Gulf War veteran from Vermont,  followed suit. These turkey success stories
seem to have no end!  Set up a blind where turkeys are likely to pitch off a roost, and
return to it toward evening (where legal hunting hours apply). Or, find a travel route
connecting loafing and feeding areas. You’ll see for yourself if you watch a little TV and
let Ralph and Vicki Cianciarulo (Archers Choice), Mike Avery (Outdoor Magazine), or
the Scent-Lok gang take you along for the ride.   The antelope, according to guide and
outfitter Fred Eichler, is the perfect big game if species to take portable blind—hunting to
the next level. “From 10 years of antelope  guiding, l’d say you get the best of both
worlds—a good challenge, yet good odds if you do your homework.”
Eichler offers these tips for the prairies:

*When setting up a blind on a water hole or cattle tank, first determine the side
with the most tracks along the shoreline. To further tip the odds, pile up some
sagebrush on the opposite side to discourage antelope from drinking there. Even an
arrow in the mud with a flapping sock can redirect antelope to your side of the pond.
“*Wind can be a factor, but antelope usually rely more on their eyes than their noses,
especially where there is little human activity.  Although Eichler has harvested antelope
on the same day he’s set up his blind, its usually best to give them time to acclimate to the
setup—as much as four weeks, if possible.

Whitetails are the big leagues of the ground attack game. Start by mastering the
“50/100 Rule. Interestingly, in dense cover where visibility is limited to 50 yards or less,
it’s critical that the blind not be recognizable.  The best tack, according to outfitter extraordinaire Steve Shoop, is building a brush
pile during the off season, then sawing a hole inside and placing the blind within. This hides the blind, all right, but also gives deer
a chance to get used to the brush pile.

Popular TV host Jay Gregory tried blind-hunting last year and arrowed a fine whitetail. “If you’re lucky enough to
hunt an area with cedars, try this,” Gregory says. “Prune just enough boughs to wedge your blind up against the tree trunk. Then
place the boughs on top and in front of the blind. The scent of the fresh [cuttings] seems

to help, and cedars are usually thick enough to obscure the blind. I shot my buck on the
same day I set up my blind!”
Now for the “100” part of the 50/100 Rule.
Ironically, deer tend to ignore a blind when they can spot it from 100 yards or more.
Apparently, they eye it over and, if nothing moves and no scent alerts them, they consider
it a part of the landscape much like, say, an abandoned truck or tractor in a field. ln fact, wherever man-made
structures are common, ground blinds are ideal, according to a noted whitetail guide like Wheeler. Zero in
on windmills, abandoned buildings, farm machinery, center pivot irrigation stations, old tires, hay bales, silos, fences, gates—you
name it. “Deer are already used to something  different in their area,” Wheeler maintains, “and a blind just seems to fit right in.”
Elk are particularly vulnerable to a discriminating blind setup. A few years ago,  Nebraska buddy Doug Tryon shared a secret
mountain-top burn in southern Colorado where elk fed predictably on the lush vegetation. But they showed up only when the wind kissed
their noses, and it was impossible to get below them. So I came prepared and tucked a portable
blind into a clump of junipers. Blind luck!  Cows meandered within feet, and a raghorn wandered with in 10 yards. Soon a nice bull
showed up and took the whole herd with him, but here’s betting he’ll be there again this fall ….

Levi Johnson, from Winnette, Montana, guides elk for Flatwillow Creek Outfitters
considers a ground blind a top tactic for arrowing big bulls:
“Once our bulls gather cows,   there are too many eyes and  noses for the average hunter
to deal with. But setting up over water, especially on a  hot September afternoon,  can simplify a complicated
hunt. ln 2005, Mike Huff  and l watched a nice 300- class 6X6 steer his cows
into a steep draw where the wind was all wrong  for a morning hunt. So we backed out and returned in
the afternoon, set up our blind on a waterhole at the end of the draw and, in the scorching
100 degree heat, watched the bull jump into the pond with a cow and calf next to him.
They were clear up to their bellies when I shot the bull at 45 yards.
“Last fall, I set up my blind near a different waterhole on the second evening of archery

season. I’d tried in vain to hunt this waterhole with a treestand, but the wind was always giving me away. Well, I heard what sounded like
hooves pounding turf, and when I peered out of my window I saw about 20 cows and a big 7×7 heading straight for me. I let all of the elk
drink, and the bull was within easy bow range when my arrow found its mark.”

Johnson’s keys to hunting elk with ground blinds;

*Since elk don’t seem too bothered by blinds, don’t waste a lot of time brushing them in. In fact, you can hunt out of a blind
the day you set it up over a waterhole.
*Always stake your blind down no matter the weather. In Western states like Montana, it can be calm one second and a tornado the next.
*Open only the windows you intend to shoot out of, and leave the others shut tight; the less light inside the blind the better.
Stay calm and wait for a good shot.  When Johnson’s friends watched the video of last year’s hunt, they wondered why it took
him so long to shoot. The longer you let a bull relax at a waterhole, the better the results. Be patient. Resist the urge to leave the
blind for any reason. Stay put and stay tuned.
Mule deer, like the one whitetail expert Tod Graham is posing with above, can be had
for the right price The price is mainly scouting for details. “Glass fields early and late to
locate a worthy buck, figure out his bedding area with different winds, and take good
notes Graham says. “Once you see a buck use the same trail twice, you can kill him
with a blind. The third time’s the charm.  “I don’t worry much about cover, because
it usually doesn’t exist in good muley country.

Just put your blind where you can get off a good shot—even in the middle of a field.
Mulies must think it’s a hay bale the farmer has relocated because they don’t veer
around it. I remember telling this to my guide in Alberta last year. I’d suggested we
set up my portable blind on the downwind side of a wild oat field where a big buck

was hanging out with a bachelor group of six other bucks. The guide chuckled at my suggestion, but l got the last laugh when he
helped me drag 195 inches of muley antlers back to his truck.”
Drew H. Butterwick, Double Bull pro staffer and host of Art of Deception (Men’s Channel), loves bowhunting black bears out
of a portable ground blind. “Close contact is why we bowhunt, and a blind can put you in the heart of the action,” he says. “But blinds
are superior to treestands for bear hunting. It is easier to intercept ’staging’ bruins that
hang back from a bait as darkness  approaches. And you get a 360-degree view that usually allows you to see under tree
branches that would otherwise obstruct  your vision from an elevated stand. l also believe you can do a better job of judging
bears at eye level. Last and maybe not least, mosquitoes and blackflies can be kept to a minimum – the shoot through camouflage
netting on my Matrix model acts as bug netting.”

Final footnote; While bears don’t associate blinds with danger, they are inquisitive creatures and could do some
serious damage if you don’t remove the blind after each day’s hunt.

lf an African safari is on your crosshairs, Butterwick recommends stowing away a  portable blind in your luggage.“A moveable
pop-up blind offers many more options than pits and fixed setups,” he says. “The wind is always shifting, and swapping sides of a
waterhole really increases the odds. Portable  concealment can mean the difference  between no shot and a record-class animal.”

THE ART OF BLINDSIDING:
HOW TO SHOOT

Tod Graham hunts exclusively from ground blinds and has blindsided more than 20
Pope and Young whitetails. Learn from his proven shooting tips;
*Practice drawing your bow inside the blind to gauge how much clearance you need for bow limbs and arrows.
*Always double-check the gap between  the window opening and your sight pins. If you don’t rehearse the draw, you could end up
missing the window and shooting the wall.

Visualize where the shots are most likely to occur; you’ll probably be right more

times than not. Position your chair carefully; Graham likes to shoot at a 45edegree angle to the window.
* Practice shooting arrows out ofa blind, including through the netting, especially if you aren’t used to shooting from a sitting or —
kneeling position.
* Always use a rangefinder if time permits; depth perception is affected by the netting.

For ideal blind placement, avoid a rising and setting sun in your face. Also, setting
up in the shade improves your ability to see through netting.
Use a bow holder, such as the one Double Bull Archery markets, to keep your bow
in a handy position. (You may have to be quicker on the draw from the ground than
from a treestand)
*Practice shooting from inside the blind at different distances, angles and times of
day. Be sure to dress in hunting garb.  The dark interior of a ground blind reduces the amount of light available to your
sight pins. You may need a larger peep and possibly a light (check local regulations).
•Blinds can often accommodate two hunters. Practice together ahead of time to avoid the proverbial Chinese fire drill.

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Published by archerchick on 05 Jan 2011

Fun With Draw Length ~By Richard Combs

BOWHUNTING WORLD
October 2006

Home Bow Mechanic- Fun With Draw Length
by Richard Combs

Archers are often advised to let their sight pins “float,” or wander over ,
the bull’s-eye, and let the precise moment of release come as a surprise.
The subconscious, or so goes the theory, is constantly attempting to center the
sights on the target, and any conscious attempt to center the sights or time the
release will result in flinching, punching the release, target panic, or other accuracy-robbing problems.

This approach works very well for a great many bowhunters, but it is based on
the major assumption that it is impossible to hold a bow steady. Bowhunters are not machines, of course, and holding a bow immobile for any period of time, shot after shot, probably is impossible. On the other hand, it is certainly possible to hold a bow steady for short periods, or (if
you can’t buy the notion of complete steadiness, to at least minimize the size
of the wobble. Look at it however you like, but holding a bow steadier is a very good thing for accuracy.

A major factor in that steadiness is correct draw length. lf you find that you have a difficult time keeping your sight pin on a 3-inch bull’s-eye at 20 yards, and if you are not pulling a draw weight that is too heavy for you, there is a very good chance that the problem is incorrect draw length. More often than not, incorrect draw length means a draw length that is too long. The conventional explanation for this is that archers tend to stretch their draw lengths to get greater speeds. As a general rule, one additional inch in draw length generates almost 10 fps in arrow speed. Competitive 3-D shooters, in particular, often attempt to maximize speed to flatten trajectory, and even bowhunters who do not shoot 3-D competitively have been influenced by those who do.

No doubt there is some truth to all this, but over the years I’ve observed that beginning bowhunters, including those who have only a vague idea what 3-D shooting is all about and who are unaware of the relation between draw length and arrow speed, still have a strong tendency to shoot at excessively long draw lengths. For whatever reason, selecting the correct draw length
seems to be a learned and even slightly unnatural thing.

A long overdue trend in recent years has been to back off on draw length.
With today’s more efficient bows, many bowhunters-and some 3-D shooters—
have discovered that they can achieve as much speed as they want without resorting to longer draw lengths. In any case, smart hunters have always been willing to trade a little speed for greater accuracy. While it is certainly possible to over compensate and move to a draw length
that is a little too short, most top shooters agree that a too short draw length is
preferable to a too long one. How critical is it to achieve precision in draw length? The better shots of my acquaintance, including the most serious 3-D competitors, have a draw length tolerance of
a quarter-inch. Anything shorter or longer than that is immediately noticeable, and they will make adjustments.

Draw Length And Draw Weight
Holding the bow steadier is not the only reason the correct draw length is
important. We mal<e reference to draw length and draw weight as separate characteristics—-which they are—but they are not unrelated. It shouldn’t be surprising that the same draw weight will
be perceived differently at different draw lengths. imagine holding your bow at full draw from a position as far back as you can reach. A draw length that is too long increases the difficulty of holding the weight comfortably, which is one reason the bow is more difficult to hold steady at longer draw lengths. The difference is less noticeable in the case of a too short draw length, but holding bow at full draw from a position in front of the optimum anchor point is also
more difficult. And either position can increase the likelihood of the arm or shoulder problems that plague too many bowhunters.
Perceived draw weight aside, it is difficult to achieve proper and consistent shooting form outside the parameters of correct draw length is a much greater tendency for the string to slap the bow arm. For purely anatomical reasons, this can be a chronic problem for some bowhunters, but excessive draw length is often a major factor. For years I watched a hunting buddy struggle with the problem. He bought custom grips, purchased bows with very high brace heights, modified his stance to an extremely open position, and experimented with some difficult and unusual shooting forms. Finally he tried a draw length that was nearly two inches shorter and the problem disappeared.

Among the more pernicious inconsistencies in shooting form is the tendency to creep forward from the wall before release. Pros have come up with all sorts of antidotes to this, including creep tuning and stops on rests and cams. Clearly incorrect draw length will magnify the problem. Not only is it initially less comfortable to hold a bow at full draw when draw length is off, but the arm, shoulder, and back become fatigued more quickly at improper draw lengths. Fatigue is a major factor in creep.

WHEN THE RIGHT DRAW LENGTH IS WRONG
You might assume that draw length is draw length – that if your optimum draw length is 28 inches on one bow, then it should be 28 inches on any bow. That is conventional thinking, but the folks at Spot-Hogg are not very good at thinking conventionally, and as they so often do, they have a different idea. As Spot-Hogg’s Cabe Johnson recently observed, differences in axle-to-axle length can make a significant difference in optimum draw length. The reason is that shorter bows have a more acute string angle at full draw than do longer bows.

Assume for instance, that you draw your string back to touch the tip of your nose at full draw, with two bows one short and one long. The distance between grip and nock point may be the same on both bows, but the distance between the riser and the string where it touches the nose will be different because of the different string angles. The tendency will be to change the shooting form to compensate- to modify the head angle, change the anchor point, extend or bend the bow arm
more. Those adjustments will probably decrease the ability to hold the bow steady and increase discomfort, not to mention reinforce inconsistencies in shooting form. The bottom line is that,
contrary to conventional thinking, there is no “right” draw length for a given individual. The optimum draw length will depend in part on the bow.

Adjust Draw
Many—though by no means all—compound bow designs offer a range of draw length adjustment accomplished by moving the end of the string to one of several different posts on the cam. Often
the range is three inches, with changes in half-inch increments. With other bows, changing draw length requires changing modules on the cam. However these adjustments are made, they may
have slight effects on let off or bow efficiency, but any loss in these areas will be more than compensated for by the advantages of shooting at the correct draw length. In most cases the bow will have to be pressed to make these changes. Changing draw length will usually require that the bow be returned. (In some cases, simply pressing the bow will require that it be returned.)
For more precise adjustments, strings or cables can be shortened by twisting. Lengthening the string lengthens the draw, and shortening the string shortens it.

The opposite is true for cables:Lengthening cables shortens the draw and vice-versa. Manufacturers of modern, high quality strings usually warn against shortening a string more than a quarter inch or so by twisting, but usually this is enough, especially if done in conjunction with moving the end loop
to another post, or changing modules. One way to reduce the number of twists necessary to accomplish the desired change is to adjust both strings and cables. To shorten the draw length, for
instance, untwist the cable a few turns, then twist the string a few turns.

Draw Length Alternatives
Repeatedly pressing the bow and making adjustments until the precise draw length is arrived at can be a frustrating and time-consuming affair, and not every bowhunter owns a press. Fortunately, there are better ways to experiment with draw length. For starters, the length of many release aids can be adjusted. Almost all wrist caliper releases are easily adjusted. You might object that adjusting the release aid is not really changing draw length, and you would be correct. Shortening the length of a release aid does move the anchor point forward, though. In fact, it accomplishes
all the objectives of shortening the draw length, without the disadvantage of reducing arrow speed. I’m all in favor of maintaining, or even increasing, arrow
speed if it can be done without a downside. ln effect, achieving the proper
anchor point without shortening the power stroke of the bow is a free lunch.
The only caveat, of course, is that the release itself should not be uncomfortably short. Many bowhunters touch the trigger with their fingertips anyway, which is not the best form. In that case,
shortening the release aid is a “twofer,” providing a better anchor point and a positioning of the finger on the trigger that is less likely to contribute to punching the release or even target panic.

Some bowhunters looking for extra 10 fps or so of speed might find that by shortening their release aid, they can actually extend their draw length without changing their anchor point. Don’t need an extra 10fps of speed? Shorten the release aid, extend the draw length, and back off on the draw weight by five or six pounds. Speed will be about the same, but you’ll be pulling and holding significantly less weight.

Bowhunters who feel that their release aid is already as short as it should be can switch to a forward trigger design release. By using a release aid with a trigger farther forward, and much closer to the jaws of the release, it is possible to shorten the release without changing the position of the trigger relative to the wrist caliper to another to another shorter style of release aid.

A similar option is to alter the size of the string loop. (If you’re not using a string loop, you should be) As with the release aid making the loop shorter will move the anchor point farther forward, while making it longer will move it back. If a longer loop makes for a better anchor point, then lengthen the draw length by changing string posts or modules, or by untwisting the string a few turns then shorten the loop. Perceived draw length will be unchanged, but real draw length will be longer with a longer power stroke and more speed.

Finally, bowhunters shouldn’t overlook the effect of grip on draw length.
We’re talking an optimum range of quarter inch in draw length for most shooters. The difference between a wrist high grip, in which the riser touches only a small bit of skin between the thumb and forefinger, and a low grip, in which it is in contact with much of the hand, can easily make a difference of half an inch.

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Published by archerchick on 31 Dec 2010

Extending Your Range – By Joe Byers


Bowhunting World
October 2002

Extending Your Range
The World Past 20 Yards
By Joe Byers

Stuck at the 20 yard threshold? Three nationally known bowmen show how to increase your effective range and make the most of each opportunity.

You guys will have about two hours to hunt and still catch the plane.:
said the manager of the Jupiter caribou camp in northern Quebec. “If
you can pack back the meat, I’ll take things from there. Just don’t miss that plane!”
Pressured by an unexpected departure schedule, I dressed by candlelight as the eastern sky began to pale. Pushing the darkness, I climbed the ridge, stopping often to survey the tundra surroundings. Several days before, thousands of caribou migrated through this area, concentrating in a narrow patch of black spruce. The nearby funnel would offer close—range potential. As the sun crested the horizon, action soon followed.

A mature white—mane bull emerged from the timber. Another animal soon followed.
Were there five, a dozen, or 207 Numbers didn’t really matter; one caribou in range was
all I sought.

Testing the wind, I retreated and then made a wide circle. Sneaking to a large rock, I
inched above the horizon, scanning the vicinity for antler tips. No caribou. Glassing
intently, I finally spotted tall velvet passing through thick brush well to my right. There
was no time to waste.

Reversing course again, I dashed through several openings, then closed the distance
toward an ambush trail. The bulls were traveling through waist—high brush, making enough
noise to cover my approach. Crouched as low as possible, I closed a final 50 yards with just
seconds to spare. My hands trembled as I ranged a scrubby bush at 30 yards. The first bull
stepped just beyond the shrub. The second bull was larger.

The duo moved steadily and I remembered a trick a guide had suggested. “Ark!” I
barked briskly, and both animals stopped. Already at full draw, I settled the 40—yard pin high
in the chest, held and released. In an instant the Carbon Express shaft flashed to the target,
zipping through just behind the shoulder. The arrow was exactly on target, a shot for which I
had prepared and practiced. In this instance, preparing to surpass the 20—yard pin spelled the
difference between success and “next time.”

Think Short, Prepare For Long
The first rule of long-range shooting is “Don’t” During my photo assignment/caribou
hunt l encountered 14 hunters, all of whom carried riiles, most zeroed—in at 200 yards.
Despite the potential for long-range hunting, employing ambush tactics put me within solid
bow range. The same is true for pronghorn, mountain sheep, and other animals that inhabit
wide—open spaces. Usually, they approach some cover that can disguise a bowhunter.
My rule of thumb: never take a long shot if you can plan a short one.

Closer is always better, especially in field conditions that may hamper form and cause
emotional duress. Humans are not bowhunting machines. Even Olympic archers exhibit a margin of error. Otherwise, they’d place every arrow in the same hole. Through proper practice and form, you can strive to minimize this error for tight groups. To ethically hunt whitetail deer from a
treestand, an archer must place an arrow within a 5-inch circle at 20 yards. This margin of error is 2.5 inches from the point of aim. Extend this degree of accuracy to 30 yards and wounding may occur, even under ideal circumstances. For this reason, the 20 yard threshold has become a ” glass ceiling” for many bowmen.

Today’s advances in archery technology such as carbon ICS arrows, one—cam bows.
fiber-optic sights, and vibration reduction- and, most notably, rangefinders—can
reduce the “error of arrows” and extend your effective range. Each year, more and more
hunters take actions to extend their effective range well beyond the 20—yard pin. Is that’s right for you? Only you can answer that question, yet consider the views of three
nationally-known bowmen.

The Author's Quebec Caribou fell to a well-practiced 40 yard shot. Closer wasn't an option but the shot was taken in confidence.


The100—Yard Pin

“People look at my sight and ask about all the pins,” says Robinson Laboratories
president and world—class shooter, Scott Shultz. “/Although I have no intention of
shooting an animal at 80, 90, or 100 yards, I have pins on my bow and practice at
those distances? Shultz has been an IBO World Champion several times and grew up with a solid background of long-range target shooting. His ability to use extended—range pins is a combination of finely tuned form and equipment “My fixed-blade broadheads fly at about 320 fps,” he says. “It’s all about alignment— little things like twisting the cable yoke. Also, I twist the bowstring to increase brace height. This increases the preload on the limbs as well as brace height? Shultz shoots a Hoyt Hyper-Tech bow set at 79 pounds, Easton A/C/C 360s and a Titanium 100 broadhead.

Shultz believes his long—range ability is an excellent insurance policy when the
unexpected happens. “If something unexpected occurs, you are helpless unless you
have those long-range pins to fall back on,” he says. “lf your arrow hits a twig, the
animal suddenly moves, or some other calamity occurs, the long-range pins may allow a second shot.”

Several years ago Shultz was moose hunting and
believed he had a stationary target of immense size. At
the moment of release the big bull took a stride, causing
a non-lethal hit. “l killed that moose at 67 yards with a second shot
in the ribs,” he says with satisfaction. “I relied heavily on my Leica
rangeiinder and plenty of practice?

Spot & Stalk To Success
Steve Kobrine was introduced to the bowhunting community through the pages
of Bowhunting World. The 30—year—old Maryland native has taken every species of
African game with a bow and arrow. His powerful arrow shot completely through a
bull elephant at 45 yards.

I had the good fortune to practice with Kobrine in his expansive backyard; where
retrieving arrows and walking for exercise go hand in hand. “I practice between 60 and 80 yards
because that’s the range I expect to shoot,” says Kobrine. “Most African game will give
you that leeway.”

Once Kobrine’s accuracy skills back- fired after shooting a Coke can at 80 yards
to demonstrate his effectiveness. The native workers then constructed a blind 80
yards from the crossing Kobrine expected to watch.
This young man’s physical prowess adds to his hunting effectiveness. A lanky 6 feet 6
inches, he shoots a full-length arrow at a draw weight of 80 tol00 pounds. This long
power stroke combined with a heavy 1,000- grain arrow can provide kinetic energy in the
100 foot-pound range.

How Far Is The Moose?
Bob Foulkrod reels them in like a Bassmasters champ. Each year he conducts a seminar on long-range shooting, one session of his comprehensive Bowhunting School. A full-size 3-D moose target stands in the background and inevitably a participant challenges the wily archer. “Betcha cant hit
that moose,” chides an archer in competitive good fun. Foulkrod displays a doubtful frown until the entire group demands the attempt. Like a con man closing a sting operation, his Golden Eagle bow bends and the carbon shaft smacks the boiler room 125 yards away.

After hearty laughs Foulkrod gets serious about determining “how far is too far?”
He is quick to suggest there’s no mathematical formula to the answer. His extensive shooting camp helps archers determine this exact point. Although targets are 3-D animals, hunters are hurried, harried, and otherwise challenged to make lethal shots on targets that pop up, drop down,
and move among obstructions. The five- inch circle is still the kill zone, yet archers
are presented with many complications to making the shot.

“We test each hunter’s limits,” says Foulkrod. “We want ethical sportsmen taking high-percentage shots and our course helps each person learn his limits.”

Small Steps To Extended Range
Kobnne, Foulkrod, and Shultz have several characteristics in common, similarities that
allow archers to compare their shooting styles, gear, and tactics. First, each man practices at long range. Even the fellow who shoots in thick cover from a treestand can benefit.
“If you practice at 60 yards, you either improve your aim or you lose all your arrows,” says Shultz. From a practice standpoint, the farther away you can group arrows, the more consistent your shafts at a closer range. A flaw in form or rest clearance may not affect your shooting at 20 yards; however, beyond 50 yards, erratic arrow placement becomes
clearly evident.

All three men shoot fixed blade broadheads and practice with them. Foulkrod has been a consistent advocate of the Titan four-blade, a large cut-on-contact head that creates a large slash factor. Like Shultz’s 100—yard pin, Foulkrod counts on the extra cutting power of his broadhead as insurance, should something go wrong.

Kobrine built a bow that exceeded 100 pounds of draw weight by customizing his gear, Unable to purchase such horsepower over the counter, he mixed and matched parts to create the energy required. All three men are experts with equipment, learning their gear inside and out. This
familiarity builds confidence in equipment and shooting skill.

“l never thought I’d give up aluminum arrows,” admitted Foulkrod several years
ago, after learning from a bad experience. Traveling through dense alders on a rainy
Kodiak bear hunt, several of his shafts bent, without his knowledge. “Feathers can get
wet and not work,” said the Pennsylvania resident, however, my Carbon Express
arrows are always straight?

Foulkrod’s shafts are beefed-up to 12grains per inch. His 500- grain arrows develop between 72 and 75 foot pounds of kinetic energy.

Scent control is a top priority of each sportsman. Shultz produces Scent Blocker
Plus, Kobrine uses Scent—Lok even in Africa, and Foulkrod employs the Hunter
Specialties scent elimination system. The message: relaxed game stands still.

RANGE & ANIMAL BEHAVIOR
Determining effective range depends as much upon the game animal as the archer.
A nervous buck at 10 yards may dodge or duck an arrow, while a feeding deer at 30
yards may not budge an inch. Reading the behavior of game animals takes experience
and expertise. Just as I stopped the caribou with a sharp vocal sound, “cow calling” will almost
always stop a bull elk in its tracks. Allow a bull or cow to move into an open shooting
lane at a known distance and then chirp. Whitetail bucks often stop at the sound of a
grunt, even a voiced “baa” sound. Feeding animals are usually relaxed and fairly stationary. In this situation, hunters can often wait until the near front leg moves forward fully exposing the heart/lung area.

An animal in a head-down position can signal a closer stalk. The sounds of crunching
acorns or grazing grass will help mask approaching footsteps. If the animal is feeding in a general direction, you can circle ahead for an ambush. Bedded game is another matter. Lying down, a deer or elk’s vitals are compressed to the bottom quarter of its body cavity. If possible, wait for the animal to stand or sneak in very close.

Haw Far Is Too Far?
Today’s digital laser optics are perhaps the greatest aid to enhanced range. With a
moderately fast arrow, misjudging distance by three yards past 40 will result in a miss
or worse. To appraise the effectiveness of your set—up, shoot at 30 yards, then take two steps backward and shoot again using the same pin placement. Standard pin shooters can use sight pin spread to judge arrow drop. Hold your 30-yard pin on the bull and then look where the 40-yard pin
points. The distance, divided by 10, is the proportional drop for each succeeding yard beyond 30. Be sure to practice at ranges other than multiples of five.

Finally, rangefinders are wonderful tools; yet require practice in actual hunting situations. Bushnell’s pocket—size optic saved my caribou hunt. From pocket—to-range—to- pocket took mere seconds.
Advances in shooting technology allow greater accuracy at longer range, however, bowhunting ethics require each archer to set his own limits. Sight pins past 20 yards shouldn’t be ego points, but insurance in case a second arrow is needed. The maximum range is the distance you can put a broadhead inside of a five-inch circle every time. Practice realistically, know your limitations, and you can release with confidence.

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Published by archerchick on 31 Dec 2010

Get Aggresive For Elk – By Jeff Copeland


BOWHUNTING WORLD
October 2002

GET AGGRESIVE FOR ELK
By Jeff Copeland
In the pre-rut, before the bugles begin and the weather is uncooperative, sometimes you just have to go get em!

My heart rocketed into my throat as the beautiful 6×6 strode from behind the brush broadside at just 25 yards. He was following a couple of cows as they fed toward the point of a ridge. I knew something had to happen quickly because the gentle breeze tickling my left ear would be swirling around the point of a ridge. I knew something had to happen quickly because the gentle breeze tickling my left ear would be swirling around the point that the cows were headed for; but for this moment, there were too many unobstructed eyes for me to lift my bow and come to full draw. In the past few years, I’d had this dream thousands of times, but on September 3, 1999, it wasn’t a dream. It was a reality

This was my first trip to New Mexico to
hunt elk with Ray Milligan and Milligan
Brand Outfitters. Our plan was to hunt the
first week of the 1999 archery elk season,
thinking that the weather would be warm and
dry. This would allow us Lone Star flat-landers to sit comfortably in a treestand overlooking the area’s isolated watering holes and
take our pick from the parade of bulls that would get thirsty in the evenings.
That plan looked good on the drawing board»—and it probably would have turmed out exactly that way had l been left out of the
equation. l firmly believe I have personally been responsible for ending more droughts than El Nino.
True to form, we arrived in the Milligan camp to mid-40—degree temperatures and a pouring rain that turned to sleet as
me day progressed. Rain was predicted as far as the forecast extended and we knew we were in for one tough hunt.
Needless to say, Ray informed us that sitting over a waterhole would be a waste of time.

One of the benefits of being an avowed weather jinx is that you learn to be a more adaptable hunter. If I hadn’t learned
to be adaptable, a dozen arrows would have lasted me through the entire decade of the ’90s. So,
as we sat around the dinner table that first night, I tied to be the optimist.
“Elk are smart, but they’re not whitetails,”
I told my hunting partners. “This country is conducive to stalking and it’ll be just like hunting exotics back home in Texas.
If we can find them, we can kill them.”

Topping a ridge at about 5 p.m. on the second day of our hunt, I
spotted a really nice bull herding two cows down the mountain in front of me.
This trio was eventually joined by about 20 additional elk on the edge of a
meadow. I glassed the bull with my Leica 10X42s as the elk began feeding in my direction.
The oak brush-covered ridge I was on ran perpendicular to the mountain that the elk came
from and bordered the meadow where they were feeding.

With more than two hours of legal hunting time left, and the elk totally oblivious to my presence while feeding in my direction, I
already had my tag on this bull and my fork in one of his juicy steaks. However, as is often the case, it wasn’t meant to be. A lone black
bear emerged from the brush between us, and the elk herd soon hoofed it back up the mountain, destination unknown.

Not quite sure what to do, I stayed put, cursing the bear until the sun fell behind the mountain where the elk had made their escape. Then, remembering the huge open valley that lay behind the ridge to my right, I
thought maybe the elk had dropped off into it to feed. As I eased quietly around the ridge glassing the draws and headers for brown fur and calcium, I finally reached the edge of the valley. Sure enough, the elk were there, feeding away from me at about 250 yards. With sunset (New Mexico’s end of legal hunting time) only five minutes away, I decided not
to risk pushing the herd out of the area.

The next morning my enthusiasm woke me up before Scotty Wilson, the camp cook, even sounded reveille. At daylight, though, I spotted my herd and they had already returned to the security of the oak brush-covered
mountainside and were browsing their way up toward the dark timber, where they would likely spend the day. Knowing the elk were gone until evening, I used the morning as an opportunity to familiarize myself with the terrain on the side of the ridge where the herd had been feeding at sunset the day before.

Bear or no bear, this time I had a plan. That afternoon, the sky was clear and temperatures had warmed a bit. I arrived at my perch atop the brushy ridge to see if I could spot the herd that I had put to bed that morning. Around 4:30 p.m., I heard a bugle and recognized the voice from the day before. Though I couldn’t see them, over the next hour or so, I could tell from the cow calls and
bugles that the herd was moving down the other side of the ridge again. I knew where

the herd was headed, and because I knew the lay of the land, I had time to get between them and where they were going. I gathered my gear and began slipping around the ridge to find my bull. As I cautiously eased through the brush, I spotted a mule deer doe and had to wait for her to feed into the brush so I could get by without spooking her. Once I was past, the bull bugled
again and I spotted a cow less than 100 yards away. Just as I had hoped, they were feeding on the ridge that ran above the big valley and the wind was quartering from them to me.

When I figured out exactly where the rest of the herd was, I dropped off into the draw and inched forward until I could just peel; over the edge of the ridge the elk were on. As I did so, I saw a cow, a calf, another cow, and the 6×6 bull come by at 25 yards. My Bushnell rangefinder was tucked into the
cargo pocket on my right pant leg and there was no time to retrieve it. The cows fed on the side of the ridge and the bull was about to follow. His head went behind a ponderosa stump and I came to full draw. He was walking, quartering slightly away when a cow called from behind him. As he paused to
look back, my subconscious shouted “50!’ while my pin hit the crease of his front shoulder and my Mathews Black Max sent the Easton A/C/C 371 streaking at 303 fps down a collision course with the bull’s heart.

At impact. the bull bucked and kicked with both back feet as he bolted 15 yards before
piling up near a downed pine. The rest of the herd never had a clue what was going on and I
had to wait for them to feed off of the ridge. When they were gone, I ran over to put my
hands on the bull’s massive beams. I sat in awe of his beauty as I looked through his tines
at the sun setting behind the mountains across the valley, and thought about all the times
before I had played this game of cat and mouse, only to come out on the losing side.
This was my first pre-rut elk hunt and it taught me a lot. In the first couple weeks of September,
there isn’t a lot of bugling like later in the month As the week progresses, you begin to
hear more bugles in the early morning and late evening, but still not a lot of roaring back and
forth like you hear in the peak of the rut. As a result, you may find cow calling is a lot more
common and effective in getting a response. From a half-hour after sunrise to a half-hour
before sunset, cow calls may be the only elk vocalizations you will hear.

Many hunters like to go elk hunting in the rut so they can hear the bulls bugling,
and I’ll admit I enjoy that spine-tingling whistle as much as the next guy. However,
as a bowhunter, when I go elk hunting, I like to kill a bull, and it has been my
personal experience that the early season is the time where I have the best chance
at that. I can hear bulls bugle on the Outdoor Channel in my living room.

The other big difference between hunting this time frame and the rut is that when a bull
answers your calling, he typically won’t be headed in your direction. In the early season,
you can listen for bugles to determine the areas holding the elk. If you cow call and have
a bull answer, chances are he isn’t coming to you, but he will stop what he is doing and look
in your direction. When you have a bull answer, don`t continue calling like you would during the rut.
Instead, try to home-in on the bull’s location, moving to where you think you will be able to see the bull, and decide if
he is the one you want to take. If you think you are getting close to the bull’s location but
you still haven’t spotted him, then it’s time to call again to see if he is still in the area.

One thing about hunting the Southwest during the first week of September is that typically,
the mature herd bulls are not the ones out gathering up cows. Usually, the younger,
satellite bulls gather cows and do the majority of the bugling that time of year. The big
boys are usually alone, but in the vicinity, thrashing brush, making wallows and generally
keeping watch on the younger bulls while preparing for the combat to come.

When you spot a decent bull with a herd of cows, it might be worth your while to glass
the surrounding country before setting your sights on him. Such was the case with a bull I
shot last year, on another trip to New Mexico with Ray Milligan. Once again the hunting
was tough but for totally different reasons. Last year, the Southwest was in a terrible
drought and wildfires were rampant. Fortunately, the area I was to hunt was out of the
bum zone, but it was hot and very dry.

Arriving full of anticipation about ambushing at waterholes, we were in for yet another disappointment.
The drought was so severe that ponds and water tanks holding the limited
water were continually visited by the numerous bears that inhabit north central New Mexico
—not good when you’re after elk or mule deer. The parched terrain made still-hunting
difficult and slow stalking more critical than ever. It was a tough hunt but there are lots of elk
in the country Milligan Brand has leased. I spotted several good bulls and actually passed
up shot opportunities at three different ones in the 240-265-inch class. I was determined to get
something bigger than the 280 I shot in 1999.

The last morning of my hunt, I decided to go back into an area where I had seen several
different groups of elk. By that time in my hunt, I figured if I couldn’t spot a good bull, I
might be able to till my tag with a cow so I could take home some meat. I arrived in the
area I wanted to hunt just as dawn was breaking. The air was cool and crisp and I heard
bugles in several directions as I approached the top of the ridge where I wanted to glass. Of all
the bugles I heard, there was one in particular that caught my attention. It was a deep guttural
growl, followed by an ear-piercing whistle that seemed to linger in the air for an eternity. I had
to get a look at the critter making this sound.

As the early morning light altered its way into the canyon I was overlooking, I began to
make out the silhouettes of elk. My Leicas focused in on a nice 6×5 that I had passed a
couple of days earlier. I knew he wasn’t making the sound that had piqued my interest.
When it got light enough to see well, I made a couple of cow calls. Just as I finished the second
mew, another bull answered. He was an old herd bull that was now thrashing brush
directly below me about 300 yards from the herd which held the 6×5.

When the 6×5 bugled, I cow-called and the old bull stepped out of the brush nearly
causing me to swallow my diaphragm. He was a massive 6×6 that would dwarf the bull I
shot the year before. To add insult to injury he looked in my direction and bugled in my
face just for good measure. As he walked into the edge of the meadow, the 6×5 quickly.
drove his cows across the valley, up the opposite ridge and out of sight over its crest, leaving me
and the big guy to fulfill our own destinies in the quiet New Mexico morning light.

After an hour of playing cat-and-mouse with the monarch as he demolished oak brush
and ripped apart pine trees with his long ivory tipped tines, I managed to get around him so
the wind was right. In another 45 minutes I finally got ahead of him and was waiting at full
draw when he stepped into an opening between two patches of brush. My arrow
found its mark and 75 yards later I was admiring the regal beast laying on the point of a ridge
with the sun glinting off his massive beams. In the early season, before the bulls really
get fired up, many times success can hinge on the weather. When the weather tums nasty
making waterholes ineffective, you can still fill your tag if you know what to do when you
have to go get ’em! >>—>

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Published by seanb912 on 24 Dec 2010

hypershock 2? or 2 3/4?

I’m Buying a new 2010 pse omen 70# bow. I have decided on the hypershocks because of their cutting diameter, good design and seemingly durable design. I cannot decide between getting the hypershocks 2″ or 2 3/4″. The 2″ design seems more durable by picture on the website . (Left Click the text to look at both designs on the website) With that said I would like the larger cutting diameter. I also think the omen will produce enough kinetic energy to create a good percentage of large exit holes with either broadhead length(I will be hunting black bear). Thoughts? experiences? Thank you happy holidays

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Published by bhowardoutdoors on 22 Dec 2010

Why Hunt?

I’ve been given the honor and opportunity to write a blog about something I dearly love and enjoy.  Who could pass up a chance to write a blog on hunting and fishing?  So with the pertinent task of coming up with something so special that it would send the public into a frenzy to read this blog, I began wondering; do I open with a short autobiography?  Well, that would certainly send everyone into frenzy, but not the type the I would like!

How about a few stories of hunting successes this season?   That will surely follow, and at the end of the blog will be a contact address for you to send information and pictures of your trophies. But for the first blog, I’ve decided to explain why we hunt, what we hunt, and why it is important.

Fred Bear, a man known as the father of bowhunting, once said “Don’t base the fun or experience of hunting on whether you get an animal or not.  The kill is way, way down the line.  You can enjoy the woods.  You can enjoy the companionship of the birds, and the fish, and the animals, the color of the leaves…”  It really holds true.  Some of my best experiences have been without the climactic shot to bring down the game.  Every fisherman remembers the ‘one that got away’, but may not be able to tell you anything about the three fish she caught two weeks ago.  The beauty of God’s canvas with you being an integral but non-invasive part of it, that’s really the goal.

As outdoorsmen, our targets are usually the majestic whitetail deer with a crown of bone, or we may hope to bring in the strutting tom eager to meet a new mate.  The trout may be fooled into attacking a cork with feathers believing it to be an unlucky insect.  All have garnered our passions; our unrelenting efforts in pursuit of the biggest and most beautiful of Darwinian challenges.  We have entered nature’s domain, and blended in and became part of nature.  We accepted the challenge and try to conquer nature in its own territory.

 We come up with reasons for hunting and fishing, such as nature tends to overproduce, or disease and famine will destroy more wildlife than hunters if we do not help balance the carrying capacity of the land. But really, what I have found goes back to what Fred Bear stated. I do not have the first dove I killed mounted on the wall. But I do have a fond memory of hunting with my grandfather and my father. I was using an old Ithaca 20 gauge side-by-side that my grandfather and father used as a child. I also have a wonderful memory, and fortunately, a wonderful picture of my son and I walking off a field in Eastern North Carolina with two tundra swan on our shoulders.  My son used the old Ithaca 20 gauge side-by-side that I used as a child.  Hunting is a bridge of generations.  It’s a constant with many variables.   It’s something we must protect, but we must not abuse.  This is why we do what we do and why we enjoy it so.

I look forward to sharing your hunting and fishing experiences, as well as thought provoking and entertaining insights through this blog each week.

 Bill Howard is a Hunter Education and Bowhunter Education Instructor , a Wildlife Representative and BCRS Program Chairman for the North Carolina Bowhunters Association, and an avid outdoorsman.  Please forward any pictures or stories you would like shared to [email protected]

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Published by trutested on 29 Nov 2010

Hunter Christmas list/ Product review

Hunting, Fishing and Camp ideas for Christmas

Many people this time period of year wonder? “What the heck do I get my close friends or loved ones that love the outdoors”!? Well guys and gals I’m here to make that just a little bit easier for you!

Hunting fans this time of year will be getting prepared for the upcoming deer rut and for Arizona where I am from we are getting our archery skills tuned up and looking for those new products that will help make us successful. This year is going to be colder than many of the years prior. First I would check out clothing products that are lightweight yet will keep them warm and dry. Red Head apparel is what I use and has been a proven brand for a lot of years. Camo patterns vary but I like Mossy Oaks break-up. Next I would look into those items that tend to get broken and lost. For Bow hunters that would be arrows. Carbon Arrows are most common and are very excellent gift this time of year. Arrows can be bought by the dozen or half dozen and vary in price. Intermediate priced ranged products are recommended as cheaper is not always best. I myself shoot PSE brand carbon arrows. They have proved to be tough and long lasting for me and right here in Arizona a miss signifies a deflection off a rock or two. Most arrows will be destroyed under these conditions, but PSE brand arrows hold up the best for me. For those hunters blessed to have a rifle hunt approaching this time a year I would look into warm clothing as mentioned and also new optics that have arrived this year. Also there are many great game calls that will be helpful for the approaching hunts. Trail cameras and their accessories is also turning into a very popular item as well. These gadgets keep us out in the field time and time again searching for the big one and bragging rights. I personally use the Stealth Cam sniper series but also have used my buddy Dave’s Moultrie trail cam and have had great final results. As far as Optics go I use Nikon Action series binoculars at 12×50 power for glassing long distance. I also use Bushnell’s 8×42 waterproof binoculars for when I’ve spotted my buck and am putting on my stalk. They are lightweight and tough and have lasted me throughout the years.

For the Fisherman I would look into new and improved lures, rods and reels and clothing to keep them warm and dry. This time period most fish are down deep so lures such as deep diving crank baits, plastic lures, spinner baits as well as weights and the glass beads are good stocking stuffers. I personally like to use Berkeley power baits for my plastics. For my crank baits I utilize a few different brands I like Excalibur brand the most as they are very lifelike and have consistent diving depths. I use Team Daiwa for my shallow running crank baits and jerk baits they have awesome action and I catch a lot of nice fish with them. Also look into the new electronics that have come out recently as they seem to advance year after year. Fly fisherman that tie their own flies are constantly running out of supplies so you might want to look into that as well. For clothing you need to consider those awesome Jackets with the big logos so they will feel like their favorite BASS pro! These jackets and pants are all very lightweight warm and water resistant. For the trout creek fisherman/fly fisherman a good pair of waders is a must to keep them comfortable and warm. One thing I have learned over time is that I never have enough tackle boxes as well. When everything fits I seem too always be able to fill another one up so deciding on a good tackle box is also a great gift idea. I choose Plano tackle boxes and have used them since I was 5 yrs old and love em!

For the Camper/hiker looking into a good pair of boots I believe is a must. Footwear always gets worn out after all those miles put in with the heavy packs. I use Danner boots mid ankle boot for my long hikes and hunting trips. They are light in weight and water resistant and have undeniable comfort. For those day hikes I prefer Columbia footwear because they are even lighter and are very well priced for the top quality you get. Also look into propane packs, lightweight cooking utensils and new and improved products that let the hiker/camper make his camp just a bit more comfortable. A good Global positioning system is now a very popular item to take with you as well. There are many different types at many different price ranges. I use a Garmin 60 CSx. It’s a very precise search for my GPS once I learned to keep it on the side of my pack in a pocket for sure. I also have used Garmin’s 520 and 530. Both are great combo GPS/radios although the range is not optimal like most radios, generally only good for about 2 to 3 miles max. Although they say they have a 15 mile range. Good clothing is also a great item to have and yes great pairs of good wool socks are awesome stocking stuffers especially to us hikers?. For hiking I love Columbia’s clothing line they are well priced and comfortable for all seasons. They are also a very well established company that has been providing quality gear for many years.

Well hopefully I’ve given you guys a good base on what your Outdoorsman might have on his wish list. Most importantly remember that we all just love receiving the stuff that pertains to the outdoors. It is here where we relax and really put all our troubles behind us. We fantasize about our next trip coming up and love visiting the stores with all our favorite gadgets and equipment. It fills our hearts and souls with joy to be able to go out and breathe in the fresh country air and meet others that share our love. Most of us are lucky enough to share the experiences together with our families. So no matter what you get I’m sure it will make them happy. Just so you folks know I am not paid to endorse any of the products that I have suggested. I truly like these products and recommend them out of my personal experience. I will be providing many more blogs to come and hope that you find them helpful. Thank you, Happy Holidays and God Bless!

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Published by gibby1122 on 03 Nov 2010

Safety caution for gorilla ladder sticks

PLEASE READ THIS POST IF YOU USE GORILLA LADDER STICKS. On 10-25-10 I had the unthinkable happen to me twice. The metal clasp on the strap that holds the Gorilla ladder sticks broke while i was climbing up and setting up new ladder sticks. Thank goodness I was wearing my safety harness and only escaped with a few scrapes, bumps and bruises. On 10-26-10 I called Gorilla to let them know what happened and the Customer Rep was as horrified as I was about the failure in the buckle. I sent her pictures and she promised to send me a return authorization form to return the products for immediate inspection. She also stated she would make the public aware and I did not have to worry about that. She has never sent the form, has never returned any of my calls, has never returned any of my emails and has hot to my knowledge made the public aware of this serious issue. If this has happened to you or you know anybody that uses these dangerous and faulty sticks please share my story. Had I not been wearing my safety harness I may not be here to tell this story.

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Published by bignasty43 on 09 Oct 2010

field dressing?

I need a new method of field dressing a deer after a kill so maybe it will not be so messy and give coyotes even more reason to hang around the hunting club which none of us in our club want. pictures and/or step by step instructions would be helpful.

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