Archive for the 'Tips/Advice' Category

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Published by XtremeSportsmanDecal on 26 Sep 2012

Squirrel Bowhunting Tips and Recipe

Squirrel Hunting with a Bow

I grew up eating squirrel.  My grandmother used to catch them with traps, and make delightful meals with squirrel meat.  I didn’t realize that most people don’t eat squirrel!  But anyway, now that I’m a bow hunter, sometimes I bring in a squirrel and replicate one of my grandmother’s recipes.

Bow hunting for squirrel is not the easiest thing in the world.  But if you know how to use a bow, you should be able to handle it.

Here are some quick tips for hunting squirrels with a bow:

  • Don’t use broadheads (especially the nice ones) – they’ll get ruined.
    • Instead, use small game points or Judo points
  • Don’t shoot squirrels in the trees – you may lose an arrow.
    • Use a tree stand and shoot down into the ground.

Squirrel Dip Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. cooked squirrel meat, finely chopped
  • 1 Cup Cream Cheese
  • 1 Cup Whole Milk
  • 2 TSP Half and Half
  • 1/2 Cup Sour Cream
  • Green Onions, finely chopped (Optional)
  • Diced Tomatoes (Optional)
  • Onion, Garlic, Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and blend until thick and creamy.

Season to taste.

Serve with pretzels, chips, crackers, or chunks of fresh bread.  Enjoy!

More Fun for Bow Hunters

Bow hunting for squirrels can be a lot of fun!  It’s very challenging.  Next time you’re out bow hunting for deer or other wild game, and a squirrel gets in your way, take a shot!  You may surprise yourself.

I especially enjoy bows, wild game recipes, and watching videos of squirrel hunting on YouTube.  Great fun!

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Published by archerchick on 25 Jul 2012

Watching The Woods Change -By Randall Schwalbach

Archery World – October 1987
Watching The Woods Change
By Randall Schwalbach
The freedom of exploring wild places is one of the joys of hunting. There’s nothing like the anticipation of going out of state on the big hunt. New country, new faces, new challenges — that’s what turns on bowhunters like you and me. At the same time, however, many of us enjoy returning to a favorite hunting spot year after year. I enjoy roaming a woodlot in central Wisconsin where I started bowhunting whitetail deer 15 years ago. It has become sort of an annual pilgrimage, and come mid-September my thoughts converge on this chunk of heaven I call the Big Hoods.
The Big Woods
What I find most amazing about the Big Woods is that it is in a state of constant change. Not only does habitat evolution/ alteration affect deer movement on a year to year basis, but also new generations of deer acquire new patterns and survival techniques. In order for you to enjoy continuous success at your own “old faithful ,” I’m going to share some of my experiences with this evolution at my own tried and true Big Woods. Did you ever marvel at how fast a tree grows? Just look out your window at that maple you planted in the backyard when your irst son or daughter was born. Amazing, isn’t it! Now, consider that a tree is useful to deer for different reasons during the course of its life, and you’ll see why no woods can ever stay the same. When it is small, a tree is likely to be either (1) eaten or (2) used as cover – or quite possibly both. Toward the end of its sapling status, it serves as a good place to polish antlers and test brute strength. Between this and the fruit bearing stage, say, if it is an oak, the tree as an individual is not highly useful. The point is, the woods are a collection of many trees, either in a process of growth or death, and as a unit the woods are indeed constantly changing – right before your eyes.
When I first started hunting the Big Woods, the northern edge was well defined. It butted up against a 20 acre farm field that lay fallow and consisted of thick canary grass and tall goldenrod, with a few small aspen and birch scattered through. In the past 15 years, however, the oaks and maples of the Big Woods have grown out into the field, producing a “zone” rather than a strict delineation or “edge.” The deer used to cross the 20 acre field rather quickly to go between cornfields and the woods. They entered the woods at the corners and at a few select points along the edge. The sign they left was concentrated at these entrances. Now the deer actually “live” in the field and in the “zone” created by the advance of the Big Woods. The cover is much thicker and there are many more lanes of safe travel for deer. Individual trails, however, are not as prominent, and the sign is less concentrated. I think there are more deer now, but they make less impact.
How has my hunting strategy changed? For starters, I alarm too many deer if I walk
 through the zone between woods and field, which is where my old walking trail is. I now enter the woods from a different side. Because the deer come into the woods from any point along the north boundary, I now have better luck hunting farther into the woods itself, where main trails are still in use and sign is concentrated. For nostalgic reasons, I sometimes sit in my old stands along the “edge,” but my luck there is seldom good. It is important to understand that the Big Woods itself is used primarily for three things: (1) acorns, (2) a rutting area and (3) a lane for quick travel to a major swamp/bedding ground to the south. As the only major highland in the area, the Big Woods is strategic for the hunter with a discerning eye.
There is an annual adjustment in deer movement directly related to farm crop rotation. Although my woods are not bordered by any tilled land, there are fields in three different directions. The field to the west is 100 yards distant and is always planted in corn. Encompassing a half section of land, the corn planted there often becomes primary escape cover as well as a food lot. In alternate years, roughly, there is corn to the north and to the east, within a quarter to half mile of my woods. Because deer seem to enjoy variety just as much as we like to try out different restaurants, they will travel the extra distance between these fields and my woods. This is in favor of the deer, from a biologist’s point of view, for it decreases social pressure and interaction. From a hunter’s standpoint, deer sign spreads out and hot-spots become less of a factor. The deer are everywhere, and they approach the woods from all sides, complicating the matter of placing a stand, particularly in relation to wind direction.
The availability of natural food supplies also changes from year to year. During the fall, one of the most important deer foods to look for is the acorn, fruit of the oak tree Since one species of oak may produce more acorns than another in a given year, pay attention to the different groves of oak in any one woods. Furthermore, mast producing capabilities of individual trees within a species also vary. (See my article, “Acorn Time ’s the Time” in Archery World August, 1986, for the complete lowdown on oaks and acorns. Differences in food supply, remember, affect not only where the deer eat, but also where they bed and from which direction they approach the woods.
Natural events such as a violent windstorm can change deer patterns dramatically. Several summers ago one storm took more than 100 of our big oaks. The deer had formerly been accustomed to a clear view in the mature timber, which they traveled through at a quick walk. When the trees came down, it gave predators (like me) good places to hide. so the deer had to slow down and move through the area with greater caution. ln effect, this gave them more time to detect my presence.
In many instances, downed trees also obscured my vision, making it harder for me to spot deer approaching favorite stands. My father and I used to love one open glade in the late afternoon as the deer approached through the slanting rays of sunshine. This perennial stand suddenly became a poor hunting locale. It remained that way until we got in there with a chain saw and restored some order to the area. Shortly the deer returned to using their old trails with confidence. A further outcome of the windstorm was the creation of a new hunting strategy for me – the pit blind. In a nutshells, the upturned root end of a windblown oak created a natural hole for a hunter to crawl into. A little improvement with a spade, and I had a first-class blind that put me as close as I’ve ever been to wild deer. For example, six inches between my face and the antlered end of one whitetail buck was CLOSE!
Another kind of evolution that can force a hunter to revise his strategy is a change of land ownership. When my father first purchased the Big Woods in the early 60’s, all the adjacent lands were owned by farmers. As they subsequently sold off of small parcels (split off the big farms) to non-farmers, the result was a loss of hunting grounds for us and a decline in the hunting potential on our own land. One person put an old mobile home smack dab on the edge of our property, ruining one area totally. Another routinely invites more people to hunt his land than he actually has room for, producing the added headache of a trespass problem for us. We have made the necessary adjustments for these changes, however, and fortunately we still have excellent hunting at the Big Woods.
Possibly you are contemplating buying your own land for hunting. The best advice I
have for you is to locate an available parcel adjacent to a large tract of land that is least likely to be split up and sold off in small parcels. By the same token, don’t purchase hunting land with the idea that it will provide instant and easy access to other peoples’ lands. Neighbors may be willing to grant you hunting rights on their land, but don’t assume this. Acquire enough land of your own to provide for your sporting needs.
In addition to habitat evolution, food availability and change of land ownership, there is the possibility of new generations of deer acquiring new habits – that is, adapting new ways to avoid you. I believe that due to wide-spread use, the overall effectiveness of the tree stand has diminished significantly over the past 10 years. When I first started hunting out of trees for deer, the results were fabulous. Most of the stands I used were no more than 10 feet off the ground, and deer were always walking right underneath me. Rare indeed were the occasions the deer looked up out of natural curiosity, even after detecting a strange odor or hearing a sound that was out of place. I used one tree in particular over and over, year after year, with excellent success. Gradually, however, the deer became wise to my strategy, forcing me to become more of a specialist at the arboreal ambush. Indeed, trees were still good places to hide, but the deer were starting to check out the various trees as they went about their business. I learned to pay more attention to camouflaging myself with natural materials and shadows, whereas before I had relied upon sheer elevation.
Also, once the deer spotted me in a tree stand, it seemed to make a larger impact on their memory, and the effectiveness of any given tree stand diminished through usage. Today, I still use tree stands, but I change their locations more frequently, and I generally go much higher – 22 feet is about average. For all purposes, I have abandoned the permanent, wooden platform made of 2×4 lumber in favor of the portable, aluminum stand which I can backpack in and out of the woods. The latter are more effective as they can be put in almost any tree. They also create less of an eyesore when I leave, for I take them with me.
In addition to tree stands, I spend more time these days still-hunting and waiting in ground blinds. The end result of all this is a continuous, intensive scouting program to keep abreast of the natural changes in the woods as well as man-made-alterations. We always think to ourselves, “Wouldn’t it be nice if some things would just stay the same forever?” But the truth is, that old hunting spot of yours is bound to change; it changes a little bit every day. Spend some time revising your bowhunting strategies to suit the new conditions and it will pay you off with the one thing that doesn’t change – the satisfaction of making a kill with the bow and arrow.
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Published by archerchick on 25 Jul 2012

My “Dream” Buck by Michael Henson

Archery World – October 1987

My “Dream” Buck by – Michael Henson

 

Well concealed and silent, the westerner stalked his trophy steadily for more than three hours; like a magnet, it attracted more and more deer. Suddenly, his bowhunting partner appeared and spotted the deer, pulled his bow out of the truck and loosed the perfect arrow.

 

I refocused my rangefinder and looked at  the yardage indicator once again.   “Sixty-two yards. I don’t dare move any closer,” I said to myself. Glancing at my watch, I realized that three hours had gone by since I first spotted this record book mulie. My thoughts quickly faded though as my eyes again were drawn to the bedded-buck’s wide 5×5 rack, still in velvet. It moved periodically as he nibbled at the grass around him and methodically chewed his cud.

“He’s gotta be Pope and Young material ,” I thought. Feeding below this buck was a respectable 4×4, approximately 40 to 50 yards away. He was nice, but definitely not the quality of the bedded, larger one. Occasionally, I would also catch glimpses of a 3×3 and a doe who were also browsing a little further downhill. No matter what else was going on, my attention went quickly back to the big 5×5. What a nice animal! In 20 years of hunting deer, with both rifle and bow, I had never been this close to such a fine buck. This truly was a deer hunter’s “dream come true.” But could it come true for me?

 

 

Fallen Log?

 

This whole dream began in the fall of 1985 after I had moved to Aztec, New Mexico, which is located in the northwestern corner of the state. I relocated there on a job transfer from Minnesota, knowing full well I was leaving excellent whitetail country. However, I knew that I was headed for superb mule deer and elk hunting just north of Aztec, in the San Juan National Forest of southern Colorado. After moving there, it didn’t take long for me to meet the person responsible for my being on this particular mountain — his name — Peter Akins. It seems like the good Lord planned our introduction, so when Peter and I met we found out we talked the same language: archery hunting, specifically, the deer and elk dialect.

 

 

Peter himself, has never shot a big-game animal with a rifle. I don’t think he even owns one. However, with bow and arrow it’s a different story. He rarely fails to fill his elk and deer tags. I think he felt sorry for this Minnesota boy, subsequently inviting me to join him and his brothers, Russell and Mark, for the 1986 hunting season in Colorado. I was able to squeeze in my brother Jim, from back in Silver Bay, Minnesota, who ultimately plays a major role in this story. So now here I am, a little over 30 yards from a bedded-down, big 5×5 mulie.

 

Every time he moves a muscle or turns his head, my pulse quickens. Who would ever think a deer chewing it’s cud could get you so excited! I thought to myself, “Couldn’t I sneak my arrow by those broken trees, partially obscuring his body? This might be my best chance. The wind might change, or simply quit due to an approaching thunderstorm.” But a wee small voice said, “Patience. Just wait — let’s don’t blow it .” So I again relaxed, resting my 65 pound Golden Eagle compound in a small loop on my camouflaged pant leg.

 

Blow it?

I almost had already. Earlier, around 11:00 a.m. I was still hunting back toward camp, where I was to meet Jim for lunch at noon. It was a perfect day. A slight breeze in my face from below, and the aspen leaves overhead making a slight rustling noise in the background. During the preceding night a much needed rain shower made the walking almost noiseless. I had just moved out of some dense, dark spruce and pine trees into an area of open, mature aspen. I was slowly working my way down to a gravel road, where I would quickly walk back to camp. So far, this morning had been unproductive. I had seen neither elk nor deer, so when I looked downhill and saw a horizontal form approximately 100 yards away, I didn’t think too much about it. My first impression was that it was just another fallen log, but was it? There he was. Moving ever so slightly as he browsed on the lush green foliage. What a magnificent rack! My first thought was, “How in the world am I gonna get close enough in this open aspen for a decent shot?”

My problem compounded immediately when I noticed a 4×4 mulie bedded down a short distance away from this big one. He was a little closer and it was much more open for a possible shot. Then the 5×5 decided he wanted to lay down. “Great,” I thought, “two sets of eyes, open cover and considerable distance to make up. Tough odds.” Somehow though, step by step, using my small 8×35 binoculars, watching closely and keeping as many trees between us as possible, I closed to within about 60 yards. That was as close as I could go, and the only shot possible was at the 4×4. Instead of being patient, I attempted a shot, my arrow hitting a tree on the way. WHAM! I just new I had blown it. The deer jumped up, and trotted away. Then they stopped, looked around for what seemed forever and started feeding again. “I can’t believe it! Just be cool, Mike” , I told myself. Both bucks moved slowly away and got almost out of eye contact. Moving slowly in their direction about 40 yards, I realized there were now four deer. Here’s where they apparently picked up the 3×3 and the doe. Now four sets of eyes.
Moving ever so quietly, one step at a time, I was able once more close to about 60 yards. Then it happened again. First the big 5×5, then the 4×4 – they both lay down. By this time I had lost sight of the 3×3 and doe. Apparently, they both moved downhill toward the gravel road about 100 yards below me. After about 10 to 15 minutes, the 4×4 got up and began feeding away from me with the 5×5 still bedded down. This turned out to be the best thing that could have happened. With the 5×5 looking downhill at the other deer’s activity, I was able to move behind the big boy. I continuously checked the distance with my rangefinder just in case I needed a quick shot.
 Two broken trees, bent over almost touching each other, made it difficult to try a shot. I told myself, “Patience, Mike – just wait.” By now a little over three hours had elapsed. Jim, I knew, would be wondering where I was since I hadn’t made it to camp for lunch. What a surprise and shock when the sound of a diesel engine coming, turned out to be Jim driving my truck on the road below. “He must be looking for me,” I thought. “Now what’s he doing?” I couldn’t believe it, but my truck stopped. “There’s no way he can see me up here, and for all he knows, I could be six miles away.”
 I didn’t find out until later but here’s what took place…Driving around the corner, Jim saw the 3×3 buck standing about 10 yards off the mountain road about 75 yards away. Jim stopped the truck, slid over to the passenger side, got out and walked to the back of the truck, opened the topper and got out his Golden Eagle compound. Peeking around the corner of the truck, he couldn’t believe what he saw! The buck was still there trying to figure out what was going on. Guessing the distance at around 75 yards, and knowing he couldn’t get any closer without spooking him, Jim drew back. Releasing his 2117, XX75 arrow, the 140-grain, 4-blade Rocky Mountain broadhead flew perfectly, hitting behind the 3×3 buck’s front shoulder.
He ran 50 yards and then piled up. Now remember, I had no idea what was going on. I couldn’t hear or see anything except my truck way down there. The only thought in my mind was about my deer getting spooked – for both buck’s ears were up, as they looked downhill. Then it happened! Apparently when Jim’s deer took off after being solidly hit, the big 5×5 stood up. Still not knowing what just took place down below, I reacted instinctively and came to full draw. The 5×5 and 4×4 were now standing together, butl still didn’t have a shot because of four aspen. “Come on, make a move. I can’t hold it much longer,” I thought. Then, just as I was about to relax, the 5×5 moved just enough to give me a shot. Shaking as I released my arrow, it went just underneath him! But he didn’t move, and he was still looking downhill. I couldn’t believe it! In one motion I nocked another arrow; came to full draw, and sent my Rocky Mountain broadhead on its way. This time it was perfect.
The arrow hit him solidly behind the front leg, he barely moved. He managed to walk slowly though about 20 yards; then stopped; wobbled and fell; rolling over twice. I couldn’t believe it! But there he was – a trophy of a lifetime. Saying a quick prayer of thanks, I hurried down the mountain to see what Jim was up to. Was he surprised to see me coming! Each of us had quite a story. No way could either of us easily comprehend what had just happened. I didn’t know what he was doing, and he didn’t know what I was doing, nor even where I was. Unbelievable as it was, we both filled our deer tags within about 60 seconds of each other. Somehow, we each helped the other without even realizing it.
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Published by archerchick on 25 Jul 2012

Cornfield Deer – By Richard Martin

Archery World – October 1987

Cornfield Deer

By Richard Martin

Dick, you doing anything right now?”
“Nothing special, why?” “I’d like you to
come out here. Want to show you something? The
man who called was a farmer in north central
Ohio, a longtime friend who lives just a few miles
from my home. And when my pickup lifted the dust in
his driveway he was sitting in his cornpicker waiting
patiently.

“I’m harvesting about a 40 acre patch of corn here,
and it’s just full of deer, just full of them. They did

pretty good around here on the opening day of gun season, then the
deer just disappeared. Well, I know where they disappeared
to.”
I was interested in getting some good closeup
photos of deer, so I readied my camera and climbed up
to the cab, planning to hang on outside and shoot as I
could. Whitetails are notoriously indifferent to tractors, cultivators,
and harvesting equipment, and I expected to get close, but I
wasn’t planning on point blank range!

On the first pass through the com an eight
point buck and two does meandered out,
watched us pass, and faded back into the corn.
On the next a fat six pointer and three more
does walked out and back into still standing
stalks. Finally, I got off the picker and started
hiking in cleared stretches alongside. I could
still get within 20-25 yards of at least a dozen
deer on each pass. They knew that corn was
safe and they just wouldn’t leave until the en-
tire field had been reduced to a few isolated
rows. It was enough to start me thinking.

The Tassel Hassle
Archers don’t seem to give a hoot about
standing corn one way or the other, but gun
hunters hate the stuff. Here in Ohio and
doubtless in other mid westem states when
timber and crops mingle, they like to drive
during the gun season. And once deer have
experienced a drive or two, they head for the
center of big cornfields and stay there.
Most farmers won’t allow hunters to drive
corn for obvious reasons, and those who will
or hunt their own comfields rarely come up
‘with much. The animals ghost from row to
row, circle back around again and again, and
simply refuse to leave unless hard pressed and
hassled to distraction. Corn has kept many a
deer alive for another year.
Once again, archers don’t seem to worry
about standing corn, but they definitely

should because in many places this richly nu-
tritious food supply is an easy way to till the
freezer with venison that’s close to prime
beef. None of your stringy little mountain
deer here, just big comfed bucks that routinely
dress out 150-200 pounds plus. But before
you charge the nearest field of standing
fodder and attempt to fill your tag on a monstrous
buck, there are a few basic points to
keep in mind.

First of all, cornfields are no help at all in
country where everything is com. In areas
where fields of standing stalks stretch on for
miles the deer simply have too much choice.
They can loaf in this 80 acre patch or walk
across a fencerow to visit that 200 acre section,
or hike a few more yards and cavon in
640 acres of good cover. You get the point.

They’ll be in standing com routinely, but you
aren’t going to find them, except by great
good luck.

The situation you’re looking for, and it occurs
often in the midwest, is a good sized
cornfield nestled in among timber, brushy areas,
rolling hills and valleys, in short, mixed
terrain and limited corn. They’re not hard to
find if you’ll do a little looking and I’ve man-
aged to pinpoint quite a few areas where
farmers plant corn at least every other year
and plant it in territory in the middle of prime
deer country. It makes my day when I drive by
and see those young corn shoots coming up in
early spring.

One of these is definitely classic and the
first time I saw it, my mouth simply watered.
The field was about 40 acres of already chest
high corn, and on one side stood a brushy area
that was darn near impenetrable! I walked it
through, left a little blood here and there in
thickets of multiflora rose and blackberry bri-
ers and marveled, while I muttered bad things
under my breath, at the deer trails, droppings
and beds. The north side of that field had a
more open collection of hawthorne and
grasses, good warm weather cover, and again
plenty of deer trails and other sign. The third
side opened onto at least a hundred acres of
tall mixed timber, and the fourth bordered a
small highway for easy access.

Even before the corn fully ripened that
year deer began gathering to take advantage of
the rich feeding. They built trails into that

field from all directions that began to resemble minature four lane highways, and I’m surprised that I didn’t fill my tag during the first
weeks of October.

But except for the timber side there was
nothing suitable for a tree stand so I spent
much of my time ground hunting, checking
wind direction at hunts beginning, dressing in
full camouflage with face paint, and taking a
bath in a deodorizing soap before scenting
myself up with a fox urine cover scent or
whatever else seemed promising. I saw plenty
of does, had several within 10-15 yards, and
reached easy range of a forkhorn who seemed
a little small. I passed on him.

There were big bucks as witness their
tracks among the corn rows, but they were
slipping in and out before dawn and holding
up in the thicket where they were safe as in
church. I couldn’t seem to win. Luckily the
landowner held off harvesting that field until
well after gun season and eventually there
came a stormy Friday night with winds and
rain, a night when deer would feed only intermittently.

Morning brought chill weather and
a light misty sprinkle, one of those dawnings
when you KNOW deer will be running late,
and when shooting light arrived I was waiting.
I don‘t wait long.

A fat eight pointer materialized out of the
mist, easing almost silently through rain
moistened stalks, and starting warily at every
sound. But he didn’t see me and I’d already

drawn my Brown Bear compound at the first
sure sign of his presence. The broadhead sped
true and shortly thereafter I was dragging my
winter’s meat to the pickup. Thanks to standing corn.

Enamored Of Cornfields
There are more things to keep in mind,
once you’ve found an isolated cornfield that
shows obvious signs of use by whitetails.

First, it should be obvious that if you hunt at
dawn, deer will be coming out of com while
in the evening they’ll be heading in. S0 you
scout the surrounding land carefully, decide
where they’ll most likely lie up during the day
and plan your tree stand spot or ground blind
accordingly. It pays to have several to take advantage
of wind direction, then you can make
an on the spot decision as to which place is
best.

If you’re into driving for deer, you’ll find
standing stalks a real challenge, maybe more
challenge than you can handle. It’s a total
waste of time to drive a 100 acre field with
four or five men because, again, the animals
will simply circle. You’ll see one once in a
while, a glimpse here, a flashing tail there,
but any shots you get will be at shadows and
no good archer shoots at shadows. If you post
men outside the field in spots where the animals
are most likely to flee for safety, you’re
going to discover that when they leave corn,
they do so in high gear.

On one of the very few times I participated
in a cornfield deer drive, after assuring the
landowner that we’d ease down the rows and
not disturb a single stalk, we finally put out
three does and a forkhorn. The bowhunter
they ran past said, “They looked like bouncing
grey blurs and there was no chance to
make a certain hit. I let them go .”

Maybe you`re wondering at this point why
deer are so enamored by cornfields and
golden kernels of corn when they have long
acres of tasty acorns and other natural foods
that range from crabapples to sumac berries.
The answer is a simple one; like people, deer
are lazy creatures. Why roam around and for-
age as best you can, especially during late sea-
son when the lush vegetation is long gone,
when you can step into a cornfield and have
unlimited ears of high energy, extremely nutritious
corn. Admittedly, acorns have higher
food value, ounce for ounce, than corn.

They’ve more protein and more fats to go with
a high carbohydrate rating, but it’s the carbohydrate

that provides energy to burn and
maintain body warmth in cold weather, and
corn has plenty. They can probe under an oak
all morning for a fist full of acorns, using almost
as much energy as they gain, but every
stalk in a cornfield has at least one ear and
usually two of tasty provender. Wouldn’t you
make the same choice?

Every archer knows there’s no sure thing
in deer hunting. Whitetails are wild and wary,
have fine sight and chokebore noses, and their
ears can pick up a chipmunk’s belch at 50 ·
yards. But there is one situation in cornfield
hunting that comes close to being a fish in a
barrel situation, and I’ll pass it on for those
hunters who can handle the patience and slow,
careful hunting it demands.

This method won’t work well during the
early season when whitetails move in and out
of com at random. They may feed in com
early in the season, but they seldom lay up for
the day there. But in late season when other
cover is sparse and leaves have fallen to ex-
pose the thickets and usual hiding spots,
they’ll often spend their whole day in corn;
Even more so if they’re being hunted hard. So
you wait for dry conditions and a nice, steady
breeze.

The wind blows through yellowed stalks
then, with a constant rustle that effectively
dampens out whitetail hearing. That steady
wind also limits their sense of smell to one
direction. So picture a late field of standing
com with good cover around, a steady, directional
wind and an archer who feels sure
there’s a good buck or two in there. He heads
upwind and starts walking.

I’ve practiced the business myself more
than once, but I still remember one archer ·
who took his biggest buck ever that way. He
said, “I started in with real care, just step by
step with plenty of time to look up and down
each row. I went about 100 feet that way with-
out seeing anything, then I peeked up and
down one row and saw two deer about 75
yards away. I glassed them with binoculars
and saw they were both does, lying down and
facing away from me. They didn’t even see me
as I slipped across to the next row, probably
because the stalks were tossing in the wind
and they didn’t pick up movement.

“I went another 50 yards before I saw a
grey hump on the ground that turned out to be
a six pointer, and I was tempted then. But it
was still early and he didn’t see me either. I
could always come back. I was clear out in the
middle of the field when I saw a dandy. He
was lying down too, and I could see that bone
white rack. The binoculars said he was a 12
point and I wanted that one bad.

“So I backed up eight or ten rows down-
wind and eased along to where I figured I was
about opposite, then I stepped up a few rows
and saw him just six or eight yards away in an
area where the stalks were thin. He never saw
me very carefully draw the bow and I bet he
never even heard the string snap. That was the
biggest and easiest buck I ever got.”

You can argue ethics here, the question of
shooting a buck that’s lying down, but personally
I have no problem with the situation. To
approach a good sized animal that close on
foot, even with the wind to help, requires at
least as much skill as it does to properly place
a tree stand and take your shot from there.
Either way y0u’re shooting an unsuspecting
animal, and that’s what most archers strive to
do.

That’s only my opinion and you can make
your own decision, but either way you’ll find
cornfield hunting worth the effort, and
there’ll be many a freezer filled with venison
this fall by hunters who find the right situa-
tion. Look for fields with good cover around,
set up ambush sites early, walk the rows late in
the season on windy days and I’m betting
you’ll put a fork in venison steaks, too.

They’re the closest I know to a sure thing, and
worth checking anytime. Those golden kernels
are more than a simple money crop,
they’re also a whitetail heaven.

>>—->

Archived By

www.Archerytalk.com

All Rights Reserved

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Published by Casey Stutzman on 11 Jun 2012

Don’t Get Sucked into “Hunting Specific” Training

“Sport specific training” is a big buzz word for any activity. Bow Hunters scour the internet and youtube for “hunting specific” exercises that will increase their ability to harvest deer come fall.  As a fitness professional and international presenter I deal with lots of questions from clients and other trainers regarding how to develop sport specific programs but is “sport specific” really the way to go? Does sport specific training even exist in the fitness world? 

 

A good mechanic looks at the entire truck to make sure everything is working together properly for maximum performance and increased life.  He addresses problem areas as they relate to the whole.  If he does not look at the whole there can be problems, what it I want better off road traction and he decides to put on the best off road tires money can buy but never check to see if they will work well with the vehicle.They might be good tires but if they are wrong for my truck it will kill my gas mileage (performance) and possibly put extra wear and tear on other parts decreasing the life of the vehicle.

 

The body is no different.When we look at training and exercise from a sports specific platform we often miss the forest through the trees and perform exercises that are wrong for us or do not help with our weak points.Here are a couple reasons why to look past those sport specific training articles and videos for bow hunters.

 

·        The goal of any training program should be to create a solid foundation of stability and strength so you can move effectively and without limitations or pain.  All humans move the same, I’m not saying all training programs should be the same but there always needs to be a focus on building the foundations of human movement so it is ready for any sport or activity.

 

·        If you want to be sport specific play your sport!  If I want to be a better golfer I need to play golf!  You can’t exercise your way to increased sports skills.  I see ads all the time for “Bow Trainers” vertical sticks with resistance tubing so you can practice drawing your bow.  Here’s an idea, why not just draw your bow!Using an exercise routine that develop all the systems necessary to draw and hold well paired with lots of target shooting will put you way ahead of the curve.

 

·        Look at the demands of your exercise compared to what happens in real life.  You will read over and over that the bench press is a great sport specific exercise for football linemen because they have to be strong pushing people away.  True; but in a game are they on their backs, supported by a bench, moving an evenly balanced weight a slow steady pace?  If an exercise was truly sport specific it would exactly match the movements and environment of competition

 

 

As a performance and fitness professional when I work with clients and athletes of all sports and activates my goal is to clean up & increase their movement efficiency.Developing sport specific skills is their coach’s job.  For more information on movement based training check out these articles;

 

 

What Should Bow Hunters Look for in Gyms and Fitness Offerings – http://primal360.blogspot.com/2012/04/what-should-bow-hunter-look-for-in-gyms.html

 

Also check out www.TRXtraining.comfor great products and info on movement based training

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Published by mlgunkel on 05 Jun 2012

Distance Compensating Bow Site

I am a math teacher in a small high school in Alaska and we began exploring a concept this year for an idea I had a while back.  The general thought is – if you make a laser site and have it mounted above the arrow can you align it to approximate the trajectory of the arrow?  If you can, how far would it approximate that trajectory?  We took that idea a step further and said, if we add a second laser to start approximating the trajectory where the first one leaves off we can really extend the range of the site.  In fact multiple lasers could be used to approximate the trajectory as far out as desired.  Multiple lasers would project multiple dots on the target but the lowest dot would always be the one to use.

We did in fact develop the theory behind this and built a working prototype.  It works.  The students won best of show at the local school wide district science fair.

It only took two lasers to approximate the trajectory on a Bowtech Allegiance out to 50 yards with a maximum 2″ of error.  The following video is of us testing the site shortly after we set it up.  The first clip show 5 shots at random distances out to 50 yards and the second clip shows popping balloons at 10, 20, 30, 40, and 50 yards on a bright sunny day.

If you are interested in the theory behind the development we established the following procedure:

This procedure includes a fair bit of math – that was of particular interest to me as a teacher using this as a learning project – but this can be automated with the computer and the initial setup of this site is actually quite simple, fast and effective.

Procedure

Since the flight of an arrow follows a decaying parabola, its trajectory can be approximated with a quadratic equation in the form of y=ax2+bx+c where y=drop and x=distance from the target.

  1. Record arrow drop from three distances covering the effective range of the bow by shooting groups of arrows from each distance and recording average arrow drop from aim point.
  2. Create three different equations using the known x and y values, with x=distance from target and y=arrow drop from aim point.

Y1=ax12+bx1+c

Y2= ax22+bx2+c

Y3= ax32+bx3+c

  1. Solve for the unknowns: a, b and c.  Do this by using a graphing calculator and setting the numbers up into a matrix and transforming the matrix to reduced row echelon form.
  2. Once coefficients a, b and c are solved for they can be plugged into the quadratic equation ax2+bx+c.  This will create the quadratic equation that predicts the arrow trajectory.
  3. Use Excel and the quadratic equation to graph the predicted arrow trajectory.
  4. Once graphed, use lines of best fit over different ranges to follow the trajectory of the arrow with an acceptable margin of error. Ultimately, these will be the lasers.
  5. By using multiple lasers, or lines of best fit, we should be able to approximate arrow trajectory out to the effective range of the bow. Multiple lasers will project multiple dots on the target, but the bottom laser dot will always be the approximating arrow trajectory.
  6. Construct a laser mounting apparatus that can be mounted onto a bow and which allows lasers be adjusted in elevation as well as fine tuned left, right, up or down. This laser mount must be rigid enough to maintain its position on the bow while sustaining the shock of repeated shots.
  7. Take the first line of best fit and find the equation of the line in slope-intercept form. B, or the y-intercept, will be the distance between the laser and the arrow.  Mount the laser at this distance above the arrow.
  8. The line of best fit will cross paths with the arrow trajectory at two places on the parabola.  Solve for the x values, or distances, where this occurs by setting the equation for the line of best fit and the quadratic arrow trajectory equation equal to each other and solve for x.
  9. Site the first laser in at the previously solved for x values by shooting a group of arrows at the two distances and adjusting the laser accordingly. After this step your bow should be striking your aiming point at the two distances.
  10. The next laser can be aligned without shooting the bow at all.  The two lasers will cross at a specific distance. This distance can be solved for by setting the equations of the lines of best fit equal to each other and solving for x.  Simply adjust the top laser so it is on top of the previous laser. Ultimately, at these two distances you will see only one dot.
  11. Repeat the previous step to align any additional lasers.

Now you can test-shoot the bow from essentially any distance that your bow is effective to and see if the lasers allow you to shoot within the predicted margin of error at these distances.

The following is the actual implementation of the procedure on the test bow (Bowtech Allegiance) with the real numbers and generated formulas.

Step 1: Record Arrow Drop.

 

Distance from Target Arrow Drop (Inches)
Group 1 15 Feet or 5 Yards 0.4375 Inches
Group 2 60 Feet or 10 Yards -5.3125 Inches
Group 3 150 Feet or 15 Yards -46.8125 Inches

 

Step 2: Create Equations.

 

0.4375=a(32400)+b(180)+c

-5.3125=a(518400)+b(720)+c

-46.8125=a(32400000+b(1800)+c

 

Step 3: Using spreadsheet program utilizing rref solve for a, b and c.

 

a= -0.0000171467764060

b= 0.00478395061728

c= 0.1319444444444440

 

Step 4: The quadratic equation predicting arrow trajectory is:

 

-0.0000171467764060x2+0.00478395061728x+0.1319444444444440

 

Step 5: Use Excel to make a graph of projected arrow trajectory using the previously found quadratic formula.

Step 6: By graphing trajectory over shorter distance ranges and using line of best fit on Excel, we were able to come up with a combination of two lines of best fit that approximates the projected arrow trajectory from zero out to 50 yards with an error of + or – 2 inches.

First Line of Best Fit:

 Second Line of Best Fit:

 Step 7: We were able to use 2 lasers and have a margin of error of 2 inches and were able to approximate an arrow strike point out to 50 yards. The top laser mount location is 25 inches above the arrow.  With a top laser mount of 33 inches we, we were able to approximate arrow strike point out to 60 yards.

 

Step 8: We chose 1 inch extruded aluminum display rail since it was readily available, rigid, lightweight and laser fixtures could be mounted anywhere along its length. This was mounted to the bow utilizing the bow’s standard site mounting holes.

 

We modified a generic green laser pointer to use as our laser sites. To allow for windage and elevation adjustment of lasers we mounted one end of the laser on a horizontal threaded bolt and the other end of the laser on a vertical threaded bolt in an aluminum square tube.

 

For our power source we made a battery pack using standard plumbing supplies and screwing it into the stabilizer-mounting hole on the bow. The bow was used as the ground and we routed one positive wire through a momentary push-button switch on the bow handle up to each laser.

 

The lasers were mounted onto the bolts by soldering a nut onto a ½ inch copper pex crimp fitting and crimping it onto the laser.

 

Step 9: The equation for the first laser line is y=-0.0137x+4.028.  The laser should be mounted at four inches above the arrow.  Mount second laser at 25 inches above the arrow, the equation for this laser is y=-0.0384x+25.132.

 

y-intercept=4.028=distance laser is mounted above the arrow.

 

y-intercept=25.132=distance laser is mounted above the arrow.

 

Step 10: Find where the first laser crosses at both places on the parabola.  See below.

Step 11: We adjusted the laser fairly close at 8.7 yards and then adjusted it to be right on at the next distance: 21.2 yards.  A quick check showed that the laser was right on at 8.7 yards as well.

 

Step 12: We solved for the distance that the laser crossed.  See Below.

 

We then aligned the lasers as to make one solid dot at 23.7 yards.

 

Step 13: There were no additional lasers.

 

Step 14: We tested the site by shooting arrows at random distances out to 50 yards, and all the arrows were within the predicted margin of error (+ or – 2 inches in elevation). See video. Further testing was done to demonstrate both the accuracy of the site out to 50 yards and the visibility of the green laser on a bright sunny day by shooting balloons at 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 yards. See video.

 

I would certainly like our students to receive feedback on your thoughts about this concept.  We did file a provisional patent on the idea.  I can be contacted at [email protected]

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Published by Casey Stutzman on 17 May 2012

Real Fitness for Bow Hunters

Here are some great additions you can make to your workout routine to keep your most deadly weapon in tune and ensure it is ready to perform during the moment of truth.

 

Choose athletic exercises

 

Simple or single joint exercises do not teach the body how to move better.  Hunters are athletes and need to train as such, choose exercises that have multiple joints moving simultaneously and require focus and concentration to perform.For example a bicep curl is very will not help a hunter move better, an exercise like a squat & row on a TRX suspension trainer or with a resistance band will have much more value.

 

·        Resistance band squat row

 

o  Loop a resistance band around a stationary object and grab both handles.  Begin standing facing the anchor point with your elbows driven back and your wrists touching the lower portion or your ribs.  Simultaneously squat and reach your arms towards the anchor point until they are straight then stand and return to the row position.  8-12 reps

 

Balance training

 

Simple balance training will challenge your nervous system and strengthen your brains ability to communicate with your muscles which will have a direct positive effect on your reaction time and reflexes.  Another added bonus is you gain better body awareness and control makes your shot routine more consistent and effective.

 

Balance training exercises;

 

·        Simple – single leg balance with eyes closed

 

o  Stand on one leg in an athletic stance and close your eyes.  Stand on a BOSU balance trainer or other unstable surface to increase the level of challenge.  Hold on each leg for 20-30 seconds, this is a great exercise to do between strength or conditioning sets as active recovery.

 

·        Advanced – Lateral bounds with stick holds

 

o  Start on your right leg and explosively bound to your left landing on your left leg covering as much distance as possible.  After landing on the left hold for 2-3 seconds trying to maintain your balance before going back to the right.  Do 8-12 reps

 

Core stability

 

we often think of shoulder strength and core stability as two different things, fact is that they are very interconnected; a stable core equals a stronger shoulders

 

Core stability Exercises;

 

·        Simple – 10 second Planks

 

o  A plank is holding a push up position.  Perform short intense 10 second reps with 3-5 sec rest between.  Make sure your toes are pulled towards your shins, your quads (front of legs) are tight, glutes (butt muscles) are tight, abs are braced (like you are about to take a punch) and shoulders are tucked back and down (towards your back pockets)

 

·        Advanced – Bird Dogs

 

o  Begin in the plank position on your elbows. Keeping the body as stable as possible lift your right arm and left leg a few inches off the ground and hold 1-2 seconds.  Return back to the start and repeat on the other side.For a greater challenge begin with a plank on the hands.  Do 8-12 reps

 

 

Cardio target shooting

 

Next time you are out at the range take a jump rope or hit up some jumping jacks for 45-60 seconds right before shooting a couple groupings.  This will elevate your heart rate and force you to get it and your breathing under control before you shoot.  This will help mimic that excited state most hunters get when they see a deer and will improve your accuracy in those situations.  It will also help strengthen your shot process by making you really concentrate on your breathing in your pre shot routine.  Bow hunters are often also pressed for time; this is a great way to stay up on your fitness while still getting in time to prepare with your bow for the season.  I also like to hold plank positions before shooting or before I start my jump roping.  This will tire out my shoulders and core, at first it might have a negative effect on your accuracy but after a while you will find that you are more sold and stable in full draw and are able to hold the position much longer without shaking.

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Published by Casey Stutzman on 17 May 2012

What should a Bow Hunter look for in Gyms of Fitness Programs

If you are a serious bow hunter than you are serious about your fitness (if not see artice on “why athletes make better bowhunters”).  Whether you are just getting into fitness to improve your hunting skills or you are looking get the most out of your current workout program, here are a couple simple suggestions to steer you in the right direction.  There are TONS of fitness offerings, finding the ones that can be the most beneficial for hunters can sometimes be tricky, use these suggestions below to find what is right for you.

·         All the skills we talked about don’t happen by sitting on machines, find workouts that take place standing and allow participants to “move in space”.  Bow hunters should be looking for more functional fitness offerings, which should not be hard since that is the new buzz in the fitness industry.  Look for places that offer things like TRX, Rip trainer, work with resistance tubes, BOSU balance trainers, medicine balls and performance/athletic training.  I am a huge fan of Kettlebells but make sure you find a place that offers a progressive program for various levels.  Kettlebells are wonderful but are a skill in themselves and take time to master.  I am not a huge fan for Crossfit but feel it can be beneficial for bow hunters if you are able to hook up with a good Crossfit trainer.  Be very careful picking a Crossfit gym, to find the right one for you do your homework and talk to people in your area. Many of the popular Crossfit exercises and workouts require mastery of some basic skills before attempting; when you turn 16 you don’t hit the track at Daytona right after getting your license, find a location that has a progressive system for getting new members involved.   Look for a Crossfit gym that does not have beginners doing any Olympic lifting and encourages short strength workouts and rest days not just met cons day after day.

·         If you are already active take your training to the next level by getting off the machines and incorporating exercises on items like the BOSU balance trainer and TRX suspension trainer into your workout, you can find great TRX trainers and gyms at www.trxdirectory.com  Try doing your cardio by running or bike riding outside for some new variety.   Participating in more performance based workouts will help you increase your athletic machine and vastly improve your bow hunting.  These workout are also fun and very engaging making time at the gym very enjoyable.  A simple way to do this on your own is adding reaction components into your exercises. To find a great local performance trainer look for professionals that hold a Combine360 certification you can find them at www.combine360.com

·         Look into myofascial release techniques to help improve posture and recover from long and numerous sits in the stand.  Lots of personal training studios and specialty fitness business are now offering classes and sessions on the foam roller, some even offer body work by trained professionals.  This is also something you can do on your own where ever you choose to workout but it will take some research.  One of my favorite companies that deliver great MFR products and education for athletes is Trigger Point Therapy www.tptherapy.com

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Published by bowhunter1922 on 01 May 2012

Nocked-Outdoors

Looking for reviews on specific products? Need advice or hunting strategies? Unsure of what to get to help you in the woods? Want answers? Go to www.nocked-outdoors.blogspot.com and ask questions. Make requests for reviews anytime. Always get an open opinion to help you make those big hunting decisions. Check it out today. Leave comments or ask for specific things. Don’t make that big crutial decision alone.

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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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