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Published by archerchick on 05 Dec 2011

Lovin’ Fightin’ Elk – By Ralph Ramos


BOWHUNTING WORLD Xtreme
2004 volume 53, no.6

Lovin’, Fightin, Elk ~ By Ralph Ramos

With today’s call-shy bulls and early
archery season hunting pressure,
bowhunters need hard-core team efforts to produce trophy public land
bulls. These team efforts may include a combination of modern elk cow
calls, decoys, and resonating bugle tubes. But creatively putting them to
use with rattling is what works best! During my 15 years of experience
guiding elk hunters in New Mexico with San Francisco River Outfitters, I’ve
been blessed in harvesting over 120 bull kills in team efforts afield. In the
past seven elk seasons, l have employed my creative elk-calling techniques for others. And they work. My client hunters have multiple opportunities at shooting bulls on an average three-day hunt. Because of creative
calling, out of ll hunters, we average killing nine bulls in any dry or wet

season. Dur average kill ratio is one bull harvest for every two days of hunting.

I witness at least one live elk fight every two sea-
sons. But none stand out as my very first elk
brawl. I remember distinct evening bugles, popping back and forth at each other, as these hulls
walked downhill off the same ridge and headed
toward a marshy meadow. Suddenly I heard a
cracking, popping, loud noise throughout the canyon.
It sounded like many baseball bats banging against each other
at full swing, coupled with muffled moaning and furious breathing.
Two massive bulls fought with their heads down, locking
horns, pushing, shoving, swinging heads and antlers at each other.
Upon witnessing this and subsequent elk fights, l began to
notice that, as we walked out of the battle zone, we would continue
seeing and hearing multiple bull elk in the area after the
real fight ended. Perhaps these area bulls came in hoping to
see a fight, but the brawl was over.
This type of elk fighting and rattling reminded me of high
school students running towards a fray, hollering, “Fight,
fight!” in the school yard when a dispute occurs. Naturally,
these young bull-students like to see the sparring between two
warriors in battle. This intrigued me to try simulating a rattling battle in areas where bulls are bugling.


Rattling & Cow Talk In Action
Arizona elk enthusiast Ron “The Rattler” Way strongly
believes in rattling. He carries a large set of 6×6 antler sheds,
rattling in several bulls per season. Because it is so uncommon
to draw an elk tag in Arizona, Ron practices his method by
going out on friends’ hunts, rattling and refining his technique
for when he draws a permit.

The first time I saw Ron and his rattling technique, he helped
me produce a 340 class Pope & Young 6×6 bull. It took just 45
minutes.l even passed up three opportunities at young bulls, holding out for a herd bull as the elk approached the rattling noise.
First, Ron told our calling party what to do when the rattling
began. “The bulls will start bugling, walking toward the direction of my rattling,” he stated. “Select a bugling bull that interests you and move in towards the bull. Be aggressive. Don’t expect
bulls to come in all the way into my rattling; you need to stalk
the live bugles. Normally, bulls will come in from all directions
and hang up around 50 yards from my rattling. Get the wind right
and move on in. The key is to try to intercept a bull as he
approaches the battle. If you don’t like the bull you see, don’t
stop hunting. Approach another bull’s bugle, and keep working the area for more action. Remember, be aggressive!”

As soon as Ron began to rattle, we heard at least 10 bulls
in the area start bugling toward the ruckus. Amazed, l quickly stalked into the closest bugle for a setup. After the first elk
walked by heading toward the rattling noise at 20 yards, I quickly had my two callers, Joe Sellars and Jerome Sanchez, produce
lovesick excessive cow mews. Because elk are both lovers and
fighters, I knew we were onto a new technique, simulating what
naturally happens in the elk world. Give elk a loud battling
brawl and sweet cow talk, and you’ll get immediate results!
As Ron continued to rattle, bang and clash those huge 6×6
antlers, l continued to move in, jogging to the next closest
bugle. Jerome and Joe followed, trailing me about 30 yards.
They cow talked in multiple tones, as if they were my satellite cows. Mimicked cow talk, battling bulls brawling, and live
screaming bulls filled the surrounding area.
The next bull we called in during the rattling session seemed
to prefer cow talk over the battle. He approached Ron’s rattling,
but changed his mind as if he were advantage of an opportunity to steal the ladies, who belonged to a fighting bull.
At this point we had moved about 300 yards from Ron’s
rattling, still hearing his antlers clattering clearly. The young
6×6 bull came within 20 yards, stopped and stared past me as

another bull snuck in between Joe and Jerome. I decided not
to shoot at this particular bull, as he only allowed a front-end,
quartering-toward»me angle shot. I passed up this unethical shot
and quickly moved in on another bugle. Morning bugles continued
all around us. Meanwhile, 20 minutes into the setup, Ron
continued rattling — what energy and endurance his arms had!
Finally, as I approached another bugle, I spotted cow elk mov»
ing toward my right into the cedar trees. I quickly figured by the
bugle’s location that it could be my herd bull following behind
them. Instantly, I closed in, jogging toward the bull as he
walked through a cluster of trees. For a moment his cows separated
from him to my right.I kneeled down — steady, at full draw
with my PSE bow — selecting a possible shooting lane as a 340
class bull approached, bugling from my left side.
]oe and ]erome continued producing excessive cow talk a good
80 yards behind me while the canyon clattered with echoes from
Ron’s rattling. My top sight pin steadily settled behind the herd
bull`s shoulder as he not only walked in, but stopped between
brush and two cedar trees in the only available shooting lane.
I don’t even remember squeezing my Scott Little Goose trigger as I released my shot. The Carbon Force arrow, tipped with
a Rocky Mountain Ti»l00 broadhead, plunged forward through
both lungs, leaving a remarkable blood trail to follow for a quick
recovery. As we posed with my trophy 45 minutes into the hunt,
bulls continued to bugle at a distance. What a wonderful
bowhunting experience!

Rattling & Calling How To’s
Find Your Battling Antlers
My preferred antlers for rattling
includes at least one large 320 class
6×6 shed as a base antler and a broken antler
— minimum of three points from the bottom
antler base or spur — as the second shed. This
broken antler allows you to swing with more
force, clashing both sheds together furiously
to create a faster, more aggressive rhythm,
Furthermore, less weight on the broken antler

shed means less fatigue on your arms and upper body during a rattling session, helping you produce a true battling noise.
Elk antler sheds may be purchased from antler furniture
shops. However, many elk hunting enthusiasts prefer to indulge _
in a favorite pastime and look for shed antlers in the field. People comb the woods as early as February. They’re more likely to
find world class bull sheds during this early shed season when
the larger bulls loose their antlers before younger satellite bulls.
Because the impact from jumping a fence often causes elk to drop
their antlers, I like to get out and walk fence lines. Antler shed
hunting not only allows people to be outdoors, but offers the
chance for some valuable scouting and exercise for a new year
of hunting. Remember, sheds may be found anywhere, even while
you’re hunting, so keep your eyes open.


Scouting, Season
Considerations

Rattling requires some pre season scouting to determine where
bulls are hanging out (as Ron did during previous hunting seasons). Our rattling
and calling technique is successful during early season archery hunting when bugling is slow, but Ron
found that it works better when the bugling picks up during
the later part of archery season. Multiple bull bugles are easier to locate.
assisting hunters as where to set up for a rattling
session. He would rather set up in an area where he can
already hear two bulls bugling rather than none at all.

Entice With Rattling
Once you have located bugling bulls, set up down»
wind to begin your rattling session. Try to set up
above or level with the elk bugling when you start to rattle.
Elk tend to hang up. They don’t come in as easily if you call
them downhill. First, bang the antlers abruptly and aggressively
against each other. Clash your antlers together six to seven
times, creating a continuous loud, thundering, popping bang.
Let all bulls in the area know that a fight has just begun. When
it comes to drawing their attention, the louder, the better!
Continue clashing, rubbing, and creating clatter for IO to
15 minutes. Once you have started a rhythm for a fight;
bang the antlers two or three times loudly with greater force,
just like the loud, thundering bangs you created at the beginning of your session. This needs to happen at least every three
minutes. Real bulls tend to back off from one another and
approach each other for a second, then a third round, creating
loud antler popping banging sounds.
Be patient, hang in there and rattle for 30 to 40 minutes.
Remember you are trying to simulate a loud aggressive elk fight.
It at all possible, get a friend to call as you rattle. Focus on
vocal calling with bugles and cow calls to add flavor to your
simulated elk fight. I like to imitate bugles and groans with a
resonating tube such as the Primos Terminator bugle. If a caller
is not available, carry a bugle tube to produce these groans and
bugles yourself during the middle of the rattling session.
Rattling takes a physical toll on your upper body; upper~body
strength and endurance are musts. If an additional caller is avail»
able you might even switch roles from caller to rattler and vice
versa. The important thing is don’t give up. Whether rattling
or making vocal elk calls, keep up the noise to keep bulls
interested. Bulls normally bugle as they approach giving up their location, but
silent bulls sometime come in, so don’t let your guard down.

Enhance With Cow Calling
Most importantly, the
hunter taking the shot should have an
additional caller producing cow talk
behind him as he moves in toward elk that are approaching the rattling fight. This caller should follow the shooter, staying a minimum of 20 yards behind. The
cow talk will help entice a bull to walk by the shooter, giving the shooter a good shot.
Even with a supporting calling and rattling party the shoot»
er should have a diaphragm mouth call ready at all times and call
while moving in toward the bugling bull. Another reason to have
a mouth call ready is to stop a bull. As he walks by toward the
rattling light, a sweet cow chirp may stop him for a better shot.
Once your rattler has begun rattling and live hulls are walking toward the battle, begin your calling, producing lovely
tones of a female elk. Mimicking multiple cows and calves

with excessive cow talk works extremely well during the rut. Use
different elk calls simultaneously non~stop as bugling bulls
approach. Once you start the excessive bursts of cow talk,
don’t stop until the bull comes in running past the shooter.
I like to place all my elk calls in front of me when calling to
keep them within a hands reach. l imitate varied tones of cow talk,
starting with diaphragm cow calling, then shuffling the open
end of a bugle tube in and out in front of my mouth rapidly. This
“shuffle” of volume produces the “near and far sounds” of mingling
cows in a herd. Next, swap to an open reed call, using it without
a bugle tube. Try to vocalize one cow in heat by producing a loud
hyper heat call once every three to four minutes. The greater your
variance of cow sounds, the better your chance of calling in a bull.
These types of sounds are best created with Primos elk calls such
as a sound plate diaphragm, single and double reed calls, and — the
most user friendly — a “Hoochie Mamma” push and squeeze call.

Elk hunting is an ongoing mental and physical challenge. There is no question that elk have become more
educated game animals. To remain effective, hunters need
to make changes. This is why l strongly believe in creative methods outlined in this article. Don’t forget to combine these methods with in depth scouting, physical
conditioning and conducting year round homework —
they are essential. No matter what, mere is nothing
that is more enjoyable than the rush of calling in a
bugling bull elk!

the Author
Ralph Ramos is a prostaff member for Primos Hunting Calls, PSE
Archery Products, Rocky Mountain Broadheads, Scott Releases, and
Montana Decoys. A New Mexico native and guide for San Francisco
River Outfitters (www.gilanetcom/sfroutfittersl, he guides elk hunters
in the “Land of Enchantment? He presents elk calling seminars
throughout the Southwest, educating hunters on creative calling
and rattling techniques as well as his x—zone method. Ralph also
owns Ramos Hunts & Video where he produces hunting videos. To
book an elk-calling seminar, purchase his hunting videos, or just get
simple advice about elk hunting, contact Ralph at (505) 526-4514 or
email him at [email protected]

Archived By
www.Archerytalk.com
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Published by archerchick on 05 Nov 2011

FOR WILD TURKEY ~Starting From Scratch ~By Stan Chiras

Archery World August 1988

By Stan Chiras

I really couldn’t see what all the fuss was
about. But, as they say, that was then and
this is now.
I had been on a couple Wyoming elk hunts
with Dick Kirby of Quaker Boy Game Calls in
the past. Now, when you’re with Dick you
can’t help getting infected with his ever-
present enthusiasm for the game he hunts;
whether it be elk, deer or turkeys. Hearing
him recount some of his episodes with gobblers
easily convinced me to give it a try. I had
heard a number of deer hunters say that if they
had to give up either deer or turkey hunting
that the deer would have to go. I can’t say I
totally agree with that but I certainly can see
their point after my spring of 1987.
. Wyoming is one of my favorite places to
hunt and the native Merriam subspecies of
turkey found there is a stunningly beautiful
bird. So, one evening after talking with Dick,
I gave outfitter 0.B. Caudle a call and made
some arrangements to go turkey hunting with
him. I had had an enjoyable time hunting
with 0.B. the previous fall for elk and he
promised me an equally rewarding time in the
Black Hills of Northeastern Wyoming. The
trouble was, neither of us knew anything
about turkeys! We decided to just go out and
have some fun trying.
Luckily, we both knew Dick and a phone
call netted us videos, calls and assorted equipment
to shape these two neophytes into some
semblance of turkey hunters. Our last bit of
advice from Dick was that we were making
matters a little too difficult for a first time
attempt. You see, I hunt exclusively with bow
and arrow and getting a gobbler with one
would be a tough bill to fill. It has its rewards
though, as we would soon come to know.
Likewise, it has its drawbacks, to be felt convincingly as well.
Let me say right away that five days of turkey hunting has made me a better hunter, for
the birds proved unforgiving in their treatment of us. I am also hooked for life on these
magnificent creatures.

Our hunt began on the first afternoon with
an answer to a very limited vocabulary of
yelps from a canyon far below us. I don’t
know if it was the aggressive nature of the
gobbles or the closeness of the responses as
we moved in, but as we set off to pursue these
birds (two were talking to us), I became an
addicted turkey hunter. I became this gladly, I
might add.
Now, O.B. is an experienced elk hunter
and, acting on some of the advice given to him
from Bob Wozniak, also of Quaker Boy, he
prompted me to get in close in a hurry —- as
though our quarry was an angry six-point bull
elk. This was becoming fun in a hurry! The
difference was that with an elk you just crash
up to them noisily, with a turkey you must
contain your sounds.
We slipped down a blind ravine to the can-
yon floor and quickly surveyed the scene. The
bottom was about 150 yards wide and covered
with scrub oak. It seemed ideal — but then,
what did we know’? Thankfully, it was graced
with an old logging road that made for a quiet
approach. O .B. yelped and was interrupted by
the two gobblers before he had made his third
sound. These toms were anxious and so were
we! In elk-like fashion, we looked for a set-up
that would be conducive for a shot and settled
in.

Added Inducement
There was another member of our party
that I haven’t mentioned yet. She became
fondly known to us as “Henrietta,” our turkey decoy.
She was a prototype from Duffel
Decoy, and just like their deer decoy, she
folded up nicely for traveling and popped to
shape conveniently when needed. She proved
to be a valuable asset to our efforts.
I had moved off to the right and nestled
into some brush, feeling secure in my Tree bark
sweats. I kneeled at 90° to the decoy (that
O.B. was now setting up) so that I would have a
good body position for the shot. O.B. then
moved up the road fifteen yards to call and
draw the gobbler past me and to Henrietta.
He yelped and a gobbler fired back instantly
and very aggressively from no more
than fifty yards away! Within seconds, and
long before I had time to compose myself, he
appeared into a twenty yard opening to my
right, coming in like a freight train! He was
fanned out in full display and puffed up like a

balloon. In the bright afternoon sunlight (we
later found out that we shou1dn’t have been
out there in the afternoon . . .) his white, blue
and red head appeared to be made of brightly
painted plastic, for it seemed to me that nothing on earth could look quite like this. He was
almost stumbling as he hurried directly to-
ward me. I was in trouble.
He was supposed to come down the road
– not through this clearing where I couldn’t
bend my body to shoot without being noticed.
Luckily, he dipped out of sight into a small
depression and I quickly pivoted and readied
my bow. I crouched down flat in the spring
grass. I was no sooner turned and flat out
when he reappeared, still hurrying, apparently anxious to beat the other, more distant,
gobbler to our hen yelps. This was most definitely the way to start off our turkey hunting
career!
He was gobbling every ten yards or so and
waiting for the response from 0.B. , who was
doing surprisingly well for his first turkey serenade. Just like with an elk, you must react to
your quarry and Caudle was doing it nicely.
The problem became one of how to draw
with a turkey coming directly at me without
spooking the bird. The solution was to not do
a damn thing! It wasn’t my intention to be in
this position, but I was most definitely stuck.
He came to within the width of a dinner table
of me and redeemingly saw the object of his
affections, Henrietta. I think I might have
seen a little extra twinkle come from those
dark little eyes at that moment as he stepped
into a small clump of trees to move over to the
roadway and continue his advance. What a
show this was! Six feet away was a strutting
Merriam in full sunlight! I was practically
stunned!
Almost any archer knows the golden rule
of this situation if he has shot at much
game. And that rule is to “take the first good
shot you get,” which is just what I did. He
approached the decoy at a 45° angle to me
which eventually put his fanned-out tail be-
tween his head and this very anxious archer.
The very moment I lost sight of those beady
little eyes I pivoted, aimed and shot. The arrow covered the 12 yards between us in an
instant. It made a soft “pufft” as it hit the bird.
Giving Chase
He rolled forward and came up, pausing
for a moment to look at me, now bolting
madly at him. Seasoned turkey hunters will
tell you to run to any turkey that you shoot
immediately; so there I was in motion. He
took off like a jackrabbit and I hung a hard
right tum in pursuit, still clutching my bow, I
guess for another shot should the occasion
arise. There was no thought going on here,
only primordial instincts. And those instincts
told me to catch that bird fast!
The bird was out of there in a hurry. He
flew a little but came back down on the log-
ging trail like a roadrunner. A hundred yards
in front of me was a thick patch of scrub oaks.

He dove into them and became a memory. I
crept around the brush, hoping to locate the
gobbler, but he was gone . . .
I went back to O.B. and we searched for
some sign of a good hit. To my dismay, all we
found were feathers and a clean arrow. It appeared that I was chasing a healthy turkey
down that valley and qualified myself for
some sort of lunatic award. It left me in awe of
the bird and their courting displays and very
much anxious to continue.
Let me slip in one short comment here. I
have lost chances at more nice bucks and bull
elk than I can shake a stick at due to one factor
that we all know only too well. That curse of
the hunt is called the wind. One of the refreshing differences
between deer and turkey hunting is that for the first time ever, you don’t
really give a damn what the wind is doing or if
your clothes are camp fire-smoked or if you
had garlic dressing on your salad the night
before. It just doesn’t matter because these
birds can’t smell. It truly simplifies the hunt
in that respect. If they could smell, they would
be very close to unkillable!
Some time later we crossed the canyon,
climbed to the opposite ridge and let out some
yelps. To our astonishment, we got an immediate answer! This was looking pretty easy,
especially for 3:45 p.m. of the first day. But
little did we know . . .
After five minutes of coaxing, the gobbler
came uphill to us in some pretty dense pines
that we were situated in. He picked me out
immediately and turned off to my left side. I thought he was simply circling the source of the sound like an elk
or whitetail will sometimes do. I let him go,
expecting him to circle, and he never returned. He did blast us with a “so long,
sucker” gobble from 100 yards out. I deserved it. It was hard for me to believe that he
had seen me, but he had. Kirby told me that
they have tremendous visual acuity; that is the
ability to pick out even a well camouflaged
hunter by his shape alone. I was to learn this
the hard way a few more times. These birds
put deer and elk to shame in this category,
believe me!
We headed back to camp and took our time
to enjoy the sights and rest our bones. This
was a lot like elk hunting! We had hiked several miles
and crossed some serious elevations in the process. It was not what I had
anticipated; but it was very enjoyable none-the less. Half the reason I hunt elk is for the
quality frequently referred to as “wilderness
experience,” and this trip was providing me
with just that. As we peaked our climb we
were treated to a magnificent view of Devil’s
Tower and the rest of the Black Hills. Certainly, there is easier turkey hunting; but I
doubt that there is any more picturesque.

Coupled with these wily and exciting turkeys, the
hunt was becoming a real dream experience for me.
We drove to the top of a 200 acre hay
meadow that evening, hoping to locate some
birds on the roost for the next morning ’s hunt.
Within the borders of the fields we saw an
estimated 200 whitetails feeding in the sunset.
It’s amazing that those same deer became so
elusive last autumn. O.B. circled the top,
calling over the edge while I worked a valley
back to camp. I beat him back to a pick-up
point and decided to catch some sleep. There
I sat in the fading light, totally relaxed, when I
heard what I thought was a very distant gobble. I ran
a couple hundred yards in the direction of the sound and let out a couple yelps. I

thought I heard an answer so off I ran again —
hoping to beat darkness. This continued for
almost a mile, until I was only a couple hundred
yards from the bird. He was a talkative
fellow and I had little trouble pinpointing his
location. I shut up and slipped off to find 0.B.
at the pick-up point. As I excitedly told him
about the bird he told me about one he had
located as well. We decided to go after my
gobbler, since he was a lot closer to camp. We
could chase his later.
Outwitted
We were about to learn another lesson
here: It’s best to be very sure of a gobbler’s
location before you set up in his bedroom.
Turkeys in this neck of the woods often get
into their roost by going up a hillside above
their roost tree and then they simply fly across
to a perch.
We thought he would be in the highest tree
on the hill so the next morning we snuck to a
location just below the top of the knoll they
were on. These two seasoned hunters slipped
quietly into position in the darkness. As dawn
emerged, 0.B. let out, or rather began to let
out, a series of soft yelps. What happened
next was nothing short of comical. The tom
fired off an emphatic burst of gobbles in the
middle of O.B.’s yelping, cutting him off
rudely. The trouble was, and I do mean trouble, he was in the tree directly above us! We
looked at each other and held back our laughter, knowing we could only sit still and enjoy
the spectacle.
He gobbled half a dozen times before fol-
lowing the hens to a small ridge 50 yards distant
to our location. I have to say right here
that the word “gobble” does not do justice to
the sound. It’s as good as “bugle” or
“screaming elk” in real life. The sound is like
no other and stirs the soul into addiction. If
you’ve never heard it in the woods, then you
must. This gobbler and his hens poked around

for a few minutes — he was strutting and they
were poking. He was the king of this place;
there was no doubt of that from where we sat.
The decoy was in O.B.’s pocket, my arrows
were deep in the quiver and our headnets were
not where they should have been as we sat
there, enjoying the show. It was well worth the
price of admission.
When they left we set up quickly and let out
some yelps. They didn’t reappear and we

doubted that he would leave those hens any-
way. I was to come back to see this fellow
later, although I didn’t know it at the time.
It seemed (because it was) miles before we
got our next answer. Actually, it was another
double so we decided to go after one first,
then if needed, the other. A little optimism
never hurts!
We slipped onto a small outcropping over-
looking a valley that was peppered with large
oaks and almost no underbrush. We thought
the tom was just up the other side, so we
didn’t dare go any closer since the visibility
was so good. I tucked in against a fallen log
and 0.B. got behind me. Henrietta was 10
yards in front of us. That was our mistake. If I
could do it again I would have put her behind
and up the hill a little off to our side to draw
the turkey past us. I never said we were quick
learners . . .
The gobbler interrupted our first yelps and

gobbled almost constantly as he came down
his side of the valley and up ours, in full view
of these two eager hunters. I could hear his
footsteps as he climbed to the edge of our out-
cropping. It was at this time that I realized that
we had once again goofed. He was just about
to crest the rim. At 15 yards he would be looking directly at the decoy but also straight at
me. It was too late to do anything. He came up
in full color and display. It was breathtaking.
At first I thought he didn’t see the decoy.
He sort of half dropped his display and strut-
ted off course, to my right and uphill into
some trees. He had seen me and was easing
gently out of the picture, like any sane turkey
would do in this situation. I don’t think he
really knew what he saw, but he wasn’t stick-
ing around to find out more, either. I held my
shot since I didn’t think he was leaving. You
probably know the rest of the story. He did
keep going and gobbled at us from the trees
above as if to say “Nice try, guys! ”
We had a conference and decided that I
had to get behind a real solid backdrop and
position the decoy so the gobbler would have
to strut by me enroute to the hen, then I could
shoot after he passed me and was facing the
decoy, presumably in full strut. That first turkey we had shot had also been our best set-up,
although it had been quite by accident that the
turkey came as he did. We would try to duplicate something like it on our next bird —— a
bird who was only 200 yards away and still
gobbling regularly as we whispered our strategy.

We simply slipped over the ridge and then
set up on the other side. 0.B. was nestled be-
hind some brush and I chose to sit in front of
four tightly bunched pines. There was no
good place for me to get into as we wanted and
this looked pretty safe. Henrietta was off to
my right about 15 yards. I felt that since the
decoy and source of sound were to my, side,
the gobbler wouldn’t look over to me at all. He

would hopefully crest the hill and see her — no
way would he notice my still form over by the
dense pines. When he went to her I would be
able to draw unnoticed.
This was a stubborn gobbler and O.B. was
becoming a better caller. I could see the entire
opposite hillside from where I was. O.B.
would yelp and the tom would gobble. For the

next 20 minutes this went on and it was beginning to look like a standoff. My legs were
cramping but I was unwilling to move for fear
he might see me from wherever he was. Finally, O.B. let out a gobble on the faithful
Quaker Boy Grand Old Master box and that
was too much for the old boy. He had wanted
the hen to come to him, but when he heard the
gobble he decided that he had better travel!
Gobblers get jealous when it comes to a single
hen, it would seem!
He appeared across the valley and proceeded to strut back and forth for another ten
minutes. gobbling his lungs out. He was a
proud bird with a beard that almost touched
the ground. It was great!
Another gobble from a perceptive guide
(who couldn’t see any of this show from his
location) brought him down his side of the
valley and up ours in about 60 seconds flat.
When a gobbler decides to move, he can do so
very quickly.

Now if you told me before this incredible
discourse had taken place that he could ever
spot my outline against those pines, I would
have bet you ll) cents on the dollar against it.
And I would have lost. He rose over the hill,
saw his love. farmed out and then immediately
dropped his plumage and began letting out a
series of troubled “pritts”. I was flab-
ergasted. but this time knew it was over. I
drew and shot as he paced off, now about 25
yards distant. The arrow sailed harmlessly
over his back and he half jumped and flew
another ten yards out. I already had another
arrow on its way.
In midflight an archer usually knows if he
is about to hit his mark. This arrow had “turkey” written all over it. Somehow, a small
twig grew up off a dead log and gently deflected the shaft to the ground under tl1e gobbler. Figures.
That was enough for him and he flew to the
opposite hillside and took off running. I was
drained but happy that we had done so well,
especially once he had spotted me. A little
luck and he would have been ours.
We finally figured out what we had to do to
get the next bird in, position him and get off
an undetected shot. We wished we had known
all this before. but we were ready now! Boy,
were we ready?

We headed back to the truck for lunch.
Along the way we pestered a reluctant porcupine for some photos with this hunter and
guide. It provided us with a needed break
from the intense search for gobblers we had
been experiencing. From a peaceful hillside
we talked over setup, calling, camouflage
and approach; all in anticipation of our next
encounter. We were both hooked on this new
sport.
As we approached the truck I almost jokingly said to O.B. “O.B. let out a yelp just in
case there’s a gobbler nearby.” O.B. quipped
back, “Sure thing” with a sarcastic tone.
Sometimes it seems like you can’t miss.
The gobbler came back instantly and
wouldn’t shut up, apparently anxious to meet
the hen he thought we were.
We, in some great quest for a better location, moved closer, yelping as we went. I
imagine the gobbler took our yelping as an
indication of an easy conquest and came on
the gallop.
There I was, settling in behind some
brush. O.B. was placing the decoy past me so
the gobbler would go by and let me get him
from behind while he was concentrating on
Henrietta. There was no way he would see me
from where I was. This was, finally, the perfect
setup.
As I said, he was coming fast if the in-
creasing volume of the gobbles was any indication. He was coming so fast that, in fact, he
caught O.B. flatfooted next to the decoy. He
was anxious, but not that much! He bolted the
opposite Way.
We were getting a little tired of these “lessons learned” and decided to make no more
mistakes on the next bird. We had experienced a lifetime of encounters with turkeys by
now and were ready to cash in.
The trouble was, there was to be no next
bird to come to the call. For 2 l/2 days we tried
repeatedly to locate birds and only heard one
distant gobble that never answered again.
Getting a gobbler with a bow is a difficult
task at best. And no bird in the bag is a price a
bowhunter must pay more often than not; but
there is another side to this story.
We called in a total of seven gobblers, five
to under twenty yards, with the first one being
as close as six feet at one time. Had it not been
the very tail end of the season we may have
done better since their breeding activity was
winding down rapidly by then. But how many
men have had a magnificiant gobbler strutting
by practically in their laps? I wouldn’t trade
those memories for anything, including a bird
on the ground. I no longer wonder what people see in turkey hunting (or is it called Gobblin’ Fever?). Their secret is safe with me, but
I wonder how we can keep it from other non-
turkey hunters out there?
Last Chance
On the last night, we returned to the roost
site that we had bungled by being too close to
on the second day. I had sent for my Ghillie
Suit from back home and hoped to put it to
the test with these birds. (Developed for use
by military snipers, Game Wirmer’s Ghillie
Suit uses hundreds of fabric strips sewn to

mesh lining for a 3-D camo effect.)
At 7:30, three hens and a gobbler appeared from an adjacent comer of a bordering
field. Although they were headed for this
roost, their path would carry them through
the woods 100 yards to my right; so I yelped,

hoping to steer them my way. The tom gob-
bled back repeatedly but they stayed on their
course for the 1‘0OSt tree. With my best still-
hunting attempt ever, I began to sneak over to
intercept them.

Miraculously, I saw a hen coming before
she saw me. When she crossed behind a tree I
dropped down behind one of my own and
nocked an arrow.
Soon the hens were all heading down a
deer trail directly toward my location. They
would pass within fifteen yards of me! This
was too good to be true! They passed by and

never even noticed my still form, clad in the
disheveled looking Ghillie Suit. I remember
wishing that I had brought it with me to begin
with and used it on our earlier attempts.
That’s for next year. Soon the gobbler would
follow. I remained still and quiet and very
much full of anticipation.
After what seemed like an eternity, he appeared, strutting back and forth and carrying
on as if to tell the world that he was indeed the
king of this place. It was beautiful. The silence was awesome. My private view into
his life was incredible. I felt as though I was
the most privileged person on earth. The hens
had flown to their tree about 75 yards past and
a little below me. He was next.
As I said, he had been strutting out in front
of me. He seemed hung up at about 40 yards,
so I decided to coax him along. I had my Easy
Yelper box next to me for just this type of development so I carefully reached over and
gave it a few purrs. The forest was so silent
that I could hear his footsteps and feathers
rattle as he strutted and puffed and pounded
the air with his lungs. I knew he could hear
my purrs but to my surprise, he totally ignored them! I tried some more but he continued to parade around in oblivion to me. This
party was about to end. It was apparently bed
time.
He went straight down the slope and flew
into a tree of his own. I guess that is, as they
say, life! It was an anticlimax, but an easy one
to take considering the circumstances.
I had to go home that night so I carefully
snuck over to his tree for one last look. The
hens spotted me and began plucking nervously, with the one highest in the tree standing so tall that she appeared to be willing her-
self (or me) out of there!
Knowing they wouldn’t fly, I slipped to a
spot where I could see his silhouette against
the sunset. I smiled and shook my head in
admiration to salute a friend goodbye, or
rather: until we meet again. He was every
gobbler in the world to me then, and there he
sat, just a few yards from me acting as though
he barely noticed my presence. I turned and
padded up the deer trail, filled with memories
I’ll never lose.
O.B. was waiting a couple hundred yards
away and expressed relief that I hadn’t gone to
shoot the gobbler out of the tree (a concept we
had not discussed). He said he heard the hens’
plucking and was surprised at me, thinking I
had moved in for a shot.
I just softly laughed and said “Right . . .”
Gobblin’ fever won’t let you tip the scales that
way . . .

. . . It was fall and the crisp air felt good on
my face. Instead of deer, my thoughts were
with turkeys once again. A thirst from spring
had remained unquenched and the antlered
ones would have to do without me for a few
days.
Fall hunting is a different affair, for the
gobblers aren’t booming out their calls and
enchanting the countryside like they do in the

spring. It’s pretty much a matter of locating
flocks, rushing at them and yelling like a nut-
case to scatter them away from each other.
Then you call them back together and arrow
one. Simple.
My first flock took a lot of effort to disperse. They insisted on ruffling and staying
together. I circled ahead, caught them by surprise and they took flight in every direction.
The thickest clump of brush in the vicinity
made a great blind. I dove in and quickly
smashed out a shooting lane.
Surprisingly, since this was my first at-
tempt at fall birds, they answered my yelps
from everywhere. Soon, I had some in sight
and I became very, very still. I remembered
my spring lessons only too well!
It seems these birds always have some-
thing in store for me. A lone Jake walked up

from my right side and peeked into my shooting lane — at a mere ten feet. I was unable to
even breathe, much less draw the bow. I had
been hoping for a 10 to l5 yard pass and not
this! He cautiously slipped off, offering me no
shot.
A small rustle in the brush behind me
caught my ear a moment later. Ever-so-
slowly, I turned my head to check it out.
There, in the bush with me, were two turkeys
picking the ground intently. I froze, knowing
this was another loser. The birds never saw
me (due to the thickness of the brush) as they
worked their way inward.
A new personal record was about to be set
— at three feet they laid down to rest. THREE
FEET! !! I quickly decided what to do, since I
was about to burst out with laughter anyway! I
reached over and patted the closest one on the
back. She didn’t seem to appreciate the situation
like I did and commenced clucking and
clawing at the turf in an effort to leave at warp
speed. I got no shot but that episode was better, I was sure!
The next day I was lucky enough to scatter
another of the plentiful Wyoming flocks, this
time in the vicinity of one of my deer stands. I
didn’t kr1ow if it was kosher to hunt turkeys
from treestands but I was up quickly anyway.
This time I had one of the limited edition
Quaker Boy boxes with me. This particular
box makes a very coarse yelp — a lot like an

older hen would make. Apparently, it was
music to these turkeys’ ears. Shortly, a group
of five birds came into view, calling back frequently to my call. Knowing they could pin-
point my tree easily, I became quiet and still,
with my new Oneida Eagle 600 poised and
ready.
The group was made up of four hens and a
Jake. He was sporting a five inch beard which
I deduced would someday be a trophy append-
age. I’m one that believes that there are never
enough bucks or gobblers of trophy caliber; I
decided to let him grow up and meet with me
another day.
They came in to 20 yards and began milling
about, seeming uncertain of their purpose. I

drew on the nearest hen, facing away from me,
aimed for her back and released.
WHACK! The arrow was stuck in the bird
as it tumbled across the forest floor. The startled flock scattered as my bird became still. I
waited a minute and then slipped down the
tree to claim my prize.
My drought was finally over. This infection called “turkey fever” was now a full-
fledged disease in me. It will be a long winter
waiting for the rites of spring. Now, besides
snow melting and warm air and greening
trees, the new season will explode my senses
even further with the series of majestic “gobble . . . gobble. . . gobble. . I can’t wait!

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Published by mark cumpston on 04 Nov 2011

TIMBER VALLEY FRESH SCENTS

If your looking for the freshest scents out there look no further than TIMBER VALLEY FRESH SCENTS. It is shipped directly to you on the day you want it. Stop wasting money and time on the store bought scents. The first evening I used the fresh buck urine from Timber Valley I harvested a 12 point that followed the scent trail I laid down. I’ve never had such fast results using any other scents. Trust me go check out the web site and see how its done.

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Published by olecowpoke on 04 Oct 2011

Second Place to the Old Man

While on vacation, I visited a new Bow Shop in North Carolina. I was excited to find they also had an indoor Archery Range. As we talked, the Shop Owner told me there was a friendly local competition every Thursday night and he invited me to join them. I told him I was “just a hunter”, not a competitive shooter, but he encouraged me nevertheless. Although I’d never shot competition before, I could hardly wait for Thursday night.
I showed up early Thursday night, accompanied by my Son in Law. I plunked down a meager entry fee and was assigned a shooting station along with 18 other Archers. All I had was my camoflage hunting bow and my field tipped hunting arrows. Other Archers had red, pink and purple target bows with three foot long, double stabilizers and half inch diameter arrow shafts…or so it appeared to me. I was a little intimidated but reminded myself, “I’m here to have fun, not to impress anyone”. I kept muttering things to myself, like “just shoot what ya’ brought”. My beloved Son in Law offered encouragement, saying “You can hit deer vitals at 40 yards, surely you can hit that little twelve inch (12”) target at 20 yards”. I reminded myself, ”we’re indoors, standing flat footed on the floor, with no wind, no elevation, nothing to compensate for”…… What? Me nervous?
As I remember, they called this a “Ten Ring Elimination”, which was completely new to me. They explained, all three arrows had to be within the ring that matched the round…..in other words, in the first round of shooting, all three arrows had to be inside the outermost ring on the ten (10) ring target. In the second round, you moved in a ring and all three arrows had to be inside the next smallest (9th) ring, and so on until you were shooting at the two inch (2”) bullseye on the tenth round. If you ever failed to put all three arrows inside the proper ring, you were eliminated. If you had a flier…you were eliminated. The yardage was fixed at 20 yards. Sounds easy enough…….
We began shooting and I was having a blast. This was so much better than the solitary shooting I was accustomed to, in my back yard. I was truly surprised when the first 6 rounds of three arrows retired about half the shooters. I was actually surprised to still be shooting. This sort of bolstered my confidence and I just “zoned out” as if in my treestand, drawing down on a big buck. “Concentrate”, Focus”, “Aim small, miss small”. I settled on “Aim small, miss small” as my matra…..and it was working.
After a couple more rounds, there were only three other shooters. We took a short break before the last three rounds. That’s when my Son in Law whispered, “Check out the old guy down on the far end….he’s shooting a long bow and…..no sight. “Watch him shoot”….”he just draws and releases the arrow”…..”he doesn’t even take time to aim”. I shouldn’t have, but when we began shooting again, I paused between my own arrows to watch him send a couple arrows down range…..just like my Son in Law described.
This old guy was “instinct shooting”, or at least that’s what I’d call it. He’d draw back and let the arrow fly in one smooth motion. Within half a second of reaching full draw, the arrow was released. “Hes not even aiming”….”Hes just spot shooting”. Even my non-archer Son in Law realized this was something to behold. Even more amazing, I noticed the old man was hunched over a walking cane as he hobbled down to retrieve his arrows. It was all I could do not to just watch him shoot. As they say, He was “poetry in motion”. Over and over, He’d nock an arrow, raise up, draw back and let fly…..in one smooth motion. There was no hesitation in his motion for aiming, He’d just draw back and let fly…..right in the bullseye.
By now, it’s just He and I shooting the Nine ring. All others had been eliminated and I am totally distracted. “Concentrate, Focus” I told myself. On the final round we were shooting at the two inch (2”) bulls eye. I would not let myself watch the old man as I sent three arrows downrange. When I walked up to extract my arrows, I was elated…..I’D PUT ALL THREE OF MY ARROWS IN THE BULLS EYE….but so did the old man. Are you kiddin’ me. He put all three in the bullseye, with no sight, using a long bow? I was using a Single Cam Compound Bow, with a peep sight, a cam release, weight forward carbon fiber arrows….all the latest technology….and he was using a wood bow with no sight.
When both of us put all three arrows on target, we had to shoot the Bullseye again….I had two center hits and one “flier” in the four ring. You guessed it, the old man laid all three arrows, touching each other, in the bulls eye. Those who had hung around offered a round of applause…..as did I. The Shop Owner walked out, presented a ribbon to the old man and took a flash picture, while I was packing up all my gear to go home. We hung around and small talked with the Shop Owner and a few locals. I was pleased enough with second place, in my first archery contest….but I just couldn’t get over being bested by the old man with a long bow and no sight….until we were walking out of the store. There on the bulletin board were nine pictures….count ‘em….nine pictures of the Old Man with his Long bow….holding up ribbons and trophys in each picture. In one picture, the Trophy was almost as tall as he was.
As you might recon’, I had to go back and ask……It seems, the old man had been shooting that same long bow his entire life….yep, he was an instinct shooter, with no sight, no mechanical release…..nothing but an old bow and arrows that were as much a part of him as breath itself. In his earlier days, He had killed more bucks and bears than anyone could count, for as long as anyone could remember, he’d been taking his game with that same bow. The Shop Owner sort of blushed and chuckled…..”I’m sorry Sir, I should have warned you in advance….you didn’t have a chance”…..and with that, I went home feeling really satisfied being “Second Place to the Old Man”.
Now every time my arthritic shoulder gives me a fit, I remember that hunched over old man, leaning on his cane while he extracts his arrows. When I think I’ve got to spend a thousand dollars for that latest, greatest, newest model bow, or when I “need” that new illuminated bow sight or those newfangled mechanical broadheads…..I remember that old man with his old long bow and no sight ……and I go shoot another practice round with MY same old bow and arrows. Yea, I still use my peep sight.

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Published by KurtD on 18 Jul 2011

It’s All About The Memories By: Ted Nugent

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MEMORIES
By: Ted Nugent

Growing up in the new musical whirlwind of Chuck Berry, Bo Diddly, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and the thrilling new bowhunting world of Fred Bear was very, very exciting. Inspired by these masters of rock-n-roll, I attacked my guitar and musical dreams with a passion fire the likes of which I had no control over. And as far as the mystical flight of the arrow went, I was long gone, addicted, hooked, in love L-U-V, bow and arrow crazy.

Driven by the love and discipline of my incredible parents, I practiced my guitar with a vengeance and shot my bow and arrows every day. I literally could not get enough of either of these passions, and pursued them with every ounce of my being. It was a fascinating, wonderful way to grow up in America, and my memory bank bursts at the seams with glowing, powerful images of family joy and happiness with guitars, guns, bows and arrows.

But as jam packed as my memory bank is, unfortunately the family photo album is a little sparse on snapshots from the old Brownie automatic camera. We have a few dazzling photos of our wonderful family doing all sorts of fun stuff in those early years of the 1950s and early 60s, but I sure wish we had taken the time to take more photos.

As I think back to those annual excursions Up North for opening day of bow season in October, my mind reels with graphic details of the gas stations with bows and arrows and guns and ammo on display. The firestorm of colors in those Michigan hardwoods is as if they are silkscreened on my soul.

I can see my hero Fred Bear sitting next to me at the counter of the Grayling restaurant eating our cherry pie and sipping big glasses of milk together.

How I wish we had captured those incredible memories on film.

We don’t have photos of us catching little blue gills at the woodland lake. No photos of the little log cabin on the beautiful Titabawasee River, gathering wood, hauling water, frying bacon, roasting marshmallows, shooting our bows and .22 rifles.

There are no photos of my first squirrel, my fist deer, my first rabbit.

I would have never imagined I would grow up to be a professional outdoor writer or New York Times Best Selling author, much less the American rock-n-roll guitar guy. No one could have ever guessed I would dedicate my life to promoting our honorable hunting heritage and Second Amendment rights. Photos of my early years living that life sure would have come in mighty handy for such a career.

And even if such a career had never taken shape, I would really love to be able to show my kids and grandkids photos of the old man in action as a little boy who cherished my outdoor lifestyle from the very beginning.

So here’s to everyone out there who loves the great outdoors and thrills at taking our kids, grandkids, family and friends hunting, fishing, trapping, shooting, camping, boating and exploring.

Do yourself a favor and always bring along a decent camera with plenty of spare batteries and memory cards. Take that extra time to stop and document what I believe to be the most cherished lifetime memories of all; families having fun living the outdoor lifestyle.

Capture those life forming moments when we are celebrating the outdoor life we all so love. Get a photo of the young boys and girls with their first fish, their first bulls-eye, a first burnt marshmallow or a hot dog on a stick over an open campfire. Document those glowing smiles, not just for the happy, forever memories, but also to share with other friends, neighbors and classmate just how much fun all these great outdoor activities are for everyone fortunate enough to live them.

By sharing such photos with others, I am convinced the joys will be contagious and a darn good tool for luring more and more families into the shooting sports, and we can all agree just how great that always is.

You and your entire family will be happy you did.

Guns; check. Ammo; check. Bows and arrows; check. Tent; check. Stools; check. Canoe; Check. Fishing poles; Check. Tacklebox; Check. Bait; Check. Camera and batteries; Check. Happy

 

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Published by KurtD on 14 Jul 2011

It’s All About The Little Things by Ted Nugent

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE LITTLE THINGS

by Ted Nugent

My eyes nearly bulged out of my hairy little head. Dear Lord in heaven, there were beautiful big game animals seemingly everywhere. A quartet of stunning spotted axis stags stood a hundred yards yonder, standing there looking at us. Six or seven darn nice whitetails were just beyond them, casually filtering in and out of the bushy scrub. We hadn’t driven a hundred yards when a gorgeous white horned sika stag stuck his head out of a cedar thicket twenty yards off the trail. In a short thirty minute drive, I had seen more amazing big game animals than I would normally see in an entire season on average when I first started hunting. And many of these critters seemed to be so relaxed, I was aghast that it couldn’t possibly be for real.

For a guy who started bowhunting back in the 1950s, I struggled to process the information that had just smacked me between the frontal lobes. It was one of my first adventures in the wilds of the amazing Texas’ Hill Country, and I was about to implode with excitement as I was being led to my afternoon treestand.

The vast open range of this private hunting ranch was loaded with more than twenty five species of indigenous and exotic big game animals, and they were apparently in abundant numbers. Only a few bowhunters had ever hunted this place, and I was invited to sample their hunting to offer my advice on how to set it up for optimal bowhunting.

The pickup chugged up a bumpy, rocky two track road and pulled to a halt where an endless ridge of thick cedars broke off into a desert flat of prickly pear cactus and barren rocky ground. My guide pointed to a lone mesquite tree with a metal tripod wedged into the branches, and told me this was the hot spot for aoudad rams, axis deer, sika, fallow and whitetail galore. He said the feeder was to the north a short ways and would go off around sunset and I should be covered up with critters.

I am telling you, I was more excited than I think I had ever been. I said thank you and hustled over to the tripod as my guide motored off.

When I got to the stand, I became somewhat concerned, for the old tripod was nearly rusted out, and I was actually scared as I climbed aboard the squeaky, swaying, dangerously unstable stand. With no tow rope, I clung to my bow as every step created all kinds of racket, and it got even worse when I settled into the cracked, chipped noisy seat.

I didn’t feel comfortable at all and was actually spooked that I wouldn’t be able to remain steady when attempting to draw back my bow. But I needn’t had worried, for I was completely skylighted eight feet off the ground, with the sun blazing on my face, making my whole body glow against the shiny blue sky. No way would any animal not see me up here.

Next thing I immediately noticed was that the steady breeze was blowing straight for the feeder, which was not a short ways away, but rather a good forty five yards away. Under the feeder was a deep depression, void of any vegetation within fifteen yards.

I furrowed my brow, squinted my sunburned eyeballs and wondered how in the hell anyone with the most minimal basic of hunting knowledge 101 could possibly think this set up could work.

I shifted my weight best that I could to minimize the squeaking, creaking, noisy old stand, nocked an arrow and hoped for the best.

Many animals were seen coming and going in all directions nonstop, but the feeder never went off, and nothing came anywhere near my strange anti-ambush spot. Right around sunset I was shocked to see my guide driving up in his noisy pickup, right at the magic bewitching hour that all hunters wait for and put in the hours for. I walked over to the feeder to discover that it was empty, and the battery was dead, and it appeared it hadn’t thrown any corn in a long, long time.

To say I was perplexed is a gross understatement. Making matters much worse, when I asked my guide how it was that the feeder wasn’t working and was much too far away for a decent bowshot, that my stand was unsafe and noisy as all hell, that the sun made me glow with no background cover at all and that the wind was the worst possible for this stand location, that his truck’s muffler announced to the world where we had gone, and that his Aqua Velva aftershave was like an olfactory warning alarm going off, he got his panties in a wad and scoffed me off like I didn’t know what I was talking about. How dare a long haired Yankee bowhunter try to tell a real honest to God Texas ranching cowboy how to kill critters on his grounds?

Yikes! My view of Texas took a very ugly turn for the worse that frightful day, I’m here to tell you.

So the lessons here my friends are mighty obvious. Stealth, safety, silence, wind, sun, background cover, maximum advantage bow shot distance to anticipated animal activity, feeders that are full and operational, decent ground vegetation so the animals have confidence to show up and move about, scent control by all players, don’t quit hunting until all shooting light or legal shooting light is over.

Big fun, happy and successful hunts, gratifying time afield and backstraps come to those who pay attention to the plethora of little details. I assure you, the critters are paying attention to every little detail, and if they pay more attention than we do, they win.  I like it when I win better, so I leave nothing to chance. Even when we do everything perfect to the best of our ability, that mystical sixth sense of the beast can turn the tables on the best of us. Think hard, think like a predator, think like an animal, learn your lessons well, and eventually backstraps will be yours. Details, details, details. Cover them all and hunt like you mean it. Me, I’m addicted to backstraps baby. I hunt to win. I hunt to kill.

 

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Published by KurtD on 14 Jul 2011

Arrow Manufacturers Dream by Ted Nugent

SQUIRREL HUNTING WITH THE BOW AND ARROW – ARROW MANUFACTURERS DREAM

By Ted Nugent

My absolute favorite hunting is treestand time with my bow and arrow. This style of bowhunting is certainly the most universally used, and conclusively proven to be the most effective in bagging big game. Whether strategizing a killer ambush site where trails converge from bedding to agriculture feed grounds or to water, or maybe watching vigil over some scattered grain or commercial food attractant, or a natural or man-made scrape, these lofty perches provide a wonderful bird’s-eye view of always spectacular wild ground that cleanses the soul.

The sights, sounds and smells of these wild places remain the ultimate attractant to this old bowhunter, but it is the elevated view that always brings the most sightings of all sorts of critters that turns my crank the hardest. I love watching everything from my elevated vantage position, and am forever turned on by the simple sightings of songbirds, nongame animals, and ultimately critters for which the season is on.

It is from treestands that I have bow bagged grouse, woodcock, quail, dove, rabbits, squirrels, pheasants, gophers, groundhogs, coons, possums, skunks, badger, armadillos, muskrats, mink, bobcat, coyote, red and gray fox, feral dogs and cats, snakes, turkey, deer, elk, bear, buffalo, probably forty plus species of African and exotic big game from around the world, and every encounter and every kill has been phenomenally exciting. I can’t wait for more.

Since I was a little bow with my longbow and cedar arrows, the ubiquitous limbrat has always lured me into the woods. Fox squirrels, reds, blacks and grays, have provided me with the most launched arrows and the ultimate lessons in archery marksmanship. You either aim small, miss small or no squirrel fricassee for you.

I remember shooting squirrels out of big old oak, hickory, elm and catalpa trees in the neighborhood, and no one ever complained. With only a very few arrows to my name, I did everything in my power to never lose or break my precious ammo supply, but shooting at such small, elusive targets was very challenging on all counts. In those days, we used steel blunts mostly on small game, so if you would miss the squirrel, at least the arrow wouldn’t stick way up there. If you missed clean and the arrow didn’t strike the tree, we learned to calculate the arch and range of our projectiles and do whatever we needed to do to find that valuable arrow. And we did.

On those occasions that we would break an arrow, as long as it was still at least fifteen or so inches long, we would whittle it to a point with our always handy dandy Boy Scout pocket knife, and just keep on shooting. With these now sharpened arrows, occasionally we found ourselves climbing like monkeys way up into the towering limbs to retrieve our precious shafts. But it was worth it, for we were in love with the mystical flight of the arrow, and quite honestly, this little Detroit whippersnapper simply could not get enough of it.

Now, the old WhackMaster doesn’t qualify any longer as a whippersnapper I suppose (though others would argue) but those pesky little russet balls of bushytailed fun still call my name throughout the year. But nowadays, my archery gear is a little different. Sure, the compound bow is a different animal in many ways, but I still have to practice like mad, I still have to employ every bit of stealth and archery discipline as any longbow or recurve shooter does, and ultimately I have to aim small and miss small. Bowhunting is bowhunting. Know that.

One thing that drives this old squirrel hunter nuts is the occasion when a big, fat, corn stealing limbrat tempts me hour after hour when I am deer hunting, knowing that if a shooter deer is nearby, no matter how silent my bow might be, a shot at a squirrel could very well alert an incoming deer to avoid my ambush. I believe that is one reason I have this little pent up vengeance for squirrels with my bow and arrow. They so tease me so often that I just have to whack them whenever I can.

One of my favorite things about my morning and afternoon bowhunting is the walk out in the morning and the walk to the stand in the afternoon. These are my squirrel bowhunting times and I often bag a bonus rodent or two for the grill.

I always have one or two arrows fitted with Judo heads for small game, and on this particular morning, I wish I had more. I had arrowed a pretty, fat doe, and was walking back to my 4 wheeler, eyes scanning for little critters to shoot. I had barely left my treestand when a rusty red squirrel actually scampered toward me. Standing in a grove of pine trees, my camo worked perfectly as the unsuspecting squirrel hopped within twenty feet of me. I drew back my already nocked arrow and let him have square in the noggin for an instant kill. I felt like I had just shot a trophy elk I was so happy.

With my little prize in my hand I continued toward my ATV when another fatty showed up at the base of a hickory tree. At twenty yards, he worked hard on a nut while I settled my pin on his ear and thwacked bushytail number two in less than five minutes. I was thrilled.

Next thing I knew, I heard the clattering of sharp claws on oak bark as two reds chased around and around in a territorial dispute. Well I am here to tell you, my next two shots with two bloody Judo tipped arrows again found their mark, in rather rapid succession I might add, to bring my rodent bag to four for the morning.

To say I was elated doesn’t even come close to my level of happiness. Unending flashes of a smiling young Nuge whizzed past my mind’s eye, and I felt rejuvenated and innocent again.

I cleaned and hung my pretty doe, then cleaned and hung my four squirrels, surely the happiest bowhunter alive in the world on a glorious fall hunting season day in America. And I didn’t even lose any arrows.

Communicate daily with Ted Nugent on his tednugent.com TalkBack. Celebrate squirrel hunting and unlimited American Dream fun with Uncle Ted at his electro campfire.

 

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Published by KurtD on 14 Jul 2011

The Best Hunting Season Of Your Life by Ted Nugent

MAKE IT THE BEST HUNTING SEASON OF YOUR LIFE – IT IS A CHOICE

By Ted Nugent

I know how we all scramble to take care of business and work hard providing for our families, hustling for optimal quality of life and the never ending American Dream of being the best, most productive that we can be. Salute to the producers so gungho dedicated to be in the asset column of America. Godbless you all. You truly are my BloodBrothers who make this country the greatest in the world. Ya all ROCK!

Being that as it may, there may be no better time than right now in America today that we desperately need to cleanse our souls and recharge our batteries while we celebrate our healing through nature hunting lifestyle.

Sometimes we wrap up a maniacal schedule to finish a project or job at hand, hauling ass to get to our sacred hunting grounds, scrambling to make it to our stand before the bewitching hour on Friday afternoon for a much needed, and dearly craved roustabout weekend of hunting. I know it and you know it.

I have found over a lifetime of outdoor cravings, that rushing around severely reduces the overall joy and pleasing effects of our outings. What I figured out many decades ago was that with but a deep breath and disciplined forethought of calendar preparation, advanced scheduling for extended hunting or fishing time is the only way to go.

I hear the harrumphing even now, but I assure you, smarter, more efficient choices can, and I am convinced, should be made. Undue stress ultimately will kill you. And it is all undue stress.

I have legions of buddies who figured out a long time ago that October and November and December are coming, and when they arrive is not the time to begin making plans. And remember who’s talking to you here; the ol MotorCity Madman that rocks like a rabid animal six nights a week, all summer long, writes books and articles for dozens of publications and websites, composes and records new killer American R&B&R&R masterpieces all year long, conducts literally 1000s of media interviews throughout the year, produces our Ted Nugent Spirit of the Wild TV and others, participates in dozens and dozens of charity activities year round, conducts speaking presentations around the country, takes care of business for a large family and dozens of employees, repairs fences, fills feeders, trains dogs, cuts firewood, changes oil, cuts the lawn, plants foodplots and trees, and even with this ridiculous workload, I still enjoy more than 250 days a year hunting, fishing and trapping. Then I hit the sack.

But mark my words; I do not scramble to get in my hunting time. I thoughtfully prioritize my daily, weekly, monthly, annual activities so that I am not beat to a pulp as I am climbing into my treestand.

First order of business is to always have all my hunting gear ready to rock. I shoot my bow every day anyway, so I am always in touch with its condition and preparedness. Same with my firearms. I shoot my main guns so often that I don’t have to set aside time to sight them in. I sight them in throughout the year.

My various boots, camo clothes, survival backpack, vidcam supplies and all possibly assorted gear is maintained in total readiness so time is not wasted regrouping for an outing. I admit that the smartest move of my life was when I determined at a very young age that I would live on killer hunting grounds. No extended travel for this ol WhackMaster to get to the hunt. On both my Texas and Michigan grounds I live smack dab in the epicenter of dream game habitat, so my greatest joy in life is that I am hunting as soon as I close the door behind me.

And I am not the only one who figured this out. Many of my farming and ranching hunting buddies performed such basic decisions and enjoy the same ultimate joys of homeground hunting fun. It can be done, and it is never too late in life to choose to do so. Huge change and a huge decision? Sure. Huge fun is always better than small fun. Think huge.

Little decisions can go a long way in upgrading your quality hunting time. Vacation time is always a compromise with family desires, but nothing spells happiness like vacation during the rut. Timing is everything.

And here’s the defining power move for my quality of life; I learned a long time ago the power of the word “NO”. If I were to accept even a tiny fraction of the offers to do thing and go places, my hunting time would be severely reduced. Unless it is for a charity event or something monumental, I simply decline to go places and do things instead of staying home and hunting. That’s how you do that.

The older we get, the more focused we should get. I have and it sure brings a great smile to my face, a full freezer of straps, and a calm, fulfilling sense of ease to my overall life. It is this hunting happiness that keeps my spirit fortified and better prepares me for my next high energy, ferocious rock-n-roll assault. I work hard, and I hunt hard, and both maximize the enjoyment and productivity of the other.

Try it. I think you will agree with me.

– Ted Nugent

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Published by archerchick on 08 Jul 2011

Adventures in Antelope~ By Rick Sapp


BOWHUNTING WORLD
June 1989

Adventures in Antelope ~ By Rick Sapp

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At the moment, momma and the kids were relaxing by an indoor heated
pool at a plush motel in the Black Hills which, according to the Black Hills
Chamber of Commerce, is one of America‘s top family vacation destinations. They were
going to see Mount Rushmore and Bear Country U.S.A. and Devil ’s Tower. They
would pay to watch “incredible trained animals operate the Bewitched Village” at the
Reptile Gardens near Rapid City. If they really got lucky, the Ghosts of Deadwood Gulch
Wax Museum wouldn’t have closed for the season and, of course, everyone was excited
about the dino dogs and bronto-burgers served at the Flintstones “original” Bedrock
City.

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Not dad, though. Dad was sitting in a hole in the ground, in the dark. Dad was shivering
because the wind was blowing 40 miles an hour and because it was raining and, occasionally,
hailing. Dad, dressed for temperatures in the 70s when the chill factor was in the
20s, was catching his death of cold. No “Family Approved Attractions” for dad. Instead, dad
was having fun! He was bowhunting antelope. I was an incredibly lucky man. Oh, not
lucky to miss the dino dogs or the 20-minute Rushmore blasting movie at Rushmore-Borglum
Story with mom and the kids, not really. I was lucky because in the most miserable weather
I could imagine for September in Wyoming, with pale yellow smoke belching out of Yellowstone Park 250 miles northwest and filtering eerily through my blind, a fine pronghorn antelope buck was walking into my shooting lane on Frank and Elaine Moore’s Spearhead Ranch.

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Unquestionably, the opportunity to bow-hunt pronghorns is an adventure that should
involve the entire family. You can drop your spouse (wife or husband) and children in the
Black Hills where they can enjoy some of the most spectacular tourist sights since the
invention of neon and plastic and, just 100 miles farther west, you will find some of the finest
pronghorn hunting in the U.S. Everyone will be happy and you’ll be a hero. Now, it isn’t
very often you have that chance, is it?

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Bowhunting Antelope

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Antelope are open country grazers and September is an ideal month to bowhunt them
in Wyoming. Because they water several times during the day, alone or in groups, the
most productive way to bowhunt these prairie speedsters is by ambush at a waterhole. They
can be stalked, but because their vision is eight times more acute than a human’s, stalking t
hem is tough and usually requires longer range accuracy than most bowhunters can
muster.

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Ambushing antelope requires discipline and endurance. If you are hunting from an
open ground blind or sitting above a watering tank strapped to a windmill, you’ll need to be
extremely careful with your movements – from early in the morning until dark. In this
respect, bowhunting antelope is like bow-hunting whitetails. You can not predict when
they will come to water, but they do come, every day, and that fact is consolation for
endless hours alone in a blind.

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Make your hours in a blind comfortable. Take a book, lunch and a full water bottle.
Don’t forget a pee bottle and a roll of toilet tissue, either. Take a bag of hard candy or
chewing gum. If the blind is open, you’ll need protection from the sun and wind. Because
the prairie is glaringly bright through midday, you’ll be glad you remembered polarized
sun glasses such as the popular sportsmens’ glasses made by Bushnell. On the high
prairies, the wind is a continual companion and you’ll need a lip balm like Chap Stick or
Overcast 15 Sunscreen. And, if you have hacked your blind out of the hard prairie,
you’ll want a cushion like a Therm-a-Seat to ease the pain on your backside. Although
designed more for protection during cold weather, the beauty of the Therm-a-Seat is
that the multiple thorns, stickers and prairie cactus can’t destroy it, because the foam seat
is puncture-proof.

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The same gear you use bowhunting whitetails is fine for antelope. A full-grown buck
antelope weighs less than 100 pounds. Remember, though, that a blind is a restrictive
shooting environment, so whatever you hunt with, arrange it in the blind so that you can
come to full draw quietly, with a minimum of visible movement and with total clearance for
your bow and arrow.

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When antelope come in to a water hole or cattle feed station, they’re alert with their eyes
and ears – but not their nose. I’ve never had a problem with human odor when bowhunting
antelope from ground blinds; either I’m buried in the ground and surrounded with aromatic sage
or they’ve seen my movement from hundreds of yards and refuse to come in. Generally, antelope will study a water hole from 100 yards to a quarter mile away, watching for danger before they come in. Then, it will be at a run. If you’re dozing, you’ll open your eyes to find the prairie goats already in your shooting lane. Don`t rush! They will probably put their heads down once or twice
only to jerk them back up suddenly and look around. When they do put them down for good, they’ll take a long drink. Draw then, relax and take your shot.

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I drew the “Grandpa Blind” the night before the hunt began on the Spearhead Ranch.
Frank oriented us to the blinds and the hunting procedures and then Elaine filled us with
barbecue chicken, home-made biscuits, potatoes and spinach salad. The weather looked
threatening, but after a year of drought, Frank admitted he was torn between praying for rain
and realizing that rain and wind made the bowhunting difficult, even in his fully-enclosed blinds.

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Monday, I was lucky. I had antelope at the blind several times: bucks, with horns above
their ears and black cheek patches; does, with the characteristic, tiny twisted horns only a
few inches in height; and fawns. It was the first day, so I waited, just enjoying the show.
What were mom and the kids doing while I was hunched over in this incredibly lousy
weather? Sleeping in. An omelette, pancake and bacon breakfast. A dip in the covered,
heated pool. Video games. A warm nap and on and on.

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Tuesday, I was lucky again. I put on every stitch of clothing I had brought except Monday’s underwear: a reversible Fieldline camo jacket, one side quiet cloth and the other a
nylon shell, helped protect me from the chill wind blowing through the cracks in the blind.
A Bob Fratzke Winona Camo knit sweater and a light pair of 100 percent polypropylene
long underwear from Kenyon Products in Rhode Island helped my body retain heat during
a long day.

Antelope moved to the blind’s water and cattle feed late in the day. At 4:45 p.m., eight
does and fawns wandered in, fed, watered and moved away. At 5:30, nine does and fawns
and one good buck, his horns well above his ears, appeared. I eased into position and
waited. From a kneeling position, the shot was slightly uphill. As the buck moved from
feed to water, through the crowd of antelope, I drew, aimed and released. The 2317 Easton
shaft tipped with the 125-grain, three-blade Terminator Double Cut broadhead, propelled
by my 67-pound American Timberwolf cam bow, speared the buck in mid-stride, crushing
its left shoulder and projecting out the opposite side. It ran 100 yards and piled up.

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As the adrenaline subsided and my heart dropped down out of my throat, I wondered
what mom and the kids were doing. Were they gawking at the “mechanical cowboy band and eight-foot jackalope” at Wall Drug, an hour east of the Black Hills? Were they listening to
“PeeWee Van Family” present an original mountain and country music show, “hillbilly-
style,” at the Mountain Music Show three miles north of Custer? Heck, I still had time to
join them, maybe even on the 400-foot-long twister slide at Rushmore Waterslide Park
where, “The water’s heated and the fun is non-stop.”

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“Hey, wait for me kids! Guess what I did in Wyoming. I was in this hunting blind on the
Spearhead Ranch, see, looking for a big buck antelope and one day …. ”

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Moore’s View

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I was lucky to have a big black-horned buck walk into my shooting lane the second day of my antelope hunt at Frank and Elaine Moore’s Spearhead Ranch in Converse County, Wyoming, 100 miles west of the Black Hills. It gave this Mid-Westemer time to tour the ranch and ask owner Frank
Moore a few questions which evenings in the bunkhouse might not have allowed.

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Frank, how did you and Elaine get started on the Spearhead Ranch?

My great granddad came to Wyoming as a cowpuncher on a trail drive a century ago and got work on the Ogalalla Ranch. In those days, the big spreads were owned by cattle barons who lived in England. For them, having a ranch in Wyoming was like having a cabin in the mountains would be for us. After a couple tough winters, though, they lost a lot of money. When they sold out, my great granddad ended up with the Ogalalla and it’s come down through the family ever since. Daddy bought the Spearhead, adjacent to the Ogalalla, in ’72 and Elaine and I sold a farm near Douglas and moved up to operate it. The Spearhead and the Ogalalla are about 40,000 acres each. By “big ranch” standards, the Spearhead’s not that big…but it’s still a big ranch.

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For bowhunters who’ve never been to Eastern Wyoming, how would you describe
the landscape where they’ll be bowhunting antelope?

It’s rolling grassland, good short grass prairie; probably some of the best grass country
in the state. The Spearhead is predominantly covered with native gamma grass and
sage. It doesn’t look like a lot of feed out there, because ’88 was very dry, but this is
good grass with lots of punch to it. It’s really good feed. Aside from having huntable populations of antelope, elk, turkey, whitetails and muleys, we run 2,500 sheep and 450 cows. According to the Game & Fish people, antelope and sheep feed on different things, but it’s basically the same: gamma grass – and sage in the winter.

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How did you get started outfitting bow-hunters?

Elaine and I started guiding hunters as a personal business, a way to make a little extra
income. In ’78, we had our first bowhunters on the ranch and the season went pretty well,
even with a lot of mistakes on our part. Pretty soon, though, we started making a little bit of
a name. With ranching being as poor a business as it has been the last couple years, a lot of
people are turning to hunting for income. When I got into the outfitting business, people looked
at me like I was crazy, but now there are a bunch doing it. It has turned into another source of income for the ranch. Bowhunting got into my blood in a hurry. In ’80, I killed my first deer with a bow and was hooked. I shoot a Bear recurve, because I need something mechanically simple that I
can throw in the back of the truck, something that can stand some abuse and won’t end up
tearing up before I need it.

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How do hunting and ranching get along?

Not real well. Better now that I’ve gotten support from the family, though. Fall is a busy
time of year on a ranch. I have to work hard before and after hunting season to make up for
it. It’s just something you have to work around. There’s a certain amount of conflict between outfitting and my own hunting. I can fit the business into the ranch, but when I try to I
fit my own bowhunting time in, too, something has to give. Somebody has to take up the
slack for me. Outfitting hunters is a lot of work. People try to figure out the kind of money you’re
making and they think you’re really hauling it in, but it’s not a business to get rich on. For
me, because I already have the ranch and ranching covers most of my overhead expenses, outfitting is a good source of income. Still, it takes a lot of work year round trying to
stay on top of things. Annually, it’s probably a quarter of my time.

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What ’s the future of bowhunting out here?

It’s getting bigger all the time. Game & Fish really struggles to manage antelope populations. They can’t control winter weather and if they don’t control the hunting kill, they end up with a lot of antelope, but no trophies. Because I take does off every year and strictly control the hunting, I’ve still got antelope on my place that’ll go 16 inches. I’d say the herd quality is as good now as it has
ever been. The reason I can maintain good herd quality is that bowhunters won’t take the cream of
the crop. They just can’t do it. They’ll take a lot of antelope and they’ll take nice ones, but
they can’t shoot them at long range. So, I have good success with bowhunters and still have
quality, year after year.

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I do have to take some gun hunters, though. I’d like to just take bowhunters, but I
can’t get enough kill to maintain herd balance. With 2,000 antelope on the ranch, I
should take 150 to 200 every year. I don’t have any problem at all with rifle hunters,
but as a rule, bowhunters are more serious. They’re out there to hunt, not just have
a good time. They’re serious about their hunting, because they have to be. Rifle hunters
know they’re going to get something. We’ve been 100 percent with rifle hunters…it’s not
a problem. It’s just a matter of what they want. That’s almost secondary to rifle
hunters, though. They’re there to have some fun and BS and get away from home.

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Tell me about your facilities. Your bunkhouse is two heavy-duty 24×60 foot trailers joined at the middle. It has a kitchen and dining room, toilets for men and women, complete shower and bath facilities, separate rooms for every two to four hunters and even a washer and dryer.

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Our bunkhouse is a wilderness oil field camp. It came out of Canada. It’s designed for
a crew to live in way back in the woods, when they have to stay until they get a job completed.
It’s built heavy duty so oil field roughnecks can’t tear it up. Roughnecks are a pretty
hard bunch and they don’t take good care of things. That’s why it’s got the funny doors like
you see on walk-in coolers. The bunkhouse can handle 27 hunters at a time, but the ranch itself can easily handle 30. Years ago, when the law allowed open hunting, it wouldn’t be unusual to have over 100 hunters out there. To be able to provide the kind of service I think you should provide, l2
is the most I can take and still get to know people, provide a hunt they feel is a quality experience and not just a commercial operation that’s only running people through to get their money.

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Frank, my blind was triangular. It measured eight feet to a side and the plywood
walls were sunk in the ground three feet. With the awful weather we’ve had this
week, I was glad it was covered, too. And it wasn’t a problem sitting still for a couple
days when I could sit in a bucket seat out of a car. How did you learn to build such
terrific blinds?

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We started with pit blinds. Although they were hard to dig, they worked well; but they
don’t work for just anybody. You’ve got to be a dedicated hunter and willing to sit still, because
you just can’t make a pit blind concealed enough for someone who hasn’t bowhunted
much. Then we went to blinds made from hay bales. They were naturals and they held your
scent in, but they were hard to build. It took about a pickup load of hay per blind and, as a
rule, you lost half the hay. You lost more than half the feed value of the hay while it was just
sitting there exposed to the sun, too. And hay bale blinds deteriorate pretty fast. People get
excited and knock the sides down when they get something, or cattle knock them down.

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So, I wanted to go to something easier to work with and something more permanent.
After a lot of trial and error, we eventually went to solid wall panels and then buried
them. They had looked bad when they were totally above ground. So, it was trial and
error. And a bowhunter here a couple years ago suggested the bucket seats – $5 from a
junk yard in Casper! These blinds are easier to maintain and a lot more comfortable than
anything else I know of.

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You have 10 years in the business of outfitting bowhunters. What should a bow-hunter ask when he books a hunt here or elsewhere?

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l’d say, just talk for a while about the general hunting situation and get a feel for the
outfitter to see if you like and trust the person first. Then ask about the quality and about the
distance of shots. Ask about the percentage of people getting shots, not about the percentage
of kills, because kills depend on the quality of bowhunter you’ve got in a blind. Get some references and then call them. Find out if the outfitter is telling the truth, if he’s honest. That’s really all you’re booking the hunt on. If he doesn’t tell you the truth, you’re going to get a bad hunt. To me, that’s the most important thing.

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Published by archerchick on 07 Jul 2011

Mark Of The Whitetail – By Steve Brockmann


Bowhunting World
February 1990

Mark Of The Whitetail By Steve Brockmann

Almost everyone enjoys seeing deer while stumbling around the outdoors
even if they’re not hunting. But, while an encounter with wild deer is almost
universally a valued experience, for the deer hunter such an encounter is
the primary objective.

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For those specifically searching for deer, the quest can be frustrating. Deer
often avoid humans, so finding them may be difficult. This is especially true
of whitetail deer, which in general inhabit heavy cover, and are usually warier
than western mule deer.

Whitetails do leave a number of signs in their passing, however, and the careful
student of the outdoors can often tell a great deal about the deer in the area from
these signs. Correct interpretations of deer sign often lead to a direct encounter
with this elusive species.

Signs left by the whitetail include droppings, tracks, trails, rubs, scrapes, beds,
browse marks, hair and shed antlers. Each can tell something about the local deer
but the best understanding always comes when all possible sources of information
are considered.

Droppings are perhaps the most commonly encountered , and most easily recognized
deer sign. Researchers have used fecal pellets to to determine diets, habitat use patterns
and population sizes. Bowhunters can determine many of the same things, though perhaps on a rougher scale, by observing the consistancy and location, and abundance of deer droppings
they encounter in the field.

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The most common form of dropping is the pellet. These cylinders range from about one-half to
over an inch in length and from about one-quarter to one-half inch in diameter. This is the deer dropping most of us are familiar with, but it is not the only type. Pellets are produced whenever deer are eating dry vegetation or browse (twigs, buds and leaves of woody species rather than grasses and forbs). Across most of the whitetail’s range, this means late summer through early spring.

The other form of deer dropping is produced when deer have been eating succulent green forage.
These are globular masses of indefinate shape. Sometimes they resemble blobs of mud, while at other times they appear more like a segmented mass of many small blobs. For the lack of a more
universal term, these soft droppings are sometimes referred to as “plops”. Plops may be up to two inches in diameter and are usually green when fresh and black or dark brown when older. They are most commonly produced during spring and early summer, when new growth is abundant.
Where palatable plants occur near banks, lakes or bogs, deer may produce plops throughout the summer and into the fall.

The distribution of droppings can be a clue to the habitat use patterns and distribution of the deer.
Successful interpretation lies on a general knowledge of deer habits, however. Whitetail deer usually bed in heavy cover during the day, and move to open areas, such as meadows, agricultural fields or timber cuts during the night. In some cases ,shrub patches or dense stands of trees are the preferred feeding sites.

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Deer usually defecate upon rising in the evening, and droppings are often deposited in a distinct pile. If you can find an area of dense brush with many such piles, chances are you have found a
frequently used bedding area. Look nearby for beds, where the vegetation has been flattened by
deer lying down.

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A relatively open, but timbered, ridge may be used as a travel corridor between the bedding area and feeding area. These corridors can sometimes be identified by the large number of deer pellets scattered along them. Deer often void while on the move, so droppings may be spread out, rather than in small groups. in some regions, bedding areas are immediately adjacent to feeding areas
so distinct travel corridors may not exist.

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Feeding areas will also usually contain deer droppings, but these are likely to be scattered at a much lower density than in either bedding areas or travel corridors.

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Areas with abundant droppings usually hold more deer than those that with fewer droppings, but one can be fooled. In the northern portion f the whitetail’s range, deer frequently concentrate in relatively small areas during the most severe weather. These wintering areas often hold high densities of deer pellets, but very few deer during most of the year. Whitetails usually select stands of mature evergreens for winter habitat, so large concentrations of deer pellets in a stand of large old pines, firs or cedars may tip you off to a winter yard.

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Shed antlers which are usually dropped in early winter, are another clue as to the location of winter ranges, and can give a good idea of the size of the bucks in the area. In most areas, the largest antlers are usually found shed on the winter ranges rather than on the heads of hunters-harvested animals.

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On winter ranges, deer are most likely to be encountered during winter, of course. It is important to realize, though, that deer coping with deep snow are often walking a fine line between starvation
and survival, and that running from humans can represent a critical drain of the deer’s limited energy. Wintering areas are usually best avoided during the time that deer are using them.

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The age of droppings can be very helpful in deciphering the routine of the local deer, but this is often difficult to determine. Very fresh droppings are wet, warm, and often steaming. Within a day
they often have adried outer coat, but are usually soft easily crushed and moist inside. Many factors including temperature, precipitation, eposure and deer diet affect the rate at which pellets
dry. In moist areas, pellets may decompose within weeks, while in drier areas they may last for many years.

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Because whitetails habitually follow the same routes, and because deer often travel in groups, whitetail habitat is usually laced with a network of trails. Researchers have found that larger deer populations make more trails than do smaller deer populations, given similar habitat. Thus an area with lots of trails usually has lots of deer. But comparing the number of deer trails in two areas of habitat types will not necessarily provide a reliable comparison of the relative sizes of the deer populations.

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Some trails connect food or water to bedding cover. Others lead to fence crossings or through heavy cover. Many of the trails are used only after dark, especially wide trails in open habitat. Chances are best of seeing deer where many trails funnel together, for example where a broken fence makes crossing easier, or where a narrow strip of cover connects two forrested areas. These areas can be very productive for the bowhunter who can slip into such an area and wait patiently down-wind, perhaps in a tree stand.

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Low fence wires, especially those marked with tufts of deer hair, often reveal where deer cross from one pasture to another. These sites should be noted by those trying to determine travel routes of deer in a given area, as they may provide another good opportunity to ambush a buck.

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Deer tracks are frequently encountered, and, depending on the circumstances, one may be able to tell where the deer was coming from from or going to, how fast it was going, what it was doing, how long ago it was there, and perhaps the sex and six=ze of the deer.

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Tracks may be found in snow, soil, or vegetation. By far the easiest to identify are those tracks left in fresh snow. If the snow is very recent, there is little doubt about how long ago
the deer was there, and there will usually be a clear record of where the deer came from and where it was going. Tracks can be followed forward, in an attempt to find the deer that
made the track, or they can be followed backwards, to find out what the deer has been
to. Some hunters have developed tracking to a fine art, and several books have been written on the subject.

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Careful tracking and persistence has led many hunters to fine bucks, but the technique is not usually an easy shortcut to a trophy, especially for the hunter. The tricks a whitetail can pull to throw a pursuer from his track are legendary; From mixing with other deer tracks, to walking in streams, to constantly circling downwind to check for followers, a wary whitetail is a challenge for any tracker.

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For the bowhunter interested in learning about deer, but wishing to avoid direct harassment of the deer, backtracking can be rewarding and often more enlightening than forward tracking. It allows one to interpret the behavior of undisturbed deer something that is difficult to do when one is forward tracking. It is also an effective way to learn the location of local feeding areas, bedding areas, and travel routes between the two.

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Whether forward-tracking or backtracking, the process is the same find a track and follow it for as long as possible, The interpretations made along the way can help you determine what the deer was doing when it was there. Gait is an obvious attribute one can determine about a track. Short, staggered strides indicate that the deer was walking slowly. It
may have been hiding, watching, and sneaking, or it may have been feeding through an
area. Nipped buds and twigs can help make a case for feeding. By noting which species are
most heavily browsed, and which not browsed, one can learn a great deal about food preferences in the area.

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Longer strides laid out along a straighter course indicate a deer moving along with a
destination in mind. Such movements are common when deer travel between feeding
areas and bedding areas. A buck in search of receptive does during the breeding season
also moves along at a good pace, so keep this in mind if tracks are found during the November rut.

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When frightened, whitetails run in long bounds, which have distinctive marks. Tracks
of all four feet register together, with distances of up to 20 feet separating each landing
mark. Snow or dirt is often thrown forward from the force of the landing and push-off of
each bound. Sometimes backtracking will reveal what scared the deer. A car, coyote, dog
or human is often the cause. If the track is very fresh, you may well have frightened the
deer yourself.

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As with droppings, aging very fresh tracks is not difficult. Tracks in snow will usually
freeze overnight, so check for a think glaze of ice in the track if a track looks crisp and fresh. In some conditions, tracks may appear new for several days, but truly fresh tracks will almost always have loose snow in the hoof print itself or along the drag marks left in
front of or behind the print. After a few hours in sunlight, or a few minutes in strong wind,
some tracks may be obliterated. In these cases, it is best to reserve judgement on the
age of the track until they are followed into a sheltered site.

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If the edges are melted out and indistinct, or an icy glaze has formed on the tracks in the
shade, they are likely a day or more old. Fresh tracks in fluffy, powdery snow may be very
indistinct, and might appear to be very old at first glance. Again, however, the snow filling
the tracks will be loose and fluffy rather than either frozen solid or wet and slushy. Knowledge of how long since the last snow, and of weather conditions since then, can be helpful in determining the age of a track.


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Obviously, small deer make small tracks and large deer make large tracks. The tracks
of fawns are relatively easy to distinguish, and the medium-sized deer traveling with them
are usually does, though small bucks could be among the does and fawns. During the November rut, bucks of any size may be traveling with the does and fawns.

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Like fawn tracks, those of the biggest bucks are not particularly difficult to identify,
though it may take a bit more experience to know what qualifies as a truly large track. In
very heavily hunted populations, few or no bucks reach trophy size, so the largest tracks
may well be those of the oldest does. Bucks continue to grow for several years after the
age at which does reach full size, however, and bucks are almost invariably larger than
females of similar age. In populations where some of the bucks are able to survive to a ripe
old age the biggest tracks are usually made by big bucks.

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A number of other clues can be used to separate tracks of bucks from those of does.
These clues become especially important when trying to decide if a moderate-sized
track was made by an adult doe or by a young to moderate-aged buck. No one sign is fully
fool-proof, and each has been contested by experienced hunters. A combination of factors, however, can usually be relied upon to reveal the sex of the deer.

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In shallow snow (under about one inch) bucks tend to drag their feet, while does tend
to lift theirs. In deeper snow, all deer show drag marks, so this cannot be relied upon in
all cases. Probably the next most reliable sign is the pattern of urination revealed in the
snow. Bucks usually leave a small, neat hole with crisp edges, where a steady stream has
entered the snow. Does, by contrast, tend to leave more of a puddle. During the rut, bucks
may dribble urine along their track, rather than stopping to relieve themselves.

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Individual tracks of a buck also tend to be staggered from side to side and pointed outwards, rather than in a straight line, like those of a doe. Some authors claim that bucks will walk around dense brush patches and trees, to avoid tangling their antlers, while does will wiggle their way through or against such obstacles. My experience has been somewhat different on this matter, as I have tracked bucks through very dense brush patches. In fact, bucks have frequently been noted to use the most dense tangles of cover to a much greater extent than do the females.

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If you find a bed along the track you are following, you may be able to make out where the deer laid its head when it slept. Occasionally an antler will leave an impression in the snow here, which will give you solid evidence as to the sex of the deer. Similarly, you may be able to detect antler marks in the snow where the deer has fed, if the snow is fairly deep.

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One final bit of evidence, which pops up with a fair degree of regularity along a buck’s trail, especially during the rut, is the rub. If a lone set of tracks leads to a sapling which has had bark or branches stripped, and that material is lying on top of the snow, accept that as
final proof that you have found a buck’s trail.

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Rubs are created by bucks as they scrape their antlers on small trees. This is done in late summer to remove the velvet from the fully grown antlers, but the activity continues through the rut. Scent glands in the skin of the forehead are thought to produce a personal odor, so rubs become a business card, of sorts, for individual bucks. Be aware of rubs , even when you’re not following a trail in the snow. These indicate that a buck has passed through the area, and may be living nearby.

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Some very successful hunters maintain that individual bucks mark their consistently used travel routes by a series of rubs. These marked routes are usually found downwind of major deer trails, and are located in heavy cover. Observing a buck in such an area is
often difficult because these routes are hidden and may be used only under cover of darkness.

Scrapes are another sign left by bucks only, and have fascinated hunters and researchers for years. Scrapes are triangular impressions in the soil, pawed out by the buck during the rut. Again, a personal odor is deposited, this time from the interdigital glands found between the toes of the front foot.

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The scrape apparently serves as a meeting place for bucks, who are ready and willing to breed through much of the fall, and the does, who come into heat for only 24 hours at a time. If not bred, the doe will recycle and come into heat between 21 and 30 days later, but this happens only two or three times per year for each doe. When her time comes, each doe
must seek out a suitable buck. This is most easily done, apparently, by leaving a message
on the buck’s answering machine: she urinates in his scrape. When the buck checks back later he will notice the message and search out the doe, who is usually nearby.

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These scrapes, then, are an important sign to the deer herd, and should be noticed by the
bowhunter interested in learning about whitetails in the area. Scrapes are usually from one
to three feet in diameter, and consist of a shallow fan-shaped depression of bare soil from
which all leaves, needles, and other litter have been removed. Scrapes are often found along edges between brushy areas and mature timber, or along field edges. Often a series of small scrapes, each approximately 100 yards or more apart, will lead to a larger, more active “primary” or “hub” scrape. This primary scrape will usually be under an over-
hanging branch, which will be licked, nuzzled, and rubbed by several of the bucks in
an area.

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For the hunter, the primary scrape is the best sign of all to find, for it means that one or
more mature bucks are in the area, and probably will return. The trick becomes approaching the scrape and waiting patiently, undetected. Scrapes are usually checked from downwind, so hunters are often detected as they wait. Stands situated well downwind of scrapes have proven to be the most reliable.

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The approach to the stand must be planned carefully if one expects a reasonable shot at a
calm animal. If the wind carries your scent through the cover he is hiding in as you walk
to your stand, you likely will never see him at the scrape. The scents associated with your
boots and pants alone are enough to alert a whitetail if he encounters them on his way in.
He will probably either sneak off quietly, maybe without your even knowing, or perhaps he’ll snort, raise his tail, turn, and break into graceful, but heartbreaking, bounds.

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The route to the stand should be planned to minimize the chances of winds carrying your
scent to the deer (think about the locations of feeding and bedding areas). A cover scent,
applied to pant legs (from the knee down) and boots (the toe and the sole are the most critical) can help hide the entry trail from deer that cross it in their wanderings. A lure made from the urine of estrus does can even bring a rutting buck to your stand, right along the path you followed.

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Scrapes are perhaps the ultimate sign to the hunter, and a fascinating phenomenon for
others, but those illiterate in the more basic language of droppings, tracks, and rubs will
likely find few scrapes, and may use the scrapes they do find inappropriately. Once
daily movement patterns of the local deer are worked out, likely places for scrapes can be
predicted, and logical strategies can be plotted.

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As experiences in an area accumulate, more of the details of the deer population can
be filled in. Conjecture can be replaced by observation, and familiarity will replace
confusion. One emotion that probably will not disappear is a near constant amazement at the survival capacity of the whitetail, and a respect for the resourcefulness of a species that
continues to expand its range in the face of increasing human populations and the pressures they place on the environment. >>—>

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