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Published by admin on 15 Feb 2010

Mesa Mulies By Eddie Claypool

Mesa Mulies
Trekking into new mulie country brings back memories and
instills a lesson in effective hunting tactics.
By Eddie Claypool

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com/

 I’ll never forget my first bowhunting excursion out West—back in late August of 1980.  A friend of mine and I loaded up my old truck and headed for the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado.  Not knowing straight up from sideways about what we were getting into, yet fueled by being young and naive, we loaded up our backpacks and headed into the roughest, most remote sections of the  Weminuche Wilderness Area.

 To say that the next few days were a cram course of learning experiences would be an understatement.  Both of us had tags for elk and mule deer ($450 for all four tags), thus we were basically looking for anything with four hooves and hair—and hopefully, antlers.  Secretly, my personal fantasy consisted of me smiling or “hero” photos while gripping the massive beams of a giant, velvet-antlered mule deer buck.
 
 On the fourth morning of our excellent adventure, while glassing a timberline basin, I spotted just such an animal.  Though half a mile away, through the clear alpine air my cheap department-store binocular nevertheless revealed a giant halo over the brute’s head.  Grabbing gear and hustling that direction, I was soon within slow-down-and-take-it-easy range.

 

With the passing of another half-hour—with some serious crawling behind me—I peered through the stunted, alpine brush at a fuzzy antlered monarch such as I’ve never seen before.  Judging the yardage to be “about 30,” I knocked an arrow, drew my bow and slowly raised up from the brush.  Quivering like an aspen leaf in a breeze, I settled (yeah, sure!) my third pin on his ribcage and let ‘er fly—right over his back.  My arrow—and my “buck of a lifetime”—headed for the timber in the bottom of the drainage 1,000 feet below.

 

As I sat there that morning, the bittersweet emotions that flooded over me would determine the course of my bowhunting life for many years to come. I knew that somehow, some way, some day I had to bow-kill a giant mule deer buck.  Little did I know that many miles, many years and many bucks later, I would still be searching for a buck as large as that first one.

 Today, 21 years after that fateful encounter, I can honestly say that I’ve veen blessed with a few good ones—and been close to a few other whoppers.  Yet my goal has remained elusive.  The one thing that I’ve came to realize is that locating a 190-inch-plus buck—and then bow-killing it—certainly has to be one of the West’s greatest bowhunting challenges.  When you throw in the added obstacles of do-it-yourself, open-access, public-land hunting you’re striving for success that few will ever taste.  Nevertheless, it’s a noble undertaking whose intangible rewards—a lung-full of pure mountain air; and eye-full of crimson desert sunset—are actually worth more than the original goal.

 Recent Memories
 My pursuit of mulies led me from cactus flats to alpine basins, to the plains and prairies where I have experienced my coyote-like stalks.  Last August, however, I spent a couple of weeks in some new and intriguing country in southeastern Utah.  The canyon land mesa country of the San Juan Elk Ridge unit provided me with its own unique type of challenge.
 Having spent most of my mule-deer hunting time in fairly open country, the thickly vegetated topography of this area threw me for a loop.  Long-distance glassing opportunities were almost non-existent, thus dictating an approach to success that revolved around waterhole hunting and-or still-hunting.

 

After a couple of days spent in my truck becoming familiar with the area, I settled on a spot that appealed to me.  Oak brush, juniper and pine-covered mesas—intermingled with occasional openings—dropped off into deep, brushy, rocky canyons averaging 1,000 to 2,000 feet deep.  As I began to still-hunt through the different types of habitat in my location, it became clear that the larger bucks were bedding on the sides of the canyons.  Most of the does and small-to-medium sized bucks preferred the tops of the mesas. 
 

 For more than a week, I spent my mornings and evenings trying to slip along the brushy canyon sides.  I was seeing a few large bucks, yet due to the impossibility of stealthy movement, they always seemed to spot me first.  I was getting fairly frustrated with my constant still-hunting failures and my inability to come up with a better plan of attack.  Maybe I should take a day of from the rough canyon country and try my luck in the more still-hunter friendly country on the mesa tops?

 Day 10 of my outing found me relocated to the cooler, higher oak brush and pine country of my unit.  Certainly, the physical and mental outlook aspect of the hunt would be much more pleasant up here.  I could see farther, stalk quieter and sweat less.  Now the question was, “Were there any big boys around?”

 

With the passing of a few more days, it became apparent that the big bucks were almost non-existent on the tops.  Now, with only three days remaining until I was to leave for a New Mexico elk hunt, I needed to decide whether to go back to the canyons and hope for a miracle, or stay on top and try to simply harvest a nice buck.  Choosing the latter, I set forth with new goals.

 

Noon on the last day of the hunt found me deer-less.  Packing camp, I toyed with the idea of skipping the last evening of hunting.  Having always been more persistent than talented, I opted to stay.  Memories of last-minute bucks and bulls from trips past solidified my reserve.

 Setting out for my last evening afield, I was in a reflective mood.  Slipping quietly along for short distances, then setting for awhile, I soon spotted the unmistakable reddish-brown color of deer ahead.  My 10×40 binocular revealed respectable antler on one of the five bucks.  Slipping my shoes off and donning a pair of thick socks, I began to sneak forward.  Using tree trunks for separation, I closed the distance in short order.  A last look through my binos confirmed the fact that the largest buck would do just fine.  Ranging the buck at 41 yards, knocking an arrow and coming to full-draw, I eased our from behind my tree.

 When the bow went off, I knew the shot was perfect.  The buck expired whithin sight, allowing me the luxury of simply settling to the ground and giving thanks.  A short time later I held his fuzzy antlers in my hand, once again realizing the importance of staying the course to the end.  I’ll take luck any day.

 Mule Deer Basics
 Access: Without a doubt, the best odds for quick, easy bowhunting success on big-antlered mulies occurs on expansive, outfitted, private-land hunts.  If you have more money than time, then this type of outing is for you.  Start saving your greenbacks, consult the outfitters guide in the back of this magazine and then begin researching possibilities.

 On the other hand, if the accruement of experience and the satisfaction that accompanies it are priorities of your hunt, consider hunting on your own.  Take the basics of woods savvy, camping gear and physical conditioning, throw in a couple of weeks vacation, add a liberal dose of mental toughness and determination and you’ve got the makings of a successful outing.  For best odds at a public-land trophy, consider applying for drawing hunts in areas that are managed to produce good percentages of mature bucks.  Most western game departments offer such opportunities.  The drawing odds can be long for these hunts, yet when a tag is drawn, you can expect to have access to a resource that can rival the quality of some of the best private ranch hunts.

 There is plenty of open-access public land out there for the do-it-yourselfers of the bowhunting world, with realistic possibilities at record-class deer.  Often, some of the biggest bucks available can be found near urban and/or agricultural areas.  Many times these bucks spend their nights feeding in crop fields on private land, then traveling to patchwork public ground nearby to bed.

 One of my best bucks was killed on a small piece of BLM ground almost within the city limits of a small town.  The buck was traveling from his bedding area on the public ground to a small farm field on private ground to feed at night.  With a small amount of research I was able to locate access onto the public ground.  Building a ground blind in the buck’s travel route—which I carefully reconnoitered from a distance for a few days— I was able to harvest the 170-class buck as he headed to the farmer’s field to stuff himself on protein-rich alfalfa.

 At the opposite end of the spectrum are the bucks that live in extremely rugged, remote locations.  Over the years, I’ve encountered many monster mulies while backpacking in alpine wilderness areas.  Bowhuting at the timberline requires a special breed of individual that is willing to endure the extreme mental and physical obstacles involved in tackling this harsh climate and terrain.  There are few deer that reside in the vast, imposing county and finding them can be like looking for the proverbial “needle in a haystack.”  Conversely, there cannot be a more satisfied bowhunter than the one who finds, stalks and kills a big timberline mulie buck—it’s the epitome of a genuine Rocky Mountain high!

 Tactics: Early-seasoned bucks are usually found in loosely knit bachelor groups, thus making locating them a “feast or famine” situation.  You should cover a lot of ground when initially tackling a new area.  When possible, velvet antlered bucks prefer to reside in fairly open country because they are very conscious of their “crown” at this time of year.  Bucks often bed on open slopes that provide random shade and are exposed to prevailing breezes.  Glass open areas from prominent points in early-morning and late-evening times.  Foot-scout for water sources and concentration of fresh sign during midday periods.

 Once hotspots are found, monitor activity for as long as necessary to determine proper tactics.  It is common fare when bowhunting for early-season mulies to spend much more time glassing than hunting, so don’t handicap yourself by going afield with optics that are less than top quality.  Here is where the old saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” certainly applies.

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Published by admin on 15 Feb 2010

Hi Spirit: New Brunswick Bruins By Ted Nugent

Hi Spirit: New Brunswick Bruins
For a rockin’ good time, try for a far-North spring blackie.
By Ted Nugent

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com/

 The impenetrably thick dark spruce forests appeared to flow on forever in the Canadian North Country.  Cruising up Highway 1 out of Saint John, New Brunswick, into yet another beautiful valley of green spring fields and rolling dairy farms, I see small, quaint white farmhouses that dot the wilderness landscape here and there.  Yellow diamond-shaped moose crossing signs appear every few miles to remind us we’re not in West Virginia, and the stunning scenery has a calming effect on me as we wind our way deeper into what we know is serious black bear country.  If it’s black bear habitat, baby, you know you’re in God’s country, and we take it all in appreciatively every mile of our Maritime Province journey.

 Just last night, my band rocked the house royal with Lynayrd Skynyrd in Barrie, Ontario, outside Toronto, Canada’s number one cosmopolitan megacity.  Amazingly, within a short drive of Toronto, just 100 miles northeast near the town of Bobcaygeon, some of the world’s densest populations of bear can be found.

 Unfortunately, and in fact, quite sadly, all our bear hunting party again this spring would not, and legally could not, pay to hunt here because the Ontario government officials were caught taking bribes from a rich antihunting fanatic named Bob Shadd.  They had the audacity to ban the spring bear hunt on a mindless, dishonest whim in direct defiance of their own Ministry of Natural Resources proven policy.

 Thousands of bear hunters, including the customs officers we met crossing the border from Michigan, would not spend our tens of millions of dollars on this scientifically supported spring bear hunt in Ontario, and would instead take these precious revenues to New Brunswick, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, Alaska, Idaho and elsewhere to buy licenses, permits, guides, outfitters, food, lodging, groceries, meals, supplies, sporting goods, bait, rental cars, souvenirs and assorted other goods and services that are essential for average bear hunting needs and desires.  So be it.

 Pathetically and indecently, Ontario will continue to charge the good citizens of that province to kill more sows and cubs than ever in recorded history, and then bury their wasted, desecrated carcasses in a pit somewhere like so much worthless trash.  Good call Ontario.  That’s how to respect black bears.  Carry on.

 Since 1983, Ron Slipp and his family have operated the Slipp Brothers Ltd. Hunting and Outfitting operation near the small village of Hoyt, New Brunswick.  Specializing in spring and fall bear hunts, as well as other traditional fall hunting for moose, deer and small game like grouse and rabbits, they run a tip-top camp with mostly repeat customers from all over the world.  It’s easy to see why as we inspect the well-built, comfortable cabins complete with bunks and clean linens, hot showers, refrigerators and wood stoves.  At the bustling kitchen and mess hall, we put away a delicious hot meal of fresh salad, scrumptious au gratin potatoes and baked ham with ice cream for dessert.  It turns out that every meal is like this.

 There will be no roughing it at this far away hunting camp, that’s for sure.  As a proud board member of the great Canadian Outdoor Heritage Alliance (COHA), I joined dedicated COHA directors Andy Kowalczewski and Ray Gosselin for a three-day bear hunt in between my Canadian concert dates.  I cannot imagine sitting in a hotel room when hear good bear county with an open season underway.  No way! 

 Ron has a perfect replica of his bear-set treestand right at camp, and after our hearty, rib-sticking dinner, we took some practice shots at the Delta and McKenzie bear targets to limber up our travel muscles and get our minds right for the Monday hunt.

 Joined in camp by a good group of New York hunters, spirits ran high as they always do in such settings.  The guys were hunting with rifles, shotguns and an assortment of archery gear.  Videos and photos of past critter encounters were shared with growing anticipation for the afternoon hunt, and the camaraderie was thick and uppity.  The Bear Spirit was in camp.

 Our first afternoon and stand was like the majority of bear stand vigils—cold, wet and long.  After six rugged, very wet and cold hours, a hot shower and wood stove heat felt nothing short of miraculous, and sound sleep came easily again.

 Day two dawned colder yet with the icy rain still coming down hard.  But later in the day, with slightly clearing skies, we headed into our stands with solid enthusiasm and hope.  As the rain slowly subsided and the wind died down, the dark of night slowly consumed the day.  Local hunter and trapper Randy Mercercou was able to videotape over my shoulder a pair of handsome black bears marauding in and out of the dense brush around tour treestand.  With too little light to shoot, we nonetheless took great quantities of bear medicine into our hearts and souls.

 Day three was the charm.  Even as we enjoyed a fine day of leisurely camp life, clearing skies brought with them new hopes of increased bear activity.  All hunters geared up and headed for their stands early, knowing that this dramatic upgrade in weather spelled bear all over it.  Randy and I too were settled 22 feet up in our jackpine platform 90 minutes earlier, cocked, locked and more than ready to rock, doc! Patience is job-one when hunting anything, but absolutely essential for quality and effective bear hunting with the bow and arrow.  Add to these nearly insurmountable odds the burden of videotaping, and you’ve got yourself one hell of a gonzo task on hand.  Now in our 11th hour maneuver, nerves and tension were on a tightrope.

 Nothing but birds for four hours, then, with but 45 minutes of shooting light left, a distant crack of a twig snapped us to attention.  Right then a big black blob appeared 60 yards out in the dense boreal scrub.  My heart pounded like a double live gonzo big bass drum gone Motor City Mad Man full-tilt boogie.  I love when that happens.  This first bear took his time peaking in and out of the thick vegetation.  As it slowly tip-toed toward us, its head jerked up, looking behind, then dashed wildly off, galloping and splashing through the deep water to out left.  We both knew why.  The arrival of a larger, more dominant bear always scares off a smaller bruin, so our intensity accelerated further yet.  And thar she blows!  A larger black blob now poked its brown-muzzled head through the green foliage, and cautiously moved our way.  My adrenaline glands had full liftoff!  I forced myself to breathe easy.  Here he comes!  Imminent full bluntal Nugity or bust.

A typical move pulled by bears coming to bait is to snatch and run.  As I came to full draw, that’s exactly what he did.  Before I could hope to steady my hold, he was lurching back into the underbrush, beef shankbone clutched in his jaws.  No shot.  The bear was gone just long enough to devour his succulent hibernation wake up breakfast before he slowly sauntered in for more.  This time I figured I was ready for his quickie maneuver.  This time, as I thought I had properly anticipated his grab and run tactic, I released my arrow to a flash of fur and my 500 grains of razor-sharp Nugent Blade feathered deathray zipped harmlessly where there had been vitals and a ribcage a mere nanosecond before.  Rats!

 But I am here to hell you , my Pearson bow, equipped with a full compliment of Sims Vibration Laboratory silencing products was so quiet, the bear only leapt a few feat and looked back, confused.  I was already loading another all-white carbon arrow onto my string when he ambled back for another crack at the free chow.  This time I let fly a second faster and the arrow smacked hard with a loud, KRAK!  My Magnus broadhead had penetrated deep into the bear’s neck completely severing the spinal column, bringing the beast crashing down hard like a pole axed polecat.  An immediate second arrow slammed right through the beast’s head, penetrating the brain, bringing all movement to an abrupt end.  All rejoice! The rug has landed!

 Randy and I breathed a sigh of relief in unison, I scrambled down the ladder right away and the bear was dead.  We celebrated the Great Spirit of the Bear and took many photos and video footage for the “Spirit of the Wild” TV show that will appear on the Outdoor Channel and numerous network affiliates nationwide.  More than a little honor and respect were given the beast in its death and we dragged our prize from the depths of the Canadian forest with a prayer for the wild things on our lips.

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Published by admin on 11 Feb 2010

Special Program Added for Church Events…

Special Program Added for Church Events…
 
One of the popular ways Churches reach out to neighbors is hosting big game banquets, hunting expos, and related events.  These often are designed for the sportsmen and women of the Church to enjoy.  The events also serve to draw in non members too that might not typically attend a Church related event.  I have seen these events draw large crowds and always enjoy them.

 
Being a protege’ of the late Rev. Stacy Groscup, I know that the archery can get their attention so that your words will be heard.  I have always been quick to give God the credit for my shooting ability although I often joke that I don’t blame him when I miss.  I have shot my bow in downtown New York City, indoor rodeo arenas, and a variety of Church buildings over the past 25 years. 

 
Until next time, Adios & God Bless.
Shoot Straight,
Frank Addington, Jr.
The Aspirin Buster
 

Our website will soon have a page dedicated to the Church programs.  In the meantime, if you are interested you can contact me at [email protected]

This marks my 25th year on stage and many of my early shows were held at schools, youth camps and church camps and related groups.  Rocking A Productions now has a special Church program that allows me to attend these events as a guest speaker and perform an instinctive archery show at a reduced price so that the Churches can afford it.

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Published by admin on 11 Feb 2010

Open Season Starts off 2010 with a Bang!!!!

Well we are starting off 2010 with a Bang. I made a trip down to South Texas for a Management Deer hunt. I could only kill a mature 8 pt so that was kind of a challenge we were looking for a certain deer. I was down there with customers so I wanted to make sure they got one first then I would be up to bat. Well the first night my customer missed a heck of an 8 pt that had a broken G3 he said he was so nerves he closed his eyes at the shot. The deer was only 100yds from us & I got killer footage of the miss. Then he decided a that he wanted to go shoot some hogs & I could go the last night to see if I could get one. Well we were sitting in the blind with a few deer around & it was getting about that time when they should start coming out & two shots rang out above us & all the deer cleared so I was talking to my guide & he asked if I wanted to go check a couple fields & we would spot & stalk I said heck yes so he went to get the Jeep & I loaded all the camera stuff up & put it outside the blind. We took off & had about 30 min of light left we went to the field where my customer had missed the first night & there was nothing in the field so we checked another field & there was the big 8 pointer with the broken G3 I ranged him with my Leopold RX1000 at 304 yards & I was getting ready to make the shot when the guide said hold up I see a nice 8 pt on the opposite end of the field so I got up & ran about 500 yds down a fence line & got into position. The deer was at 250 yds & I got the Bog Pod setup & I help him set the camera up then we got ready. I got him thru the scope took a deep breath & then squeezed it off he went down. Then all of a sudden he got back up and just stood there so without an hesitation I moved out to the edge of the field & sat on my butt with the bog pod in front of me & squeezed another round off this time he took off running & ran about 80 yds & went down what a hunt it was dark thirty so to speak when I killed that buck it was a blast. That was the longest shot I have ever taken on an animal & the .300 win mag did the job thanks for CVA & Leopold they have amazing equipment.

Next Stop Turkey Hunting in Florida & Bear Hunting in Canada northern Alberta for giant Black Bears in May.

 

Charles Paddock

Open Season TV

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Published by admin on 08 Feb 2010

The Bear That Wouldn’t Stop By Randy Templeton

The Bear That Wouldn’t Stop
A seemingly well hit bruin turns a
recovery mission into a total nightmare.
By Randy Templeton

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com/

 It was September 1986 and we were along on our second Ontario black bear hunt.  Our hunt in the spring had been a total bust for my hunting pal Craig Owens and me.  It didn’t take long to realize swatting skeeters and no-see-ums wasn’t exactly our idea of hunting.  Even after dousing ourselves with bug dope—and our ankles and shirt cuffs duck-taped shut—the biting, blood-sucking phantoms always seemed to find a clear pathway to bare flesh. Plus we didn’t have a crack at any bears on that trip.

 Bud Dickson, one of Ontario’s leading authorities on problem bears and certainly a top-shelf outfitter based out of Atikokan, invited Craig and me on a return trip, this time during the upcoming fall.  I was very reluctant to the invite at first, considering our previous journey.  Not to mention, the dates conflicted with when Craig and I usually go elk hunting.  But Bud explained during the fall it’s too cold for bugs, and bears would be feeding rigorously before hibernation.  Bud also explained that boars would be roaming the woods for the last receptive sows.  After hearing all this, the temptation was too high, and we moved our elk hunt out a week and headed for Ontario!

 Upon arrival, we were greeted by our guide Garth Stromberg who told us the bears had been quite active and visiting the baits at nearly the precision of a Swiss timepiece.  In fact, just days before our arrival they filmed five large boars over one bait site.  Garth said one would tip the scales at 400 pounds or better and another would be pushing 600 pounds.  We were excited.
 
 Our accommodations were better than most, a log cabin on the bank of a pristine lake.  The first afternoon was spent fishing for walleye and northern pike, both or which we enjoyed for dinner.  That evening, Craig and I experienced a spectacular show of northern lights, neither or which we’d ever seen.  An assortment of bright beams of light shot from between the clouds and danced on the lake.

 The first morning we walked to our stand sites under the cover of darkness, each of us carrying a bait bucket in one hand and a bow in the other.  A layer of frost covered the ground, and the smell of autumn was in the air.  Without warning, a cool breeze hit and I was overcome with an eerie feeling we weren’t alone.  A sudden “woof” coming from the darkness and the sound of rattling brush sent chills up my spine.  A bear hadn’t been more than 25 yards from where we stood.  The remaining distance to our stands seemed like eternity.  An occasional snap of twigs and rustling of leaves had my wits on end.

 Craig and I split up and moments later I was settling in my stand.  That is when I spotted a bulky figure beginning to materialize.  Then, just as quickly as it appeared, it vanished back into the shadows.  I wasn’t sure what it was.

 That afternoon found us carrying bait in plastic grocery bags filled with fruitcake, peanut butter, sweet rolls and bread smothered with pancake syrup.  As I approached my bait I could hear twigs snap nearby.  I thought I’d be lucky to reach the stand before a bear comes charging in for dinner.  Rather than bury the bag under the pile, I simply laid it on top and tiptoed to the stand.

 

 Suddenly, I heard a rustle then saw some small poplar trees whipping back and forth.  Two giant bodies towered on the skyline.  Slowly, two moose moseyed down the slope and passed within 40 yards, but neither paid any attention.

 I was caught off-guard some time later when a large bear ever so quietly stepped out from beneath an umbrella of brilliant colored foliage.  He stopped at less than 10 yards and balanced on two legs.  His jet-black eyes met mine in a blank but cold and chilling stare.  At that point, I wasn’t quite certain the goodies lying on the log pile were his primary objective.

 Remembering what Bud Dickson told me about shot placement I wasn’t about to take the shot until the old boar settled in for the smorgasbord.  Those thoughts had no more than passed when he made a beeline for the bait, grabbed the entire bait bag and ran for cover!  One small piece of bread fell in the opening marking his escape route.  At less than 30 yards the bear ate all the contents, including the bag from behind a cluster of berry bushes.

 Thinking the bear would return for the last scrap, I stood ready with an arrow knocked.  He came close, but much to my surprise the temptation wasn’t great enough.  Instead, out came another bear, but one that didn’t compare to the big bear’s size.  I passed on the shot.

 The following morning we spent baiting various sites getting ready for the afternoon hunt.  Craig elected to hunt elsewhere  and I chose to stay put hoping for a second opportunity at my bait site.

 Upon arrival a dozen clattering gray jays were scavenging the bait station.  To ensure there wasn’t a repeat performance of the afternoon before, I buried the bait deep beneath a pile of logs and then poured raw molasses on the logs to sweeten the deal.

 Only minutes had passed when the woods grew silent, and I sensed something was amiss.  Looking over my shoulder, I spotted two black silhouettes.   After nearly an hour the smallest outline cautiously inched toward the opening licking its chops.  Within a few yards he stopped long enough to take a brief but sneering glance, then woofed before running for cover.

 Overcome by temptation, just minutes later the old bore walked directly beneath the stand spanning two trees and stopped.  Sniffing the ladder, he put one paw on the first step and stared upward as if he were going to join me.  Let me tell you, I was about to jump out of my pants.   Fortunately, he must have decided the aerial perch wouldn’t support both our weight and climbed back down.  Slowly but surely, he slumbered to the pile and began peeling off logs, tossing them aside like toothpicks.

 Giving the skittish critter plenty of time to settle in, I slowly drew my bow and anchored for a quartering away shot.  Milliseconds later the 160-grain Snuffer broadhead sank out of sight and reappeared while exiting the front shoulder on the opposite side, sending the bear charging.

 About an hour later, it was nearly dark.  Figuring the bear had plenty of time to expire, I climbed down with flashlight in hand and soon picked up a good blood trail.  I remember thinking at the time how ludicrous it was trailing a bear in the dark.  These thoughts had no more than passed when a growl and popping jaw sent me hightailing for higher ground.

 Returning to camp, we collectively agreed to wait until morning before taking after the bear, giving it plenty of time to expire.  Craig hunted the following morning, but unfortunately it was another no-show.
 Garth arrived sometime around 10 a.m. with his tracking dog.  The blood trail petered out at the edge of a swamp, at which time he turned his hound loose.  No more than 10 minutes had passed when the dog began baying.  Garth turned toward me and said, “There’s your bear!”  Suddenly the barking stopped and then picked up again some distance away.  Oh, no, the bear is alive!

 We hustled into the swamp and soon located the dog some 80 or more yards away snapping at the bear’s heels.  From behind, Garth and Craig whispered, “Why don’t you just slip up there and finish him off?”

 “Ok, I’ll try,” I said reluctantly.  Really I was thinking, Why don’t one of you go finish him off if it sounds so easy.

 Closing the gap to about 35 yards, I was taunted from behind to shoot.  Not exactly in a calm state, I drew and released the string, sending the Dougherty Natural aluminum arrow skipping into oblivion.  The bear ran a short distance, maybe 30 yards before lying down, giving me only a rump view.

 Once again taking my two buddies’ ill advice from behind, I sent another mini-missile on the way.  With the shaft buried to the fletching the bear spun around in circles like a dog chasing its tail and then took up the charge.  Having made only two steps backward the dog suddenly appeared between us, luckily diverting the bear’s attention.

 To make an even longer story short, I was down to three arrows and there was no sign of the bear weakening.  While in the process of trailing the bear, he eventually offered a broadside shot.  Quickly I shot and my arrow passed clean through his chest.  Craig quickly and graciously volunteered to walk some two miles or more to get a slug gun—just in case.  Garth and I continued following the bear hoping he’d expire—soon.  He’d have to.

 Eventually the bear bedded down in a stand of tightly grouped saplings where we watched from a distance.  After a half-hour or so without any movement, I decided to slip in closer.  At 20 yards a narrow opening offered what appeared to be a clear path.  As bad luck would have it the Snuffer found the only tree between us.  Startled, the bear jumped up and ran from sight.

 Now I was down to one arrow.  Within minutes the dog located the bear again lying on a rise in the swamp.  Although he appeared to be dead, we approached with caution when closing the gap to maybe 25 yards the bear got up and slowly began circling down wind.  I quickly drew and held steady before letting the last arrow slip free.  Upon impact the bear let out a roar and turned to make a charge.  Once again the dog redirected the boar’s attention, giving us time to escape out of harm’s way.

 Scouring the area we found the badly bent and blood-soaked arrow.  Looking at Garth, I said “So now what?”

 “ We wait,” he replied.

 While in the process of trying to straighten the arrow, I was entertained by Garth chopping down a small sapling. “What the heck are you going to do with that,” I said.

 “Well, I’m making a spear just in case.”

  Please, Craig, hurry with that gun.

 After an hour the young guide turned the god loose again.  Having barely lost sight of him, the all-too-familiar baying sound pinpointed his location.  Following our ears, we found the bear bedded down behind a large brush pile growling and snapping its jaws at the circling dog.  First eyeballing a clear path for retreat, I made a mad dash for the brush pile with an arrow knocked.  Leaping aloft, I drew and sank the arrow behind the shoulder.  All hell broke loose upon impact, causing the bear to let out a furious roar, standing on its hind legs and swatting air!

 I’ve never been much for a long distance runner but I’m somewhat quick out of the gate.  Leaping out over the barking dog, I was running for all it was worth.  Hearing a yelp. I glanced over my shoulder only in time to see the dog sailing through the air and hear Garth yelling.  “Oh my dog!” With one swat the enraged bear sent the dog airborne before sprinting another 50 yards and going down.

 Shortly thereafter the dog reappeared and a close examination uncovered four claw marks on the rump, none of which were serious.  Nevertheless, I truly believe things could have taken a serous turn for the worst had the dog not been there.

 While field dressing the bear, I was somewhat curious to know where the first arrow had taken the bear, considering how long he lived.  Interestingly, the first arrow caught the top of the liver and one lung.  I’ve known of whitetails that have survived with one lung but never without both.  The second arrow penetrated the same lung and the third severed the heart.  One can only surmise this was one tough bear with a  will to live.

 If you’re wondering what happened to Craig, well he showed up after all the excitement and field dressing was complete, none of which he claims to have missed.  The Ontario Department of Ministry aged the bear from a tooth submitted and later sent a letter stating the bear was 7 years old, much older than the “average bear.”

 When we returned to Atikokan, I was approached by a man who claims to have harvested more than two-dozen bears (26 to be exact) over the years and consequently has plenty of exciting stories to convey.  His advice was to never, never take up the trail of a wounded bear.  Good advice, I’d say.

 Some years before he and a friend found themselves in a very similar situation that nearly turned tragic.  While moving in for a finishing shot, the bear attacked, taking down hi friend.  Before he could stop the bear, his hunting partner’s arm had been severely mauled.  Although surviving, he nearly bled to death before arriving at a nearby hospital!

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Published by admin on 03 Feb 2010

Modern Fletching By Joe Bell

Modern Fletching
To achieve accuracy with broadheads, straight arrow flight must follow,
and nothing decides this more than the fletching on the arrow.
By Joe Bell

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com/

 Ask any qualified engineer and they’ll tell you that aerodynamics is a complicated subject.  Variables are far and wide when dealing with air resistance and the shape of things.  This is why designing aircraft is such a high-paying profession – it’s not easy.

 This is also why tuning arrows for straight flight ca n sometimes wear out even the most experienced archers.  We’ve learned over the years that to obtain precisely straight arrow flight, we must first choose the correctly spined arrow shaft for our bow.  To find this out, we shoot this “bare” shaft through taut paper to see if it punches a neat bullet hole (or slight horizontal tear with a finger release).  If it does, then it’s the correct shaft for our setup.

 

Once this is done, we’re left with choosing the proper amount of fletching for our arrows.  The fletching on an arrow are responsible for one thing: to cause drag – or friction – that will help stabilize the arrow in flight, therefore allowing it to fly straight through the air and to its intended target.  Of course, when you add a fixed-blade broadhead to the picture, this steering effect becomes much more complicated – similar to the aerodynamics behind building airplanes – because now the front end of the shaft wants to “steer” as well.

 

So in a sense, with fixed-blade broadheads – and even with mechanical broadheads – fletching size, configuration and the orientation in which they are attached is the only element that can control whether or not your arrows fly straight.  This is why the subject of arrow fletching is so important.

Flight Dynamics
 According to Bob Mizek, one of New Archery Products’ top engineers, the most critical time the flight of a broadhead-tipped arrow is affected is when the arrow first comes out of the bow and before the arrow starts to rotate.  “Aerodynamically speaking, the blades of a broadhead act like canards on an airplane,” Mizek said.  “Anyway, unless the arrow comes off the string perfectly with perfect center-shot, perfect vertical orientation, perfect nock travel, and with no torque on the grip, the air stream will push against the side of one or more blades, forcing the arrow away from its desired path.  Aerodynamically, this is called yaw if it’s left to right and pitch if it’s up and down.

 

“When the arrow rotates, centrifugal force pushes the arrow back towards its true center and reduces pitch and yaw (this would be a bad thing in an airplane for obvious reasons but is a good thing in an arrow since an arrow does not have a pilot to do course corrections),” Mizek added.  “The sooner you can get the arrow rotating, the sooner yaw and pitch can be reduced or eliminated, resulting in tighter groups.  Arrows that are tipped with field points or mechanical broadheads still benefit from the arrow rotating because one side of an arrow experiencing yaw or pitch feels air pressure more than the other, causing the arrow to fly inconsistently.”

 As you may know, New Archer Products invented the new QuikSpin plastic vanes that were designed to maximize arrow spin, and therefore maximize arrow control and accuracy.  The vanes are said to begin spinning an arrow almost immediately out of the bow.  This in turn allows the arrow to experience air drag sooner in flight, which theoretically should make the arrow more stable and less susceptible to the forces of side air resistance that could push it off course.
 “For reference, a typical arrow fletched offset with 4-inch QuikSpin vanes start rotating in only 18 inches.  It reaches full rotation in two to three yards,” Mizek said.  “The same arrow set up with conventional vanes typically requires 12 yards.  The effect on accuracy by getting the arrow spinning sooner and then faster is incredible.

Are the Rules Changing?
 Over the years, we’ve been told that the amount of air drag cased by fletching is dependent on its size and shape.  For more air drag, you use longer fletching.  For less, you use shorter fletching.  For the ultimate in air drag, use the same size feathers.  Right?  Well, in the pat couple of years I’ve learned the rules may be changing.

 

While on a hunting trip with my good friend Bruce Barrie, I noticed his arrows were dressed with target-size vanes (they were Duravane’s 3-D vanes).  I asked him how he could be shooting such a small vane, but he swore by what great arrow flight he was achieving with small fixed bladed heads, even at sever high speeds.

 Later, a rep from Norway (the company that makes the Duravanes) told me that the secret behind these 2.3-inch vanes was its design.  The vanes may be short, but the design is very rigid to deduce blade “flap” through the air, which increases its ability to create air drag.  Plus, the vane’s compact size optimizes clearance with arrow rests.

 This same concept is the premise behind Bohning’s excellent new Blazer vane.  At only 2 inches long, this vane is said to offer all the stabilization required to properly steer fixed-blade broadheads.  The Blazer vane is slightly more than 1/2-inch tall and the vane is very rigid so wind flap is nearly if not completely eliminated.

 Personally, I believe some longer/larger fletching is more prone to “flapping” when they are subjected to high speeds.  With slower arrow speeds, air resistance isn’t as violent, therefore arrows fletched with longer/larger fletching provide excellent air drag and arrow control.  But with modern speed bows and carbon arrows, reducing arrow speed isn’t really an option, nor do most bowhunters want slow arrow speed.

 NAP’s QuikSpin vanes, I’m told, were not only designed to spin the arrow faster but also to prevent from flapping wildly in the air stream.  How is this done?  The vane incorporates micro-grooves on one side that promote rigidity, even at that critical moment when the arrow immediately leaves the bow.

 Arizona Archery Enterprises uses a “rough” finish on its Elite Plastifletch that promotes better steering in flight.  The vanes are also made of special material that has better memory (ability to flap back to shape) to reduce the affects of vane flap.

 Norway adds a unique, slightly tapered “blade” on their Duravanes from the base of the vane to the top to enhance steering power and to reduce vane weight.  This same feature is said to eliminate blade flap and noise, too.

 What about feathers?  Feathers are said to offer about twice the amount of air drag as equal size vanes.  The reason for this can be attributed to a feather’s surface, which is rough and full of natural “slits” that apparently cause for more air resistance or drag.

Fletching Orientation
 What about the orientation of fletching, the manner in which they are fletched on the shaft – either straight, offset or helical offset?

 While designing the QuikSpin vane, New Archery Products has conducted many tests on the affects of air drag caused by various types of arrow fletching.

 “We determined with a rather detailed and complex series of tests that to stabilize a broadhead at about 260 feet per second the arrow needs to turn about one rotation over 3 yards,” said Cary J. Pickands, technical support specialist for New Archery Products.  “Our previously recorded data was then able to provide even more information, and in this case, very useable information.  We looked at each data set and found the range at which each fletching type produced one full turn.”

 During testing, Pickands and other members of NAP’s staff discovered that standard 4-inch vanes (AAE Plastifletch, Duravane, Bohning Killer Vanes, etc.) fletched with a 1/16-inch offset reaches one full rotation between 12 to 15 yards; 5-inch helical feathers fletched with a 3- to 4- degree wrap reaches one full rotation in between 4 and 7 yards; NAP QuickSpin 4-inch vanes fletched perfectly straight reaches one full rotation between 4 and 7 yards; and NAP QuikSpin 4-inch vanes fletched with a 1/16-inch offset reached one full rotation between 1 and 4 yards.

 “As far as we can tell arrow speed has no effect on whether the vane will control the arrow,” Pickands said.  “We’ve shot broadhead-tipped arrows in excess of 330 fps with phenomenal accuracy and precision.”

Testing Fletching: What Really Works?
 Ultimately, only you can decide what fletching type and orientation provides adequate steering for your particular arrows and broadhead combination.  Shooting different combinations of fletching with your chosen broadhead usually does this.

 My good friend Ron Way, who is an engineer in the aerospace industry, told me that there are many variables that affect aerodynamics and stable flight, whether it is an aircraft or an arrow.  “Very small variation can change the dynamics of flight such as the grip on the handle, a poor release, out-or-position anchor (from leaning/twisting), wind, or low or high altitudes (air density),” he said.  “An arrow that is marginally stable can show decent flight when conditions are good but can be horrible if one or more of the variables change.”

Arrow Trajectory and Fletching
 Ideally you should equip your arrow shafts with the smallest possible fletching that will stabilize your broadhead.  This way, you can maximize your arrow’s downrange speed for flatter trajectory.  Smaller fletching also means less side air resistance of the arrow that translates into less horizontal arrow drift.  Also, consider the orientation of your fletching; the more offset and/or helical you apply to fletching, the slower the arrow will fly because more drag is occurring.

It Comes Down to Accuracy
 The bottom line with fletching is what produces the best accuracy for you.  While testing some of today’s modern fletching.  I’ve noticed that in some cases the length of the fletching is not as important as the stiffness (or in other cases the memory) and the height of the fletching.  The greater the stiffness (or memory) and the taller the fletch air drag becomes more pronounced for increased arrow stabilization.  But then again, that’s just another impression in the world of aerodynamics.

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Published by admin on 03 Feb 2010

Shooting Straight with frank addington, jr.

Shooting Straight
         with frank addington, jr.

Aspirin Bustin’ at the Northern Wisconsin Deer Classic and Ice Fishing Expo
 
    (Eau Claire, WI) The Aspirin Buster was in the house January 29-31, 2010 for the Northern Wisconsin Deer Classic and Ice Fishing Expo.  Promoter Hugh Price had brought me to Eau Claire twice before but this was my first trip back since about 2005.   The new facility at the Eau Claire Indoor Sports Complex made an ideal location for this winter show.  There were trophy bucks, lots of people, and lots to see and do. 
 
    This area seems to be well known for COLD weather and big bucks.  I have been really impressed with some of the whitetails I see displayed at this event over the years.  I think it may be a well kept secret because I never hear much about Wisconsin but I sure see a lot of big bucks at these shows.  The bowhunters here also have an interest in traditional archery and asked a lot of good questions after my exhibitions. 
 
    There was a pop-up 3-D archery range which seemed to be a poplar draw for many who found the chilly Wisconsin winters too cold to shoot outdoors.   My pal Bill Weisner has added a company to his portfolio, a bear scent company which goes great with his “Bear Crazy” bear seminars that he conducts across the country.  It’s always good to visit and share stories, meals and laughs with Bill and his family & crew.  Bill’s new company is called “Bear Scents”, visit www.bearscents.com to see his line of products.  He did seminars at the show and also had a booth.
 
   This was the first show for my new Hoyt Formula RX recurve bows.  In addition to two new Hoyt bows, I had a new net system, new arrows, and three different throwers during the three day event!  We had standing room only each performance and I was happy folks came out to see the show.  The audiences were great and  I was happy to sign publicity photos for the folks that stood in line after the show.  That’s one of the best parts of the gig because the folks seem happy and excited and that’s my job. I love to see kids get excited about archery.   All three of the assistants did a great job, one of them was Jeff Brunn who had tossed targets for me back in 2005 when I last visited the show.
 
   I ended up hitting the baby aspirin the 7th shot on that first show with the new bow.  I had gotten the bow strings the Tuesday before the show so I really had to scramble to get the bows shot in and tuned by Friday.  We also did the three pill—three arrow shot and it went over really well with the audiences.  I love to raise the bar and keep the shots a challenge.  Yeah there is a chance I’ll miss a few times, but when you hit the pills the audience really gets into it. 
 
    The show isles seemed busy and there was also some of the TV hunting show personalities on hand to do seminars and greet people.  I’d like to thank the folks at Hoyt, Muzzy, Easton, SKB Cases, Eze-Eye Archery, Archery Stand By, Resistol hats,  Justin boots, and Sims Vibration Labs.  I am looking forward to the next show in St. Louis, MO.  Seeing is believing–see you at the show! 
 
Until next time, Adios & God Bless.

Shoot Straight,
Frank

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Published by admin on 28 Jan 2010

African Blind Date By Paul Hantke

African Blind Date
Join this bowhunter on his first trip bound to Africa
as he goes face to face with the trophy of a lifetime.
By Paul Hantke

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com/

 IT OCCURRED TO me as I pushed a cart overflowing with equipment cases and duffel bags through the Jan Smuts airport in Johannesburg that I was on the blind date of my life.

 I had accepted an invitation from Sangira Safaris to come to South Africa for a three-week hunting and photo safari, but I knew nothing about the company or its principals other than that it was a new venture by two relatively novice professional hunters.

 Not only was I sailing into personally uncharted territory on the other side of the globe, but also the adventure had been arranged, booked and inaugurated into action in about five weeks.  Normal planning for a trip like this should take months, but the wonders of e-mail and a need to get there quickly made it all happen.

 Haste was in order, because, as it was, I arrived in the first week of September, which is well at the end of winter for that half of the world, and almost too late for hunting.  The rainy season, or springtime, brings everything to a halt.

 

Summer in South Africa is the off-season for hunting because it is way too hot.  Not to mention, during the summer vegetation has grown lush from the rainy season and many game animals are virtually impossible to see or pursue.
 
 So there I was that morning with a cart full of gear. (As Staff Editor for the Y-Visionary Outdoor Group, I also had firearms and lots of other stuff for field testing in addition to my archery gear.)  Things got better immediately as I was greeted by my hosts, Tinus Van Heerden and Stoffel Botha, proprietors of Sangira Safaris, Tinus has a background in the military Special Forces, while Stoffel was a federal police investigator, but both grew up “in the bush.”

 Their professional skills in bush craft and hunting would show later, but I was immediately taken by how friendly and down-to-earth both fellows were, and their excellent English made it easy to quickly make friends.  We off-loaded the cart full of stuff into the back of a new 4×4 Crew Cab Toyota pick-up and we were on our way to “the bush,” which varies considerably as you move around South Africa.

 First stop was the bush veldt outside of Thabazimbi, which means “mountain of iron” in Tswana.  Mountain of Iron is the world’s largest deep-pit iron mine that is serviced by the most amazing (and scary) road you have ever seen.

 Our hunting grounds were on a private farm of immense proportions in the valley north of Thabazimbi, which flattens out and looks much like south Texas, with thorn bushes instead of mesquite.  The ground there is level with a couple of inches of soft silt over hard earth, and the thorn bushes grow so thick it is often impossible to find a path through them.

 

 Arriving about midday, we had lunch and then headed out in the old Land Rover hunting buggy.  Our drive took us along the first fence line for several kilometers, and then we turned into the middle of the property.

 I had been warned by a couple of old Africa hands that the animals there were especially hard to see due to their superior camouflage.  “All your North American skills and instincts will need to be re-programmed,” I was assured.

 They did not lie, and I found myself frustrated because Stoffel or Tinus would point out game that I simply could not see.  I could see and agree with the specific tree they were supposed to be standing beside, but I couldn’t make out the animals themselves.  It was interesting but not fun.

 In spite of my handicap, the fellows managed to show me gemsbok, impala, red hartebeest, dukier, kudu, and blue wildebeest, all in a two-hour drive.  We were, in fact, looking for a specific old bull in one of the blue wildebeest herds that the landowner wanted to cull.

 We managed to find the old bull and I grabbed my bow and set out on a stalk with Tinus.  You don’t get to be the old bull by being stupid, and that cagey wildebeest played hide and seek with us for awhile from abut 150 yards out before he darted for parts unknown.

 In the truck, on the way back to the farmhouse, Stoffel suddenly grabbed my shoulder and pointed into the bush.  “Look at the size of that kudu!” he exclaimed.  Everyone else looked and had the same reaction.  “What a monster!”  I, of course, saw only movement in the brush.  After several attempts, the big kudu was ruled impossible to stalk for the day.

 Dinner that night was a South African “Braai,”their version of a good old charcoal grill, and was well received after the long day.  It had been decided over steaks and libations that Stoffel and I would head out to a “hide” next to a waterhole the following morning where I might get a chance to stick a warthog.

 We were dropped off early the next day, and I literally had to look around carefully to find the hide, which only protruded about three feet above ground level.  The interior of the hide is dug out some three feet deep, and a rough wooden bench is you only seat.  The brush walls are lined inside with a tarp to prevent the detection of movement inside, and there are a few tiny viewing holes punched in the tarp.  A “shooting slit” that was about three inches wide and extended about two feet up from ground level was positioned well over to the side.

 

We began our vigil, hoping to get a chance at a warthog once the sun heated up the bush veldt and the animals made their way to water.

 I had along my High Country Ultra Force bow and was shooting Game Tracker’s Carbon Express 300 arrows tipped with the company’s new First Cut broadheads.  A sight check the afternoon before showed the bow was dead on.

 Stoffel and I spent a long and unproductive morning in the hide, eventually drawing pictures of animal tracks and playing tic-tac-toe in the sand at our feet.  We were a scant 25 yards away from the waterhole, so all this was done in virtual silence.
 Our only visitors were Lourie birds and two female kudos, who came in and drank, then laid down just a few feet from us, testament to the camouflage and proper upwind positioning of the hide.

 It was some seven hours before we heard the old Land Rover grinding its way to our position for our pre-scheduled midday pick up.   Once aboard, we weren’t more than a few hundred yards from the hide o our way out when trackers and professional hunters alike all pointed in the same direction.  “Kudu!” they exclaimed,  “and warthogs too!”

 Once again I saw only gray shadows in the brush that I presumed to be kudu, but I could make out a couple of dozen warthogs moving with the shadows.  We stopped the truck and two female with piglets ran across in front of us and disappeared into the thickest on the other side of the trail.  I don’t know if it’s the Disney influence, but I find the sight of warthogs on the move quite humorous.  The pigs and their babies drew a smile as they passed.

 Next came a moment of pandemonium wherein our trackers, Joseph and September, exchanged lots of information in several different languages with Tinus and Stoffel, the gist being that the kudu and the warthog were apparently moving together, and more than that, it was thought they would circle back and resume their trek to the waterhole we had just left.

 “Do you want to go back, or do you want to go have lunch and try again this afternoon?” was Stoffel’s question to me.  “I came to hunt,” was my reply, and September turned toe Rover around, dropping us off short of the hide so we could stalk in while they left by a different route.

 It was another two hours before we began to get any action, and then it was all from female kudu coming quickly into the water and then moving aside into the shade from the taller trees near the waterhole.

 Stoffel kept watch at the peephole, occasionally updating me on the scene while I fiddled with my equipment and thought about what I was doing.

 I eventually decided that my many months of work and practice made me feel comfortable with a shot out to about 30 yards, any further that that and I’d have to pass.

 I was at the peephole when the bull walked in, and I’m sure my jaw dropped just a little bit when I first saw him.  He stood nearly six feet tall at the head and was sporting a set of spiral horns that had to be over 40 inches tall.

 “There he is!” I said excitedly, but quietly, as I got out of the way of the peephole so Stoffel could see.  I was jut making the decision to reach for my bow when Stoffel stopped me, “Take it easy,” he said, “all the vitals are right behind that spot.”

 

We watched the young bull come warily to the waterhole, testing the air with nose high.  Stoffel pointed out a place bhind the animal’s shoulder where the markings made an oval.  “Shoot for the center of that oval,” he said, “all the vitals are right behind that spot.”

 For a second all I could think of was the Gary Larson cartoon of the deer with a target on his chest and his deer buddy saying, “Bummer of a birthmark, Hal.” It was an interesting mental juxtaposition, but I quickly regained my focus.

 “The young one!”  I whispered.  “How much bigger can those things get?”  His answer came back in the same hushed tones as he pulled me back to the peephole, “How about this one?” Stoffel asked.

 Almost seven feet tall at the head, I quickly saw the big kudu Stoffel was referring to.  The trophy was walking right into the water.

 He sauntered to the waterhole and gave the young buck a shoulder to signal him to back off, then he turned broadside to me and began to drink.

 I stepped back from the peephole, eyes and mouth wide and heart hammering already.  I don’t remember what I said, but it was probably not printable anyway.  I picked up my bow, nocked an arrow, set my string release, took a deep breath, and moved forward to fire.

 That was when I discovered that the slit was too close to the wall for a proper elbow-out posture when firing.  So I folded my arm down, concentrated on my bow-hand hold, my cheek weld and the fiber-optic 20-yard pin that I had placed just at the top of the oval in the markings.

 I ever so gently touched the trigger on my release and was very happy to see the yellow-fletched arrow center my target.  Right about then I realized that I had just heard Stoffel saying, “Are you going to shoot?”

 The big kudu hunched up, spun around once, and took off.  A few minutes later and about 100 yards away we found the big guy.  The broadhead had cut a path through heart and lungs and stopped on the inside at the offside shoulder.

 We measured the horns with a steel tape right after I took the kudu, and they ran out to 54 ¼ inches.  A more professional measurement was taken with a steel cable after the head and cape had spent three days in the cold room, and the set still measured 52 ¼ inches.

 As I understand it, the kudu will qualify for both the Rowland Ward and the Safari Club International world record books.

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Published by admin on 27 Jan 2010

Narrow Your Zone By Greg Miller

Narrow Your Zone

Knowing Every Square Inch of Your Hunting Turf

Is the Key to Setting Up On Big Bucks

By Greg Miller

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com/

I’ve managed to arrow a mature buck during each of my home state’s past three archery seasons. Now I’m sure some of you reading this would just naturally assume that I spend all my time bowhunting on huge chunks of exclusively private ground. No doubt some of you also harbor the illusion that my home state of Wisconsin is literally overrun with large racked, hog-bodied whitetails. In your opinion then, knocking over three big bucks in three consecutive years is no big deal.

But the simple truth of the matter is that I don’t have exclusive access to huge chunks of prime big buck habitat. And with the exception of a handful of countries in the southwestern part of the state (where very strict trophy deer management policies have been in place for more than a decade), Wisconsin definitely isn’t “overrun” with big bucks. In fact, when compared to the bordering bordering states of Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota, my home state of Wisconsin actually runs a distant fourth in big buck production.

The truth be known, the single biggest key to my string of successful seasons has to do with my intimate familiarity of the ground I’m hunting. As my brother Jeff told me recently, “You’ve been bowhunting that area since you were just a kid. You know what the resident bucks are going to be doing and exactly where they like to walk at all times during the season. You must admit, that is a big plus!”

Familiarity Spawns Success

I can’t argue with Jeff’s assessment of my run of successful seasons. He’s right. I am extremely familiar with the area where I’m currently bowhunting. And as my brother stated, I’m also very familiar with exactly how the deer in my hunting area relate to their home range during all parts of the season. It’s a situation that has paid huge dividends the past three seasons for me.

If I see prospective trophy whitetail bowhunters making one mistake more often than any other it’s that they spread themselves way too thin. In other words, rather than becoming intimately familiar with a few areas, they gain only a slight understanding of a bunch of areas. Sure, they might have dozens of stand sites at their disposal. But it’s highly doubtful any of them will be in the right spots. Trust me, this type of approach is not conducive to a high success rate on mature bucks.

My personal success rate on big deer rose considerably the day that I quit making uneducated and irrational guesses about the animals I was pursuing. More specifically, I quit guessing as to where the bucks I was hunting were bedding down. I also quit making assumptions as to where those deer most preferred to walk when traveling about their ranges. (For those bowhunters who don’t already know, being in possession of these two bits of information can dramatically increase your chances of filling your tag.)

Downsizing is the Key

I learned years ago that it’s much easier to gain an intimate familiarity with your hunting spots if you concentrate all your attentions on only a few areas at the most. As I noted previously, many bowhunters fail to achieve consistent success rates on mature bucks simply because they spread themselves too thin. Instead of limiting their scouting and hunting efforts to just two or three spots, they attempt to expand their horizons to include five, six or seven (or maybe even more) different areas.

Of course, I always hear the same argument in support of such an approach. A bowhunter I chatted with recently expressed this argument perfectly. “A person can never have too many good hunting spots,” the guy stated. Well excuse me for saying so, but yes you can! In truth, having too many good hunting spots can actually be detrimental to your chances for success. (I’ll explain later.)

Okay, so now that I’ve made my point about less being better, it’s time to talk about how you decide which two or three of your precious hunting spots you should keep. In most instances it’s merely a matter of applying a bit of logic to the situation. You’re surely going to limit your attentions to those two or three areas that you feel harbor the most big buck potential. Rock-solid evidence, like an abundance of big buck sign and /or consistent sightings of mature animals, does help considerably when attempting to narrow down your options.

But I’ve found that another factor sometimes play a huge role in my final decision as to which areas I’m going to hunt. That factor is the location of the areas in relationship to my home base. Personally, I’ll shy away from hunting a great area that’s a long way from home in exchange for hunting a fairly good area that’s just a few miles from my driveway. Why? Because I’m able to spend a lot more time walking, scouting, observing and hunting those spots that are closer to home. Remember, the more time you spend in an area, the more familiar you’re going to become with that area. And that’s exactly what we’re talking about here!

A couple years back I arrowed a 140-class nine-pointer during my home state’s archery season. That buck is a perfect testament to the positives of hunting close to home. Due to a pressing business commitment, I could stay on my stand only for an hour on that fateful morning. I shot the buck about 20 minutes after daylight and had just enough time to track and recover my trophy before having to head out for my appointment. Had my hunting area been any further from home I wouldn’t have had time to even hunt that morning, let alone track and recover a wounded deer.

There’s another interesting fact about my successful hunt that bears mentioning. I harvested the nine-pointer from an area that harbors very few trophy-sized whitetails. Along with intense pressure during gun season, the area sustains an over-abundance of antlereless dear. Neither factor is conducive to high numbers of mature bucks. However, it seems there’s always at least a couple large racked deer running around in my hunting spot. My intimate familiarity with the area keeps me supremely confident that I’ll eventually get a chance at one of those deer.

Starting Fresh

To this point the information I’ve put forth in this article pertains only to those bowhunters who already have secured a number of hunting spots. However, everything I’ve said also applies to those individuals who are in the process of searching for some prime hunting spots. If I could offer only a few words of advice to such people it would be, “Start small and stay small!” Depending upon the size of the areas you’re considering, I’d highly recommend selecting no more than three different spots on which to concentrate your attentions.

But selecting your “new” hunting areas is only the beginning of the process. Personally, I wouldn’t even consider walking into a prospective hunting area without first thoroughly studying topo maps and aerial photos of that area. In addition, before heading into the woods I slowly drive all the accessible roads that border my newfound area. An incident that happened to yours truly a number of years ago was an embarrassing reminder of the importance of doing this.

I was scouting a big woods area in northern Wisconsin when I came across what appeared to be a virtual big buck honey hole. The ground was littered with steaming fresh scrapes, and at least a half-dozen four to six-inch trees had recently been rubbed clean of bark. Amazingly, all this sign was concentrated within a relatively small area. I quickly picked out and prepared a spot for my portable tree stand, then headed out of the woods. I didn’t bother doing any further scouting of any kind. That proved to be a terrible mistake!

I returned to the spot the very next afternoon and quietly put up my portable stand. Two hours slipped by, and “primetime” was rapidly approaching when I heard a sound I couldn’t initially identify. Then I realized that someone was operating an ATV somewhere off in the distance. At first I couldn’t tell which direction the off-road machine was heading. But a minute later I’d pinpointed its exact line of travel. The damn thing was coming straight toward my position!

Initially, I was irate that someone would be irresponsible enough to drive an ATV through the woods on public forest land. But my anger disappeared almost as soon as the machine came into view. Unbeknown to me, and just far enough from my stand site so that I couldn’t see it, was a brand new logging road. In fact, as I discovered later, loggers had punched the road into the area just a couple days earlier. Had I done my normal thorough scouting job I would have noticed the new road. And I would have known that the buck responsible for all the fresh sign had already relocated to another part of the forest.

My experience with the ATV makes a very important point. Gaining an intimate familiarity with your hunting areas is important for a reason other than learning how the deer relate to those areas. You’ll also gain an understanding how other hunters are utilizing the areas. Of course, this may not be a concern to those who do all their bowhunting on private property. It’s a different story, however, for those of us who still do a fair amount of our hunting on public lands. In my opinion, figuring out what other hunters are doing is equally as important as figuring out what the resident deer are doing.

Hunt Smart!

While I am a strong proponent of downsizing for deer, I’m always quick to add that the approach can cause problems for some hunters. The most obvious of these problems has to do with keeping your hunting areas “fresh.” Having fewer hunting areas means you’ll have fewer stand site possibilities. But regardless of how much a person downsizes his hunting efforts, I remain convinced that they can still find enough stand sites to ensure that they won’t burn out a potentially good area(s). Or, they can come up with a system that allows them to continue to hunt their spots hard, yet keep the deer guessing.

My son Jake and I have what I consider the perfect system for hunting our two chosen spots. Several times during the week we hunt farmland area near our home, but on weekends we hunt a big woods area in the northern part of the state. This “system” ensures that we don’t put too much pressure on either of our areas. Just about the time the deer in one spot catch on that they’re being hunted, we pull up stakes and disappear for a few days.

More Isn’t Better

Earlier in this piece I mentioned that having too many good hunting spots can actually be detrimental to your chances for success. How is this possible? Simple. The more good spots you have, the greater the tendency to second-guess yourself. My observations would indicate that people who have dozens of great setups are always struggling to figure out which one they should hunt. And when they finally do make a decision, they invariably end up second-guessing themselves. I once bowhunted with a fellow who fit into this category. The guy just couldn’t shake the feeling that while he was sitting on one stand a monster buck was walking by one of his other stands.

Unbelievably, he would sometimes relocate three times during a three hour hunt. Talk about spreading yourself too thin!

As I mentioned earlier, trusting totally to guesswork won’t put you within range of many trophy whitetails. Without a doubt, this is the biggest perk of limiting your scouting and hunting efforts to just a few areas. You’ll eventually learn the everyday habits of the deer you’re hunting. Remember, mature whitetails are notorious for using only tiny slivers of all the available cover out there. What’s more, big bucks don’t always leave behind evidence (rubs, scraped, etc.) that they’re frequenting a particular spot. Often, the only way to pinpoint these places is by spending time observing deer activity in your hunting areas. The more you watch, the more you’ll learn.

Don’t Ever Stop Looking

Just prior to writing this article I did some post-season scouting on a 400-acre chunk of ground I’ve been bowhunting for better than 30 years. Now you’d think there wouldn’t be anything left to learn about a tract of land after all those years. You’d be wrong. In fact, I found that I fully believe is going to be a literal big buck hot spot. The spot is located a mere 75 yards from a logging road I walk when traveling to and from a distant stand site. I’d never bothered to check it out simply because I’d never actually seen any signs of big buck activity near that section of the logging road. Hey, even I still make some basic mistakes once in a while!

There was a time in the not-so-distant past when I believed that a person couldn’t have too many good hunting spots. I’ve since learned that there definitely is a danger to having access to a large number of quality hunting areas. Spreading your efforts over a bunch of different areas almost always means that you aren’t doing justice to any one of them.

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Published by admin on 25 Jan 2010

Proven Bruin Tactics By Bell Vaznis

Proven Bruin Tactics
When going up against a big, wise bruin, you better
have more than a few tricks up your sleeve.
By Bell Vaznis

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com/

The site intrigued me. It was situated at the confluence of two streams, a natural crossing for black bears, and well off the beaten path. It was also dark under the canopy of spruce and fir, even on a bright sunlit day, which gave me the willies whenever I replenished the bait. Indeed, the five-inch front bad tracks in the nearby mud indicated a mature boar was raiding my cache of meat and pastries every other night or so, and the last thing I wanted to do was to come face to face with him in the poor light.

I hung a portable stand crosswind to the pile of logs covering the bait after one of his visits, and even though I was anxious to free an arrow, I waited for the bear to get used to the new setup before climbing on board. It was the right decision, for the first night I hid aloft, the big bear circled cautiously downwind of the bait site, and once satisfied all was safe, committed himself to the offering just before dark.

I waited for him to present a quartering-away shot, and when he did, I came to full draw and released a vaned shaft at his vitals in one fluid motion. The Pope and Young bruin let out a deafening roar upon impact, and immediately fled the scene with his stubby tail tucked between his legs like a scalded dog.

His efforts were to no avail, however, as he was already dead on his feet expiring less than 50 yards from my stand.

Some bowhunters today erroneously believe that taking a trophy black bear over bait is a cakewalk. After all, they protest, all you have to do is wait next to a pile of donuts for one to show up! I usually break up laughing at these “experts,” for 99 times out of a hundred they have never even seen a bear in the wild much less tagged one with a bow!

You see, if the truth be known, taking a trophy bruin with a bow and arrow over bait is no gimme, especially in those heavily wooded sections of the United States and Canada where black bears are so often found. Why? Because big black bears are smart—very smart. Once a mature black bear knows you are after him, your chances of seeing him are almost nil. In fact, most woodsmen rate only the wolf as more difficult to catch flatfooted in the wild. It is no wonder then that the black bear is America’s number two big-game animal!

A mature bruin, however, is not invincible. Bowhunters who pay attention to detail, might, just might, bet a shot at the trophy of a lifetime. Here are a dozen or so tips to help you in that quest.

Hire a Good Outfitter
If you have your heart set on a record-book bruin, then Canada should immediately come to mind. Although big bruins are arrowed every year in the States, the Canadian provinces offer you well-managed populations of gargantuan bears in wilderness settings. Not to mention, most of these bears have never seen a human before!

But to get a crack at one, you must go where the biggest males abound, and then book with an outfitter who specializes in the 400-plus-pound specimens. Price is often a good indicator in this regard; expect to pay around $2,000 for a quality hunt.

To get started, dial toll-free 1-877-8 CANADA, and ask for a list of outfitters from the province(s) you are most interested in. To date, I’ve arrowed several trophy bruins in Newfoundland, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Walking the Line
Some outfitters will turn over an active bait line to you and then let you set your own stands, or offer you a couple of hot bait sites with stands already in place and then let you decide where you want to sit. Whatever the case, it is imperative you examine as many bait sites over the length of your hunt as possible to help you determine which site(s) have big bears nearby.

What should you be looking for? For starters, I look for front pad tracks five or more inches in width, indicating a probable Pope and Young bear, and large diameter droppings. A Boone & Crockett bruin, for example, will leave dung the size of a Coke can on nearby entrance/exit trails.

Mature bruins also like to circle a bait site before committing themselves to the set-up. Look for freshly crushed vegetation and faint pad impressions just within sight of the bait—a dead giveaway to the 400-pound chocolate bruin I arrowed in Saskatchewan a few seasons back. His entrance trail would have been easy to miss if my guide and I hadn’t been actually looking for it.

When comfortable, black bears will also sit on their haunches or lie down near the bait to feed giving you yet another opportunity to judge their size. Get on your hands and knees if necessary, and look for a flattened area of matted, broken or bent-over plant stems.

Can’t find a bear track? Spread cooking oil, grease or even just water near the bait site to help soften the soil. The oil/grease will also go a long way towards attracting even more bears. Put some grease on the trunks of nearby trees, too, to help lure bears to the bait site, and then gauge any fresh claw marks found on the tree’s trunk for size.

Of course, don’t overlook a big bear sighting within a half mile of a particular bait site. You can bet your plane ticket home that a bruiser knows exactly where that bait is, and unless spooked, will eventually visit during legal shooting hours.

Other Trophy Bear Sign
Keep in mind that a boar’s home range typically overlaps the home ranges of several sows. He will therefore only be able to visit a bait site once every two or three days. Unless you find sign to the contrary, a site that is pounded every day is probably being hit by a subordinate bear, maybe even a sow. I’ll take a bait that is being hit sporadically over one that is being devoured nightly any day!

In addition to size, color can also denote trophy quality. Black bears, for example, can have red, cinnamon, blond and chocolate hide as well as the very rare white. Look for hair caught on nearby tree trunks, brush or even a length of barbed wire left purposely near the bait for clues to coat color. There is no finer trophy in the world than an off-color record-book bruin!

Eliminate Sows and Cubs
Locating big bear sign around a particular bait site is one goal, but you also want to avoid hunting a site routinely visited by a sow with cubs for obviously reasons. How can you tell there are cubs about? They usually destroy a baited area leaving it look like it was hit by a tornado. Look for small tracks and small diameter droppings to confirm your suspicions, and tidbits of food scattered all over the place.

Don’t however, abandon a site if it is being visited by several sows, as evidenced in part by a plethora of medium-size tracks. Black bears breed in the early summer, and such a site can be a magnet for jumbo boars looking for a sow in heat. You may only get one chance at a particular boar under these circumstances as he will not likely return once he hooks up with a sow. Size him up quickly, and take your first killing shot.

Watch Your Scent
There are two schools of thought concerning scent control. One, keep your body, clothing and all equipment as scent-free as possible by using rubber boots, charcoal suits and deodorizing sprays. Or two, since the bears already associate the bait with humans, do not make any effort to control your odor. In fact, you can even leave an article of clothing behind in the stand to help desensitize the bears to our stench. Both schools have their merit.

It is not uncommon for a bear to return to bait site after being shot at. In fact, even superficially wounded bruins have been known to return in a day or two. Why? In part because they did not associate the sound of the shot or the pain inflicted with that of a human. Bears are always fighting, and scratches and cuts are a normal part of daily life. Once a bear knows he is being hunted, that is he associates humans and food with danger, all bets are off.

That is why I refer to keep my presence at the bait site a secret. I avoid spreading fresh scent about by walking too close to the bait pile, and I always try to sneak in and out of my stand without causing a disturbance. I especially avoid crossing any bear trails. You can never be too careful in this regard!

Setup Right
Underestimating a bear’s intelligence can easily lead to tag soup at season’s end. Pick a tree with a large trunk and many branches to disguise your silhouette, and then arrange it so you can shoot sitting down in full camo. I like to be no more than 20 yards from the bait and 12 to 15 feet above the ground to help insure a one-shot kill.

Bears may have poor eyesight, but they are not blind. Any blob that looks out of place arouses their suspicions, and they can spot motion faster than an alert whitetail. Anything you can do to stay out of sight, and to reduce or conceal unwanted movements, is to your benefit.

A Bear’s Nature
One of the biggest mistakes neophytes make is shooting the fist bear that comes to the bait. There is a social hierarchy among bears, and no place is this more evident than around a bait site. Sows, yearlings and young boars often feed first in the early evening followed by bears higher on the ladder with the big boars feeding last, when they feel it is safest.

A subordinate boar will generally announce his arrival by purposely snapping a twig, thereby warning any bears already on the bait that he is nearby. Bears subordinate to him will generally melt back into the forest in anticipation of his arrival. The snapping of a twig also serves as a safety device for him. The last thing he wants is to do is surprise the Alpha male at the feeding site. He knows from past experience that he is no match for the dominate bruin.

Therefore, if you see a bear acting nervous around the bait site, you can bet he fears a bigger bear is nearby. Experienced bear hunters will pass on the nervous bear in hopes a real jumbo will soon materialize.

Never Give Up
Once you are convinced a mature bruin is in the vicinity of a particular bait, plan on hunting that bait for the duration of the trip. Unless you have educated him to your presence, a big bear will eventually come in for a look-see during daylight hours. I once sat over a bait for two weeks waiting for a Boone & Crockett bear with seven-plus-inch front pads to return. I finally saw the mystery bear on my last night in camp, a roly-poly 675-pound spring behemoth with a head the size of a basketball. He never took his eyes off me, however, cleverly shielding his body with a “head-on” stance. I never did get a shot at him even though I sat only 15 yards away without a twig between us!

Bait-Wise Bruins
Once a bear knows you are on to him, he may be impossible to kill. There are, however, a few tricks you can use to lure a big bear back to the bait site. A honey burn, for example, can send a cloud of sweet smoke into a bear’s lair that most bruins find difficult to resist. Simply pour a pint of honey into a pot, and fire it up with a can of Sterno. It will first steam and then boil before erupting into a volcano of thick smoke. We took three fat bears on spring evening using this technique.

What can you do if a bear hangs up just out of range? More often than not the bear has figured out you are on stand and is waiting for you o leave so he can chow down in safety. (I told you bears were smart!) The trick here is to quietly erect a second stand downwind of his staging area in the middle of the day, or have a buddy set up another stand near the bait and then leave one-half hour before nightfall.

The first time we tried the latter, the ruse worked like clockwork. “Thinking” I had left my stand early, the bruin waltzed into the bait site before my buddy had driven out of hearing range, presenting me with an easy broadside shot. This plan has worked so well over the years that we always pack a couple of extra lightweight portables with us to bear camp.

As you can see, tagging a record-book bear means hunting in areas they thrive, and then interpreting the sign they leave behind correctly. It also means learning to play cat and mouse with them around the bait station. In fact, only then will you realize just how smart a mature black bear can be. Let the games begin!

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