Archive for the 'Vintage Magazine Articles' Category

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Published by archerchick on 06 Jul 2011

Boone & Crockett Buck ~ By Tad E. Crawford

Bowhunting World
June 1989

Boone & Crockett Buck
By Tad E. Crawford

Normally, I try not to let my deer
hunting success result from pure,
unadulterated luck. Somehow, I’m
not very proud of a trophy unearned. The hunt
of 1987 might have been a series of lucky coincidences,
all right, but I have to say, I also
worked to bring home that trophy.
The best pre-season dreamer would not
have conjured up the series of fantastic coincidences
surrounding my taking of that fabulous animal.

After all, just what are the
chances of finding both sheds, 20 yards apart,
from a Boone and Crockett whitetail? What
about the prospects of bowshooting that same
whitetail just one month later — and from an
evening ground blind five yards away! And
how about the likelihood of recovering this
huge deer, hit and lost the day before Thanks-
giving, after three days of small game hunters
and their dogs combing the area?

Now, it’s no secret we bowhunters are ever
stalking ways to improve the chances of taking
a true trophy whitetail. One of the most important
keys is patience and, as I see it, pa-
tience is twofold. First, a trophy whitetail
hunter ought to have a patient and loving wife
like my Cathy. She has to be patient with me
hunting every day in November. She must patiently
explain to all of my taxidermy customers why I could
take such a long vacation- before I had finished their
trophies. (I pity the guy whose wife can’t love him enough not
to nag when deer season starts and he is out
doing the thing he loves most.)

The second type of patience comes in
when spending time in the field and on stand,
evaluating actions and reactions of whitetails.
This is an important time: more is involved
here than just killing a deer. Even when
you’ve done your pre-season and in-season
scouting, you still have to be able to see what
you’re looking at. Interpretation of sign — or
perhaps the sudden lack of it — is very important
for success.

I estimated I had logged some 300 hours
“air time” —— time actually spent in tree
stands — when I tagged the big one. Many
was the day I spent all day, daylight to dark,
without coming down to ground level.

As I bask in my victory of last year, I can
afford to think back to all those missed shots
and opportunities at really big bucks. I do not
have a lot of record racks on my wall, but the
experience gained over the years helped me to
harvest this deer. I guess a guy has to hunt
where the big bucks are before he gets a
chance to bust one.

Northeastern Ohio has produced some
fine whitetails. Dense, overgrown strip
mines, moderate cultivation, and suburbs
provide good trophy habitat. Somehow the
deer I harvested managed to elude hunters,
poachers, cars, and who knows what for several
years. Good health and good fortune allowed him
to grow to outstanding proportions
and horn development.

Up until that year sightings of a huge buck
had been sketchy. Some said the last time he’d
been seen was three years before. Was he still
around? Then, in October, my friend Dave .
Unkefer and his weimaraner found both sheds
of a tremendous whitetail. Well, now, I mean
to tell you, these were nice horns! I rough
scored these 13-point typical sheds at about

183 Boone and Crockett points. So, the big
one was still at large.
Throughout the month of November we
found fresh. extra-large, three-inch tracks and
many large rubs on hardwood trees six to ten
inches in diameter. Then, the rut appeared to
pass and even button bucks were observed
chasing does in heat. Believe me, that’s depressing.

But the big tracks persisted. Dave and another
hunting buddy, Steve Slatzer, tracked
some very large bucks after a fresh snow. Was
the 13-pointer among them?

With snow still on the ground, the three of
us checked out a hidden cornfield we knew of.
Bingo! Buck Heaven! We kicked out six big
bucks- this cornfield was hot enough to pop.
At least a dozen good scrapes surrounding it
were rototilled.

The deer were pounding this field so well,
I couldn’t resist locking up my Amacker portable
in an adjacent oak. Covered with Camo
Leaves, it looked great, just like an old squirrels
next. I was ready.

On Monday morning, I climbed up into
that oak, which was to be my daytime home
for the next three days. But by Wednesday, the
only game I had seen were two fox squirrels,
one red squirrel, and a crossbow hunter. All
sign had grown cold — I figured we had left
too much scent when scouting — and my
thoughts drifted to a newly planted winter
wheat field about a half mile away. The deer
had to be somewhere.

It was noon and I decided to check it out.
More mindful this time of leaving too much
scent, I approached into the wind and checked
only the nearest edge of the bare dirt for
tracks. Large tracks were everywhere —-
large, fresh tracks. I resisted the temptation to
scout the edges for the best approach trails,
afraid to show any more presence than necessary.
It was possible that my target animal was
bedded on the adjoining hillside overlooking
this field, so I stayed in the shadows as much
as possible.

A tree stand was out of the question. No
large trees existed, and besides, this was November 25th,
and all of the leaves had fallen.
Little cover existed anywhere, so I quickly
gathered some light-colored weeds and constructed
a ground blind.
Once settled in, I felt good and things
seemed right. I spent the next five hours sit-
ting on a cold, bare patch of earth behind the
blind, but the balmy, sunny afternoon was
comforting. And I did not rise once for any
reason. I napped, ate a late snack of Kool-Aid
and granola bars and listened t0 the semi-
trucks rolling down a nearby highway. I had
not slept long when I was awakened by the
distress call of my bladder. I whisked out my
porta—potty, a hot water bottle I carry in the
field to keep my stands free from the scent of
human urine. Then, I settled back behind my

I dozed until the five o’clock whistle blew
at a distant coal mine. I peeked out through
the pokeberry weeds to see two deer feeding
intently in the wheat field about 80 yards
away. Both heads were down and, because of a
slight depression in the ground where they
stood, no antlers could be seen. The deer on
the left raised its head first, a nice “skinhead”
doe. The deer on my right seemed larger and
-holy cow! What a buck!

Now he was looking in my direction. The spread of his horns
was well beyond his ear tips. As he looked at
the doe, I counted at least six or seven points
on his left antler. At that moment, I thought I
was probably looking at the 13-point Boone
and Crockett deer of last year’s sheds. What a
privilege to be able to watch such an animal,
undisturbed, at close range and in such good
light. If only I had had some video gear.
I don’t remember getting nervous about
shooting that deer — excited, yes, but not nervous.

All I could think of was that darkness
would soon engulf us and I would have to
leave the stand, possibly spooking them. I
watched and waited.
Twenty minutes went by like 20 seconds.
The doe quit eating and slowly walked past
my blind at about six or eight yards to my left.
The wind was just right, still in my favor. Now
it was Mr. Big’s time to move. Slowly closing
the distance, he stopped about 40 yards out.
I was still glassing him when he started grunting
low, sustained grunts. He put his head
down and started walking directly at my blind.
I chucked the binoculars and grabbed the bow,

If the truth were known, I think I was now
in a state of acute hypertension. I was talking
to myself, “The one thing you can’t do is
move quickly. Get that bow up. Wait for the
right moment to draw. Yeah, the bow is up,
and oh, *?%@$, there he is! ”

Standing broadside, only five yards away,
he just happened to stop in the two foot shooting
lane I had cleared earlier. “OK, easy does
it. Make the draw. Center the pin on that
shoulder. Smooth release and — ” What a
temptation to snap shoot. “He’s too close.
Any moment he’ll be gone.”

I talked myself into completing the draw.
Like a homing pigeon, the pin centered on the
shoulder and instantly the arrow was on its
way. A solid thunk sent the deer bolting in the
direction he and the doe were headed. I re-
member thinking, “No way could I have
messed up that shot. Had to be a perfect lung
hit. Probably find the arrow laying on the
ground from a pass through — great blood
trail. Quick recovery.” Soon I would discover
just how wrong my wishful thinking was.

You readers will now have to pardon an
interruption for a commercial. As you wait to
read what happened to the trophy buck, this
is, after all, my golden opportunity to tell you
about Camo Leaves, a product I invented and
manufacture. Camo Leaves are artificial foliage
that attach to your clothing and equipment
with Velcro. Camo leaves are designed to
break up the human silhouette and provide
better three-dimensional contrast. Picture me
— my suit, headnet, bowlimbs, gloves, all
covered with little Camo Leaves. With Camo
Leaves your prize buck — just like my prize
buck — may never know you ’re there, never
notice your draw, never think of a slight movement
as anything more than the movement of
leaves attached to branches, fluttering in the
breeze. Camo Leaves concealed me from a
buck at eye level less than five yards away!

And now, about that buck my Camo Leaves
and I took.
I waited a few minutes in the blind, my
heart racing like a runaway freight train. Sud-
denly it was raining — pouring, the first time
since I’d been hunting this year. Of all the
luck. I ran as fast as I could to a field about a
half mile away where I caught Steve making
his way back to the truck. All but out of

breath, I blurted out, “I just hit the big one! ”
Steve said he would call Cathy to tell her l
would be home late and that he would return
with a better tracking light.
I returned to the site to search for the blood
trail in the pouring rain. Three hours of
searching turned up nothing. The rain had
done a job and I was more than a little dejected
as we sloshed the mile and a half back to the

It rained all night, but at break of day we
began again in earnest, confident we would
walk right up on my deer. We found the fletch
end of my arrow almost immediately. It had
only penetrated about seven inches when the
shaft broke off.
I remember grumbling about poor penetration
when I spotted something. “Steve.
look there, a rifle! ” There lay an old 22-caliber
lever-action Marlin 39A, very rusted.

The wood stock was so rotted, it fell off in my
hands. The strangest fact of all was that the,
hammer was cocked. I didn’t know what to
look for first, deer parts. or people parts! l
figured the rifle had been there for 20 or more
years and it could wait a little longer to tell is
story. I opted for deer parts.

For three days Steve and I searched. The
few short hours of sleep I had gotten in the last
two nights began to wear heavy on me. We
were both tired from combing every briar
patch and swamp in a half-mile arc around the
hit location. I just knew that deer was hit too
badly to survive. Still, we came home empty
handed. We had been dodging rabbit hunters
and beagles for two days after Thanksgiving. I
was afraid someone had found my buck, but I
had to keep looking. Gun season would start on
Monday, an added threat that someone else
would find that deer.

Things were looking a little hopeless that
evening as I prayed to the “Great Guide” in
the big deer camp in the sky. “Lord,” I said,
“I expect you to deliver that deer to me Ill
how. I’ve worked hard. I know he’s there. Just
show me the way.”

Saturday morning came early. The
weather finally broke. As I looked into the
clearing sky, I was wishing I had a bird’s eye
view of that hunting area. Then it hit me,
could get a bird ’s eye view from a helicopter!

In an hour I had found a pilot at a local
airport and we were up. The initial thrill of
my first chopper flight faded as we circled my
hunting area for an hour and a half. I was almost
glad to hear the pilot say we would have
to head back for gas. I was getting airsick —
and heart sick. I still had seen no sign of my
buck. The pilot suggested we fly back over the
area my deer had come from, since it was on
the way back.

The pilot spotted him first. “‘Wow!” he
said. “Now I know why you rented a chopper!
is looks like an elk. Got to be the biggest
deer I’ve ever seen.”
Yep, there he was, lying in a briar patch,
only 75 yards from some guy’s back door. Of
course, I hadn’t looked in people’s backyards
for the deer. The pilot wanted to set down
right there, but I was afraid this guy would not
appreciate being awakened on Saturday morning
by a helicopter landing in his yard. We
flew off and flew back — this time in my Subaru
— and I can’t say which flew faster. New
land speed records were set that day.
It appeared my trophy buck had run about a quarter
mile from where I hit him, apparently
dying relatively soon. The Terminator double—cut
broadhead had just missed the heart,
puncturing one lung.

I tagged him immediately. We took hero
shots of me and the deer and then we salvaged
as much as possible. Somewhere in between
the photos and the excitement, I managed to
give thanks and take some measurements.
His rack now officially scores 207 Boone
and Crockett non-typical points and has 18
points over one inch in length. He was a rare
animal in that he could pass as a typical at 171
4/8 or as a non-typical.
If you count all the ring-hangers, the buck
is a 28-pointer. The inside spread is 25 inches
and the outside spread is 27 inches with 27-
inch main beams. The deer’s gross score is
214 3/8 and he has 18 2/8 inches of non-typical tine.
His girth at chest was about 52 1/2 inches
and his jaw aged him at about six-and-a-half
years old. The pads on his feet were three-
and-a-half inches long. Field-dressed weight
was 342 pounds.

For all you statisticians, my bow is a Darton 1000MX box, set at 59 pounds. I shot an
Easton XX75 Camo Hunter arrow, size 2213, and, of course, I used the best camouflage I
know — Camo Leaves. They just had to have made the difference.
Now, I will ask you again, just what are the prospects of all these
remarkable coincidences happening to one guy? Once in a life-
time? Once in two lifetimes? What are the
chances? >>—->
Editor’s Note: Camo Leaves are available
direct from the author at Camo Leaves, 6645
Cleveland Ave. S., East Sparta, OH 44626.
Under license from him they are also being
marketed nationally by The Game Tracker


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Published by archerchick on 06 Jul 2011

Elk Hunting’s Agony & Ecstasy ~By Patrick Meitin

Bowhunting World
February 1990
By Patrick Meitin

“What time is it!” I jumped from my sleeping bag and threw on my
clothes. It was opening morning of elk season in southwestern New Mexico
and the alarm clock had not gone off. With a lot of panicked rush we zoomed
out of camp on the four-wheeler, clutching precious bows and daypacks for
dear life. A line of silver began to crack in the eastern horizon. We zipped
around corners, bounced over rocks, and just in the nick of time arrived on
the mountain we would hunt. We were off to a hectic start, but I was elk hunting
and I could have cared less.

I started up a canyon that I knew had elk in the past. I heard a faint bugle at the
head of the canyon and pressed hard to reach it. The forest was damp and quiet, as
a soft mist fell from the low, fog-like clouds. Upon reaching the head of the canyon
I again heard the bugle, but much closer this time. Wooeeeeeeeock! Bugles began to
sound from all directions, at least five of them – mostly bad. Damn, I wasn’t alone.
It looked as if my surefire spot had been discovered. “There is at least one real bull
up here, maybe I can find him before the crowd does.”

I slowly approached the saddle at the head of the canyon I had been following noticing
the three sets of fresh elk tracks in the rain soaked ground. I heard a faint click of hoof
against rock and dropped to the ground beside a well worn game trail. I grabbed an
arrow from my Catquiver and felt the razor sharp edge of the Zwicky that tipped it, and
quietly nocked it. The two beasts rounded the spruce tree—–horses!

The riders stopped to chat a while, noting
all the “elk bugles” they had been hearing.
They seemed real proud with their logic of
bugling from horseback, saying, “The elk will
think it is another bull walking toward them.”
My somewhat sarcastic response, “More
likely you will get shot.”

That was it. I shifted my pack for a better
ride, looked skyward hoping it wouldn’t rain,
and made a beeline for parts roadless and remote.
Five miles later I sat huddled under a
tight branched pinion tree singing, “Rain,
rain go away . . .” It must have been about two
in the afternoon before the cat and dog rain
finally subsided.

I began to stillhunt down a thickly covered
ridge and really started to get into the sign. It
looked like a hundred bulls had gone on a tree
thrashing rampage. I caught movement
through a hole in the thick brush and froze in
my tracks. A yearling elk calf walked into an
opening only 20 yards away.

As I stood motionless, mostly in the open,
several cows began to filter out of the brush a
little farther than the calf. I knew there had to l
be a bull with the herd. A deep, throaty bugle
not far away confirmed my suspicions. It began to
rain again, I slowly reached around and
slipped an arrow from my quiver. Just then a
small 4×5 bull walked out to join the calf. I
didn’t want him. I had decided long before the
hunt, having killed two nice bulls previously, I
wanted at least a 300-inch class Pope and
Young bull.

The wind began to swirl a bit and I anticipated
that it was about to betray me. No
sooner had the thought crossed my mind
when the small bull and the calf grew nervous
and began to tiptoe to my left. The farther
cows sensed something was up and also grew
fidgety. The elk began to move away through
the thick brush. The deep bugle again
sounded from the trees behind the now moving elk
and I readied myself, hoping it would
be a trophy bull. I glimpsed a set of dark,
heavy beamed antlers moving toward the
opening — he was big enough. I drew my

The elk filtered down the ridge. The bull
walked quickly through the opening and offered
only a split second of shooting time. I
got my pin on his chest, panning the bow with
the moving animal. A tree jumped in the way.
He entered another opening. Just as my pin
found its place he disappeared again. I would
not see the bull again. I let my bow down,
exasperated and frustrated. “It’s only the first
day, calm down He was a good bull — about
three—forty, but it was not his day to go. I
walked down to a saddle and found a place to
get out of the rain. I fell asleep against the dry
side of an ancient juniper tree, waiting for the
rain to cease.

Suddenly my eyes were wide open, “What
was that?” A bull was bugling in the canyon
below. I glanced around and saw elk everywhere
I looked, mostly cows. I glassed all of
them, but none of them was the trophy bull I
was looking for. I still hadn’t seen the emphatic
bugling bull sol stalked down to take a
better look. The bull continued to bugle, making
him easy to home in on. When I sensed
that I was very close I let out a short, high
pitched bugle through my cupped hands. The
bull answered before the first echo sounded
from my own bugle. I grunted as best I could
through cupped hands, and waited. Crunching
rocks and snapping twigs prompted me to
nock an arrow.

As the 6×6 bull walked into the open at 30
yards. my pin settled behind the mud speckled shoulder.
I let the string down slowly and
looked a little harder at the bull’s rack. He
would go around two-eighty. It was only the
first day of the hunt, with several more days to
come, and it would be a long haul out of here
with 100-pound packs of elk steaks. I would
let him pass.

I watched the bull lose interest and turn to .
walk away, his ego inflated by having run off
the brave intruder. I noticed for the first time
that it was getting late in the evening. I drew a
deep breath and turned to walk toward the

I reached the four-wheeler around midnight,
glad to see it still there. Perry Harper,
my long time hunting partner and kamikaze
driver, dragged himself in just behind me. He
was also glad to see the four-wheeler. He too
had bee lined to the rough stuff. He had passed
up a nice 6×6 bull during the day, but having
bagged a 314-inch Pope and Young bull the
past season he was looking for bigger things.
We loaded up and zipped back to camp. Oh,
the dry sanctuary of the tent — dry clothes —
dry socks!

The alarm sounded early the following
morning. Our hunting party gathered in Perry ’s
camp trailer to compare notes and decide
where to hunt. Steven Tisdale, a college
friend on his first elk hunt hadn’t seen much
game the day before. When I told him he
could have anything that I passed up, he was
more than happy to come along with me. Arriving
at the end of the cow trail “road” after
dropping Perry off, we shut down the engine
and sat back to wait for shooting light. Soon
the sunlight began to creep up the valley. We
pushed the doors shut quietly and went forth.
It was cold and crisp alter the nightime clearoff,
the frost whispered quietly as we walked
through the knee-deep grass. Following a
barbed wire fence, we approached “the perfect
elk meadow,” a name that had come to
mind the first time I had seen it two seasons
before. I rounded a huge, ground hugging cedar
and stopped suddenly. I couldn’t believe
my eyes — a huge 7×7 bull walked tranquilly
across the meadow with his small harem of
cows. I excitedly waved Steven over to take a

We huddled behind the cedar admiring the
majestic bull. A squirt of talcum powder from
a small bottle drifted back into my face. The
bull brought his head back and grunted deeply
without bugling, then lowered his head to rake
the ground with his horns. I adjusted the diaphragm
in my mouth, pressed my lips against
my grunt tube and let out my best bugle, followed
by five, throaty grunts. The bull
stopped, turned our way, and screamed at the
top of his lungs. I grunted at the enraged bull
and waited. The bull trotted toward us bugling
his head off. “He’s coming in.”

I shakily nocked an arrow, and looked up
to see the bull still coming our way. The wapati
reached the barbed wire fence 80 yards
ahead and walked behind a screening tree. I
seized the opportunity to move closer. The bull
hopped the fence without touching even a
hair. He continued past at a 90-degree angle,
caring the cedar I was using to hide myself.
I drew my bow. “This is too easy,” I thought.

The bull stopped for an instant as the string
slipped from my calf skin tab. At 50 yards the
bull had time to begin walking again, before
the arrow struck. I was in horror, as the arrow
met the elk after one long step. The arrow
disappeared into the bulls liver area. He was
hit, but was it good enough?

The bull spun and ran through the fence he
had jumped earlier and across the open
meadow. then vanished from sight. As we
watched, a small 6×6 walked into view across
the grassy meadow from a line of trees that
jutted into the open.

We watched the 6×6 through binoculars
for a short time, not believing how many elk
we were seeing already, not even 500 yards
from the truck. The small bull walked to one
of the ponderosas at the tip of the peninsula of
trees and stood beneath it’s boughs. We
turned away to start our stalk, wasting no time
in getting into the area.

We removed our shoes, and proceded.
Cold feet silent against the cutting ground, we
drew closer, feeling every twig and pebble.
Soon we were close and the chilled western
breeze still holding steady. Steven nocked an
arrow and drew a few deep breaths. He held
up the crossed fingers of his left hand and
smiled. then drifted ahead with me shadowing

The bull rounded a tree 60 yards out, and
froze in his tracks at the sight of the two lumps
of moving brush. Steven slowly drew his bow
and anchored. “Sixty yards — 60 yards,” I
hissed quietly. Steven held his bow drawn for
what seemed a long time, then slowly let it
down. “Too far,” he whispered.
I cow talked very quietly to the bull but he
was no pushover. The curious bull let out a
loud bark and waited for a reaction. Pushing
the diaphragm to the front of my mouth I
barked back at him. He took a few steps toward
us then stamped his feet and let out another
ear piercing bark, This went on for at
least 10 minutes before the bull turned and
trotted away. Steven said, “If he had been 10
yards closer I would have shot. I just kept
thinking we already had one bull hit, we
didn’t need me to wound another. We still
have four days of hunting left.” That was a
hard decision for a guy on his first elk hunt.

After taking a short nap, we took up the
trail of my elk. We found one good puddle of
blood were he had entered the trees but from
there the drops were small and infrequent. We
followed mostly hoof prints in the soil when
we lost the blood. As we found even the slightest
sign it was marked so it could be referenced
if we lost the trail. We began to End less
blood sign and the ground had become rockier —
we were making very little headway.
The elks trail ended at the edge of a rim-rock
bordered canyon.

Steven and I split up to search for the bull.
I searched until the sinking sun forced me to
retreat to the truck. I was disgusted. I guess if
you hunt long enough, one day the odds will
catch up with you ~ and you will loose an
animal. Should I have taken the long shot? I
might have been able to call him closer — he
was interested enough. Why couldn’t I have
hit him better? I felt sorry for the magnificent
animal. and wished I had never seen him. I
tore my tag from my license — my hunt was
over. Sleep would be difficult tonight.

At first light the following morning Perry
and I returned to where the trail had been lost,
hoping that fresh eyes and bodies could better
follow the trail. I couldn’t believe how easy
the trail seemed after the day before. In a matter
of hours we trailed the bull to where it had
fallen. I was thankful that I had found the bull
in time to salvage the meat.

If that valiant warrior had gone to waste I
would never have forgiven myself. I still felt
hollow inside from the circumstances of the
kill, but remembered that nature is often
much crueler.

As Perry and I field dressed my bull we
heard a distant bugle. After we had gotten it
dressed and into the shade we walked in that
direction. We skirted a high rim hoping to
glass the countryside below. Finding nothing,
we sat down to eat our lunch. For no reason at
all I pulled a diaphragm from my pocket and
bugled defiantly to the valley below. Three
bulls answered me. Wide-eyed, Perry
squeaked, “Can you believe that! ”

We stalked down the mountain side toward
the closest bull, moving very slowly as we
went. After a few hundred yards Perry
dropped to the ground and nocked an arrow.

He could see elk legs a short distance down
the hill.
I bugled again adding a few deep grunts on
the end. Perry joined me with a variety of cow
calls. The forest became eerily quiet. I saw
the bull for the first time sauntering uphill at-
tempting to find his opponent.

At 25 yards the bull threw his head back to
bugle. Perry drew his bow. The bull took a
few steps forward and stopped again, broad-
side, in the open. Perry ‘s arrow shot forward
just as the bull stopped. The bright yellow
vanes spun in suspension, then stopped suddenly
as the arrow landed in the bull’s side.
The hit was good, and the bull lunged down
the hill with the Delta Zwicky-tipped wood
slicing through both lobes of his lungs.

After a short, easy trailing job we found
the bull down for good, he had gone only 90
yards. Now the work would begin. I left Perry
with his bull and returned to mine to start the
long work of whittling elk into manageable
pieces. I returned to the truck in the darkness
noticing, as I approached, that everyone was
gathered around Steven listening to his tale.
Seeing me, he excitedly continued, after filling
in a few details.

“l hid behind a cedar tree and waited,”
Steve was saying. “The bull kept coming —
straight for me. When the bull went out of
sight I tiptoed around the edge of the tree I was
hiding behind and drew my bow. The bull
walked through a gap at 40 yards. I couldn’t
get my pin on him soon enough so I waited. l
swung my bow to the next gap and put my pin
where I thought the bull would be when he
walked through. He walked through the gap
and my pin crossed his shoulder. I let the arrow fly.
The arrow hit him low in the chest
The bull whirled and limped out of sight the
way it had come. I trailed him a while, but
couldn’t find any blood so I just went the direction he
had gone — it was getting dark.”
I interrupted, “Think he’s hit good. Let’s
go back and see if we can trail him with a

Steven smiled widely, “I found him, he`s
dead! ” A handshake was in order.
With three bulls down, the following
morning was torturous work. Boning out
quarters, caping out hides, sawing antlers and
packing meat. But despite the sore muscles,
aching feet and sweat, I wouldn’t have traded
it for the world. As the last load of elk steaks
stumbled into sight under the light of the
moon and a blanket of stars, we would stop to
tally our rack scores. Steven’s 6×6 bull just
missed Pope and Young minimums at 256 5/8
inches. Perry’s heavy beamed 7×7, including
the “devil” points over his brow tines, taped
out at 295 5/8. My 7×7, after 15 inches of
deductions, scored a tidy 337. Not bad for a
bunch of flatland bowhunters!

AUTHOR ’S NOTE: New Mexico elk hunting
is at its best and getting better every season.
Elk populations are up in nearly all management
units and spreading into new areas each
year. Several areas have been opened for the
first time ever. Good elk hunting spots include
the Gila National Forest, units 13, 15A, 15B,
16A, 16B, 16C, 16D, and unit 17; Pecos Wilderness
areas, units 44 and 45; North central,
units 50, 52 and 4; and finally the San Pedro
Park area located in unit 6.
New season dates have been adjusted to
allow hunting during the peak of the rutting
period. Proposed season dates for the 1989
season are September 7-20. Resident license
fees run $38, while nonresident license fees
are $213. For more information contact, New
Mexico Department of Game and Fish, State
Capitol, Santa Fe, NM 87503. <—<<

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Published by archerchick on 06 Jul 2011

Baiting Up Black Bear – By Otis “Toad” Smith

February 28, 1990

By Otis “Toad” Smith

When it comes to baiting up a bear, you
can throw some meat into the woods on
a hope and a prayer, or you can plan and
design a functional bear bait.
Bear hunters who are consistently successful at baiting up bear
lay out a well planned bait –
one that will get a bear to feed on a regular basis, one that
will give the hunter the knowledge of which direction the
bear will come from and will force a bear to expose himself broadside to the hunter.

When a bear bait is laid out it must be set up to take
advantage of the prevailing wind direction. In the area that
I bait bear I can usually expect to have a wind coming
from the west. This being the case, my set tree is always
located southeast of the bait, and the trail I use to get to the
bait must also come from the southeast.

It pays to set up an extra bait or two for a south or an
east wind. but only hunt the baits that have the wind to
your advantage. It’s better to not hunt than it is to spook a
bear from a bait, because once you spook a bear it might
be days before he will venture back onto the bait or he may
turn into a night feeder.

For this article, we are going to assume that you have
done your scouting and have located an area that has bear.
We are going to also assume that you have picked out the
site for your bait and that you know which direction the
prevailing winds are coming from.

The accompanying illustration shows how I prefer to
set up a bear bait. The illustration indicates the prevailing
wind direction and shows the set tree located on the down
wind side of the bait. A bait setup like this illustration
would allow hunting with any wind direction except south
or southeast.

You will see in the illustration that a barricade is built
around the bait. It works best to place the bait at the base
of a tree and use the tree as a anchor point for the barricade.
Barricades are a useful tool because they prevent a
bear from approaching a bait from the rear. A barricade
will force a bear to expose himself broadside as he comes
around to feed.

To construct a barricade, use poles that measure two to
three inches in diameter. Either nail down or tie one end of
the pole to the tree, and rest the other end on the ground.
Build the barricade at least five or six feet high and if you
use nails, make sure you pull the nails when you’re finished hunting.

The illustration shows three cut trails coming into the
bait. When the bait is first established it works well to lay
some scent trails out into the bush. The scent trails are
dual fold: By laying a good scent trail, hopefully the bear
will find the bait faster and it will train the bear to come to
the bait on a designated trail.

Make sure you consider the wind direction when laying
out the scent trail. When done properly, the bear will
approach the bait upwind of the set tree.

Bear are like people, they will always take
the easy way, so make it convenient for them.
Cut the trail the last 50 to 75 yards as it approaches
the bait. Trim and cut the trail so it is
an easy route to the bait. Bear will naturally
use the cut trails every time. In essence you
will be training the bear to use the same route
each time they come to the bait. The hunter
has a distinct advantage if he knows where the
bear will approach from.

Ingredients to make a strong sweet smelling
scent can be purchased from most any
grocery store. All that is needed are small
bottles of concentrated mapleline and annise.
Mix two bottles of the mapleline into a gallon
of water along the two cups of brown sugar.
Then mix two bottles of annise in a gallon of
water. One-gallon plastic milk jugs work well
for this because of the built in handle.

Once you have the jugs mixed, punch
some sprinkle holes in the jug lids. With a jug
in each hand, walk away from the bait sprinkling
the two scents as you go. Spread the
scent for a quarter of a mile out into the bush,
then turn around and sprinkle your way back
to the bait on the same trail. Lay three trails,
in three directions from the bait. Hopefully a
passing bear will stumble onto one of the
scent trails and follow it to the bait.

Another handy item for spreading scent
are plastic spray bottles like those you use to
wash a car windshield. Carry two of the spray
bottles one filled with annise the other with
the mapleline. At the bait, spray the entire
area. Set the bottle nozzles so they will shoot
a stream, and shoot the stream as high as possible
into the surrounding trees. Lay as much
scent around the bait as you can, the riper the
smell the quicker you will get a hit.

Every bear hunter will have his own special
combination of bait that he feels is best.
What it all boils down to is cost and availability.
When you are baiting a string of baits it
can get expensive. Two of the best attractors
on a bait are beaver and venison, but neither
one is very feasable. Unless you have access
to large quantities of beaver carcass and large
volume freezer space it is out of the question
for the average hunter. The same goes for venison,
so you’ll need to find a suitable substitute.

The answer is beef. Beef trimmings are
available at a reasonable cost from locker
plants or large grocery stores. The main base
of your bait should be fresh beef, bear like it
fresh. Its a good idea to offer more than just
beef on a bait. Bear are like humans, foods
that appeal to one bear may not interest another,
so give them a mix.

A bushel of oats mixed with a gallon of
molasses and four pounds of brown sugar
makes a tasty and sweet smelling addition to a
bait. It never hurts to throw on some windfall
apples, sweet corn or pastries if they are available to you.

Once a bear is working the bait,
he will tell you what he does and does not like.
On the first baiting use about 50 pounds of
bait. Once the bear begins to work the bait,
then really load it up. Put on enough bait to
hold the bear there until your return baiting

Trails To Bait And Tree
You will notice in the illustration that the
hunter uses a trail coming from the south to
get to the bait. The purpose of this is to prevent
the hunters scent from blowing towards
any bear near the bait. Once you have the bait
established, refrain from walking down the
cut bear trails. Go directly to and from the
bait on your own trail.

Never walk from the bait to the set tree,
approach the set tree as the illustration shows.
If you walk from the bait to the set tree, bear
will get in the habit of doing the same thing as
they are quite curious. Its best to keep the bear
on the cut trails and around the bait. Even if a
bear comes to the bait on your trail, he will
still offer a broadside shot as he walks by.
Cut shooting lanes from the set tree to the
bait and to the trails leading to the bait. Pile
the brush that you cut from the shooting lanes
between the set tree and the bait to discourage
the bear from going to the set tree. It is alright
for the bear to go to the set tree, but when it
does this it leaves the hunter in a poor shooting
position. It also discourages the bear from
coming in behind you. It is best to keep the
bear in front of you where you are controlling
him and his movements.

Shooting Position
Bear are tough animals for an arrow to
penetrate. They are muscular and are protected
by layers of fat and thick hair.
If you put a sharp arrow through a bear’s
lung, he will die fast, even faster than a deer
and he generally won’t run as far. Bear do not
bleed heavily on the outside because their fat
and thick hair seals the blood inside the animal.
So, it is very important to cut a large
entrance hole and a large exit hole to insure
good bleeding.

Tree stand height plays a large roll in arrow
penetration. The lower you are to the
ground, the better your chances are for total
penetration and the larger target you will
have. If you get too high in a tree your target
becomes smaller and much harder to penetrate.

I think that a tree stand should not be more
than six or seven feet above the ground and
should be between 15 and 20 yards from the
bait. The stand should be far enough from the
bait to minimize body movement noise, yet
close enough to give you a high confidence

It does not matter what kind of bow you
shoot, be it a compound, recurve or long bow.
As long as the bow can deliver a heavy arrow
to the target with enough force to gain total
penetration. Penetration is the name of the
game when it comes to bear and arrow speed
means very little. Concentrate on your ability
to deliver a heavy arrow accurately. I’m not
saying that you can’t kill a bear with a light,
fast arrow, but that you can kill a bear much
more efficiently with a heavy arrow.

The bear hunting technique that I have described
and illustrated in this article is by no
means the only way to bear hunt. It’s just one
of many bowhunting bear techniques that con-
tinue to provide the bowhunter with a challenging
experience that he or she can appreciate and enjoy. >–>


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Published by kr5639 on 21 Apr 2011

ARMGUARD/Gear Pocket with Call Strap by Neet

I have found this armguard has many uses outside of just archery.  I was able to put a tackle box in the pocket and used 2 wine bottle corks by attaching to the call strap and it worked great for fishing.

I bought it from Neet (item N-AGP-1) and it can be found in the new 2011 catalog.

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Published by archerchick on 21 Feb 2011

Big Country Big Elk ~By Mike Kroetsch

Bow and Arrow Hunting
June 1990

Big Country Big Elk By Mike Kroetsch?

This First-time Elk Hunter Must Be Prepared- Here Are Tips From A Pro

” I CAN’T BELIEVE how big they are!” Bill said. This was one
of the first statements he made following our initial introductions.
Not knowing exactly what he was referring to. I asked him to elaborate.
“Elk”, he explained, “I never realized they were so big.”Bill was a first-time
elk hunter on his first western, guided hunt. Like many others, Bill was
also an avid midwestern, whitetail bowhunter who had longed to hunt the
elusive wapiti.


Earlier in the year, Bill had booked a hunt with my father-in-law, Judd
Cooney, and myself for a September bowhunt. He had arrived a day early
and was practicing on our backyard bow range when my Labrador retriever just
happened to walk by with the foreleg of a big five-by-five bull we had taken
earlier in the week. Bill had never even seen a live elk in the wild; it was the size
of the hoof that amazed him! Elk are big. An average Rocky Mountain bull will be
three to five times larger than a good, average whitetail buck, depending on where
you live. Most mature bulls will be in the six hundred to eight hundred pound range,
which is a lot of critter, no matter how you weigh it.


Big animals need big country and that’s exactly where elk live. These are
the two main factors to keep in mind when preparing for a guided or unguided
western elk hunt. In talking to prospective and first-time elk hunters we get a lot
of the same questions pertaining to how to prepare for elk hunting and what to
expect when they arrive.


Some of the questions: What kind of shape do I need to begin? How heavy a bow
do I need? What will the weather be like? What kind of accessories will I need?
Entire books have been written to answer these questions and every guide and
elk hunting authority has his own opinions. I believe that most of these questions
and more can be addressed by keeping the concept of BIG in mind. Big animals;
big country.


In many ways elk are like whitetails. They live most of their lives in a pattern,
with the exception of a few weeks during the rut. Elk, like whitetails, are
ruminants which means they will move to feed and water, then to cover to chew
their cud and rest. Other than both being members of the deer family, this is
where most of the similarities end.


Unlike whitetails, the distance elk will travel to and from feeding and bedding
areas is often measured in miles, not yards. They take big steps when traveling
with a purpose. A hunter jogging cannot keep up with an elk walking
through the woods. With their long legs and high clearance, elk step over logs
and go easily through brush that a hunter must scramble over and fight to get


Elk seem to enjoy rugged terrain. They prefer to bed in heavy timber and
on northern or eastern side hills so they are out of the sun and can look down at
approaching danger. Because of their large body mass, thick coats and poor
cooling systems, elk prefer cool, shaded areas in which to spend their days. Elk
will migrate to and from these areas morning and night to graze and feed in
meadows and open parks. These are all factors to consider when preparing for
an elk hunt.


Unless you know you’ll be hunting exclusively out of tree stands over
wallows or licks, get in the best physical shape possible. Jogging and riding
bicycles are great ways to get your cardiovascular system in shape, but you
don’t do either while hunting. To prepare physically for an elk hunt, put on
your hunting boots and shoulder your loaded hunting pack and get out and
walk. Find the steepest, most rugged terrain around and utilize it to walk up
and down. Train at least twenty minutes a day, a minimum of a month to six
weeks before your hunt; preferably longer. If you are paying someone to guide
you, don’t cheat yourself out of opportunities in more remote areas by being
out of shape, unable to keep up with your guide.


The archery equipment necessary to hunt elk doesn’t have to be big in terms
of speed or excessive draw weight, just big on simplicity and efficiency. Use as
heavy a bow as you can shoot consistently and accurately. Excessively high-
arrow speeds aren’t necessary, but momentum and kinetic energy are. I was
recently at an indoor bowhunter shoot here in elk country and was amazed at
the number of shooters who were “over-bowed.” At least seventy-five percent of
the shooters had to point their arrows at the sky to draw their bows. After fifteen
or twenty arrows they were played out and couldn’t shoot accurately.


Elk may be big, but they aren’t dumb and have excellent eyesight. Excessive movement
when drawing a bow and aiming will spook them almost every time. Don’t be
fooled into the notion that your compound has to be cranked up to it’s maximum
poundage or that you have to buy a new Neanderthal-limbed stick bow to
hunt elk.


Accuracy and shot placement, not poundage and arrow speed, are the keys
to downing an elk. Because a bull offers a large body mass to shoot at doesn’t
mean that a hunter can get away with less than pin-point accuracy. A poorly
placed shot leads to a wounded animal with an incredible amount of stamina
and endurance that can travel great distances before expiring. Often, even a
well hit elk will travel up to a hundred yards or more before leaving any kind of
blood trail. This is due to their thick hide and long hair, as well as the speed
with which they cover the distance.


A well placed arrow still may not be enough to kill an elk if the broadhead
that tips it is inefficient in its cutting abilities, Broadhead selection has a lot to do
with the arrow shaft size and bow draw weight a hunter is using. No matter what
the equipment choices are, the broad-heads, arrows and bow should be well
matched and fine tuned before venturing afield after the wily wapiti. Generally,
the lighter a bow’s draw weight, the more tapered the head should be to
increase the penetration through an elk’s tough hide and thick muscle.


A tapered cutting blade will begin to slice the instant it makes contact with an animal.
It takes less force to cut through an elk’s hide than it does to punch a hole in it
with a bullet- or chisel-point broadhead. Stay away from flimsy or tricky heads. Tapered,
fixed-bladed heads like the Zwickeys and Bear Razorheads, or for heavier draw-weight
bows, replaceable two-blade Andersons and Thunderheads, offer good penetration and
excellent secondary cutting action. In an animal which is big enough to stop complete
penetration and often not allow an exit wound, secondary cutting causing
internal hemorrhage and blood loss can mean the difference between a lost
animal and a trophy on the wall.


When a complete shoot-through has not occurred — which is quiet often in
elk —- the role of the broadhead becomes even more important. A two-
bladed head will move and slice like a double-edged scalpel as the elk walks or
runs after being hit, because of the single cutting plane design of the head
and the leverage of the arrow shaft being moved by the elk’s muscles. A three or
four-blade head has two or three planes of cutting which opens large holes on
contact, but tends to hold the broadhead in place in the internal tissue. Since a
three or four-blade head moves around less internally, there is less secondary
cutting and thus less internal damage.


Whatever head style is used, it must be extremely durable and always rather
sharp. An elk hunter must be aware of how his broadheads, arrows and bow shoot
in all kinds of conditions from many angles and positions. Most elk country
isn’t flat. Rain and even snow can usually be expected during a hunt of
even a week or less. Shot lengths can vary from a bugled-in bull at ten yards to
grazing animals at forty-plus yards. If you’re not accurate and confident at longer
distances, don’t shoot! However, keep in mind that some areas, vegetation and
terrain may not be conducive to the fifteen- and twenty-yard shots many
bowhunters limit themselves to.


Fall weather in elk country is anything but predictable, so the type of
clothing needed is pretty difficult to pin down. If a hunter will pack for the
worst and hope for the best, he’ll usually have the right combination of clothing.
Temperatures can range from hot to freezing,often in a matter of hours, so the
layered method of dressing is most efficient. As the weather or a hunter’s own
body temperature fluctuates, he can take off or put on layers as needed. Polar or
arctic fleece garments are quiet and comfortable and will remain fairly warm even
when wet. If a hunt is planned for early in the season, I have found that a light
jacket or camo netting may be all that is needed.


A Gore-Tex or other waterproof rain suit is always nice to have along even if only the
pants are used to stay dry on those early morning hikes through the dewy wet underbrush
and tall grass. Upon reaching the area to be hunted, the noisy rain gear should be
taken off to facilitate a quiet stalk. Whatever clothing is used, it should be quiet and pliable.


The West is a big place with a great variety of vegetation and cover for the
habitat. Depending on where and when a hunt is to take place, the color and
type of camouflage that will be the most efficient at concealing a hunter will
vary. Grays and browns like the Trebark and Realtree patterns will
generally blend in just about anywhere from sagebrush to aspens. Dark green
and black tiger stripe works great if elk are to be pursued in the pines or dark
timber. Always camouflage your face and head to break up your human silhouette.
Face paints and creams work better than netting during long days afield and won’t
restrict peripheral vision or get tangled in the brush.


Accessories can play a big part in the success and enjoyment of any western
hunt. A day pack or fanny pack is almost essential. Use it as a “possibles”
bag for toting your extra gear. As a guide, my gear includes: fire starter, a
butane lighter and waterproof container of matches, a small first-aid kit, flares or
a signaling device. It also has an extra knife, compact sharpening stone, folding
saw, rope, two flashlights and extra batteries, with an extra candy bar or two.
That’s not all; there’s also a poncho ground cloth, game bags, compass and
topo maps, toilet paper, flagging tape and, of course, my lunch.


With these essentials and a little ingenuity, I’m confident I can meet just
about any situation that arises out in the woods. It may sound like a lot, but it all
neatly compacts together in my day pack. When I’m familiar with the area I
hunt or guide in, I don’t generally carry a canteen unless I’m hunting in a location
where I know there aren’t any fresh springs. If you are not sure of water
quality, treat, filter, or boil it before drinking. Giardialamblia and other contaminants
may be present in even the cleanest, clearest looking water.


One of the most often overlooked accessories by first-time elk hunters is a
set of quality optics. Good binoculars are essential for spotting game and planning
stalks. They are also a great help in identifying shapes and animals in dense
brush and timber. Aside from a hunter’s archery equipment, a good set of binoculars
will be one of the most expensive equipment purchases he should make.
Plan on using them often and buy the highest quality you can afford.


I feel absolutely inadequate without a set of Bausch & Lomb 7×24 Discoverer
compact binoculars around my neck while stalking or bugling for elk This past
season, I bugled in a nice five-by-five bull for a hunter who, because he didn’t use
his binoculars, turned and asked me how many tines the bull had. The bull saw
his movement or heard him speak and bolted before the hunter had a chance
to even think about shooting, If I’m hunting in open country where I’m spending
a greater amount of time glassing and can effectively anchor my position so I
have little binocular movement, I opt for a larger, heavier pair of binoculars like
Swarovski 7x42s or a good spotting scope. A larger set of binoculars will ease
eye strain by being easier to steady and they will also tend to be brighter, because
the larger glass elements pass more light.


Elk hunting is an addictive sport. Once you’ve had a big bull come to your
bugle, watched a herd graze across a meadow and seemingly disappear into
the woods, or better yet, harvested a trophy, you’ll be hooked. Bill was one of
those hunters who got hooked after his first elk hunt Bill didn’t harvest an elk. He
stalked several, but couldn’t get a shot. His respect for the size of elk as well as their
elusiveness grew daily throughout his hunt Together, we glassed and hunted
many miles of country. One morning, we sighted eight different bulls, but
couldn’t get in a position for a shot on any one of them.


The next morning, Bill was nearly run over by a bull, but was stopped from shooting
by a large bunch of oak brush between him and the moving bull. The fifth morning
was another eventful one in which he managed to work his way into the middle of a
bedded herd. Bill was astonished when a large cow got up not fifteen feet from him.
He had stalked right past her while his attention was on the herd bull. The young bull
actually walked toward him and gave him a broadside shot at less
than twenty yards.

Once again Bill couldn’t shoot; the bull was only a three-by-three and, since our area has a
four-point minimum antler point restriction, he couldn’t release an arrow. That was all the elk experiences Bill could handle. He went home a satisfied hunter and maybe a bit relieved, too,
knowing not only that he could have taken that bull, but that he had gained an admiration and respect for the big animals and the big country in which elk live.

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Published by archerchick on 21 Feb 2011

High Country Elk~ By Jim Dougherty

Bow and Arrow Hunting
June 1990

High Country Elk ~ By Jim Dougherty
New Mexico Offers Ideal Elk Habitat – But the Bowhunter Must Do His Part!

IT WAS NOT should we push, but how hard’? We were mulling it over.
Actually I was leaving it up to Dirk Neal. The bull bawled again, blasting a
classic double-octave screech that banged at us through the timber, daring
us to come on. He had reached his limit, moved as near as he was going to; his
defiant screams were ebbing, farther away.


It had felt so good at the beginning. We had perfect wind, perfect terrain, the
right bull, or so it seemed then. I just knew he was coming. Now it was
falling apart; we were losing him. It was crunch time, the last day. Neal
motioned that we would push; no more waiting. Waiting wasn’t going to get the
elk. I had been thinking about it all year, thinking about another go at elk in a
remote spot on some faraway mountain; thinking about country I had never seen;
thinking, maybe, it would change my luck. I spent the summer dreaming
about yellow aspens turning golden, of clean alpine ridges above the deep, dark
timbered canyons, where, right then, while I was dreaming, a big bull was
putting the finishing touches on his antlers. We were together then, the bull
and I, last summer, getting ready for fall.


Though she admits to being facetious — she knows how important a good bull
is — my wife considers any elk a good elk, a perspective difficult to argue. Dis-
playing the practical side of her heritage — ancestors who tamed Utah and Idaho
when an elk equated to the urgent expediency of retarding hunger — she
claims antlers make poor soup. In her book, elk are the best big game for the
able. And, though she knows full well that collecting an elk at today’s excursion
prices is not a cost-saver, it is still a far better deal than most of my
escapades. So, when l strike out in search, she is inclined to add, ” get one”
is her “good luck” goodbye kiss.


This time there would be no options.


No fat cow would turn my head. No mediocre bull would do. It was an all-
out catch-a-good-bull or come-home- empty-handed effort. If the bottom of
the freezer glared, let it. I could always catch a whitetail or two to help us
through the winter.


None of us seriously considered record-breaking bulls as we spent the
day crossing Oklahoma and Texas to New Mexico. Sure, you can dabble in
dreams; we all have the right to hope. It was not up to me to dash cold water on
the hopes of my friend, George Bennett, or my son, Holt, on the eve of their first
elk bowhunt. Certainly, I agreed, a huge bull was possible, but as a practical matter,
based on some experience hunting and killing elk, I was not about to pass
up three-hundred inches in hopes something bigger was over the next ridge. I’ve
done that, not within the exact dimensions outlined, but the scenario was the
same. I will always regret it.


We were not in a position to play the passing game, a game that requires
plenty of time, good elk savvy, lots of elk and a generous sprinkling of luck.
We had six days to hunt elk; time enough for a great experience, time
enough to get lucky, not enough to be silly. I watched the country roll by,
hoping luck was on our side.


New Mexico has been good to me over the years. I collected my first lion
and bear there, as well as my first turkey. I hunted mule deer in some
prime spots in the late ’60s, when there were still lots of mule deer. I like New
Mexico, “The Land Of Enchantment.” My previous three elk hunts there had
produced two bulls. Statistically, I was ahead of the game. I would need some
more luck.


Dirk Neal is a full-blown professional. He guides and outfits for bear,
lion and elk primarily, with an excellent, well deserved reputation as a guy who
knows where some big mule deer hang out, too. I had a spontaneous, positive
reaction when we first spoke on the phone. It just felt right. Neal was real,
offering no pie-in-the-sky promises, just honest effort in what he felt was class
country with a respectable ratio of good bulls. He didn’t try to pound me with
pipe dream illusions of 3 50-plus point critters at the head of every canyon.
Good bulls would be in the three-hundred-inch range. There are some bigger,
quite a few are smaller. We try to let the smaller ones grow up,” he


Maybe we got along well at the onset, because I wasn’t hammering him about
monsters and he wasn’t telling me he had lots of them. There were nice bulls
there, that was enough. Our philosophical gears meshed smoothly and we made a
date for mid-September. Neal runs his elk operation on the Mundy Ranch outside
Chama in northern New Mexico. The elevation tops out around 11,000 thin-air feet,
pushing up from scrub oak low-country hills to timberline meadows and rimrock tops.


There are elk scattered throughout, as well as a ridiculous number of black
bear, a medium summer range population of mule deer and a bunch of lions,
based on sightings and sign. His base camp is a fine two-story log
lodge with plenty of room to kick back. Hot and cold running water, along with
an excellent cook, are complemented by a wood-stove hot-tub fueled by thick
slabs of pitch-rich pine. He keeps his hunters in controllable minimums, well
fed, properly outfitted with guides who know the country intimately, equipment
that doesn’t break down and a dedication to showing everyone an honest good
time based on the up-and-at-’em-before- the-crack, stay-out-’til-after-dark regimen.
Neal doesn’t believe in the free lunch. It’s a work-your-butt-off deal. If you get an
easy one, that’s okay, but he really likes it the old-fashioned way: when you
earn it. He’s not a big guy, this Dirk Neal, but he’s tough, extremely competent
and ethical. He shoes horses, fixes flats, coordinates the guides and works
with the cook, personally detailing the myriad necessities of an involved operation.
He always is the first up and the last to bed. In another world, he`d be a
helluva executive.


“This,” he told me, “is what I have always wanted to do.” It was tough doing; mid-September
hot weather with a full moon. The herd bulls had done their thing. With their ladies
gathered up, they pushed them into the deep cool canyons for the day, staying ahead of
challengers, real or otherwise. They didn’t want to fight, they wanted to play house. At first light,
everyone could get a bull or two to talk – a little bit.


The Mundy Ranch is 30,000 acres of sprawling broken country that got jerked
up and down a million or so years ago when the middle of the planet wanted to
get on top for awhile. From the top to the bottom of her ridges and canyons.
she`s as big a 30,000 acres as you can find anywhere. It is superb elk habitat
with plenty of elk.


Our tactics were simple: Chase ’em. try to get close before they got too deep.
before they shut up. It wasn’t working so well. We saw elk almost every morning;
sometimes, before daylight, from the pickups as we fumbled along fighting to
keep our heads from denting the roof or the cab. We’d see them in the
headlights, cream-colored ghosts, their rump patches bobbing like bouncing
balls crossing the dusty roads, heading down to the cool, safe canyons. We saw
them through our binoculars far below us, in the deep pockets as we tried to
catch up. They were there, we were here, different places at the same time,
too far apart It is typical steep mountain elk hunting.


There were, of course, the “almosts.” If we had just gone to the right instead
of the left. If I hadjust been ten feet farther up the trail with an arrow nocked,
lf, if, if…The story of a bowhunter’s life afield breaks down so concisely to
that simple little word. Dry, hard-to-hunt, noisy terrain effectively reduces what
slim advantage a two legged predator has with elk. Taking it to them in the deep
canyons was an alluring, but impractical tactic. We tried it, some of us; it just didn’t work.


Spooked elk often go to another state, three states away. We tried stands along
major trails, established some blinds at waterholes. They produced a few elk,
cows and calves and a scrubby non- shooter bull or two. There was also a
chance of a lifetime for one hunter and guide to watch a cougar contemplate filling
its elk tag and a bear sighting here and there.


Elk hunting with a bow is usually rather tough work. I have been on an
easy elk hunt once or twice, hunts where the gentler country made it seem easier,
I suppose. When conditions are rough and the country seems tougher, you
really have only two options. You can keep pushing, or you can quit. We
pushed hard in the mornings before the clean cool of night washed away in the
rising thermals. Midday was spent in horizontal contemplation, some practice
shooting and the constant re-honing of broadheads.



Chavez Creek, near camp, was ankle-deep low at the end of a brutal summer.
yet amazingly full of gorgeous brook trout colored up for fall spawning. They
were mixed with a hearty abundance of native rainbows, deep green-backed
speckled beauties that took any fly or spinner tossed in their directions, if you
were clever enough not to spook them on the approach. It was comfortable
diversion, with palatable rewards, I like trout, minutes old, fresh from clean-
running water. George Bennett and Holt are excellent fishermen; I can catch one
on occasion and the cook handled the rest.


We all had bulls and areas picked out now. Each hunter sat in hunkered, quiet
conversations with his guide, speaking in serious tones, thinking, planning, wondering
what to do, how to do it. Everyone prayed for a weather break: for rain
to dampen the woods, for cold weather to stimulate activity, for anything to break
the ninety-degree days and popcorn woods; something that would keep the bulls
on top long enough to get to them.


We got a little break on the fifth day. Low clouds swept the higher ridges with
damp fog, thick enough for make-believe rain. It wasn’t much, but it was enough.
Bennett, Neal and I were together, easing through aspen groves suddenly silent
in the damp. It was a different world now, thick cool air, quiet footing. A bull
answered Neal’s challenge. A bull we realized was coming, coming hard.
What a morning! What a fine big bull! He came close, straight below us in a
thicket of pines. We could see him, some of him, raking his antlers, grunting, all
mud-splattered and stinky. We couldn’t shoot; there was no opening.


He was so close. He tired of waiting for the challenger, finally crossing an open-
ing at forty yards. He stopped and I looked, as the arrow flashed from my
bow. It was beautiful, all over, perfect, until the last millisecond when the whisper-
ing shaft touched the ever-present intervening twig to nose dive below his chest.
I’ll be honest. I wanted to scream, to kick a tree, to hit something It was tough trying
to be cool. I just didn’t want to believe it It has happened too
many times.


There is nothing to do about it I was not about to quit. Now, here it was, the last day.
It was still damp, no fog, but cool. It was clear with a positive breeze to work through.
We struck the bull on the first call. The bull helped. He bawled, giving us direction and
distance, as best distance can be determined in timber and draws.


At the base of a tiny open finger ridge bordered on each slope by heavy timber,
we split up, Bennett to the left, me to the right. I slipped forward, surging to an
adrenalin rush, arrow nocked, ready, blessing the damp, quiet footing. Neal’s guttural
bawl ripped the stillness, punctuated by raking a ball bat sized branch along a scrubby pine.


“Press I whispered, “press him, press him. Oh, wow!” He was here. making no effort to
be subtle. He came to the pressure as huge black and tan glimpses passed through
openings in the timber. I had impressions of ivory-tipped antlers. I had no idea what
he would score and I didn’t care. There were six clean points to a side, I could see that and it
was enough. A bull elk coming in above you, forty degrees uphill and thirty
yards with a head full of antlers, looks every bit big enough He stopped, his
sides heaving with deep grunts as I stepped around a tree. I had the Hoyt
Pro Force Extreme at full draw, shooting him before I knew I was really going
to do it

I thought for awhile, sitting by the bull and the next day, while Bennett and Holt
were out running a bear with Neal, that maybe now I would hunt elk only
occasionally. I would not be so caught up in wanting a big one. It was not that
this one was really so big; he was just big enough for me. I know better, though.
I’ll have to go again. Holt still needs his chance and I want to be there when he
gets it. George Bennett wants to go back. My other sons will want to hunt elk. My
grandsons, if they are lucky, will want the chance. You can only push or quit. I
know I really won’t quit.

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Published by archerchick on 21 Feb 2011

Roosevelt Madness~ By Tim O’Kelly

Bow and Arrow Hunting
June 1990

Rough Country, Heavy Growth Mark Elk Country In The Pacific Northwest

temperature was in the eighties. I had hunted for nine days without seeing an elk. I
was discouraged, because all the time I had put into pre—season scouting had not
proved to be helpful in locating elk this time of year.

I walked up a small drainage I had hunted in past years. I had purposely picked
this area to hunt on hot days. It was 4:40 p.m. and already shadows from the steep
ridge were cast over the creek bottom. I walked under the canopy of alders
where the temperature was a good fifteen degrees cooler. I was heading back to a
spot where I had bugled in a bull some years earlier I wanted to check a wallow.
As I approached the seep I could see the grass had not been destroyed and the pit
dug out from any usage so far this year. I headed back to my truck and decided to go
up the road about two miles to hunt a couple of similar drainages.

After the short drive. I got out and followed an old logging road until it ended.
Elk had extended a trail from the road ending. It paralleled a small creek that trickled
down the hill. As I slowly walked along the trail, beads of sweat dripped from my face.

The trail was noisy and slippery with dry leaves covering it.
I had just about convinced myself this was futile, because of the dry conditions. I
approached another small seep and checked it for fresh tracks. It looked encouraging,
there were fresh tracks skirting the edge. It looked like only a couple of animals had
passed through.

I decided to bugle once and if nothing answered, I would call it a day. I broke the
silence in the drainage with a less than enthusiastic bugle. The echo had not even
quieted before a response came from across the small canyon. This was the first bull I
had heard this season.

The Tioga unit in Oregon was my location. I looked at my watch; it was 6:30 p.m.
I had plenty of time to make a good hunt without being rushed by darkness.
I looked over the drainage and decided the bull sounded as if he were on a little
finger ridge beside a tiny creek. I quickly dropped into the creek and closed to what l
thought was about eighty yards from where I estimated the bull should be. I picked a
spot in some alders that had good shooting lanes on either side of me. The wind was
blowing directly from the bull to me.

I let out a bugle and followed immediately with a sequence of grunts. The bull bugled
back instantly. The feeling that comes from hearing one of these royal animals bugle is
one of excitement and awe. I could hear the bull raking a tree. Then I could hear
him move, side—hiding above and heading for the other side of the ridge. I still couldn’t
see him. I was quiet for about ten minutes, with the exception of mock—rubbing a small
alder, then I bugled again. He answered immediately.

I knew now that he was trying to get below me to get my scent so I moved to
keep him above me. I had only gone about forty yards when I heard limbs breaking
ahead of me. Before I had a chance to get ready, white tips were swinging above the
brush in my direction.

In an instant, I was nine yards away from a nice bull that was staring directly at
me. I had my bow arm straight out with my fingers on the nock of the arrow. If the bull
decided to stay on his current course, he would momentarily have his vision block-
ed as he walked behind a large fir, allowing me enough time to draw and shoot when
he reappeared on the other side. He lowered his head and paused as if he was going to
do just that, but it was his survival instincts that told him to go back the way he had just

In an instant, he had vanished back up the hill. My heart sank and the close en-
counter was just a memory. I bugled in the direction he had left. Almost instantly he
was back, this time twenty yards above me. I could not shoot, because the brush was
too thick and the only visible part of his body was his huge dark neck and rack. I
watched in fascination as he destroyed three saplings. I kept looking for a spot
from which I might be able to take a shot. The guttural sounds he made were most
impressive; he was whining, growling and sniffling. I thought he was so distracted
that I could crawl maybe ten feet and be a position to shoot. Everytime I made the
slightest noise his head would jerk up and he would glare in my direction, yet he was
convinced there was another bull and that I just happened to be between them.

I watched the sheer power of this magnificent animal as he positioned a four—
inch sapling between his brow and bay tine. In one even, effortless motion, he
turned his head and snapped it. I broke a small limb as I impatiently
tried to crawl and once again his head shot up and he glared in my direction. This time
he again disappeared up the hill.

For the second time I had been within easy bow range and had not even had a
chance to draw my bow. I bugled again, but this time there was no response. I could
hear him break an occasional limb as he continued up the hill. I started after him at
a fast pace.

About ten minutes had passed when I came to a spot the bull had raked. He had
churned the ground so thoroughly it looked as if it had been plowed. A big urine
impression was added for finalization of his territory.

I let out a bugle right on the spot. Immediately limbs cracked about fifty yards
above me. I could see the bull again and he was rakin yet another tree. I could see an
opening that would take me to thirty—five yards below him. I moved swiftly up and
peeked around a stump. The bull was still raking the same tree. If I could get him to
move slightly, I could get a clear shot. I knelt down and bugled, grunted and
started raking a tree. I tried to mock every vocal noise the bull made and started
kicking limbs and the ground.

Movement caught my eye off to my right at about twenty yards. It was a bull,
but not the big one. The small bull seemed more curious than anything else. He was
headed directly down the hill and would surely pick up my scent in a few moments.
I was sure something had to happen quickly or it all would be over. I peeked
back up the hill just in time to see the big bull move into an opening. I came to full
draw as the bull glared in my direction. My arm trembled uncontrollably as the arrow
disappeared in the direction of the bull standing almost broadside to me.

He bounded up the hill, then stopped and stared at me from behind some thick
brush, just as he had done all evening. The small bull came back up the hill in a hurry
as if he thought he was missing out on something. When he saw the big bull, he
was satisfied and started to feed in a little opening just twenty yards away. While I
was trying to figure out where and if I had even hit the big bull, three cows started to
slowly make there way in the direction of the big bull, feeding as they went.

I played the shot back in my mind. Everything seemed good except for the
noise the arrow made when it impacted whatever it hit. I couldn`t move with all the
elk there now and I didn’t have any kind of a shot at the big bull still standing behind
heavy brush. All I could do was watch and hope the arrow had hit the bull. If it had,
the last thing I wanted to do was scare the animal, especially if the hit was marginal.
About fifteen minutes passed and the bodies of the elk started to turn into silhouettes as
darkness fell.

Suddenly a loud crash came from the direction I had last seen the big bull standing,
The small bull walked hurriedly up the hill and disappeared in the same thicket
where I had last seen the big bull. He reappeared on the other side and leisurely met
up with the cows and started to feed away from me.

I slowly moved up the hill to where I thought I had last seen the big bull. He
wasn’t there. I was getting panicky as I pulled out my Mini—Mag flashlight to look
for any sign of blood. I moved up the hill some twenty yards and found the big, tawny
body on the ground. As I neared the fallen monarch, a hint of remorse passed through me,
but the dedication, hard work and excitement more
than made up for it. <—<<<

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Published by archerchick on 21 Feb 2011

Barebow Basics – By Gary Vater

Bow and Arrow Hunting
June 1990

Barebow Basics ~By Gary Vater

Shooting Without Sights Takes More Practice, But Accuracy Can Be Amazing!

WITH THE STEALTH of a predator, the bowhunter
eased down the sage-covered ridge. Each step
was calculated and cautious. An earlier stalk had ended with an
alerted animal bursting from its bed, leaving the archer alone
to watch the trail of dust in the distance. The wounded antelope
retreated to the safety of this open hillside and bedded down a second
time. Now the animal was lying near a large clump of
sage, allowing an undetected approach from above.
Though well within bow range, the hunter
was faced with a new problem. The same
bush which aided his stalk was blocking
any chance for a shot. As the bowhunter
crept forward, the buck exploded out of its
bed. With an arrow ready on the string, the
archer stood and swung the bow into action
at the fleeing animal. Even with the shot
changing every second, the arrow found
its mark and put the animal down for

While most people would chalk this up
as a lucky shot, others will perhaps recall
making a similar shot themselves. Many
of these believers will fall into the category
of “instinctive” shooters.
That shot was made with no concern of
range estimation nor of what sight pin to
use. In a situation like that, the opportunity
will only present itself for a few
seconds before the animal is gone. The
arrow is brought into motion as simply as
tossing a ball, with nothing more than
practiced hand/ eye coordination.

Think of the snowballs thrown when
you were younger. There was never any
calculation as to how to make the throw.
You just did it. After a couple of snowfalls,
you’ll have to admit, you became pretty
accurate. And I’ll bet most of you can
remember connecting on a few neighbor
kids who were streaking for safety. There
is no reason to feel you can’t shoot instinctively.
Learning to shoot an arrow instinctively
takes time. Being a learned ability, it`s no
different than any other developed reaction
involving hand/ eye coordination. You
need repetition to engrave it in your mind.
Once you’ve got it, it’ll always be there. It
can’t be bent, broken, or rattled out of

Sound interesting? It can be a simple
process; just point and touch the anchor,
I’m not saying instinctive shooting is a
can`t-miss alternative. Believe me, I know
that And I’m sure not trying to sound like
an authority on shooting the bow. So many
people in this sport never have been exposed
to the many variables of shooting a bow,
I’d just like to help open some eyes to a
shooting style different than what most
people are taught today. I have some suggestions
which may make the transition in
styles a little easier.

Before you snap an arrow on the string,
you may want to take a look at the arrow-
rest system on your bow. It will help to
shoot off the arrow shelf, if you can. The
idea is to get the shaft lying almost on top
of your hand. Have you ever marveled at
the accuracy some people have on moving
game or objects tossed into the air? Odds
are, these people have the arrow as close
to their bow hand as possible. The flight of
the arrow becomes an extension of their

Two basic bow tuning notes should be
mentioned: To shoot off the shelf you’ve
got to use feather fletching. Plastic vanes
aren ’t forgiving enough when passing over
the stiff rest. You’ll also find the nock set
usually has to be placed higher above
square when shooting off the shelf
When the equipment is ready, it’s time
to adjust the archer. Keep in mind that
there really is no single right way to shoot a
bow. As long as the arrow goes where you
want it, it doesn’t matter how your form
looks when compared to everyone else.
I’m just presenting ideas that many others
have found useful. Experiment with some
or all of them. Find what works best for
you and develop your skills from there.
Because we may be building from the
ground up, let’s begin with the foundation;
the stance. Try this: When pointing out
something specific to another person, there
is a tendency to lower your head to get
your eyes on the same level as your finger.
Flexing your knees while leaning forward
a little brings you even more in line. This
same stance works well with instinctive
arrow shooting.

Since depth perception is more accurate
with a clear field of view, you may want to
cant or tilt the bow to open up the sight
window. By doing this, all that’s seen is the
target area, with nothing between to break
your concentration. By the way, if you
think about it, even a bow equipped with a
sight can be shot canted, as long as the
angle remains the same for each shot. One
of the reasons people started holding bows
vertically was to prevent interference with
the person next to them on the shooting
line. If you have to take this into consideration
when shooting at an animal, it’s
time to find a new place to hunt.

The string fingers and anchor point may
need refinement. Try using a middle finger
in the corner of the mouth anchor, if your
prefer a split finger hold on the nock. Others
will find placing all three fingers under the
nock to their liking. Either choice may
accomplish what you are after: to get the
arrow as near the eye as possible. We’re
getting everything in line with our plane
of sight.

The most solid form still needs to be
driven by concentration. Your mind tells
the bow arm where to move as the arrow is
drawn. By the time the anchor point has
been reached, the aiming process has been
completed. If the concentration has been
broken, the results will show it.

When I shoot, all of which I am consciously
aware is two fingers; one index
finger gets pushed toward the intended
target, while the other touches the anchor
point. While I’m drawing, I imagine my
finger touching the exact spot I want to hit.
This simplified thought process eliminates
any second guessing about the shot. More
often than not, second guessing has a negative
effect on the shot. Once developed,
trust your instincts. Doubting or guessing
is where many flinches originate. The mind
is unsure if the arrow should be sent on its
way, while the fingers are saying it’s time.
This point—and-shoot style could be of
particular interest to any archer suffering
from that dreaded disease, target panic.
This mental collapse of the shooting technique
has ruined many an archer. Some
say it develops through a fear of missing.
Those affected can’t really tell you when it
struck; they only know the ability to aim
and hold on target is gone. In an attempt to
overcome it, some have tried hypnosis,
release aids, clickers or switching from
right- to left—handed shooting. Others have
just plain quit the sport in frustration.
I caught a nasty case of it myself about
ten years ago and fought an uphill battle to
conquer it for a long time. Finally I decided
it would be better to develop what I had
left, instead of fighting it. Learning con-
trolled snap shooting was the answer for
me. Since target panic won’t let you hold
the arrow once the anchor is touched, pre-
aiming as the arrow is drawn eliminates
the need to hold. If the aiming is completed
as the anchor is touched, there’s no need to
hold any longer.

Other than just putting in your time in
front of the target butt, here are a couple of
ideas to break the monotony and to develop
your skills more quickly.
One method suggests learning to shoot
in the dark. In a safe, dark area, place a

small flashlight on the ground so it shines
on the target. Even though you’ll be shooting
from only eight to ten yards, make sure
you’ve got a large safe backstop. It is too
dark to use the arrow for sighting, so hand/
eye coordination will have to put the arrow
where it belongs. This way, you’ll be shooting
by feel rather than by sight. With nothing
but the target to concentrate on, the act
of drawing and releasing will become a
natural motion, allowing the archer to place
his total attention on the spot to be hit.

Possibly the most enjoyable way to
develop your instinctive eye is through
stump shooting using Judo or other blunt
points. The Judo points eliminate any concern
about losing arrows, so a wider variety
of shots will be taken. These varied shots
will sharpen your skills faster than taking
the same shot repeatedly. It also will get
you out into the fields and forests, simulating
actual hunting conditions.

Shooting instinctively doesn’t guarantee
you won’t miss your next animal. There
are no guarantees in hunting or shooting as
there are no short— cuts. Both require a substantial
investment of time and practice to
become proficient. If the technique you’re
using now isn’t working, what have you
got to lose by trying something different?
Sure, your friend with the bow sight will
out—shoot you on the target range. But take
him along roving through the woods, where
the ranges are unknown and he must shoot
from an awkward position. I think the pros
and cons of the different styles will balance
out and you’ll both realize there is more
than one way to shoot a bow. <—<<

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Published by archerchick on 17 Feb 2011

Blood Trails To Success~By John Trout Jr.

Bow and Arrow Hunting
December 1995

Blood Trails To Success – By John Trout JR.

After The Arrow Is Released, The Hunt May Begin!

TRACKING THE whitetail buck had become a nightmare. Only
two specks of blood were visible within a few yards of where l shot
the 10-pointer. The arrow had entered high, too far back on the quartering—
away deer. It appeared that the animal was lost.

One hour after the trailing began, four of us spread out to widen our search. We
hoped that someone would eventually find another drop of blood or locate the
deer. A short time later, we spotted the downed buck only 100 yards from
where it all began. A close inspection revealed the arrow had sliced through
the kidneys and into the paunch.

In the past decade, responsible bowhunters have become more
knowledgeable about shot placement They also have realized that they must take only
those shots within their effective shooting range. Following these standards,
along with a good understanding of the whitetail’s anatomy, is sure to make any
bowhunter live up to the ethics necessary to keep our sport alive and well.

We are human, however, and mistakes can be made. A well-aimed arrow
can easily stray, regardless of our intentions to make a quick, clean kill. After
the shot, the bowhunter still has a responsibility. He or she must trail the deer
effectively and make every effort to recover the animal. This responsibility
begins the moment the arrow is released.

Following Up After The Shot

Much can be said about the archer who pays close attention to the white-
tail as it leaves the scene after the shot. The bowhunter who does so often can
determine the type of hit that was made and assume the necessaiy tracking skills
that may be involved. The sound of the arrow hitting home,for example, may give
you an idea on the type of hit. The dull “thump” usually means that the arrow has entered
the body cavity. A sharp crack, on the other hand, may be a sound of the arrow
hitting the shoulder blade or some other bone.

Perhaps the best warning of what lies ahead is in the whitetail’s reaction after
the arrow hits. You should watch the deer for as long as possible when it
leaves the scene. The bowhunter should memorize the precise travel route the
deer uses when it leaves and the exact location when last seen. Even a mental
note of a particular tree, bush or rock will assist you later when it comes time
to pick up the blood trail. Nothing can be more frustrating than looking in the
wrong place for a blood trail.

Various hits will cause the whitetail to react differently. Normally, an arrow
that passes through the lungs will send a deer away at breakneck speed.
A heart shot also may cause the deer to run hard, but it often will jump or
jerk its body erratically when the arrow passes through. Superficial — muscle
wounds also may cause a deer to run hard, however. What may appear to be
a superficial wound should be taken seriously, because artery hits are
not uncommon.

A deer shot through the paunch often will run for only a short distance then stop
or begin walking. Normally, they will hunch their backs as they walk. A hit through
the liver may cause a similar reaction. Following up after the shot will no doubt play a
major role in the recovery of your deer. It may help when determining how soon you
should begin trailing, and it may let you know if assistance will be necessary.

How Long Should You Wait?
A 30-minute wait before taking up the blood trail is a standard rule that many
bowhunters enforce. After all, a deer shot through the vitals will run a short distance
and fall over moments after the arrow passes through. It will not be going anywhere.
The wait will not change the outcome. Death comes quickly when an arrow passes
through the lungs, heart, kidneys or major arteries. A liver or paunch-shot deer, however,
will require a much longer delay. First, consider that death may be prolonged if
the vitals are spared. If you push the whitetail only one hour after the shot, it
will continue to move ahead. A deer that travels one—half mile will be more difficult
to find than one that travels a few hundred yards or less.

Also consider that most deer shot in the paunch and/or liver will usually bed
quickly when left alone. They may or may not leave this site, but pushing them
is a sure way to keep them ahead of you. Normally, I give the liver-shot deer
two hours. I often wait six hours before taking up the trail of a deer shot through
the stomach. I have found many of these deer within 300 yards of where I shot.

We do know that forced movement will induce bleeding. However, the entrance
and exit holes of the paunch and liver—shot deer often become clogged
with tissue that does not allow the blood to reach the ground. Trailing deer that
have sustained these types of wounds is difficult, simply because little blood can
be found, regardless of whether it is pushed or left alone. For this reason, I
find it best to wait a few hours before taking up the trail. Keep in mind, the
farther a deer travels, the more difficult it will be to recover.

Muscle wounds, though, may prompt you to begin trailing immediately. These
wounds are often superficial and recovery may be impossible, regardless of
whether you push the animal or delay the tracking. However, I usually assume
that there is little chance of finding a deer shot through the muscles unless I push
it to induce bleeding.

In my opinion, there is no universal rule for waiting. You should judge each
incident accordingly from the sign that you find and your suspicions of where
the arrow hit. Some hits will require waiting; others will not. The bowhunter
should decide this after the shot is taken and before the tracking begins.

Blood Trailing

Before following a blood trail, it will help to fully understand the meaning of
various blood colors. Blood is red, plain and simple, but the color does vary with
different wounds. Those who can recognize these different aspects will have
a better insight as to the location of the deer’s wound. The brightest blood
usually comes from a lung shot. It appears pinkish and may or may not have
air bubbles visible in the droplets of the blood. The blood that you find when the
heart, kidneys or major arteries are severed is more of a crimson red and
not as glossy as the blood of a lung hit. However, a muscle wound may also
resemble this same dull red color.

A deer shot in the liver and paunch section will leave much darker blood. This
difference is noticeable when compared to the blood of a heart or lung-shot deer.
Experienced trackers can usually spot this dark blood immediately. However, this is deter-
mined best before the blood dries. Dried blood, even that which is bright to begin with, is
always darker than wet blood.

You also can determine if the deer you are tracking is running or walking by looking at
the blood trail. A deer that is standing or walking slowly will leave blood that has splatter
marks surrounding the droplet. The blood droplet of the running deer will have splatter marks
only on the front, which also indicates the direction it is traveling. The amount of blood
that reaches the ground may or may not have any bearing on the possibilities of a recovery.

As mentioned, the stomach-shot deer leaves little blood. However, this
deer can be found when the tracking is handled properly. A muscle-shot
deer may bleed profusely at first and lead the bowhunter into believing the
deer is going down immediately, but its wound may also clot without warning.
For this reason, I pay little attention to the amount of blood that reaches
the ground. When following a blood trail, do not hurry the process. Slow trailing
will allow you to see more and prevent you from being forced to return to the last
blood found. Marking your way with trail-marking tape or toilet paper will
keep you from accidentally backtracking or straying too far from the last blood
drops whenever the trail is lost. You should remove the markers, though, after
the task ends.

An experienced tracker will do more than just look for blood. He also will
watch for tracks that may appear as only impressions in the leaves. This
helps considerably when blood cannot be found on the ground. When blood
does not fall to the ground, you may see it on limbs and high weeds. A
wounded deer may leave blood smeared on debris when it passes
through. There have been many times that only smeared blood has put me
back on the right trail.

Locating The Downed Deer
No doubt, a happy ending to any tracking situation is locating the downed
deer. This brings about an overwhelming satisfaction that makes any hunt
more memorable and enjoyable. For this reason, and because the bowhunter
should be an ethical, responsible individual, he or she must never give up if
there is a chance of finding the deer. Although the blood trail may have
expired, there is still hope of locating the deer if you follow a few simple procedures.
Primarily, these include spreading out your search and looking for sign
other than blood.

Several years ago, my dad shot a small-antlered buck through the paunch.
We could find blood for only the first 200 yards. Finally, after spreading out,
we were able to locate two beds that showed blood. Both beds were at least
another 100 yards from the last visible blood. We soon found the deer, lying
dead in a third bed 50 yards from the other two.

When you widen your search area, it will help to have more eyes available. Any-
one who can assist will increase your chances of finding the deer or some sign that
may lead you to it. When I begin tracking, I prefer to do it quietly with only one
or two others. However, once the trail is lost, several fellow hunters will increase
the chances.

Trails should be followed for a long distance, even if they do not lead you in
the same direction that the wounded deer had previously. Most deer, when
wounded, tend to circle. I would also suggest walking creek and ditch borders
to watch for tracks where the deer may have crossed. Often, a drop of blood may
fall as the deer travels up and down the bank, or jumps to the opposite side.

Never assume that a wounded deer will not do what seems impossible. They
can and will do exactly what you would never expect. I often have heard
bowhunters claim that a hurting deer will not go up steep hills. I have seen
this theory proved wrong on many occasions. I have also seen them cross
large bodies of water to avoid those in pursuit. When trailing a deer, it will be
best to think logically, but do not rule out the impractical whenever your blood
trail ends.

Time may not be on your side, but time must be allocated to locating a
downed deer. Many times, one more hour in the field can make all the difference.
Only when all efforts have faded and you have decided that the wound is superficial
should the trail be abandoned. The sharp broadhead is lethal and
will put a deer down quickly when aimed properly. It is every bowhunter’s
responsibility to see that this happens. Unfortunately, a slight miss can still
occur, which would lead you into a difficult tracking situation. You may re-
cover your deer by following the guidelines mentioned, though. Remember that
the hunt is not over when the arrow is released.

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Published by archerchick on 17 Feb 2011

Prairie State Bucks ~ By John L Sloan

Bow and Arrow Hunting
December 1995


If you want a Record-Book Buck, You Must Hunt Where The Record Bucks Are!


STEP OUT of the bunk house. The sky is clear and starry-cold. I
listen to a minute or two of the coyote choir tuning up in the
west. The wind sings a little as it gusts briefly through the wires.
Yesterday’s deluge is over and the cold snap, clear skies and wind
should dry things quickly. Today the deer should move.


I warm quickly as I walk across the still dark, freshly combined bean field.
I watch the distant tree line to hit the right crossing for the fence, the
hedgerow and the narrow line of weeds. As I enter the lower field, sweating
slightly, I tum for the southeast comer of the picked field. There I will find the
trail crossing the dry creek. If someone hasn’t moved it again, when I top the
far bank, I’ll be exactly 45 yards from the stand in the giant, double-trunked
sycamore. It is going to be a great morning!


The trees take shape. Pike County, Illinois, complete with blackland fields,
standing corn, picked beans, woodlots and brushy draws emerges from the
negative and develops into a color print view. I wiggle my toes for warmth and
remove the bow from the hanger. The yellow hedge apple leaves float by, bordered
by oak and hickory leaves in reds and yellows, It is early autumn.


An hour passes. I am entertained by four squirrels. They are in love.
A wood-pecker does his thing. A coyote, one with only three legs, tempts
me, but stays at a distance. Then comes a deer. I’m wrong, there are
two deer — both this year’s fawns, maybe six months old. Even at that
age, they will weigh close to 80 pounds Field-dressed. I pass. After
killing a fat doe yesterday, I have two more tags and I am waiting for
a good buck.

My friend comes back. He is a sleek six-point with a death wish.
Every day he tempts me. Even when I change stands, he follows
and tempts me. Today he plays games. I call and rattle a little. He
walks around me a couple of times. Two days ago, he walked between
my pack on the ground and the base of the tree. I tried to spit snuff
juice on him.


I am in Illinois, hunting for the fourth straight year.
Every year I have seen huge bucks. Every year I pass up
deer most hunters would love to have. I see deer every
time I go to the woods — some big deer. Just two days
ago, hunting a neighboring farm, John Christian killed a
l0-point that scored 127 points and weighed 215 pounds
field-dressed. I saw one even bigger three days ago.

My hosts are Bob Cox and his partner Phil Johnson.
They run Pike County Trophy Outfitters (Dept. BA, 53
Cottonwood, Chatham, H. 62629). Located four miles
from Perry, Illinois, their land covers two square miles of
the finest deer habitat I have ever seen. Large tracts of
woods split crop fields. There are creek bottoms and ridges
and brushy draws and grassy fields. The deer seem to like
the grassy fields. The bucks come to check the does there.

I never have seen so many deer moving in the open
fields. Let me give you an idea how strong their operation
is. They take only 10 hunters per year — five the
first week of November and five the second. They span
the prime time of the rut. Their stands all are located in
proven areas and they have at least four stands for every
hunter. They charge $2,250 for a week’s hunt. If you don’t
shoot a buck, they refund you $500. That is no joke! If
you don’t shoot a buck, they write you a check for $500.
You can take it with you or apply to the next year ’s hunt.
That, my friends, is confidence.


I arrived at the hunt headquarters midday, a week too early, according
to Cox. “Most hunting around here doesn’t get started until the first of
November. It is tough with the crops still in the fields,” he said.
“It is hard for some hunters to believe how these bucks — l mean
the big ones — stay out in these open fields. I guess they learn
that shotguns and arrows aren’t going to reach out 250 yards. But
when you can see in the fields and can see the bucks in them, you
can make a better guess as to where the stands should go.


“But anyway, I’ve got 15 to 20 stands hanging now, and the
rubs and scrapes are starting to show up. Maybe we can get on a
good one. I’ve got to go pull out a beaver dam. They have a creek
backed up to where the combines can’t get across. As soon as
they get the combines across, they can pick the com.”Go, combines!
We’ll hunt this afternoon.


I turned down Bob Cox’s offer to stay in the clean farmhouse they use for their
hunters. I elected to stay at the bunk-house with Cox and a couple of his
friends who hunt adjoining property. The farmhouse is complete with hot showers,
clean bedrooms, stove, refrigerator and whatever else you need, including
television. The bunk house is, well I guess it is cozier.


Some of the land Cox and Johnson guide on is owned by Johnson. I met him
briefly as he scurried between tractors and combines and augers. When it is dry
in late October, farmers put in long days. Once the crops are harvested, they have
time to hunt. The Pope & Young record-book heads on Phil Johnson ’s wall indicate
he gets to hunt some each year. There is no doubt about it, these guys
have big deer, and they know how to hunt them.


After a brief battle with the beavers, Cox and I changed clothes and headed
for woodlines that bordered a standing cornfield. I went up a slight ridge and
climbed into a huge hickory tree. Cox uses Staghom tree stands (Dept. BA,
410 West Lincoln, Goshen, IN 46526) most of the time. I found them to be se-
cure, roomy and comfortable. Many of the trees are so big he has
to put extensions on the chains. Cox spares no effort in hanging stands. They
are high enough and there are enough steps for anybody to climb up. Each is
steady and positioned for the best shot.


I had been in the one in the hickory tree only 20 minutes when the first deer
came by. It was a big ol’ doe and two fawns. Coming from Tennessee, I have
trouble with deer that weigh 120 pounds on the hoof being called fawns. Within
minutes, a herd of 19 came by and stopped to browse on the locust beans
falling near my stand. Unfortunately, this herd was all cattle and they stayed
until dark. Deer don’t particularly mind cattle, but they aren’t going to walk right
in the middle of them if they can help it.


The next morning, Cox and I slipped into a heavily wooded creek bottom be-
fore daylight. As so often happens to me, someone moved the tree we were looking
for. Finally we found it and I settled into another Staghom stand.
As it got light enough to see — the sun always rises in the north in Illinois;
I swear it does — I almost had a cardiac! Cox had said this was a good spot.


What an understatement! From the stand I could count seven wide, deep trails,
all crossing within bow range. I also could see four rubs and two scrapes.
Before long I saw a doe and two fawns, then one unidentified deer and the six-
point that adopted me. I knew that buck wasn’t the one making the rubs and
scrapes. There was at least one big buck in this area.


As Cox and I walked out the creek bottom, he continually pointed at rubs
and scrapes and such stuff. Yes, indeed, the rut was starting to heat up.
That afternoon, I hunted from another sycamore in a dry creek bed that bordered
a field of green clover. I saw some little stuff, but the wind was howling and
swirling. On the walk out, we spooked several deer; a couple seemed pretty big
to me.


The next morning we had a cold spell with heavy frost. I suggested we try rattling
in the creek bottom. It took me awhile to find the big, double-trunked
sycamore. Someone moved it again, but I was in it before I could see to shoot.
As daylight came, so did the deer. I saw seven that morning, including one that
probably was a shooter, and my pet six-point. Cox, hunting the same bottom
from a tree 300 yards down from me, had two bucks fighting in a grass field
200 yards in front of him. We both could have killed does. A scrape near his stand
had been worked overnight.


Back at the bunkhouse, Lee Woodward, another of the hunting bud-
dies, needed some help dragging one out. Lee killed a nice eight-pointer on
some land a few miles away. We aged the deer at 2 I/2 years. He sported some
sticker points and probably weighed close to 140 pounds field—dressed.
Woodward said the deer was with 25 others, coming out of the standing com,
right at daylight.


Well, it went that way for a week. One morning, Cox watched a heavy,
high-antlered buck enter a picked com- field. The buck was 200 yards from Cox
and headed my way. By the time he got to me, he was 80 yards from my stand.
That was a shooter for sure, probably close to 150 P&Y points. Just about every
time I climbed into a stand, I had deer within shooting distance.


One morning, I rattled in two coyotes. One afternoon, I had an eight—point
in the 120-125—point class stay with me for an hour. Sometimes does joined him;
sometimes another buck would enter the scene. This was in the broad open. I
watched him make scrapes and rub everything in sight. I saw deer on the sky-
line that would make you hyperventilate. As they say in the video business, I had
lots of encounters. Then it rained. It rained all day. lt rained hard. The wind blew in gusts.

We drove to Cox’s house in Chatham, an hour away, and enjoyed a hot shower and
some hot chili. We washed clothes. I had given Cox a set of ASAT Ultimate 3-D camo
and he wouldn’t let it out of his sight. I guess he was afraid I would take it back.


On the way back to camp, the skies began to clear and the deer were everywhere.
We counted seven bucks in the fields around the hunting area — big bucks, Pope &
Young bucks. Shooters!


That was Tuesday afternoon. On Saturday, Cox and I had hung one of my Non-Typical
stands to the side of an old logging road that climbed a short ridge and ended in a green
pasture. There were seven scrapes in the road. On Saturday, there had been five.
I climbed into the stand at 4: 15 that afternoon.


Wind was from the southwest and slight. It was perfect. She came first —
a young doe fawn. She was not in heat.The six-point, a different one from my
pet, didn’t care. As with a teenage boy, he just liked the idea of having a girl
friend. The young doe demurred and walked under my stand. The buck
jumped into the logging road, looked right and rattled his hocks out of there
in a hurry. My view to his right was blocked by the top of a tree and a bend
in the road. The bend was soon filled with a nice 10-point. When he turned to
follow the doe, I released. Another miracle! I am certain my arrow went
completely through that deer. I could not have missed at…at…10 yards. No, it was
a miracle.


I got down and walked around in a circle some and beat on the ground
with a stick. Then I picked up my clean arrow and sucked my thumb for a few
minutes. Ido not miss shots like that. At least, I am not supposed to. I
couldn’t even come up with a good excuse; I just missed. I don’t know how
many deer I saw while I was there. It was a bunch. As I said, I killed one and
could have killed several more. I could have killed a couple small bucks and should have
killed one nice one. The trophy potential of this place is tremendous and it
will continue to grow. There are a lot of 2 1/2-year-old bucks that will be 3 1/2
next year.


With the policy of no gun hunting and only 10 hunters per year, this place is
going to be good for a long time. Stand sites get rested and every stand I hunted
was in a superb location. It is one of the few places I have hunted where I actu-
ally felt every hunter would have a real chance for a Pope & Young record buck.
I can’t wait to see what it is like with the corn out and the rut in full bore. These
are deer such as they have in Alberta, but the weather is a lot more pleasant.


It was clear and the stars were out as I listened to the end of the coyote choir.
The wind was singing in the wire around the field as I headed the truck for home.
The deer would move today, and I do not miss deer at 10 yards. Golly, what a

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