Archive for the 'Bowhunting' Category

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Published by archerchick on 09 Feb 2011

The Buck And The 120-Pound Longbow~ By Richard Palmer


BOW AND ARROW
August 1981

The Buck And The 120 Pound Longbow ~ By Richard Palmer

DUSK WAS fast settling in, as I stood perched on a limb, fifteen
feet off the ground. My eyes strained the dim light looking for the movement
of big game. Suddenly, like a wrath from the mist, an approaching deer.

Moving farther out on the limb, I got in position to shoot. I could barely
see the spikes the deer carried. The buck drew closer and stopped broadside
about fifteen yards away. With a mighty surge of muscle, my shoulder
pulled back the 120-pound longbow. My string fingers touched the corner
of my mouth, releasing death and destruction, as the mighty longbow lunged forward.

I have been involved in archery since the age of 4, and have been an
avid bowhunter since the inception of legalized bowhunting in my home
state of New York and neighboring Pennsylvania. For fifteen years I competed
in archery tournaments, retiring when the era of gadgetry came into
being. I shoot a 120-pound longbow of my own design and manufacture. I
use this heavy bow for hunting, as well as in my practice sessions. I use heavy
three-eighths-inch shafts tipped with 160-grain two-blade broadheads when
hunting. This combination will penetrate even the heavy bones of a whitetail deer.

To date, close to thirty deer have bitten the dust.
Halloween dawned bright and sunny, the traditional day when witches and
goblins and wily critters roam. I’d been bowhunting steady for two weeks,
and hadn’t seen hide nor hair of a buck. There were plenty of does around, but
I was holding out for one of those horned critters.
My hunting territory for deer is located about fifteen minutes drive from
where I live in Elmira, New York. The land belongs to Mount Saviour Monastery, where live
a small group of brothers dedicated to a religious life of self-sufficiency. They allow public hunting
by permit only and charge a small nominal fee. Of the many areas in New
York state I’ve hunted, this has to be the most productive for deer. Over the
years I’ve bowhunted there, I’ve managed to garner eleven of the wily creatures.

The monastery property comprises over a thousand
acres of rolling cultivated fields and timbered off woods;
just the type of terrain in which the elusive whitetail flourish.
The deer sometimes are so thick that the monastery
will return part of the permit fee if a bowhunter takes a deer.
The reason is that the deer get into the cornfields,
reducing the corn production considerably. The brothers use
the field crop to make silage to feed their milk cows.
one of their few sources of income. So you can understand
their anguish, when they find thirty or forty deer in their
cornfields every evening. From talking to Brother Bruno,
who issues the permits, I understand that they sometimes
help in doing the driving for the gun hunters who come up later in the season.

When purchasing a permit to hunt on their property, a map
and instructions are issued. The detailed map shows
property boundaries and terrain features. Areas of no
hunting are written in, so there can be no error on the part of
the hunter, as to where he can and cannot hunt. Portable
tree stands are preferred, as they cultivate their woods for timber.

I managed to leave work early and get over to my brother, Ken’s, house, a
few minutes past four in the afternoon. He was there already, having just arrived
home from work himself. We left for the monastery a few minutes later,
full of expectation. It was a beautiful fall day, with the sun shining and the leaves in all their
varied colors; the kind of day that makes you want to be in the woods.
While enroute, we discussed what area we would be hunting that afternoon.

Upon arrival, we each headed for our own preselected spot. Ken headed for
an old logging road in an area the deer cross frequently, on their way to a
large lush green field. I headed for a large shaggy bark tree, located in a
small clearing. This tree has a deer run on each side and is used primarily late
in the afternoon. During the day, the deer bed down in a deep gorge nearby.
Toward evening, they head uphill using the runs in the area of my tree,
as they head toward their various feeding areas.

I already had seen does come by on the different afternoons I had sat in
this tree, but I had resisted the temptation to shoot one, waiting instead for
a buck. Over two weeks had gone by and I decided that this afternoon I
would take what came: buck or doe. It was peaceful sitting in this big
old tree, contemplating thoughts serene. Occasionally looking up at the
sky, I’d count the numerous vapor trails left by the big jets on their way
to strange places. I thought to myself, what a life this is, to be able to go out
on a fabulous day like this and commune with nature.

During my reverie, I would look around occasionally. Sometimes I
found even this too much effort, as the sun and warm day tended to make me
feel lazy. A day like this should be enjoyed to its fullest. Looking to my left,
I suddenly was awakened from my lethargy. Standing broadside about
fifteen yards away, was a large doe. Slowly I got up from my comfortable
resting position and carefully inched out on to a large limb. I had my bow
in hand, nocked with a 700-grain wooden arrow, tipped with a Hill broadhead.

Moving carefully into shooting position, I started my draw. The upper
limb of my longbow hit a branch that I hadn’t noticed, so I moved farther
out on the precarious limb. I looked down and noticed I was quite a way off
the ground. I really wasn’t aware of the height, though, concentrating only on
the deer. Starting my draw again, I caught something on the bottom limb this
time and, in trying to carefully extricate the situation, I made some noise
that caught the standing doe’s attention. She looked up casually at first
and as I got the lower limb free, I caught the upper limb on the loose dry
bark of the tree. Exasperated, I tore the upper limb free; anything to get
the shot, but this was too much for the doe. and with a bound, she was into
the safety of the pines.

I couldn’t believe it. After two weeks of continuous
hunting, a perfect opportunity presents itself and I
blow it. I was standing there on the tree stand, mumbling
to myself, when I noticed brown movement coming
down the same trail the doe had used. As the deer
drew closer, I could see horns.
Moving farther out on the limb, I knew what it’s like
to be a tightrope walker. The limb I stood on was only
about six inches in diameter and here I was shooting
a 120-pound longbow that’s heavy enough to down an
elephant and takes two average men and a boy to pull.
What if in pulling the heavy bow I lost my balance and fell?

These thoughts were running through my mind. as the deer approached.
The buck drew broadside to me and stopped only fifteen yards away, about
where the doe had stood. All thoughts of falling from the tree vanished from
my mind. replaced by a dream state, as I saw the buck standing there. Perched
on that limb high off the ground, suddenly cool and methodical, my only
feeling was one of intense concentration as I prepared to make my shot.
With a smooth yet powerful pull the heavy longbow came back and my
fingers released the shaft. The heavy three-eighths-inch arrow hit the buck
in back of the left shoulder just below the center line, completely penetrating
the deer. The buck bounded away into the safety of the pines, only about fifty
feet away.

I gathered my gear from the tree and climbed down. Walking over to where I
had hit the buck, I found my arrow lying on the ground. It was saturated
from end to end with blood. I knew I had made a liver hit, which is always
fatal. Having shot close to thirty deer over the years, many of them with this same
identical hit, I knew my deer would be only a short distance away. Here’s
where experience comes into the picture. Hitting the deer is the easy part; finding
them is another story. I learned long ago that if the shot is good, the
search should be short and easy. Score a poor hit and you’ll be on your hands
and knees all night long looking for blood.

In addition to big game hunting, I enjoy hunting squirrel and pheasant with
the longbow. I have managed to shoot these difficult game species using only
the bow and arrow. Using heavy blunts, I am able to knock pheasants out of
the air. In 1978 I competed in the World’s Flight Championships held at the salt
flats in Wendover, Utah. Shooting a 133- pound flight bow, I came in second in
the professional class with a shot of 890 yards, one foot, one inch. Again in
1979, using a heavier flight bow of 145 pounds, I managed to garner a second
place.

I have been training to break the bow pull record and hope to make an attempt
sometime in 1981. My training includes pulling on heavy bows up to 220 pounds
in weight. This tied in with weight training, has made me, I believe, one of the
strongest archers in the world. I met my brother at the car, and told
him I had made a good hit on a buck, showing him the bloody arrow.
“I figure the buck will be lying some-where in the pines, not far from where
I hit him,” I said.

We stowed our hunting gear and got out the searching and deer cleaning
equipment. We usually take everything so we don’t have to bother coming
back for something we might need. This usually consists of lights, toilet
paper, a sharp knife, small saw, drag rope, a plastic bag (for heart and liver),
and a pencil and string for filling out and attaching the deer tag to the carcass.
By this time, dusk was well on its way, so we turned our lights on and returned
to my tree. I had marked the spot where I had found the arrow, with a piece of
toilet paper. So it was only a matter of minutes to line out the direction the deer
had headed. We then walked into the pines and started looking for
blood. Side by side, we moved forward slowly, scanning to the front and both
sides. I had just moved to my left, when my brother yelled out, “There he is up
ahead. Moving to where I could see, the spike buck was lying on the pine needles.
He appeared to be peacefully asleep, but I knew it was forever. He had traveled
only about a hundred feet before expiring.

I gutted out the deer, placing the heart and liver in the plastic bag I had brought.
With the small saw, I cut through the pelvic bone to better open up the lower
cavity and allow it to air out. After we had drained the carcass and I had cleaned
my hands and cutting equipment, we started dragging deer back into the car.

Driving home with a deer always gives me a certain feeling of elation
that only a successful hunt can <—<<<

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Published by archerchick on 08 Feb 2011

The Lighter Side Of Bowhunting ~ By Thurm Lowery


Bow And Arrow
December 1974

The Lighter Side Of Bowhunting ~ By Thurm Lowery
You May Know About This Type Of Hunting, But Be Sure Your Horse Does Too!

THE SOUND OF the truck engine and the headlights
swinging past the windows of the Experiment Station woke
me up, As our nearest neighbors were some twenty-five
miles away, we didn’t get much company and I already was
pulling on my britches when the knocking started at the
front door. The time was 3 a.m.

Two men and a woman were at the door of the Desert
Range Experiment Station, where my family was living
while I conducted a study on the pronghorn antelope for
the Utah Fish & Game Department. They were looking for
a way over to the Indian Peak Reservation.
Due to the somewhat isolated conditions, visitors always
were a novelty and most certainly welcome, even when
arriving at this time of the morning. My wife, Jean, got up
and made a pot of coffee, baked a pan of hot biscuits and
fried some bacon and eggs. We started getting acquainted over
an early breakfast.


Les and Nora Hunt are from Salt Lake City, where they
own and operate an archery manufacturing company. Les is
a big, friendly kind of guy who moves with the smoothly
deceptive ease of a big cat, even in the confines of a house.
He goes through heavily timbered woods and brush like a
drifting shadow, as I was to discover.

His wife, Nora, is from the town of Jolo, of the Province
of Sulu in the Philippine Islands. Small and pretty with an
amazing personality, Nora is from an illustrious family: One
brother presently is Ambassador to Egypt and another is a
former Governor of Sulu.

The other man introduced was Ray Renfroe. Ray owned
a steel business in Jacksonville, Florida. He and Les Hunt
were good friends and Ray had been coming to Utah for
years, stalking the outstanding deer herds with bow and
arrow. He, too, is a big, rugged man with slow, easy movements
and a soft Southern drawl in his deep baritone voice.
It was the day before archery season for deer would
open in Utah and they were here to bowhunt on the old
Indian Peak Reservation. It isn’t an Indian reservation any-
more, the state Fish & Game Department having purchased
and developed some twenty sections as a wildlife habitat –
not a sanctuary — where mule deer could live and multiply
without competition from livestock for available feed. The
area gets its name from the tallest mountain in the area,
Indian Peak, which towers 9783 feet above sea level. I’ve
seen a lot of good deer country but honestly believe there
are more deer per square mile right here than any other
place on earth.


My wife, Jean, is a pretty good cook for an old country
girl and before long, mellowed by her coffee and homemade
biscuits, our visitors were inviting me to go bowhunting
with them. I explained that I didn’t have any archery
equipment and furthermore, I’d never shot a bow and
arrow in my life.

Les grinned, got up from the table and walked out to his
camper. In a minute he was back with a fifty-pound bow, a
brand—new hip quiver and a dozen wicked-looking hunting
arrows. He even had an archer’s glove and wrist guard.
“Now you’ve got a complete outfit,” he said.
“But I never had hold of one of those things in my
whole life,” I told him.

“Don’t worry about it,” Ray said. “We’ll teach you.”
That’s how I became a bowhunter.
I didn’t even have a hunting license and drove into
Milford the next morning to get it. Later that afternoon, I
drove over to Indian Peak and located their camp. They got
out the tackle, both Les and Ray working at getting me
started with the new equipment while Nora kept up a running
line of encouragement on the sidelines.

They first set up a target. They then showed me how to
hold the bow, how to nock, pull, aim and release the arrow.
It wasn’t long until they had me shooting like a Comanche.
The trouble was, I just couldn’t seem to hit what I was
aiming at.

I had no idea a fifty-pound bow would be so hard to
pull. I was straining at the unfamiliar weapon, wondering if
maybe they shouldn’t have started me out with a lighter
bow when I noticed that little Nora was shooting one exactly
like it. I decided, if that I I0-pound woman could handle
that twang stick, I could, too. I gritted my teeth, tried to
keep my arm from shaking and just shot away.
Both Les and Ray were shooting seventy-pound bows
and it looked easy. Both were really good with those things,
too. If they didn’t hit inside the bullseye with every shot,
they acted like it was a major disaster. I finally hit the
target somewhere out near- the edge and I considered it a
whopping success.

Les Hunt, apparent even to a novice like myself, was an
outstanding shot. I muttered something about Les being a
good shot and Ray replied, “I’ve hunted with a bow for
many years and I’ve seen hundreds of really good bowmen.
I’ve always said, ‘If I ever had to pick a man who I would
let shoot an apple from my head at thirty yards with a
broadhead, it would be Les Hunt’.” That was rare praise,
especially coming from a man who himself is an expert
archer.
We hung around camp until about 3:30 p.m. talking,
swapping deer hunting yarns and just getting better
acquainted. As the rankest of amateurs, I knew nothing of
the bow and arrow as a game-getter. I asked a lot of questions,
all cheerfully answered.

Renfroe is an expert with both a rifle and handgun. He
has taken a deer with his .44 magnum Smith & Wesson at
300 yards. He says he has taken more deer with a bow than
with either of the firearms.

All three said most of their kills were between twenty
and thirty—five yards, although Ray had killed a buck at
over sixty-five yards and Les once killed a big buck at over
ninety yards. Nora used a fifty-pound bow while the two
men pulled heavier ones; Ray preferring a fifty-five to sixty-
five-pound pull but has hunted, and been successful, with
bows pulling over one hundred pounds. Les shot a seventy-
pound bow and generally preferred slightly stronger bows
than did Ray.

They were quick to explain that the bowhunter must be
a different breed of cat than the rifle hunter.
Firstly, he must have more patience. He not only has to
stalk the animal, he must make his shot. Then, if the animal
is hit, the hunter should just sit down and wait. According
to Les, there is little shocking power from the arrow hitting
a deer. If he isn’t pursued, the animal usually runs a short
distance and then lies down.

“If the hunter waits thirty minutes before starting to
trail his deer, he usually finds him within a quarter of a
mile, completely bled out,” said Les Hunt.
Before I knew it, it was time to start our hunt. Les and
Ray had a new wrinkle on hunting: motorcycles. They
didn’t actually hunt on the bikes, but would ride to an area
they wanted to hunt, park it, then hunt on foot. When they
killed a deer, they could carry it out on the motorcycle,
which beats dragging or packing out piggy-back all to
pieces.

This was my first experience with anyone hunting on
motorcycles. They climbed aboard, kicked over the engines
and roared off. They had offered me a ride but I figured I’d
let well enough alone and chose to walk.
They were wearing camouflage suits and even put covers
on their bows to make their outlines blend better into the
trees. They’d sprayed themselves with something designed
to cover the human smell. I’d been given an extra—heavy
dose 4 my old, red hunting shirt and blue jeans didn’t
blend into the background too well. I don’t know what the
stuff was, but I smelled like a walking pine tree.
I had only walked about half a mile from camp when I
came to`a little draw with a small stream running down its
middle. Standing just on the other side were two does and a
big, old buck, about fifty yards away. I took dead aim,
drew all the way back to the razor—sharp broadhead tip, and
let fly. I let fly three times before I came close enough to
scare them.
When I finally succeeded in scaring them off, I picked up
my arrows, cussed a little, then went on with my hunt. I’m
not much of a cusser and was beginning to suspect I wasn’t
much of a bowhunter, either. Somehow, the two just seemed to go together.

About a mile and thirty minutes later, I saw another pair
of does forty or fifty yards away. I was improving with
experience I scared them off with just two shots. No
matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t sneak up any closer to
those darn deer. I think they came equipped with ESP.
They’d let me get just so close and no closer. I’d sneak and
creep and crawl and, as soon as I thought I might be getting
close enough, I’d hear a bouncing, thumping; when I looked
up, there they’d go.

I hunted until dark. I guess I shot at half a dozen deer,
but they couldn’t have been any safer in the San Diego
Zoo. It didn’t help my feelings any when I got back to
camp and learned that both Les and Ray had bagged deer.
Les had killed his from some sixty yards, a big four-pointer.
I figured the law of averages would have to catch up
with me sooner or later and I’d hit a deer by accident if
nothing else, so I headed for home vowing to return the
next day.

That night I told Jean about my hunt and how discouraging
it was not being able to hit anything. “I can’t get
close enough,” I said. I then remembered how in times past,
I sometimes could ride right up to a deer on a horse and not
seem to scare him at all.

“Wonder how it`d work if I took Sugar over tomorrow
and hunted off her‘?” I ventured. All the encouragement I
got out of her was a sleepy, “Why don’t you try it and
see?” as she rolled over and pulled all the covers off me
again.
All my life I’ve been horse crazy, believing that anything
really worth doing probably can be done on a horse. My
mother claims I would walk to the pasture to catch my
pony to ride to the outhouse. This in mind, early the next
morning I loaded my gray quarter horse mare in the trailer
and pulled her over to Indian Peak.

I don’t know why it’s possible to ride up on a deer
horseback without scaring him. It doesn’t always work, but
perhaps they hear the four feet of the horse hitting the
earth instead of the two feet of a man and don’t relate the
sound with danger.
I pulled into their camp just before daylight. My friends
were already up and Nora had a pot of hot coffee ready.
Over a steaming cup I told them what I planned for the
day.

“Won`t it scare the deer when you get off to shoot`T”
Ray asked.
“I don’t intend to get off,” I answered. “I’m gonna
shoot right off her back.”
I saddled up and tried a couple of practice shots. Sugar
was tense and nervous at first, but decided that twanging
stick meant her no personal harm and settled down. standing
like a rock.

Les, Nora and Ray took off on their motorcycles. I
headed my horse off up through the cedars. I rode about
fifteen minutes when I came around a big pine tree
there stood a good-sized buck. He stood looking at the
horse A I don’t think he even knew I was anywhere around.
I started fumbling for an arrow, and trying to get it
across the bow and nocked on the string. All that commotion
scared him and, when I looked up again, all I could see
was his big butt disappearing through the trees. Lesson
Number One: Keep an arrow ready on the bow!
I rode on my happy way, found a fat doe, made a
beautiful twenty—yard shot and missed her by twenty feet. I
came right up on several more deer. Some ran off. but
others just stood and looked at me. Those that did stand. I
shot at — and missed — and used up a year’s supply of
expletives. I wondered how the Indians ever made a living.
All that getting off and on to pick up my arrows was nearly
as tiring as walking would have been in the first place.
Late that afternoon, I rode around the base of Indian
Peak Mountain itself. There’s a spring right at the botaoni
on the east side. I had been thinking I would get myself a
drink and let old Sugar fill up on the pure, sweet spring
water.

As I rode around a sharp outcropping of stone, I came
upon six does and a big, fat, two-point buck, getting themselves
a drink. They jumped away from the waterhole and
went bouncing off the way mule deer will when startled.
They then stopped and turned around in their curious way
to see what was going on.

Off to the southeast was a long, easy slope with very few
trees. The ground was fairly smooth for about a half a mile
and, if I could just get between those deer and the mountain,
they’d have only one way to go — right down there
across that open flat.

I kissed at the mare and she was going full speed by the
second jump. I reined her over to the right and she was in
position to head off the deer from the peak. Contrary to
popular belief, deer aren’t really all that fast. Deer can duck
and dodge around in the timber pretty quick. all iiglit. but
in an all-out, wide—open race on open ground. a fast horse
can outrun them.

This was open country. I had my mare headed towards
those deer now and they were in full flight through
that treeless area. Old Sugar was a trained calf-roping horse
and a good one. That was no calf up ahead but it didn’t
take her but a couple of jumps to get the idea that she was
supposed to catch whatever they were.

The deer stayed together in a bunch until I got to pushing
them pretty hard. then the does started peeling off. The
ground was fairly level with a gentle slope and there was
excellent footing. I had the mare wide open and I put her
after the buck. Before long we had him cut out by himself.
At first he did a pretty fair job of staying ahead of us.
then began slowing down. He was running out of oxygen.
Deer are not built for an extended burst of speed and seem
to run out of breath pretty quickly. He had his mouth
open, sucking in all the air he could with each heaving
breath. Suddenly, somehow, he was around me and headed
back up towards the peak.

I gave the mare a whack with the bow and put her after
him again. He almost made it back to the spring when we
got around him and got him turned back down towards
that open slope. He was really getting tired now, blowing
like a steam engine and weaving from side to side.
Sugar was right on his tail. The grain—fed mare was
strong, in excellent shape and still wanting to run. She fell
in on that buck just like a calf in a rodeo, dropping her
head, laying her ears back and rating him like any good
horse in a matched roping.

I dropped the rein on her neck, fished around and got an
arrow out of the quiver and drew it across the bow. I leaned
over to the right as far as I could without falling off to keep
from shooting my horse between her ears, drew back as far
as I could and let go. I shot right over his back. He must
have been all of five yards away.

The buck was pretty well rundown now. He was dodging
and weaving, trying to make it back into the brush. I would
shoot, fumble for another arrow, head the deer off, shoot
again, then 4 instant replay. I ran that deer all over that
open slope.

The deer’s patron saint must have been looking after
him. I shot up every arrow I had and never touched a hair
on his body. I pulled my horse up and just sat there wondering
about all those novels of the Old West I’ve read. As
far as hitting anything from a running horse with a bow and
arrow, or standing on the ground for that matter, I’m afraid
if I’d been a Sioux, Custer still would be standing.

My mare was blowing hard so I stepped off, loosened the
cinch and started leading her back up the slope to cool off.
I was wandering around, looking for my arrows, thinking I
should have thrown down that bow and jerked my lariat
loose and roped that buck. If I had tied him to a tree,
perhaps I then could have hit him e but I doubt it.
Suddenly the sound of motorcycles broke through my
foul mood. I looked up to see Les and Ray come whizzing
down across that open slope. They had their engines
wound—up tight and were really raising a dust.

They rode up, killed their motorcycles and put down the
kick stands. They got off and walked over to where I was
standing. Both men had big grins on their faces. They just
looked at me, as I stood holding my mare and feeling
foolish. Finally Ray spoke: “We were up on the ledge back
there and saw the whole thing. I want to buy that horse!”
No, I didn’t sell my roping mare to Ray Renfroe. The
incident did get him so interested in horses, however, that
he purchased several registered quarter horses and became
an ardent, accomplished horseman. He sold his steel manufacturing
company and began a completely new career
that’s about as far removed from the steel business as one
can imagine. He now resides in Prescott, Arizona, and is a
very successful Western artist. His paintings and bronze
castings are in such demand that most are sold before he
ever finishes them.

Les and Nora Hunt still own and operate their archery
equipment company in Salt Lake City. Les spent over five
years developing a special type of hunting arrow which he
now is manufacturing, called the “Big Daddy.”
The Hunts and Ray Renfroe filled their tags on the bowhunt.
I managed to keep my record completely clean: I
never did get one! <—<<

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Published by NYI1927 on 18 Jan 2011

CBC 2011 Sportsmen’s Banquet

I wanted to let people in North Eastern Indiana know about a fantastic Sportsmen’s banquet our church puts on every year.

Our purpose is to share with men, woman, and children our love for the outdoors as well as our passion for Jesus Christ.

This year our speaker is Brad Herndon. He and his wife have done outdoor writing on a national level for 23 years, and do assignment photography for Realtree Camouflage, Nikon, Hoyt bows, Remington Arms, Thompson Center Arms, Cabela’s, and other outdoor companies. He is the author of the book, “Mapping Trophy Bucks.” Brad will share how to use topographical, aerial and plat maps to figure out how to put yourself in the best possible position to waylay deer, and especially trophy bucks.

This banquet will include a seminar on turkey hunting, dinner, displays from local vendors, as well as many prizes.

This year we are giving away a Parker Youth Bow for those under 14 and a Matthews Drenalin bow for those 15 & over!

When: Saturday, March 5th from 5-9 P.M. Doors Open at 4:45 P.M.
Where: The Ligonier Rec. Center 502 W Union Street Ligonier, IN.
Cost: It is free! There is a donation taken to offset some of the costs.

Space is limited. You can reserve your spot by calling the church at 260-761-2321 or by signing up at the Rec. Center.

For more information go to www.cospervillebc.com.

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Published by archerchick on 13 Jan 2011

Harnessing The Wind ~By Steve Bartylla

Bowhunting World October 2005


BOWHUNTING WORLD
October 2005

HARNESSING THE WIND – By Steve Bartylla

How To Channel The Wind To Gain An Advantage Over A Buck’s Sensitive Nose

Catching movement out of the corner of my eye, I saw the mature 10-point trotting down his rub line. In a matter of seconds, the event would either end in success or failure. Already positioned, I was ready when the buck stepped into the clear. Settling the pin high behind the front shoulder, I sent the arrow driving into the buck’s vitals. As he crashed away, I could see that the expandable was lodged squarely in the buck’s vitals. I knew he wouldn’t go far.

The gross-scoring 146 4/8 inch 10-point I took early in Wisconsin’s 2004 Archery season was the first of three Pope & Young bucks I was lucky enough to bag last season. Though the specific events of each one varied, they all shared one theme. I placed each of the strands to take advantage of the wind.

Before you leap to conclusions, I should point out that I don’t worry about bucks coming in downwind of my stand. Instead, I employ a thorough and highly effective odor-reduction strategy. Doing so allows me the freedom to focus on harnessing a tremendous advantage; it provides the ability to set stands based on how bucks can most effectively use the wind.

Using the wind to survive
To take advantage of the wind we must first understand how bucks use it to their own advantage. There’s no better place to begin than by examining how it applies to bedding. To do so, let’s dig a little deeper into how the buck that began this piece harnessed it’s potential.

Bedding on an east-west ridge, he had both alfalfa and corn in the valleys to either side. With clearly marked rub lines, following the paths to his two most common bedding sites was easy. As it turned out, they were both knobs located just below the top of the ridge. One was the south side and the other on the north.

The positioning of these knobs provided the buck the ability to see danger approaching from below and use the wind to cover his backside. With any form of a northerly wind, the bucks would bed on the south side of the ridge, only to choose the knob on the north for southerly winds.

Digging deeper still, because of the identical crops being offered in each valley, he would let the wind dictate which one he spend the evening feeding in. With a north wind, he would rise from his south side bed and cross over the ridge to drop down to the northern valley. Doing so allowed him to keep the wind in his face and scent check the field for danger. As with his bedding choice doing the opposite with a southerly wind offered him the same advantage. Both his sign and several nights of observation proved this to be the case.

With this knowledge in hand, it was a simple matter of hanging stands along his rub line, just over the opposite sides of the ridge from his beds. Arriving for the afternoon hunt, a quick check of the wind direction dictated on which stand to sit.

In reality, that was not a common scenario. Most times bucks aren’t afforded the
luxury of identical food sources on both sides. When all things are equal, a buck
will most often choose going into the wind, while traveling from his bed to feed. However, things aren’t always equal. When he desires one food source over others, he will often travel with the wind at his side or back to get there. Buck travels can’t always be completely dictated by the wind.
Still, as was the case with the Wisconsin buck, there are situations where it can easily occur.

When that’s the case, it can remove a lot of doubt as to which trail and food source the big boy will be using on a given day. Unlike deer travels to and from food, the wind almost always plays a role in how a buck beds. At the very least, as illustrated earlier, deer have the very strong tendency to bed with the wind at their back and use their eyes to protect their front side. Doing so simply makes sense from a survival standpoint.

In areas with relief, we can use this knowledge to our advantage. In broken or rolling land, when an individual buck is rotating between several bedding sites, many times the wind direction dictates which he will select. The safety advantage of beds that simultaneously offer a
good view of the front and wind coverage of the back is tremendous. In this setting, analyzing which bedding site is best for the current wind condition can transform a stab in the dark to
a highly educated guess. Though it wont always be right, you may find that you are now right more often than before. That can take a lot of the blind luck out of deciding where to sit on a particular day.


Wind And The Rut
As helpful as playing the wind during the non-rutting phases of the season can be,
its even more so during the scraping, chase and breeding phases. Now is when
hunters can gain an incredible advantage.

ODOR CONTROL
Despite popular belief, you really can beat a whitetail’s nose. However, if anyone believes
that simply buying a carbon suit is the answer they will most likely be disappointed.
Carbon suits are a big help, but they’re only one ingredient in a recipe for success.
When a deer whiffs danger, it doesn’t matter if they smell a hunter’s body, breath,
grunt tube, mechanical release, bow, optics or anything else brought into the woods.
The end result; They head the other way fast. To truly beat a whitetail’s nose, you must
address every item you bring in the woods. To do this, l rely on several tools:

Clean paper towels wet with hydrogen peroxide work well to scent—clean hard surface
such as bows, arrows, optics, glasses, rattling antlers, grunt tubes and so on.

Scent—killing sprays are effective on anything made of cloth or strings,
as well as rubber boots.

A mixture of scent—killing soap and water works well for washing the inside
of rubber boots as well as many other larger items.

Scent—killing bar soaps, shampoo, deodorant and detergents are used on
my body and clothes.

Baking soda works as a toothpaste and also, by adding about a quarter-cup ,
to the inside of boots during storage, as an odor—eater.

These tools, combined with a carbon suit provide the necessary ingredients for me
to go undetected. Next, there are some tips that can help avoid trip—ups:
Begin exclusively using scent—killing soaps and stop using aftershaves and
scented deodorants a month before season. This allows your pores to rid
themselves of these odors.

Avoid eating high-odor and gassy foods and liquids. Though commonly
overlooked, coffee produces a breath that brushing won’t solve.

Treat washcloths and towels in the same way as hunting clothing. Drying off
with a towel washed in scented detergent, dried with a fabric softener or
stored in the bathroom can make showering a wasted effort.

Whenever practical, have duplicates. For example, rather than use the same
smelly release aid that you practice with, have an identical release that’s
used solely for hunting.

Leave unnecessary items in the truck. A knife, dragging ropes, gutting
gloves and a host of others things can be retrieved on an as—needed basis.
Clean the inside of the truck, get rid of air fresheners and keep the windows
down. Even though you won’t be wearing the same clothing, truck smells can
pollute your hair and body.

Wear treated clothing while driving and change at the parking spot.
Think of and treat every item brought into the woods.

It’s no secret that many of the best-producing scrapes are those located on the
downwind side of bedding areas. With a single pass, a buck can check both his scrape
and the bedding area for a doe entering estrus early. In that scenario, it isn’t a coincidence
that the hottest scrapes on a given day are often dictated by the wind direction.

To fine—tune stand placement for hunting these scrapes, I strive to set up 20
yards downwind of the scrape. Any buck that wants to check the scrape must
either come to or be downwind of it. lt isn’t uncommon for bucks to check these
scrapes from 10 to 40 yards downwind. This stand placement allows me to catch
all of that activity. More than once it has provided me with shot opportunities at
bucks checking scrapes from a distance.

Again, the wind can be a tremendous ally to bucks checking for hot does. Though bucks may seem to be moving at random during the rut, there is often method to their madness. During this phase, mature bucks that cover the most prime locations are likely to do the most breeding. The wind aids them in doing so fast and effectively.

As opposed to running wildly around a field, sniffing doe after doe, one pass on the
downwind side swiftly answers if any are ready. While doing so, they can also scent
check the trails for any hot does that have recently entered or exited the field.

All of this makes the downwind side of prime food sources a good place to sit. To
further stack the odds, stands placed 15 to 20 yards in off inside corners can be great
choices. Here, the hunter can cover the bucks running the edge as deep as 40 yards
in, intercept those walking the edge and one that may be following a doe on the worn
trail that all inside corners seem to have

Furthermore, bucks often cut just inside these inside corners when getting from one side of the field to the other Doing this provides the quickest route that offers the safety of cover. All of these
things can be taken advantage of when hunting the downwind corners.

Finally, as was the case while scraping running the downwind edges of doe bedding areas is the most effective means for a buck to check the bedded does. Placing stands 20 yards off the edge, covering the pest entrance/exit trail, positions the hunter to intercept most of this movement as well as providing the chance that a hot doe will lead a buck past your stand.

The story of my 2004 Illinois buck is a good example of how this can pay off. During a spring scouting trip I had found an area where the mature woods had been selectively logged. One patch along a ridge finger had been logged harder than the rest. The combination of the thicker regrowth, extra downed tops and view of the more open creek bottom below all resulted in a prime family group bedding area.

On the surface, it seemed like bucks could be working it from any side. Further analysis revealed that the wind direction, would be the keys When the wind blew down the point, it created one best route for roaming bucks. By skirting the lower·edge, they could scent-check all the does
in the bedding area as well as well as use their eyes to scan the creek bottom below.

The first November morning providing this wind found me in that stand, My
sit was short and sweet.

Around 8 a.m., the large-bodied, high-beamed beamed 9-pointer appeared. As I had
hoped, he was skirting the lower edge of the thicket. Coming in on a string, his
head alternated between tilting up to check the wind and turning back to use his
eyes to scan the creek bottom below.

At about 50 yards out, I drew and set tied my knuckle behind my ear. Coming to
a stop, he intently scanned the creek bottom for does. Turning just a bit as he did
I let the arrow fly. As the arrow sunk in, the buck took flight for the creek bottom.
Folding as he neared the bank, the chocolate—racked buck was mine.

The wind had delivered my second buck of 2004.


Wind Tactics Yield Success

Wind directions play an important role in a mature buck’s life. It aids them in survival
as well as being a huge help in finding receptive does Because of that, it only
makes sense that we incorporate this into our hunting strategies. Once you do you just
might find that predicting buck movement can be much easier than you realized. >>—->

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Published by archerchick on 11 Jan 2011

The Perfect Morning Stand~ By Mike Strandlund

Bowhunting World October 2005


BOWHUNTING WORLD
October 2005

THE PERFECT MORNING STAND ~ By Mike Strandlund
?

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

?

More Thoughts On Timing

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

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

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

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

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

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Published by archerchick on 10 Jan 2011

The Tree, Buck Fever and Me~ By Jim Dougherty


BOW & ARROW MAGAZINE’S
BOWHUNTER’S ANNUAL 1979

The Tree, Buck Fever and Me ~ By Jim Dougherty

Does an experience bowhunter ever feel the effects of buck fever? Dougherty still does, and he’s glad that he does!

SOMEONE ASKED ME recently, toward the end of the last season, if I still got leg—wobbling nervous when big bucks and I happened to cross trails.
He assumed that because I had taken quite a few deer, among them some
highly respectable bucks, that perhaps the malady of buck fever was a thing
long gone. I was reminded by the question of an encounter not quite a year
old and used it as the base for my
answer.

It was A morning as clear and stiff as plate crystal when I wormed my
way into a favorite old oak, at the juncture of a bulge in the woods where
it gave way to the yearly Spring urgings of a creek bank. The Tree, and I
call it that with respect, was losing its battle with parasites and age but still
provided cover in a natural cup formed by a uniform four—way separation of
its trunk some eight feet high. From the almost natural fortress it covered
the intersection of four major trails. More important, it was to the thick—set
little bulge that big bucks on many days herded their does with just plain
sex on their minds.

There comes a time within each season when nothing else will do but to
spend the days in The Tree. This time historically has been the middle of November, and I know that sometime, something is going to take place here that I do not want to miss.
With the first breaking of day I was brought to rigid attention by the sound of approaching game, nature’s clattering signal provided by the ankle-deep leaves. It reminded me again how
extremely important one’s ears be- come when hunting from a blind.

My bow was hanging from the convenient broken stub of a once sturdy branch. The arrow was nocked, held in place by an arrow holder, a piece of equipment I consider as important as
the bow itself. I planted my feet firmly, grasped the bow and brought the string to my shooting hand with a positive, carefully controlled move.

The rustling in the leaves grew louder and then, in the morning’s gray gloom,
a round-sided, roly-poly doe slid into view less than ten yards from my hideout. Caught up in anticipation and suspense I slowly let out the breath that I had gulped down involuntarily when I
knew I was about to be visited, relaxing somewhat as I enjoyed the lady searching among the leaves for the bountiful mast crop that recent frosts and winds had allowed to shower the
floor of the woods.

The doe’s glands at her hocks were black and she carried her tail with
those cute come—on little motions a gal uses to capture a guy’s attention. The
lady was not alone, for somewhere on her back track, either very close or
soon to be hot on her trail would be a buck, I started gulping breaths again,
hoping to still the sound of my own breathing in order to better read audibly what might be behind. To my right some thirty yards was a well used scrape, one of four in a
twenty—five-yard square area. All about the creek bed and across the long
grassy flat I crossed to reach the bulge signs of individual bucks were evidenced by the rubs they had made on the little cherry trees and the bigger cedars. It has been said that age classes
of bucks can be determined by these rubs; that the bigger the tree the older and stouter, and therefore more desirable the buck. I do not know this to be fact, but I feel it is true.

On occasion I have watched bucks go through the routine of rubbing and there does seem to be a correlation of tree size to age class or rank in the hierarchy of the resident buck herd. I have not necessarily found this to be true of scrapes. One of the biggest bucks I have ever pursued (unsuccessfully so far) leaves runty little scrapes when his qualities are considered. I know they are his because I’ve watched him do it, otherwise I would never be convinced. Conversely, what he does to a cedar tree is awesome to behold. and I suspect that the mauling they take is often fatal. Cedar trees in my part of the country are hardy rascals, and he picks on the bigger ones.

The doe continued her prowling for nuts, drifting by me lazily without a
care in the world. Only once did she flick her tail quickly and punch up her
head for a long look-see of the area. Soon she was almost lost to my view
although still quite close, the thicket of the bulge and the faint early light
almost swallowing her up. I could mark her location by the rustling of leaves and. in the sharp quiet of the morning the occasional sounds as she chewed up an acorn. She was now to
my right. As the minutes passed I could see parts of her occasionally and noted that she was working with apparent purpose toward the scrape.

Minutes later she was there and her entire personality changed. No longer was she the relaxed lady of the forest. With her entire body stretched taut as the string on my hunting bow she advanced to the scrape, neck fully extended in a line that ran through to her tail, now fanned out and flickering but held parallel with her back. She investigated the scrape with her nose for some time, then quickly squatted and urinated, whether in it or by it I could not tell. The ritual completed she suddenly pranced off into the gloom of the woods, stopping only once before lost from sight.

There was no question in my mind that sometime during the course of this day I would have a chance at one of the four truly good bucks inthis area. Maybe I would not get a shot, but certainly I would see the big one or his slightly smaller brothers; that would be good enough. A chance begins to move in the right direction after game has been sighted.

Such situations do not, as a rule, begin to fall into place for the hunter who haphazardly takes to the woods and jumps into the first likely looking tree. They are the result of patient observation, of considerable scouting and numerous errors in judgment. The Tree and I had met five seasons previous, but before it all fell together I had hunted the area incorrectly on many days before I realized the significance of the thicket in the bulge and all the ingredients that made it a hot spot.

Once in the thicket, visibility is significantly reduced. Game can be in your lap without warning when the wind is blowing lightly, reducing the important sense of hearing. I learned the hard way that being ready was of the utmost importance when hunting here. Do not be misled, a deer can be too close. If you’re caught flat-foot you have to pay the piper.

I replaced my bow on its convenient natural hanger and relaxed, but
only slightly. I could reach the bow with a movement of less than six
inches of my bow hand,—its weight would swing the string to my fingers
and by straightening my knees I could be ready to shoot through any of the
openings by simply turning my feet encased in rubber-soled boots. My bow
quiver was removed to provide total clearance and reduce the possibilityof
unnecessary noise. I was as ready as can be and charged to the bursting
point.

A chunky fox squirrel ran through the overhead branches. At the first
rustle I started,·then relaxed and paid him no further mind. Only last season,
while watching a pair race with incredible abandon and agility through the
same branches a big ten point caught me cold. I had looked down, and he
was there, not twenty feet away. I could not move and, in short, he ate
my lunch. The lesson learned was clear, on those perfect mornings during the rut one’s mind and attention should not wander from the main objective. To do so was to invite disaster.

I was mid-point in shifting my weight for comfort when I picked up the unmistakable rustle of a deer traveling purposefully through the leaves.
From left to right it was coming, and my mind and body knew instinctively
it would be a buck.

What a buck he was. Like a thoroughbred bird dog he came at that purposeful trot, bulging neck low to the ground as his keen nose coursed the trail of the doe. He was the fourteen-pointed King of the Creekbot— tom, albeit two of the points branched from the long tined number two
point making him less than perfect in the score department, but symmetrical nonetheless. His mind and attention never wandered. He coursed the trail in a mile-eating gait, his heart and head
full of lust, and he went by The Tree so quick that my bow, while up, never rolled over the eccentric hump, he was past, leaving me at an awkward half-draw. Such moments are the height of excitement, and anxiety. What happened over the next twenty minutes was the epitome of all things that make bowhunting a most rewarding, and frustrating, pastime.

Within scant seconds the buck had passed from sight, hardly hesitating at the scrape. With a crashing commotion the doe hurtled into view coming in my direction, stiff legged, tail twitching with a provocative air designed to drive the most aloof of bucks wild.
The fourteen pointer was not aloof — he was in full, love—struck pursuit. Where the rest of the deer came from I do not know but, as though the commotion in the forest was a signal, another fine buck appeared on the scene and amidst the chaos two yearlings
bounded about, dashing in and out of the thicket. For fully ten minutes all the deer raced in a circular pattern through the thicket, around The Tree. The second buck was a dandy twelve point, less than perfect in conformation, although I am not a perfectionist when it comes to twelve point bucks.

But my eyes and heart were set on the bigger buck. There were lulls in the race when all involved stopped for a breather, all save yours truly poised in The Tree, bow up and half out, drawing hand firmly in place, turning slowly on the quiet rubber soles to follow the big buck’s course.
The two bucks never clashed, the smaller staying close but never totally entering the race. The big buck had served notice once, stalking bullishly to a scrubby little oak he quite literally demolished it amidst much growling and pawing. Three times his trotting pursuit of the fine old doe brought him within mere feet of my spot. The bow at full draw became a physical enemy itself, but a clear good shot was never quite offered.

I became aware of the increasing rustle of trembling leaves on The Tree
almost subconsciously. The branches that swept out from my spot reached
as far as ten feet, sloping down from years of age toward the ground. As yet
the old girl had not given up all her leaves to the urgings of Fall. As I became aware of the almost violent shaking it occurred to me that, as yet on this crisp clean morning, not a breath of air had stirred. The stirring was caused by the involuntary trembling that began in my knees, relayed down my legs to the soles of my feet perched less and less firmly on the main branches that gave birth to the now offending vibrations. Much worse, that same shattering vibration was racing
up through my chest in a violent attempt to strangle me.

Now the battle took on new dimension, a war with nerves and the fickle
racing of the doe. Would she lead the buck to a clear path for my arrow before I was reduced to inept shambles.

Buck fever, if that’s what you choose to call it, takes many strange
forms. In answer to the question, my story is stark answer, I am not immune
to such emotions and hope I never am. Big bucks, be they muleys or whitetails, blow my composure more than any other wild thing. The fine line between being able to remain somewhat
functional and totally wasted is in direct proportion to the length of time I am faced with the target before I have to react.

I spend countless hours developing a place to lie in wait for a big buck
whitetail. If he shows suddenly and I am ready then the odds are on my
side; if he diddles and dawdles in his approach the odds slip dramatically to
his side of the ledger. Ihave tried all sorts of tricks in an attempt to climb
into my mind and sort it out when such an event is in the making. I talk
to myself, I close my eyes, I ignore the buck, I try never (it’s impossible) to
look too much at his headgear. None of it really works, for in the framework of your head, banging kettle drums and cymbals sound the clanging message that He is coming. I am reminded of a darn nice Oklahoma buck my number two son took this past season. We placed his stand
after patient observation of a thicket the bucks were using. On the second morning the snapping of a twig advertised the approach of game and Kelly turned to peek over his left shoulder.

A matronly doe was being prodded into the thicket by a buck with headgear far better than Kelly had ever had close. His heart leaped up between his ears and it seemed to become unusually warm. He solved the problem by relying solely on his ears, never once again looking.
“No way was I going to look at him again,” he said. As the rustling in the
leaves grew louder Kelly drew his bow, and when all seemed right and the
strain of sixty-five pounds began to tell he pivoted, found the buck’s chest and popped him all in one motion at fifteen feet. The buck collapsed on the spot. So, too, did Kelly.
In The Tree the shaking of the leaves did not abate as the buck tried to close with the doe. She would allow him to come close, then dash off on a wild plunge through the thicket. Huffing, puffing and growling deep in his chest the buck would follow, stopping occasionally to shake his head or hook a low hanging branch. Eventually the pattern shifted, the big deer were gone, the two yearlings still pouncing about trying to figure what were the changes that had taken place amongst
the old folks. I suspect the yearlings. fawns of the year actually, belonged to the doe. They would be pushed aside until after the courtship was consummated, and then perhaps they would
all join together until the following Spring when new responsibilities would cause her to chase them off to fend for themselves.

The incident was over for now. For almost a half hour I had one of the best whitetails I’ve ever seen within twenty yards. I had witnessed an interesting, exciting ritual among our most
popular and elusive game animals. For the entire time I was at full, muscle-straining alert, and I had been subjected to a satisfying attack of the malady called buck fever.

Satisfying? Sure it was. I was dishrag limp and feeling more alive than I had in months. Hunting, for man, is a natural and emotional thing. We are the ultimate predator, but we are human and should experience emotion unlike the dispassionate killing for survival as done by a coyote or cougar. I marvel at the man who tells me he feels none of the tremblings in knees or the shortness of breath, and I feel sorry for him.

Yes, I still get leg-wobbling nervous when big bucks and I cross trails. I did the following morning when I caught the twelve pointer mid—stride and watched him go down in ten short yards. Sometimes the ol’ fever gets me. and sometimes I beat it. I hope it
never changes. <—<<

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Published by archerchick on 10 Jan 2011

The Majestic Honker ~ By Midge Dandridge


BOW & ARROW Magazine’s
BOWHUNTER’S ANNUAL
1979

The Majestic Honker ~ Midge Dandridge

THE GREYHOUND bus was nearing my final destination at Red Bluff, California, where l was to meet Dan Patten and Jim Dorsey. The last time that l had been there was some time ago, when l hunted wild boar. At that time Dan and Jim had invited me to come back and do some
duck hunting during their season, which always had a good reputation for producing some fantastic shooting. Numerous times I had planned to return for the duck hunting but it
seemed that something always came up and it was repeatedly postponed.
But nothing was going to interfere this time, and I was almost there.

As I gathered my gear at the bus station my attention was drawn to the
sky. The weather conditions were typical of duck hunting- cold and wet. It
was ideal weather for ducks and, as if to prove my theory, flocks of birds
came soaring by, flying in their usual V patterns.

Dan and Jim soon arrived and we loaded up for the short drive to Dye Creek Preserve, well known for its excellent hunting of deer, boar, dove, quail and ducks. This hunting paradise
is located in Northern California, and consists of one hundred square miles of rough, rocky terrain. Being one of the largest working cattle ranches, I had watched the ranch hands as they
perform their rituals on roping and branding.

The deer migrate to the ranch each Winter, and hunting can fluctuate according to the weather high in the surrounding mountains. The sooner it starts to storm, the sooner the herds of
deer start their migration. It was at this ranch that I had been able to take a very respectable wild
boar a few seasons ago. During that hunt we saw many deer and an abundance of other wildlife.

There were even a few ducks seen. It seems as though many of them stick around,
for the feed is plentiful and the weather does not always force the birds to continue on farther south. The first morning of the hunt we went to a pond that had recently been giving the
hunters an abundance of good shooting at mallards and pintails. I had decided on this first morning to take my trusty Remington Model 31 with me, and after a few hours in the field I had
my limit of birds and was looking forward to the next day when I was going to try my hand at taking waterfowl with my bow.

It had always been a desire of mine to attempt t0 take some kind of bird
with my bow. Just prior to this hunt, I had gone to the Wasco area, which is
near the Kern Wildlife Refuge, to try my hand at taking some mud hens, My
son Jeff went along and when we arrived at our spot we could see a good
size flock on the pond.

These awkward flying coots are a good way for someone to learn just
how to judge flying birds, how to lead a bird in flight and, very early in the
season, can become a tasty dish on the dinner table. This, however, is not true
as the season moves along and they begin to feed in the muddy waters.

Jeff’s plan was to spook the mud hens toward me, and with the 200mm
telephoto lens on my Pentax he would snap photos of my attempt to meet
one in the air with the Easton Game-Getter. The first flight was on its way
and, as I observed them coming closer to me, it looked as if it would be fairly
simple to release the arrow to meet the oncoming bird.

I quickly found that this was definitely not the case! I flung arrow after .
arrow as they flew over, trying to make adjustments each time, figuring
each arrow that was lofted would be the one that would connect. Foiled!
After nearly an hour and a half of this it was time for a conference.

A quick mid—morning snack and a cup of warm coffee and we trudged
out to the field to try once more. This time, on the very first bunch that flew
over, my Easton arrow connected. One prize in the bag. It was quite a sight
and a thrill to watch as the arrow moved skyward and met its quarry in a
successful hit.

Later that afternoon we tried again, and thank goodness there were plenty
of coots in this area or I would have been as skunked as in the early morning hours.
This time a long flying flock came over, and I know that the only reason the arrow met its mark was that
the mud hen committed suicide. It must have been a curious bird, for he
flew out of his way to meet my arrow. Thus ended my first bowhunting
experience with a flying object high in the sky. I estimated that I had probably shot hundreds of arrows as gauged by the soreness in my shoulder. In any case, I shot a lot of arrows and was
thankful that we had brought a good supply of them, and also that we were in a large field where we could find them fairly easily.

When Dan, Jim and I arose that second morning to hunt the ducks, I took
my trusty Jennings Model W compound bow. The bow’s weight was set
at forty-six pounds, and my arrows consisted of Easton 1820 GameGetters. I also had along numerous odd-ball colors and sizes of other arrows that I had accumulated over the years.
I brought plenty of them along for I knew that many would be lost in the tall weeds that grew along the banks of the ponds we were to hunt.

As we climbed aboard the Toyota four-wheel—drive the rain was coming
down pretty good. We had rain gear on and I knew it would be pretty difficult
for me to shoot my bow with the heavy rubberized camo rain jacket. I planned to take it off when we came to an area that we were going to stalk so it wouldn’t foul me up. We had to cross a small river to get to the particular spot we were going to hunt this morning. It had rained more
than we thought it had because the river was much higher than the previous day. Dan questioned whether or not we should even try to cross it.

We decided to give it the old college try and slowly ventured forth. I would estimate that the river was about seventy-five yards across but as we edged out toward the center, the other side
looked more like a mile away. The Toyota was doing real well until the current caught us in midstream. The vehicle started to slide off to the right and my heart jumped to my throat. I was in the back seat and I knew by the looks on Dan’s and Jim’s faces that we were in some kind of trouble. Dan fought to keep the car from tipping over, but by this time we were almost afloat. My hands gripped the roll bar and even though it was extremely cold that morning, I began to perspire.

All Dan could do was try to keep the Toyota from rolling over until the
tires could grip the rocks. We slowly crept onward drifting downstream for
what seemed a lifetime, until we caught more shallow ground and the
car made it to the other side. None of us had said a word during all this, and
we didn’t say much even now. Words at a time like that aren’t necessary. I
think every muscle in my body had tensed up as I’d been mentally and
physically trying to drive the car myself. When we reached the other side I
breathed a huge sigh of relief. Dan and Jim did the same.
Settling down with a cup of hot coffee, we talked about the game plan
for our hunt. Dan and Jim both had their shotguns; I had my bow. We were
going to do some jump shooting on a few of the ponds that were on this side of the river. No one else was hunting this morning so we had the ponds to ourselves.

As we crouched along a canal bar; to the first pond we could hear and see a good size flock of birds circling overhead. We hid behind some tall weeds
to let the birds overhead work and settle down onto the water. The ducks
were calling back and forth, and I eased up so that I could watch their
usual ritual, casing the area before deciding all was well. Finally they set
their wings and slowly came to rest on the water.

As one who enjoys just watching the birds work a pond, I have more
than once nearly forgotten what I was there for in my enjoyment and plea-
stare of their beauty and grace. We indeed to each other that now was
the time and quickly moved over the bank. The guys were going to wait for
me to take the first shot with my bow before they did any shooting with
their shotguns. Of course the pond exploded with ducks flying everywhere
as we came into sight, and my first arrow sailed into empty space with a
perfect miss. The pond was loaded with ducks and I quickly nocked another arrow to have this one miss also, although not by too much. Still a miss is a miss whether it’s by a fraction of
an inch or ten feet.

Dan and Jim had held off as long as they could and now they let go with their shotguns. Both are excellent shots, and three nice pintails fell from the sky. Remembering what had happened when Jeff and I were mud hen shooting, I was not discouraged. We gathered the fallen birds, and set off for the next pond to try our luck there.

Again we crouched low in the tall surrounding weeds around the pond.
We could hear what seemed to be a good sized bunch of ducks in the
water and decided this time to try to stay hidden in some small patches of
weeds along the bank. In this way maybe I could hit one while it was
still in the water, or at least have a little more aiming time before they all
burst in the air. At the release of my bowstring the one nice, huge mallard I was aiming at
decided to duck under the water for some juicy tidbit. Thanks a lot you **%T**/ bird. My arrow went right where he had been an instant before!
Again the birds took flight and I was able to get in one more bowshot before the guns cut loose. More birds fell, but not with an arrow. Well, at least the guys were doing some successful shooting.

We spent most of the morning hitting each pond with these tactics, but each time my arrow failed to connect. The guys were getting close to their limits so we decided to start back to-
ward the ranch house. The rain had stopped some hours ago and the river had receded enough
that we could cross quite safely. But the clouds were building up again and
soon we would have some heavy rain. We did not want to be on the other side of the river when that happened so the guys suggested we cross now and hit one more pond that they knew
of before we headed in for the day. This particular pond was quite a walking distance from the dirt road we were on. We pulled the Toyota over and I grabbed a handful of arrows;
the guys, a box of 12—gauge number 4s. It took us about fifteen minutes to
make our way to the pond. Once we were within close range, we could hear a familiar sound — geese!

It was fairly early in the season for them to be on their migratory way. Once in a while one or two would be seen, but we could hear what sounded like many more than just a couple. Great, I said to myself, I had never been successful in taking a Canadian honker. I had come close a couple of
times, but never achieved success. At this particular moment I was wishing for my trusty Remington Model 31 in my hands, and not my Jennings bow. We decided to split up. Jim would go to the left of the pond, Dan would go to the right, and I would come up over the middle. As I waited for the guys to get in position I could hear the geese.

An instant later I could hear other geese calling. There were more in flight somewhere else. Most of the time geese can be heard before you see them. I flattened against the bank, not moving, and could hear them coming closer and closer. I knew that Dan and Jim would do the same, for they were experienced waterfowl hunters and would let the birds on the ground act as decoys for the others. Sure enough the birds already down called, letting the ones in the air know just where to come. Within seconds I could hear their wings as they passed over me and
landed in the water on the other side of the bank.

My heart was pounding with excitement as I tried to picture these magnificent creatures setting their wings to a perfect landing. Boy, I wished I’d had some good cover to watch as they
soared in. What a sight to see!

I raised slowly from my position,
noticing that Dan and Jim were positioned and ready to go also. It was
now or never, and over the bank we went. What a sight! There must have
been at least twenty-five or more of these huge birds in the water, and at the sight of us they began to out. I drew a bead on the one nearest to me. He was almost airborne and when my arrow hit him he had just cleared the water. I had never really expected to hit one of these birds. and when this one’s wings folded and he hit the water not moving, I was dumb founded. I was accomplishing something that I had never even dreamed of -a Canadian honker with a bow and
arrow,WOW!

There was no chance for me to get in another shot. The great flock of birds were in the air going out each end of the pond. The sound of Dan and Jim’s shotguns went off and I could see that Dan had dropped a double while Jim concentrated his over/under on one bird. “Wanted to make sure I got one, you know one bird in the hand, quote, unquote,” he said.

As I walked out into the pond, I retrieve my prize, I knew that this would be one hunt that I would always cherish.

As I look at this most majestic of waterfowl, it is still hard for me to believe that he fell to my arrow. It was.
truly, a moment to remember.<—-<

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Published by archerchick on 09 Jan 2011

The Inside Edge ~ By Mark Hicks


Bowhunting World
October 2006

The Inside Edge by Mark Hicks

?

The best place to hunt a field may not be along its edge, but at least 20 yards from the edge, farther back in the woods. Here’s Why.

The first truly big buck l ever saw while hunting crossed 20
yards from my treestand more than 3O years ago. lt was a
symmetrical 8-pointer with a wide spread, tall tines, and
heavy mass. Looking back through the years, l believe it would
have easily netted 140.

l had found the buck’s rubs scouting a point of hardwoods that reached
into a pasture in south Ohio. A cluster of several trees, up 6 inches in
diameter, bore scars. A distinct deer trail lead to the point along the
wooded side of the pastures fence. l figured this was the buck’s travel
route and l hung a stand in a tulip poplar within easy bow range of the
trail. l was in that stand every evening during the last few weeks of October.
On weekends, l was there mornings and evenings. l would never spend
that much time in any stand today, but l was just getting into bowhunting
and was greener than a corn sprout. l would have gladly shot the first
whitetail that stepped into bow range. Two does entered the pasture
before dark on three or four evenings, but they never offered a shot.
?

It was a balmy, overcast morning early November when l saw the 8-pointer.
l heard it grunt, turned my head and then watched the grand animal cross
behind my stand as it altenately sniffed the ground and scent-checked the wind. My
treestand didn’t allow me to shoot in that direction, and l knew nothing then about
calling deer. l could only watch in awe the buck slowly passed out of bow range
and out of sight. l can still see his bone white antlers glowing in the dim woods.

?

Sat Up Farther Back
I missed my chance at that buck because I made a mistake that plagues many
hunters today. I had set up for a shot along a field edge when I should have
been farther back in the woods along what I call “the inside edge.” Yes, slews
of whitetails are shot every year from treestands situated along field edges.
But, most of these deer are dropped early in the season when bucks are more
interested in food sources than female companionship.

Field edges become less productive as bucks enter the pre-rut and rutting
phases and begin searching for does. Any buck intent on finding a hot doe isn’t
likely to waltz into a field, though it may quickly cross an open field to see whats
shakin’ on the other side. A smart old buck on a mission normally won’t enter
a field until after his nose tells him that an estrus doe is feeding out there.
Instead of walking into the field or around its perimeter, a mature buck typically passes
by 2O yards or more back in the woods. Here, it can stay out of sight
and scent-check for does from a safe vantage point. The route the buck travels
during this reconnaissance is the inside edge, and you’ll often find rubs and scrapes here.

Though you may find rubs and scrapes anywhere along the field’s
edge, these are typically made after dark when bucks feel safe enough to venture
into the open fields. Since a buck must travel downwind
of a field to scent-check it, this is where you should look for the inside edge.
First, determine the predominant wind direction. For example, the predominant
wind in southeast Ohio where l hunt is from the southwest. Therefore,
l look for an inside edge near the northeast corner of a field.
?

l hunt the northeast corner because this is where a buck travels a diagonal
route as it cuts across the wind. This lets the buck scent-check the field efficiently
with the shortest traveling distance, The buck comes closest to the field at
its northeast corner, which makes this the ideal place to intercept him. Set
your treestand about 2O yards down-wind from the buck’s path. This puts
you at least 40 yards from the field, depending on how far back the buck”s
inside travel edge is situated. A stand back in the woods also offers
better concealment. Most of the leaves have fallen when the rut gets under»
way. When you’re perched in a bare stand along the edge of a field, a buck
is more likely to spot you. A treestand hack in the woods breaks up your outline
and helps you go undetected.

?

Pay Attention To The Wind & Routes

What do you do when the wind changes direction? Iowan Rick White, a member
of the Hunters Specialties pro staff. stays away from the inside edge rather than
tipping off a buck to his stand location. “I’ll hunt a different stand around that field
where the wind is to my advantage, or l hunt a different area altogether,” White
says. “You get only one chance at a big buck and you don’t want to blow it by
hunting with a bad wind.”

Even when the wind is right. “White takes precautions to avoid spooking
deer on the way to his stand. He takes the shortest, quietest route possible
that keeps him downwind of deer and their bedding areas. If the best approach
is to cross the field, White generally hunts an inside edge in the afternoon
only during the early season. By crossing the field in the morning, he would spook
any deer feeding there. During the peak of the rut, when bucks are pushing does
around, White will gamble on crossing a field for a morning hunt.

When he searches for an inside edge, White looks for buck sign associated
with intersecting trails, bottlenecks, pinch points, or some terrain feature
that funnels deer past a particular tree. “I usually don’t get back in more
than 2O yards or so from the field,” White says. “I want to be close enough
that I can see what’s happening in the field. That way, I might notice another corner
where deer are coming into the field.”

Before bucks get into the pre-rut and rutting phases, they often use inside
edges as evening staging areas before they enter fields after dark to feed.
White took advantage of this tendency during an early October hunt in Iowa.
At 3 p.m. he climbed into an old fence line oak 5O yards from an alfalfa field.
From this vantage, he could see the field and well over 100 yards through
the stand of mature hardwoods.
?

An hour before dark, does started to filter through the hardwoods, browsing
and feeding on acorns as they headed to the field. About 30 minutes later, White
spotted a dandy 10-point buck casually feeding on acorns l5O yards away. He
rattled lightly with his rattle bag, followed up with a few mature buck grunts
on his Hunter’s Specialties Tru Talker, and the buck came right to him. “He wasn’t
looking for a fight, he was just curious to see what was going on,” White says.
“That’s typical early in the season.” The buck came down the fence that
lead to White’s tree and never tried to circle downwind of him. “Early in the
season, bucks often beeline it straight to the sound,” White says. “They’re more
cautious during the tut and usually in downwind then.”
?

White smoked the buck with his Mathews compound at 15 yards. It scored
137 4/8. Had White set his stand on the edge of the alfalfa field, he might not
have seen that buck back in the woods. If he had called to the buck from the field
edge, it probably would have been leery of coming near the field before dark.
And, even if the buck did respond to a call from the field edge, it would have
approached from White’s downwind side and may have winded him.
?

Missouri bowhunter Alex Rutledge, another member of the Hunters Specialties pro staff,
also takes advantage of inside edges downwind from fields. He stresses
that mature trophy bucks are nocturnal and don’t appear in these areas until the
last 30 minutes of daylight. If you’re on a field edge at this critical time, the
bucks will be crossing behind you. “Most bucks travel into a cross-wind well back from
the edge of a field,”

?

Rutledge says. “If the cover is thick a buck may pass within 5O yards of the field. If it`s
a wide open woods, the buck may scent-check the field from 100 yards
or more away.” Big tracks, clumpy droppings, and rubs tell Rutledge where a buck
is crossing along an inside edge. After he finds what he’s looking for, Rutledge places
treestand downwind from the buck’s trail. When he’s hunting hilly terrain,
Rutledge never sets a stand in the bottom or along the side of a hollow.

“The wind constantly swirls in those draws,” Rutledge says. “lf you set a stand
there, you’re going to get winded. I always set my stand on top of a hill, or
close to the top where the wind direction is more consistent. A lot of bucks
cross over the ends on points, and that’s a great place to catch them.”
A point overlooking a field may not strike you as an inside edge, but that may
very well be the case if you hunt whitetails in hill country. Rutledge has taken bucks
from such places that were crossing 125 yards downwind from a field.

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Published by archerchick on 08 Jan 2011

Calling In The Elk~ By Doug Kittredge


BOW & ARROW HUNTING
BOWHUNTERS ANNUAL 1979

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com
Calling In The Elk ~By Douglas Kittredge
“Successful elk hunting has little to do with luck.”
Standing about five feet at the shoulders, from eight hundred to over one thousand pounds, a mature bull elk can challenge any bowhunter.

Fortunate is the man who
hunts elk with a bow. His season comes at a time when the few available odds can be in his favor: weather rare ly severe, fewer hunters roaming the woods, early Fall rains to dampen his
footsteps; but most valuable, this is the time of the breeding period, or rut.
This is the period when even the cagiest of bulls puts aside his normal caution for the more important matter at hand.

There was a time when elk were extremely common animals, found in
great herds roaming the plains of the West. Because of market hunting pressure, the turn of this century saw the herds decimated to only 40,000 animals. Fortunate for today’s hunters,
the elk is an adaptable animal and has shifted habitat from exposed open plains to sheltered mountain forests where they now thrive in ever increasing numbers — literally an elk explosion by some states’ reports!

Though in ancient times some ten subspecies of these magnificent animals roamed North America, today, there are but four, and of these our hunting is directed primarily to the .
Roosevelt .and the Yellowstone varieties.

The true name is wapiti, from the Shawnee Indians. “Elk” really belongs
to a different animal, the European moose. Standing about five feet at the shoulders and from eight hundred to over 1000 pounds, a mature bull elk is a formidable creature, particularly when a bowhunter, previously acquainted only with deer, suddenly confronts one at close range. Such a
large target is mighty deceiving, making him seem much closer than he really is.

The mating season, or rut, probably does not actually start until mid
September, but bugling often is heard much earlier, starting in the latter part
of August in some areas. Cows do not breed until their third year; however, bulls participate at age two and often account for the majority of actual breeding in their younger years as the
older herd bull becomes more involved in chasing harassing competition away
from his harem.

As the rut progresses, the bulls become increasingly preoccupied with
their activity. They pay less and less attention to what is going on about
them. I’ve spoken with knowledgeable elk hunters who tell tales about elk do-
ing almost stupid things — perhaps walking right in toward a waiting hunter,
nose to the ground and sun at high noon. Or just standing there shaking
his rack from side to side while the archer excitedly lets fly arrow after
arrow. The height of the rut usually occurs toward the end of September
and lasts into the middle of October. During this time pugnacious old bulls
gather together their harems, consisting of perhaps only a few to more
than twenty cows. Smaller bulls are driven from the herd and the herd bull
becomes ready for combat as he plays his role in this yearly ritual.

Now is the time for the bowhunter to take advantage of the situation.
The smaller bulls hang around the harem, looking for opportunity to cut
out an amorous cow while the herd bull has his attention drawn elsewhere.
Challenge is given in musical notes, unique to this animal. It is a full-chested
effort that many outdoorsmen acclaim as the most exciting sound in
nature. Beginning on a low note, the call rises up the scale in three or four
tones to peak in a clear bugle held as long as the air supply lasts, then fades
abruptly into a series of almost hiccup type savage grunts. No two elk sound
exactly the same. The larger, mature bulls usually can be determined by
their coarse, deeper calls, while the young animals make with a thin, high-
pitched whistle. As the older bulls become increasingly upset, their calls can
transform into a chilling scream, lacking almost all musical qualities, even
becoming nothing but a series of deep- throated grunts. Many successful elk
callers attempt to reproduce only this grunting part of the call, feeling it does
more to arouse a challenge and has less chance for slip-up by making a false-
sounding note.

The courting efforts take their toll on the condition of an active bull elk,
burning off most of his accumulated Summer fat, scarring his neck and
bruising his chest through wounds from other rivals’ horns. He enters the
threat of coming Winter in badly weakened condition. It is reported
that a weight loss of three hundred pounds is not uncommon among herd
bulls during the rut.

An elk is an impressively antlered trophy. The immense antler display
begins to bud forth in May and continues growth into the first of August
when the blood vessels constrict and the horn growth hardens, soon to be
rubbed and polished to a magnificent fighting tool. The yearling bull grows
only spike horns, measuring ten to twenty inches in length. Each year the
bull grows a new set of antlers. By the time he reaches three years old, this
growth starts to become impressive, being more massive and up to five
points on each side. From this point the antler growth becomes larger and
heavier each season. A mature bull sports a head dress of six, seven or
even more points on a side, weighing fifty pounds or more. It is little
wonder their neck muscles and bones are so massive!

Elk thrive on browse, grass and forbs. Preference changes with availability
and the season of the year. During the Fall bowhunting periods, grass
fills most of their needs. They tend to be early morning and late evening
feeders, spending their midday in secluded, shaded bedding areas. Most
beginning elk hunters misjudge the speed of travel of a browsing elk herd.
It is almost impossible to keep up with using normal pussy-footing tactics.
They average better than one mile per hour and tend to browse in a straight
line, heading into the wind. Thus, a better technique calls for rapidly circling
the animals at a fast trot, dropping far enough to one side to keep
noise of travel from being important. The hunter should either get out in
front of the moving quarry to position himself in a hidden location, letting
the herd move to him; or be able to sneak in directly from the side.

Rarely is it a bull that is boss of the herd, rather it’s a wise old cow that
has her eyes, ears, and nose poised on what goes on about her. A bark-like
call acts as a warning of any danger, with headlong flight soon to follow.
As with many herd animals, elk often panic and stampede en masses, taking
their cue from other animals in the group whether they themselves have
seen a real danger or only imagined it. Such stampedes usually end quickly,
as soon as cover is reached, and the hunter can rapidly circle again to catch
up with the group. However, some elk movements are remarkable in distance
traveled. It is not uncommon to have spooked animals travel five miles or
more, going farther than just the next drainage cover.

During archery seasons, elk usually are found at the higher elevations
where they can take advantage of cooling breezes. They are restless animals,
perhaps because of the huge amount of food required. I have seen some
daily movements involving over eight miles of travel from feeding area to
bedding ground undergone on a daily basis. Elk water at least one time each
day and they may travel some miles to get to it. Rare is it that good elk habitat
does not contain an ample supply of this important liquid relatively closeby.
Their daily movements involve a pattern of feeding, watering and resting.
They tend to browse uphill from the bottomlands during the early morning hours, bedding in the cool thick timber during midday, resuming the browsing late in the afternoon,
moving in a downhill direction until after dark. Elk do feed during bright
moonlight periods of the month and most hunters feel their chances of success
are better during the dark phase of the moon.

Elk are bothered by hot weather. At times, they may seek bedding far out on an open point where refreshing breezes make life more comfortable and free of flies. High winds put elk
down into the safety of sheltered canyons where they can hear approaching
danger more easily. In heavily hunted areas, elk quickly become aware of the
pressure and either completely leave the area for more remote parts, or they change their habits such that they rarely leave the thicker-timbered hillsides, rarely being seen out in the
open. During such times, a patient hunter stands a chance of getting into the action by lurking high in a tree overlooking a well-used main trail or hidden water hole.

Successful elk hunting has little to do with luck. The hunt must be planned in detail. Six states account for eighty-five percent of the elk taken: Colorado, Wyoming, Oregon, Washington, Montana and Idaho — with Arizona and New Mexico becoming more popular with knowing bowhunters

First on the planning agenda should be writing the Fish and Game Department, c/o the capital city.of each state in which you are interested. Request information on expected season
dates, license costs, regulations and any suggestions as to possible hunting areas you might consider. If the name and address of the state bowhunting organization, or of individual hunters is available, it is a wise plan to contact them as well. Working out the details of a successful elk hunt takes time, so start well in advance of the season opening.

Hunting elk is an expensive undertaking, even when hunting without a paid guide or outfitter. There is no guarantee of hunter success. In fact, doing it the hard way with bow and
arrow puts the odds against you about nine to one. With increasing hunting pressure, decreasing available habitat and more restrictive hunting seasons, the best chance for success lies with booking a guided hunt through a reputable outfitter, Such a man should be able to put you in an
area where game is known to be, saving you the days of pre-season scouting. He also arranges for handling of the meat once you have an animal down — no small matter in the steep, remote areas most elk prefer.

Finding a suitable outfitter for a bowhunting experience can be highly frustrating. Most guides would rather hunt with a rifleman, as it makes their job many times easier. A number of
them look down on bows as ineffective for hunting these tough animals.
Frequently a bowman can be put in on game, only to have the wind shift so
he doesn’t get his shot, it becomes a miss, or there is a branch in the way.
Unless the guide is well acquainted with the quirks of hunting with bows,
he can lose patience with the hunter and his enthusiasm actually can
diminish the hunter’s chance for success.

The larger outdoor magazines contain sections devoted solely to listings
by the outfitting fraternity. Many Fish and Game Departments have published
listings of registered guides in their state. Write as many as you can. Not
only ask for their brochure, rates, and other pertinent information, but specifically request information about their capabilities of guiding a bowhunter. It is wise to request a minimum of three recent clients’ names as references. A phone call to a reference is worth many times that of a letter, for it gives a chance to listen to the tone of voice, or any hesitancy in giving an answer. Try to find out how the man felt the hunting conditions to be. Did game abound in the area? What
was the competitive hunting pressure from others in camp and other camps
in the area? What about the terrain and the weather? Did the guide perform as expected? And most important: Would he return to hunt with this particular guide again if he had the
chance?

Beware of any outfitter who makes fancy promises and fills his camp too full of hunters. Good guides rarely guarantee anything other than a good hunting experience under conditions
of fair chase, particularly when hunting an animal as elusive as an elk, with a bow. The top guided hunts have a single guide with a maximum of two hunters, and though admittedly more
costly, the best arrangement is one guide to a single hunter. Over half a dozen hunters in a single camp begins to spell overhunting of the area. You also want to know what flexibility you
might have in relocating the camp should the game not prove abundant or move out of the area.

Top guides and outfitters are much in demand, often being booked solid a
full year in advance. If you find this the case with the guide of your choice,
ask if he might be able to suggest another he considers capable, but perhaps not so well established. Though a quality guided hunt provides better chances for success, many of us cannot afford the bucks required. The well—conditioned, properly-prepared,
do it~yourself hunter still can have a good crack at this wily game. Begin setting up your plans by
writing for hunting maps of the area you have decided on. The Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management both publish such material. Topo maps are another vital addition and may be
obtained from many sporting goods outlets.

Consider how you are going to maneuver around in the hunting country. In most areas a four-wheel-A drive vehicle or a horse will be needed, though more and more backpackers
are going after elk. Elk hunting demands equipment that is in dependable, first-rate condition. Though archery seasons usually are blessed with fine weather, it can change overnight to an early season blizzard. Most hunters take more gear than they need until they learn how to
plan for all eventualities without duplication. I like to allow for a layered type of clothing outfit that provides a minimum amount of covering should the temperature be in the seventies,
yet I can keep adding another shirt or pair of long johns as needed to provide
warmth down to ten degrees or so. Nothing beats a good sleeping bag, so if money is to be saved, do so elsewhere and pay a little more for a sound night’s sleep. The same applies to boots, tent and backpack. Remember that elk inhabitat mountainous country and the smooth soled boots used by an Eastern whitetail hunter
don’t apply.

Being in shape physically is easy to say, but all too few of us really prepare for hiking the high mountain country where chances for elk will be best. Probably the inability to move around easily in hunting country accounts for more unfilled elk tags than any other single thing. Considering the
cost and effort most of us expend to hunt elk, it behooves us to prepare a bit in advance.

Start by paying a visit to your doctor. Tell him what you plan. He might
want to give you a brief examination, then offer his advice for an exercise
program you can follow a few months before the hunt. A couple of months
before the season I like to begin jogging or walking a few miles each day,
at a speed fast enough to work up the heartbeat and get my wind to puffing.
If a horse is part of the hunting plan, regular riding a few weeks ahead of
time can make the whole trip more enjoyable. Plan to be in the hunting area
several days ahead of time. Western elk areas tend to be at high altitude where
acclimatization can be a major help.

As most bowhunting seasons occur during the rut, the majority of hunters
take along some form of elk call. Over the years, these bugles have been fashioned from just about every type of plastic tube, bamboo, metal gas pipe, rubber hose, or modified reed calls.
Exactly imitating a bull’s bugle is difficult, if not impossible. I don’t believe I have ever heard a man-made call which sounds exactly the same as a real elk, and many of those on the market are
at best but a faint imitation. Accordingly, most hunters will acknowledge that the elk herds are becoming Wage wise” to the human efforts of trying to sound like a bull. In some areas, it is
rare for the elk to bugle at all, other than for a short while during height of the rut. In most areas. a poorly executed bugle will announce the hunter’s presence, instantly silencing the whistling bulls, putting the herd into flight, or at least on wary alert.

Correct use of a good bugle can save a lot of miles of walking. When an
answer is received, it shows the location of the elk, assures you of being in elk terrain, and that you can slow your travel and begin use of your hunting skills in working in for a shot. Though bulls will come in to an elk call, it has been my experience that more likely they will answer, then move the; gathering of cows out ahead of the: getting away from what they believe
to be a rival, challenging bull. I suggest moving in on the answering bull using a circling movement
watching to keep the wind in your favor and moving at the pace of a fast walk or trot. Don’t be too concerned about noise, just try to get out ahead if the elk as quickly as possible. Don’t
call again for about ten minutes. If the bull calls again before the ten minute; are up, try to decide if it is the same bull that first answered your call and he is moving toward or away from you. If toward you, hide in a position where you think you will be able to get a clear shot. Wait a minute or two before making another call, perhaps shielding your call behind your hand or shoulder to sort of muffle the sound and eliminate giving it true direction.

Keep your calls short. Don’t call too often. Try to let the bull make all the moves. He may continue coming in even though you don’t answer him again, and by staying silent you eliminate any chance of a poorly made call alarming him. I like to make a grunt
by sucking in my breath behind the flat of my hand, but unless you know
what you are doing, you can choke up and ruin the whole thing.
I found that the quickest way to learn how to call up elk was to spend a
few days in the field, after the close of the regular season, to try calling. Most
archery seasons close just as the rut is really beginning to hit its full peak. Arranging your schedule to allow a few extra days following the season can work wonders in polishing up your
technique. Here is a time when you can experiment with anything and failure won’t matter,

First crack of morning and just before it is too dark to hunt legally are the prime times for calling. Some hunters even go out well after dark, leaving their bows behind, to make a bugle or two directed into canyons or up mountainsides where they hope an answering hull will indicate a new
place to try hunting. Except during the height of the rut, most elk terminate their bugling shortly after dawn. In working through your selected hunting country, when no elk are known to be close by, try to cover as much ground as possible, looking for fresh signs of droppings or tracks. Make
a bugle every fifteen or twenty minutes during the first hour or so of morning and the last half hour of evening.

Keep your eyes peeled for spring fed areas in small alpine meadows
where elk may be wallowing in the mud. An elk wallow is an important
part of the rutting ritual Here the bull will paw, dig and urinate, until he has a sloppy quagmire in
which he`ll roll around much like a domestic hog. Such wallows are used year after year.
There is a strong, distinctive odor in the wallow area during the rutting season. Frequently an alert hunter will recognize this unique smell when pussy-footing through the woods, signaling him of animals in the area long before they actually come into view.

This scent of elk is a good one to help mask the human odor. I like to step on fresh droppings as I come across them, squashing them well into the soles of my boots. I also rub some
onto the cuffs of my pants. One elk hunter told me he ties an old sock to his belt. In the sock he puts any fresh droppings he might find, a little of the odorous mud from a wallow, the
scented dark urine spot from a fresh elk bed he comes across; anything that
is strongly elk scented. Then he dips his sock in such water seepage as he may come across, letting the resulting mess slop around against his leg, splattering his pants and the trail around
him. There is a certain air about him, but he doesn’t smell of man!

An elk’s best protection is his nose. The careful hunter must pay strict attention to keeping the direction of wind movement in his face. Hunting clothes never should be worn near a campfire. Cigarette smoke is a no·no. Care must be taken not to slop gasoline when gassing up the transportation buggy. Don’t consume strong coffee first thing in the morning…it
exudes from the skin much like eating raw garlic or onion.

Barely second to his nose are the elk`s eyes and any movement spotted will bring his immediate attention. Noise seems to be the only place where there’s a bit of a chink in his armor — perhaps because an elk is pretty noisy himself — but just let the sound be foreign to the woods, such as
a clink of metal or a rubbed thump of a bowstring, and he’s all ears. The lean, red meat of the elk is absolutely the best there is. No moose, sheep or deer I’ve ever had quite equals the flavor. Because the animal is so large and the insulating qualities of the heavy hide so good, elk meat spoils easily. By the very nature of the bow and arrow where there is a time lapse in between shooting the animal, then finding his carcass, time is against us.

The man who hunts with a bow must be prepared on the spot to take adequate care of his animal. Carry a small knapsack in which you have all the necessities: a small hoist for moving his heavy body, saw or ax for splitting up the carcass, a stout skinning knife and sharpening equipment, extra rope, and plastic trash bag to protect the innards.

It is important to get the hide off the animal as quickly as you have dressed it out. Open up the body well and let it begin to cool. lf possible, the carcass should be cut into quarters,
then hung high in trees so air circulates fully around the meat. A couple of temporary cheesecloth deer bags carried in the knapsack will afford protection from insects. If the meat has to be
backpacked out, boning will reduce the weight about forty percent; even then, it will take a number of loads. Elk meat should be hung in a cold room to age for a week or ten days.

This breaks down the muscle tissue and makes it tender. You can keep your meat in camp, even with relatively warm temperatures, by hanging it out during the nighttime coolness and wrapping it
well in blankets or old sleeping bags during the heat of the day. Cook in the same manner as a fine cut of beef, remembering that it takes a little less time and heat to cook to the same degree of doneness, Any of your favorite recipes for beef will prove doubly tasty when you prepare
it with elk!

To hunt this regal animal and tramp through his beautiful western lands is
an experience to be cherished. With sound game—management programs
and sportsman-like pursuit, we should look forward to continued outstanding
hunting recreation for ourselves and our offspring in many lifetimes to
follow. <——<<<

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Published by archerchick on 08 Jan 2011

Hunting’s Greatest Thrill~ By Fred Bear


BOW & ARROW Magazine’s
BOWHUNTERS ANNUAL
1979

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com
Hunting’s Greatest Thrill ~ By Fred Bear
Why waste a good part of a a day’s hunt by not hunting?
The deer are there somewhere, waiting to match wits with you.

Hunting from A blind or tree stand may be the
most effective way to get a deer, but it is not the only
way. Getting close to your wild animal on your own, where
the odds are are definitely not in your favor, is by far the most
challenging and satisfying way to hunt.

Frequently the beginning or even intermediate
bowhunter: will mention luck when asked to assess the
reasons for a particularly successful season in the woods.
Such a tendency is common when hunting for whitetail
deer one of the most consistently difficult quarry to take
with the bow. However, luck does enter into a successful
bowhunt only if we conceive of it as opportunity made
available Having been presented with a situation where
deer are present, proper use of the opportunity will depend
upon the hunter’s accumulated skills.

The bow and arrow as a still—hunting arm has many
handicaps outstanding because of their direct correlation
with the opposing instincts of deer. First, and most
important is the short range of the bow, making it
necessary to approach well within the protective screen of
the game’s senses in order to obtain a reasonable shot,
coupled with the considerable motion created in shooting.
Finally, the noise of the bowstring travels faster than the
arrow and affords an alert animal time to get out of its way
if it recognizes danger in the sound.

In still-hunting deer with the bow and arrow these
must be taken into consideration, individually and
in various combinations. The instinctive faculties of the
game and the inherent shortcomings of the bow create a
chain of never-ending problems. The still-hunter must
locate undisturbed deer before his own presence is
detected, penetrating the game’s innate barriers of sight,
scent and hearing, in the effort t0 get within bow range
without being seen, smelled or heard.

For those who haven’t tried it, this whole business often
seems like an impossible feat. Too many firearms hunters
hesitate to try the bow, thinking it too difficult and time
consuming to learn and carry out. Actually this is not so.
With very little initial guidance, the skill of shooting a bow
can be mastered quickly. Except for the short range of the
bow, hunting from blinds or stands is little different from
rifle hunting.

Still-hunting, while certainly more difficult, can be
combined with the waiting game to add interest to those
periods when bedded game makes a stationary position
unfruitful. Many hunters may feel they are too awkward to stalk a
deer, but that, too, is not plausible reasoning. Anyone can
do it simply by slowing down to a super-controlled pace
and concentrating on seeing, rather than just l00king.
There’s a difference.

lf you have done your homework — scouted the hunting
area — you should know approximately where deer bed
down during the midday period, and thus the places most
likely to be productive for still-hunting. Your tactics will be
adapted to the animal’s behavior. Unlike the mule deer, the
whitetail spends much of its time in or on the edge of dense
cover. This is true whether they inhabit our southern
hardwood forests, northeastern cedar swamps, or river
brakes of the midwest.

You’re out there in the first place to take advantage of
the finest season in the woodlands. Why waste a good part
of it by not hunting for half of each day? The deer do not
hide in hollow trees or go down badger burrows. They are
out there somewhere, waiting to match wits with you.
In many areas of whitetail habitat, mast provides a
plentiful and favored fall diet. With the advent of October
winds and rain, acorns will begin to fall. Squirrels
contribute to the bounty by cutting them down. From then
on, some deer can be found feeding on the freshly fallen
nuts at any time of day, bedding right in the open oak
groves between meals if not disturbed. Still-hunting in
stands of oaks can often produce a good chance for a stalk
on deer intent upon filling their stomachs. At noon I once
eased up within thirty feet of a young buck that was busy
feeding.

If not in oak country, or in seasons of poor acorn crop,
the still-hunter should concentrate on covering such areas as
the sunny slopes along ridge tops, heavy jackpines or tree
plantations, poplar thickets, balsam groves and willow or
alder swales bordering streams or ponds. These are the
generally favored midday bedding locations for the
whitetail. Once you have found where the deer are resting,
by moving very slowly and being very alert, you may be
able to slip up on a whitetail. At any rate, it’s fun trying.

When moving through such cover a certain amount of
noise cannot be avoided. This does not, however, make it
impossible to get close to deer. The secret is to move along
slowly, with a pause after every three or four steps. This is
the way a feeding deer moves. While in heavy cover, travel
on deer trails whenever possible. These are not only quieter
going, but lead you to where the animals are.

The direction you approach and move through various
coverts should depend on prevailing air currents. A deer’s
nose furnishes its sharpest sense, and the bowhunter must
keep his scent from the animal. Consequently move either
into or across the breeze direction whenever possible. even
if this means a sizeable detour to get downwind. Some
insurance in areas where the air currents are fickle may be
had from a little deer scent on the boots and clothing.

Soft-finish clothing is also important to the still-hunter,
as is flexible foot gear with soft soles such as crepe rubber
A small occasional noise will not ruin an approach, but a
steady sound pattern will immediately alert the game. And
of course complete camouflage including the face, hands
and bow is certainly helpful.
Patience is really the key to successful still—hunting.lf
you go very slowly and pause frequently, chances are you’ll
do well. But the moment you get anxious and speed up the
pace, something’s likely to go wrong.

When moving, each step will open up new avenues of
vision. Very seldom will you initially see an entire deer.
Look for spots that look like parts of a deer’s body. Train
yourself to spot and examine every bit of unusual color or
outline in the woods. These could turn into part of a
bedded or feeding deer. The important thing to remember
is that you must curb the tendency to see what’s over the
next hill. If you don’t travel slowly you won’t see anything
over the hill except possibly the sight of white tails waving
goodbye. To gain the advantage, you must see the deer
before it suspects your presence, and that advantage can
only come with cautious, slow steps. If hunting correctly,
you’ll spend more time motionless than you will moving.
When you do move. take short steps. By doing so you
remain balanced and can freeze instantly in mid-step when
the occasion demands.
.
I had the privilege of knowing and hunting with the late
Bill Loomis of Newaygo, Michigan. Bill was a skilled
bowhunter and taught me some valuable tricks. One of the
things I learned from him was that in still-hunting, if you
accidently jump a group of deer and they disperse in
different directions, hide yourself near the spot where they
were alerted. Possibly in a half hour or so some deer will
return, hoping to make contact with the others, and you
might have the chance to get off a good shot.

When you are within sight of undisturbed deer, the final
approach or stalk is employed. Have you ever watched the
hands on a clock? You don’t see them move, yet they
change position. I once saw a bobcat stalking a grouse and
it’s progress reminded me of the clock hands. This principle
should govern your close-range stalking, and it can get you
within bowshot of a bedded or feeding deer, even if you are
partially in the open.

Perhaps the greatest deterrent to success during a stalk is
in concentrating on one deer, thereby overlooking others
that are in the area. Deer are seldom alone; You should
constantly be checking for others bedded or feeding
nearby. There is nothing so disconcerting as to be almost
within easy range, only to have an explosive snort from one
side lift your neck hair and send the white flags flying.

Speaking of flags, it is well to remember that a feeding
deer will invariably switch its tail just before raising the
head to look around. Keep an eye on the tail and when it
switches- freeze.

Do nor attempt to stalk a deer from behind a large tree
or dense cover unless you keep its head in view at all times.
If you don‘t you’ll never get away with it, for you are
unable to determine when the animal is looking in your
direction.. I’ve tried this more than once, only to be
frustrated by an eye-to-eye confrontation when, in
preparing to shoot, I leaned out to one side of the cover.

While it is true that, due to eye position, deer have good
peripheral vision, it is still possible to approach an animal
standing broadside, providing its head is down in feeding
position. But again, one must move like the hands on a
clock, watch the tail, and be prepared at every instant to
freeze. Move straight toward such a- deer; it is less likely to
pick up movement than if you progress laterally.

Of the few times you do manage to close within your
range, let’s say thirty-five yards, it does not necessarily
follow that you should shoot immediately. After all, you’ve
put a lot of time and effort into the stalk and one good
shot is worth any number of mediocre chances. What is the
best possible shot? It’s certainly never at a running deer,
nor is it at a deer that’s alert or tense. The best possible
shot is presented by a standing animal, broadside or
quartered away, relaxed, and with its head down.

And what if your slight approach movements are
detected by a deer, unsure of just what it has seen, but
determined to stare at the object in question until it is sure’?
Well, all I can say is that nine times out of ten your
patience will give way before the deer’s. Furthermore, it is
tensed like a compressed spring and ready to explode. Your
best chance then is to slowly ease up. the bow, slowly draw,
and if the animal hasn’t moved before you reach your
anchor, touch it off.
.
Don’t be disappointed though, or even surprised, if the
deer is gone either at the first movement, or before your
arrow gets there. Rare indeed is the deer bagged by a
bowman when the animal was looking at him. But, the
thrill is there and it’s all part of the game.

Occasionally while stalking, a deer will jerk up its head
to stare in your direction, but obviously unsure of whether
it has seen anything unusual. Such an animal will swivel the
ears around and may stomp hesitantly with a forefoot. In
this instance it is best to freeze in an attempt to wait it out.
But beware — don’t make a move when the animal finally
lowers its head, for it will invariably raise it again
immediately, hoping to catch any intruder off—guard. It
may go through this maneuver several times. Hold your
tree-trunk pose until the deer actually starts to feed again
before resuming the stalk.

Although still-hunting can be done by partners who are
used to working with one another, for the most part,
particularly in western-terrain, still—hunting is a loner’s
game. One hunter makes half the noise and movement of
two.

Rainy or extremely damp weather is a favored time for
the still-hunter due to the additional cushioning of noise
and slowing of scent spread by the abnormal moisture
content in the woods. When hunting in damp weather, stick
generally to the lower ground levels. No matter what time
of day, moisture causes the air to settle and would carry a

message of danger to your quarry should you be on higher
ground. If hunting on a day wet enough to require a rain
jacket, wear it under your camouflage jacket. This will
muffle noise otherwise accented by brushing against limbs
or in the act of drawing the bow.

One of the greatest thrills I ever had while hunting
occurred on a drizzly morning after an all—night rain
Although quiet underfoot, the woods were noisy with
water dripping from the leaves. Having spotted a lone doe
busily browsing along and not alert, I managed to close the
distance between us to the length of my bow. The
explosion that came when I tapped her on the rump was
something to see, and made up for all the times I had
similarly jumped in response to an undetected deer’s snort.

The prime period for the still-hunter occurs during the
madness moon. When mating season is under way, for a
period of two or three weeks those desirable bucks are
likely to be encountered any time of the day. Further, they
are less alert than usual and easier to approach, although
this is not to say they are pushovers by any means. During
the rut you do not have to look specifically for a buck
Find the does, keep them in sight, and a buck is bound to
show up. But never underestimate your quarry. The does
never lose their alertness and the bucks, even when preoccupied
with lovemaking, don’t turn into complete
idiots.
A schedule favored by many bowmen is a stand or blind
from first light to l0 a.m., still—hunting until 4 p.m., then
resuming an ambush until dark. But while early morning is
a prime time for occupying a blind or stand, the hour after
dawn is also my favorite time for still-hunting. After
feeding undisturbed all night, deer are much less wary, on
the move toward bedding grounds, feeding slowly as they
go, and keeping their heads down more than at any other
time of day. lf you can find an area where old trails or bush
roads intersect the travel zones between feeding and
bedding grounds, stealing along these at first light may offer
excellent chances.

Just prior to or directly following a storm, any kind of
storm, deer are on the move and therefore provide another
excellent period to hunt through known feeding areas.
There is a time in still—hunting when you must throw
caution to the winds. I have often spotted feeding deer,
observed which way they were headed, then dropped back
out of sight and ran widely around to set up an ambush. In
assuming such a stand, you must be patient. If you have
circled successfully and have found good cover, it often
seems as if they would never get there. You begin to have
doubts, thinking they have probably switched travel
direction. But wait a little longer. As sure as you start to
move, there they will be. Sometimes this ambush works out
and as often it doesn’t, but in this type of hunting a 50-50
chance is a good one.

In late Fall when most of the leaves are down and
tempered by frost, deer make almost as much noise as you
do while walking, especially the bucks who tend to drag
their feet. So do not despair when the under footing is like
cornflakes. Just move as the deer do, very slowly and with
frequent pauses, and concentrate on observing them from a
distance, beyond the range of your sound.

The taking of a deer by this method is especially
satisfying, and rightly so, for you have pitted yourself
against your quarry on its own ground. A successful
still-hunt is the culmination of experience gained during
many attempts. And when at last you’ve made a final stalk
pay off, you’ll know beyond a doubt why this is
bowhunting’s greatest thrill. <—<<<

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