Archive for the 'Bowhunting' Category

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Published by archerchick on 16 Feb 2010

SOUTHWESTERN BIG GAME – By Eddie Claypool

Southwestern Big Game – By Eddie Claypool
April 2006
In the wide-open space of the desert southwest lies spectacular scenery and trophies to boot –all available to you during the off-season!

April 2006

As the cold winds of winter usher in the end of most bow seasons, many hunters hang their gear up for another year. The off-season doldrums set in, and the thoughts of most serious bowhunters turn toward hunt planning for next autumn. There is, however, an alternative to this course of action –an often-overlooked opportunity to extend your bowhunting efforts another full month. Look to the desert southwest, the land of sunshine and wide-open spaces.

Often viewed as desolate and foreboding, the southern regions of Arizona and New Mexico offer pristine country rich in history, flora and fauna; a land as big as your imagination, most of which lies i nthe public domain. Herein lies a whole new bowhunting horizon, one ripe for the picking for the wilderness adventurer. Our most elusive whitetail lives here, as do wide-antlered mulies, which rule over a vast domain that stretches from earth to the sky and from horizon to horizon. Throw in some “pigs”–Javelina, as they are most often called –and you have a mix custom made for the daylight-to-dark bowhunting action.

A decade ago, my first trip to the desert Southwest produced a very secure hook-set on me. The vast solitude of the country stirred an extreme feeling of freedom and adventure inside me — a world of unlimited and unanswered questions. In the land of the Apache, I soon came to understand how the Native American people prospered, and why they loved their homeland so dearly and fought so fiercely to keep it.

Every winter I longingly anticipate the chance to take my bow and arrows and quietly melt back into a time and place where the spirits of Cochise, Victorio and Geronimo still move like the wind. Let’s take a look at some of the logistics involved in pulling off just such an adventure.

GEAR UP
In relation to my outings, I place an emphasis on remoteness. In other words, when I hit the high-desert backcountry, I must be totally self-sufficient. The first item necessary in order to accomplish this is a dependable vehicle, one with good rubber on it, spares available and extra fuel readily accessible. A four-wheel-drive is recommended, and it’s a good idea to take some tire chains. A winch, or cable hoist and nylon strap can be a lifesaver also. Throw a high-lift jack in the mix to top off the deal.

Desert weather can fluctuate wildly from week to week. Commonly, you’ll enjoy endless days of sunshine, warmth and arid conditions, though seemingly out of nowhere, you can have repeated days of soaking rains and/or snow. When the desert gets wet, vehicular travel can literally come to a standstill; be prepared to wait such spells out in the comfort of a well-stocked base camp.

I take an elaborate array of gear for my base camp, including two large tents, propane stove, heaters and lanterns. Sturdy foldout tables and comfortable chairs make the cook tent a pleasant place to hang out in the darkness of a cold desert evening. If you can stand the noise and fumes a generator can supply electricity for many uses.

Long before leaving home, I prepare numerous large meals for my trip, vacuum packing all of them into single serving portions, and freezing them. I then line the bottom of an extremely large cooler with a block ice, place a sheetmetal cover over the ice then stack all my pre-prepared meals on top. Another medium-sized cooler suffices for all other miscellaneous cold items, including drinks. I also have a large dry-storage container well stocked with countless other food supplies, which I conveniently place in a corner of the cook tent. Also, I make sure my cook tent has no floor — there are many pluses to this. Such being the case, I am able to hang a solar shower from the frame of my cook tent, fire up a propane heater and take a shower in comfort. I take a piece of 2-inch thick corrugated rubber as a mat to stand on while showering, for obvious reasons. Be sure to take a large amount of water with you; I have a 50-gallon container neatly mounted on my ATV trailer. With such a setup, I’m able to eat well, lounge comfortably and stay clean for many weeks. Yes, I believe in good, long outings!

For my sleep/clothing tent, I use a long, wide, high-quality cot, sleeping pad and cold-weather goose-down bag, I place a small foldout aluminum table at one end of my bed and a 4×4-foot section of thick carpet on the tent floor beside my cot. A propane heater will be within close reach when I go to bed, so that I can light it directly from my sleeping bag in the mornings. I line one side of my living quarters with two to three large plastic tubs containing all my clothing, neatly and smartly arranged. Such a setup keeps the wheels turning smoothly from day to day.

Another big desert mulie shot by Claypool. This buck sports a 30-inch-wide mainframe that grosses 175 inches. Big mule deer are found in the desert

Okay, here’s where I am going to shame myself: I used to blaspheme ATVs, but now I own one – ha, who’d a thought it! Honestly, they’re very handy for maneuvering around the countless two-track roads that most desert areas offer, especially when things are wet. Even when Mother Earth is dry, an ATV can sure save a lot of wear and tear on your pickup truck. Just remember; Please don’t take them cross-country — that’s when their use falls into the classification of abusive.

THE GRAY GHOST
For a Midwestern Whitetail hunter like myself, the chance to extend my whitetail season by a month is an appealing thought. Throw in the fact that the climate in Coues (pronounced “cows”) country is much more hospitable, and the fact that Coues whitetails are the ultimate bow challenge, and you have a very tempting mix. Reasons enough to point my old Ford south many years ago.

From the get-go, I was led to believe that spot-and-stalk was the only way to effectively bowhunt Coues deer. Well, let me tell you this: Maybe such is the case for the died-in-the-wool western bowhunters out there (whatever blows your skirt up!), but as for me –a heartland ambusher– I’m here to tell you that there is more than one way to skin a cat. I’m talking about tree stand and/or ground blind hunting in rutting-buck travel corridors, and along scrape and rub-lines (Double Bull archery makes some extremely portable and effective blinds, perfect for just such applications).

In other words, what I’m saying is this: If you’re a good Eastern whitetail bowhunter (add a lot more hump-and-get-it to the mix), you can be a good Coues hunter too. Since the main difference between Eastern and Western whitetail hunting lies in the “size” of the land out west and the dispersion of the deer in it, you have to be willing to put in a lot of vertical and horizontal miles in search of deer concentrations. Then, once reasonable concentrations are found, narrowing down ambush spots can prove to be an even more daunting challenge. But then again, what more challenge could a hard-core bowtoter ask for?

Whenever I’ve done all that I can to place my warm body in a high-quality ambush spot, I make sure that I carry a lunch in my Badlands 2200 series backpack, along with my Scent-Lok clothing, and stay on stand all day. At this point, nothing else you can do will up your odds for success more than sheer time spent on stand. And honestly, I’ve found rutting Coues bucks to move just about as liberally during midday times as they do during the early-morning and late-evening hours.

DESERT MULE DEER
Last, but certainly not least, comes the opportunity to possibly cross paths with a mule deer buck whose antlers may be as expansive as the desert sky. Don’t kid yourself into thinking that all the big mulies live in the “traditional” haunts of the Rocky Mountains. Though, admittedly, finding a top-end buck in desert terrain can be like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack, certainly it can be done. Personally, I’ve taken a 30 incher and a 34 incher!

For desert mulies, concentrate on extremely remote locations; mulies don’t tolerate human intrusion well at all. Also, concentrate on foothills regions, but don’t overlook desert “flats” either. I’ve run across some real bruisers in the seemingly uninhabited cactus and mesquite country far out in the desert valleys.

During the rut, mature bucks lord over harems of does, constantly vying for breeding opportunities. This can make them extremely susceptible to approach, yet, on the other side of the coin, you’re dealing with the wariness of a large group of does. In such a scenario, I attempt to simply “hang out” near the rear of the herd, waiting for the boss to make a pass through the area. With patience and stealth you can expect a golden opportunity in time.

Claypool's firt Coues buck is also his largest --a 108-inch giant ambushed from a tree stand

Since spot-and-stalk is the usual tactic of choice, good optics and a flat-shooting bow are prerequisite for success. Here I rely on Nikon optics and a Mathews Switchback bow, which launches a Beman ICS 340 tipped with a Rocky Mountain Ti-100 at 275 fps. This rig –groomed with a Black Gold sight and rest — is a dependable nail-driver out to ranges farther than I feel comfortable mentioning. For just such times as this, a quality rangefinder can prove worth it’s weight in gold.

THE “OTHER” CHOICE
Finally, if you’re so inclined, “porkers” may be the order of the day. Javelina offer a different and unusual bowhunting break from the pull-your-hair-out daily grind of Coues deer hunting. With javelina, the key to success lies mainly in locating the little buggers. Chances are, if you find ’em, you can kill ’em. They don’t see particularly well, and they don’t have the ears of a mule deer. Their sense of smell, however is excellent,and they won’t question what their nose tells them. Stay downwind, and move slowly, and chances are good that you’ll pull a string on one.

Cover a lot of ground, looking for rootings and tracks in zones where desert flats blend into mountain foothills. Glass open hillsides at any time of the day for javelina, because they haven’t heard about the early morning and late-evening rule. When stalking them to within bow range, consider the use of fleece overboots to muffle your footfalls.

WRAP IT UP
Of all the do-it-yourself bowhuting trips that I make each year, I look most forward to my annual pilgrimage to the high desert. It’s hard to put into words why this is so, yet, suffice it to say that I consider this trip to be the “coming together” of a fine mixture of all the true ingredients of what bowhunting is all about –this trip is truly a smorgasborgh of experiences. From the day I arrive in this land of stark contrasts each season, I begin dreading the day that I’ll have to head home –that’s the definition of a cherished trip indeed. <—-<<<

In the wide-open space of the desert southwest lies spectacular scenery and trophies to boot–all available to you during the off-season!

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

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Published by archerchick on 16 Feb 2010

HI-SPIRIT-My Christmas Eve Buck – By Ted Nugent

HI-SPIRIT By Ted Nugent
My Christmas Eve Buck
April 2006
Enjoying a profound holiday ritual

April 2006

The icicles hanging from my mustache and beard were the real McCoy. No fake decorations allowed in my Christmas tree. And my Christmas tree just happened to be a towering white oak atop a majestic forested ridgeline bordering our stunning Nugent family Michigan swamp. Instead of a handmade angel on top, a frozen guitar player clung for dear life to the crows-nest branches way up high, trusty bow and arrow in hand, waiting for an American whitetail deer to bring our Christmas dinner on by –on the hoof. For, as usual, I was bowhunting on this frigid evening, celebrating the birth of The Creator’s son in the lap of God, doing my own little personal shivering prayer for peace and joy across the land.

The wiser members of the Tribe Nuge were just a shot away, snug around the home fireplace preparing a hot meal for the old hunter’s return, blue-spruce tree aglow in the corner of our home with celebratory decorations aglitter. With the 30-below wind chill numbing my inner bones, I could hardly wait for dark to take over the swamp so I could join them for a Nugent American tradition of grand Christmas spirit. Meanwhile, Old Man Winter was doing all he could to blow me clean out of my tree stand. Motor City MadMan indeed. Motor City NutJob is more like it.

But now he came, and a powerful, inner instinct overwhelmed the frozen wind and any thought of comfort. I could hardly believe my eyes that such a beast was approaching on this horrendous, brutal night. He was a great stag, and he was coming my way. I pushed and pulled on my frozen muscles in preparation to draw my bow as does and young deer crunched the icy snow below me, luring the old monarch into range. The magnificent buck paused every few steps to test the wind and my patience, and on he came.

As he turned his head to follow an old doe, I initiated my hunter’s prayer, my arrow coming back gracefully, like the Zen ballet of life and death that is, and in and instant, the razor sharp broadhead had sliced clean through the old boy’s vitals and it was all over except for the jubilation. He died in but seconds before me, tipping over in the pure white snow of the marsh, just 25 yards away. In astonished disbelief, I looked to the heavens and said another prayer of thanks, thank carefully descended my icy perch and proceeded with the stirring recovery of rituals of such a precious gift. The purity of my act was obvious to all who are honest about nature. Balance, biodiversity and perfect protein for the table were the irrefutable win-win-win of the occasion.

With the help of my family, we jubilantly dragged the amazing animal back to the barn and soon my frozen garments were replaced with a nice, warm, cushy robe, slippers and a scrumptious hot meal. The Santa Claus of fresh meat has landed.

The American Dream is truly amazing any way you choose it, but this hands-on outdoor conservation lifestyle of hunting, fishing and trapping keeps one honest to the cause and effect with the good Mother Earth and all her creatures and resources. The gorgeous spruce Christmas tree we so joyously decorated together was once again harvested from the thousands of various trees we plant each spring. The natural season of planting is as important to us as the natural season of harvest, and it means so much more to us knowing we personally plant thousands of trees for every one we utilize. Just as the thriving deer populations prove, a reasoning predator will always put more back than we take. The Christmas season is surely a time of giving, but the Nugents don’t limit such conscientiousness to a single time of year. We just go a little wilder at Christmas.

The mouth-watering, aromatically stimulating spread on our Christmas dinner table is not only delicious and invigorating, but also happens to be the healthiest food available to mankind. Our wild turkey is pure, organic food; the roasted venison haunch and mallards a testament to the perfection of God’s natural, renewable bounty. We do it every year, and will forever.

Watching my children grow up in such a spiritually connected lifestyle has served them well, and their integrity and quality of life is my proudest accomplishment. They are all giving, loving, caring, independent, resourceful, funny, clever, productive American citizens solidly in the asset column of life. Now with grandchildren at the party, the traditional Nugent family fun factor continues off-the-charts. Though the gift wrapping and unwrapping can be best described as a consumer orgy, steps towards practicality are being upgraded every year. We try to provide as many gifts to U.S. Military families as we possibly can, for but by the blood of warriors can any celebration take place at all.

We keep Christ in Christmas regardless of trends or the PC denial curse. We celebrate the gift of life, we celebrate American freedom, and we celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ.

Communicate and ask Uncle Ted directly at [email protected] or visit tednugent.com.

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Published by archerchick on 16 Feb 2010

WHITETAIL TACTICS -By Fred Bear

WHITETAIL TACTICS – By Fred Bear
The Master Offers Some Little-Known Tips For Whitetail Success -1977
http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

I THINK MOST HUNTERS, whether devotees of the rifle or the bow, are in agreement that there are very few trophies more coveted than that first whitetail that “makes the book.”

There are no shortcuts to trophy hunting. The confidence and positive attitude so necessary for success requires dedication, time and, yes, hard work. The latter, however, can be compared to being head judge in a beauty contest – while classed as work, it certainly has its high points and a sustained interest level.

Many books and countless articles have been written on the subject of hunting the elusive whitetail. Rather than rehash the basic hunting tactics that can be read about in many other such sources, I will here dwell a bit on factors which perhaps are not usually stressed enough.

Fred Bear, founder and president of Bear Archery, takes a break while scouting for new territory.

For example, the movement of deer from bed grounds to feeding areas and back again is a daily occurrence under normal circumstances, and along this trail the success or failure of a bowhunter lies. In periods other than the rutting moon, understanding this route and the time element involved is the secret of success.

What motivates deer to move or bed down, other than satisfying their hunger? Why do all deer in an area start to move to or from feeding areas at almost the same time? The main reason for this is the temperature, or, more correctly, the changing of it. A deer’s very existence depends on the constant use of its well-tuned senses and probably the keenest of these is the sense of smell. The message that it is time to eat is received not merely by his stomach, but also through his nose. He moves to and from feed and bed on air currents. The motivation is a thermal air drift, caused by the changing temperatures.

Two Hunters, two bucks - a good average on whitetails.  After you have downed one, the work begins.

During the day, the thermal air drift is to higher ground due to the warming trend. As the weather cools towards evening, a reversal takes place and the drift is to lower ground. Deer move daily before these reversals take place. They move toward the lower feeding grounds while the thermal air currents are traveling upward. This affords them the knowledge of any impending danger ahead. By the same token, they start moving to the higher bedding ground in early morning before the reversal, while the direction of the drift is still downward. Any hunter who has sat in a blind in the evening near a meadow or corn field has experienced this reversal – like a cold, clammy hand – as the thermal drift settled around him.

In comparatively flat country, a marsh, swamp, pond or larger body of water acts the same as a low meadow, ravine, canyon or flat below higher, rougher or more timbered areas. That is, the thermal flow is toward them during the evening and hours of darkness and away from them as the air warms during daylight. Deer normally bed on slightly higher ground due to the rising air drift which affords them advance warning of anything approaching from below.

In choosing a bed ground, they invariably will pick a southerly exposure, at least partially, meaning either south, southeast or southwest, to obtain some benefit of warmth as they rest. This choice may be altered if foul or extremely adverse weather such as high wind, rain or snow comes in from these directions. They may then choose the lee side of a slope to obtain a break from the elements. Keeping this in mind, the hunter may save many fruitless hours by not hunting slopes that parallel the storm direction, as both sides of such slopes are hit directly by the bad weather. So, let thermal air currents and prevailing winds govern your choice of hunting elevations while still-hunting, or in the placement of blinds while watching.

While still-hunting or sneaking is the most challenging and exciting form of deer hunting, by far the majority of archers depend upon blinds or stands for ultimate success. The reason of course is the limited accurate range of the bow, which, when combined with the deer’s natural protective screen of finely honed senses, makes a close approach in the open extremely difficult.

In recent years, laws have been amended to allow bowhunting from elevated blinds in a majority of our states. The use of windfalls or portable tree platforms, or – as is the practice in Texas – the use of man-made towers, if located and used properly, is a tremendous equalizer in overcoming the odds against success. However, contrary to what many people think, it does not insure you the choice of any animal in the area. The placement and use must not be haphazard.

One distinct advantage the elevated stand offers is that it normally allows the flow of the hunter’s scent above any approaching animal. Also, because of the way their heads are set on the necks, deer seldom raise their heads at a sharp angle. Moreover, they are not inclined to look up, because in their normal range they have no natural enemies which attack from above. They often ignore movement or sound overhead, apparently believing it to be branches rubbing in the breeze or the movement of a bird or squirrel. Precautions are necessary, however, to insure retaining the advantage of elevation.

From what I have experienced in the past few seasons, during which the use of elevated tree stands has greatly expanded in legality and popularity, one should not count on a deer never looking up. These animals have survived for eons, often on the very fringes of civilization, by their ability to learn. It is my belief that within the foreseeable future one of the advantages of the elevated blind will be largely negated by most of our deer, especially the trophy bucks, looking upward as they move along.

For this reason, you should choose your background for a tree stand carefully as you would for a blind on ground level. If you silhouette yourself against the skyline you’re asking to be seen prematurely with any movement you make. The higher your elevation above eye level, of course, the less this is true, but many states have a stipulation on total elevation varying between six and fifteen feet.

A large-trunked tree or one with heavy foliaged limbs behind you will help blend your camouflage-suited figure into the trunk. If you choose to take your stand in a tree at the top of a rise, don’t place yourself in a direct line with any trails coming toward you. You might be fifteen feet above the trail, but because of the slope of the hill, the angle of vision of any animal approaching from below would be higher than usual and it might be looking right at you.

Caution should be exercised in removing branches and brush to clear shooting lanes near the approach to a stand. Deer are cautious of new breaks on a well-known route and sometimes will shy around them.

It is most important to try plenty of practice shots from your chosen stand before you hunt from it. It is unbelievable how often very close shots at deer from an elevated stand fly harmlessly over their backs. The angle will fool even the experienced shooter unless he is prepared to compensate properly for it. This can only be accomplished by practice shots from that position. I make it a habit to carry a couple of blunt arrows in my bowquiver, and each time I finish a watching period I shoot them at a fallen leaf or other mark before descending from my perch. If you don’t do this your chances of missing that nice buck when he does come along are great.

Fred Bear in 1974 field testing the Bear Alaskan in western Ontario.

All in all, this method of hunting is the most effective one for deer. I’ve had numerous animals within twenty feet of my stand with no realization whatsoever of my presence.

If your heart is set on an encounter with a trophy buck, you must first find his home territory, and this will not necessarily be in or on the fringe of the highest concentration of deer in the area. Scrapes are the best indication of a buck’s presence and the approach of the rut, during which time he is more vulnerable. Scrapes are just what the word implies – spots where the ground cover is pawed or scraped away exposing the dark soil, much like a fresh garden plot ready for planting. These can be a few feet to a few yards in diameter.

The earliest scrapes your scouting turns up are usually along the edges of cover, on or near defined trails, and mark the buck’s territory. These scrapes will often be beside a small tree where the buck has stripped off the bark in the process of polishing his antlers and preparing for the battles to come. The scrape may also be under the limbs of a tree or branches of a large bush showing signs of being severely thrashed by the buck’s rack.

Don’t be satisfied to settle down near the first scrapes found. Later scrapes will be made as the rut approaches its peak. These scrapes will be in or near heavier cover and usually off the regular trails. They will be larger and more defined than the boundary scrapes and will retain the strong scent the buck has left there.

Erecting a tree stand near the latter spots can really pay off. Don’t make the mistake of positioning your stand too close to the scrape. Get back fifteen or twenty yards, where you can cover the most likely approach lanes as well as the scrape itself. This will give you the possibility of a side-angle shot which is the easiest to make. Even though you’ll be elevated, be sure to take the prevailing wind drift into account and choose a spot downwind of the key area, the same as you would for a ground-level blind. Otherwise, a tricky air current could betray you at just the wrong moment. A little scent at ground level can be used to overpower whatever wisps of your odor linger, but don’t overdo it. Sweet apple cider seems to work as well as any commercial scent, even in areas where there are no apples.

Fred Bear with a Michigan whitetail. Some tips he gives for this kind of success are a well-elevated stand in a large-trunked tree and lots of tree-stand practice shots

Once a stand is erected in such a location, don’t spend any more time scouting or milling about that immediate area. Leave too much of your scent behind and a smart buck will not come in. On those occasions when you hunt from the stand, approach it quickly from the direction opposite the hot spot, climb up immediately, and then remain quiet. No smoking, no candy bars, no fidgeting around if you are really serious about getting a crack at “old rockin’ chair.” One bit of carelessness can overdo all your careful preparations and, even with you well-positioned, elevated blind, you’ll need all the breaks you can get in reducing a trophy whitetail to meat in the pot and a bow rack on the wall. <—<<

You should choose the site of your tree stand with as much care as you would for a blind on ground level says Bear.

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According to the author, a tree skinned of its bark is a sure sign your are in a buck's home territoryThe hunter above found a natural tree stand

The hunter above found a natural tree stand

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Published by admin on 15 Feb 2010

Hi Spirit: New Brunswick Bruins By Ted Nugent

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

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Published by admin on 08 Feb 2010

The Bear That Wouldn’t Stop By Randy Templeton

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

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com/

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 “ We wait,” he replied.

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

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

  Please, Craig, hurry with that gun.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Published by admin on 28 Jan 2010

African Blind Date By Paul Hantke

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

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com/

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Published by Newbowhuntingsupplies.com on 26 Jan 2010

Bow Hunting During the Late Season

Doe in the Snow

The Does Looking for Food

The count down to the end of bow season was upon us and I still had tags to fill. With snow already on the ground and the temperature at 8 degrees it began to snow lightly. I had been sitting in the house all day and decided it might be a good idea to go bow hunting. So I opened a package of hand and toe warmers and started to get dressed, this will be a good time to try out my new winter hunting cloths I thought to myself, after getting all bundled up I jumped on the 4 wheeler and headed out. I could see all kinds of tracks in the snow around the field near the middle stand, ‘Davy’s stand’, so I decided to go there.
I hooked my crossbow onto the pull rope and climbed up the stand. After pulling my bow up to me I took off the quiver and hung it on the tree next to me. Birds were the only thing I saw for the first hour. I thought to myself, “I am getting down it is too cold for the deer to move, no I’ll stay a few more minutes”. Then I saw them, 5 deer just coming out of the woods across the field. The first three went straight across the field and the other two went to the left and worked their way around the field. They were heading towards ‘my stand’. Please come this way I thought, not happening, darkness began to sit in and it was time to go to the house.
On Thursday night the weather was about the same but the snow was coming down hard and the wind was blowing. Once again I bundled up and headed out to bow hunt. This time I went to ‘my stand’, it has a roof on it. However, on this day it didn’t help the snow was blowing directly into my face. The view from this stand was perfect. With the snow on ground I could see both hill sides and down the lane. While scouting the area I saw 2 deer at a distance, no wait 3, no 4, wow 5 deer. They were hanging out next to a fallen tree. I watched 2 deer, they were both does, head for the field but I lost the other 3. The 2 doe that went into the field were heading my way so I got my crossbow ready. I turned off the safety and pointed it towards the opening in the trees. Slowly they made their way down the tree line when out of the corner of my eye I saw another doe in the lane. I was trying not to move, my bow was in shooting position. One more step and she is mine when the deer in the lane snorted and they all jumped and ran. The doe I was getting ready to shoot only ran about 20 yards stopped but she was standing in some brush so I couldn’t shoot because the brush would throw my arrow off course. Then she finally made her move into the woods. The other 2 doe were circling behind me so I slowly repositioned my bow and was moving with them. I saw an opening in the brush where I could shoot so I was following the doe hoping she would get to that opening when bang, my bow hit the tree my stand was on and off they ran.
Time to go back to the house once again empty handed. There is nothing I hate worse than to get snorted out after sitting out in cold for so long. However, the thrill of bow hunting was still there. I was able to see the deer and almost had a shot.
On Thursday, January 14 about an hour before dark, I decided to go back to my tree stand. After sitting in my stand for 15 minutes I heard movement behind me. The snow was still on and I could see 2 deer coming off the hill. I lost them as they were coming up the hill and then there she was. She walked towards the back of my stand and stopped. Than the other doe came up, she was walking towards the lane directly beside my stand. I leaned forward to hide behind the blind that is around my stand. She stood beside me for about 5 minutes finally she went into the lane. However, I was afraid to move because I knew the other doe was some where behind me. The front doe finally made a move for the field and the second doe started moving up. As the front doe was working her way down the tree line I was trying not to move so she wouldn’t warn the second doe. Finally, the second doe came our and started heading for the field. Turn a little, I thought, so I could get a shot, that’s it, a little more, I have you. I pull the trigger on my crossbow and heard a thug. She jumped and ran into the field, with every step I could here a gushing sound, I said to myself “I hit her good” when down she went.
I was finally able to get a late season bow hunting kill now it was time to field dress her. When I came around the corner of the house my husband was just pulling in from work. I told him I finally killed a deer for your friend at work that is in need of the meat. He said, “I could tell you got one, you are gleaming”. No matter how many times I kill a deer with a bow I feel the sport just keeps getting better and better for me. Bow hunting is far better than gun hunting if you have never tried it you should give it a shot. To all you bow hunters out there, never give up, you will get your shot.

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Published by Newbowhuntingsupplies.com on 26 Jan 2010

Bow Hunting in the Early Season

The Big Buck

Look at this 15 Point BuckLook at the size of This Rack

It was a Sunday evening, two weeks into the Ohio bow season, and it was time for my husband and me to get into our stands. Bob went to one end of our land and I went to the other. While sitting in my stand, playing on my iphone,I heard deer moving in the woods. It was time to listen and be ready to shoot. My crossbow was sitting next to me so I got the binoculars out to try to see where they were. The bucks started grunting, what a neat sound. The grunts were getting closer and then there was a sound I had never heard before, kind of like a real deep grunt or roar. Then in the field across from me appeared some doe and two nice size bucks, an 8 point and a 10 point. They appeared to be playing when all of the sudden the two bucks started sizing each other up. They weren’t really fighting, just pushing each other around. This went on for about 45 minutes then they just stopped and went on to eating and walked away. They stayed 85 yards away from me so all I could do is watch.

When Bob came out of his stand he said he watched the big buck, a 15 point, and a smaller buck pushing each other around on one side of the field and on the other side of the field were two eight points doing the same thing. He was telling me about the noises they were making and said he had never heard some of these sounds before. The one noise was like a real deep grunt or roar and when the big buck made that noise he chased the smaller buck away from a doe. After the buck chased the other buck away Bob got to hear the wheeze, Bob said it was a neat sound. Needless to say, the deer stayed too far away for Bob and me to get a shot.

Since bow hunting is being in the right place at the right time and scouting your spots, Monday night I decided to go to his stand because he saw the big buck, but all I saw was some does about 100 yards away. I heard the bucks grunting but never got to see them. Then right before dark the coyotes started to howl so I figured the deer were going to leave. On my way out of the woods I saw a deer near my stand but I couldn’t tell if it was a buck or a doe. When I got home from teaching the next day I went back to get the pictures off my camera and low and behold standing right next to my stand was the big buck. It was about 7:15 p.m., well before dark, and there were 5 pictures of him.

I decided I was going to bow hunt out of ‘my stand’ for a while. Tuesday I had 4 small bucks come by my stand but I didn’t want to take a shot. On Wednesday night I heard something coming from behind my stand. It was getting close to dark so I really couldn’t see well in the woods due to the leaves but the fields still had plenty of light. The first deer comes out and walks toward the feeder, it was an 8 point with a high rack but not very wide. It eats a little bit and then looks back in the woods and starts to walk off. Then here he came, the big buck, 15 points. When I first saw him my heart started beating quickly. I said to myself, “Is that really him? Am I going to get a shot? Now calm down Christy”. As I watched him walk around and check out the territory I settled down. By the time he walked towards me it was getting dark. I put the scope of my crossbow on him, yep it was the big boy, but how far was he away from me. I looked back up at him, tried to figure out the yardage, I thought you don’t want to wound this one. He walked to his left and stood broad side to me, again just couldn’t figure out how far away. I decided it was too late to shoot and watched him walk away.

When I went bow hunting Thursday night I figured out he was 30 yards away and I had the perfect shot. Needless to say I have not seen that big buck since. Even though I could kick myself in the butt for not shooting I think I did the right thing.

The life of a bow hunter is hard at times but unlike a gun you must make sure they are in range before you release or pull the trigger on your bow. However, it is a great feeling being in the woods and seeing the deer and other wildlife just doing their thing. I would rather bow hunt than gun hunt any day.

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Published by admin on 25 Jan 2010

Proven Bruin Tactics By Bell Vaznis

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

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Published by KurtD on 14 Jan 2010

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