Archive for the 'Bowhunting' Category

3 votes, average: 3.33 out of 53 votes, average: 3.33 out of 53 votes, average: 3.33 out of 53 votes, average: 3.33 out of 53 votes, average: 3.33 out of 5 (3 votes, average: 3.33 out of 5)
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Published by ryalred on 25 Sep 2008

The Day I Shot “Lights Out”

The Culprit

It was a beautiful, crisp, fall day and I wanted to be hunting so badly, but I really had too much work to do. It is so true, “Work really gets in the way of hunting.” So, I decided I’d do a little practicing with my relatively new Browning compound bow. I did have enough time to do that.

I have a really wonderful place to practice tree stand shooting—from my second story kitchen window. As you know the arrow doesn’t drop as much when shot from and elevated position. All I had to do to duplicate my tree stand was to open the window in my kitchen (I had removed the screen for this purpose), which was on the second floor of our home, and shoot at the targets I had set up at various distances in my back yard.

I was having a great shoot—really making me want to hunt because I was shooting “lights out” that day. My wife came into the kitchen and we exchanged pleasantries and she went about her work in the kitchen. I went down to retrieve my arrows for another round of practice. After removing the arrows from the targets I decided to move the targets around a little to give me a new shooting perspective.

I finally came back to the kitchen—my wife was doing something at the kitchen counter—and I picked up my bow and nocked and arrow. I drew and took steady aim and hit the release. What happened for the following few moments is still a blur. Immediately upon pulling the release trigger there was this absolutely awful, deafening CRASH! For an instant or two I didn’t know what had happened. The first thought that came to mind was that by bow had disintegrated. I looked at it and kind of gave my self a once over to see if I was hurt but everything seemed to be alright. About the same time I turned toward my wife and I swear her eyes were as big as half dollars and there was a look of terror on her face. She later said that my eyes were also as wide as half dollars and I too had this awful, panic-stricken look.

I was finally able to gather my wits and take stock of the situation. The bow was intact and the arrow had indeed been launched, but there the arrow lay in the middle of the kitchen floor . . . with broken glass laying all around it. It was now evident. My wife had shut the window (the air being cool) when I went down to get my arrows. She thought I was through practicing. The window was so clean (that was unusual) that I hadn’t noticed she had closed it and she was so involved in her project at the counter that she hadn’t noticed me nock and draw my arrow.

For the life of me, I still can’t explain the arrow being in the kitchen floor. Why hadn’t it penetrated the window and gone somewhere outside? The arrow appeared to be in good condition, something I definitely couldn’t say about the kitchen window. This practice session I had done much more than shoot “lights out,” I had shot the window out.

My wife has never let me live this one down—although I still declare her to be at fault for closing the window, but of course, she lays all the blame squarely on my shoulders. It’s bad enough that she won’t let me live it down, but she has made sure all my friends and hunting buddies know what I did that day. Well, we all still get a big laugh out of it.

4 votes, average: 3.25 out of 54 votes, average: 3.25 out of 54 votes, average: 3.25 out of 54 votes, average: 3.25 out of 54 votes, average: 3.25 out of 5 (4 votes, average: 3.25 out of 5)
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Published by ryalred on 23 Sep 2008

The Bloodtrailor Deer

Fog, mist, dark, dreary—perfect deer hunting weather. There wasn’t a leaf moving. It was the last half of muzzle loader season in Southeast Oklahoma and I had already killed a nice buck with my old Jukar smoke pole, but I had taken a week’s vacation and bow season coincides with the primitive arms season, so I thought I’d make the most of my time off and hunt with my bow. And, besides, I was anxious to try out these new Blood Trailer mechanical broadheads (they were new then). I had always had trouble getting my broadheads to fly like field points. I hadn’t yet learned the, what now seems so simple, steps to arrow tuning, and this promise of a broadhead flying just like field point was extremely appealing. My only concern was the killing potential of the Blood Trailers. I’m not a physicist, but the principles behind the mechanics of the Blood Trailer seemed reasonable to me, but the cutting blades seemed a little flimsy, but their ads had been very convincing, so, I’d give um a try.

As usual, I had some difficulty deciding which stand to hunt. I had almost 200 acres all to myself—the weather having scared off my brother-in-law and my father-in-law. I had the option of about a dozen stands from which to choose and the wind was no factor at all. Why I chose the one I did, I’ll never know. It wasn’t my favorite stand. It wasn’t my most productive stand. It wasn’t one that produced the largest deer or the most sightings. Maybe it was because I hadn’t hunted it in quite some time, or maybe the fact that the stand was close to the maximum range I had imposed on myself from the trails the deer usually used. This would be a good range to see just how good those Blood Trailers flew and their down range penetrability. Whatever the reason, it was the most fortuitous choice I had ever made in choosing a location to hunt.

I got there about three hours before dark and climbed into my stand, expecting a couple of hours of waiting before the deer started moving. I had carefully hung by doe in estrus scent bombs in three positions around my tree and now I was ready. I knew I wouldn’t be able to hear any deer coming my way because everything was so wet from all the fog and mist. I nocked an Easton 2117 aluminum arrow on the string of my old Ben Pearson compound bow and sat back for the wait. I daydreamed a little about new bows, something with more than 50 % let off would be nice, and those carbon arrows would be great, too, but that would all have to wait till next year.

I had only been there an hour when I caught a glimpse of movement out of the corner of my eye. Whatever it was, it was already pretty close and I hadn’t removed my bow from its hanger. It also wasn’t on one of the main trails past my stand. But, I remained motionless for what seemed like 30 minutes waiting for whatever I had seen to step out in my filed of view. Then the wait was over but the excitement was just beginning. The largest whitetail deer I’d ever seen while hunting walked right out into view, maybe 18 yds from my tree and quartered slightly away from me. He stops and began to look all around and he held his head high in the air as if to catch the scent of something, but he didn’t appear to be the least bit nervous—he wasn’t scenting me. He was smelling my scent bombs and was looking for the doe giving off that wonderful odor. He looked to be a 10 pointer with very heavy beams and a massive body. My heart was beating so hard, I was sure he would hear it. He just stood there scenting and looking. I ever so slowly removed my bow from its hanger and clipped my release onto the string. All the time I just kept thinking, “He’s so close—if I miss him I’ll be just sick.” I also kept thinking, “I sure do wish I had a Thunderhead on my arrow instead of that flimsy looking Blood Trailer,” but it was going to have to do. I slowly drew my arrow and aligned to peep and top sight pin to just behind his front shoulder and hit the release. It was a good release and a good shot. I saw the arrow hit almost exactly where I was aiming. It also made that wonderfully sound of an arrow hitting the heart/lung area. Instantly the monster buck turned and ran out of sight.

It was the longest thirty minutes I had ever waited to get down out of my stand, but I had made it a rule a couple of years early to not leave the stand for at least thirty minutes after I had shot a deer with my bow. (I would wait longer if I felt the shot wasn’t too good.) Upon reaching the ground, I walked to where the huge deer had been standing when I shot, thinking I’d find my arrow stuck in the ground where it had passed through, but no arrow. Worse yet, there was no blood. I slowly walked in the direction he ran, looking for blood after each step. I walked 15 steps and found one small drop of bright red blood. I was sure that within the next few steps I’d begin finding large amounts of blood, but not so. I only found a couple more small drops of blood. I marked each spot with a sheet of toilet tissue so I wouldn’t loose the trail and I could get an idea of the specific direction the deer was taking.

I was beginning to worry with all kinds of questions racing through my head. “Did I not make a good shot—was it too high?” “Did the Blood Trailer fail and only cause minimal damage?” “Why, oh why hadn’t I had a Thunderhead on that arrow.” I looked and looked in ever expanding semi circles in the direction I had seen the buck heading, but no deer, and even worse, no blood! It was about to get dark, and I had gone about 50 yards from where I had shot the deer. It was going to be cool that night so I decided to go in and begin searching again at daylight the next morning. I really thought I had killed the deer and it was out there somewhere and I was going to find it the next day.

I could hardly sleep that night and off and on that night I could hear it raining—there would be no blood trail. I was up before daylight and packed my backpack with snacks and water—I was going to make a day of looking for this deer. Upon arriving at the spot where I’d shot the deer the blood, what little there was, had washed away, but the toilet tissue was there, though a little water logged. I decided to make complete circles about ten yards apart beginning at where I’d stopped looking the night before. I thought he could have turned back so I didn’t want to look just in the direction I last saw him going.

By 10:00 a.m. I had made ever widening circles out to 100 yards from the spot of the shot and still no deer. I decided to take a break from that procedure and walk to two nearby ponds since I remembered that injured deer will sometimes go to water, but no deer. I was beginning to feel really sick about the possibility of loosing the best deer I’d ever seen, much lest taken a shot at. The fact that he had been only 18 yds away made me feel even worse.

I decided to try one other thing before I went back to making the every expanding circles—thinking I’d go out to at least 200 yards with them. I went back to the spot of the shot and got a line with the three sheets of toilet tissue I’d used to mark the blood spots. I decided to walk in a straight line, that direction, for at least 300 yards. At 150 yards I looked up ahead and there in a large area of grass—could it be—yes it was, the deer of a lifetime. He had run as hard as he could go and then just fell in a heap. He had been dead before I left the stand the day before.

Upon investigation I found that the arrow had penetrated the upper chest, just behind the front leg and had passed through both lungs, but had not exited on the other, lower side. My Thunderheads would have passed through and there would have been gushers of blood. Yes, the Blood Trailer had done its job properly but had fallen short of its name—leaving no blood trail. (I would never use one again.)

The deer was so huge I could not move it. I had to get my father-in-law to help. The buck’s field dressed weight—a whopping 185 lbs (for Southeast Oklahoma that is huge). Its rack was a wide, heavy beamed 10 point that I have never had scored. I’m extremely proud of it. It larger than most deer I see hanging in guys’ living rooms AND I GOT IT WITH A BOW!!!

5 votes, average: 3.60 out of 55 votes, average: 3.60 out of 55 votes, average: 3.60 out of 55 votes, average: 3.60 out of 55 votes, average: 3.60 out of 5 (5 votes, average: 3.60 out of 5)
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Published by dworakma on 22 Sep 2008

2008 Bivy Trip

2008 Elk Hunt

Friday – September 12, 2008

I left town around 1:30 pm and met Jeff’s friend Nate (AKA SuperNacho) at Ted’s Place at the mouth of the Poudre Canyon.  Nate hadn’t been up to our spot before and it’s tough to get back in there if you haven’t been, so I volunteered to caravan up with him.  It was spitting snow on the drive up and the mountain passes had several inches on the ground, it was looking like it might be a tough trip!

Cameron Pass

Cameron Pass

Got to the trailhead and Big Ron’s truck was there but he wasn’t around, which meant he was running a load of gear up the trail on the four-wheeler.  Hung out for a little bit while another afternoon shower blew threw, it was definitely looking like I might be in for a long week.

Loading Up

Loading Up

Got up to camp after dark and setup up my tent in the rain.  Had a few beers with the fellas and went to bed.

Saturday – Sept 13 (Full moon, 65-70 degrees clear skies)

Woke up at 5:00 am.  Drew and I were the only ones to make it out of camp early and we were planning on staying out for five days with our bivy gear.  By the way, after adding “a few odds and ends” my pack, water, bow all weighed in at 55 lbs.  As we were walking out of camp we noticed three muzzleloader hunters were heading in the same direction as we were.  They ended up getting in front of us which was fine, that way we could see which way they were headed and hunt some place else.  But as soon as we got to the big meadow outside of the old horse camp, we heard elk crashing thru the trees.  Since we’ve encountered elk here many times we had a pretty good idea which way they were headed and took off running, hoping to keep ahead of them.  We heard the muzzleloaders bugling to the elk and had to laugh because we knew they didn’t have a chance.  We only know this because we’ve been outsmarted at this very spot too many times.  It turns out we lucked out and made the right call.   When we approached “the knob” after jogging about 1.5 miles, it was awesome.  We had about six bulls all bugling within 200 yards.  I sat back to call for Drew and happened to get a bull on video while I was sitting (I know my video skills are pretty rough, to say the least.  If you get seasick easily you’ll probably get queasy watching).  You can hear the bull do the popping/nervous grunt at the end of our face off.  He came to within 45 yards and all the while I was waiting for Drew to shoot.  Unfortunately he was chasing one of the other five bulls, which he never caught up with.  It’s too bad my video camera doesn’t do so good capturing audio, because those bulls were close and it was amazing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYgxGCGu3VQ

After catching the bull on video they seemed to quiet down a bit and we sat down to relax with a hot cup of coffee and some granola.  Afterward, we heard a few more bugles, which gave us an idea which direction they were headed and kept following.

Checking out the map

Checking out the map

Drew with a Full Pack

Drew with a Full Pack

Around mid-day we stopped for lunch.  Actually I stopped.  Drew was going to continue another 400-500 yards up the hill and I was going to call again hoping a bull would respond and he’d be close enough to sneak in.  I’m not sure what exactly happened but I didn’t see Drew for another couple hours.  Apparently during that time he saw 35-45 elk and almost had a couple shots but it never panned out.  The last part of the afternoon we climbed out of the bowl we hunted all morning and proceeded to see another 16 elk on the adjacent hillside.  Of the 16, there was a fairly nice bull with the bunch.  He’s the other elk on the video.  I shot the footage for about ¼ mile so it’s fairly shaky but we ended up getting to within about 30 yards of that bull before I ended up getting busted.  It was pretty disappointing since he would have been a great bull and it had been an awesome stalk up to that point.

We set up bivy camp on the hillside that night about 4-5 miles from where we started out that morning.  Drew wanted to give one last bugle before calling it a night.  And wouldn’t you know it, he called a bull to within 30 yards of our sleeping bags.  The elk sang us to sleep that night, we couldn’t have asked for a better day.

Bivy Camp

Bivy Camp

Since the elk had been bugling all night and had woken us up multiple times we had a pretty good idea where to head in the morning.  As we were trying to get ready we had a bull bugling within about 200 yards of camp, so we got dressed as quickly and quietly as possible.  We ended up getting into a heard of maybe 10 cows, a herd bull and several satellite bulls.  It had gotten down to about 25 degrees that night and unfortunately my video camera was too cold to turn on so I didn’t get any footage.  We ended up chasing the herd down the side of the mountain before they lost us.  Drew got a glimpse of the herd bull and said he was big (300 inches?).

After all the excitement that morning we headed back to our bivy camp for coffee and breakfast.  Granola, powered milk and protein power for me, Drew had dehydrated Mountain House eggs, ham, and green pepper.  His was starting to look better than my granola mix; I’ll have to add some variety for breakfast next year.  We also dropped down to a natural spring to refill our water supplies.

We finally got a hold of Big Ron on the radio around 10:00 that morning and talked him into heading out to bivy with us.  He ended up showing up later that afternoon.

Big Ron heading our way from over 1/2 mile

Big Ron heading our way from over 1/2 mile

Drew and Big Ron

Drew and Big Ron

That night we returned to where we lost the herd earlier that morning but didn’t have any luck.  They finally started bugling after dark and we thought one was going to walk right up to us.  It was pretty cool to sit there in the moonlight listening to the bulls bugle.

Full Moon on the Mountain

Full Moon on the Mountain

Monday – Sept 15

Woke up at 6 am and packed up our bivy’s.  We gave a few locate bugles off the top of the mountain trying to determine which direction to travel.  We heard a couple bugles from the “triple-nipple” to the north and a single bugle down the mountain to the west.  Since heading west kept us closer to base camp that’s where we headed.  Of course when we got to the bottom of the mountain he quit bugling.  We sat down around 9:30 for breakfast and to figure out a new plan.  As were screwing around boiling water for coffee and jabbering away I saw a couple cows walking thru the trees about 45 yards away.  I told Drew to cow call, grabbed my bow and headed towards them.  Unfortunately, I think they were wise to our mid-mountain breakfast buffet and ran out of there.

About that time we heard the bull that brought us down the mountain that morning bugle again, but he was getting further and further away.  Big Ron and I decided to stay put and keep calling while Drew took off after him.  The plan was working great until we called in another hunter.  We never did see the guy but his calling was horrendous and we knew it wasn’t an elk, I think Beau (my 2 yr. old) is probably better than this guy was.

We sat in that area for a little while and eventually decided to head north.  We walked a couple miles and then hung out for a couple hours in an “elky” looking area before the evening bulging would hopefully start back up.  Nobody saw anything, we figured we’d cook an early dinner, since we would likely hunt until right before dark.  As we were cooking dinner elk started to bugle, and one seemed to keep getting closer.  We quickly finished up and headed towards the nearest bugle, which wasn’t far off.  It turns out the bull was bugling from a great wallow and was raking the tress with his antlers.  All three of us were watching from about 50 yards when the elk called in yet a bigger elk, which chased him out of the wallow.  Big Ron had been bugling which kept both the elk fired up and Drew took off chasing them again.  We talked to him on the radio after about ½ hour and he said he had shot a bull.  We went to help him track the bull and luckily found he didn’t go far.  We all worked in the dark by headlamp skinning, boning and hanging the elk meat to cool.

Big Ron, Drew & Matt

Big Ron, Drew & Matt

Tuesday – Sept 16

Drew in his Bivy

Drew in his Bivy

We knew it was going to be a long day.  It was five miles to the nearest four-wheeler trail.  Those five miles included a thousand foot vertical decent through some nasty blow-down, followed by several miles of halfway flat wilderness trail and finally a couple tough miles with another thousand-foot climb back to the top.  The worst part was we knew it was going to take two trips!  The first trip Drew and I packed half our bivy gear, and a sack of boned out elk meat, total of 75-80 lbs.  Big Ron packed out all his bivy gear and the antlers.

Big Ron Packing Out

Big Ron Packing Out

After the five-mile first trip, Big Ron heading down another trail back to base camp to get the four wheeler and Drew and I dropped back down for another load of meat and the rest of our gear.  We ended up crawling out of the bowl at about 8:30 that night by headlamp, sweating and dragging having walked 15 miles that day.  It was brutal! Seeing that Big Ron had dropped off a four-wheeler and a cooler of beer and cold burritos was quite possibly the best thing we’d ever seen.

Wednesday – Sept 17

Slept in.  Woke up and screwed around camp drinking coffee and eating breakfast burritos.  Packed up and heading down the trail by 11:00am.  Other than some awfully sore legs we had an unbelievable trip.

Packing Out

Packing Out

On a side note, we talked to a lot of guys on the trails.  Nobody had seen any elk or heard any bugles, while we had had the best trip of our lives.  Goes to show that a little boot leather is an amazing thing.

6 votes, average: 3.67 out of 56 votes, average: 3.67 out of 56 votes, average: 3.67 out of 56 votes, average: 3.67 out of 56 votes, average: 3.67 out of 5 (6 votes, average: 3.67 out of 5)
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Published by Klyph on 18 Sep 2008

Hand Climber Seat Strap – A MUST have

I used a Summit Viper for the last few years and loved it as a climbing stand… the only issue I had with it was its large frame when carrying it through the woods, and the amount of space it took up in my vehicle. So with much hesitation I traded it for a hand climber that folds completely flat and took care of my “issues” with the summit.

The Problem that quickly revealed itself was that the hand climber stand is much more difficult to use, especially with winter clothing, as I found out late season last year. As I climbed my first tree, I wondered why I ever got rid of my summit and spent most of my time contemplating listing my new stand on AT Classifieds as soon as I got home. Fortunately all wasn’t lost as I was able to harvest a nice doe and my thoughts quickly became focused on the “rush” of the hunt. That was my last tag of the year and my equipment was put away and I didn’t think much about my new issue until a few months ago.

I noticed the new Lone Wolf Hand Climbers now come with a strap that you use to sit on as you climb. (Link given for visual purposes: http://www.lonewolfstands.com/shoppingcart/Products/Hand-Climber-SitStrap__LWHCS.aspx ) I quickly ran to my tangled mess of old safety harnesses and created my own seat strap. (Disclaimer: Use at you own risk) 

I took it to the back yard and fell back in Love with my hand climber!

I now have the best of both worlds… A light, compact stand, that can also be used effortlessly as a sit and climb style stand.

If you are a penny pincher like my self, I am sure you can find some strapping around the house to use… but I would recommend for safety purposes to go out and purchase a seat strap if you don’t have on on your hand climber. It is worth it!

8 votes, average: 2.38 out of 58 votes, average: 2.38 out of 58 votes, average: 2.38 out of 58 votes, average: 2.38 out of 58 votes, average: 2.38 out of 5 (8 votes, average: 2.38 out of 5)
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Published by Scott M on 16 Sep 2008

The Final Countdown

Truth be told after the close of the 2007 PA firearms season I started counting down to the start of the 2008 season.  During the ’07 season I took a beautiful heavy 9 point, and that day I made up my mind it was time to take up archery hunting, up until then I’d been a gun only hunter.  Whether that was small game, turkey or whitetail deer.

From December until February I researched archery equipment.  Websites were a wonderful tool, but I found that there’s no substitute for personal experiences, so I talked to as many archery hunters as I could.  I eventually found my way to the local pro-shop, where I met with a knowledgable salesperson, and purchased a complete setup. 

After purchasing the setup I was immediately obsessed with target shooting.  Starting at 9 paces in my basement until the weather here in northwestern PA, broke and I could move the practice outside.  May and June found me honing my skills at 20 yards until my groups were tight enough to ruin 2 arrows.  That can get expensive really fast so after June I stopped shooting for groups and started practicing at 30 and 40 yards.  I aslo built a platform stand so that I could practice from an elevated position.

As the summer progressed family obligations caught up with me and my practice routine was limited to a dozen or so shots every other week.  I also found time for some stand maintenance, and early season scouting.

Now here we are 18 days and counting until Archery season opens in my part of Pennsylvania.  New scent control gear has been purchased and old favorites have been washed in baking soda, sprayed with scent control solution, and packed away until the morning of October 4th.  I’ve started to sort my gear and even pack some of it away in my day pack.  The new broadheads have been assembled and mounted on the arrows.  I’ve even taken a few shots to insure the broadhead didn’t change the flight of the arrow.

My nights are filled with dreams of my first archery harvest.  Whether that be a fat doe, or a legal buck, makes no difference to me.  I’ve invested countless hours and the thrill of that sunrise on October 4th, with all the promise it holds, will be the dividend I’ve waited to collect.

10 votes, average: 2.60 out of 510 votes, average: 2.60 out of 510 votes, average: 2.60 out of 510 votes, average: 2.60 out of 510 votes, average: 2.60 out of 5 (10 votes, average: 2.60 out of 5)
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Published by Acts 10.13 on 13 Sep 2008

Most Unsuccessful Hunt of a Lifetime

The final day of deer hunting with my grandpa before his death was largely unsuccessful. 

Not unsuccessful because of a lack of deer-sightings or unsuccessful because of an off-target arrow that took flight.  Because to me success is not merely harvesting an animal.  Success is being able to fool your quarry.  To sneak into their woods, their home, their turf and to fool their eyes, ears and nose into believing that you’re just another piece of normality.

My last hunt with the man who passed his hunting heritage to my father and I was unsuccessful because I didn’t listen to him.  My beekeeping Grandpa put me into what I would ironically call his “honey hole.”  And he gave me very loud, very specific instructions when he and my dad dropped me off.  (Much like my father and my father’s father, I have little to no awareness of the volume of my voice.  Just ask my wife.) 

“Go into the woods until you hit an ‘ol fence layin’ ‘cross the ground.  Cross that fence and go about fifty yards up the side of that mountain.  To yer right is a big ‘ol rock.  Sit on it and don’t move until the deer come down the hill in front of ya on yer right.  They’ll give you a perfect qwarterin’ away shot before they head out to the field to feed at dark.”

The mean, old grump’s plan was simple enough and easy to follow.  But I ignored it.  Well, not all of it.  I did go into the woods and I did cross the fence and I did walk about 50 yards into the woods. But it was the sitting-on-the-rock part that I ignored.  I HATE sitting on the ground and I HATE even more sitting on the ground on top of a chilly rock in the middle of winter.  Because no matter how many icy hours you endure sitting on a rock in the middle of winter, it never seems to warms up.

So, what did I do?  I moved just a few yards to the left of the big, uncomfortable rock that my Grandpa told me to sit on and perched myself in front of an oak tree.  Okay, it was more than just a few yards.  It was more like fifteen or twenty.  Most would say that it was my young, naive pride that caused me to ignore my elder’s instructions.  They would be mostly correct.  The truth is I was carrying a brand new lock on seat that I was just dying to try out.  Like I said, I HATE sitting on the ground.

So, after twenty minutes or so of fidgeting with this brand new, fandangled lock on seat and surely scaring off every woodland creature for at least a county or so, I settled into my lock on seat for a night of doing things my way. 

Now, I should say that my Grandpa’s hunting style was very old fashioned and VERY solidified, at least in my mind.  In all my years of hunting with him, he never scouted.  Not once.  His philosophy was that he had hunted that property since God made it and by golly he had these deer figured out by now!  His schemes were tried and true.  So, had he known that I had ignored his instruction and set up in my own little sweet spot, he probably would have marched up into the woods and let me have it – curse words, chewing tobacco, spit and all.  Heck, I’m pretty sure that he would have left me and my noisy, unnecessary lock on seat at home were I not the only hunting grandchild of his that wasn’t locked up at the time. (My only hunting cousin was in the hokey for leaving the scene of an accident, driving under the influence, fleeing from a police officer, kicking a puppy and numerous other immoral acts that I dare not mention.)

I sat on my brand new lock on seat for about 10 minutes before I decided that it was the worst thing that had ever happened to a man’s hind quarters.  (I have since rid myself of it by means of a yard sale and a two-dollar wielding old man who probably hates sitting on the ground just as much as I do.)  But I endured.  I endured to prove to myself and my ritualistic old grandpa that although he thought my new lock on seat was a waste of metal and cushioning, change can sometimes be good.

And a fantastic change occurred after I had endured an hour or so on the lock on stand from Helena.  I began to hear the pitter patter of little hooves behind me up on the side of the hill.  And the great thing was that they were coming right at me.  I slowly placed my hands at the ready on my bow and waited for the deer to close the 40 yards or so between it and I.  But as an eternity of footsteps progressed closer and closer to me, I began to realize that something that initially brought me great excitement was now quickly causing worry to overcome my mind like hunger on an all-day rut hunt.  The fact was that the deer was coming right for me.  No really, RIGHT FOR ME.  As I sat there, as still as stone, I shot a glance as far left and as far behind me as my eyeballs alone would allow.  It was this glance that made me realize that in the midst of my lock-on-seat-excitement I neglected to notice the VERY prominent deer trail that sat a mere 3 or 4 yards to my right. 

I wish I could say that the wind was blowing directly across my chest and that the deer leisurely strolled right past me and offered the “qwarterin’” away shot that my Grandpa had talked about.  But the truth was the wind was kind of non-existent at that moment in time.  So, my scent, much like smoke when left alone, was kind of just bulging out and up around me.  I wish that I could say that I was decked out in Scent Lok or Scent Blocker and that the deer sniffed my right armpit and still strolled right on by.  But hey, I was a newlywed fresh out of college, which means that I wasn’t exactly a high roller.  I wish I could say that the particular deer in question was born without a sense of smell.  That away I could put an end to his years of suffering a few moments later.  But just when the footsteps sounded as if the next one would fall directly on top of my back, I heard that familiar noise deer make when they’ve called your bluff, “PHWOOOH, PHWOOOH,” which every experienced hunter translates to mean, “I know you’re there, you moron!”

I turned my head to watch the deer’s white, pointy tail bounce through the woods back up the hill and out of my life forever.  I sat there dejected for another ten or fifteen minutes before I heard the familiar pitter patter of hooves again, following down that familiar path, right up to my familiar tree.  This time I turned my head away from the trail, to the left, in hopes that if it couldn’t see me and I couldn’t see it that maybe it wouldn’t smell me.  (See no evil, smell no evil right?)  As I sat, waiting on the deer to close the distance to my tree I realized that I was staring directly at a big rock twenty yards or so away that I should have been sitting on.  And in that moment, as the deer began yelling at me yet again and again, “I know you’re there, you moron!  I know you’re there, you moron!”  My grandpa might as well have appeared magically on top of the rock and said, “You should have sat here, you moron!  You should have thrown that lock on in the fireplace, you moron!”

Four or five months after that hunt, my dad began to notice that when my grandpa walked across the yard after he pulled up to his house that he stumbled around a bit.  Over time the stumbling got worse and worse until one day he stumbled and lost his glasses.  Where he had lost them he didn’t know because his memory was fading as well.  The breaking point was when grandpa was squirrel hunting that next Fall on that same piece of property, he fell down pretty hard and had to hobble out of the woods in the dark without his flashlight or his hunter’s orange vest while using his rifle as a crutch.  Good thing he had hunted that property since God created it.

A few doctor’s visits later and we learned that he had a spiderous, cancerous brain tumor that was causing a lot of swelling and pressure in his head, hence the loss of balance and memory.  After an all-day surgery and some chemo, the cancer seemed to subside.  But only 3 or 4 months after his final dose of chemo, I began to notice that he was asking me if I had seen the surgical scar on his head three or four times per visit.  Others began to notice the familiar memory loss again.  And a little while later the loss of balance returned.  The cancer was back.

The stubborn, old codger decided that he would not have surgery or do chemo again and that he would live out the rest of his days as best he could, as happy as he could.  He was bed ridden within a month or so and required constant care and attention shortly after that. 

The hardest part about his final weeks for me was the diapers.  And I have a master’s degree in diapers thanks to my two little girls.  But there was something about seeing such a strong man, such an able man, refined to sucking water from a straw and eating blended mush twenty-four-seven and then in turn wetting and soiling himself time and time again.  It was as if every time I removed his diaper and changed him I wiped away another little piece of his dignity and pride.

The last hours I spent with him were typical for he and I because they revolved around the one thing that united us all my life – the woods.  I went to care for him one Saturday to give my dad and his sisters a break.  We watched a few deer videos.  Then he napped while I shot my bow in his front yard.  Then we watched a few more deer videos.  The entire day he said not one word.  But as I took out our last deer video, only ten minutes or so before my dad showed up to relieve me, he looked at me with his usual grin of orneriness and said, “You wanna go huntin’?”  I smiled and said, “Grandpa, we can’t go huntin’.  It’s July.”  And I thought to myself that even if I did break the law to give my dying, bedridden Grandpa his last hunt, that we would become the hunted as we were eaten alive by mosquitoes. 

Those were the last words I ever heard him say.  Over the next few days, his breathing became labored to the point where he was taking one breath about every 45 seconds or so.  Grandpa passed as peacefully as one can when they’re gasping for a single breath each minute.  And as sure as the sun, the typical funeral-time turmoil reared its ugly head as my family fought over funeral arrangements and the handling of his simple estate.  If he were a fly on the wall for a few weeks following his death, I’m sure he would have had some fly-size chewing tobacco to spit at a few of my family members as he gave ‘em what for. 

Grandpa was a simple man.  He had thousands and thousands in his bank account when he passed but yet chose to drive a nearly antique pick-up truck that he bought used and lived in a handed down house that was so old the electrical wiring was run outside of the stud walls.  His life revolved around two simple loves – his love for his family and his love for the outdoors. 

And on the last chance for me to ever soak up some of his love for the outdoors and some of his whitetail wisdom concerning a patch of property that my Father and I still hunt, he told me to sit on the stinkin’ rock.  And I didn’t listen.

15 votes, average: 3.53 out of 515 votes, average: 3.53 out of 515 votes, average: 3.53 out of 515 votes, average: 3.53 out of 515 votes, average: 3.53 out of 5 (15 votes, average: 3.53 out of 5)
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Published by djohns13 on 12 Sep 2008

The Hunter’s Gene

“You’re going to do what?” my wife asked with an angry look on her face. “Are you kidding me? There is an ice storm warning for our area today, and you think it is a good idea to climb up in a tree stand and deer hunt?”
“Sure do baby, you know me, I’ll be safe,” I shot back.
“Yes I do know you and that’s what scares me. You’re unbelievable sometimes.”
That is the way my 5:00 a.m. conversation went with my wife as I was headed out the door to go to my favorite tree last November. There was an ice storm bearing down on Indiana and I knew it could be a bad one. But the way I saw it, the storm wouldn’t rev up until about noon and there was a good chance the deer movement would be heavy before the storm started. I wanted to put one more deer in the freezer before the holidays. The day was cold with a stiff wind that seemed to penetrate every bone in my body. By 9:00 a.m. I was knocking ice off of my bow and nocked arrow. By ten I was wondering if my climber would grip the tree trunk on the way down so I decided to give it up and climb down. As it turns out, the deer were smarter than me that day and were already bedded down in preparation for the storm.
In retrospect, was it a bad hunting day? Absolutely not! My hunting partner and I both enjoyed ourselves tremendously. We didn’t bag any game, although he got very close before the bedded deer spooked and ran away. Other than his runaways, I didn’t even see another four-legged mammal that day. Most people would have detested that time in the cold but I loved it and would do it again in a heartbeat. Why? My wife would say it is because I am just not right, but I say it is because I was born with the Hunter’s gene.
Anyone one who is a hardcore hunter knows exactly what I mean when I talk about the Hunter’s gene. Anyone who isn’t generally doesn’t have a clue what I am talking about. It isn’t because of their intelligence, it’s because they weren’t born with the gene like we were. The Hunter’s gene is what drives us to do supposedly crazy things like sitting out in an ice storm, or crawling on our hands and knees through a mosquito infested swamp, or pursuing carnivores much larger and tougher than we are with just a bow and arrow. But it doesn’t stop there. The Hunter’s gene also ensures that we keep our families well-fed, well-protected and warm through those ice storms. It is what propels us to defend our families, our nation and other nations during times of trouble. It is what allows us to personally and quietly sacrifice so that others have what they need. And yes, it is what enables us to willingly go out into the depths of nature with nothing but stick and string and go to battle with the best eyes, ears and noses that exist. And even on those times where the battle doesn’t end with a kill, we are still grateful for having been able to participate, and can’t wait to do it again.
Having said all that, I realize I didn’t need to say it at all. Without a word, you already understood.

15 votes, average: 3.33 out of 515 votes, average: 3.33 out of 515 votes, average: 3.33 out of 515 votes, average: 3.33 out of 515 votes, average: 3.33 out of 5 (15 votes, average: 3.33 out of 5)
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Published by djohns13 on 11 Sep 2008

To Shoot or Not to Shoot?

Does, that is. The question is about as old as the philosophy of quality deer management itself. It might just be the most debated topic in deer hunting and management but to this day a “one size fits all” answer eludes us. What works great for one property might be woefully wrong for another. For those who haven’t made up their minds where they stand on the issue, read my theories below and see how you think they would apply to your situation. I don’t believe that my answer is 100% correct for everyone and every property, but I think it will work well for the vast majority.
The basic question is whether or not to purposefully maximize the doe harvest on your hunting grounds, and if so, do you concentrate on younger does, mature “matriarch” does, or both. The most straight-forward answer to the first question is yes; by all means maximize the harvest of does, unless your current deer population is well below the carrying capacity of the land. If this is the case, let them walk for a year or so until you see the population reaching the limits of the land, and then employ a heavy doe harvest strategy. The answer to the second question is to take both mature and young does for the reasons described below.
For those of you who have plenty of, or even too many deer for your land, here are four strong reasons why you should focus on doe harvest:
1. Does with fawns will chase their young buck offspring out of their home range to prevent the possibility of inbreeding and genetic problems. If you want the young bucks born on your property to end up on someone else’s property, leave the mama does alone. They will see to it that almost every young buck leaves in a hurry. If you want those bucks to stay and grow big, harvest their mothers and your property will become their home range. Even better would be if your neighbors don’t take any does so that you get to keep your bucks and get their runaway bucks as well.
2. The land only has so much carrying capacity for deer. Taking mature does off of the property allows more of this capacity per mature deer. As a result, almost immediately after reducing the mature doe population, birth rates rise from singles/twins to twins/triplets with the occasional quad birth. The more births you have, the more bucks that are born, period.
3. It is critical in my opinion that you harvest not just old or young does, but a combination of both. It is common for young, middle aged and very mature does to come into estrus at slightly different times. This is due to a variety of factors but the result is that by having a good mix of young, middle aged and mature does on the property, the aggregate doe population is in estrus for a longer period of time. Whether you prefer to call it a longer rut, or multiple rut periods, it all equals great buck hunting. Some have said that taking a matriarch doe causes upheaval in the herd and can even force the herd to change their patterns and/or leave the area. Others will say that without the matriarch, the chance of predation on the younger deer increases. I have seen neither of these situations. In my opinion, with or without a matriarch, the deer population is drawn to the areas with the best availability to water, food and shelter with the least predation risk.
4. Finally, with less does, bucks naturally move more to find the does in estrus. This usually means greater scrape activity, more responsiveness to decoys, rattling and grunting, etc. The greater the buck movement the greater chance they will come into bow range for you, period.
Above are what I believe to be four strong reasons to commit to a heavy doe harvest and in the meantime, increase your chances of seeing the buck of a lifetime. Good luck and good hunting.

16 votes, average: 3.69 out of 516 votes, average: 3.69 out of 516 votes, average: 3.69 out of 516 votes, average: 3.69 out of 516 votes, average: 3.69 out of 5 (16 votes, average: 3.69 out of 5)
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Published by tim9910 on 10 Sep 2008

New products that you should give a try

Lets face it, our sport is a virtual spawning bed for new gizmos and gadgets.  Some of them prove helpful, some we never hear about, and some are just plain ridiculous.  Everyone is trying to cash in on this ever growing market, mostly thanks to the big name hunters on Sunday morning television.  They endorse a product, they show footage of the product being used in the field (and they would never use editing to slip it in after the hunt!) and amazingly get a record book animal within kicking distance and make a perfect shot on the unsuspecting critter.  Oh how I wish it really worked like this, not that I haven’t had those “perfect scenarios”, albeit not on the caliber of game on t.v. . But that’s life outside the $5K a day ranches, where trophy bucks are 10 pointers that have somehow survived weekend warriors for 3 or 4 years.  Even a heavy 8 pointer at 2.5 years is perfectly welcome on my living room wall.

The first product I want to tell you about is from Illusion Game Call Systems.  They’re new grunt call, the first offering from this company of highly regarded waterfowl and newer turkey calls is aptly named The Extinguisher.  I think a better name for this during the rut would be the fire starter, and then I can use the extinguisher call sign for the 340 grains of sleep aid I prescribe to the critter of choice!  Seriously though, this call works well.  This will be the second season it has been on the market and I can’t wait to put it to use again.  The benefits of this call are multiple, some of my favorites being the mod slide that can change from a fawn in distress to a deep buck grunt with just one finger.  The tone of the call is the main attraction for me, even though it is a plastic tube and call it retains a warmer tone than that of cheaper and honestly dated designs.  I had great success with this call  last year in October using the fawn bleat and attracting curious does, and also in pre-rut through the rut on cruising bucks and blind calling.  I have a lot of confidence in this call which is not something I had experienced previously, as I used to be a shut up and sit still hunter.  Hopefully the popularity will grow and they will be available in the big name stores soon but they are popping up in pro shops around the country at a steady rate. They are also a big sponsor of Archery Talk, which is how I cam to find out about them.  If you haven’t heard of them or were curious about the effectiveness, I recommend giving them a try.  If you need a world class deer to be taken with one to convince you, I believe the biggest last season was somewhere in the ballpark of 207 inches.  You can find out more at www.theextinguisher.com

Used with presumed permission from Illusion Systems

Used with presumed permission from Illusion Systems

The other product I wanted to tell you about is one for all archers, not just hunters.  While there are many offerings of string suppressors on the market, the Bow Rattler from Falcon Products USA, is by far the upper class version in my opinion.  These close tolerance machined adjustable suppressors make such a difference in bow handling and quietness that not having one is a rather ridiculous proposition.  I have one on each of my bows, including my 07 Hoyt which came with a factory version.  Replacing it made a noticeable difference in the recoil and silence of the bow, and lets face it how many products do we buy that actually show immediate positive results.  They offer one for virtually any bow on the market, including front mount versions for those lacking the mounting holes on string side of the riser.  If your bow doesn’t have one on it, or your not completely happy with what you have, you should definitely give them a try.  I wouldn’t own a bow without one now that I have, and I am confident that you will feel the same.  And they are also a sponsor of AT like the previous offering I mentioned.  You can find out more at www.bowrattler.com.

Used with presumed permission

Used with presumed permission

Everyone has their favorite products for archery, and these are mine as of late.  I don’t want to force feed anything to anyone, I just wish to spread the word about these new and outstanding products.  I am also a huge fan of Archery Talk, and I believe in supporting the sponsors that help keep the forums running.  Either one of these products are top notch and I hope you give them a try.  I did and I haven’t regretted it one bit.  That’s more than I can say about some of the gadgets I’ve tried in the past!

8 votes, average: 2.75 out of 58 votes, average: 2.75 out of 58 votes, average: 2.75 out of 58 votes, average: 2.75 out of 58 votes, average: 2.75 out of 5 (8 votes, average: 2.75 out of 5)
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Published by PSE 4 Mee on 09 Sep 2008

Remembering September 11th

Like most people I remember in great detail, where I was and what I was doing on September 11th, 2001. Suffice to say that I was not in the woods chasing whitetail. The 2007 hunting season however, was different. Born and raised a fourth generation, Montana native, I moved to Oklahoma in 2001 to start my flying career. Returning to Montana in 2006, I made it a family mission to hunt and play in the outdoors as much as time and life would allow.

This season, I wanted to fill my doe-tag with my PSE Lightning-Flite II and I wanted to find a way to share the experience with my family. I chose a path that I thought would kill several birds with one arrow (or maybe two).

For years now, my parents have battled the deer that come into their yard and wreak havoc on their landscaping, so I set up for a hunt in a field that is approximately 150 yards from my parent’s backyard. By the time I left work that evening, my dad and my wife had already prepared my hay-bale ground blind and was waiting for me. Soon after my arrival, my wife and I were sitting in the blind and our family was watching from the back porch. Everyone waited for the very predictable deer to come into the field.

Around 7:00 pm, we had four deer working their way toward our ambush. There were three does and a little buck. The whitetails moved into range and the anticipation mounted as the little buck walked in and out of my shooting lane. He was a big bodied deer, but lacked the headgear my buck-tag required. Before long, the bigger doe followed the fool hardy buck into my lane. I drew, took careful aim and shot a perfect shot… over her back. Unfortunately, I did not have a range finder with me that evening, and my unseasoned eye estimated her to be at 25 yards. That failure combined with her quick flinching reflexes, left me ultra disappointed. Determined to prove myself to my family, I nocked another arrow and was soon given a second chance. A smaller doe ate her way toward the others and stood exactly where her mentor had stood earlier. This time I held dead-on for 20 yards. The arrow launched, time stood still, and I watched my redemptive Easton Epic 340 disappear into her vitals. She turned and ran into the woods to our right and we watched her fall. Upon recovery, I was ecstatic to see a small pile of foamy pink bubbles coming from the arrow’s fatal exit. My double lung shot limited her final run to about 40 yards. As a new bow hunter, I was very impressed to see that my Muzzy broad head had easily blasted through a rib before exiting the other side. Good archery equipment had left a good impression.

What an exciting and fulfilling hunt. My hours and hours of practice had paid off and I was able to share the moment with my family. I had filled my doe tag, put meat in the freezer and helped mom protect her hallowed greenery. I thank the Lord my God for a clean miss and a clean kill; both of which are answers to prayer. I also thank Him for another memorable September 11th. This time, it was the kind of memory for which we can be grateful. I cannot wait to harvest my next animal and tell you about it. Until then, never forget to appreciate and take advantage of the freedoms we enjoy in this great country!

 

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