Archive for the 'Bowhunting' Category

2 votes, average: 4.00 out of 52 votes, average: 4.00 out of 52 votes, average: 4.00 out of 52 votes, average: 4.00 out of 52 votes, average: 4.00 out of 5 (2 votes, average: 4.00 out of 5)
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Published by NTYMADATER on 23 Jul 2008

Red Hawk Peep

After trying almost every peep sight on the market I finally found what I believe is the perfect peep sight.  It is made by Red Hawk archery .  I have tried every size and kind of peep you can think of including the “no peeps”.   If it is too big accuracy goes down and with the small ones low light hunting is almost impossible.  “No peeps” work well for low light situations but they are not very accurate.   The Red Hawk peep gives you the best of both worlds.  It has a 1/8 hole that is surrounded by an amber lens.  There is no magnification.   What this does is allow you to retain accuracy during daylight hours but still be able to shoot during those low light situations where you are more likely to see deer.    Make sure you keep track of the time because it is possible to shoot past legal shooting times with the Red Hawk peep.

I shoot 3-D tournaments every weekend and there are several situations this peep sight will give you an advantage.   If you have ever had a “halo” problem with your pins this peep will take care of that.  Your pins will look like a fine aiming point instead of blotting out the entire target.  Also when you are standing in the sunlight and the target is in the shadows finding the target is no problem.  This peep has increased my scores 15 to 20 points.  That alone is worth the price.  Archery tournaments are the testing grounds for what I use for hunting.  The Red Hawk peep is the best piece of hunting equipment I have found in years.

The only complaint that could be made about the Red Hawk peep is the weight.  Personally I have never been concerned with speed.  I would easily give up 10 or 15 fps to use the Red Hawk peep.  The Red Hawk peep will only cause you to lose 2 to 3 fps which most people will not even notice unless you shoot through a chronograph.  I replaced my G5 peep with the Red Hawk peep and never moved my pins. With today’s high quality strings there is no need to use a rubber tube for your peep.   I shoot out to 60 yards and my pin gap remained the same.  I suppose if you wanted to be real picky you could say the Red Hawk isn’t very pretty.  Of course you will change your mind after looking through this peep and see what a beautiful sight picture you have.

2 votes, average: 4.00 out of 52 votes, average: 4.00 out of 52 votes, average: 4.00 out of 52 votes, average: 4.00 out of 52 votes, average: 4.00 out of 5 (2 votes, average: 4.00 out of 5)
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Published by NTYMADATER on 23 Jul 2008

Slick Trick Broadheads


Let’s talk about broadheads.   What should a good broadhead do?  First it should fly like a bullet and hit what we are aiming at. Field point accuracy is the key word.  It should also be razor sharp. The ability to leave a good blood trail is also a plus meaning it should make a complete pass through.  I like a tough broadhead.   It should be able to break bones if necessary. It needs to be reusable.  With the cost of broadheads today who can afford to buy a new one every time they shoot an animal.  Therefore, cost has to be on the list when considering a new broadhead purchase.   Any broadhead that is shot through both lungs of an animal will dispatch it very quickly.  Then why are there so many different kinds of broadheads on the market?  Because not every shot is perfect and manufacturers try to make broadheads that will compensate for poor shot placement.  I’m not saying we should buy broadheads that claim to make up for poor shot placement.  Everyone has an ethical responsibility to practice and make a good shot every time they release an arrow. However; if you hunt long enough sooner or later you will make a less than perfect shot.  

Let’s review our criteria for a good broadhead:

1.       Field point accuracy

2.       Razor sharp

3.       Pass through

4.       Tough

5.       Reusable

6.       Affordable

 Let’s discuss poor shot placement.  If you hit to far back you are either in the liver or guts depending on if it is high or low.  Either shot will be fatal if given enough time.  Notice I said if given enough time.  This is one of the biggest mistakes people make when going after an animal that has been hit “bad”.  “When in doubt back out” is a good saying to follow.  Most deer will not run more than 100 yards before lying down.   They must be given enough time to expire. I usually wait at least 16 hours.  Remember if that deer is dead he’s not going anywhere.  If you go after them to early they will jump up and run even farther which makes the odds of finding that animal very unlikely.    If you hit to far forward you will hit the shoulder.  For me fixed blades always penetrate enough to make a fatal shot.  Mechanicals aren’t as reliable in this area.   



Let’s talk about mechanical heads.  Recently mechanical broadheads have been all the “rage” because they fly just like field points and have big cutting diameters.  However most mechanicals have a hard time making a complete pass through and leave a very small entrance wound.  Quartering shots are problematic for mechanicals also.  Rage broadheads have done a pretty good job of addressing these issues with their new design.  However no mechanical is good at penetrating the shoulder of a mature buck.  Also most mechanicals are pretty expensive.  Especially when you consider replacement blades must be bought every time you shoot an animal. 

Let’s talk about fixed blade broadheads.  Fixed blade heads do not have any of the problems mechanical heads have.  Quartering shots, shoulder shots, pass through shots, are easy for fixed blade heads.  What they do have a problem with is field point accuracy.  Most fixed blades do not fly well especially out of today’s high speed bows. 

Let’s talk about SLICK TRICK


They have addressed the accuracy problems by making a “super short” broadhead.  You might think this would sacrifice cutting diameter but they have a 1 1/8” cut which is more than enough.  With 4 blades they have almost as much cutting surface as a 2 blade rage.  Be careful these blades can almost cut you just by looking at them.  Now that’s sharp.  These are without a doubt some of the toughest broadheads you will ever see.  I’ve always thought Thunderheads were the toughest until I tried SLICK TRICKS.  You can sharpen the blades which makes them very economical.   SLICK TRICK even has a head for those of you that prefer cut on contact.  Also new this year is a 1 ¼” cutting diameter head that is simply wicked looking.

Customer service is excellent. They go above and beyond to make sure their customers are satisfied.  Here is a direct quote from SLICK TRICK .  If you receive Tricks and are not pleased in any way, SLICK TRICK refuses to accept your money. Just return with a note and we will cheerfully replace or refund.   It doesn’t get any better than that.  SLICK TRICKS are the perfect broadhead in my opinion.


2 votes, average: 4.00 out of 52 votes, average: 4.00 out of 52 votes, average: 4.00 out of 52 votes, average: 4.00 out of 52 votes, average: 4.00 out of 5 (2 votes, average: 4.00 out of 5)
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Published by djohns13 on 26 Jun 2008

Indiana 2008 Deer Forecast

Well, the days are getting hotter but shorter so it is about that time of year where most of us start to really get excited about the upcoming fall. We are starting to see some potential bruisers on the trail cameras and the fawn sightings are also fueling our obsession. The practice shooting is going well and our scouting is producing new ideas for that “can’t miss” stand site.  Maybe we have even gotten a glimpse of the giant that eluded us last fall.  Is this the year that we finally arrow that dream buck?
Well in Indiana, this just might be the year for us bowhunters to fulfill our dreams. The prospect for a record harvest is very good in 2008.  Whitetail harvests in Indiana hit a record level in 2005 with 125,526 animals being checked-in after harvest.  Epizootic hemorrhagicdisease (EHD) popped up in Indiana in 2006 heavily in Clay, Fountain, Parke, Putnam, Sullivan and Vermillion counties in the west central portion of the state, and in some areas the local deer populations were devastated.  Even with the EHD crisis in 2006, checked-in harvests totalled 125,381, just off from the previous record year.  In 2007, EHD reared its ugly head again but not nearly to the degree originally feared.  Checked-in harvests dropped to 124,427 but much of this drop was attributed to weather conditions during hunting season.  The antlered deer harvest was just about the same as in 2005, with the non-antlered harvest being reduced by approximately 1,000 deer.  During the three year period, the button buck harvest remained consistent at approximately 7% of the total harvest.


This brings us to the upcoming 2008 season.  The winter of 2007-2008 brought heavy snow to much of Indiana but very few conditions that would cause a heavy winter kill.  The summer drought of 2007 has been replaced with heavy rains and flooding over the central and southern portions of the state.  June rainfall over the southern two-thirds of the state have averaged 500% – 1,000% of the normal rainfall for the month.  In spite of this, very little wildlife loss is anticipated.   Agriculturally speaking, the loss is devastating and is anticipated to be the largest agricultural disaster in Indiana history.  In many areas of the southern portion of the state, the crop loss will be greater than 50% with corn suffering the largest losses but soybeans will also be affected. 


Because of the heavy rain, the wetland, woodland and meadow areas are experiencing strong growth and health.  Vegatation is lush and thick across the state with the berry production looking very good at this point.  It would appear at this point that browse will be in great supply this year notwithstanding any drought activity that comes along later in the summer.  For those who plant foodplots, the growth prospects look great.  Foodplots not hampered from the spring floods are looking very healthy.  The reduction in viable agricultural crops will no doubt push many more deer toward the foodplots.  I personally have seen an unprecedented number of mature deer utilizing foodplots this June.  So many, in fact, that I am mowing and spraying more areas to get even more foodplots planted in early July.


Since mid-May, the fawn sightings seem to be above normal compared to most years.  Throughout much of the state, the youngest mothers are producing healthy singles while the 2.5 years old and older does are producing twins and triplets in some cases.  By most accounts, it appears to be a bumper crop year for whitetails.


So far, all conditions point to a record harvest this year throughout most of the state.  The northeastern counties, which have led the harvest totals for several years are expected to again reign supreme as they have not been affected by weather or EHD.  Steuben and surrounding counties will continue to lead the deer harvest without a doubt and for the first time could see harvest figures reach 4,000 deer per county.  The central portions of the state continue to have an exploding deer population so harvests should be strong provided the hunter count remains consistent.  The southern counties will continue to produce large quantities of deer that are heavy in both weight and antler size.


As certain factors such as QDM and the Indiana one buck rule, among others, continue to play out the size of the average buck taken has improved.  Also improving is the number of record book bucks taken in both the Boone & Crockett and Pope & Young systems.  Many so-called experts are now listing Indiana as one of the top states to harvest a record book buck.  Most hoosiers have known this for several years now, but the word seems to be spreading.  While we are no Iowa yet, the odds of seeing a record book quality buck are decent to good across most parts of Indiana.  And we all know that big bucks produce baby big bucks so the trend should continue over the next few years.  Several bucks over 200 inches gross score were taken in Indiana in 2007, and many more 160 to 180 inch deer were harvested than ever before.


While we won’t know the actual harvest until after the fact, 2008 is setting up to be a record year in Indiana based upon both total deer taken and record book bucks.  Practice regularly, scout hard and maybe 2008 will be a hunting year that you remember forever.

2 votes, average: 4.00 out of 52 votes, average: 4.00 out of 52 votes, average: 4.00 out of 52 votes, average: 4.00 out of 52 votes, average: 4.00 out of 5 (2 votes, average: 4.00 out of 5)
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Published by bigbearsarchery on 21 Jun 2008

What It Means To Be A Bowhunter

What It Means To Be A Bowhunter


Craig Gillock



Bowhunter.  That’s a word many of us use to describe ourselves.  We say it with pride and conviction.  It describes who we are and what we do.  We wear it as a badge of honor.  Why?  What is it about that word and what it implies that motivates so many of us to do all the things we do?  What does it mean to be a bowhunter?

The answer to that question is very complex and no one answer is enough to explain it all.  Add to that the fact that bowhunting means something different to everyone and it makes the question almost impossible to answer.  So with that in mind I’m going to explain what being a bowhunter means to me.

Bowhunting is more than sitting in a tree stand, waiting for an animal to come walking by.  Bowhunting is a 365 days a year commitment.  It’s scouting, planting food plots, putting out game cameras, making mineral licks, studying maps, acquiring hunting ground, setting stands, constant practice with your bow, and so many other things.  Bowhunting isn’t a hobby, it’s a lifestyle.


Post Season Scouting and Winter Leagues


My hunting season starts in late January and February as soon as the late archery and muzzleloader season close.  During this time I pay extra attention to the deer I see, trying to make a list of which bucks made it through and where I’m seeing them.  This list provides me with a good starting point when I’m picking locations for mineral licks, food plots, and setting my trail cameras.

Another important habit I’ve developed during this time of year is shooting in as many winter leagues as I can.  If you want to become a better shooter and improve your accuracy nothing will help you accomplish this faster than shooting in a league with other bowhunters.

One of the truly great things about bowhunters is the feeling of family and friendship that develops between the guys and gals who share the range and the woods.  When you shoot in a league you’re giving yourself the opportunity to watch and be around other shooters and to learn about and see new products.  I consider winter leagues to be one of the most important things I do all year.


Deer Health and Shed Hunting


Early spring rolls around and for most of March and April I find myself in the woods and the fields.  This is the time when I put out mineral licks and begin preparing the ground for food plots.  I refer to this point in my season as promoting deer health.  The mineral licks serve two purposes.  First, they act as an attractant, drawing the deer into my hunting areas, allowing me to again take stock of how many animals are around.  Second, and more importantly, they provide the deer with the vital minerals and nutrients they need to promote good health and antler growth.

Shed hunting is another activity that takes up a lot of my time early in the spring.  I shed hunt mainly because it’s fun and it gives me another opportunity to be in the woods.  But shed hunting is also an important scouting tool because it gives you yet another chance to see what bucks made it through the previous season.


Food Plots, Turkeys, and Foam


As spring gets into full swing and the first signs of summer start to show on the trees and in the fields it’s time that I put in my food plots. My favorite places to plant are tucked back into the corners of fields or next to a good watering source.  I tend to plant mainly clover with a little bit of chicory mixed in.  The added forage not only helps attract deer but will help hold them well into hunting season.

Late April and may also offer another opportunity for bowhunters, turkey season.  Taking a mature gobbler with your bow can be one of the most challenging endeavors a bowhunter can undertake.  A turkey’s eyesight makes drawing a bow on them next to impossible.  When I first started hunting turkeys with my bow I approached it in much the same way as I approached deer hunting.  I would set up along a field edge or in some timber, call and if I got one to come in range, draw my bow.  The problem was that’s as far as I’d get.  When I’d draw they would bust me and bug on out.  I once even tried stalking to within bow range on some birds while hunting in Oklahoma.  The result was a recreation of the scene in the movie Jurassic Park where all the velociraptors rush past the camera, only instead of dinosaurs it was two or three hundred turkeys running or flying away.

I have since started hunting turkeys from a ground blind and have met with much greater success.  Blinds conceal your movement and allow you to set up virtually anywhere.  Just this past April I set up my blind in the middle of a wide open 300 acre hay field and took a nice gobbler at only 7 yards.  My friend Aaron sat in the blind with me and videoed the hunt.  That’s another great thing about turkey hunting; it provides plenty of opportunities to hunt with your friends.

The onset of warmer temperatures in April and May also signals the beginning of the 3-D season.  In my opinion competing in 3-D tournaments is one of the best ways to prepare for hunting season.  It allows you to take realistic shots at realistic targets in realistic hunting conditions.  Competing in these tournaments is also a fantastic way to hone your skills at judging yardage.  Besides, they’re also a lot of fun.


Pushing Down the Stretch


We’ve now arrived at one of the most critical and challenging times of the year for bowhunters, the dog days of summer.  The months of June, July, and August often leave little time to think about hunting.  Most of our time is taken up with work, family vacations, picnics, or any number of other activities one can enjoy during these warm weather months.  In spite of all this you need to find the time to put out your scouting cameras and begin placing your stands.  The information gathered at this time can be the best indicators of where deer will be at the start of hunting season.  Photos gathered now will tell you what bucks are around and how big they are.  These final pieces of the puzzle will help you make the best plan possible for the fast approaching bow season.

All this time I’m also continuing to practice my shooting.  There are numerous 3-D tournaments all summer long, plus this is the best time to practice with your broadheads.  Taking the time now to properly tune your equipment will pay off big this fall.


I am a Bowhunter


Summer begins to fade and the cooler temperatures and vibrant colors of fall start to show.  This is the time of year you’ve spent the past eight months getting ready for.  It’s the time when all your hard work and information you’ve gathered is put to use.  It is the reason you are the way you are.

So what does it mean to be a bowhunter?  It means a lot of things to a lot of people.  For me it’s a year round adventure, for others it’s something to occupy the time for a while.  What it means to you is for you to decide.  It can be as much or as little as you make it.  Whatever you decide, have fun.  That’s what being a bowhunter is really all about.

1 vote, average: 2.00 out of 51 vote, average: 2.00 out of 51 vote, average: 2.00 out of 51 vote, average: 2.00 out of 51 vote, average: 2.00 out of 5 (1 votes, average: 2.00 out of 5)
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Published by RBDavis on 11 Jun 2008

Bill Stewart

I too had the pleasure of talking to Bill.  In 1991a good friend of mine showed me his compound recurve that Bill had built for him. I was so impressed the design and the ease of the bow that I had one built for me, which he signed. When my oldest son got interested in hunting I had one built for him before he got out of college. We both still used our bows for hunting until last year when we found out that Bill had passed. They are now hung in our trophy rooms for his sake.  

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 marcusjb on 19 May 2008

How NOT to Elk Hunt 101

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Published by Gear Junky on 19 May 2008

Hardcore Hunter Must-Haves, volume III

No, this is not Dick Cheney’s chimpanzee. Yes, he’s safer to hunt with.

In the last installment, I recommended a few inexpensive gear upgrades that shouldn’t slip under the radar. Here are three more items that I think you’ll like.

Must-Have Base Layer: Rocky SIQ Atomic Zip Mock T


Durability: 9

Cost-Effectiveness: 7 ($38-45 online)

Usefulness: 10

Innovation: 8

It’s dead and gone. Like the Mariners’ playoff chances, like the social security that someone removes from our paychecks, like Hillary’s campaign – it’s dead and gone, never to be seen again. And I can’t say I’ll miss it. Sure, it’s comfy when you first put it on, and it smells nice out of the dryer, but after an hour or two the smell of dryer sheets is replaced with stinky little bacteria, like wearing a moist body-hugging petrie dish.

Goodbye cotton. You will not be missed.

Scent-blocking, moisture-wicking technology continues to improve year after year, and at this point there really is no excuse for wearing cotton into the field. This new stuff does the job that wool used to do, but without the weight, smell, or itchy texture. Most of us can afford just one or two improvements to our hunting clothes each year, and this is the best place to start. Rocky’s new shirts are outstanding in every regard. They are comfortable, quiet, and scent-free. They are designed with the bowhunter in mind: lightweight for those August and September days, but long-sleeved to keep the brush and bugs off. The half-zipper makes the shirt easy to take on and off, and it’s nice to have the ventilation whenever needed. These shirts are designed to fit snugly against your skin so that moisture is pulled away, so if you’re like me and fit between sizes (L to XL in my case), go with the smaller size. Two of these should get you through hunting season, and when combined with a good fleece and waterproof jacket, you’re ready for whatever weather pattern flies your way.

Rocky’s scent-removal technology is permanent, the micro-suede fabric is soft and tough without attracting burrs, and there’s even a convenient zippered pouch on the left arm for easy storage of your mouth call. With a great camo pattern to boot, this shirt will make you the best looking archer that anyone has never seen.

Must-Have Scent-Prevention System: Dead Down Wind’s ScentPrevent Personal Kit

Lightweight/Compact: 8

Durability: N/A

Cost-Effectiveness: 7 ($17-45 online depending on the kit)

Usefulness: 10

Innovation: 8

Question: What is the most common odor that you have to endure from your co-workers, spouse, or hunting dog? Nope, not that. While flatulence may be the worst odor, it certainly isn’t as common as halitosis. Since we exhale every few seconds, bad breath is public enemy number one for hunters. And at 5am, everyone of us have an odor factory attached to our tracheas (and don’t for a minute think that coffee improves anything).

Everyone has a favorite line of scent-prevention accessories, but does any manufacturer offer more options than Dead Down Wind? Their Personal Hygiene Kit provides deodorant, soap, and yes, breath spray. And with a myriad of other scent-eliminating products, they can neutralize any odor this side of New Jersey. Order their toothpaste for added anonymity.

Also, if (like me) you need a shower every couple of days in the field but don’t find elk wallows to your liking, you’ve probably discovered the value of moist towelettes. Unfortunately, buying scent-controlled towelettes gets spendy fast. So my method of choice is to buy the unscented, generic brand in bulk at any drug store, throw a few into a sealed plastic bag, and wipe away when I ripen in the sun. I use four or five to get cleaner than PETA’s steak knives, then spray down with scent remover afterward. It gets the job done at a fraction of the cost, and man, a towelette bath can hit the spot when your sleeping bag starts smelling like a junior high locker room.

Must-Have Reading Material: Mini-Bible, Appropriately Bookmarked

Lightweight/Compact: 8

Durability: 10

Cost-Effectiveness: 10

Usefulness: 10

Innovation: 10

When you get socked in to a one-man tent or bivy, there’s nothing like having some words of wisdom to make your down time up time. Here are a few of my favorite passages:

Discouraged? Flip to Job, Jeremiah or Lamentations. And realize that no matter how bad your trip is going, people have perservered through much worse. Feeling lonely? Look at the Psalms, and check out numbers 23 (awesome) or 51 (David’s prayer of repentance and restoration). Filled your tag, and feeling thankful? Read the story of Joshua or Psalm 100. Pondering the world’s problems, and wondering if answers actually exist? Try Matthew chapters 5-7…it’s the most comprehensive picture of peace and goodness that has ever been spoken, and teaches me something new every time I read it, which isn’t nearly often enough.

I also pack some hunting magazines and a journal. You never know when you’re going to need some extra motivation, and if you’re anything like me, your time in the mountains is your time for introspection. Reading successful stories from fellow hunters keeps me going on cold, miserable mornings, and I like to journal in the unlikely event that something deep and profound hits me. Three such thoughts from last season’s journal:

9/14/07 When chasing elk across canyon after canyon, bring release.

9/15/07 When chasing elk across canyon after canyon, bring bow.

9/24/07 Invent bow that shoots elk from across canyon.

14 votes, average: 3.36 out of 514 votes, average: 3.36 out of 514 votes, average: 3.36 out of 514 votes, average: 3.36 out of 514 votes, average: 3.36 out of 5 (14 votes, average: 3.36 out of 5)
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Published by RightWing on 16 May 2008

Simply October……….



  I walked down the gravel road in the pre-dawn stillness. The first frost of the year lay sparsely on the layer of leaves that littered the ground along my travel route. I could make out the shapes of feeding deer under an old Southern Pin Oak in a clearing just ahead of the point that the gravel road intersected a logging path that leads to my stand sight. I am certain that these deer saw me enter the woods, but it is early in the season and the hunting pressure had been light, besides it couldn’t be avoided.

  I finally reach my tree and attach my climber. Thoughts start to fill my head as I ascend to my elevated perch. Thoughts of past hunts and seasons gone by, some of which had seen long days spent in this very tree. I placed all my gear in its own location in the adjacent limbs. I caught movement of a fat young doe gracefully walking along the path that in moments will lead her merely twelve yards of my elevated seat. After several minutes the fat, two-year old deer made the final steps placing her squarely into my shooting lane. I placed my site pin tight behind her shoulder and touched the release. The doe bounded a few yards ahead then turned looking back at the noise, totally unaware of what had taken place. The doe steps forward a couple of more strides, then fell to her side almost underneath my tree.

  I spend the next several minutes watching two playful squirrels chase each other around and around a thick-barked limb of an old White Oak tree. Earlier the doe seemed to have been making her way toward that same tree. The doe now lay still on the damp forest floor as I descend from my natural overlook. Reaching the deer, I place my tag onto the sleek, clean, robust animal. Once again thoughts fill my mind about past hunts. I am also thinking about, and looking forward to, the future hunts to come.

  Sure, I have harvested bigger deer and have had more exciting adventures, but today I have provided my family with tender delicious venison. I thanked the good Lord and began the process of gathering my gear. I will be back another day.


Keep’em Sharp!


Written by Jason Wilborn    Monroe Tennessee

49 votes, average: 3.80 out of 549 votes, average: 3.80 out of 549 votes, average: 3.80 out of 549 votes, average: 3.80 out of 549 votes, average: 3.80 out of 5 (49 votes, average: 3.80 out of 5)
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Published by SEAL Archer on 15 May 2008

A tired bow and the ghosts of the volcano

A tired bow and the ghosts of the volcano

It was a cold rainy morning. I walked around the cactus, trying to avoid the spines that tried to reach out and attack me. The sharp edges of the volcanic rock cut deep into my lug-soled boots as I climbed higher against the driving rain and into the cloud shrouded hillside. Razor bladed sawgrass provided a lifesaving grip, but only to a gloved hand. It was steep, almost vertical, and a single slip could be fatal with a 400 foot drop that awaited me if I lost focus, if even for an instant.
They were here. Sign was all around me. Droppings, hoof prints, bent and nibbled twigs, and bits of hair clinging to rock and bush. Their trails often leading to meadows, but just as often to the bottomless abyss I spent the day trying to avoid. They are the ghosts of the volcano.
This day was a first for me, and a transition into a more challenging hunting lifestyle than I had previously experienced. I was bowhunting for feral Spanish Goats in the Waianae mountain range above the beautiful Makaha coastline on the leeward side of the tropical island of Oahu. Unlike the better known Koolau mountains on the windward side of the island, with its spectacular display waterfalls, the Waianae range is usually dry, covered with cactus and sharp rocky outcroppings. The range, less that 20 miles to the west is more like the Arizona desert than a tropical island. This was not my first time on the mountain, but one that helped me develop more respect for both my quarry and the legions of primitive hunters that shared this experience before me. The journey, however, was not quick and painless.
On a hot sunny Saturday, many months before, I joined a friend on a hunt for these goats. Outfitted with high power rifles, we hiked up behind a resort to reach the high meadows where he had heard goat herds were plentiful. His story proved to be very true as there were hundreds of goats all over the hillsides. The lay of the land, while hard to navigate, proved too easy at providing shots of 100-200 yards. A herd of 50+ animals would look across a ravine at us and freeze in that 3D-target pose, taunting us to shoot. As a Navy SEAL, my job insisted that I use stealth and cunning to effect my mission, and getting in really close was part of the job. My off-time activities required no different discipline, so taking an easy shot was not an option for me.
I calculated that a 50 yard shot would be much more challenging, so proceeded to move in closer. The terrain, with its dips, gullies, and 10’ grass makes a simple stalk much harder than first observation would make one believe. That said, a single fatal 50-yard running shot on a nice horned Billy proved to be unfulfilling and would be my last.
As a career sailor, family man, and multi-hobbyist, my budget did not allow for me to rush out and buy the latest high tech bow and arrows to move me in the direction I needed to go, but I needed to fulfill my hunting drive. A trip to Virginia to pick up a diving system proved to be just the ticket I needed to reach my goal. Perusing the want ads, I found an ad for a compound bow with accessories for $65. I arrived at the residence where a woman showed me the bow her brother had left in her garage years before. It was a beautiful thing. An early 1970’s Browning Cobra compound bow, one piece of dark walnut from wheel-to-wheel with a thin layer of black glass backing. It was much lighter than the more modern composites and drew 47# at 28 inches. She told me it included 9 arrows with target tips and 5 broadheads, mounted quiver and pin sights. She let me walk away with the bow for $45, a great deal for both of us.
Practice, practice, practice. I sighted in my “new” bow at 20, 30, 40 and 50 yards. After several days, as I was getting much better at hitting the target, the brittle plastic sight pins started to break and fall off. I managed to keep one on the bow and positioned it for 20 yards, the distance I decided as my personal shot limit. After all, the challenge of getting close is what made me transition to archery. Once I could hit an 8” paper plate from all angles and body positions while estimating my distance, I felt ready to head back to Makaha.
The island of Oahu has very liberal hunting rules and I was allowed to take one goat and one pig per day, with the season open all year. However, getting to the animals and taking them proves much more difficult than the numbers would appear.
As I started, I am back on the mountain and the weather is terrible. Clouds poured over the Waianae range’s prickly back and pelted me with rain as it tried to toss me off the cliffs before I reached my objective. I followed nearly invisible trails as they snaked through the rocky outcroppings and elephant grass. The herd posted nanny goats as lookouts, sounding an alert when I approached inside of an imaginary 50yard circle. As I would crest a ridge I would be greeted by hundreds of tails disappearing over the next ridge. The 20 yard limit was much, much harder than I could have imagined after getting my first 50 yard goat.
With the wind in my face I rounded a trail to find a small Billy blocking my path. He was 10 feet from where I stood. Reflexive action and recently developed muscle memory positioned the bow in my outstretched arm, the peepsight aligining my eye with the single 20-yard pin. Before he could move, my pin just below his jawline, I released my arrow. Time stood still. I could see the arrow flex, the plastic vanes starting to rotate as the arrow slid over the rest and left the bow. The animal stood still as my arrow sailed cleanly between its broad horns, over the cliff into the rocky ravine beyond. My heart dropped just as fast and missed a couple of beats as my arrow missed its target. At 10 feet, the Billy was too close to me, and was something I had not practiced.
An hour later I saw the back end of a large horned, brown billy round a corner in front of me. I could hear his padded hooves on the rocks as he circled back on a ledge above me. I leaned into the cliff face to nock an arrow and draw the string. The trail was less than 2 feet wide and the drop was not something I wanted to think about. I pointed my arrow upwards in the cocked bow and slowly leaned out across the trail. My movement caught the goat’s eye and he peered down at me…from 8 feet away. This time, shooting instinctive without my sight pin, I “felt” the arrow into his chest and watched him vaporize.
I waited about 30 minutes, sitting on the trail, pondering the outcome. I knew it takes some time for the broadhead to do its work, and I needed the time to hydrate and get my heartbeat back down to a normal level. The vision of the events played over again in my mind as I sat looking at the sparkling azur coastline 2500 feet below me. It took me about 10 minutes to negotiate to the point above me where the goat had been. A pile of long chest hair told me that my arrow had been true.
All my reading of bowhunting articles, practice, and my patience while sitting on the trail had paid off. Following the blood trail was as easy as following a painter splashing bushes with a soaked 8 inch wide paintbrush. I could picture the blood spurting from the clean wound with every step the goat took. The animal ran less than a hundred yards, losing several parts of my broken arrow along the way, before coming to rest in a 50 foot deep ravine. As the adreneline started to drain, I climbed down into the ravine and got down to the task of dressing out my kill.
In the spirit of the native hunters, I wanted to honor this animal for giving his life to me by using every part of it that I could. My son and I tanned the hide and made a quiver for his small target arrows, while the feet became part of a rack for our bows and arrows. The horns and skull were European-style mounted and the meat fed many friends as I danced around a BBQ fire and recounted my hunt.
My arsenal of bows has since been modernized, but my first compound is still my favorite and most productive with fish and game. The secondhand bow, once doomed for the landfill, became a legend in the hands of a believer in the true spirit of the hunt.

© 2008 Chuck Cardamon

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Published by bowhunter on 14 May 2008

Challenge On Taneum Ridge


A True Story by

by Dick Cress (bowhunter)

Arlington, Washington


My life as a hunter began when I was ten years old, and bagged my first Indiana cottontail. Since 1963 I have been a devoted bow hunter. In the years since, there have been many exciting times hunting: In the Tarsus Mountains of Turkey for Russian Blue Boar; Texas for Rattlesnakes and Jack Rabbits; Mid Western U.S. for Whitetail; The Pacific Northwest for Blacktail, Mule Deer, Elk, and Black Bear; and Canada for Black Bear and Moose.


Many animals, large and small, have filled my larder. But the 1993 Deer and Elk Season in Washington was to be one of those years that I returned home empty handed. Although my freezer remained empty, that year like so many others was a memorable hunt, the highlight of many years afield.


My hunting then was concentrated on Taneum Ridge in Washington’s Cascade Mountains. Nearly a half-mile from the forest service road, on the backside of this ridge is an abandoned logging road about three miles long. Midway down this old road, on the western edge, is a pile of old logs about five and a half feet high; I know because I’m five-five and just miss seeing over it. What makes this area so special is at the end of this pile [to the South] is a quarter acre area, that’s a frequent bedding site for both deer and elk.


As a bow hunter, I wear camouflage clothing, grease paint, and scent pads to mask my human smell. I always stillhunt this ridge, into the wind and it takes a whole day. Experience has taught me to approach this woodpile slower than normal and to be ready for anything.


However on this day, I wasn’t prepared for the startling event that would become the crowning experience of my many years of hunting.


With a gentle breeze in my face, I could hear the raven’s raspy crow overhead and the roar of mountain bikes on a ridge two miles west. My bow, out of its sling, had a broadhead tipped aluminum arrow knocked on the string and my fingers positioned for a quick shot.


My face was only eighteen inches from the log pile, as I moved slower than ever toward the shoulder of this old, decaying timber. I was as close as I could get, to turn the element of surprise to my advantage. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw movement on the log pile and slowly turned to check it out.


At that instant, growling and snarling reverberated in my ears. A studied hunter, I instantly identified the creature as a Badger of about twenty to thirty pounds and around twenty-four inches long. His broad, low-slung body was covered in a beautiful Blue

Dun Gray fur, with vibrant white stripes that met in a “V” on his head, just above his nose. He was as surprised at my presence as I was of his.


His snarling grew more vicious with each passing second. Frozen in the heat of the moment, is the memory of his vicious grin of razor sharp teeth, gnashing at me, while the long claws of his short forefeet, raked at the decaying bark of the old fir tree on which he stood.


Less than eighteen inches from my nose that short carnivore stood his ground. I was too close to shoot . . . I could have stabbed him with the arrow, but had no desire to take that risk. I could just imagine a writhing, twenty to thirty pound, ferocious Badger impaled on a twenty-eight-inch HAND HELD arrow. It would have been exciting and dangerous, but not near the fun of the next few minutes.


Unable and unwilling to shoot, a second or two passed as I considered my options. There were none . . . but knowledge and experience of other unexpected wildlife encounters. I was too close to back off, and if I tried, part of me would have been his afternoon lunch. On a hunch, I started snarling and growling back at him. When he snarled, I snarled, when he growled, I growled, he shook his head, I shook mine, he pawed, I pawed. He stood his ground and I stood mine. He couldn’t have known who or what I was.


That ole Badger and I exchanged mock charges, growls, snarls, bad breath, and general orneriness for fifteen minutes. It was so much fun . . . challenging one of God’s creatures on his terms . . . and enjoying every minute . . . of that standoff, on Taneum Ridge.


I couldn’t help but wonder what this creature was thinking of me as we postured around that old wood pile. Though I was enjoying the battle, I was uncertain of what its outcome would be. In time . . . this majestic, gorgeous animal . . . tired of the challenge, slowly turned, and waddled off that old timber pile and out of sight.


Strangely, I hoped he would return to continue challenging this strange aberration in his territory. I waited another ten minutes in contemplation. Every fiber in my body quivered with excitement, as I stood in the sunlight on that lonely ridge. The euphoria was greater than shooting a  and Young record Elk. This encounter was greater than any kill I have ever made . . . and I’ve made my share.


Looking back on this encounter, it is the highlight of my hunting years. Nothing can ever surpass the excitement of that afternoon . . . with that Badger . . . on Taneum Ridge.

Dick Cress


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