Archive for the 'Bowhunting' Category

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Published by soularcher on 14 May 2008

Cubicle Psychology…

Cubicle Psychology…


Joe Shuhay


I’m not sure if it’s the few good memories that I have of my dad, if it’s the chill-up-my-spine adrenaline rush when a shot presents itself, or if it’s the peace and solitude that I only get when in God’s green woods.  I do know that something draws me out there.  It’s something I just can’t put my finger on.  I can say that I almost always leave the woods feeling refreshed, and recharged.  I find myself thinking that if I could, I’d spend most of my time there, among the pines and oak, breathing in the cold fresh air of morning, awaiting a glimpse of movement, or traversing a ridge in pursuit of the elusive Hart of lore.  A good weapon in hand, me versus the unknown.  This is what I live for.


7:59 a.m., and I sit dejectedly into my padded swivel chair of my gray, artificially lit cubicle for another 9 hours of staring at a computer screen.  “How did I get here?”  I look out of the office window down the hall from me.  The bright morning sun falls on the green spring leaves of a nearby maple tree, and I feel a yearning deep within my soul to venture outside, feel the warm sun on my face, and hear the wind in the trees. 


Throughout the day my mind drifts to hiking and scouting, shed hunting, open fires and the like; but mouths need to be fed, and bills have to be paid…


There is a part of a man that no one can touch, something wild and dangerous, something that is forced to live in the gray area between the cold oppressive bars of the rat race, and the limitless wilderness.  Most boys are raised to suppress their “wild” part in favor of what is considered to be more socially amicable qualities. This goes way beyond raising our children to have respect and manners.  In these days of sexual immorality, and metrosexuals, boys are emasculated, and taught to be “nice guys”.  Then society laments the lack of “real men” in society.  No toy guns or bows, no aggressiveness.  Those boys grow up, and society then asks them to be leaders at work, on the battlefield, and in the home. 


Most men today live lives of quiet desperation in their offices and garages, watching action shows on television rather than living out the very things that we are programmed to do. They are slowly dying inside for want of less rat race, and more wilderness in their lives.  That reason alone is enough to understand why we hunt, and what is so attractive about the out of doors.  Don’t get me wrong, I love being a father. For me it’s God and family first.  But God also put this love of hunting and the outdoors in my heart, and I plan to pass this on to my kids, and anyone else that is interested. 


There is a part of a man that no one can touch, something wild and dangerous, something that is forced to live in the gray area between the cold oppressive bars of the rat race, and the limitless wilderness…







18 votes, average: 3.56 out of 518 votes, average: 3.56 out of 518 votes, average: 3.56 out of 518 votes, average: 3.56 out of 518 votes, average: 3.56 out of 5 (18 votes, average: 3.56 out of 5)
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Published by nijimasu on 14 May 2008

Dawns and Sunsets


I was probably in my late teens the first time I saw “the boys,” camped in the deer spot I had been told to check out.  They all seemed ancient to me even that first year.  The oldest one of the four was truthfully at least 80 years old then, I later came to find out.  His hair was white, and always perfectly oiled back, even when he was wearing his hunting hat.  He stood about 5’6”, and was somewhat slight of frame, but solid as a rock.  When he was hunting, he always wore a one-piece jump suit with the old duck-hunter style camouflage on it, and carried a very nice compound bow with orange aluminum arrows. Camped with him were two brothers who were “only” in their 70’s.   Bringing up the rear of their group was a stray cousin who they treated like “the kid,” presumably because he was only in his 60’s.  “The kid” carried a battered recurve, and rather than wearing camo, usually wore a blue plaid shirt and jeans to hunt in.

My hunting partner Steve and myself dismissed them without much notice the first few years we hunted that area.  We’d slow down and wave politely as we drove past their camp, but always ended up chuckling at the idea of them out hunting.  Never bothering to find out their names those first years, we simply referred to them as “the boys,” and the visibly elder octogenarian as the “extra-old boy.”  Jokes were made about beating deer to death with canes, or walkers with wheels on them that could serve double-duty as deer carts if need be.  We were teenagers in small-town southern Idaho, and being ignorant came pretty easily to us.

 After we had gained a year or two, and I suppose some degree of maturity, we did start to be sincerely concerned about the welfare of the gentlemen — though we still chuckled at the thought of these white-haired men out roaming the woods.  We never really talked to them, but we would make a point of driving past their camp after our day of hunting, even if it was a little out of our way, just to make sure the lights were on in their big wall tent, and that they were home.  Every year they had their camp set up by Labor Day, and they stayed put there for at least two weeks.  We came to respect them for their persistence, and truthfully, I think I took it for granted that they would always be there — like they were part of the mountain — despite the obviously inevitable. 

Steve and I really weren’t so great of hunters in those days.  We were young and tough though, and we thought nothing of hiking up canyons and down cliffs for ten or more miles a day. We would always see plenty of deer bounding out of their beds and we’d send arrows after them, so we thought we were great hunters — even though our arrows never came close to connecting.  We had heard archery hunting was supposed to be tough, and we figured that if we just put in enough time, one of us would get lucky sooner or later.  Wasn’t that the way everybody did it?   I can remember one particularly “tough” day when we had forgotten to bother bringing any food with us.  We’d gotten into a small herd of does and ended up chasing them hither and yon through juniper-covered coulees for several hours.  Eventually, I just up and fainted.  When I came to, Steve was standing over me laughing and calling me a pansy.  It never even occurred to us that someday our bodies might not be invincible.

One evening well after dark, the lights weren’t on in the boys’ tent when we drove by, so we took the turn-off to their camp to see if things were all right.  We were a little worried, but when we got closer we were relieved by the sound of voices and laughter.   When we got to where we could see behind the tent, there was a good campfire burning and the four men were standing around it with beer in their hands. One was tending a griddle propped over the flames in the dark night.  We stepped out of the truck, and the smell of frying liver and onions was delicious and thick in the air.

“You fellas musta’ smelt that from the road, eh?” greeted  “extra-old boy” as we walked over.  “Ya like fresh deer liver?”

I’m glad it was pretty dark, because I wouldn’t have wanted him to have seen the mixed look of shock and jealousy on my face.  We were pretty hungry after our fruitless day of hiking and wasting arrows, and we gladly accepted their offer of a hot meal.  They were happy to celebrate their kill with us, and I was happy to try my first venison liver. 

“Yep, Dale got her with his recurve behind camp this evenin’.”

Dale (the kid) told us his story:

“Well, I’s just walkin’ the little canyon like I usually do back here when I saw her.  She just stood up real slow to have a look at me, so I pulled back and let ‘er fly.  She took off down the crick an I thought I’d missed her.  Looked fer the arrow and blood and the like and didn’t find nothin’ so I went on my way abit, but when I come back, I found this here piece a’ cedar arrow a’ mine I’d shot at her.  It was just layin’ where I would a went if I were a shot deer.  I looked around a little bit and there she were- four hooves straight up in the air –hee hee!”

Steve and I were pretty excited to see that someone had been successful, but we still chuckled about how lucky Dale had been to get that deer.  How could somebody who moved as slowly through the woods as those guys did ever be lucky enough to get close to a deer?  Steve and I always spent days cruising the ridges and valleys, covering as much ground as we could. We always saw plenty of deer, but we never found the ones that were foolish enough to stay put and let us to shoot them. Besides that, how lucky did the guy have to be to just happen to find the spot where a mortally wounded deer would end up?  “Million-to-one odds,” we decided.   We laughed about it all the way back to our camp.

A year later on opening day of archery season, two deer were hanging by their hams in the boys’ camp. We had stopped by just to say hello on our way into the area.  It was late afternoon then, and Ollie (the extra-old boy) and Chris (one of the brothers) came out of the tent to greet us.  By the size of their grins, I could tell that they didn’t care that we’d disturbed their naps.

 “The doe,” Chris explained, “took a spine shot.”  “I was right up on this hill this mornin’, first thing.  I could see her butt stickin’ out of the trees, and I could tell by the way she was flickin’ her tail around that she knew somethin’ fishy was goin’ on.  I went around and waited by the fence on the other side a’ the trees and sure enough, here she come.  But instead of jumpin’ over the fence like you’d expect a big ‘ole deer to do, she tried getting’ under it all sneaky-like.  Didn’t work!   We backed the pickup right up to her.” 

Ollie’s spike was another good story.

 “Yep, I was back here behind camp aways when I saw him a eatin’.  Trouble was, all I could see of him was his head. I figured I better shoot, so I put my pin on him when he was lookin’ at somethin’ else and let loose.  He dropped right there and never made another move.  Game warden accused me a’ shootin’ with a gun when he saw there weren’t no holes in the meat, till I showed him the poor critter’s noggin and he tried yankin’ the arrow out to look at it. Wouldn’t budge!  I ain’t much fer puttin’ deer heads up on the wall and such, but I think this’n just might end up on the barn door!”

I don’t think you could find any hunters happier with or prouder of their animals than these men were, regardless of antler size or Pope and Young score.

Setting up our camp that afternoon, I think it finally dawned on Steve and I that the old boys knew what they were doing, and that he and I were complete idiots.  Thinking back now, I wonder what kind of jokes they must have made about us, watching us stampeding over the ridges, killing ourselves day in and day out, and doing nothing but herding animals into their honey-holes. 

The next day, after some hard thinking, I decided that maybe I would hunt a little more thoroughly than usual, near camp, –kind of near where our elder neighbors hunted, just by coincidence, of course.  In my head I kept trying to picture how the boys would move through the woods and tried to see if could duplicate it.  Funny as that must sound, it worked, at least to an extent.  I remember that dark, cool day well.  The fine mist of a rain that can’t decide if it really wants to fall or not was beading up on my face, finally dripping, and carrying with it the wild- amazing scent of wet sagebrush.  I remember how quiet the dampness made the soft earth of the worn deer trails under the pines, and marveling at how quiet I could be walking in it if I just tried.  I looked up the hill next to me and saw him- a nice fork horn – looking down at me unalarmed.  The first arrow hit the dirt between his hooves, and surprisingly, he didn’t budge.  The second arrow cracked into a quakie right in front of his face, and he trotted off.  I felt both ecstatic and disappointed at the same time.

After digging my arrows out of the dirt and wood, I had enough sense not to try to shoot the now dull blades at an animal again.  I quivered them and took out a nice arrow with a good, heavy broadhead on it, heavier than what I had been shooting.  I slowly stillhunted deeper into the pine filled draw. Just when I felt a real “deery” kind of spider-sense tingling come over me, I was startled by a whisper right next to me in the pines.

“Seen much?”

It was Chris, the brother who had taken the doe at the fence opening morning.  He wasn’t even wearing camo, and I hadn’t seen him.  He was just out for a walk, trying to see “a few good ones.”  I told him about my near misses, and he started grinning for me.  Then we heard a crash.

Not 30 yards away, stood a dozen deer.  They had walked right in on us.  My eyes immediately gravitated to the huge 5X5 standing in the middle.  I think it probably must have been harder to miss a deer than to hit one, with that many standing so closely together, but my mismatched heavy broadhead sure did do the trick for me.  It plowed into the pine needles underneath the big buck.  I’m sure that if anyone else had seen me blow that shot, they would have laughed or cussed or made fun of me for the next week.  Chris simply asked, “Where did it hit?”

We checked the arrow for blood, just in case, and Chris noticed my assorted broadheads.

“You might do better if these were all the same, ya’ know.”

I upgraded my equipment that next summer to arrows that all matched, and I practiced until I could hit things with them.   I guess after my harsh lesson, I had finally gotten around to thinking about how maybe Ollie’s pegging that spike in the back of the head was something more than chance. 

The following Labor Day is one of those memories that stay like a clear, beautiful, perfect photograph in the mind forever.  Steve and I had hunted together that morning, and then split up around noon.  I had sneaked around for a couple of hours by myself when on a sun-blasted hillside, there were deer just standing up from their beds.  I don’t know if they had seen or smelled me or were just getting up to stretch, but they stood there simply looking at me. The sun was shining hot on us, and black-and-red grasshoppers made their clack-click-clackity-click noise and flew away from my feet. The breeze blew some of my long hair over my face and I released the arrow.  The does ran off, the two-point fell over, and I stood there with my mouth hanging open.

When I came past their camp with my buck, I think all four of the boys were in danger of infarction.  They were honestly happier about my success than I was, and that is indeed saying something because I was beyond ecstatic.  There was a deer hanging in their camp, but I never did hear the story about it- they kept asking me about mine, and I couldn’t leave until I had gone over every detail several times.  Steve told me later that when he was coming back to camp himself a few hours afterwards, he had stopped in to see the boys, and they were still excitedly talking about my kill like it was the most remarkable thing they’d seen in ages.  I’m not sure if that was a compliment or not, but I took it as such.

That was well over 20 years ago.  The mule deer herds of southern Idaho aren’t what they used to be, and neither are Steve and I.  Between then and now, Steve suffered a spinal injury that has left him partially debilitated.  We still meet together to hunt somewhere every year, but now we hunt understandably close to camp or roads. We talk about “the boys,” and wonder what they would think of us now—now that we resemble them more closely than we do our old selves at times.  Like them, we now cover less ground and do so at a slower pace, but we end the season with more meat than those ambitious kids we once were ever did.

 I scouted the old area two summers ago and found the once deer track-pounded trails to be overgrown with cheat grass and sun burrs.   The campgrounds were all empty.   I did stop by the camp spot where their wall tent had once stood, and thought about “the boys.”  I looked at the meat pole still nailed to the trees where the spike with the terminal headache — and no telling how many other fine animals — had once hung.    I looked at the fire ring still black from countless fragrant cook-fires.   I soaked up the whole feeling of that place again, rich in memories of dawns and sunsets and laughter in between, and I prayed that when I’m 80, I could still be carrying a bow and finding animals like the beautiful deer that used to inhabit those South Hills.  I prayed that like the men that had hunted out of that camp once upon a time, I too might be able to somehow pass something on to someone who desperately needed it someday.

            I smiled.  I thought I saw a young buck trot behind the camp.  A ghost maybe?  I don’t know, and I don’t suppose it matters.  It did make me wonder though, what I might see were I to come back and spend some time again there some Labor Day…

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Published by Fuzzy Hoyt Shooter on 12 May 2008

Youth and Bowhunting

This story takes place over a few months time period, from the early spring of 1987 through November 1st 1987.


I was fresh out of the U.S. Army, I just got home from Germany. I had accepted a job with a local carpet cleaning company. One morning I went into work and noticed that my boss’s 10 year old son was looking at a couple of hunting magazines. I looked down at him and said “Tyler, do you go hunting with your Dad?” He just looked at me and shook his head no. His Dad asked me to come into his office. I did just that, He said, “Frank, I don’t know what to do, for some reason, Tyler has this crazy urge to go hunting. I know he has heard a couple of his friends in the area talk about going hunting with their Fathers.” I said “So, why don’t you take him hunting? Just once?” The Father then looked at me and told me that he could never hunt again. His Father had been killed in a hunting accident when he was only 9 years old himself. However, he did remember the joy of going hunting with his Father. Unfortunately, he was there the day when his father was accidentally shot by another Archer, that they had no idea he was anywhere near. I could understand now where he was coming from. I asked my Boss then if he would mind if sometime I took Tyler to the woods with me, maybe just to look around, find some tracks, a few signs and things of that sort. He looked at me in a really serious manner and said, “ You would do that?” I told him I would gladly take him to the woods with me.

On Saturday of that same week, I had decided to go to the woods to look around. I called and talked to my Boss “Roy”. I asked him if I could take Tyler to the woods with me that morning. He said that would be great. Then he wanted me to ask Tyler myself. So I heard him call in the other room and say, “Tyler, the phone is for you.” Tyler came to the phone saying “hello” I said, “Tyler, this is Frank, I was wondering if you would like to go to the woods with me this morning to do some scouting?” He replied “Frank, I’m not in Scouts anymore.” I said, “No, not Scouts, you know, scouting for deer and just looking at nature.” He said, “ OH MY GOSH, are you kidding me?” Tyler was then hesitant for a minute and I heard him ask his Father if it was alright. His Father said yes and told him to ask me what time I would be there to pick him up and when would we return. I said I would pick him up at 10:00am and return by 3:00pm. They agreed with this.

I picked Tyler up at about 10:00 and we were off to the woods. For about the first 15 minutes, it was dead silent in the truck. Finally I asked him what had interested him in hunting. He told me that his best friend Robbie went hunting with his Dad a lot and told him about their hunts after he would get home. Then he said that he could not ask his Dad to take him hunting. He knew the reason why his Father wouldn’t go hunting. His Father did not know he was aware of why. I asked him how he knew about this. He told me that he was reading a book about hunting at his Grandmothers house one day, and his Grandma asked him if he knew what happened to his “Gramps”? He had said no, so she told him what had happened. So out of respect for his father, he never asked to go hunting.

We arrive at the woods about 10:45am. I start to get out of the truck to open the gate, so we can pull off the road. Tyler said, “Frank, I’ll get the gate, that’s what Buddy’s are for aren’t they?” I smiled with a huge grin and replied, ”Yes!”

We are walking across the field towards the woods and Tyler is commenting about how big the woods looks, as we are getting closer. About that time he looks down and real quietly says “Frank, is that a deer track” surprisingly I replied yes. Tyler thought that was really amazing, he had been looking at deer tracks in his magazines for a long time but had never seen one in real life. As we walk along the field and near the edge of the woods, the deer tracks and signs are growing greater. Tyler is looking and repeating, “There’s some, and more over there, and there… Wow, Frank there is a gazillion deer tracks out here!!” He was really excited. So we walked around in the woods for a while. I took him to a tree stand on the edge of the woods and told him about tree stands. He said that Gramps was hunting on the ground when his accident happened. He related to Gramps accident quite a lot. He said that if he would hunt from one of those tree stands, he would have to use some kind of safety belt like he had seen in hunting magazines. I told him he was right. Always put safety first in hunting!

Now it’s near about 1:00 in the afternoon. I asked Tyler if he was getting tired and hungry. He said, “No, I really like walking around in the woods and you have really shown me a lot of neat things in the woods and about deer hunting.” So, we decided to go set on the edge of the woods near a creek for awhile, a place where I had seen deer all times of the day previously. We get to this spot, just set down and we see something moving half way across the field. Tyler asked me if I thought it was a deer. I told him to be very quiet and we would set and wait to see. He said, “What if it takes longer than how much time we have left?” I still said lets just wait awhile them maybe we will sneak to the other side of the creek and look from there. So we waited about 15 minutes longer and from the left of us, right along the creek bank, about 20 yards away, were. 3 does. I seen Tyler’s head perk up and look, he tapped me on the leg and whispered “3 DEER!” I said, “Yeah, be extremely still and they might come closer.” They came across the creek and within about 10 yards of us. Tyler was just beside himself in excitement. The deer then slowly walked along the creek to the back side of the woods. I looked down at my watch and seen that it was already 2:00. I told Tyler we had to head back to the truck. He talked all the way back to the truck and all the way back to his house about seeing those 3 deer. I told him that I was kind of amazed that they came so close because, we were not camouflaged with the woods. I told him that the wind was coming from them to us and not from us to them. He said he understood, he had read about how well a deer can smell in his magazines.

We arrive back at his house at 3:00pm sharp. Tyler runs in the house to his Dad and says, “Dad, you are not going to believe this!” We seen like a gazillion deer tracks, Frank showed me some tree stands, and we even had 3 does really close to us!!” 3 of them can you believe it?” He was so happy and excited. Roy looked at me and I nodded yes. I asked Tyler if he would like to go scouting with me again. He asked if we could go the next day. I told him I wouldn’t be going to the woods again until the next Saturday, and if it’s ok with his Dad, He is more than welcome to be my Scouting Buddy. Roy said that it is ok, he can go with me anytime I go, as long as we are safe.

After a month or so more of scouting, Tyler asked me one day if I thought he could ever actually hunt with me. I told him this is something that we would have to discuss with his Father. He understood. So, we went back to his house after scouting that day and Roy was in his office, Tyler and I went in and set down. He asked if we had a good time in the woods today. We both of course replied, “Yes”. Tyler then looked at his Dad and said, “Dad, I know about what happened to Gramps” His Dad replied, “Oh you do?” and glared at me evilly. Tyler said “Dad, Frank didn’t tell me about it, Gramma told me a long time ago.” Roy looked shocked. Tyler said that he would never bring it up or ask him to go hunting because he didn’t want to hurt his feelings.

Tyler then said to his Father “ Dad, I know how you feel about hunting. I know that it hurt you very bad about Gramps. It would hurt me really bad if anything ever happened to you.” We all were starting to get some tears flowing now. Then Tyler said “Dad, I know that Gramps loved to hunt, I know that you loved to hunt when you were my age, I was wondering if I could maybe go hunting with Frank this fall? He didn’t ask me to go, I asked him if he thought I might be able to go and he said that we would have to discuss this with your Dad.” Roy looked at me and asked me what I think about it. I told him that Tyler has read a lot more about hunting than he realizes. He knows all of the safety issues, he really seems to be very aware of safety and wants to always put safety first. I was shocked when Roy said, “just a minute and I’ll be right back” When he returned, he was carrying a large black trash bag with an envelope attached. He handed it to Tyler. Tyler said, “Dad, can’t I wait till Franks gone to take out the trash?” Roy said “ Tyler, open the bag” Tyler opened the bag and inside was a brand new compound bow that was made by Martin Archery. Tyler was speechless. I was speechless. Roy then looked at me and told me to teach Tyler the ins and outs of shooting that bow and all of the safety matters of shooting that bow and hunting. Over the next month, we scouted and practiced shooting every Saturday. Roy told me that every day Tyler would shoot that bow for a couple hours. At this point he was as good of a shot with it from 20 yards as I was! Roy was very proud to see his son doing so well with the bow and being so interested in archery. We even got Roy out in the yard a couple times to give it a shot! We kept scouting and shooting over the summer. September came and Tyler’s Birthday was the on the 15th. I believe it was on a Thursday, I stopped by their house after I got off work that day to tell him Happy Birthday and give him the present I had got him. (A dozen arrows and broadheads). When I got there, Tyler was in the yard shooting his bow. He was surprised to see me there during the week. I looked at him & handed him the box and said Happy Birthday. He opened the box and was VERY surprised to see that dozen arrows and broadheads. His Dad walked outside on the patio and said “Well Son, looks like you’re almost ready to go hunting next month” His Mother was already out there watching him shoot. His Father then told him that “Gramps” had sent him a birthday present also. Everyone seemed so quiet then. So Roy handed Tyler this wrapped box. Tyler opened it and found a complete set of camouflage, and almost any hunting accessory you could imagine. Roy looked at Tyler then and said “ Tyler, Gramps is keeping a watch over you. He will see that you are safe while hunting, I believe the he has put the spirit of hunting back into our family within you.” I’ll tell you at this point, I was crying my eyes out. I told Tyler that I would be picking him up that Saturday morning about 4:00am so we could get in the woods before the sunup. He said GREAT! I’ll see you then. So I went home for the evening, I could not get over what Roy had just said to Tyler about the spirit of hunting being put back into their family. We continued scouting 3 evenings and 2 mornings until a week before Archery Season opened. Back then it opened on the 15th of October.

2 days before opening day, I called Tyler to ask him if he was ready. We had made arrangements with his parents for him to come to my house the night before Opening Day to spend the night. When I called, Tyler’s Mother told me that he was very sick and they were taking him to the Doctor in a couple hours. He was sleeping then and couldn’t come to the phone. I told her not to disturb him, I would stop by that evening to see him. Later that evening, Tyler’s Father called me right before I left my house to go see him. Roy told me that they had to admit Tyler in the hospital. He had Pneumonia, Bronchitis and was dehydrated really bad. I asked Roy if I could go see him. He said to wait a day or so. So I called daily to see how he was. Two days passed and it was Opening Day. I did not go to the woods, I went to the hospital to see Tyler. I walked in his room and he looked at me surprised and said, “ Frank, what are you doing here? It’s Opening Morning!!!!” I told him I couldn’t go hunting without my Hunting Buddy! I told him he needed to get well so he could go with me. He told me that he really felt bad about getting sick and not being able to go. I told him not to worry that there would be a lot more Opening Days in his life. Tyler smiled and said “Thanks Buddy!”

After a week Tyler was released from the hospital and was almost begging to go to the woods to hunt that weekend. His parents told him that he should give it a week or so to make sure he is ok since it was starting to get chilly outside. He agreed with them but wasn’t real happy about the situation.

I stopped by the evening he got home to see how he was doing. He told me he was fine but his Mom and Dad wouldn’t let him go hunting that weekend.

So I told him I had to go out of town until October 30th, and that maybe we could go hunting that weekend on November 1st. Tyler was starting to smile again. Roy came in the room and I asked him if he thought November 1st would be ok? He said it would be great. So I said goodbye to Tyler and told him I would see him on the 31st for an overnighter (with approval from his Dad) and that we would hit the woods early on the 1st!!

October 31st 1987, I picked Tyler up after school. We went out for supper, then to a local sporting goods store and purchased a couple hunting videos.

We went back to my house, watched the videos and ate some popcorn. I looked over at the couch around 10:00pm and Tyler was sound asleep. I went into my room and went to bed. About 3:00am on the following morning, I heard Tyler yell in my room. “FRANK IT’S OUR OPENING DAY!!” I was about scared half to death! So I got up, made some coffee, had some breakfast, Tyler had some breakfast. Then we got everything together and headed out to the woods. We got to the woods about 5:00 am.

We got out of the truck, and started to walk to the woods. Tyler looked at me and asked where my safety belt was. I told him that it was worn out and I was going to hunt from the ground. He looked at me and said “No your not, here” and handed me a brown bag. He had bought me a new safety harness with his own money. Want to talk about something bringing tears to your eyes? I gave that Little Buddy of mine a huge hug and said,” Let’s go find some deer!” So we began the track across the field. We get to two stands I had set up in this woods about 60 yards apart, right in the area where we had seen those 3 deer the first time we went to the woods. I led Tyler over to his stand. He got up into it, I handed him his bow and said “Good Luck!” He whispered, “Good Luck to you too Buddy!” I went to my stand. We heard a lot of twigs snapping and a lot of leaf scuffing before daylight.  These two stands were close enough that I could see Tyler in his stand but far enough away not to be in each other’s shooting lanes. I looked at Tyler and he was watching over his left shoulder. I looked at my watch for some reason. It was 9:30am. I heard a SNAP! Right then and looked to my left. There was a HUGE doe standing there broad side at about 10 yards. I thought to myself, should I take the shot and show Tyler or wait? I noticed another deer out of the corner of my right eye but thought nothing about it. So I decided to take the shot since it was close and I just knew that that doe would be some good meat on the table. So I drew back and let the arrow fly. The doe jumped and took off. I thought to myself. Man, I missed a 10-yard shot! About the same time I heard THWACK! Tyler had just took a shot, I seen a HUGE buck run right in front of me about 40 yards out. I seen it head into the edge of a thicket about 50 yards away. So I waited about 15 minutes and got down from my stand. Walked over to where my arrow was to pick it up and noticed that it was covered with blood and in a pool of blood on the ground. I picked it up, put it in my quiver and headed over to Tyler to see how he’s doing. I looked up at him, with a very long face and I said, “What’s wrong Buddy?” He said “I missed that great big buck” I told him that I had hit that doe over by my stand and again, not to worry, there was still a lot of days left in this hunting season and a lot more hunting seasons to come. He was getting excited then so he came down to help me find her. I asked him where he thought his arrow might be and he pointed and said right over there. We walked up to the arrow and Tyler looked at it and almost started crying!! He yelled, “ I HIT HIM, I HIT HIM” noticing the blood on his arrow. ”Frank can you tell if it was a good shot?” I looked at his arrow and saw that the blood was filled with air bubbles and told Tyler that he had taken a lung shot. Oh man was he ever excited now. I told him that now the big part was about to happen. We have 2 blood trails within 30 yards of each other. I asked him which way his deer went and he pointed. So we started following the very noticeable blood trail that his deer had left. We walked about 60 yards from his stand and came across a doe lying down. I asked Tyler if he was sure it was a buck, He said yes. So we walked up to the doe, she was definitely gone. I told Tyler that it looked like there was still a blood trail going away from her. I knew she had run in this area after I shot at her. So we walked the blood trail for about another 20 yards to the edge of a thicket. I looked right inside the edge and saw a white tail. I pointed, Tyler ran into the thicket and starting yelling “FRANK IT’S A BUCK, I TOLD YOU! WAIT TILL DAD SEES THIS!”

Then Tyler came out of the thicket, looked up to the sky and said “Thanks Gramps” Next he came over to me and gave me a huge hug and said “Thanks Buddy, this is the best day of my life!” I told him that it really made me happy to be able to hunt with him and teach him hunting. Then I said, lets get that monster out of those stickers. So we pulled him out and I was amazed. Tyler had taken his first shot at a real deer and hit. Hit in fact a 12-point Non-Typical Whitetail that weighed when dressed out at 200 POUNDS! This young man was the happiest young man I think I had ever seen at this point. When we arrived back at his house after a long wait at the check in station. Tyler walked in the house with a long face. His Dad looked at me and asked if we had seen anything. I looked at him and winked. Tyler said Yes, Frank got a doe. Come out side and see it Dad, Tyler said. So we went outside to the truck and I opened the tailgate, Tyler looked at his Dad and said “ Dad, I wish you could have been there but I understand why you can’t. Gramps was there though Dad, See” and he uncovered this Big Buck.

Roy grabbed his son and hugged him for at least 15 minutes. Then he hugged me for about as long. They both thanked me and thanked me.  Tyler’s Dad went with us to take the deer to the Locker plant. After we left. His Dad asked if we could go to the woods to see where Tyler had shot his deer. Tyler asked him if he was sure. He said, “Yes, My Father is there to watch over me.”


   I had kept in contact with Tyler until about 5 years ago. I talked to his Dad, Roy about a year ago. He said that Tyler has a son named “Jack Walter” after his “Gramps”. I recently, after writing this article, I talked to Tyler my self, we shared a lot of memories together. He told me that still to this day, he has bowhunted every season since that first year and can’t wait to take his son and tell him the story about that first season.

Tyler also is a Bowhunters Education Instructor for the state he lives in now. He is very involved in a youth camp up there also.

I hope you enjoy reading this story as much as I enjoyed “Living It” Helping Youth with Archery and Hunting is what makes a person feel proud to say he has done such a thing and proud to be an Outdoorsman / Bowhunter / Sportsman !

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 csinclair on 12 May 2008

Archer and Hiker does not equal Bow Hunter

(a.k.a. 10, (more), practice tips for new Bow Hunters

Last weekend I had the first chance ever to take my bow out into the bush for a long hike on 160 acres of farmland interspersed with forests and tree stands on some private property owned by my family, where I have permission to hunt.

I didn’t actually hunt on the property this time, (not being licensed to hunt in Ontario yet, (anymore)), I was however there to get some practice and experience in getting up early in the morning, (5 AM – 1/2 hr before sunrise), gearing up with all my camo and archery gear and going for a long stalk through the fields, as well as spending some time shooting from a tree stand, (pre-existing), in full gear just to see what it was like. Lucky for me one of the neighbours came by with a big old Tom Turkey (20+ lb’s), that he shot on the first morning with a 10 Guage shotgun, (nice looking bird) we shared an after the hunt drink on my father in law’s back porch while he told me the story. He called out this old Tom with a box call, and put two rounds into him, (which may explain why I’d heard lots of them clucking on the first morning and none on the second).

First thing that I did on the first morning was set up a distance string that I’d prepared with trail tape marker measurements on it the night before. I marked the 20, 40 and 60 meter intervals on it so that I could tune my sights for some longer distances than the usual 20 to 30 meter shots I practice at home. I set my pins for 20, 30, 40 and 60 meters, I won’t take a shot any longer that at this point, maybe later with practice.

I’m very glad that I did take the time to go out get the practice like this because as I’ve been reading the articles on this site and a few others like it, I’ve come to the conclusion that no amount of archery practice and hiking can get one ready to be a bow hunter and after this weekend I think I’m beginning to understand why.

I actually had a big old Tom walk right out of the bush towards where I was practicing from in the tree stand on the first morning out, he came out of the woods about 120 meters away from the stand and came closer until I think I moved and spooked him at when he got to around 80 meters away from me, he was gone in a flash not to be seen or heard from again by me.

Top things I learned on this weekends excursion into the world of bow hunting training & preparation:

1.) Be prepared, although it was early May, the mornings were cold, I forgot to pack gloves and my hands were quite unexpectedly cold on the second morning. Make sure to get all your gear together the night before, check it and double check it, triple check it, (the first morning out I forgot my field glasses even though I’d packed them with my gear, I left them in the truck, doh!).

2.) Humans are very noisy, Walking through the forest in boots it’s very difficult to be stealthy, hunt from a stand or blind and learn to call your prey, the chance of you sneaking up on an animal on it’s own turf are slim in most cases.

3.) Be patient, what better way to spend the morning than sitting out in nature, being silent, scanning for animals with field glasses, (which I did remember to bring on the 2nd morning).

4.) Practice shooting from your treestand in all directions and distances, I could shoot quite easily some in some areas but really had to shift my position and harness to shoot in other directions and distances, practice and be prepared for all scenarios.

5.) Shooting unmarked distances in the wild is very difficult, (it’s critical and quite difficult to judge distances properly this is probably why so many hunters use range finders), shooting from a tree stand is also very difficult, (due to the angles involved), until you get used to it, (I was much more accurate by the end of the 2nd day).

6.) Experience is the best teacher, reading about and watching videos on a topic is not the same as doing something, if you thing you want to be a bow hunter, get out into the woods and actually spend a few damp chilly mornings in the bush doing stuff for real.

7.) Always carry a compass or GPS device, even though I was on familiar land, it would have been easy to get lost at certain points, forests can be deceptive at times and it’s easy to walk the wrong way and become lost, (it happens).

8.) Hunters who get up early, (before sunrise), dress up in Camoflaged clothing, (I was wearing Real Tree HD head to toe), and spend hours in the woods being as quiet as possible see all kinds of wildlife, (during my 2 mornings out I saw: 2 raccoons, 2 groundhogs, lots of Canada Geese, (2 Canada Geese in particular at waters edge of a pond with a nest of 5 eggs), 3 or 4 Mallards, a Great Egret, a wild Turkey, a pair of yellow bellied sap suckers, lots of crows, red winged blackbirds, sparrows and yellow warblers, (although I spotted some droppings and tracks I didn’t see any deer this time out).

9.) Talk about Bow Hunting and your desire to be a hunter with others, (I was slightly surprised by the reception that my interest received from my family and friends), I’ve been invited out hunting with a few different groups now, to hunt for various game and I’ve got permission to hunt about 1000 acres of privately owned land if you totalled up the various offers from kind folks who I’ve talked to about my interest in the sport.

10.) Being out in the bush with the Bow is like nothing else, what a great feeling, memories in the field are irreplaceable. I can only imagine the high that comes with bagging big game with a bow after my brief taste of the sport and the tiniest bit of experience that practice in full gear could provide me with, I’m more eager than ever now.

I figure that I’ll spend a few more weekends this summer up at the same spot practicing and getting used to full camo hiking, stalking and tree stand shooting before next years season, at which time I’ll be licensed for small game and hopefully pull a ticket for turkey and who knows what else. In the meantime, practice, practice, practice.

Happy Hunting!

26 votes, average: 3.62 out of 526 votes, average: 3.62 out of 526 votes, average: 3.62 out of 526 votes, average: 3.62 out of 526 votes, average: 3.62 out of 5 (26 votes, average: 3.62 out of 5)
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Published by txcookie on 12 May 2008

Succes in Failure

Success in failure


I have never been much for the world of trophy hunting. I grew up in an area were big deer were more than just rare, they were endangered, and almost every one I’d ever seen harvested was taken by rifle. I was in love with the arrow so a doe, or spike, or anything, actually, was truly my trophy.  

I took up Bow hunting at the age of 13 and by 15 I had my first deer. In the next 3 yrs I would take two more before joining the Air Force and missing several seasons. Funny, how a war can take you away from everyone and everything you love. After a 4 yr gap I was finally able to get some free time (thanks to hurricane Rita and a two month evacuation) to make a hunt and was able to take a small doe. The predator within me was awakened with that kill, and had the appetite of a bear after a very long winter. 

 In 2006 I was up for orders, and when I saw Iowa on the list I suddenly had a rush of thoughts and pictures with me posing with my Pope and Young’s! I was ecstatic, and when I got the assignment I was already being told from friends of how many monsters I would most likely kill. Success would be mine. 

  Iowa did not let me down for my first season. I could see more deer in just one week then I would see in an entire year back home. Bucks were everywhere, and most were way bigger than what I was used to seeing. I got a map of the land I had to hunt and started researching everything that I could about it. I learned the best ways to ambush without the help of feeders and tried to get used to playing the scent game. I felt I knew how to hunt, however this was the first time in my life I would be 100% solo with my Father and hunting buds living a thousand miles away. Hunting huge fields with little woods is a bit different than hunting the forest of North East Texas.  Everything would be different. 

It all paid off one evening when I passed on a 120 class deer only to be rewarded with a 150 class. He came down a trail which crossed into my best shooting lane, offering a 15yrd chip shot.  As soon as he hit the spot I drew back and all I could think was HORNS. I saw the pins, then the deer, and I just jerked. Needless to say the only thing that got hurt was a small leaf from a half-dead plant.  

The sound of an arrow missing is the toughest sound to hear, and I was crushed. I didn’t eat for 2 days and had to miss work. I swore up and down that I would get this buck or one similar before the season ended. I hunted in –15-degree weather and passed many very respectable bucks that would have probably made the paper in my hometown. I annoyed my wife, sacrificed precious gym time and eventually fell behind at work. In the end I had to settle for several tasty does, and considered my season a complete failure. 

  With post-season came the gym time and catching up with my family and work. Also I had to get my shoulder fixed, which had been really messed up with rotator cuff damage. I was beyond worried about my final season in Iowa, with my last chance to get that mossy-backed monster of the cornfield depending on a bum shoulder!  

After 2 months of Physical torture I was finally able to draw and shoot a new 49# Bow.  Getting the stands up was no easy task either–suddenly I had a new appreciation for just how important shoulders can be for a bow hunter. The first hunt was hot but productive, and in the end there was a heart-shot doe in the back off my truck! Another one would follow later that week and I had convinced myself that this would indeed be the yr.  

That’s about when things went back down hill.  The rut started at a time when I simply could not miss work, even if the Boss had no idea, and I only caught the back end of it! I decided to lower my standards to any P&Y and at the rate I was seeing them, I knew it should only be a matter of time.  My time finally came one cold windy November morning.  A good 8-point came in at 25 yards. Tailing a doe, he stopped for just a moment.  

I remember getting the bow back and telling myself to pick a spot and follow through.  I did, and watched in horror as my arrow sliced the bottom of his chest, leaving him a lot smarter but alive. Having white feathers I can tell you if I have a hit from my stand and in this case they were clean and dry, with just a dab of fat on my shaft and one white hair.   

Back into my depression I went. I was miserable. Finally I decided I had to talk to someone about it, so I called my Father. He was able to get my senses back in order. He reminded me that I had always found my own trophies in any bow kill that I had. This got me to thinking; for 2 yrs I had been bitter, worried, and anxious about deer season, obsessing over big horns! I had let it take to much time away from my family and my career.  I had even let it take the enjoyment out of the hunt. 

The more I thought about it the dumber I felt and more embarrassed I became. It finally hit me that I was in a bowhunter’s heaven and that I was hunting, not competing in a sport with a scoreboard. I needed to just have fun out there like I always had. I had always assumed that my success would be a big P&Y buck, but in the end my success was my failure. My success was finding my passion for simply being a Hunter and taking whatever I deemed a trophy, instead of competing with Magazines and TV shows for trophies.  

The final hunt in 2007 produced a small buck that most would have passed on. I remember sitting in the stand, freezing in the cold.  As I looked down to check my legal shooting time I saw something move thru one of my lanes out of the corner of my eye. With blood pumping and adrenaline surging I rose up and drew back, releasing my big fat XX75 flying at 200 fps straight into the deer’s vitals. With a thunderous crash he broke out of there, stopping just30 yards away before taking his final bed. He has been my greatest trophy to date!


8 votes, average: 2.63 out of 58 votes, average: 2.63 out of 58 votes, average: 2.63 out of 58 votes, average: 2.63 out of 58 votes, average: 2.63 out of 5 (8 votes, average: 2.63 out of 5)
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Published by bode on 12 May 2008

Hunting Black Bears

Bears, the ultimate bowhunting experience and not for the faint of heart. When hunting over bait one will see the bear nine times out of ten before hearing it. For its size the Bear is a very quiet and exceptionally fast animal. The bear also has the advantage of knowing more about his home than you the hunter does, afterall this is his arena. Some may feel hunting over bait is a sure thing to tagging a bear and nothing could be further from the truth. The bears in my area do not leave the woods too often, and if the bear does not want to be seen then it will not be seen.

Stand hunting is the chosen method over bait allowing the hunter a chance to determine the size of the bear and whether or not it is a sow with cubs in tow. The bear will inspect the bait station that has been set up and also undoubtably become familiar with the treestand location. I would say that in almost ninety percent of the time a bear walks into the bait station they will at first gaze in the direction of the treestand. This is when the hunter must be patient, quiet and very still, sometimes this being very hard to do dealing with springtime blackflies, mosquitos and numerous other pests and inclimate weather.

First time bear hunters tend to get overanxious and misjudge size quite often. Sighting thier first bear in most causes thier hearts to race, beads of sweat will form on thier foreheads and hands. The weather here can be as unpredictable as the bear being hunted, and in some instances the hunter can become the hunted. Sitting on stand also allows the hunter to enjoy a closeness to nature something that is lost in still hunting and spot and stalk.

We sometimes set up ground blinds and the hunt can be very exhilerating in this situation, as you are ground level, predator against predator. You are 20 to 30 yards from the bait barrel and in walks a 300lb boar, you have no room for error, you must be able to shoot on demand and under pressure. A misplaced arrow can and does bring on a rather bad situation. A wounded bear is not a friendly bear to say the least. In the treestand the hunter is normally about 14 to 20 feet up and 12 to 20 yards from the bait and some bears have been known to climb the tree the hunter is in, another rather exciting encounter to say the least.

Sitting on stand over bait is called hunting in our parts not shooting. Many weeks and months have gone into setting up the site, including the stand location, the bait station and bait being brought in on almost a daily occurance. Hunting over bait is only setting up the condition, there are no guarantees on the kill as that is up the hunter.

On bait, we add to the drum which is normally a 45 gallon plastic barrel, winterkill if available. We get breads and pastries from local shops that are outdated, bones and scraps from local butchers is another source of supply. A stink bait of dried fish is normally hung by a rope in a tree wrapped in burlap close to the barrel. We also will drag a stink bait over various trails throughout the woodlot to entice wandering bears to visit the smorgasborg we have prepared for them.

When doing baiting we wear rubber boots to cut down on leaving human scent. The black bear has very poor vision yet it is extemely important when the hunter is on stand not to suddenly swat a bug or twist in the seat due to the closeness of the hunt. Back to the bait, used deep fryer grease is great to pour around the barrel on the outside so a visiting bear can then track it throughout the woodlot, alerting other bears as to where the bait station is. I also like to soak 4x2x1 inch sponges in a mixture of anise, vanilla extract and liquid smoke and hang from surrounding trees about 5 feet above the ground, and no the bears will not eat the sponges but they will sniff and lick.

The barrel should be affixed to a tree, and we normally use steel coated clothesline and then crib the barrel. Have the barrel standing erect so the bear either has to pull it forward and down or a hole in the side that it must reach into and expose a vital area for your shot.  The barrel also provides an excellent way to judge the size of the bear you are shooting at.  If the bear decides to stand at the barrel and reach in through the top the bear then gives the oppertunity for a pass through shot.

This then is the quest for one of natures more cunning and formidable foes, hunter against hunter, the ultimate bow hunting experience. Eating the flesh of a young black bear can and is a truly delightful eating experience and the spring bear also provides the oppertunity for a fine rug or shoulder mount. If a hunter is looking for a sizable bear then I would suggest a fall hunt where the bear will add almost half as much weight throughout the spring and summer. Fall hunting is great with no bugs to deal with but then on the downside with the berry crops and apple orchards full of fruit it is more difficult to attract the bears to the bait stations.

Most non resident hunters prefer light carbon arrows and 60 to 70 lb draw weights, and lately the Slick Trick 100’s seem to be the broadhead of choice with most hunters achieving pass through shots and short recovery distances of downed bears. Black Bear hunting is truly a bow hunters most exhilerating hunt, but that is my opinion. Have a good one and be safe out there. _____bode

9 votes, average: 2.78 out of 59 votes, average: 2.78 out of 59 votes, average: 2.78 out of 59 votes, average: 2.78 out of 59 votes, average: 2.78 out of 5 (9 votes, average: 2.78 out of 5)
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Published by daver9 on 11 May 2008

watching it pass

I am eager with anticipation and nerves as I ease my way down the mowed lane toward the horizon. It is the kind of dark that you can get lost in, even though I could make this journey with my eyes closed it is so familiar. I can feel my heartbeat with each step, and my boots sound as if they are loud enough to wake the dead as I tiptoe through the frosted ryegrass.

I take my flashlight out of my pocket against my better judgment, and let it shine for only an instant for fear that I will see those eyes gleaming back at me. Nothing stares me down, and breathing a little easier I continue to make my way down the lane toward the forest. My favorite tree standing tall against the purple of the first rays of light coming through.

I reach the end of the lane and negotiate my way through the weeds, shrubs and tall grasses to reach the edge of the tree line. The forest is old, but has been cut allowing for new growth to generate obstacles in my way, and the young trees are all too eager to grab at my pack as I attempt to stealth through their fortress of rustling leaves.

My light comes out again as I can no longer see my gloved hand in front of my face. My heart is now almost pounding out of my chest as I scan the tree line for the opening I am looking for. I find it and shut off my light, taking in the serenity of the calm forest floor. I find my tree, and hook my bow and pack to the line I have hanging down from the stand. I take a deep breath, clip into the safety rope and make my way skyward.

At 10 feet I clear the canopy of young trees and the light again changes from pitch black to purple. The air is still as I make my way past 20 feet. I reach the last rung on the ladder step and swing my leg out over to the platform of my stand, always anticipating the slip of a boot and the sudden jerk of the safety rope as it pulls against my harness, only to be met by the searing pain of the tree and metal ladder slamming into my shoulder. Thankfully the slip does not come, and I am standing 25 feet above the forest floor. I sit on the seat and catch my breath, taking in my surroundings and making a note of the absolute quiet.

After a few moments pass, I gather myself enough to raise my bow and pack from the forest floor below. It seems to be heavier than I remember, but I manage to get it up and into my lap. I untangle the pair and hang them on their respective hooks, after taking an arrow out of the quiver and placing it on the shelf of my bow. I wonder if this will be the maiden voyage for this arrow I have crafted myself, and the first kill for my new bow? I try not to get my hopes up.

I ease back into the mesh seat of the stand, and try to calm my racing heart. For a man with a resting pulse of 54, my current rate of 90+ feels as though I have just run a mile, uphill. I breath deep and rhythmic, trying to slow the heart. It begins to fall back into a more familiar cadence.

I peer into the sky, and take in the majesty of the first brush strokes of orange, pink, and red begin to paint the blackish blue velvet of the night sky. This very moment is my favorite time of the day. Just as the night creatures of the forest make their way to bed, and the morning revelry is sounded by the birds waking from their slumber. I hear raccoons fighting in the distance, and a turkey sounds her morning alarm putt from a tree not 60 yards down the ridge. I have made it to my destination, and managed to somehow not alert every animal in the forest of my presence. I feel complete as I watch the night pass into morning….my soul finally at peace once more.

The familiar shuffle of feet through the fallen leaves brings me back from my Zen like state, and the most primitive of feelings begins to rise in my belly.

11 votes, average: 2.09 out of 511 votes, average: 2.09 out of 511 votes, average: 2.09 out of 511 votes, average: 2.09 out of 511 votes, average: 2.09 out of 5 (11 votes, average: 2.09 out of 5)
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Published by bode on 11 May 2008

THE GIFT “The First Hunt”

When for the first time while on stand  the hunter/huntress sees his/her first buck, his/her heart will begin to pound and he/she will suppress his/her breathing, as this is the day he/she has waited and trained for and imagined many times. The deer is a gift from someone or something greater than us all and has been placed here for us, as we become one with nature. It is an emotional thing, to  kill this buck and from the emotional being of the event can only be described by the individual to the individual.

One must experience for himself/herself the killing of the buck and also be mature enough to understand it. It is now fall and a light wind has lowered the temperature, your cheeks come rosy and your fingers are numbing. On seeing the buck you silenting and methodically raise your bow and in that instant the bucks head snaps erect, detecting something even though you felt you were quiet. You aim and release and in a brief instant you believe you have seen the life go from the bucks eyes.

We the hunter do not hunt to kill but rather we have killed so we could hunt. The elation of the kill is short lived as we hunters all know the this is only  the satisfying conclusion of a successful hunt.  The first deer kill is difficult emotionally and some will wish to  throw thier bow away , only for an instant, as it will come back to THE GIFT, placed here by someone or something greater than us all.

“The KILL is nothing more than the CLIMAX to a successful hunt, it is not the HUNT.”

12 votes, average: 2.50 out of 512 votes, average: 2.50 out of 512 votes, average: 2.50 out of 512 votes, average: 2.50 out of 512 votes, average: 2.50 out of 5 (12 votes, average: 2.50 out of 5)
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Published by Bow on 10 May 2008

Why They Call It Hunting

Late in Rhode Island’s muzzleloader season I was perched on a 10 foot ladder stand when I glanced over my left shoulder and saw the biggest buck I’ve ever see in this little state sneaking up the hill behind me.  I slipped off the safety and quietly spun around on the wooden platform for a right handed shot.  As he went behind some brush I raised the muzzleloader and waited.  Head lowered as if following a scent trail, the buck approached a six foot opening about 40 yards away.  I pulled the butt of my in-line to my shoulder and waited.  As he emerged from behind the last bush I found him in my scope.  I thought cross hairs behind the shoulder, and I exhaled as I waited for them to rest just right.  When they did, I squeezed the trigger and held the rifle steady as a cloud of blue smoke surrounded me.

            When it cleared the big boy was stumbling up hill.  At the top he looked left, stumbled again, and turned right, lumbering into a thick row of bushes at the crest of the hill and then disappeared away from me.  Everything looked good so after a short wait I climbed down, reloaded and set out after him.  I found a single drop of blood where he stood when I shot.  Over the next half mile I found two GPS sized puddles of red and a trail of drops, some of which I had to find on hands and knees, that led me into a thick swamp and vanished.  For the better part of two days I searched that little piece of woods but I never saw that buck or any sign of him again.

            I’ve replayed that shot at least a thousand times but there’s nothing about it I’d do differently if I had it again.  I had plenty of time to think and I did what I thought was right.  All I can say about that giant is that I have no idea why he’s still out there.  Unfortunately, though, I can explain why a lot of other deer still roam around New England.

            There’s a world of difference between hunting and bringing home meat.  Part of that world includes mistakes, misjudgments and just plain old bad luck, all of which I’ve endured over a couple of decades in the big (and not so big) deer woods.  One positive thing about my miscues is that I’ve never made the same one twice so anyone who studies my failings should be able to avoid them, too.  Or put another way, they’ll be burdened with finding new and different reasons to come home empty.

Buck Fever

            Buck fever is a disease that jumps the mind from see deer to pull trigger.  No matter how soundly you plan all the necessary steps in between, if the fever hits, your brain doesn’t hear the sounds.  The only good thing I can say about buck fever is that it’s like the mumps.  If you survive it once, or maybe twice, you should start to build some resistance.

Not surprisingly, my initial bout of buck fever came the first time I hunted in Maine.  I was still hunting a small section of thick woods trying to end my deer virginity when I thought I was being attacked by a bush.  As I passed it branches started rocking and rolling as if they were trying to explode away from their roots.  I jumped behind a tree to get out of the way when suddenly a deer’s head rose from the bush and fell back into it.  When it rose again I knew it was busting out and would pass within feet of me.  That was see deer.  When it was in the clear about five yards away I pulled the trigger on my 30-06 as hard as I could pull but nothing happened except the deer ran across a clearing behind me and I pulled some more.  Then it turned and ran back into the clearing and I pulled again but the deer turned and vanished to my left.  To this day I can’t believe there could be an easier shot on my favorite game.  Unfortunately, buck fever said see deer, shoot deer and it made my brain skip right over take off the safety.

Unlike other diseases, don’t expect sympathy from your hunting buddies when you explain this illness.  I never forgot to flip the safety off again and over the next ten years I took several deer with firearms. 

To extend my season I took up bow hunting because in Rhode Island you can send arrows after deer for four months.  But when I carried the compound into the field it never occurred to me that my immunity to buck fever only ran gun deep.

One morning I was sitting on a 12 foot ladder stand when a doe slowly walked towards me on a groomed trail.  At twenty yards she had to turn and pass behind a bush, emerging to give me a broad side at a measured and practiced distance.  I had a good twenty to thirty seconds to anticipate what had to be one of the easiest shots in archery, but I had the fever and didn’t know it.  With the fever in control, my brain said see deer, raise bow and draw.  But I sit with my bow in my lap and the fever blocked, put arrow on rest.  So when the arrow snagged behind the rubber coated prongs, it pulled loose from the string and that was all the doe needed to hear.  A week later I arrowed another deer from that stand, so I’m assuming my immunity grew a little stronger.


I’ve heard hunters complain about their equipment but the truth is that equipment rarely fails without human error helping it.  And I readily admit that I’m the human error behind several deer that got away.

Though I never suffered from buck fever hunting with a muzzleloader, I found other ways to miss.  A long time ago I bought my first smokepole from a mail order catalog and I didn’t think it was unusual that I had to file the front sight almost flat to hit a pie plate at 40 yards.  But after I missed three deer at 30 yards or less, I began to think it might not be me.  Of course it was me because I’m the one who loaded conicals into a muzzleloader with a 1 in 60 twist.  Had I read and followed the directions instead of second guessing the manufacturer, I would have learned that that twist was too slow to stabilize anything but roundballs and it wouldn’t have taken me four shots to bag my first buck with that rifle.  The real mystery was how did I ever connect with the pie plate in the first place.

Being a slow learner I had to miss another deer before my archery equipment functioned properly, too.  This time I was in a climbing stand on a short rise when a large doe came over the lip and stopped dead fifteen yards in front of me.  Apparently she knew that was the safest place to stand.  When I attached the release she didn’t move and she didn’t move when I slowly started to pull.  And she didn’t move when the release popped open and my arrow arched up into the air.  In fact she stayed dead still until the Gamegetter landed behind her, then she trotted off, probably deer laughing all the way.  Again, if I’d read and followed the directions I’d be eating stew instead of writing this because I would have known to lock the set screw in place.  A dab of clear nail polish fixed that problem forever.  It just fixed it one deer too late.

And I’ve missed deer by failing to obey even more common sense directions.  For example, the second time a deer chased me behind a tree occurred on election day in 1996.  Early that morning I blew once on a grunt tube and a monster came ripping through the brush slashing his antlers at every shrub in his way.  About twenty yards from me he stopped and spun once like a bull in a ring, searching for his competition.  When his head vanished behind a tree I swung my sidelock up and held on his vitals.  When I pulled the trigger the cap fired, the muzzle rose and after a painful pause the powder exploded sending the bullet flying over his back.  It took the monster all of five seconds to race across the border into Connecticut as I realized I’d suffered my first hangfire and I had no one to blame but myself.

The prior Sunday I’d shot a small doe but I had to go to a wake that night so I never cleaned the muzzleloader.  Tuesday I just grabbed it in the dark, reloaded it and jumped in the truck.  Had I just run a wire through the nipple…. 

Believe me, when it’s your fault, you relive the shot over and over again, which might explain why you have to invent new mistakes every time you screw up.


            Sometimes it’s not so much a screw up as circumstances that let the deer run.    One opening day in New Hampshire I was in a climber overlooking a field that ran about 200 yards long by 60 wide.  Just before 11 a.m. another hunter entered it from my west and started to walk through it.  I waved my orange hat to let him know I was there and when he saw it, he politely turned back.  But as soon as he turned a deer jumped out of its bed twenty yards in front of him.  It was a gimme shot from the stand and I instinctively grabbed my rifle.  But the other hunter was only twenty yards behind the deer so I lowered the gun and whistled to get his attention.  I figured he had a safe shot at it from the ground but there was no way I was going to fire down with him in the field.  He never turned back.  The deer stood silently between us until he finally seemed to figure out that my whistling was not a good thing, then he bolted.  I’ve never regretted letting him go.

            I let one go during Rhode Island’s bow season, too.  I had permission to hunt a very small piece of woods in a heavily residential area when a doe surprised me by appearing out of no where between the road and me.  It was a tempting shot and to this day I don’t believe it was possible for my arrow to reach the road but I let her walk.   There were a lot of ifs in if I missed and if I was wrong about how far the arrow would fly and if someone was coming around the corner just then, but they all justified taking a pass and they taught me to never hunt that land from the ground again.

It may not sound like it, but I have shot more deer than I’ve missed.  I don’t deny my mistakes and I don’t repeat them.  Someday, if I’m lucky and the hunting stars shine on me just right, I’ll have made every error one can make in the field.  Then if I’m still alive, I’ll be deadly.  But until that magic day comes, I’ll just enjoy the outdoors and try to do what’s humanly possible to eliminate mistakes, misjudgments and just plain old bad luck.  Sometimes I’ll succeed.

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Published by cape buffalo on 10 May 2008

Dreams do come true!

Dreams do come true! As long as I’ve been hunting, my friend and I have always wanted to kill a buck with a droptine. Well it finally happened to me! One day last year while out bow hunting I saw three does acting crazy, running and jumping like rabbits. Then it happened… out walked a big buck with a droptine! I was so shaking -up I couldnt even think straight. Well the buck knew something was not right and he disapeared like a ghost. Over the next three weeks I hunted that deer hard and saw him one more time, and now it is November & I was in the woods well before daylight and as I sat their thinking where the buck could be. I saw a deer walking, but to my surprize it was the does I had always seen with him, but no buck this time. now it was around 1:30PM, so I started walking back to my truck, but on the way out I saw a deer on a ridge making scapes and walking toward me, so I stopped and watched as the deer came closer. I saw what I have waited a lifetime for walking right to me. And I drew my bow,but  I had no shot.The deer just kept walking right pass me into a large blown down tree that blocked my shot, and then it happened, at 10 yards the deer saw me, but it was too late at 10 yards I shot the arrow, It  hit the buck perfect as he ran off I sat down to think about what had just happened to me. As I calmed down I picked up a blood trail that the blind could have followed. after 150yards I found my dream buck and to my surprize he had kickers, three brow tines, double droptines and spilts plus mass. everthing you could want and more, and I thank god and my dad for a great deer and I know his off spring will be there for years to come and just maybe my son will take one this year. And, yes my son told me he wants one with 5 droptines on each side. And always remember dreams do come true!

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