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Published by archerchick on 22 Feb 2010

Get Aggressive – By Bob Robb

Get Aggressive – by Bob Robb

April 2005

There are times when normal stand-hunting tactics just don’t work on whitetail bucks. Here’s how to be bold to find success.

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

April 2005

As a born and bred western spot and stalk hunter, being aggressive is ingrained into my psyche. I like to find ’em and then go get ’em. Sitting in a tree stand for hours and hours, still as a piece of oversized bark, is just about as easy for me as sitting on a bed of nails. Still, I learned years ago that scouting for hot sign, setting a tree stand as quickly and quietly as possible, then waiting for a buck to come by is by far the best way to fill tags.

And yet, there are times when that doesn’t work. The deer simply may not come by. And even if I’ve set my stand in the right place, the deer often walk out of range – and out of my life. Few things frustrate me more.

Lately, I’ve taken to becoming more aggressive in my whitetail hunting. I still scout hard for hot sign and patiently sit in treestands in the belief that this remains the best way in the world to get a controlled shot. But when stealth tactics don’t pay off, I’ve taken to becoming bold, trying to make something happen rather than passively adding another untouched tag to my already impressive collection.

How It All Started
It was a bitter November day in southwestern Ohio, the wind adding a real bite to the 15-degree air temperature. Set up on a power line cut surrounded by some serious thickets, I was watching a doe lead a 140-class nine-pointer along a trail away from my stand.

After a week of nothing, I was not going to let this happen without trying something. Using an inhale/exhale combination grunt/bleat call, I first gave a pair of doe bleats. As the doe stopped and turned, I gave the deer a short series of moderately loud grunts while ticking my rattling horns together. I was hoping to fool the deer into thinking there was an estrous doe in the thicket directly behind my stand, and she was the focus of a pair of young bucks who were sparring over the right to breed her.

For whatever reason, it worked. The doe took several steps my way, staring into the thicket. The buck now had his attention momentarily diverted from his current amour, and when I bleated again, he bit, trotting my way to have a look.

In Fantasyland I could tell you that he stopped broadside at 20 yards, where he took my arrow through both lungs. In reality he stopped at 27 steps, slightly quartering away and looking back over his shoulder. I had so much “stuff” out trying to call the deer that I couldn’t get it stowed away in time, so when I grabbed my bow and tried to draw I knocked my rattling horns, clanking them loudly against the metal of my treestand. Adios, amigo.

That episode stuck in my mind, though. Why can’t I make things happen more often, I thought, by using a controlled aggression approach? the answer is, I could. You can, too.

One, Two, Three…
Since that time I’ve begun experimenting a bit by combining several different aggressive deer hunting techniques in an effort to add realism and excitement to my hunting. That isn’t to say that I’ve abandoned the stealth bomber approach. It remains my favorite way to hunt. But when it isn’t producing, I’m no longer afraid to get with it and try to make something happen.

One common way to make things happen is with the rattling horns. Nor during the pre-rut, when clashing and banging them hard and loud to stimulate a real knock-down, drag-out fight is the common technique, but instead earlier, in mid-to late-October before the pre-rut phase of the rut is in high gear.

At this time bucks like spar with each other as much a social activity as two bucks getting rid of their aggression. When they spar they don’t bang each other around a lot. Instead, they carefully put their horns together to push, shove and twist in a “pre” pre-rut test of strength.

When there’s nothing happening around my late-October stand, I might try “sparring” with my rattling horns or, just as effective, a rattle bag, while making a short series of grunts. I like to this in an area where I know the buck-to-doe ratio is 3:1 or better, and that I’ve seen small bachelor groups of bucks hanging together. I might even add a basic doe bleat or two when I rest between sparring series. The goal is to make any nearby bucks think there is some friendly competition over by my tree and have them come investigate. I fooled a nice Mississippi 10-pointer a few days before Halloween one year with just such a sequence. This time I didn’t bozo it and made the 25-yard shot as he stood looking and listening for the group of deer he just knew he were right there someplace.

When aggressively rattling during the pre-rut and rut periods, I’ve taken to getting down out of my tree and working the horns from the ground. That’s because real buck fights cover lots of ground and will include the sound of stomping, trees being thrashed, brush being mashed to bits, and grunting and bellowing. This is no time to be shy. If  I’m going to rattle, I’m going to make it sound like two big boys are fighting to the death. I have a spot picked out to rattle from, often making a makeshift ground blind set 40 or 50 yards away from my treestand.

It does work. I’ve had good bucks come to the horns this way, but I’ve yet to get a shot at one of them for a variety of reasons. One time a nice ten-pointer rushed up behind me, stopping within 10 yards of my blind and pinning me like a pointer pins a covey of quail. Obviously, I still have some refining to do with this technique, but that day was one of the most exciting I’ve ever experienced in the whitetail woods.

Fake Deer
Perhaps the hottest technique in whitetail hunting today is the use of deer decoys. The options are endless. Standing bucks, bedded bucks, bedded does, big bucks, little bucks, mature does, fawns….you name it.

When decoying first became popular, the common method of use was a single deer, be it buck or doe. Then some folks began using several decoys, which I’ve found to work very well from time to time, too. In fact, a young buck standing over a bedded doe, with or without another “confidence” doe in attendance can be a dynamite way to draw roaming bucks to you in a flash. Why? Because during the rut a buck will relentlessly chase a doe until she’s ready to be bred. If he pushes too hard , though, she’ll simply lie down to prevent the buck from mounting her prematurely. A passing mature buck seeing this scene knows that he can kick the snot out of that tending buck, then take his place as he waits for the doe to stand up. When she does, he’ll be the one all over her. If I see a buck passing by a setup like this, I like to add some breeding bellow-like doe bleats, which are the sound a doe makes when she’s ready to be bred.

Another relatively new technique is to use a doe decoy in combination with a doe-in-heat scent stick like those from Deer Quest Products. When a buck travels by and sees the doe, the estrous scent is often enough to make him come closer to check it out.

The key to decoys is to use them in areas where they can be easily seen by passing bucks. These spots include field edges, open stands of hardwoods, creek crossings and similar places. Using decoys in thick cover can startle deer, though. It’s best to give them a bit of time to see your fake deer and get comfortable with it.

Aggressive Deer Calling
This is by far my most favorite way to try and make it happen instead of letting bucks walk past my stand and out of my life. While there are a ton of variations on the basic deer calls-grunt, bleat, and snort- I like to keep it relatively simple. Instead of using lots of variations, I’ll combine two different calls together.

The “breeding bellow,” also known as doe-in-estrous bleat, was first popularized by game call maker Jerry Peterson of Woods Wise Products. It is a drawn-out wailing sound that imitates the sound of a doe that’s ready to be bred, right now. When used in combination with some toned-down buck grunts, it can be a dynamite way to get a roaming buck to come see what’s happening by your tree.

Or, how about this one: Combine the breeding bellow with two different tending buck grunts, made with the grunt tubes from two different call makers? In this scenario, I’m trying to tell a large buck that a very hot doe is being chased by two small bucks that he should have no trouble whipping.

Regardless, when deer calling there are a couple of things to keep in mind. “You will have your best luck calling if there is some thick cover around your tree stand,” said David Hale, half of the legendary Knight & Hale game-calling team. When a buck responds to your calling, he’s going to be looking past your tree trying to see the deer that are talking. If there is some thick brush, he may be fooled into thinking they are hidden from his view, and to see them he needs to com closer. But if it is wide open and he can’t see any other deer, the majority of the time he is going to get suspicious and keep walking.”

Hale prefers calling at deer he can see. However, when it’s dead quiet in the woods, he’ll call blind, hoping to draw a passing buck’s interest. ” a lot of people are afraid that by blowing their deer calls blind, they will spook deer they have not yet seen,” Hale said. ” I think the other way. I have lots of confidence in my calling and believe that if there are no deer passing by my stand on their own, it’s better for me to try and draw them there than sit for hours looking at nothing but squirrels and woodpeckers.”

Hit the Silk
For most whitetail hunters, the thought of bailing out of their treestands and hunting from the ground is a frightening proposition.There’s no doubt that a treestand is a tremendous deer-hunting tool. However, when the deer aren’t coming past your stand, or there isn’t a good tree to use over some smoking-hot sign, get aggressive and try hunting from the ground. You might be surprised at the results.

My friend Bill Vaznis, an outdoor writer from upstate New York, is a firm believer in hunting whitetails from ground level. In fact, still-hunting with his bow has produced a good buck for Bill for several years in a row. ” I like to be mobile so tat the deer can’t pattern me in a treestand,” Vaznis told me one day as we shared an Alabama deer camp. “There are some things you have to do to be an effective still hunter, like never hunt the wind wrong, wait for a fresh rain or fresh snow to dampen footing and move slow as a snail. But it can be a great way to sneak up on good bucks that never know you’re there.”

I’ve been known to jump out of my tree and try to intercept bucks that are passing through my area and are obviously not going to come within range. One day in New York, I was set up on the intersection of three heavily used trails passing over a wide oak flat. When I saw the big eight-pointer moving up out of the bottom, I knew he was going to miss my tree by a hundred yards. So rather than try to call him in, I quickly climbed down the ladder and , like a torpedo, used a small depression as cover and set off at a trot on a course to intercept him. The plan worked perfectly. I got set up behind the trunk of a large oak, drew my bow, and as the buck stopped to the sound of a mouth grunt I released.

Unfortunately I guessed the range at 35 yards when it was only 25. That was the days before the days of laser rangefinders, a tool I never leave home without anymore. I like to hunt from ground blinds too, especially when the leaves are off the trees and a treestand sitter sticks out like a sore thumb against the steel gray of a winter sky. After six days of frustration in Kansas, I grabbed a climbing stand and went scouting for five hours, finally locating a spot where fresh scrapes, large cedars freshly rubbed to the quick, and fenceline crossings were all within 50 yards of each other. Unfortunately, it was on a bald knob, and the only trees were bare as toothpicks. I quickly made a ground blind that put me downwind of the sign, got comfortable and waited. Right at slap dark a nice eight-pointer came and worked the scrape, then began moving past the rub to the crossing trail. This time I had my rangefinder, and the 35 yard shot was a slam dunk.

When hunting from ground level, I have become a firm believer in wearing scent-adsorbing clothing and liberally using scent-eliminating sprays on both my clothing and my equipment. A combination of the new Windstopper Supprescent outerwear from Bass Pro Shops, which features a soft, quiet micro-fleece shell and a breathable Gore Windstopper membrane that also blocks 100 percent of the wind together with the new Rocky Gore-Tex Supprescent hunting footwear is the best way I know to help keep deer from smelling me when the wind takes a turn for the worse.

Be Bold!
In all big game hunting, there comes a time when you have to take a chance, roll the dice, break the mold and try to make something happen. When bowhunting whitetails, that’s not to say you should abandon the tried-and-proven stealth method of of setting a treestand over fresh sign, then patiently and quietly waiting ’em out. But when that isn’t working, being bold and aggressive can turn a boring day int the woods into one filled with close encounters of the exciting kind. Use your imagination and experience to guide you, then go get ’em. You just might be glad you did.

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Published by archerchick on 21 Feb 2010

Whitetail Savvy – By Eddie Claypool

Whitetail Savvy – by Eddie Claypool

May 2005

Here are some key elements that go with arrowing monster bucks with a bow

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

May 2005

When it comes to a pursuit such as whitetail bowhunting there is only so much gear that can be bought and information that can be ingested.  Also, there are so many that try to cut corners on the road to success.  Inevitably, it is only experience that can produce results.  Certainly, some of the bumps in the road can be lessened by gleaning knowledge from others and/or using quality gear.  Such being the case, I’d like to offer you some of my personal do’s and don’ts on this subject.

GET REAL
Don’t set yourself up for a fall”  In today’s high-tech hunting world, the image projected is one of the top-end success.  Every media outlet ingested by the whitetail hunting public continually spits out image of big bucks, along with tactics and gear that will produce them.  The fact is even the most consistently successful trophy whitetail bowhunters (the average do-it-yourselfers) are unsuccessful 99.9 percent of the time.  Let me clarify that – for every one hour I’ve spent in the presence of a trophy whitetail buck, I spend 999 hours trying to get there.

I started my whitetail bowhunting career 30 years ago at age 14.  I didn’t harvest my first trophy deer until I was 28 years old, my second at age 30 and my third at 32.  Somewhere around this point, I seemed to get a clue in relation to the big picture involved in top-end success.  It was at this point that I became obsessed with the desire to consistently bow-kill trophy whitetails. I made the lifestyle commitments that were necessary to pursue this goal – it was a tough row to hoe. Now, a
dozen years later, I’ve reaped the consequences (both good and bad) of having put forth the top-end effort necessary to achieve my goals. I relate all this as a means of showing the ladder of bowhunting maturity that I’ve climbed. In summary let me say this -don’t plan on starting at the top or on skipping many rungs of the ladder. Set realistic goals, bowhunt and be happy with the deer you harvest.

PRIORITY #1
You Can’t Get Blood out of a turnip: Because of my tremendous success at consistently bow-killing
large-antlered bucks over the years, I’m constantly aware of the fact that many people feel that I must have some supernatural powers in this field. Fact is, I don’t. I refuse to be like many of the other so-called experts that feed on this misconception.

When it comes to the truth of how and why I’m so successful, one thing is clear: The answer isn’t rocket science – I hunt where the big bucks are. For me, this requires travel. Give me some time and a little gas money, put me in my old pickup truck and throw in an ice chest full of food, and
I’ll find a good place to bowhunt.

Yes, in today’s world, outfitters are quickly tying up all the good spots, yet there are still places available to the do-it-yourselfers who are willing to expend the time and effort necessary to ferret them out. Get behind the wheel and start knocking on doors. Find good hunting the old fashioned way -after all, the satisfaction involved in accomplishing this should be a large part of
what the overall bowhunting experience is all about anyway.

The Zone
Timing is Everything I’m blessed to have been able to arrange both my work and personal life into a system that provides me with plenty of time to bowhunt each autumn.  The fact is that few other blue-collar bowhunters can accomplish this task. At best, most bowhunters can invest no more
than two weeks at one time into a hunt. Let me say this -that’s plenty of time to take a big buck if your’ve done everything else to be prepared.

Over the past dozen years, fully 90 percent of my big bucks have been harvested during a three-week time frame-Nov.4 to Nov. 24. No surprise there, right? At no other time of an entire three-month bow season have I been able to come up with a way to consistently harvest
trophy bucks. If you’ve got a way to get the job done outside this peak-rut time, more power to you. If not, this approach to success: Spend your off season time accessing and scouting excellent habitat. You should scout/hunt your area in October during the weekends. In early
November, take a couple of week off work and be prepared to spend all day in your best-bet spots.  I carry a badlands 2200 Series backpack loaded down with everything (Scent-Lok clothing included) necessary to accomplish this task.

FLEXIBILITY IS KEY
An Open Mind is your Greatest Asset: One of the greatest mistakes that the average bowhunter makes is to go afield with pre-conceived rules concerning whitetail deer behavior and/or hunting tactics. For many years when I first started to become serious about my bowhunting, I followed a fairly ridged approach in relation to how I determined stand locations, hunting times and tactics.
I’d read a lot about whitetail hunting and the behavior of the deer themselves. Other experienced (?)
hunters had also fed me a lot of so-called facts. I knew the rules by which the game was played…right?

For years, I had bowhunted according to average mainstream  advice. I reaped exactly that kind of result – average.  With time, I began to realize that something was missing. I don’t know why it took so long for me to finally reach my day of revelation, yet when I did, it forever changed my entire bowhunting life. Let me try to articulate the gist of my brilliant revelation. If you re deer hunting, you’re deer hunting, and you’ll kill deer. trophy bucks aren’t deer, at least in a normal sense. Average hunting locations, times, tactics and efforts will produce average deer, which trophy bucks aren’t.There is nothing normal about consistently bow-killing trophy whitetails so it would be safe to say that to do so must require a willingness to go out on a limb-in other words, depart from normal locations, times, tactics and efforts.

When I finally grasped hold of this mentality, it rocked my bowhunting world from top to bottom. I began to hunt longer, in off-the-wall places, and outside mainstream tactics.  By throwing out a lot of the knowledge that I’d been conditioned to believe was the gospel, I began to become a real student of the deer and their environment.  With time, I began to develop a hunting approach that was based on feel. In other words, I simply hunted wherever, whenever and for whatever reason I wanted. If I had any far-fetched question in the back of my mind about anything, I searched out the
answer. I began to accrue experience (outside the bubble),
confidence and, finally, success” I was finally over the hump.

Sign Off
Waylay Big Bucks in Travel Corridors: It sure is exciting to find a honey hole-a place where big rubs and scrapes are so concentrated that the hair on the back of your neck stands up. No doubt, finding such a place is the epitome of all scouting efforts; a sure ticket to consistent success on trophy bucks, right?  Well, yes and no. For what it’s worth, here’s my take on that.

From my perspective, finding a concentration of deer sign of any kind is important -it’s another piece of a big puzzle. However, my goal isn’t to find any one piece of a puzzle, then guess what the big picture is. It’s my goal to put enough of the puzzle together to make a highly educated guess as to the composition of the entire picture. When it comes to consistently bow-killing mature rutting whitetail bucks, this is the best that anyone can do.

Once I feel that I have the big picture, I put into perspective the areas of concentrated deer sign that Ive found. concentrated sign is usually found in two places-feeding areas and bedding areas. Such being the case, I refuse to hunt in either location due to the fact that doing so will quickly begin to educate and/or relocate the deer. It is my choice to hunt from a low-impact approach. In other words, I leave the deer alone in their areas of high interaction so they remain at ease and feel free to move about unconcerned. I don’t even like to hunt between doe bedding areas and their feeding areas. Basically, I leave the does entirely alone if possible. As long as I know the general area where the does bed during the day, I’ve got the knowledge that I need. It’s my goal to intercept mature rutting bucks as they move from one doe concentration to another It is a fact that bucks use certain perennial travel corridors to accomplish this task. The real trick comes in locating these travel corridors because, as a general rule, they contain very little deer sign and are often viewed as non-traditional and/or unproductive habitat.

Finding and hunting these big buck travel corridors requires a good mix of savvy, confidence and patience. You must be willing to take a leap of faith and stick to your guns to make this
approach work. It’s been my experience, however, that in the final analysis, the rewards far outweigh any other approach to success on large-antlered whitetails.

GOT SOLID
Mental Confidence is Critical To Success: If you’ve done everything necessary to become a savvy big buck hunter, one of the greatest things you can do to make the moment of truth successful is to be rock solid in your ability to make the shot count. It doesn’t make sense to go through the entire process necessary to bring the deal to fruition, then not be able to consummate it.

For some time after I became fairly proficient at placing myself in the immediate presence of big bucks, I had dismal success at getting them bow-killed. I plainly remember thinking the same thought again and again- I’m not sure I can make a killing shot”-and usually I didn’t. I knew that this had to change-soon.  It seems funny to me now but as I look back on the reality of those times, one thing was apparent: I was so wrapped up in my infatuation with learning everything about the deer and how they moved through their habitat that I totally neglected my archery equipment and shooting competence. As I said, this cost me more than a few big bucks.

After a few years of missing out on some excellent opportunities that I knew should have resulted in dead deer, I faced the facts and decided to make some changes. Outfitting myself with top-end gear, I set about working on my shooting skills. For most of one off-season period, I experimented with different bow, arrow and rest combinations. I played with broadhead and arrow fletching setups. I tested different front-of-center combinations, draw weights and varied draw lengths. I tried different releases and shooting techniques. I practiced “till the cows came home,” and to say that I learned
a lot would be an understatement. By the beginning of autumn I’d refined my equipment setup and shooting form to a new level.

When I took to the woods that year, I felt completely different. No longer would the moment of truth find me second-guessing my abilities. I absolutely knew that I could drive nails with this rig, and I intended to prove it. This newfound confidence in my shooting ability actually translated into a mental peace that had been missing before. Little did I realize just how much this confidence had permeated my subconscious mind and would later express itself in an ability to remain calm, and execute properly, when faced with the adrenaline rush of a big buck encounter.

The following autumn came and went. At the end of the season I’d shot three arrows, at three big bucks, and had cleanly harvested all of them.  Having eliminated a major flaw in my trophy-hunting armor had taken me to an even higher level of success than I’d ever thought possible.

These days, I never go afield without top-end gear and the ability to operate it at such a level.
Currently, my archery gear consists of Mathews bows, Bodoodle rests, a metal pin sight by PSE, Beman shafts, Rocky Mountain broadheads
and a Scott release. <–<<

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Published by archerchick on 21 Feb 2010

HIGH ALTITUDE MONARCHS – By Lon Lauber

HIGH ALTITUDE MONARCHS  Story & Photos By Lon Lauber

September 2002

Among the crags of North America’s steepest mountain country are two incredible bowhunting animals

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

I’ve had the good fortune of bowhunting all over the North America and nothing compares to hunting Dall sheep and mountain goats.  Dense alder thickets turn to scarlet tundra, then it gives way to craggy peaks.  Amongst those daunting spires you’ll  ever dream of hunting.

Let’s climb right into the ups and downs of bowhunting Dall sheep and mountain goats.  First, to build a solid foundation as a mountain game bowhunter, you must learn the senses, habits and habitat of sheep and goats.  Here’s a comparison of the two white monarchs of the north.

RATING THEIR SENSES
Dall sheep and mountain goats have excellent vision.  They live in wide-open terrain and rely heavily on detecting movement as their first line of defense. The difference in their vision is what they do once they see a human. In areas where either species is hunted heavily. they’ll turn and climb into the heavens upon the first sight of man.

However. in most sheep and goat habitat, hunting pressure is moderate to minimal. Depending on the individual sheep. they may bolt when you peek your head over a ridge. Or, they may act curious at first. The big difference is goats are almost always phlegmatic (slow to respond,).
So, a billy upon seeing you may just stand up and stare, gauging the potential danger. before sauntering up into cliffs.  Frequently. this will give you enough time to execute a good shot – even though the animal is looking at you!  Sheep are not as likely to stand around.

For example, after a week of scrambling up and down the hog-backed ridges of Alaska’s Kenai Mountains. I finally found a dandy Dall ram. He was nibbling lichens in stair step ridges. This terrain provided the ultimate concealment from his sharp eyes. I circumvented the mountain to get the wind and terrain in my favor. Hours later. I had stalked within spitting distance of this full-curl ram. His head was down feeding and a rock blocked his vision. I thought  l’d made the perfect stalk. But it was so steep; I was standing one foot on top of the other. Maintaining my balance was
tough: shooting an accurate arrow would’ve been impossible. I eased forward to better footing. The ram whipped his head up and looked my way. I Froze. Shortly his head was down feeding again. I was on steadier ground. Unfortunately, the ram must have seen movement with peripheral vision. When I drew in slow motion, he blitzd! In a flash of white hair and golden horns, my perfect stalk vanished.

Two days later, in a similar scenario -except I waited until the ram’s eyes were obscured by his horns-l killed a larger ram. I’m quite certain, in similar circumstances. a mountain goat would have stayed and taken the shot.

Both species have excellent noses. I’ve had sheep and goats head for the hills when a swirling breeze telegraphed my presence. One time, I remember glassing up five full-curl rams in a steep, rocky basin. l spent four hours climbing snow-and-ice-covered cliffs to get above and behind these sheep. When I finally had position, the wind shifted. It was drifting right down the canyon to the rams. It didn’t take long for them to catch a whiff of me and haul butt In a matter of minutes. they raced down the mountain, across a boulder-strewn glacier and up and over the opposing mountain.

In regard to hearing, sheep and goats have rather small ears on their body size (compared to deer, elk and moose). But they can hear sounds just fine. Once again, it’s a matter of how they respond. Realize gravity and the constant freeze/thaw action in their domain creates falling rock on a daily basis. If you tumble an occasional rock its no big deal. The biggest problem you’ll have with sound is a predator’s cadence. If you walk at a steady pace and rocks are sliding constantly. this sound alerts all mountain game. From their perspective, this is the noise of a traveling bear or wolf. If’ you tumble a boulder, just sit tight for a few minutes. I remember unintentionally kicking loose a mist of scree that cascaded down on a billy. He never even blinked. I killed him just a few
minutes later.

HABITS
Each species has similar daily routines. Understanding these routines will improve the odds of success.  Typically, mountain game spend the night in predator-free cliffs. At first light, they’ll rise, stretch a bit and then carefully study their domain.When all is dear, they’ll head for lush vegetation. Most of the time that’s at lower elevation than bedding areas. After feeding for several hours on sedges, grasses or low shrubs, sheep and goats climb back up to a safe ledge and chew their cuds. While ruminating, they may rearrange or change bedding locations. However, unless disturbed, they’ll be in the same general area for several hours. By mid afternoon, the white ones head for food again. By dark, they are in the safe confines of treacherous terrain. This outlines undisturbed mountain game behavior. However, hunting-pressured animals may stay in the cliffs for days without coming out.

Mountain critters live mostly in the alpine. Regardless, both species occasionally feed in alder and
evergreen thickets in the lower reaches of their vertical domains. Don’t overlook these areas when glassing habitat that seems void of game.

One time when hunting white rams in the Chugach Mountains, I had glassed the upper reaches of a mountainside. After glassing the cliffs, I glanced at the lower ledges. These were spotted with alders. Surprisingly, I found an old, black-horned ram feeding in alders next to a cliff. I had lots
of steep terrain to obscure my approach. Hours later, after a hair-raising cliff climb, I was precariously standing on a ledge just 20 yards above this old Pope & Young-class ram.
When he stuffed his snout into the alders for another bite, I quietly stepped to the cliff’s edge and zipped an arrow through his lungs. This is one occasion when glassing the lower, brush-choked canyons paid off

HABITAT
Dall sheep can be found in a variety of terrain, anything from rotten vertical cliffs to steep-sided mountains with relatively flat tops. I’ve even Found sheep in almost flat country.  However, escape terrain is always nearby. Goats on the other hand are generally on or very near cliffs all the time. In many regions both species live above steep,  thick  , brush-choked basins that require the ultimate in physical stamina. Busting up though Devil’s Club and alders only to break our into even steeper alpine will test your mettle.

The lateral moraine of glaciers is a good place to look for mountain game. These rugged corridors where the glacier has receded contains the youngest, most tender plant life in the area. One easy way to find productive habitat for sheep and goats is to apply for lottery drawing hunts. That way, the game department dictates the hunting area. This narrows down the research necessary to pinpoint productive habitat.  When studying maps, locate basins or stream drainages with several side canyons so you have alternative hunting areas. If you spook the only white monarch out of
a box canyon, all your effort is wasted. Learning to interpret topographical maps is paramount too. I recall planning out a hunting route by studying a map. After two days of climbing. I learned circumventing this particular mountain was impossible without tactical climbing gear.

HUNTING TACTICS
Most of the time sheep and goats will be easy to locate. Yellowish-white game on dark rocks is like looking for popcorn on a black carpet. Getting to them is the challenging part! It’s difficult because they live in open alpine where they can see for miles (except where steepness blocks their vision).
Especially glass into the dark shadows and every nook and cranny you can find. Frequently, you’ll catch just a glimpse of white hair or horn jutting our near a promontory.

Basically, there are two tactics for sheep and goat hunting. The most productive is spot and stalk. The second method is patterning undisturbed game. I’ve seen sheep and goat use the same general travel route in consecutive days but they don’t pattern like whitetails. Either way, you must eventually stalk to kill a mountain animal. Here are my preferences for getting within bow range of sheep and goats.

For sheep, I like to glass ’em up at long range with binos and size up trophy potential with a spotting scope. I’ll watch them for hours or even days if necessary before making a stalk. What I’m waiting for is the sheep to move into vision-blocking terrain that provides the best chance of getting within bow range. If that happens when they are grazing. fine. If a Dall ram beds in a stalkable area, I’ll go after him there. Regardless. I’m most concerned with concealing terrain. lf I start out on a stalk and realize it won’t come to fruition because it’s too open or the wind is iffy, I carefully abort the stalk. If you spook a ram, he’s likely to head for the next mountain range or spend a few days in rope-rappelling cliffs until he’s forced to greener pastures.

For goats, it’s a similar concept just more physically demanding. Sooner or later a billy will saunter into somewhat humanly traversable terrain.  When that occurs, get above and approach from his blind side. This is the chink in the otherwise impenetrable survival armor of a mountain goat. They are so confident they can out-climb predators; they rarely flee immediately-even if you’re within bow range. This is especially true if goats are on or near cliffs when they spot you. Furthermore, this arrogant climbing attitude-almost always prevents goats from looking up. ‘ Thus, if you can get above a mountain billy without being detected, you stand a good chance of killing him.

A few years ago I used this tactic to kill my biggest billy. He and two comrades were bedded on a small tundra-covered ledge just yards above 1,000 feet of vertical cliffs. From nearly a mile away, I mapped out the safest and most concealing stalking route. When I was about 400 yards away, I set up my spotting scope and determined which of the three billies had the largest horns. From there I crawled on hands and knees, utilizing a crossing breeze. I was in plain sight of all three goats for most of that last quarter mile. The billies never looked up or behind. At2 5 yards, just beyond a mogul, I could see the goat’s head and hefty shoulders. After several minutes of standing in view, the goat noticed my presence. Instantly, his hair bristled and he stood up and stared.
Looking dumbfounded he calculated what danger I posed. I’m certain no animal had ever
approached him from above and behind. His hesitance cost him his life.

SHOT PLACEMENT
On the grand scheme of things, picking a spot and killing a Dall sheep is very straightforward. Textbook shot placement, a third of the way up from the brisket and in the crease behind the
front shoulder, is perfect. Generally, sheep are not very tenacious. Any internal body hit should put them down. I know one guy who killed a big Dall ram by a broadhead cut to the “wrist” area just above the hoof. I’m not advocating sloppy shooting, I’m just saying that if you do make a marginal hit, do not give up.

Goats are tough as titanium nails! They have thick coats to insulate them
from their icy environs. Plus, billies have dense muscle and stout bone
structure.  Additionally -. they have a die-hard mentality. Understand a
goat’s vitals are more underneath his massive cliff climbing front shoulders
than behind it
.
For example. one teeth-chattering September evening, my partner shot a huge billy right behind the front shoulder and one-third the way up from the brisket. I was watching through binos and thought it was textbook shot placement. When the goat was still alive and standing in a vertical chute at dark, I was astounded. We recovered the billy from the bowels of that cavernous canyon the next morning. An autopsy showed the broadhead had clipped the back of one lung and completely impaled the liver. This shot placement on a sheep would have taken out both lungs.

However, with goats, I’d advise shooting tight to the shoulder or even better, take slight quartering-away shots.  This will undoubtedly angle the arrow into the vitals. Furthermore, will you be able to
physically recover the downed animal.  There is little sense in shooting a white monarch only to have it freefall over a 500-foot cliff with no human access.

One goat I shot tumbled several hundred yards down a rock ledge and slide area. Gravity eventually sent him to the glacier’s edge. It took about an hour to safely climb down and recover him. After killing one ram, he tumbled off a 200-foot ledge. Upon impact, he literally exploded. Forty-five minutes of cliff descending were needed to reach him. Hopefully these illustrations will alert anxious bowhunters to carefully approach mountain game hunting.

Sheep and goat hunting are financially, physically and mentally taxing.
However, if you ever get the chance to quit dreaming and actually hunt the white monarchs of the north, go for it. Both species are excellent table fare and unique trophies. Combined with
their awesome habitat it’ll be a breathtaking experience to say the least. <–<<

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Published by archerchick on 20 Feb 2010

Two Is A Charm – by Kathy Butt

Two Is A Charm -By Kathy Butt
Those serious about tagging and archery bull will be sure to take a partner along

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Any hunter who has experienced an up-close-and-personal encounter with a screaming, slobbering, pissing-all-over-himself bull elk will have a vivid memory of that encounter etched forever in their heart and soul.

There’s no doubt about it.  It’s quite addictive.  And it’s encounters such as the one I just described, that I look forward to each elk season with great anticipation.  In fact, I experienced one of those up-close encounters just this past fall.

It was during the second week of the New Mexico archery elk season when my husband, Foster, and I moved in tight to work a very vocal bull in the dark timber early one morning.  After making a mad dash up the wet and slippery mountainside, we caught a glimpse of the bull as he ran from one ridge to another.  And although this bull was extremely vocal, he was

playing hard to get. Actually, it after closing the distance for the third time that I finally was in th right position and ready for the shot as the bull came charging down the ridge ahead.

Foster had backed up behind me 125 to 150 yards and his realistic and urgent cow calling sequence was working like a charm.  The bull just couldn’t stand it any longer and came racing down the ridge ahead.  I drew my bow as he threw his head back and charged down the game trail into the open meadow 25 yards away.  He stopped broadside and looked in my direction, but it was too later.  I was sighted in, my top pin positioned low and behind his front shoulder.  I touched the trigger of my release and watched as the white fletchings of my arrow disappeared into the bull’s chest.

The 6×6 bolted up the ridge to my right and I bugled just as he reached the edge of the dark timber.  This was hopefully to confuse the bull, so he wouldn’t travel far before going down, but also to signal Foster that I’d shot the bull.  I was experiencing and absolute whirlwind of emotion, my knees were shaking uncontrollably, and I was trying to gain my composure as Foster carefully and quietly worked his way back to me.  Just as Foster arrived, we heard the bull crash in the timber.  The bull was down.  We faintly heard the bull taking his last laboring breaths, and tears were sliding down my cheeks as my hunting partner smiled at me and gave me a victorious thumbs up!

Thirty minutes later, Foster and I cautiously approached the bull. I couldn’t help but think of how other successful encounters such as this one confirmed what we’d known for many years-that teaming up with a hunter partner tremendously increases a hunter’s shooting opportunities.

There’s no question, teaming up with a hunting buddy and taking turns calling backup for each other can greatly increase your odds of calling bulls into shooting range, rather than you just calling solo. It doesn’t have anything to do with the vocal rate of today’s elk, for I believe elk are just as vocal now as when my husband and I first began hunting them back in the 1980s. But, I do believe that calling elk into bow range has become increasingly difficult, or let’s say perhaps more of a challenge now than when hunters first incorporated bugling and cow-calling tactics into their hunting strategies.

My husband and I have been running a private-land elk hunting operation in northern New Mexico since the mid-1980s and have discovered through our own personal experiences, as hunters and guides, that hunting with a partner, and having them call behind you as much as 50 to 150 yards, will increase your shooting opportunities by almost 100 percent.

The 6×6 bull mentioned in the beginning of this article is not the first bull my husband has called into archery range for me. Another prime example of how productive tag-team hunting can be is the day I called in a 5×5 bull for one of our guided hunters during the third week of the New Mexico archery season. This incident occurred just last fall. I was guiding a first-time elk hunter, Lance Rider, a good friend of ours from Tennessee, when we located a bull that seemed to be real excited. He was quite vocal and we didn’t hear or see any cows. Having worked a bull in this same area the day before, one that had a small harem of cows with him-particularly one very bossy lead cow that yanked the bull’s chain and convinced him to follow her in the other direction-I felt we should slip in as close as possible before making a sound. I explained to Lance that I was going to back up and call in hopes of pulling the screaming bull upwind of him.  I then told Lance to move in as tight on the bull as he felt he could without being detected. Then I told him to keep his eyes open and be ready for a shot.

This bull was ripe for the picking and our strategies worked like a charm. Lance was able to slip through the timber undetected, moving quickly and carefully while weaving his way through the shadows of the dark timber.  He hadn’t gone far before the 5×5 came charging in and was looking for the cows that seemed to be moving in the other direction. Lance was drawn and ready when the bull stopped 12 yards away to bugle. I was positioned almost 100 yards slightly to the right of Lance’s setup and couldn’t see a darned thing, but when the bull bugled that last time, I knew he had to be right on top of Lance.  Almost immediately I caught a glimpse of the bull running through the timber and heard him stumble less than75 yards from where I stood. Oh, what I would give to have seen the look on Lance’s face when that bull stopped and bugled right in front him!

Setting Up for Success
Using the proper setup is the key to not only calling a bull into range for the shooter, but is also crucial for calling a bull upwind and broadside of the shooter, which is what you want. And always check the wind before ever moving in to set up on a bugling bull and position the designated shooter in front of, not behind, a large tree or bush. Standing behind something, as well as shooting from a kneeling position, somewhat limits your shooting opportunities.

The caller should back away from the shooter’s setup a few yards, angle slightly to one side (upwind of the shooter) and then call. Move another 25 to 50 yards and call again, making noise as you move away. Elk make a lot of noise when moving through timber, so kick rocks, step on branches, do anything that will further convince a bull there are other elk in the area.

The shooter should keep a mouth diaphragm in his mouth in order to stop a bull for the shot.

Suggested Calling Strategies
Your elk-calling strategies will vary throughout the season and here’s what I ve found to work best during the various stages of the elk rut. Bulls aren’t very vocal during early September, so I’d suggest bugling only to locate a bull and then switch to using only soft cow mews. As the season
progresses and the first cows start coming into estrous, then use a bugle more, but still mostly to locate a bull. Even when we use a bugle call, my husband and I prefer to tone it down and sound like a young bull.

As the rut commences we then switch to using whinny, aggressive-type cow calls, calls which create a sense of urgency or pleading. And what we’ve found to be especially effective is to use two different types (brands) of these calls, making it appear as if there are two or more cows begging for company. This technique works especially well toward the end of the archery season. when the bulls are screaming non-stop. There are many styles available, including open-reed (mouth calls) and hand-operated mechanical-type calls, and most manufacturers offer instructional audio cassettes to teach the proper techniques for using them.

This demanding, whinny-type call may sometimes even entice the bull’s harem right into your lap.
No, it doesn’t always work, but on numerous occasions I’ve been able to get the cows all worked up. They come in to investigate the source of the call and the bull comes following close behind. The key to using this type of call is attaining the right pitch and the sense of urgency with which you apply it. I will also warn you that we’ve had black bears come to this call as well. In fact, we’ve had bears run in behind a bull on two separate occasions. So, be aware of that possibility.

As for bugling, we all enjoy sounding like the biggest, baddest bull of the woods, but throughout our years of guiding elk hunters, we’ve found it best to use bugles sparingly, mostly to locate bulls. There are occasions when a bull seems to respond well to bugles, and when it’s then, we keep the volume down and the bugle short. You’re more likely to call in a bull that doesn’t feel as though he’s going to get his butt kicked by a bigger bull, so keep your bugle weak and short.

If you plan on heading west rhis September to hunt elk, consider buddying-up for bulls. You’ll be amazed at how this tag-team hunting will tremendously increase your shooting opportunities. <—<<

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Published by archerchick on 20 Feb 2010

Staying On The Trail – By Randy Templeton

Staying on the Trail – By Randy Templeton

Here are some well practiced blood-trailing tips to help you on our next deer recovery

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I’ve tracked down a good number of whitetails of my own and taken part in trailing numerous others for friends and fellow hunters over the years. The greatest majority of those animals were recovered, but for the few that weren’t it seems that the shooters had one thing in common: They couldn’t remember much detail after taking the shot. I truly believe the root cause for the temporary amnesia was more likely brought on by the sudden surge of adrenaline after releasing the string.

Prior to the sound of the bowstring dissipating and the first few seconds thereafter are often the most crucial moments in time that will assist you in effectively recovering an animal.

Rather than clutter these pages with information of little interest or value, lets look at some fundamental steps that I as well as others use to track down wounded deer!

CAPTURE THE MOMENT
I can’t express enough how important it is to identify where the arrow entered the animal. Also important to etch in your mind is the exact shot angle, the deer’s reaction and the line of sight in which the deer ran. The terrain looks much differently from your treestand than it does at ground level. So, it’s to your advantage to pick out a landmark such as a tree, bush, fence post or rock formation that will help guide the way to that specific spot.

After the deer have vanished from site, continue listening for familiar sounds like thrashing of leaves, sticks cracking or possibly a crashing noise that would indicate the deer went down.

ON THE TRAIL
After taking up the numerous blood trails I’ve come to understand that fatally wounded deer, like healthy deer, follow the path of least resistance

For example, it’s rare a wounded deer will travel up steep ridge inclines or cross deep ravines. such a deer is more likely to travel downhill until reaching flatter ground or cross in a saddle between ridges.

Wounded deer typically head for the security cover of their bedding area. Therefore, try to locate the trails on flat ground or those with downward trends that lead to areas of thick cover. Don’t walk on the blood trail itself but rather off to one side, otherwise you could destroy or cover up critical sign.

When you’re down to finding speckles of blood, it’s a good idea to hang surveyor’s tape or toilet paper in brush or limbs to mark the trail. With any luck at all you’ll pick up new sign that will lead to your deer.

NEVER GIVE UP
There’s no such ting as giving up when it comes to trailing a wounded animal. It’s time to dig down deep and put forth 110 percent all the way!

Even when the trail appears to have dried up, it’s your duty as a hunter to exhaust all your knowledge and resources. I say this because all too often I’ve been on a blood trail when a single piece of evidence surfaced that turned a seemingly doomed situation completely around. This was such the case for me this past season.

It was mid-November and the rut was underway. The stand hovered over the intersection of three pieces of property where several trails snaked through a coulee bottom and converged toward a damaged section of barbed-wire fence. It was the ultimate funnel, and every deer in the neighborhood seemed to be crossing there. Shortly after slipping into the stand that morning a pink

glow on the eastern horizon announced another perfect day to be in the deer woods. Maybe. a half-hour later a mature doe meandered across the grass field. A deep grunt and a flicker of antlers in the sunlight drew my attention toward a buck standing in a patch of multi-flora rose briars near the creek. The doe continued toward the fence, drawing the buck into the open. It was a nice eight-point and a shooter by my standards.

As good luck would have it she crossed the fence and the rut-crazed buck followed. At 25 yards I drew my Fred Bear bow. When he stepped into the clearing I let the string slip free, sending a Muzzy,tipped arrow toward the target. The shot looked good, but the buck barely flinched as the arrow blew through both sides and stuck in the ground 5 yards beyond. The deer looked somewhat

stunned at first, but eventually turned and walked away. Watching through my binoculars, the buck stood near a fence at 100 or more yards away and appeared to contemplate crossing. He then turned and walked along the fence to a section that  had been busted down by a fallen tree and soon disappeared. Mentally marking the spot, I sat back and waited another 45 minutes before climbing down.

Inspecting the arrow, the dark burgundy-colored blood indicated the broadhead had passed through the liver. Unless my eyes had totally deceived me, there was no way the arrow hadn’t taken out a lung too!

Following the blood to the fence crossing wasn’t a problem, but shortly thereafter I lost it when the deer trail forked three ways. Searching each trail, I failed to turn up one shred of evidence that would point me in the right direction. Considering the circumstances, I felt it was best to give the buck more time and return a few hours later with help. My brother, Tracy, and I were back on the scene by noon. After another hour of fruitless effort, we decided to try a grid search. Walking 20 yards apart we swept one small section at a time until the entire creek bottom had been covered. A hillside laced with multi-flora rose briars divided by another fence was the only thick cover left to search.

Searching the fence line. I found a faint deer trail leading to a sagging top strand of barbed wire. Much to my surprise, a tuft of white belly hair in the fence drew my attention toward faint blood on

a weed on the opposite side. Not more than 50 yards from that, I spotted the buck buried beneath

the briars! The liver/lung-shot deer had obviously doubled back and died less than 100 yards from where he was shot.

A heavy, bright red trail such as the one on the left indicates a major artery was severed. on the right Before taking up the blood trail, examine the arrow first and determine the type of hit and the severity. The animal may require more time and pushing too soon could result in disaster

THE NULL ZONE?
There’s been a lot of talk over the years, concerning whether or not a null or void zone truly exists

under the spine. Perhaps you’ve been told by another hunter or read somewhere about someone who shot a deer in the upper back and then saw the deer a month or more later apparently doing fine. I’d venture to say that in most instances the wound was superficial, whereas the broadhead didn’t sever the primary artery running along the spine or it didn’t penetrate the sealed portion of the chest cavity. I don’t believe there is such a thing as the null zone, but I do believe an animal is capable of surviving minor injuries to a vital organ.

SINGLE LUNG SHOTS
The previous statement begs an answer to a frequently asked question regarding whether or not a deer can survive with only one lung. My answer to this is yes! I say this because I have witnessed it more than once.

For example, many years ago during the gun season my friend Danny had just shot his first buck. While field dressing the deer, Danny found one shriveled lung and the other with a fresh 12-gauge slug hole through it. It was obvious the “one-lunger” had been shot the year before and survived to see another season.

Therefore, if you suspect you have only clipped one lung, I might suggest continuing to push the animal, especially if the arrow is still in the chest cavity. Chances are the broadhead will continue working around, doing further organ or artery damage in the process and improve your odds of recovery.

High-Lung Shots
A sharp broadhead center-punched through both lungs will have a good blood trail to follow and the animal generally goes down within 100 yards or so. However, as with a liver-shot deer, a high-lung shot can create similar problems for tracking. The animal doesn’t bleed much out of the gate and the majority of the bleeding takes place internally. Therefore, the lower chest cavity normally fills up first before it starts pumping out the top. Similar to priming an old water well, it takes a few pumps to fill the lower well shaft before water starts flowing out the spout.

My good friend and hunting buddy Craig Owens experienced the same scenario this past whitetail season. He shot a deer that was quartering away slightly to start with, but at the sound of the string twang, it lunged downward and turned at the same time. The three-blade Thunderhead broadhead entered the chest high, sending the buck racing to parts unknown, leaving virtually no trail to follow. It took a few hours of searching on his hands and knees, plus a grid search, to find the double-lung-shot deer that expired 150 yards from the hit sight.

Therefore, don’t assume the worst just because you didn’t find blood right away. Continue to follow up!

Shoulder Shots
I’d venture to say shoulder shots have one of the worst recovery rates, but also one of the highest survival rates. This is likely due to a whitetail’s amazing clotting capability especially when a vital organ or major artery isn’t involved. Similar to what you might learn in a first-aid course with regard to applying pressure to a deep cut, when a deer lies down on a wound the applied pressure helps seal it off. On more than one occasion I’ve seen shoulder-shot deer leap from their beds and flee without spilling any blood. Even worse is the fact that they wont bleed much (if at all) for quite some distance and it’s easy to lose the trail all together!

Although some may disagree, I truly believe a suspect shoulder shot warrants immediate follow-up to keep the wound open.’With any luck at all the broadhead will worm its way around and do further damage in the process and improve the odds of recovery.

Paunch Shots
Depending on whom you speak with, some claim a paunch shot is a non-lethal hit. Call it what you want, but there’s no doubt in my mind that a belly-shot deer is a dead deer!

Unfortunately, the biggest mistake hunters make is letting their eagerness to take up pursuit override all common sense. The old stand-by. rule of waiting a half-hour before tracking was never meant to apply to a gut shot.

It’s fairly easy to identify a paunch shot if you have the arrow to inspect. Typical to this type of hit, you’ll normally find green or brown stomach matter mixed with bright red blood on the arrow If unsure, give it the nose test. The stuff generally reeks with a foul-and-sour-smelling odor.

Depending on the exit wound the arrow and broadhead may be coated with a greasy fat or tallow, which is typical if it passes through the intestines and exits the belly.

In cases where the arrow wasn’t found, watch the deer as it walks away. If the deer is walking with it’s head down or hunching up with tail tucked between its legs, it’s a fair indicator of a paunch shot.

The minute,you identify this type of hit, mark the last sign and slip quietly out of the area all together. You have nothing to gain and everything to lose by pursuing the deer. Provided they’re not pushed, a gut-shot deer will generally bed down within 150 yards from where they’re shot On a

couple of occasions I’ve found a deer the following day that was still alive. Because of this, I always wait a minimum of 12 hours before taking up the trail!

It would be great if there were a dead animal at the end of every blood trail. Unfortunately, in real life it doesn’t always end that way. If an animal falls within eyesight, then obviously the task of tracking is a no-brainer For those that don’t, however, take a calm approach to avoid missing the small details that could point you in the right direction. Be persistent, and above all, never say never when it comes to recovering your game. <—<<

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Published by archerchick on 20 Feb 2010

Tarzan’s Tips For Beginners -by Steve Barde

Tarzan’s Tips For Beginners by Steve Barde

December 1975

Jock Mahoney’s Archery Feats Are On Film, But The King Of The Jungle Shows He Hasn’t Forgotten The Rudiments In This Primer For All Beginners!

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December 1975

TARZAN MOVIES ARE as popular today as some decades ago, and a good portion of today’s younger ticket buyers recognize the loin cloth-clad hero mostly for his ‘gator  ‘rasslin’, vine swingin’ and yodelin’.

What most have forgotten or didn’t know in the first place is that the character created by Edgar Rice Burroughs was supposed to be a regular tack-driver with the bow and arrow. Not only could he outshoot the late Howard Hill, but he also could manufacture all of his tackle from raw jungle materials with relative ease.

Normal folks realize that authors sometimes create fictional characters with larger-than-life abilities. After all, who really believes that Tarzan could bring at a run all manner of wild game simply through a series of vocal contortions? But, as more than one screen actor has been known to comment, most movie directors are anything but normal!

As an example, ten years ago BOW & ARROW reported the exploits of the then-current Tarzan, Jock Mahoney, on the set of Tarzan Goes to India. Besides riding the herd bull on various elephant stampedes, Tarzan Mahoney was required – among other things – to cluster three fresh-cut, crooked shafts into a half dollar-sized group in a tree trunk some fair distance away. Though remote, this was conceivably possible, if the archer had a good bow. Mahoney’s bow Was anything but. As he describes it:

“One end was a sort of arthritic, partial recurve. The other end was twice as thick and curvy as a broom handle. Torque? Yes, the heavy end had twice as much as the small end and in the opposite direction. Every time I shot an arrow in the air, I had to tighten the string, because the bow lost some poop somewhere.”

Somehow, the actor managed to put the three arrows into the designated spot from about twenty feet, thus proving the director might have been right all along. There wasn’t any doubt in the latter’s mind following a later feat with bow and arrow, however.

In this case, Mahoney was astride a charging bull elephant, leading a herd that was stampeding wildly toward a wall in the distance. The script called for Tarzan to launch an arrow far in front of the stampeding herd, the dynamite stick strapped to the shaft blowing a hole in the wall so the elephants could continue rushing forward. As Jock Mahoney relates, he shot the shaft and, after glancing at the elephants surrounding him, looked forward to see the shaft slowly arcing
earthward far short of its intended destination. In fact, it was descending close to the spot Mahoney would reach as his elephant raced ahead!

Perhaps out of self-preservation, he reached out and caught the falling arrow, then renocked and fired it again.  All this from elephant-back at thirty miles per hour, no less! That feat surely would convert even the most skeptical director!

It only was natural, then, to take beginner lessons from a man who’d performed these miracles – especially if he’s your father. At least, that’s what Princess Meliss O’Mahoney thought.

Brought up on the banks of the Mississippi, Jock Mahoney – legally Jacques O’Mahoney – received his introduction to archery at a young age. His first bows were fashioned from green willow wands, but he later advanced to a sixty-six-inch recurve made of modern materials that generated sixty pounds of pull at his twenty-eight-inch draw length.

So when daughter Princess asked for instruction, Tarzan was ready. He outfitted the lithesome, five-foot, ten-inch actress with an Eichoitz Bowhunter model scaling twenty-five pounds.

“The greatest problem for beginners in archery lies in the fact that they won’t admit they can’t handle a heavy bow,” Mahoney told his pupil, standing in the backyard of his Del Mar, California, home. “They read articles about hunters who shoot sixty and seventy-pound bows, or target champions who shoot all day with forty or forty-five-pound bows, but they find, when they try to pull these heavy units, they just don’t have the knowledge or the muscle.

“You build a whole new set of muscles when you take up the sport of archery,” continued his daughter’s gray-haired mentor, “and it’s not just brute strength that puts an arrow in the center of the target. It’s a knowledge of how to pull and hold, among other things.”

Mahoney then launched into a discourse on the nomenclature of the bow and its assorted accessories, so Princess would know to which part her instructor was referring. He then braced the bow and handed it to the aspiring archer. Being right-handed, she immediately switched the bow to her left hand.

“Don’t question, just listen,” ordered Tarzan, explaining the process of drawing the arrow back to a constant anchor in this case, the corner of the mouth – with the first finger of her right hand.
“This system seems the easiest to learn, since you have less to think about,” informed Mahoney. “Besides, it works great for me and if I can do it, you can”

A Port Orford cedar shaft was withdrawn from a box and the nock, fletching and field point next were explained. The discourse was meant to reduce tension and prevent his pupil from trying to shoot too soon.  “Now, assume a comfortable stance,” commanded Mahoney, who recently finished filming To Speak As Brothers in Oregon for release in late 1975. “Set your feet at right angles to the target. Space them apart enough that you’ve got good balance, but not too wide, Now raise the bow and pivot towards the target.”

The tall actor then circled his pupil several times, adjusting and altering her stance slightly. He then moved the target to within approximately ten paces and addressed himself to the matter of proper grip. “There are many styles and methods of gripping a bow handle,” he informed his student, who was becoming restless. “You can grip it until the knuckles turn white, but if you do, the bow will have a tendency to torque.”

The puzzled expression on Princess O’Mahoney’s face led to more in-depth explanation of torquing. “This means erratic flight of the arrow and inconsistency in your shooting and hitting ability,” elaborated. her mentor. “Hitting a target consistently is enough of a problem without making additional ones.”

Returning to the matter of grip, Mahoney added, “If you open-hand the bow, hold it in the web of the left hand and allow drawing of the bow to hold it in place until the arrow is released, you can develop the habit of grabbing for the bow just prior to release. This also gives bad arrow flight to the target.
“Perhaps the simplest and least-complicated method is to hold the bow lightly but firmly in the bow-hand and, after you’ve overcome some of the basic problems, you can experiment to find the system that works best for you.” “If I have to listen to another
lengthy discussion like the last one. I’ll be too old to worry about shooting at all!” grumbled the aspiring archer under her breath.

“We’re getting there,” answered Mahoney with a paternal glower. “Don’t rush me!”

An arrow then was nocked on the bowstring. The nocking point had been installed in the proper position, a quarter-inch above the right angle to the string at the point opposite the arrow rest. “The arrow goes under the nocking point, since it’s perhaps easier for the beginner – that’s you – to place an upward pressure on the arrow,” interjected Tarzan. “There’s also less chance of the arrow riding up and causing wild shots. Okay, now draw the bow.”

As she began pulling back on the string, her illustrious father reached over and deftly plucked the arrow off the string. In response to her quizzical expression, the erstwhile King of the
Jungle instructed Princess O’Mahoney to try full draw several times before nocking an arrow and shooting.

Realizing it was almost time to shoot, the archer dutifully did as instructed. The arrow was replaced on the string. “Now come back to full draw, then hold until I tell you to shoot,” he said, Grinning, she began to draw the shaft, but found it wanted to flop off the left side of the bow, away from the handle. “That’s from trying to use your thumb,” explained Mahoney. “Cut off the thumb with your mind and forget you have it. You unconsciously try to grasp the arrow with the thumb and you just don’t need it in this sport; at least, not with the normal three-finger draw and release technique.”

As instructed, Ms. O’Mahoney forgot her thumb and smoothly drew the arrow to her anchor point. Her head bobbed up and down as she tried to see what the arrow and target relationship would look like. When told to shoot, the arrow sailed high and over the target.

“What happe….”
“Don’t worry about hitting the target,” Mahoney advised, cutting her off. “Just try to get an arrow in the backstop. After you get one in it, then try for the target. You can start trying to drive tacks or whatever later on. Learn to shoot first, then where to shoot.”

Another arrow and another miss brought a pained look to the archer’s face. “From thls close range, hold the tip of the arrow below the target on the Korky backstop,” her mentor instructed. “You don’t really see what you shoot at; you see under it at some ranges, over it at others.”

With a dubious shake of her head, Princess O’Mahoney came to full draw, held and, when the arrow plunked into the rubberized cork of the backstop, it was dead-center in the square target.
There’s nothing quite like that first good hit to bring smiles to the faces of both student and teacher.
“That’s great!” Mahoney erclaimed. “Now all you need do is practice’and keep putting them in the same spot. Problems will develop, but we’ll work them out after you acquire them. Telling you about them now could influence your shooting. “All you need for target shooting is to try turning yourself into a shooting machine,” added Tarzan, “to put all the arrows in one spot. The oniy difference between the hit you just made and one at a hundred yards is a matter of elevation and aiming. There are factors of wind and temperature, but don’t worry about them now.”

No matter how advanced she becomes, it’s doubtful that this sister of actress Sally Field, and an actress in her own right, will find herself adorned in a loin cloth atop a charging elephant. That would be stretching Tarzan a little far, even for a director!
<– <<

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Published by archerchick on 20 Feb 2010

Interview with the ELK EXPERT – By Bow & Arrow Hunting Staff

Interview With The Elk Expert  By B&AH Staff
If you’re looking for elk hunting wisdom, bowhunter Dan Evans of Plains, Montana has a lot to offer.

NOTE: With 16 record-book bull elk to his credit, Dan Evans – designer and owner of the famous Trophy Taker Drop-Away rest – is considered one of this nation’s most successful elk bowhunters, Even more impressive is that Dan killed his first archery bull in 1992, and most if not all of Dan’s big elk have come from public-land areas.  Given Dan’s success, we took the opportunity to survey his knowledge.  We asked Dan a variety of specific questions that should help you become an elk expert yourself.
http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

Bow & Arrow Hunting: Looking at your success at bowhunting elk, you’ve obviously done very well, especially at harvesting trophy-class animals. If you had to summarize your formula in how you approach hunting big elk, what would it be? Where should an average bowhunter start?

Evans: First off. you have to hunt where there are big bulls. To find good elk areas, surf the Internet, read magazines, talk to biologists and game wardens and even join a club like Garth Carter’s Hunter Services to keep up to date on the hot areas. Once you’ve found a good area to hunt,
spend as much time as you can there, Learning the terrain and the animals. There is no substitute for time. With enough time, sooner or later you’ll get your opportunity.

Second, once you’ve found a bull to go after, you must do what’s necessary to get within bow range of this animal. This means making the right calls when needed and staying mobile to ambush or tail a bull. You just have to improvise in each situation on what to do, but you must be ultra cautious by constantly monitoring the wind, mimicking sounds like a real elk would make, and simply being as stealthy as possible.

And last, but certainly not least, you should be fully confident in making the shot once it’s presented. I know too many guys that hunt smart but when it comes down to the shot, they blow it. Do what you can to work the bugs out of your equipment and mental shooting ability.
Remember that it really only takes about a minute to set up on a bull and make a killing shot. Make it count!

B&HA: How do you go about accessing trophy-rich elk areas?
Do you day-hunt away from the truck, or do you pack in
using your two legs, horses, ATV etc.?

Evans: I do it all. I day-hunt close to the truck or a four-wheeler and even
spike out every now and then. You have to remember that you don’t have
to be way in the backcountry to kill elk. In fact, I’ve shot every one of my
bulls within 5 miles of a vehicle. I really think a lot of hunters fail to hunt the
‘buffer zone’ which I classify as the areas 1 to 5 miles away from roads.
This is because most do-it-yourself hunters hunt about a mile or so lion
their trucks, and when going with outfitters, hunt areas well beyond 5 Miles
from the nearest road, This leaves a lot of non-hunted areas in between.

B&AH: Would you recommend hiring an outfitter if you’re limited on time or have little experience hunting elk?

Evans: Yes, time spent in the field is the key to taking big elk. If you don’t
have the time, then you should hire someone who does.

B&AH: What hunting technique do you prefer to employ when hunting
elk-calling, taking a stand, or spot and stalk? Also, do you often hunt alone
or with a buddy? If alone, are you still able to call effectively?

Evans: I use all of them. I’ve killed a lot of my elk by calling, a few by
taking a stand and by spot and stalk. I hunt almost exclusively alone. It’s
more difficult to call alone, but I make it work, plus I like the sense of
accomplishment I get from killing an elk all by myself. Really you shouldn’t
limit yourself to one hunting method.

B&AH: In preparing for an elk hunt, what would you suggest to our readers
on how to properly prepare? Is physical fitness all that important?

Evans: Being in good shape is definitely important. But, and this is a big but, being smart and patient is more important. You have to have mental stamina too. This is very important.
Honestly it comes down to being in the right place at the right time, and you need the right
mindset (mental toughness) to get you there. Remember – it only takes a couple of minutes to be successful on a two-week hunt, so don’t give up!

B&AH: Do you think bugling works well on today’s hard-hunted, call-shy elk?  If so, do you use a bugle just as a locator call?

Evans: My theory on calling is simple. If you can convince an elk you’re in fact an elk, it’ll work. If not, it won’t. You must call well enough to not leave any doubts in an elks mind that you’re artificial. I’ve been pretty successful at this by imitating the bull’s bugle and tone. But this only works when
I’ve done everything else right like getting close enough to entice a fight. I’ve found in most cases, big elk will move away from you almost always, so I continue to follow the bull until I can eventually get him turned. I like to close the gap to about 40 yards or so. This way the bull only has to turn back 20 yards before he’s in range. You have remember-hunting big bulls and small bulls are two entirely different things. A big bull is careful even if you sound like a real elk.

B&AH: Most serious elk hunters admit that cow calls when used properly can lure in even the most pressured elk. Do you agree? Also, when you use a cow call, how do you use it and can you recommend your favorite models?

Evans: Producing the right cow sounds at the right time will coax in a big bull, but it has ro be perfect. Otherwise, even a cow call wont do it. Elk have to believe it’s real. I highly recommend a smooth-sounding diaphragm call in conjunction with a raspy blow-through call. I have used
several different diaphragms by Larry D. Jones, Primos and Barry Game Calls; blow-through calls by Primos, Sceery, Carlton and Woodswise; and I use bugles by Prirnos and Barry Game Calls. My advice is to master the diaphragm call. When a bull comes in, you’ll need to stop him, and
you’ll need a mouth diaphragm to do this.

B&AH: What about calf sounds or other alternate methods, such as raking a tree, kicking a few rocks, or other common sounds elk often make when challenged by another bull?

Evans: When calling, I don’t try to be silent. In thick country, like where I hunt a lot in northern Idaho, the key is to make any sound an elk would make. I even sometimes pull grass out from the ground to imitate an elk grazing. Be noisy, just don’t do anything that doesn’t sound natural.

B&AH: Have you tried decoys?

Evans: I’ve tried decoys a few times, but so far I haven’t been real impressed. I do like the designs by Montana Decoy and plan on putting them to use this fall. If you use a decoy, make sure you can set it up easy and that it’s quiet.

B&AH: What would you consider the biggest mistakes most bowhunters make when hunting elk?

Evans: One, not watching the wind enough. Two, making too many non-elk-like calls. Three, expecting a bull to come to them. Four, not being in the right places at daylight and dark. And five, not being prepared to take the shot when it arrives.  When hunting mountainous country where elk
reside, you have to remember that the wind is constantly
changing-so keep an eye on it, always. Also, don’t make an elk sound (calling or tree-raking noise) if it doesn’t fit with the situation you’re in. And never expect a bull to come to you. Instead, move, and make something happen. Moreover, I can’t state how important it is to be in the woods at prime time-meaning at your specific ambush spot (wallow, saddle, meadow etc.) at light and just before dark. Most hunters time their hunt so they leave the truck or camp at light and arrive back at
dark. If being in the dark scares you, you’ll have to overcome it. And last, be sure you and your bow setup are ready to perform when needed. Do whatever you can to expose yourself to high-pressure situations by shooting in front of friends, competing in 3-D tournaments, and so on.

B&AH: What about shooting equipment? Do 4ou think light arrows and mechanical broadheads dispatch big elk cleanly? Or do you recommend medium- to heavy-weight arrows and conventional broadheads?

Evans: The bottom line is to hit what you’re aiming at, so, shoot the heaviest bow you can handle comfortably in  awkward shooting positions, like from your knees and butt. Regarding mechanical broadheads, I’ve killed five bulls with mechanical-type heads, but I’ve gone back to fixed-blade heads. I don’t like two-blades, and to get the penetration needed with a mechanical you should shoot a two-blade or a three-blade model with a small cutting diameter. Besides, I’ve had mechanicals deflect on impact and not always leave an entry hole. This is another reason why I’ve
designed the Trophy Taker rest. It allows you to shoot great groups using fixed-blade heads. In arrows, I recommend medium- to heavy-weight shafts.

B&AH: What does your personal hunting setup consist of?

Evans: I shoot a Martin Scepter IIXRG with Fury Cams, somewhere between 75 and 80 pounds of peak weight.  This bow is a great long-draw bow that’s 43 inches long with an 8 inch brace height. It shoots Easton 460-grain ACC 3/7l arrows, using a 725-grain head, at 285 fps. I use 360 Flex Fletch vanes with a strong helical, Winner’s Choice custom bowstrings made of BCY’s 452 material, and a tied-on string loop. I also use a bow quiver, Sims Vibration Labs products, my Trophy Taker rest and a prototype Trophy Taker pin sight (available next year). I prefer the Carter Lock Jaw 2000
release (open head) because I can adjust the trigger for zero travel. For most bowhunters, I recommend keeping arrow speed under 275 fps with fixed-blade heads. I can shoot a touch faster, but I constantly tinker with my equipment for perfect arrow flight.

B&AH: It’s obvious you believe in your Trophy Taker drop-away rest.  Do you think it has added to your success as well? If so , in what ways?

Evans: I’ve been using the rest for six years, and I’ve never had a failure. What I like best about this rest is that its simple, it tunes easy, allows for great arrow flight with any style fletching and nock twist, and its quiet-on the draw and after the shot. I designed it to have no “problem points,” like small screws, exposed springs and plastic construction. Plastic works for a lot of things, but I don’t want it on my arrow rest.

When it comes down to it, Dan attributes most of his success to spending plenty of time in the field. He'll hunt no less than seven to 10 days. This way he's assured he'll eventually get the right opportunity

B&AH: When preparing for an upcoming elk hunt, what does your shooting practice consist of?

Evans: I like to keep all of my arrows in a 6-inch circle on elk-size animals. So I do
what is necessary to shoot this accurately. I shoot in 3-Ds, shoot small game constantly
and I practice in my backyard from all different shooting positions. I also always sight my
bow in to my rangefinder. And I shoot broadheads as much as possible. This is absolutely critical.

B&AH: Taking into consideration all the elk you’ve bagged over the years, what would you consider an average shot distance using archery tackle?

Evans: Of the 17 bulls I shot with my bow, my average shot distance comes out to 34 yards. But I wouldn’t get hung up on averages. You should become as proficient at the furthest shooting distance possible. But remember, you must be 100-percent confident in making the shot before
you draw your bow. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t take the shot. I’m very proud of the fact that I’ve only taken shots I know I could make. Since taking my first elk in 1992, I’ve shot 18 bulls and recovered 17. And I’ve never missed a shot. If you prepare correctly and are careful, this kind of record is within every bowhunter’s reach. <—-<<

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Published by archerchick on 19 Feb 2010

MAKE FLU-FLU ARROWS EASILY – By Carroll Holl

MAKE FLU-FLU ARROWS EASILY -by Carroll Holl
June 1977

Carroll Holl has been published in several outdoor magazines, belongs to the Colorado Bowhunters Associations, and is a Bowhunter member of the NFAA

When Game Takes To Trees Or Air, Flu-Flu Arrows Are A Necessity.  Here’s How To Make Them With A Minimum Of Effort And Equipment

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

June 1977

MATERIALS NEEDED

  • Whole Turkey Feathers (one for each arrow)
  • Nail Clippers
  • Small Electrical Clips (with teeth filed into a concave surface)
  • Fine Tooth Comb
  • Shaft Material
  • Fletching Cement (use cement normally used on shaft material of your choice)

WHEN BIG-GAME seasons close, many bowhunters hang up their sticks for another year.  This is unfortunate since one must use the bow regularly to become really proficient with it.  The big-game seasons themselves do not provide us with  an overabundance of practice at all.  Even punching a stationary target does not make us skillful with the bow – but it does develop aiming and release techniques that are definitely valuable to the hunter.  In order to become skilled one must develop these techniques in conjunction with in-the-field situations such as moving targets and spur of the moment decisions.

Opportunities to develop these skills exist throughout the year in the form of small-game hunting and novelty shooting in the form of Aeriel targets requires a special arrow – the flu-flu.  Standard fletched arrows can be used on game that is on the ground, but when that game takes to the trees or the air, flu-flu arrows are, for the sake of safety and saved time in pursuing wayward arrows a necessity.

Flu-flu arrows are of various designs but all have a common function.  The fletching is oversize so the range of the arrow will be curtailed after the initial thrust out to thirty or forty yards.  Maximum range of a flu-flu would fall in the sixty to seventy yard range.  Compared to a standard hunting arrow which has a range out to two hundred yards, the advantages of shooting a flu-flu arrow for aerial shooting can easily be appreciated.

The simplest and, I believe, most economical flu-flu can be constructed as opposed to multiple feathers for the other styles, Interested?  Read on.  The following will eliminate the mysteries of making flu-flu arrows.

At right is the finished flu-flu; on the left, a variation

The first step is to procure suitable feathers since the ground-base feathers used in standard fletching aren’t satisfactory. The logical place to obtain whole feathers is, of all places, a turkey ranch. When the birds are loaded out in the Fall they lose some of the pointer quills which we use for fletching. Last Fall my son and I gathered a grocery sackful in a very short time. We had no problem getting permission; in fact, the manager even went out and showed us the most likely places to find the feathers we were seeking. If a turkey ranch is not available, the better archery shops should be able to supply them or direct you to a supplier.

The reason for acquiring whole feathers is so the feather can be stripped from the quill leaving a thin
skinlike base rather than the thick bulky base of ground-base -.feathers. This thin base allows for ease of wrapping, neatness, and durability since there is no bulky base to catch on targets, etc.

To strip the feather grasp the quill in one hand and, with the other, bull the feather in a steady, sharp angle towards the base of the quill. Always begin at the tip of the feather pulling downward toward the base of the quill. The tip is the easiest end to start the stripping process and, as the stripped portion gets longer, the base gets wider – lessening the possibility of breakage during the process. With a sufficient supply stripped, cut them all to a uniform length and, with nail clippers, cut approximately one-eighth inch of feather from each end leaving the thin, skinlike base
extending beyond the feather.

Before proceeding any further, assemble all of the necessary equipment and supplies so everything will be ready when you need it. Equipment for this process is minimal, which places this type of arrow making within the grasp of everyone. In addition to the nail clippers mentioned earlier,
you’ll need several small electrical clips from which the teeth have been filed into a concave surface, a fine-tooth comb for separating the vanes and your shaft material. Use the same fletching cement you would normally use for the type of shaft material being used.

First of all, make a dry run by wrapping the feather around the shaft without cement and, using the comb, separate the vanes. Once the cement has been applied to the feather it
becomes a messy project if the vanes don’t separate during the wrapping process. Proper feather placement is of primary importance. Always place the end of the feather that came from the heavy end of.the quill near the nock with the cupped or shiny side towards the nock. If this sounds confusing, turn the feather over, base up, and you’ll notice that one end of the base is much wider than the other. It is this wide end that is placed nearest the nock. Using one of the electrical clips,
clip the feather to the shaft about one-half inch from the nock and, holding the tip of the feather in one hand, rotate the shaft allowing about one-fourth to three-eighths of an inch between spirals. When the end of the feather is reached slip the second clamp over the tip of the base and the
shaft, and comb the vanes apart.

Having completed the dry run, apply the fletching cement and follow the same procedure. After the cement has set firmly remove the clamps and apply a dab of cement at each end of the fletching to lessen the possibility of unwrapping. Recomb the feather to separate the vanes and the arrow is
complete.

A variation of this style utilizes a regular fletched arow with a short length of feather wrapped around the shaft between the fletching and the nock. The length of feather to be used will vary depending on the diameter of the shaft. An approximately 2-3 18- inch feather will fit the space on an 11/32-inch shaft. Because of the limited space involved, I find that contact cement works best for this style.

This variation will not slow the arrow as much as the full wraparound,but it does restrain it enough for some types of aerial shooting *here open space exists and the location of the arrow is not difficult to spot. This is the route to go if you have no flu-flus on hand and need some quickly. The
wraparound can be easily removed later to return the arrow to its original status.

There are a lot of possibilities for flu-flu shooting – waterfowl over decoys, upland birds, squirrels or just plain fun shooting at targets thrown into the air. A little imagination – a lot of fun.<–<<

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Published by archerchick on 19 Feb 2010

Moose Madness – By W.A. Hughes

Moose Madness  by W.A. Hughes February 1977

W.A. Hughes is a part-time writer and a teacher in Chehalis, Washington
The Bloopering Bowhunter Finally Gets His Moose, Then Argues With A Grizzly For The Horns And Head!

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

February 1977

YOU MAY NOT believe this, but I’m one of those highly educated individuals with a long string of initials behind my name.  Each day I meet with troubled folks -many with serious problems – listen and offer advice.  Once out of the office, like Jekyll and Hyde, I undergo an almost schizophrenic change of personality.  No longer the suave, educated counselor, I return to being myself – a guy to whom funny things, weird things, unusual things happen as a matter of daily occurrence.

To be quite frank, I do a lot of dumb things, Things that would drive even the most macho individual right to the psychiatric crib.  But W.A. Hughes is accustomed to unfortunate incidents – he thrives on them.  Perhaps in some masochistic way even enjoys them.  My wife describes me as an accident looking for a place to happen.  Perhaps she’s right.

My Alaskan moose hunt was a typical example of the things I do.  My partner Ken Calluso and I drove practically nonstop to Alaska in his pickup truck.  It was a trip I’ll never forget.  You know Alaska has three seasons: dust and mosquitoes, damn cold, then rain and mud.  Well, we drove up during the dust and mosquito season, hunted during the damn cold and drove out during the rain and mud.  But it was super fun, and I’d go back tomorrow if I could talk someone into it.  You see I’m slowly running out of hunting partners.  I guess they just can’t take it, or else my deodorant just isn’t doing the job.

We drove three nights and four days to get up north, through a sea of grey-brown dust, flying gravel, flat tires, busted fuel pumps, cracked windshields and a few other minor inconveniences.

My left arm was covered with tiny white blisters where I got sunburned hanging my arm out the window.  I had bags under my eyes the size of a No. 10 can of peas, and my entire body was covered with little red bumps where AlCan mosquitoes and other tiny creatures fed off me when I went swimming or washed up in an isolated Yukon River.
My entire body looked like something I once saw in a Marine Corps training film of guys that had been indiscreet.

When we arrived at our destination on the Denali Highway in Central Alaska I felt as if someone had beat me with a club, but now was no time to slow down.  Calluso and I unloaded the Trail 90s from the pickup.

Calluso and I broke fast with a delicious meal of a Baby Ruth and a Snickers bar and took off on the bikes.  Now those bikes just scare the hell out of me.  I don’t know why I even ride one because every time I do, I have to replace all the skin on my knees and invariably end up picking little chunks of gravel out of my hands.  It might be that I just can’t control my emotions.

This time was no different, I know better –I don’t know why I do these things — but after the bike warmed up a minute I cranked the throttle full open like some care free kid.  The front wheel reared up in a wheelie and I rolled off the back over my pack and dropped all 256 pounds of my weight on a rather pyramid-shaped piece of quartz sprinkled with shiny pyrite.  Oh, the pain!

Calluso displayed his usual sardonic sympathy:  “Will you knock off the horseplay, Hughes?  Let’s scout this place out.”  That’s not really what he said, but this being a family magazine I wouldn’t want to embarrass the editors by printing a factual account of what my retired Marine partner really said.  Or what my reply actually was, for that matter.

Not to be put off by the aching part of my anatomy that later showed a bruise the size of a milk bucket, I picked up the bike only to discover that my kick starter was broken off – gone completely.  I searched but couldn’t find it.  No doubt it was kicked off into the brush by the tire.

For the rest of the trip I did encounter some difficulty starting the machine.  Fortunately there was a nub there to push and sometimes I’d just run along and kick the bike into gear.  Just another minor inconvenience that I’ve grown accustomed to

Five miles down the trail we entered a spruce forest in a beautiful park-like setting.  The ground was getting a little boggy.  As we turned a sharp bend in the trail, a pool of water about twenty yards across the hardpacked path.  Calluso braked his bike to a stop.
“Shall we walk them through?” he asked.
“Let’s hit it, Calluso.” I goosed the bike and hit the pond at about twenty miles per hour.  Well I mean to tell you, I goofed.  Although I could see the bottom of the pool and it was only about 6 inches deep, the bottom was mud-soft peat.

Halfway across, the back wheels spun out kicking up a comet of mud and water.  I eased back on the throttle and put my foot out to balance the bike.  Almost in slow motion, my foot sank ankle deep, then deeper.  The bike slowly tipped further and further until it fell over on me.

It was a beautifully sunny day, but that water was cold.  I squirmed out from under the bike and walked it to shore.  Calluso just walked alongside his bike and gave it a touch of throttle. No problems.  When he climbed back on his bike and rode down the trail he smiled, then he laughed until the tears rolled down his cheeks.  Lord was I cold, but I hung in there.

We rode fifteen to twenty miles back on the trail.  The country was beautiful.  Puffy white clouds dotted a pale blue sky.  Gentle rolling hills, covered with mattress-thick layer of moss and red-leaved wild cranberries, stretched out to the horizon.  Blue-green lakes speckled the tundra.  Spruce forests covered the valley floor.  A river, loaded with grayling and rainbow trout snaked its way across a lush green valley.

“Wow,” Calluso said  “The whole trip is worth the view.”
I sat on the soft tundra, my back braced against a six-foot spruce tree. “I can’t believe it,”  I hissed.  “Take a look down there.”  I handed Calluso the Bushnell lens and pointed to the far side of the valley.

Where the creek widened out to form a pool, two gigantic bull moose grazed along the edge of the pond, belly deep in water.  One was chewing the tender roots of a lily pad.  A small herd of seven caribou grazed on the side of the hill.

“This is it, Hughes,” said Calluso.  “Let’s go back a mile or two and set up camp, I don’t want to disturb this place.”

Early the next morning, which was August 20 and the opening of the moose season, we dressed full camouflage, hiked back to the top of the hill and glassed over the valley.  Almost immediately we spotted a brown speck on the valley floor.
“Put your glasses on him,” Calluso ordered.
“He’s a big one, Calluso.”  Was I excited.  My heart was thumping like a jackhammer, the muscles in the back of my neck were wire-fence tight.  I could swear a cannonball was lodged somewhere between my craw and stomach.  Even the little bones in my knees were doing the Watusi.

We talked it over for a few minutes and planned our stalk.  Calluso would follow the trail to the pool’s edge and try for a shot.  I would get above and behind the moose, but I never made it.

Halfway down the hill a bull with a fifty-inch spread of horns jumped out of its bed in a head-high stand of willow.  I didn’t have time to think about what action to take.  I drew, anchored the twenty-eight-inch glass shaft on my chin and released.

The razorhead sunk into the moose’s side nearly to the feathers just behind the front shoulder.  I snapped another arrow out of the bow quiver and missed a running shot about fourteen feet.

Now I was excited.  My hands shook so bad I had trouble getting another shaft out of the quiver and on the bow. “Settle down, Hughes,” I kept saying to myself.  “Wait it out.”  Well, I couldn’t take my own  good advice.  I took off through the brush like a D-12 cat.

When I’m in top shape I can run  about one hundred yards without risking a coronary, and that’s about how far I ran.  There was my moose –standing in the middle of the trail, head down, facing me.  I put the brakes on fast, set up and took a shot.  The arrow hit a horn and went straight up.  I whipped another razorhead out of the quiver, but didn’t need to pull.  The bull went down. “Whooopeeeee!”  I cut loose with a rebel yell that would have sent chills up the back of U.S. Grant.

Like a big dummy I ran over to the moose and guess what? He got up, staggered about two steps and went down again, right on top of me.  I couldn’t budge.

What do you do in a situation like this?  I lay as quiet as a church mouse and when the moose made a last valiant effort to get up, I rolled free.

“Hughes, where are you?” Calluso yelled. “I need a hand.”
“Over here Calluso.” I grabbed a tall birch sapling and shook it.  In a minute Calluso came into sight.  When he saw my trophy he turned all smiles and shook my hand.
“He’s a dandy,” he admitted. “Almost as big as mine.”

Well gang, the fun was over.  It took tow days to quarter the meat and hang it up.  We hauled it out of the brush a piece at a time on the back of the Hondas – but my luck held.

On the last trip for the head, horns and the ribs on one side.  I had a terrible shock.  It was all gone.  You didn’t have to be a mountain man to see what happened.  We found bear tracks in the soft mud down the trail.

I wasn’t about to give up that easy.  That set of horns meant a lot to me.  Fortunately the grizzly wasn’t difficult to locate.  That evening we saw a big mama bear with two cubs and the moose head.  From a long way off, we started hollering, yelling and waving our arms in the air.  Calluso blew the horns on his bike and we must have just scared the devil out of those bears as they took off fast.

Calluso and I rode the bikes down the hill as far as we could, grabbed that head and took off in the opposite direction.  Three hours later we were  at the Alaska Game Department check in station on the Denali.

When I explained to the biologist what happened he looked at us like we belonged in the puzzle house.  “You mean you shot this moose with a bow and arrow and then ran down the hill and took the head away from a grizzly?”  He handed back our license and turned to his paper work.

Why argue? Nobody believes the things that happen to W.A.Hughes <—-<<

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Published by archerchick on 17 Feb 2010

The Spring King – By Randy Templeton

The Spring King by Randy Templeton
April 2006
When bowhunting springs longbeards, use these tips to help boost the odds in your favor
April 2006

After gathering up my gear I made my way up the ridge in the pre-dawn blackness.  Once at the top, I placed a half-strutting tom and hen decoy near the field’s edge. then quietly sneaked into the timber and parked my rump against an ancient burr oak before first light, a low-volume owl hoot initiated a response from a roosted tom not more than 100 yards away.

As the sun began to light up the eastern horizon, I spotted several birds in a big cottonwood tree along the creek behind me. I hunted the general area two seasons before, so I had a good idea where the turkeys would go when they pitched dawn from their roost. My ambush was near the edge of a green strip where three gobblers had been strutting their stuff quite frequently. A couple of soft yelps lit up the woods with a string of gobbles, one right after another.  The best I could tell, there were at least three toms. maybe more.

After a few more purrs, clucks and yelps, I heard the turkeys fly down from their roost. Not long after, the gobblers came strutting along in the field. When they reached the crest ans saw the decoys, they picked up the pace and started running with their beards-a-swinging. As the lead gobbler (and biggest) spread his fan and danced his best jig in front of the decoy, I settled the sight pin and released the string. The Thunderhead zipped through the vitals, sending the hefty tom leaping into the air. When he hit the ground I ran to his rescue. He had a 10 3/4-inch beard, 1 2/-inch spurs and weighed 24 pounds. It was my second mature bird that spring.

Those who have bowhunted turkeys already know how tough it is to kill one of the spring kings, but you also know that it’s gratifying and a challenge well worth exploring. Let’s review a few basic tactics that could help you tag a longbeard with your bow.

A tom’s droppings are typically elongated and often shaped like the letter “J”

LEARN THE LANGUAGE
Of all the turkeys I’ve killed, I’ve yet to take any two under the exact same conditions or using the same tactics. In other words, there isn’t any set of rules or script to follow for killing a gobbler. Some days a turkey might respond to soft yelps and purrs. Other times they may come running at the first sight of a decoy, and other times they won’t.

The same goes for calls –not all are created equal. Some days it might be a box and other times a diaphragm or slate that strikes the fancy of an ol’ tom. Even the best turkey hunters have been made to look like a fool at some point in time by a wily old gobbler. It only takes on bad call to take you out of the game, so you should master more than one call and carry three or four. When the moment of truth arrives, you’ll need both hands free for shooting. If a turkey hangs up or you need him to take one last step, there won’t be time to use a slate or a box. With that in mind a diaphragm call is one you’ll want to practice using.

On a hunt in Nebraska with Cabela's this past spring, Mike Capps of Howard communications killed this beautiful Merriam with a Cabela's F3 broadhead

One of the first things that I learned about turkey hunting was that continuous calling got me in trouble almost every time. I would venture to say more birds have been killed that came to investigate soft calls than those that would shatter your eardrum. Through the school of hard knocks, I learned that it’s always better to start out using calls sparingly as opposed to bellowing out loud, excited repetitions. Remember, if you take the bird’s “temperature” using light intermittent calls and he doesn’t get fired up or cut the distance, you can always increase the volume and pick up the pace.

TAG TEAM CALLING
Anytime you’re able to draw attention away from yourself, the better the chances are of fooling an “old sultan” of the woods. Despite their differences in size, elk and turkey hunting are similar in many ways. One of my favorite elk tactics is tag-team calling with a friend, and it works very well on turkeys, too! For this strategy, one person is the designated shooter and the other is the caller.

With that in mind, the first thing on the agenda is to decide who’s shooting and who’s calling. To keep it fair, I usually flip a coin. Second on the agenda is to anticipate the direction in which the tom will come from. Third, find a tree or bush to set up behind that will conceal your movements when drawing. The caller sets up and calls from 10 or 20 yards behind or off to one side of the shooter. When the unsuspecting turkey struts into range, wait until he gives you a broadside shot or turns facing away to take the shot.

GET IN THE ZONE
Like the tom in the beginning, I knew where he had been strutting and made sure I was there when the sun came up that morning. The gobbler had been using a green strip of grass along a cornfield that hadn’t been tilled to strut his stuff. In fact, I’d seen him there twice the week before.

If time allows, it’s always a good idea to do some pre-season scouting. By scouting I don’t mean going out to your favorite spot and try calling a turkey up. In fact, calling before the season opens is probably one of the worst things you can do. The only thing you stand to gain from it is educating the birds before opening day. Like any other game, the element of surprise is your biggest ally.

Similar to deer, turkeys have certain locations where they hold up before feeding. They also use certain terrain features for entering feeding and roosting spots. Take for example, a point that extends from an oak-ridge flat. The point might also serve as a crossover to another roosting location or feeding area. Many of these terrain features are natural funnels that turkeys use going from feeding to roosting spots. When scouting, follow the outside edges of the timbered areas and look for tracks, droppings and dusting sites. If there’s a creek bottom with big cottonwood trees or perhaps an oak ridge with mature trees, look around beneath them for sign like droppings and feathers that would confirm turkeys are roosting above.

Because patterns can change quickly due to breeding activity or hunting pressure, the week or so before opening day spend the first and last two hours glassing to determine what’s coming out and when to the spot where you found fresh sign. Although strutting areas are typically found in open areas like ridge tops, field edges and logging roads, unless you’ve actually seen the turkeys strutting they’re pretty tough to locate. When scouting, look for sign such as tracks that appear to go both directions, droppings and wing-drag marks in soft powdery soil around field edges, dirt roads and such.

All too often, the toms that were henned up first thing in the morning start looking for other breeding hens around midday. In many cases, the toms leave the hens and head for their strutting zones. It’s for that reason you might spend time glassing during the late morning and early afternoon to locate strutting areas. If you find an honest to goodness strut zone, get there before the turkeys do and set up.

Although a single decoy will enhance a setup, multiple decoys can further increase your chances

SETTING UP
If you’re using a blind, get it set up (or build one) before opening day. If you know where to the turkeys are roosting, slip in under the cover of darkness and get within 100 yards or so and set up. If you’re hunting from the ground, then pick out a tree big enough to hide behind and conceal your movements. Be sure to clear all the leaves and debris away from the tree base. When you sit down, remember to position yourself in such a way that you can draw and shoot in the same direction the bird is expected to come from with minimal movement. For example, face your bow -grip shoulder toward the turkey’s approach route or decoy spread. In doing so, you’ll have a wider range to wing and shoot without needing to adjust. Set out one or two decoys to enhance the setup. From your scouting you already know where the turkey is going, so there’s no need to call very much, perhaps every 20 or 30 minutes is plenty.

PREPARING FOR THE SHOT
One of the toughest parts of bowhunting turkeys is getting drawn and shooting without getting picked off first. More often than not, the proper decoy setup can significantly improve your chances of beating the turkey’s keen sense of eyesight. When most toms approach, I’ve learned that they like to make eye contact, regardless of whether it’s another tom or a hen. Because of that, I found it’s better to face a decoy towards me or sideways rather than facing away. As a tom comes in to investigate he’ll eventually turn his read end in my direction, allowing me to draw and shoot.

Chances are, any shot you get won’t be from the standing position. So, long before the season practice drawing and shooting from the sitting and kneeling positions.

PATIENCE
Older birds that have survived a few seasons are usually hunter-wise and harder to kill. Although you’ll often need to be persistent when hunting wily birds, you’ll also need to show some patience, too.

I remember a time a few seasons back I’d been hunting an old tom for several days and anything that could go wrong, went wrong. I couldn’t sneak within range nor could I call him away from his hens, no matter how hard I tried.

Much to my surprise, one morning, the boss gobbler answered my calls with some real enthusiasm. Minutes later he flew down from the roost and landed just out of range from the decoy spread of two hens and a half-strutting  jake named “Bubba.” I refrained from calling too much and it wasn’t long before he strutted into range, spitting and drumming all the way. It was one time where a combination of patience and persistence paid off.

Bowhunting the spring king might be tough, but the rewards are well worth the efforts. Sound scouting and hunting strategies are the keys that unlock the door to success <—<<

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