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Published by archerchick on 12 Apr 2012

Bowhunting in Paradise ~By Dale Schlehuber

Bowhunting in Paradise  By Dale Schlehuber

Bowhunting World April 1990

There ’s a bunch feeding about 300 yards below us in that brushy pocket,” whispered my father. Clifford Schlehuber had spotted 20 of Hawaii’s axis deer through his 10x binoculars from a bare knob on the ridge that divides the island of Lanai. “I’ll head over to that notch where that bunch ran Friday and try to ambush them if they get spooked,” he advised, “and you can try stalking them. But go slow! Remember, every bush and clump of trees has a deer hiding in it! ” At various times during our week-long hunt, we had spooked as many as 10 or 15 deer while stalking other animals. We had learned that the spotted axises had used the same notch to escape a hunter, so this time Clifford would be in position to arrow an animal before it could disappear into the bottom of a 500-foot-deep, two-mile-long volcanic gulch.

 

After waiting a half hour while Clifford circled behind the available cover to get to his “stand”, I started down the steep hillside, slowly stepping to avoid any leaves or twigs, following any strips of bare, red volcanic dirt, while trying to maintain visual contact with the grazing herd. The axises had routinely come out for an afternoon lunch after
disappearing early in the morning fog that is common in Lanai. Their routines and escape patterns had been learned only alter three hard days of hunting. Too often a “perfect stalk” had been thwarted by an unseen deer, so each step was followed by a careful inspection of every bush and tree. To my right a 15-foot-high mound provided an excellent observation point high enough to clearly see the herd of deer above the surrounding thicket of trees blocking my planned path. As I topped the mound, I saw movement out of the corner of my eye, freezing me in my tracks.

 

Achingly. l sat down and spun on my rump toward the movement. A half-grown fawn was eating leaves only 35 yards away. After five minutes, junior’s mother appeared from behind a clump of brush 30 yards away. I had pre-set my moveable SightMaster crosshairs for that exact range, and I knew my 65-pound PSE MagnaFlite bow would send the 2114 XX75 arrow tipped with a Razorback 5 broadhead through her chest and might hit the fawn directly behind her. Waiting until the fawn moved out of the line of fire, I slowly raised, drew and picked the spot for a heart shot.

 

Just as I was releasing half my breath and increasing back tension, a set of antlers moved above the bush the doe had been in. Letting down as slowly as my burning muscles allowed, I watched the upper fork of the small buck bob back and forth as he fed. Although not a trophy class deer, he was a buck, and we hadn’t seen any horns while glassing the herd. As this was our last day of hunting, I didn’t want to return to Montana empty handed (Sure, you went to Hawaii hunting! See any two-pointers on the beach?), so I resolved to take back a tanned cream and spot-covered doe hide to add to my collection. Now, I had the opportunity for the dark brown and spotted hide of a buck along with plaque-mounted horns!

 

Distinctive Coloration

 

Axis deer are natives of India and Ceylon that are spotted for life. Does have a dark chocolate dorsal stripe that turns to a golden honey brown down their sides, becoming a creamy color and white on the belly. Nickle size spots are arranged in rows throughout the body. Bucks tend to be chocolate colored down to the belly, with older males having a charcoal color on the front shoulders and neck. The horns of axises usually have three points to a side; brow tines with a forked main branch are the norm. Large bucks will have horns in the 30-inch-plus category, and make an impressive mount. Although the average buck weighs 160 pounds, some have been known to reach 250.

Axises prefer open parkland forests, but will adapt to dense rain forest. Lanai ’s kiawe (mesquite type) mid zone and the upper ridge’s eucalyptus forest provide ideal habitat. For 15 minutes the antlers moved about the thicket, without my getting a glimpse of the buck. The entire time the doe remained broadside 30 yards away, making any attempt to move impossible. Adrenaline surged through my system. as nothing can make me get “buck fever” quicker than hearing my quarry nearby but not being able to see it. Trying to calm myself, I recalled the first day of our hunt. We had spotted six deer, one a huge charcoal colored buck with 32 inch V horns and long, heavy brow tines. After a two-hour stalk covering only 200 yards, and spooking a jackrabbit-sized fawn at 10-feet that, fortunately, ran away from the herd, I finally positioned myself for a 25-yard, head-on shot.
As the buck exposed his throat while feeding on an overhead limb, I drew and released too rapidly, resulting in the arrow being deflected left of the mark by a small branch that in my haste, I had not seen. The buck and the herd disappeared into a deep gulch in seconds. Lanai is a small island forming a triangle with the islands of Molokai and Maui. The volcanic island rises steeply from the ocean, with most ofthe shoreline being 200- to 300- foot-high cliffs. The steep slope continues from the ocean upward to the plateau on the center ofthe island. This flat portion is where pineapples are grown. The northern edge of the plateau is bordered by a high ridge that rises to 3,000 feet, high enough to catch the moist trade winds. Often, this ridge is shrouded in fog and rain, providing the island with water from deep wells. Lanai City, the only town, has a population of 1,400 inhabitants, most of whom are of Filipino, Japanese and Hawaiian ancestry, brought to Lanai to cultivate 19,000 acres of pineapples by the island’s original owner, Dole.
Now, Lanai is  owned by Castle and Cook Co, whose CEO is David Murdock, a main-land businessman. Koele Company manages the islands pineapple operation, and administers the year-round fee hunting program for axis deer on the eastern half of the island. Archery permits good for the entire year cost $100, while rifle hunters must pay $280 for a one-day hunt.
The fee half of the island is divided into several zones so that each hunter can reserve an  area for himself. For a nominal fee. a guide can be hired through the Koele Company. The best time to get trophy antlers is from May through November. Horns in all stages of
developement can be seen due to the length of the matinig season. Now the real good news! The western half of the island is mantained for public hunting of axis deer and maouflon sheep. The archery season for deer is usually the last two Sundays of February (It’s a great way to take the wife on vacation and still get in some hunting.)
The nrst two Sundays of August constitute the mouflon season A one-year, non-resident license costs, get this, $20! Not only can you hunt axis deer and mouflon sheep on Lanai. but you can travel to neighboring islands and hunt feral pigs, feral goats, feral sheep, and if you draw a special permit, blacktail deer. Depending on the island and zone of the island, the limit can be two pigs and two goats . . . per day!  Also, Hawaii has over 15 species of game birds. including three varieties of francolin grouse. three types of pheasant, three types of dove, and Rio Grande turkey. All this for $20.
Summer Vacation Hunt
My mainland friends could not believe that I was going to Hawaii exclusively to hunt, especially in August. However, low summer airfares and the ability to combine the public hunt for mouflon with the private hunting for axis deer had me anxiously awaiting August’s arrival. We had decided to hunt deer for three days, then take a day off to participate in a tournament sponsored by the local archery club, No Nuff Archers, for the over 300 hunters that arrive for the mouflon season. The tournament is held on a Saturday, followed by a banquet and awards ceremony.
Hawaiians really know how to have fun! We were greeted at the airport by Assistant Game Warden Ken Sabino whom I had met in February on my first visit to Lanai. Ken had arranged for us to use his jeep, although vehicles are available at local service stations. If you rent be sure to ask for a four-wheel drive or pickup as there is little asphalt on Lanai, and most roads to hunting areas are poorly maintained.
Ken then gave us some bad news. The deer had so badly damaged the pineapple fields that the usual surrounding archery zones had been opened for shotgun hunting during weekends. Additionally, special wardens had been spotlighting and shooting the troublesome deer. We were in for some tough hunting, as the axises are normally spookier than our deer of the mainland.
Currently Lanai has only a 14-room hunting lodge, but Koele is building a first class hotel to entice scuba divers to Lanai’s crystal clear waters which are considered the best in Hawaii. However, I recommend the Hotel Lanai not only for its great dinners, but also the evening sessions on the hotel`s porch, where locals usually gather to swap hunting stores. I hope the flavor of the lodge and island will remain even after the larger hotel is completed.
Also there is an excellent beach where camping is allowed, but reservations must be made in advance. Toilets, showers and fire pits are available, and a quick swim in the ocean after a hard day of hunting really relaxes a fellow.
Pre-Hunt Tour Helps
 After we had settled in, we took a brief tour of the hunting area. Clifford was amazed by the ruggidness and variance of terrain and t His preconceived notion of a tropical rainforest covering the entire island were dashed by the island’s desert zones. Only the 3,000 foot high ridge north of Lanai City was vegetated, covered by a eucalyptus and pine forest. The other two zones were totally different mainly because of the constant mist which provides moisture on the ridge top. The coastal zone vegetation is similar to southwest of Texas mesquite. In this zone, the axises drink the brackish water of tidal pools, since there are no flowing streams on the island.
The steep, rocky, deeply gulched kiawe zone lies between the coast and cultivated plateau zones. This zone is very similar to the arid hills of the Snake and Columbia Rivers of  eastern Washington state.
For three exhausting days we traveled up and down ridges and gulches rising out of abandoned pineapple fields. Later, we learned that in their native India the deer are preyed upon by tigers. Natural selection had made them  warier than even whitetail deer.
Each day we took a two-gallon jug of water to fill our bota bags. The 85-degree humid climate resulted in an empty jug each evening. Our best discovery was that the abandoned fields had volunteer pineapples the locals called sugar pines” because they are much sweeter than those that are harvested.
Sugar pine juice and a sandwich was our lunch. On Friday the mouflon hunters began arriving on DC-3`s used to transfer them from other islands. That evening we exchanged hunting tales with the Hawaiian hunters who had rented a house for the weekend, The Hawaiians were as eager to hear our Montana elk hunting stories as we were to try the local dishes some hunters had prepared for the communal meal. Never have I met people who became friends as easily as the Lanai hunters.
Saturday, I participated in the 28 target tournament, designed as a warm-up for Sunday`s opening day of mouflon hunting. That evening, the No-Nuff Archers held an awards banquet. There were trophies for each division and three flights of first. second, and third places were presented.
Early Sunday morning, we jumped into the jeeps after a quick breakfast of rice and fish balls, which also were wrapped in dried seaweed and placed into fanny packs for our lunch. A large jeep caravan headed towards the public portion of the island. the caravan’s headlights lighting up the spiny tops of the acres of pineapples. That morning the sheep moved up and down the kiawe zone due to the pressure of 300 hunters moving about. I saw at least a dozen full curl rams, but couldn’t cross to the other side of the rimrocked canyon in which I was hunting.
Later in the afternoon. the sheep bedded down in the thick. man-high silver koa brush, somewhat like a thick, twisted willow. Mouflon sheep, natives of southern Europe, are the smallest of the world’s wild sheep. Ewes are usually a light sandy color, while mature rams have forequarters and backs that are black with a white saddle. Ram`s horns are large for the size ofthe animal, similar to a desert bighorn, with full curl and 1 1/4 curl trophies found on Lanai.
Occasionally, rather than curling outward, the horn will come back in close to the ram’s head, much like an aoudad or Barbary sheep. Non-residents may hunt mouflon only during the archery season, while Hawaiians must enter a special drawing lor licenses to hunt them with rifles.
I spotted two groups of rams and decided to try stalking the nearest trio bedded in the koa. After an hour and a half, I managed to get 80 yards from two full curls and a three-quarter curl. The stalk suddenly ended when another archer appeared on the ridgeline and spooked the rams. Five minutes later. I spotted them two canyons away, at least two hours of hard hiking for me. I elected to try for the other group of five rams and hiked in their direction. Again, just as I was nearing reasonable bow range, they were spooked by other hunters.
That Sunday no mouflon were taken, y although several archers had opportunities. David Yasumura. one of the Honolulu hunters with whom l had become acquainted. would have qualified for a “ram fever” award if one had been given. Despite having finished second overall in the previous day`s tournament, he emptied his quiver twice. trying to knock down a mouflon ram.
Buck Ignores Warning
 As I recalled the week`s events. the favorable breeze decided to swirl. The doe stared at
my unmoving form. I avoided eye contact, and my thoughts became serene and peaceful, reminding me of a superstition I have. I believe animals have senses other than the five humans have, and can “catch” thoughts.
It didn`t work, however, and she began a “head bob” routine that I had seen many whitetails perform: Fake a move for a bite of grass . . . head up quickly . . . fake the head down a little lower. . . spring up with the head and stare for 30 seconds . . . down again almost to ground level this time . . . and, up again. Then, she had my scent because the wind was directly to her. Three sharp stamps of her foot alerted the fawn, and, I assumed, the buck. also. A high-pitched “bark” and away she and her fawn sped. but without the buck. Where was he?
Doing a “duck walk” around the left side of the mound allowed me to see one of his escape routes. I hoped he hadn`t headed for the herd and spooked them, too. Wait! Freeze! There he was 50 yards away. and not running, but leisurely eating. The young buck had ignored the doe’s warning and was now broadside, neck stretched upward as he nibblcd at the fruit of a pukawie tree. The 50 yards downhill were almost bare, providing no chance of getting closer. However, I had spent the summer at our local club range and felt comfortable taking a shot at this distance. l set the sight for46 yards, allowing for the slope. I drew, let out half my breath. held the left arm solid with hand relaxed. increased back tension. and smoothly released.
The arrow sped toward the lung shot I had chosen, however, at this distance there was enough time for the buck to react to the string noise. He stepped forward. the arrow hitting him in the middle. As he circled towards where the doe had been. I could see that the liver shot was going to require some tough tracking in the dense brush in the basin.
I waited an hour before beginning to track. The orange XX75 shaft, minus the last six inches. was laying  10 yards from where the deer had been hit. The surrounding brush`s green leaves were splashed with small, almost misty red dots. making blood trail tracking more difficult. And I knew there would be no blood trail from the liver shot anyway. But, I
still looked. I began making sweeps in the general direction me deer had gone, using the  broken shaft as the center of each increasingly bigger arc.
I heard an animal crash through brush as if it had been spooked from its bed. I was sure  it had been the buck, and searched the area roughly. Three hours later we headed back in the dark. I spent a sleepless night. knowing a wounded animal was suffering. In six years of bagging several deer, two elk, an antelope and a rocky Mountain goat,  I had never lost a hit animal.
The next morning we packed our gear for our trip home. Clifford suggested we drop our bags at the airport and return to the hollow for one more hour or searching. Dad knew how much I wanted to find that buck.
Parking the jeer, Clifford headed up the hillside while I went toward the spot where I thought I had jumped the bedded deer. “l found him! I found him!” Clifford yelled. He hadn’t walked 50 yards in the waist high ferns before he almost stepped on the hidden carcass Bowhunting rarely goes as planned, and this trip has been no exception. We both had missed some relatively easy shots at deer and had had an excellent time chasing the sharp-eyed Mouflon. However. I am dreaming of returning next August not only for the hunting and beautiful scenery, but especially for renewing contacts with the friendly people on the pineapple island of Lanai.
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Published by archerchick on 12 Apr 2012

Bowhunting the Southwest ~By Mike Lowry

Bowhunting the Southwest-By Mike Lowry
Archery World’s Bowhunting Guide ’88
I was just finishing winding up my winch cable as the old gentleman stepped onto the jeep trail. As I walked over to say hello, he set the lower limb of his bow on the toe of his boot, pushed back his sweat-stained cowboy hat and rested his arms on the top of the bow. After a friendly hello and a handshake, we talked for almost an hour about the bowhunting around Ely, Nevada, and how dry it was hunting here. “Here” was up in the cooler, greener, and generally higher and more forested area of the mountains that sat northeast of Ely.
The old bowhunter then told me that, because I looked like a nice “young fella,” he’d let me in on a little secret. ” I’ve lived in this country all my life,” he said, “and if ya want big trophy deer, get the hell out of these mountains and hunt the high desert .” He then went on to tell me of an area southeast of Ely that, though it didn’t look it, held some real wall hangers. “Most people just don’t believe those deer are down there, or if they do, won’t hunt them there. But I tell you what, if you want to work for a big one, that’s the place .” If there’s one thing I have learned over my bowhunting years, it’s to listen to people  especially older, more experienced people. The next day found me driving along a very dusty road leading into low, sage-covered hills that looked better suited for hunting jack rabbits or horny toads than big mule deer. As I eased along, looking for a good camp and hunting spot, I was reminded of the Jicarilla Apache Reservation of New Mexico, where I’d grown up. Some of the best mule deer hunting in the world was on that reservation; as old memories surfaced, my excitement about the hunt grew. Noticing some green growth in the bottom of one of the side canyons, I turned onto the little-used ruts of an old road, parked about 150 yards from the green and walked over for a look. The Bureau of Land Management had put in a stock trough that was full of clean water. The mud at the lower end of the trough, where the water had overflowed, told the story; deer tracks, lots of deer tracks, some very big, covered the bottom of the draw.
My partner, Mike Sagers, and I smiled at each other as we headed up the side of the draw for a better look at the surrounding country. Half-way up, Mike pointed out a deer standing by a little clump of grease wood. As we watched, it took off up the hill, followed by six others — all bucks. We sat down and watched in wonder as they skylined going over the top. I hurriedly picked my chin up off the ground and closed my mouth before a dozen or so blow flies could buzz in. Three of those bucks could have easily gone into the top of the Pope & Young listings and the rest were mighty respectable.
Giggling with glee like two school kids, we hurried back to the truck and took off to find a place to camp. Not for the last time I thought io myself, Thank the Lord for the 0ld f0lks!
Lessons Learned
 Memories of those big bucks and all the near misses hurried me along a year later as Mike and I picked our way up the hill in my old Suburban. We were far better prepared for the high desert hunt this year and ready to capitalize on last year’s learning period. The spot we had spent over an hour leveling for a tent last year was there just as we had left it, as was the fireplace next to the rock face and our pile of powder-dry firewood, still stacked as if it had only been an hour since we cut it. No wonder the deserts hold so many secrets of ancient times; change comes very slowly, We quickly put up my tent, one with large screened openings on all four sides. Next to it, we put a 12 x 12 sun shade to protect ourselves from the heat of the day. There was very little natural shade here — one of the lessons learned from the year before. After storing most of our gear away, we brought out the coolers — one with our food, one full of ice. Then came the water; this year we brought a ten-gallon Gott cooler filled with crushed ice and then water, and a 30- gallon plastic barrel for washing and cooking. In this country, you would be wise to saturate yourself with water. In other words, before you go out in the morning, drink all you can, then take another drink. I also carry a bota bag with me, which is a lot quieter than a canteen.
With camp set and a quick meal under our belts, Mike and I set off on foot to do some poking around before the next day’s hunt. The year before, we had learned some of the movement patterns of the deer. In most instances they started to hit the water hole about 5- 5 :30 p.m. You could almost set your watch by it, in fact.
The deer are thirsty by then and, unlike other places I’ve hunted, when these deer decide to come for a drink, they literally run up to the water, stick their head in and suck up a belly full. The trick is to be on the water well before they come in; failing that, you should be on a good approach lane. I say “lane” because these deer won’t really use any set trails, but are liable to come in from any direction.
Finding a good vantage point in the shade of a small bush, we sat down and began to glass. The area we were watching was where three good draws came together about 600 yards above the water. Brush covered the northern faces of the draws, and grew thick and twice as tall as a man in the bottom. Trying to glass every square foot of cover, I began searching the terrain for bedded deer. The 7 x 35 Browning binoculars were well suited for this kind of glassing, offering enough magnification to see everything, yet not so much as to cause objects to bounce around at every little movement I’d make. I’d tried other compact glasses and also stronger, larger glasses, but for me, after a half hour or so my eyes began to protest the harsh and unusual punishment. I agree with Dwight Schuh, who said that good quality optics are probably more important than the most expensive bow.
Gridding the area off, I slowly began to search the draw back and forth, looking at everything in the optical picture, then moving just enough to pick up a new area next to the one I had just looked at. Twenty minutes later on the third pass over the same bush, I thought I saw an antler. Intensely focusing in on a shadow under the bush, I saw a large set of antlers slowly turn and then return to the original position, blending perfectly with the larger stems of the bush behind them.
I put down my glasses, gently eased the 2OX spotting scope into position and zeroed in on the brush. Either this deer had some very large antlers or a tiny head because the main beams were at least six to eight inches out past his ears on both sides and somewhere around 24 inches tall. As I looked him over, I became aware of a pounding noise and found it hard to sit still. My breaths began to come faster — and all I was doing was looking at him from 500 yards away!
After everything I’d taken with my bow, these really big bucks still get to me the most. To be honest, I hope it never changes. Mike and I watched the buck for a while and then began to spot other deer getting up and stretching, relieving themselves and starting to feed. Before long, it seemed the whole draw began to move.
At last, the big boy stood up. I was surprised, though not disappointed, to learn that he was a monster three-point with about six-inch eye guards. What was more surprising, however, was the four-point that appeared just behind him. This buck was almost a carbon copy, with one more tine but a few inches shorter in height. Both had unusually long tines and heavy mass. They stretched and turned down the draw toward the water. As if waiting for this signal, all the other deer began to head in the same direction, the last ones hurrying to catch the others.
Looking at Mike’s watch, I saw it was 5:20; these deer hadn’t yet been disturbed out of their routine. As they went out of our sight line, we picked up the spotting scope and carefully backed out so as not to disturb them now.
Hunting The Draws
Two anxious bowhunters walked out of camp an hour before sunrise the next day. Mike
took off toward a water hole and I went over the saddle above him to see if I could make a stalk on the other side of the hill. The birds soon began to noisily announce the brightening eastern sky. Down the saddle, I could hear sounds of movement. Something coughed and I strained to see what was there through my binoculars. Gradually, the dark spots below me began to take on depth and form as the light of dawn grew brighter and brighter. I could now make out several  browsing around on the opposite hills. Where was Mr. Big? Soon it was light enough to see everything, though the sun was still minutes from its grand appearance. Does and fawns, small two-by-threes and a couple of larger bucks, though not the big boys, wandered below me. Sneaking along just under the skyline like the Indians in a Louis Lamour novel, I backed over the ridge through a small stand of brush so I wouldn’t be spotted.
A morning breeze blew against the right side of my face as I eased along, carefully feeling for anything underfoot that would give me away. Suddenly, a loud snort and the heavy “thump thump” of what surely must hare been the world’s record buck caused my heart to do 14 quick laps around my chest cavity.
Peeking through the bush in front of me, I was startled to see a very ordinary doe staring my  way as if trying to determine what I was. Frozen in position, I watched, trying to avoid any eye-to-eye contact. Within a few minutes, she turned and walked stiff-legged over to the ridge line and out of sight. Moving to my left about 20 yards, I snuck up behind a small bush and slowly raised up until I could see through the top of it.
Fifty yards below stood five bucks and a doe. They were alertly looking at the spot where the doe had just come in. If I had merely followed her over the ridge line, they would have had me pegged. As it was, they were alert but not yet spooked. A couple of the bucks were tempting, in the 140- 150 point range, but this was the first day of the hunt and I knew there were much larger deer around. Not knowing what was over the hill, the deer finally decided to leave rather than take a chance.
A loud snort and pounding hooves signaled Mr.  Big. I sat watching them walk single file down the hill to where Mike should be sitting. As they reached the bottom of the draw, they stopped for a quick drink within 25 yards of where I figured Mike had set up. It was exciting to see the drama unfold, and as I glassed the deer,  I kept waiting to see an arrow nail one of them. Nothing. I wondered what he was waiting for. Soon, they filed away and up the other side into the thick stands of mountain Mahogany to bed for the day.
Where was Mike? Later I found out that at the last minute, Mike had decided to move up the draw 100 yards, where he had to sit and watch the bucks walk directly past the spot I thought he had been in. That’s deer hunting; almost always in the wrong place at the right time. Working my way down the ridge, I glassed a tremendous buck already bedded down under one of only five or six bushes in the whole bowl. He had chosen his spot well; there was nothing within 300 yards that was more than knee high — and not much of that, either.
I watched him for quite a while and then backed over the ridge and hunted my way over to Mike. When I finally found him, he was pretty disgusted about not being in position for a shot at the group of bucks, so I asked if he wanted to see a really good one. Ten minutes later we were glassing the bedded buck. We didn’t think he was one of the two we had seen the night before, but he was in the same class. Since I had found him, and because stalking is my favorite way to hunt, Mike encouraged me to go for him.
Courting Mr. Big
By now, the sun was up and its heat was steadily pulling the wind up the draw to the deer. Dropping back over the ridge, I hurried around and well above the deer’s bedded position and into the bowl above him. Being sure to keep the bush between us, I started down into the bowl. Every move had to be painstakingly slow because there was no room for error. A broken twig, the crunch of gravel or carelessly dragging a branch across a pant leg could end the stalk prematurely.
 I took two or three slow steps at a time, feeling for anything that might make noise, stopping and glassing for other deer who might mess things up. I moved again, so slow and easy that I was sure I melted into the surroundings. Constantly checking the wind with the little feather glued to the fine thread on the upper limb of my bow, I was aware of everything around me. I tried to imagine being a cougar stalking his prey and wished I had his sense of smell and padded feet.
Finally, 30 yards from the bush, I nocked an arrow and eased closer. The pounding heart rate started again, for I knew he was there, not 15 yards in front of me. Closing my eyes for only an instant, I told myself to stay in control and pick a spot. I took two more steps to the right and still couldn’t see him. Doubt began to creep into my mind; is he still there? I glassed the bush and then up the ridge to Mike, only to see him frantically giving me the “stay where you are” signal. I waited, worrying that the wind might change and give my position away. My bow got heavier as I held it out, ready to draw and shoot at the slightest movement. I decided to wave Mike down toward the deer, hoping it would stand up and look at Mike. He started noisily down into the bowl in plain sight. This is brilliant, I told myself. The buck will see 0r hear Mike, stand up and I ’ll have an easy shot. Wrong! The buck didn’t move at all as Mike moved closer and closer. Suddenly, the bush exploded as the buck hit his feet at a dead run, right around the bush and straight at me. I had drawn my bow at the first movement, but what the heck would I shoot at on a deer running straight at me with his head down and closing fast? Our eyes met and I saw recognition_ in his eye as he veered off to my left. Swinging with him, I released as he ran by at the speed of light. . .squared.
As I watched him run over the saddle at the top of the bowl, I knew he wasn’t to be mine. Mike walked toward me. We just couldn’t believe the buck had let him get that close before leaving cover. Why hadn’t it stood up as he came down the hillside? The only thing we could think of was that the buck had been asleep and hadn’t known Mike was there until he was in the critical zone, and that’s why he took out at a dead run. What a let down!
That afternoon found me over the ridge and down the other side looking for the buck. As I tracked along, I kept scanning the small growth of cedar and mahogany that stood halfway down the hillside. It was much hotter and even the light, long-sleeved camo t-shirt felt like too much, but the memory of that big buck fueled my enthusiasm. Looking through an opening in the trees, I spotted a doe feeding and another lying down above her. As she turned away, I moved forward a couple of steps and then froze as I saw the buck with
them. He was between the doe and me — about 60 yards out — sitting on his butt like a big dog. I’d never seen a deer do that before and since he was looking the other way. I eased forward, hoping he would stay there I hadn’t taken two steps before he stood up and started feeding away from me. Since the wind was calm, I dropped back and below  planning to use the trees as cover.
If all went well, I would get within 40 yards. No sooner had I reached the trees than a doe and fawn went busting out the other side spooking the whole bunch over the little saddle and into the next draw. I ran uphill 100 yards or so and peeked over the ridge. Nine deer were crossing the next ridge and walking up the far draw. As I watched with the binoculars, they walked for a bit, then stopped to look back to see if anything was following Satisfied they had gotten away, the buck stopped to feed near the top and soon the big guy and a couple of others lay down under the only cedar on the hillside.
Seeing my chance, I backed off the ridge and ran up the hill, circling around above the deer. Gulping in great gasps of air, I began to wonder if I wasn’t too old for this, but then smiled , for I knew it wasn’t true. . .yet. After catching my breath, I crept over  the saddle and then crawled up to some small clumps of sage, looking down to the cedar tree. I could just see the tips of antlers, so I sat back and waited. Soon, I thought, they’d be up and would probably feed right through the saddle just below me. Some 30 to 45 minutes ater Mr. Big stood up and started feeding my say.
Here we go again, I thought. Just as he was coming into range, I heard a motor and turned to see a pickup come down the ridge behind me. This can ’t be happening, l thought. The driver stopped as he came even with me and saw the deer standing below him, looking up. He started to open his door, saw me and, to his credit, waved a “sorry” and went on down the ridge.
Turning back to the deer, I looked at the place the buck should have been. He wasn’t there. Hoping he hadn’t left the country, I crawled down to the next clump of sage and peeked over the top. There he was, feeding about 60 yards below me. I drew back, eased up, put the 60-yard pin right behind his shoulder and released. The arrow zipped over his back. Nocking another arrow, I drew back, eased up again and saw him looking downhill to where the first arrow had hit. He never knew what happened as the 2216 passed clean through him and off down the hill. The buck bolted down the hill, only to lay down within 100 yards.
A short time later he got up and moved around the hill out of sight. As I tracked him, my respect for this deer grew more and more. He’d used every trick in the book to lose me and even had me stuck for a while until I found where he had back-tracked and lay dead in the sage. This old boy was tough right to the end. While I took his picture and admired my trophy,. I thought back to the old man I had met on the worn jeep trail. His advice had been right — Thank the Lord for old folks.
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Published by archerchick on 11 Apr 2012

Eyes of A Champion – By Dean Phillips

Eyes of A Champion – By Dean Phillips
Bowhunting World June 1990

 

I only had about 5 minutes of light left, but I knew
the deer was there. Then, he stepped out of the
shadows, broadside at 15 yards. I drew my bow, but when I tried to see
the deer through my sights, all I could see was
a blur and my lighted sight pins. I held the bow
at full draw and pulled my head out to the side
to make sure the deer hadn’t moved. I could see
the deer clearly as he stood in the same spot.
Once again I took aim through my peep and
again couldn’t see the target. I tried to relax my
draw and when the cams rolled over, my arrow
fell off the rest and clanked against the bow
riser . .
Does this conversation sound familiar to
you? Have you ever experienced the frustrations
of this situation yourself? If you have,
don’t feel bad. My research shows that for
many bowhunters, all too often this moment
of truth ends in disappointment and frustration
because their shooting style renders them
helplessly inaccurate in low-light conditions.
Now that we’re in between bow seasons, this
is a good time to work on the mechanics of
shooting that can make you as accurate with
your bow in low-light conditions as you are in
bright sunlight.
To correct the situation, we must go
straight to the root of the problem: your vi-
sion. You can have 20/20 vision and still be a
terrible shot in low-light conditions. The
physiological process of shooting a bow accurately in dim
light obviously requires some
degree of quality in your vision. But more importantly
it requires quantity! That’s right.
Quantity! A vast number of bowhunters today
are learning to shoot their bows with one eye
closed and thereby reducing the quantity of
their visual process by 50 percent.
I was intrigued with this problem when I
became aware that so many of us were
plagued with this habit. I say habit because in
most instances a person can leam to shoot
with both eyes open and improve their low-
light accuracy to a large degree.
Of all the bowhunters in our society, there
are those who reach plateaus and realms of
greatness that lift them out to us as symbols of
excellence. I wanted to talk to a few of these
“champions” to get their ideas on shooting in
low-light conditions and let them offer advice .
on improving your abilities in these situations.
Learning Eye Dominance
A year or so ago, my wife Marilyn and I
were watching The Johnny Carson Show one
evening and he had this cute little blonde-
headed girl on the show with a bow in her
hand. Her name was Denise Parker. “Boy,” I
thought. “I bet she’s gonna pop some balloons or
something? Was I in for a shock!
E This “little” girl was shooting her target arrows
through the center of tiny Lifesavers
candy. Johnny said, “Denise, I see that you’re
left-handed? “No, I’m right-handed but I’m
left-eye dominant, so I shoot left-handed,” replied Denise.
Denise Parker has taken the archery world
by storm. She was the youngest member of the
U.S. Olympic team in Seoul in the summer
I games of 1988 and came home with a team
bronze medal. She is the youngest person to
ever win a gold medal in any sport at the Pan
American Games and she won the individual
I and team gold there at the age of 13 in 1987.

Denise held the world record, which she
broke again in the Indoor Nationals in Salt
Lake City during 1989. She also holds many
national records for indoor and outdoor distances
for both juniors and women. In 1989,
she also won the bronze medal at the World
Championships in Lausanne, Switzerland. In
July of the same year, Denise returned from
the Olympic Festival held in Oklahoma City
with the gold medals from both team and
individual competition.
To realize that Denise accomplished all
this by age 15 is unbelievable, but adding the
fact that she is actually right-handed but
shoots left-handed, puts Denise in a world all
her own. Through my conversations with her,
I came to realize just how important it is for a
bowhunter to know which of his or her eyes is
the dominant one. Denise tells how her archery career
started at age 10. “I started shooting because
my dad had just taken up bow-
hunting and it was something we could do
together. I had only been shooting about a
week when we realized something was
wrong. I was having a terrible time with left
and right misses. With help from my dad and

a local archery shop, we discovered that I was
left-eye dominant? Denise switched to a left-
hand bow and the rest is history.
Denise pointed out that she could have
continued to shoot right-handed. “I could
shoot right-handed if l wanted to, but I would
have to wear a patch over my left eye to keep it
from taking over while aiming.” She said that
there were toumament-level archers out there
that were wearing patches over their eyes to
prevent this from happening. Obviously,
Denise, her dad and the pro at the archery
shop thought that being able to shoot with
both eyes open was very important. Important
enough to learn to shoot opposite-handed.
Looking at Denise’s past, and looking at her
future, it was a wise decision.

She’s Hunter, Too
Although a champion target archer,
Denise is no longer just a “paper puncher”.
Having had a desire to bowhunt with her dad
from the very beginning, Denise drew her
bow on her first deer in the fall of 1988. “I
was hunting with my dad and some of his
friends when we spotted this nice 2-by-2 mu-
lie on a hillside. My arrow struck the deer’s
spine and he immediately rolled down the hill
and into the same path our vehicle was on.
From the time we spotted the buck, it was all
over in about 5 minutes.”
With target shooting and hunting alike,
Denise feels shooting with both eyes is very
important. “Although I see my sights with
my left eye, I am also looking at the target
with my right eye.”
After my discussions with Denise, I real-
ized that just as the toumament archer who
wears a patch over his dominant eye, many
bowhunters could be closing one eye because
they are not pulling the bowstring to their
dominant eye. Should a person who has this
problem, and who has been shooting a bow
for several seasons, now switch to an oppo-
site-handed bow? Denise had only been
shooting for a week when she made her
change, so the switch for her was not that
drastic, but for someone who has been bow-
hunting for sometime, this could seem an
overwhelming task.

Just how important is shooting with both
eyes open? Could someone who is left-eye
dominant and shoots right-handed leam to
shoot accurately with both eyes open, any-
way? At age 14, an accident left the nerves in
Alan Altizer’s left hand severely damaged.
He started shooting a bow at age 3 and was
shooting left-handed at the time of the acci-
dent. This incident left him unable to draw a
bowstring with his left hand so he promptly
started shooting right-handed. Even though
he is left-eye dominant, he continued to shoot
with both eyes open. Sixteen years later, Alan
Altizer is now one of America’s premier bow-
hunters. With nine Pope And Young class
whitetails on his wall at age 30, Alan has al-
ready accomplished what most could never
do in a lifetime. His shooting success has led
him to be co-founder and president of a video
company that specializes in bowhunting videos.

 


Alan’s success as a bowhunter is not some-
thing that just happened. “I shoot my bows all
the time. Sometimes I’m up ’til 2 or 3 o’clock
in the morning sh00ting,” says Alan. He believes
that shooting with both eyes open is as
important to bowhunting as breathing is to living.
Alan cites two important reasons. “First
of all, it’s almost impossible to judge distances
with one eye. I believe all your senses
are feeding your brain information when you
are hunting. You’re hearing, smelling, and
most importantly seeing what is around you.
When you draw your bow, these senses continue
to work and your sight is the most important at the
moment. Why would anyone I
want to reduce his visual perception by 50
percent at a time when you need all l00 per-
cent of it? ”
Alan continues, “Secondly, although I
shoot a Browning Mirage compound bow on
my videos, I also enjoy shooting a Black
Widow recurve bow instinctively. There is re-
ally no way I could shoot instinctively with
one eye closed.” Alan uses sight pins and a
peep on his Mirage, but he shoots it with both
eyes open just like his recurve.
Start Without Sights
On giving advice to a bowhunter who
wants to learn to shoot with both eyes, Alan
states, “I would recommend starting with no
sights or peep. Take a small piece of paper
and lay it in the lawn and start shooting at it
from about 15 yards. When you draw your
bow, don’t look at your arrow, don ’t look at
your bow. Just focus on the target with both
eyes and keep shooting at it. Once you be-
come comfortable doing this, it will be easy to
use your sights and keep both eyes open.”
Alan agrees that being proficient in low-
light conditions is important. “I’ve killed
some of my nicest deer very early and very
late. In each instance, I don’t believe I could
have done it with one eye closed .” In addition
to urging you to use both eyes, he has some
other tips for hunting in low light. “Early
morning and late afternoon, the horizon often
will be very bright compared to the shaded
woodlot that you may be hunting. Try to avoid
looking into this bright light which would
constrict your pupils and thereby reduce your
eyes’ light-gathering ability. Wearing a hat
with a brim that shades your eyes from this
light will help also, and just like the gunfighters
of yesteryear, try to position your stand so
that the rising or setting sun will be at your
back.”

Alan has some common sense advice
about low-light shooting. “When you’re
hunting early or late, always be familiar with
the area immediately around your stand, be-
cause small saplings, brush, limbs and other
arrow deflectors disappear quickly as the
light starts to fade.” He continues. “If you
know that you will be hunting in low—light
conditions, then you must practice shooting in
similar light. At night, the light from a street-
light or utility light is perfect simulation of
low-light conditions. This way you can practice
for hours instead of being restricted to the
15 minutes or so of dawn or dusk.”

Alan closes with some words of caution,
“When hunting late, always have a good light
with you. A good tracking aid like a spool of
Gametracker thread can help you track your
deer and it can also keep you from getting
lost! And whatever you do, don’t take
chancey shots. If you don’t have confidence
that you can make a good, clean killing shot,
don’t take it.”

 


Alan has gathered from his experience a
wealth of knowledge concerning hunting in
low-light conditions, and now would be a
good time to point out that when I speak of
low-light conditions, I ’m talking only about

legal shooting hours. These legal shooting
hours vary from state to state. In many states,
the hours run from 1/2 hour before sunrise to
1/2 hour after sunset. A general concensus
among bowhunters is that those two, half-
hour periods will provide the most opportunity.
But some states require you to quit at
sunset. If you live in a state with this law, then
your only real bout with low—light conditions
will come in that 30 minutes immediately
preceeding sunrise.

; Hunting Big Bucks
I One such state is Minnesota, and residing
I there is a man who loves to bowhunt that first
I half-hour before sunrise. “Of the 23 Pope
And Young whitetails I’ve taken, over half of
them were killed in the pink light minutes be-
fore sunrise,” states Myles Keller. Since
Myles hunts exclusively for big bucks, patterning

a big deer’s movements has a lot to do
with the clock. “I’ve been bowhunting for
over 20 years now, and I ‘ve seen a definite
change in the behavioral patterns of big bucks
in the last few years. Just like most bowhunters,
I really enjoyed hunting the edges of
fields in the late afternoon. But times have
changed, and so have the big bucks,” says
Myles. He feels the increasing hunting pres-
sure is changing the way a person should bow-
hunt. “For a buck to grow huge antlers, he
needs to reach at least 3 years of age. In order
to do this today, he must become almost exclusively
noctumal. If you’re hunting for this
kind of buck, your best chance to catch him is
very early in the morning as he tries to slip
into his bedding cover. If you’ve calculated
things right, and are at the right place at the
right time, you better be able to shoot your
bow accurately in these low-light conditions .”
Having started bowhunting at age 15 with
a recurve, Myles just naturally started shoot-
ing with both eyes open. “Although I ’ve been
shooting all these years, now that I ’m shoot-
ing a compound, I find myself tempted to
close my left eye sometimes when I’m practicing.

For some reason, I feel this is more of a
temptation for someone who shoots a com-
pound bow with sights. I think that they feel
they will be more accurate with one eye
closed, but this is not true, especially in low-
light conditions .”

Myles sums up what he feels is the key to
shooting accurately with both eyes in three
words, “practice, practice, practice.” He
adds, “If a person wants to learn to shoot his
bow with both eyes open, then he should practice
that way all the time. Not just in low-
light, but in the middle of the day also.” He
also feels many hunters overlook the help they
can receive from their local archery shop.
“Most of the pros at your local archery shop
really know what they’re doing. They can
help in areas such as bow tuning, equipment
selection and shooting problems.”
Myles believes the hunting instinct is natu-
ral for man. “Man is considered a predator
because he has both eyes in front. It is also a
proven fact that each eye has a separate and
specific function at all times. That alone
should be enough to encourage bowhunters to
learn to shoot with both eyes.”
Myles Keller is considered, by most, the
greatest whitetail bowhunter alive today. And
for good reason, too. His 23 Pope And Young
whitetails is a feat never accomplished before.
Of those 23 monster bucks, some provide
special memories. Myles remembers the
Christmas holidays of 1977, when “hunting
in Wisconsin, I had this enormous buck was
trying to cross paths with. After patterning
him for about 10 days, I thought for sure my
stand was situated perfectly to get him early
the next morning. As dawn broke on Christ-
mas Eve, the increasing light revealed the
buck slipping down a ridge on the other side
of the slough from where I was positioned.
Feeling the pressure to get home for
Christmas, at 10:30 I decided to move my
stand to the other side of the slough to try to
catch him if he moved back up the same ridge.
As I approached the area, I spotted a deer
through the hardwoods about 40 yards away. I
could tell it was a big deer, and it seemed very
busy with the job of digging acorns from underneath the fresh snow.”
“Slipping from tree to tree, I was able to
close the distance to 30 yards. From there, I
recognized the buck as the one I was after.
Momentarily awestruck by the massive ant-
lers, I paused behind a tree to warm my
hands, check my bow, and make sure there
was no snow or ice in my arrow nocks. I then
slowly eased to within 20 yards for a clear
shot at the still unsuspecting trophy. After a
deep breath, I released my arrow, which took
out both lungs. A few minutes later and 50
yards down the hill, I stood over the largest
racked Whitetail ever killed in the state of
Wisconsin.”
That state record still stands today, and the
buck scored as one of the largest eight-
pointers ever recorded by both Boone and
Crockett and Pope And Young. Myles continues,
“Although I was ready for him very
early, he forced me to change my strategv. I

don’t want anyone to think that early and late
are the ‘on1y’ times to take big deer. Having
patience for an all-day hunt and the willingness
to change your game plan are important
factors, also.”
After bow season, Myles Keller is a very
busy man. As the advisory staff director for
XI Bows, he spends many hours traveling to
hunting shows, operating a booth for XI and
setting up the display of his Pope And Young
trophies. “My most memorable deer did not
qualify for the record book,” states Myles.
“My most memorable deer only scored 92
Pope And Young points, but he was my ‘first’
deer. I know there are a lot of bowhunters going

after that first deer, and I believe that
shooting their bow with both eyes open will
help make it happen.”
After talking with Myles, Alan and
Denise, I wanted a professional medical opin-
ion from someone who understands the pro-
cess of aiming a bow. Dr. Phil Walters is an
ophthalmologist at The Johnson City Eye
Clinic in Johnson City, Tennessee.
Having competed on his high school rifle
team, Dr. Walters knows the importance of
understanding the functions of the eyes during
the aiming process. “First and most importantly,

a bowhunter should know which of his
eyes is the dominant one and then pull the
bowstring to that eye. As far as I know, there is
no correlation between eye dominance and a
person being right or left-handed. A bow-
hunter can’t assume that he or she is right-eye
dominant just because they’re right-handed.”
Which Eye Dominates?
Dr. Walters explains how to detemiine
your dominant eye. “Take a piece of notebook
paper and cut a small hole in the center about
the size of a dime. Then, hold the paper at
arms’ length in front of you. With both eyes
open, aim through the hole at a small target
across the room such as a door knob. While
doing this, cover your left eye. If you still see

the target through the hole with your right
eye, then you’re right-eye dominant. The opposite

would happen if you are left-eye dominant.
“By drawing the bowstring to the dominant eye,

this will allow the hunter to shoot
with both eyes open, and medically speaking,
provide him with ‘binocular vision’ .” Dr.
Walters says that binocular vision, or seeing
with both eyes, will not only improve a bow-
hunter’s accuracy in low-light conditions, but
improve his accuracy at all times. “Opposed
to ‘monocular vision’ , or seeing with one eye,
binocular vision helps in several ways. First,
with binocular vision, you have a wider visual
field and you have depth perception. But,
more importantly to the bowhunter, binocular
vision allows your brain to perform the act of
‘visual fusion’. This is the physical act of fus-
ing the two separate pictures that each eye
sees into one single picture. This is very im-
portant in the actual aiming process, espe-
cially if you use a peep and sights ,” states Dr.
Walters.
Continuing, Dr. Walters explains, “When
you draw the bowstring and peep to your dominant eye,

you should focus on the target. Your
dominant eye will see the sights through the
peep and also the target. But, you must under-
stand, that with the peep, the sights, and the
deer or target, this is quite a confused picture
for just one eye to see. That’s where the im-
portance of the non-dominant eye comes in.

With the non-dominant eye open, it has no
objects interposed between it and the target as
the dominant eye does with the peep and
sights. It can, therefore, focus clearly on the
target. Your brain then fuses these two pic-
tures together to produce a single picture of
the target with the sights aligned over it. If a
bowhunter will trust this visual process, he
will be amazed at how his accuracy will improve.”
Using Both Eyes
Dr. Walters believes that most bowhunters
who shoot with one eye closed do so because
they learned to shoot that way and not because
they have to. He adds, “Some bowhunters
may complain that aiming with both eyes is
confusing. But once they become comfortable
with fusing the different pictures seen by the
two eyes, the hunter will begin to enjoy the
advantages of binocular aiming.” As far as
low-light conditions go, Dr. Walters adds,
“No one’s visual acuity is as sharp in dim
light as it is in bright light. Obviously, two
eyes will be better in these conditions than one
eye alone
Dr. Walters’ medical explanation confirms
what many bowhunters have known all along;
that two eyes work better than one. In my own
experience, I have found that a sight light or
lighted pins like those in my Sight Master bow
sight improve my accuracy in these situa-
tions. The reason for this is that the bright-
ened sights, seen through my dominant eye,
enhances the fusion process. I can see the
deer clearly with my non-dominant eye and
the lighted pins are more clearly seen over the
target.
How does all this relate to the general bow-
hunting public’? I conducted a written survey
through several archery shops in my area.
More than 500 bowhunters participated, answering

a questionnaire concerning this subject.

Over 53 percent of these bowhunters
said that they shoot their bows with one eye
completely closed. Of that 53 percent, 87 per-
cent said that they had missed a deer in low-
light conditions because they couldn’t see the
target clearly when they drew their bow.
Overall, more than 95 percent said that
they saw more deer early in the morning and
late in the afternoon than any other time of
day, emphasizing the need to be accurate in
low-light conditions.
I hope this information is something that
will make you a better bowhunter. Considering Denise Parker, Alan Altizer, Myles Keller
and their accomplishments, there should be
something you can draw from them to help
you, and the way you shoot your bow. By understanding and trusting your visual process,
and with some determination and hard practice, you too can develop “the eyes of a champion.”  >>—>

 

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Published by archerchick on 04 Apr 2012

Mounting Bear and Boar Skulls -Robert Steenbeke

Mounting Bear and Boar Skulls – Robert Steenbeke
Bowhunting World June 1990

Thump! That’s as close as I can describe the sound of hitting a 150-
pound wild boar with a pickup truck.
I know what that sounds like because I
did it, not on purpose mind you,
but I did it. Of course, hitting a wild animal with a
truck in Texas is noting unusual.

During any average 24-hour period in the Hill Country
there are nearly 100 animal/vehicle mishaps.
What happened after my collision however, was
quite unusual, and it leads nicely into my taxidermy
story, so let me tell you about it.

The boar wasn’t killed by the impact of my truck
and kept on going, crashing through a fence and into
a whitebrush thicket. When I backed up and got out
of my truck I could hear him in the thicket, growling
like a cornered dog. The only weapon I had in the
truck was my bow, so I hesitated to go into the brush
after him. I just couldn’t let the animal suffer
though, if indeed he was, so I started checking things
out. What made me wonder about his suffering or
not was the fact that the growling did not sound hurt,
just mad as the devil and looking for revenge. If I had
not found any blood at the scene I probably would
have left, but I did find blood on the fence, and a few
drops were also visible on the other side. Since I had
permission to hunt that thicket, I decided to try to do
something about the situation.

Clutching my bow, I made a circle downwind of
the growling. Thirty yards into the thicket, facing his
backtrail, there stood the hog, except he was only
using three legs, and one of those didn’t look too
steady. Slowly, I stalked to within 20 yards of him
and looked for a hole to put the arrow through. I
thought I found one big enough and let the arrow go,
but I ticked a limb and hit a little far back from where
I wanted to. Still, the shot looked good and I didn’t
figure he was going too far.

After an unproductive search for my arrow, I took
up the blood trail. I had gone about 50 yards when I
spotted a rabbit. It was an easy shot to make, so I
took the broadhead off the bow and put on a washer
backed field point. Just as I got the field point on the
bow I heard a grunt. Looking up, I saw the boar,
coming for me as fast as three legs could carry him,
his mouth wide open and looking like he had a hundred
teeth, each a foot long. I was scared, I don’t
mind telling you, but having absolutely nowhere to
go in that whitebrush thicket, I drew back the bow
and let him come. When he was where I knew I
couldn’t miss, I looked him in the eyes and let go of
the shaft. Fortunately, I got close to my mark,
smacking him in the bridge of the nose and passing
through into the throat, stopping the charge but not
dropping him. The hog then crashed into the brush
where the arrow hung him up just long enough for
me to get another arrow on the bow, off the bow, and
into him. This shot was right where it belonged, and
as the animal turned to run away, he stumbled; four
steps later he went down for good.

That late Spring afternoon is one I will never forget,
I guarantee you that, but still I wanted to have
some permanent memento of it. I decided that the
hog’s skull would do just fine, arrow hole and all.
This is the step by step of how I mounted it, and this
procedure works equally well on cougar, bear, wolf
or most any critter without antlers or horns.

Step 1: Using a small razor-sharp knife, cape out
the skull. Start at the mouth, opening it up and cutting
where the lips are connected to the base of the
gums in both the upper and lower jaws. Cut and peel
the skin from here up over the nose, and clown
around the lower jaw. It will start to get difficult
where the skull widens just in front of the eyes. At
that point, switch to the neck end of the skull and cut
and peel from there. Once you have the skin off, cut
off as much meat and connective tissue as possible.

Step 2: Boil water in a pot that will hold the entire
skull. When boiling rapidly, add two teaspoons of
Borax per quart of water, then put in the skull and
jaw. Let the water come back to a boil for 20 minutes.

Step 3: After 20 minutes of reboiling, remove the
skull and jaw. Using a hot pad and channel—lock pliers,
carefully remove the front teeth back to and including
the canine teeth. Pour the water used for
boiling through some kind of strainer to catch any
teeth that may have come loose and fallen out.

Step 4: Let everything air cool. Do not try to rush
cooling by pouring cold water on things or they will
most probably crack. Once it’s all cool, you will
need to either clean the pieces up. Use a wire brush
and/ or DULL knife to clean all the loose teeth. Use a
sharp knife to finish removing every bit of
flesh, including the eyes and tongue, from the
skull. The brain is then removed with a drill
and a whip made from a coat hanger. This will
break it up, and then a garden hose will blow
it out. Now, let everything dry for about a
week, longer if it’s very humid.

Step 5: While the skull and jaw are drying,
out out a plaque to mount them on. Make the
plaque big enough to stabilize the mount, but
not so big that it makes the skull look small, 2-
3 inches of space around the skull is about
right. For a more professional look, router the
edge of the plaque. Complete the plaque by
using a good prestain sealer, stain, and finish
that matches your decor. Follow the directions
given by the manufacturers of the products you
choose to use. They want your repeat
business, so they tell you the best ways to get
me best results.

Step 6: When the skull is done drying use
2 wire brush to remove the last little bits of
flesh and tissue that are still left, and to prepare
the surface for painting. Brush on a good
quality prestain wood sealer and let it dry to
complete the preparations for painting.

Step 7: Use a good quality, appliance
white spray enamel to paint the skull and jaw.
Apply several light coats rather than one thick
one, since a thick coat will run. Let each coat
dry thoroughly before applying the next or the
paint will peel. And, be sure to paint the parts
from every angle, People always seem to notice any
little spot that you miss.

Step 8: After the paint dries thoroughly,
set the teeth back into the jaw using clear silicon
sealant/adhesive. Wash your hands well
before handling the skull or jaw to minimize
ugly fingerprints. While resetting the teeth,
you will find that you can reset them with less
root, making them appear longer than they
actually were. In my personal opinion
though, they look really fake when they are
too long. It also makes assembly harder since
the bottom jaw will need to set forward of normal
to allow for the extra length. Experiment
with the length until everything fits together
firmly, yet you get the tooth length that you
want to show.

Step 9: Assemble the skull and jaw and
position them on the plaque exactly where you
want them to wind up. Find a bolt which,
when the skull is on the plaque, will reach
through the plaque and about 3/4 of the way
through the brain cavity. Remove the skull!
jaw and drill a hole through the plaque for the
bolt, right under where the brain cavity will
wind up. Countersink this hole so the mount
won`t sir up off the table or wall.

Step 10: Put the bolt through the hole,
tighten it into place with a washer and nut on
top of the plaque, then put a dab of paint or ink
on the top of it. Carefully lower the skull/jaw
onto the plaque exactly above the spot you
want it to sit. The ink will mark a spot on the
bottom of the skull where you should drill a
hole for the bolt. Be careful not to drill all the
way through the skull. Drill and countersink a
second hole through the plaque, right be-
tween the jaws and under the bridge of the
nose. Then repeat the bolt, skull, ink trick
again, using a bolt that goes 3/4 of the way
through the nasal cavities.

Step 11: We are now ready for final assembly.
Turn the skull upside down on a soft
towel or rag to prevent skuffing the paint job.
Fill the two holes you drilled in the skull with
silicon sealant/adhesive. Put the bolt assembly
into place and allow l2 hours to dry before
turning the mount over. Tum it over and
presto! , you have a mount to be proud of.
Felting the bottom of the plaque makes a truly
professional looking table top display, or add
thin rubber pads to the bottom and use as
bookends when you get two of them, or add
hanging hardware and use as a wall mount.

They all look great, and are sure to be a conversation starter. >>—>

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Published by KurtD on 15 Feb 2012

THINK DEER – by Ted Nugent

THINK DEER                                                                                           by Ted Nugent

You can’t really close your eyes and read this, so instead, concentrate as you read and pump images of deer into your brain. Envision all those stunning beasts you have been so blessed to encounter over so many hunting seasons, and burn that beautiful picture deep into your cranium. Imprint it on your psyche, make it an actual element of your being. Now, doesn’t that feel good.

I am typing this little ditty in my Ranch King deer blind on a cold December afternoon, and I have eight whitetails in front of me right now, all within twenty yards. I sit spellbound.

An old matriarch doe is crazy alert, two doe fawns and a very handsome button buck with huge pronounced nubbins could care less as they nibble away. There is a yearling doe, a yearling three point buck, and a fat stud of a three year old eight point beast. They own me.

My heart is racing rather predictably, and I only keep typing because I am trying to convince myself to not shoot the handsome eight pointer.

Steady Uncle Ted. Steady as she goes.

For all the right reasons, I should kill that old doe as part of my Texas Parks and Wildlife Managed Land Deer Permit plan. We figure eight more does gotta go off our ground, and she’s an old gal that would be perfect to take out to better the herd. We shall see.

I really love hunting, ambushing and killing deer, love watching and videoing them, love being a natural part of their world, love grilling and eating them, really love sharing their sacred flesh with the regional Hunters for the Hungry program and the families of the US Military, but what turns me on the most is the intelligent, stewardship system by which we manage deer and all wild game for healthy, thriving populations and properly balanced conditions. By doing so, I can forever enjoy and celebrate all those other ways that I love deer.

I just looked up again from my laptop, and now there are ten deer. Another shooter doe and a scrawny spike horn buck arrived, and they are all bulking up on feed in the cold weather. They constantly look around and flinch at every bird, every breeze, and for many unknown reasons. What an amazing creature. I would propose that for millions and millions of us, our lives would be dramatically less enjoyable without deer. I know it has always been a powerful force of joy, inspiration and awe for me and my family.

The two big does just stood up on hind legs and went into that flurry of cartwheeling punches with their front hooves. That is some violent behavior right there, and any one of those cloven hooved blows could kill you outright. I am sure that while we are all conveniently tucked away in our cushy homes throughout the year, whitetail deer are knocking the living bejesus out of each other, including killing each other at a much higher rate that anyone really understands.

The button buck is way out of his league haranguing the old girl, as the rut is up and down for the last couple of months. I am real tempted to kill the puny spike and forkhorn, but at only one and a half years of age, their first set of antlers in no way provides a meaningful indicator of their genetic potential. Have you ever noticed that once we decide to not shoot a particular animal, that they pose perfectly broadside with their leg forward for the longest periods of time?

I just gulped a deep breath of freezing air, for a dynamo buckaroo just arrived on scene to take any deer hunter’s breath away. This majestic stag has ten perfectly defined points on his tall, wide, sweeping rack, and represents the kind of monster buck I would never have dreamed of coming in contact with growing up in the Midwest deer woods.

This incredible beast has no idea that a blood thirsty venison addict is only fifteen yards away in this dark blind, with a bow and arrow and razor sharp broadhead and the tags to go with them.

He noses the does and the other bucks give him lots of room, and with all the commotion, you couldn’t ask for a better opportunity to get to full draw on such a great deer. But I just gaze, video it all and type away, for though this buck’s antlers are very impressive and highly desirable, I can tell by his trim neck, brisket and body that he is only two and a half years old, the very definition of a quality deer management specimen to let walk.

I am so proud of myself. I am learning, and his presence literally increases my excitement just knowing such quality bucks are around. It wasn’t that many years ago that I would have killed him in an instant, but like so many other hunters these days, I know I can get all the venison I need by killing the right deer and letting the right deer grow to their potential.

Shooting light is gone now, all the deer have moved off, so I put away my vidcam, attach my quiver back on my bow and get ready to shut down my laptop, absolutely thrilled beyond words that I am a deer hunter. I head home with my soul filled with allthings deer.

Tomorrow in another day, and tomorrow is another deer. I will now fill my belly with some scrumptious backstraps and keep the spirit of the deer alive in everything I do.

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Published by huntermt on 30 Jan 2012

reality hunting

I have been waiting for a reality based hunting show to come out on on of the networks for a long time, I want something I can be involved in and go online and vote for hunts I liked and recommend thing I want to see. I recently stumbled upon Outlanders on the Outdoor channel and although the hunt I watched didn’t appeal to me, the idea behind the newish series is what I wanted. They take everyday hunters and build an eposide around their choice hunt. In the hunters everyday honey hole. Next season you can enter in a drawing to have this be you, they opened up like 10 spots. I love this! I cant wait to see me and my buddies on tv.

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Published by archerchick on 11 Dec 2011

Choosing Knives and Sharpeners – By Tim Dehn


Bowhunting World June 1990

Choosing Knives and Sharpeners – By Tim Dehn

Like your bow and broadhead -tipped arrows, a good hunting
knife is standard equipment for bowhunters. Here’s a
look at the wide range available, along with other cutting tools and
sharpeners designed for the sportsman.

I’d owned and lost more than a dozen  jackknives before I bought my first hunt-
ing knife, but I hadn’t learned much about cutting tools. The knife I bought as a
teen had a long, narrow blade more suited to stabbing than cutting, and a smooth and slippery plastic handle. I learned later that the tang collected blood and din, the leather
sheath collected odor, and the gleaming blade wasn’t rust proof.

Today, I use two hunting knives, worlds apart in form but both capable of chores from
digging a broadhead loose from a log to field dressing and butchering big game.
The knife I love to show off is a fixed-blade model that retails for about $95. It has a
heavy, stainless-steel blade with thumb serrations on the back and a groove for my index finger below. The polished stainless guard and hilt flow smoothly into the tough Micarta handle. The knife is a work of art that feels like part of your hand when you use it.

But I rarely do. That knife weighs nearly a pound and on hunting trips it’s usually back at camp or in the truck. The knife I carry is a folding lock blade from Western Cutlery with a green, checkered Valox handle and simple Cordura sheath. The 3 1/2-inch stainless steel blade is longer than I need and yet the knife and sheath together weigh under four ounces.

There’s more than a dozen companies producing folding hunting knives today and I
wasn’t surprised to find Field Contributor Deano Farkas also prefers that style, though
his Lightweight Lockback by Schrade incorporates a gut hook cut into the back of the drop-point blade.

Farkas said it is impossible to over-emphasize the importance of a sharp knife that will
hold an edge. He has field-dressed more than 100 whitetails, and adds “Ninety-nine percent of them have been by myself. You usually don’t have anyone to help you hold the legs, and often by the time you get out of the stand and track your deer it’s pretty late at night.

With the gut hook, I’m not sticking them in the stomach under conditions like that .”
Lightweight folding knifes aren’t the best for splitting bone, but that’s not how Farkas
uses it. He cuts around the rectum and pulls it out, rather than splitting the pelvis to get at it.

“I’ve found if you split the pelvis in the field, and you have to drag the deer any distance, you get a lot more dirt in the body cavity.” Farkas reaches up inside the chest cavity to cut the windpipe and to free the diaphragm from the ribcage. “That’s another thing I like about a folding knife. With a fixed blade, I’ve often cut myself doing this. With a folding knife I can hold the blade almost closed as I slip it inside, then flip it open once I’m in position to start cutting.”

The nylon sheath most hunting knives come with today may not look as nice as
leather, but it’s far more practical for scent-conscious bowhunters. “Even if you try to
wipe your blade off, some blood is going to get in the sheath and that can really start to
stink,” Farkas said. “When my nylon sheath gets dirty, I just wash it off with a little baking soda and warm water.”

Back home in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Farkas uses other knives to skin and butcher
big game. “I do my own deer, 100 percent. A buddy and I have invested in a meat grinder, a meat slicer, the whole bit. I hang the deer on a gambrel in the garage or the backyard, weather permitting. Then I skin it, cut the two front quarters off, take the loins out, split the deer down the backbone, and take the ribs and hind quarters off.

Farkas owns a D-shaped meat saw, but said he usually uses a PVC-plastic pipe saw to
split the backbone. The wider blade doesn’t bind even when he’s working alone, and he
said the sport saws popular with hunters today would probably work just as well.
I’d have to agree, judging by the way my Gerber folding saw zips through hard and
softwoods as I’m clearing shooting lanes.

Like similar models from Game Tracker and Coghlans, the folding saw has a lightweight plastic handle and an aggressive tooth design that cuts on the return stroke to minimize pinching. In my treestand, it adds a foot to my reach as I zip twigs and small branches out of the way. And at ground level, I’ve huffed my
way through a 4-inch dead oak in under two minutes.

Anyone who has spent much time in front of display cases knows hunting knives today
come in an almost infinite variety that makes categorizing them very difficult. You could call the Buck Fieldmate a sheath knife, but don’t picture a staghorn handle and harness leather sheath. This 1989 introduction has a finger—grooved olive drab Kraton handle, a camo nylon sheath and a 5 1/2-inch blade we’ll let the people at Buck Knives explain. The back of it features “an emergency saw for cutting wood, metal or ice and a sharpened, serrated clip for cutting rope, wet or dry.”

Try to describe the Game Skinner from Outdoor Edge, and you better have a picture
with you. David Bloch designed the unique cutting tool as a senior design project in engineering school. He got his degree in mechanical engineering, but he has been using it at the cutlery firm he now heads in Boulder, Colorado.

“My Game Skinner combines the T—handle grip of a push knife, the blade of an Es-
kimo Ulu, and a gut hook. It ’s designed to do the whole job on animals as big as elk — gutting, skinning and quartering.” While the Game Skinner has a thick, 3-
inch blade Bloch said you can pound through a bull elk’s pelvis, the 2 5/ 8-inch blade on the Game Trapper will easily handle whitetails and mule deer. Both knives can be reversed in the hand as you are pulling on hide. “You just keep the blade outward of your fingers as you work and you don’t have to sit it down and risk losing it or getting it dirty,” Bloch explained.

Like most hunting knives on the market today, those from Outdoor Edge use rust-
proof stainless steel blades that are easy to care for but so hard that sharpening on natural stones can be difficult. That’s one reason for the popularity of the diamond embedded whetstones like those from Diamond Machining Technology (DMT).

DMT used to build diamond segments for the stone-cutting industry, Elizabeth Powell
told Bowhunting World, and when most of that work went overseas in the late l970’s she and husband Dave sought other markets for the company’s expertise in industrial diamonds. “Our first knife sharpener was a round, 3-inch Diamond Whetstone that
looked a lot like a hockey puck. We were making grinding wheels at the time and had to cut the center out, and we sent some of those to L.L. Bean & Company in Freeport, Maine.

They liked how fast they sharpened knives, but not the shape .” It wasn’t long before DMT’s Marborough, Massachusetts, plant was cranking out rectangular Diamond Whetstones from 3-inch to 12-inch, all with a unique, polka-dot appearance because the diamond-embedded metal has circles of plastic interrupting it. “Our pat-
ented process gives you an interrupted cut that is much more aggressive than a continuous surface. The plastic dots provide a place for the filings to collect and let the diamond portion cut like the teeth on a saw.”

Anyone investing in a Diamond Whetstone ought to also invest in the time it takes to
read the instructions. These “stones” are used with water, not oil, and a light touch is
best. “Depending on the type of steel, Diamond Whetstones can sharpen from 10 to 100 times faster than natural stones,” Powell said. “We tell people to stroke their diamonds, don’t hack them.”

While the smaller DMT models will fit in carrying sheaths, hunters may prefer the
Diafold models because of their built-in handles. Originally produced in round, rod styles ideal for touch up, the Diafolds are also sold with 4-inch Diamond Whetstones capable of restoring the edge to any hunting knife. Offered in fine, coarse and extra coarse, the fine is the most popular because it is easy to use without removing too much material from the blade. “You really just need a single Diamond Whetstone,” Powell acknowledged. “You can get a super clean edge with just the fine even if
it takes a little longer that way. And we don’t sell our Diamond Broadhead Sharpener in anything but fine, because broadheads don’t get that dull .”

The broadhead sharpener from DMT uses a pair of 3-inch Diamond Whetstones on an
angle-adjustable plastic base. Depending on what you spend for broadheads or replacement blades, it could pay for itself in a couple seasons.

Broadhead hones are also available from Bear Archery dealers, because Bear offers
hones with natural or ceramic stones from TruAngle. New for 1990, Bear’s own Check-
point Broadhead Sharpener combines carbide cutting wheels with an Arkansas Stone on a comfortable composite handle.

Sharpening Guides

Firms that build sharpeners are also beginning to offer sharpening guides, recognizing that in today’s world many of us didn’t learn how to put the right angle on a cutting
tool at our father ’s knee. Two I’ve seen in use are sharpener systems from Lansky and GATCO, the latter an acronym for the Great American Tool Company. Both firms team a selection of oil stones in plastic holders with a knife-sharpening guide that adjusts for different angles.

The Lansky honing guide can be hand-held or mounted on its base and bolted to a work-bench. With the knife blade clamped in it, a rod is attached to one of the hones and then placed through a slot in the guide. With a series of smooth, even strokes you can quickly put a uniform edge on one side of the knife, then flip the clamp 180 degrees to finish the job.

GATCO uses synthetic oil stones it claims are more uniform and faster—cutting than most natural stones. The stones are mounted in color-coded plastic handles and the gold-anodized guide rods slide back into the handles for storage. GATCO lets you start with a single stone system, choose one with three or five synthetic stones, or invest in the Diamond Hone Sharpening System and really put an edge on your hunting knives fast.

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Published by archerchick on 11 Dec 2011

The Top 10 Trophy Whitetail States – By David Freed


Archery World September 1984
The Top 10 Trophy Whitetail States
By David Freed

ave you ever wondered which state
H harbors the most trophy whitetail
bucks? Your days of wondering may
be over, if trophy distribution statistics of
Pope and Young whitetail entries can be considered
an accurate indication of where those
big bucks can be found and are being taken.
It may not be a shock to you that the top 10
states for trophy whitetail bucks (with typical

antlers) are all located in the Upper Midwest.
The states among the top 10 go no farther east
than Ohio, no farther west than Nebraska or
South Dakota, and no farther south than Kansas.
The state farthest north is Minnesota.
And Minnesota just happens to be the top
state overall.
According to the statistics, which include
animals taken up to the 13th recording period

that ended in 1982, Minnesota has had 210
whitetail deer that have exceeded the minimum
score of 125 in the typical category.
Minnesota’s top entry scored 181-6/8. far
short of the 204-4/8 all-time record that M J`
Johnson took in Peoria County, Illinois. in
1965. Minnesota’s top entry ranks just eighth
on the all·time list, but more than half of Minnesota
deer on the Pope & Young record
books exceed the 140 mark.

The states that round out the top 10 for
total number of typical whitetail entries with
Pope & Young are: Wisconsin 177, Iowa 173,
Illinois 147, Kansas 124, Ohio 119, Indiana
94, South Dakota 83, Michigan 71, Nebraska
50.

Altogether, the top 10 states account for
1,248 of the 1,627 typical whitetail deer that
were entered with Pope & Young through
1982. It means that a whopping 77 percent of
Pope and Young typical trophy whitetails have
been taken in those 10 states alone.

And if you turn to trophy Whitetail deer
with non-typical antlers, you get close to the
same results, Minnesota again is the leader,

with 34 entries above the 150 minimum mark.
Iowa pulls in second with 18, Illinois is third
with 13, Kansas, Wisconsin, and Ohio tie for

T
fourth with nine, Nebraska is seventh with
seven, and South Dakota,Montana, and
Michigan tie for eighth with five. The only
difference between the typical top 10 and he
non—typical top 10 states is Montana is
included in the non-typical category instead of
Indiana. (And Indiana ties for 11th place with
Kentucky with four. Montana. by the way,
does rank 11th among states for typical
entries.)

So we’ve pointed out the top 10 states as
far as sheer number of whitetail deer entered
with Pope & Young. Minnesota. for now, is in
the lead. But where have the top 10 all time
deer been taken?

As stated before, M.J. Johnson leads the
typical antler whitetail pack with a 204-4/8
entry that he shot in Peoria County in 1965
Two of the top 10 all—time official entries are
from Illinois.

Meanwhile, Iowa has three entries in the
top 10 — the second and third place entries
and the fifth place entry. Right there are three
typical whitetails that reach above the 190
mark.

Nebraska has two in the top 10 (Sixth and
ninth) and Colorado (fourth). Kansas (seventh),
sigh ». and Minnesota (eighth) each have one.
See the accompanying chart for localities,
renters, and dates.)
As far as the non-typical whitetail all-time
top 10 list, Del Austin holds the record with a
279-7/8 deer he shot in Nebraska’s Hall
county in 1962. It is Nebraska’s only top 10
entry. Illinois leads all states with three top 10
enties (third, fifth, and eighth).
Iowa has two in the top 10 (seventh and
ninth, while Kansas (second), Wisconsin
(fourth), and Minnesota (10th) each have one.
So what do all these statistics prove?
It definitely proves Minnesota has had the

most trophy whitetail deer make the Pope &
Young record books.
And it definitely proves the Upper Mid-
west is a hotspot for bowhunting whitetail
deer. The statistics bear out the fact that the
most Pope & Young entries are from states in
the Midwest.

But it cannot be considered a totally accu-
rate way to judge where the most trophy
whietails are or where they’ve been taken.
“Mlinnesota is one of the best states, but
there are may be areas as good or better than
Minnesota,” says David H. Boland, Pope &
Young member who has been figuring out trophy
distribution statistics since 1978. “The
interest in entering with Pope & Young may
not be as high. Not all archers enter deer —
due to the lack of measurers, economics, or
lack of interest or time .”

It does cost $25 to get an entry made with
Pope & Young and there is a process to go
through and though there are more than 500
official Pope & Young measurers in North
America, they are not always conveniently located

“In Minnesota there are a fair amount of
measurers who are quite interested and want
to get animals entered.” Boland said. “It
proves you have to have the interest .” Boland,
by the way, lives in Minnesota.
Boland estimates that only 1/3 of record
book heads are measured. And without a
higher percentage of heads entered, “you
don’t have a totally accurate representation of
where the trophies are,” Boland says.
And, in Minnesota, about all a bowhunter
can go after are whitetail deer and black bear.
“‘The amount of people who hunt deer figures
in ,” Boland says. “The more hunters, the
more entries .”

A combination of factors are necessary for
a deer to be trophy size and Minnesota, along
with all the other Upper Midwest states, has
that combination.
“You have to have heredity,” Boland says.
“The father and mother have to have characteristics
that provide for offspring to be trophy
size.”

Good feed is also necessary, Boland says.
And deer simply need X amount of years
to grow racks to trophy size, which means
they must be able to survive hunters, weather,
and food shortages.

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Published by archerchick on 11 Dec 2011

Big Deer In The Dust Bowl – By Wayne Van Zwoll


Archery World September 1984
Big Deer In The Dust Bowl – By Wayne Van Zwoll

The Rules On Big Bucks

Dust bowl. Wheat. Prairie. Such are
the things we think of when someone
mentions Kansas. If you’re up on your
history, you might also remember the Dalton
Gang and Carrie Nation. But what isn’t so
obvious about Kansas are the spectacular
bowhunting opportunities it offers today.
Dennis Rule knows about those opportunities.
His home state tendered him a whitetail
buck in 1982 that scored an even 202 Pope
and Young, making it the second largest ever
taken in Kansas — and number 15 on the alltime
non-typical Pope and Young list. It happened like this:

Rule, a 31-year-old Wichita resident, was
hunting in Clark County, in the western part
of the state. He and his brother Bill are seasoned
bowmen and had scouted their territory
well, putting up portable tree stands as early
as August. Some of the stands had proven
more productive than others, of course, and
by rut the brothers knew where to spend their
time.

November 13 was a cold, windy day, especially
in a tree stand. But Rule is a persistent
archer and believes that time in the woods is
often all that separates successful from unsuccessful
whitetail hunters. He shivered and
waited.

By 4 p.m. he had passed up numerous
does and four mature bucks, including one he
thought would have scored 150, well over the
P&Y minimum of 125. “It was a big, even
eight-point,” he reminisced later. “But the
wind was strong, and I didn’t think I could
make a clean shot. Besides, the rut was just
reaching a crescendo and I didn’t want to set-
tle for a mediocre buck yet.” Mediocre, in-
deed! But this is Kansas.

At about 4:30 a movement in the surrounding
thicket resolved itself into a deer
a big one, “This buck’s rack was enormous; I
could see that right away,” Dennis remembers.
“Wind or no wind, I had to take a shot at
him .”

Slowly the archer drew and anchored.
When the buck stopped, he released the string
on his 55—pound PSE Laser and drove a four-
blade Rocky Mountain Razor toward his tar-
get.

The wind tugged at the arrow and the
broadhead entered too far back. The buck
wheeled and bolted, then halted in a tangle of
brush. Rule could barely perceive the outline
of his quarry, but he saw the animal reach
around and bite off the shaft.
Within minutes the deer joined a group of
lesser whitetails feeding in a green wheat field
just outside the perimeter of the thicket, but
before long the big buck left them and headed
across the field toward some heavy brush.

“I was really afraid I’d lose him if he made
the trees,” Rule recalls. But he needn’t have
worried. The broadhead had nicked the
buck’s femoral artery and the animal collapsed short of the timber.

“I didn’t see him go down, so after gingerly
trailing him for a few yards across the
field I decided it would be best to finish the
job in the morning.” Like all savvy bowhunters,
Rule is almost paranoid about pushing an
animal that has sustained a hit. “When in
doubt, it’s always better to leave the trail and
come back to it later,” he says.

The next morning Rule trailed his buck to
where it had fallen and claimed the huge 17-
point rack. “It was a dream come true. I knew
there were bucks like that in the area, but I
have a great deal of respect for such monsters
and wondered if I’d ever get the chance to
arrow one .”

Dennis’ hunt was over, but brother Bill
still had a tag to notch. He wasted little time.
While his brother was hauling his trophy from
the field, Bill downed a fine typical whitetail
that also made Pope and Young. He would repeat
the performance a year later — in 1983
— with an even bigger buck!

Are the Rules hunting on a private deer
preserve? What is responsible for their success?
I was curious. So I asked Dennis. His
answers are valuable, not only for Kansas
bowmen, but for others hunting the agricultural Midwest.

First, Dennis, like many ambitious
archers today, is finding big bucks in places
that weren’t given much consideration just a
few years ago. The entire state of Kansas
might fall into that category! It wasn’t until
recently that the Sunflower State even had a
firearms deer season, and now more rifle permits
are being issued each year. Bowhunters
have an advantage here. in that there is no tag
quota for archery permits. Still. no over-
counter sales of any big game tags are allowed
in the state; even bow licenses must be purchased
(before October ll at regional fish and
game offices or at the headquarters (Rt. 2,
Box 54 A, Pratt, KS 67124). The 1983 bow
season ran from October l through November
30, and December 12 through 31. Dates for
1984 are similar.

Kansas’ deer population is on the up-
swing. Biologists estimate there are approximately
15,000 mule deer in the state now, and
80,000 whitetails. Like deer in other farmed
areas, Kansas bucks grow fast and big. It is
not unusual for a yearling to sport an eight-
point rack. Really massive antlers are more in
evidence at locker plants each season. It’s not
surprising that Fish and Game Commission
big game specialists expect the state whitetail
record to be broken any day.

“We’re always looking for new areas to
hunt,” Dennis explains. “The first year in
new territory is always a little tough. because
you are unable to draw on past knowledge of
buck movements there during the rut. Sure,
we do a lot of preseason scouting, but scouting
in summer and early autumn isn’t nearly
as beneficial as being in the woods when the
deer are rutting.”

Dennis and his brother build some of their
tree stands and use commercial ones as well.
“If we’re hunting a familiar area, we place
our stands where they’ve been effective before.
In new country, we locate them on the
main trails and near likely scrape pockets and
secondary trails. One of our most successful
ploys is to use a “bottleneck” in a shelter-belt
or creek bottom to funnel the deer to us. The
strips of timber bordering farmlands nearly
always have a narrow spot. Deer will stick to
the brush when moving during daylight
hours, and a stand at a bottleneck will give
you coverage of a large patch of cover.”

The Rules have been known to construct
their own bottlenecks — with spectacular
results. “Several years ago Bill had a tree
stand in a very good location and had spotted a
fine buck from it repeatedly during the season.
But the animal just wouldn’t come close
enough. Or the angle would be wrong. Or
brush would be in the way. So in mid-season
Bill constructed a brush barrier out of natural
materials he found near the stand. Normally
we don’t like to disturb a stand site once we’ve
started hunting from it, but Bill was desperate.
His efforts paid off. He arrowed that buck
the next time it came in. It was really a beautiful
animal – didn’t score well typically be-
cause of all the deductions, but a bragging-
size buck nonetheless.”

Bill and Dennis install their stands early —
usually in late August or the first week in September.
“But I like to save two or three for
emergency placement after the season
opens,” Dennis notes. “Especially if I’m
hunting a new area, the added flexibility pays
off. Sometimes buck movements during the
rut just can’t be predicted early. Extra stands
erected at last-minute notice near scrapes
have produced handsomely for us

The brothers like to hunt from tree stands.
Dennis maintains that in much of the Kansas
brush, still hunting trophy bucks is all but futile.
“I’m not saying it’s impossible to kill a
big buck that way, but it’s probably 10 times
as hard as from a tree stand ,” he asserts.

Proper camouflage is vital to success, according
to this bowman. “I wear camo clothing, of course.
And I mask my scent with a
commercial preparation that smells like prairie
vegetation. Skunk scent will also cover
your odor, but a skunk only sprays when it’s
alarmed. I think deer may be more alert when
walking into a scent pool left by a skunk then
when sniffing the odor of natural vegetation”

When not hunting, the Rules store their field
clothes in sacks, adding a bit of this scent before
sealing them. That way, their entire wardrobe
smells like prairie plants.
Though both men hunt most of the season,.
Dennis says he prefers the last week in October,
the first two in November. Why?
The bucks are a bit more predictable then.

They’re all fired up for the rut, of course. and
are beginning to make scrapes. But most of
the does haven’t come into estrus yet, and the bucks are
methodically making their rounds
in search of those that have.

Later, during the peak of the rut, bucks may be just
a little active, but they’re a whole lot less predictble.
A hot doe may draw a buck away from his
travel patterns; he may not behave at all like
you expect him to. He’s crazy.”

During the rut Bill and Dennis use scent
pads soaked in doe-in—heat scent to lure bucks
to their stands. “We hang the swatches on
bushes about 20 yards from the base of our
trees. I like to put my stand about 15 feet
up. This arrangement guarantees an easy shot
if the buck stops to sniff the scent pad.

Many hunters handicap themselves unnecessarily
by climbing too high or putting scent pads too
close to their trees. Either tactic makes for a
steep-angle shot and often a poor presentation.

Bill Rule frequently uses shed antlers to
rattle in his buck. Over the last three seasons
he has rattled in 12 trophy-class deer. “I rattle
for about 45 seconds, then wait 15 to 20 minutes
before repeating,” Bill explains. “If a
buck is going to come, he’ll generally show
up by the third rattle. Sometimes they come in
right away, throwing caution to the wind.

Bill’s 1982 buck was a huge 13—pointer
that scored 134 on the Pope and Young scale.
The buck came to his rattling at a dead run
and Bill arrowed the deer at 15 yards. “It was
an easy shot,” he recalls. “The four-blade
Rocky Mountain Razor from my 55-pound
Bear Kodiak went through both lungs. The
morning before I took this buck, I’d rattled in
two smaller, 10—point bucks and a nice six-
pointer.”

Bill maintains that, to be effective in rattling,
you must use large antlers and make the
clashing sound like two dominant bucks engaged
in serious battle. “Mature bucks that
may be listening just won’t pay attention to the
light ticking of little antlers,” he says. Bill of
ten uses small elk headgear to get the desired
effect. “Dennis has a dandy pair of shed
whitetail antlers at home that would be just
perfect for rattling,” he laughs. “But he
doesn’t have the heart to damage them!

The last buck Bill Rule brought home
dressed at 264 pounds and scored a whopping
159 typical points. It was shot at 14 yards. A
part-time taxidermist, Bill has been an avid
bowhunter for many years and has arrowed 47
big game animals, including 14 Kansas
whitetails.

What are the most important things to
keep in mind if you’re after a trophy Kansas
whitetail and or, for that matter, a big buck in
any agricultural area? The Rules offer this advice:
1. Be persistent. Don’t expect to connect
with a big deer the first time out, or the 10th.
Dennis spent over 150 hours in tree stands in
1983.
2. Do your homework. Not just before the
season, either. Start early. Know where
you’re going to hunt by mid-summer. Scout in
August, and have the majority of your tree
stands up by mid-autumn. Continue scouting.
Be observant.
3. Know your quarry. You cannot expect
to kill a big buck unless you’re intimately familiar
with the habits of whitetail deer and
with his habits specifically. Never underestimate
your quarry; his survival instincts are at
least as keen as you can imagine.
4. Be very, very careful going to and com-
ing from your stand. Do everything possible
to disassociate any human disturbance from
that area. Never get down from your stand
without first clearing the area of deer. If deer
are present when Dennis wants to leave, he
waits until they move away. Should a few individuals
choose to stay and loaf, he tosses
small objects into the brush until the animals
become nervous and leave. He doesn’t get
down until they’re all gone.
5. Stick to your standards. Trophy hunting is
not just shooting the biggest buck you
see. It’s setting a minimum acceptable standard
and passing up anything that doesn’t
measure up. You’ll never kill a big buck if you
insist on shooting little ones. The Rules will
occasionally take lesser animals late in the
season — “meat deer” — but never until the
rut is over and their chances for a trophy all
but gone.

Kansas deer are healthy, well-fed and plentyful.
Yes, Bill and Dennis hunt private land;
most of Kansas is privately owned. But their
hunting grounds — and areas just as productive
– are open to other bowmen who show
courtesy for landowners and respect for their
property – and who ask permission early in
the summer.

Yes, Bill and Dennis are experienced
archers. But they have no secret formula for
success. Hunting smart, spending time in the
woods, and paying attention to detail augment
the hard work we all know is a prerequisite for
putting big racks on the wall.

Do their tactics work for others? Well , last
year Dennis’ wife Janie arrowed a fine eight-
point whitetail. It was her second year of
hunting. Perhaps that says as much about deer
hunting in the dust bowl as any statistic. And
it certainly supports her husband’s contention
that big farm-country deer are available to
every enterprising archer!

>>>—>

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Published by archerchick on 11 Dec 2011

Persistent Tracking Pays~ By Shirley Grenoble


Archery World November 1976

Persistent Tracking Pays – By Shirley Grenoble

by Shirley Grenoble —
JUST BY THE WAY Fred yanked open the door to the coffee
shop and hurried to a stool I guessed he had something exciting
to tell me. Before I could even say “Hi” he began gushing. “Hey
Shirley, guess what?”

I poured him a cup of coffee and hoped business would be
slow for the next few moments. I was anticipating sharing the
savor of success with a fellow hunter.
“You got your deer!” I countered.
“No, but I put an arrow into one yesterday afternoon.
Yeah,” he continued, “I got an arrow into his middle. I followed
him about forty yards but there wasn’t much blood so I
gave up. Figure I can go back and get another one. Maybe I’ll
even go back this afternoon.”

I hoped I’d misunderstood. “You mean you wounded a deer
and then gave up trying to find it? Why?”
“Well,” he said, “Why should I knock myself out tracking
that one? ‘I`here’s plenty of deer on the hill and I’ll get one
sooner or later.” He was actually beaming, feeling that just
putting an arrow into a deer was some sort of accomplishment.
I stifled the impulse to knock the coffee cup into his over
abundant lap. “You are talking to the wrong person if you
think I’m impressed,” I snapped. “I think what you did is
despicable.”

The red flush that crept across his face told me my reaction
was obviously not what he’d been expecting. `°Huh,” he
blustered defensively, “I suppose you never missed anything.”
“Fred, the truth is, I’ve missed shots lots of times, as much as
anybody. But an arrow in a deer isn’t a miss, its a hit. And that
calls for every possible effort to recover it.”
Little did I suspect then that before that very week was up a
whitetail would make me prove my words.

Tracking wounded game is an art which is perfected with
experience. However, even the expert faced that first time. One
need not, indeed should not, go afield with bow and arrow
without some basic knowledge of tracking, the more the better.
There is usually an “old-timer” within the circle of every
hunter’s acquaintances who would be glad to give some basic
instruction in tracking. There are excellent books or chapters of
books devoted to the subject. They could be obtained at the
local library or through the Bookshelf in this magazine.
For over twenty years my husband Ken and I have shared an
unquenchable passion for hunting. We are both NRA-certified
Hunting Safety instructors. Ken’s father was a Pennsylvania
Forest Ranger. In the small town where we grew up, hunting
was the biggest event of the year. Getting your first deer meant
you had marched into manhood. (Or womanhood in some
cases.)

So about three days a week, when noon comes, I leave the
coffee shop, jump into my four-wheel-drive vehicle and head
for the hills. The hills in my case being the heart of the Endle
Mountains in Bradford County, Pennsylvania.
My first afternoon in a gnarled jack pine next to an old
orchard, a fat doe and two yearlings came in and ate apple
until they were pot-bellied. I was tempted to shoot the doe be
held off, in hopes that the buck that had made some nearby
rubs would appear. He never did show up. But the doe came
regularly to the tree and she began to look better and better to
me as the season wore on.

Ken was having much the same experience at his stand
which was about 1000 yards from mine. He was situated in a
clump of spruce trees that border a small clearing. A couple of
does were browsing in the clearing before moving on to the
orchard. So in the last week of season we made a pact: If the
does came to our stands, we would shoot. We rather liked the
idea of our both bagging a deer with the bow in the same
season.

I was settled in my pine tree about fifteen minutes when the
doe and yearlings came tip·toeing in. Slowly I raised my bow-
nocked an arrow and waited. The classic symptoms washed
over me——trembling, heart pounding, chills—the whole works?
But at last she moved away from the yearlings and stepped
into an open spot. I drew and released. The arrow hit too low-
in the shoulder I thought. She jumped slightly, then whirled
and ran off into the brush.

Fighting to remain calm, I waited a while and then climbed
out of the tree. I had marked in my mind the spot where the
doe had stood. When I got there I could find no blood. So I
started in the direction she had run, carefully scanning the
ground with each step. I covered twenty yards before I found
the first spot, a very small spot I marked the place with 2
piece of tissue paper and went on. I had to return to that spot
three times. Each time I’d go in a different direction until I
found the next spot, which I would then mark with another
piece of tissue. After a half hour of this I had covered less than
fifty yards.

I knew it would be best to stop awhile and give the deer a
chance to lie down. I used the time to hike back to Ken`s stand
to pick him up so he could help me unravel the trail.
But when I arrived at Ken’s stand, he was not there! I felt 2
surge of utter frustration. Where had he gone? “Perhaps hes
off trailing a deer of his own,” I thought. However, I didn`t
have time to spend wondering about Ken’s whereabouts. It was
only a short time until dark, so I hurried back and picked up
the trail.

The track was scant, just a few drops every few yards. The
doe kept in a fairly straight line close to the edge of thick brush.
About 75 yards from the hit site I found the front half of my
shaft.

The trail led up to a small grove of pines. I trailed her
through them by watching where the pine needles were kicked
up. At the point where she left the pines I found the rear half of
my shaft. But I could find no more blood. By now the deepening dusk
made it very hard to see. I marked the spot with 2
tissue and scouted in small circles, but I c0uldn’t find the trail.
She had taken a sharp change of direction I guessed, but I
couldn’t locate just where.

I was reluctant to forsake the search but darkness left me no
choice. I cut through the woods to the logging road where I
found Ken waiting for me. I quickly, explained the situation.
Curiosity then prompted me to ask him why he’d left his stand.
It seems that while waiting he decided to eat an apple. He
propped his bow against some spruce limbs, got the apple from
is pocket and his pocket knife to peel it. The knife slipped
from his grasp and fell to the ground. Enroute, it neatly sliced
bow string. So he had hiked back to the car to get a spare.
What ensued was a slight discussion about one’s need to peel
apples while on a deer watch and about not having one’s spare
string on one’s person. But I was too excited about my deer to
spend much time discussing anything else.

Ken suggested we try to pick up the trail by flashlight. It had
been two hours since I’d shot her, time enough for her to have
Laid down and died. So we hid our bows in some thick brush
and hiked back to the place in the pines where I’d left the trail.
Ken searched the ground by flashlight in one direction while I
searched in another. It was a backbreaking task.

“Shirley, over here!” Ken called in a stage whisper. I quickly
scooted over to him.
“Look,” he said as he pointed the beam of light on a dime-
sized drop of blood. So we dropped a tissue there and repeated
our procedure. I went one direction and Ken went another. I
found the next spot. The blood trail followed in a straight line
for about 35 yards. I was surprised to see how shiny the wet `
blood was in the flashlight beam.(It’s from the phosphorous in
the blood.) It wasn’t long however, before it was farther and
farther between drops of blood. It was a dark red blood, indicating
a muscle shot or perhaps the spleen, definitely not a
heart or lung shot.

At 8:30 p.m., realizing that it had been nearly half an hour
since we had found any blood at all, I suggested to Ken that we
give up the search for the night. It was obvious we were not
going to find the deer lying dead somewhere. We realized it
would be best to let it bed down. Hopefully, it would die
during the night and we would find it in the morning, or else it
would stiffen up sufficiently to allow one of us to get a finishing
shot.

So we cut through the orchard, retrieved our bows from
their hiding place and drove to Towanda to make the necessary
arrangements for an overnight stay. We each had to call someone
to cover for us at our jobs the next day. We also obtained
permission to stay in a friend’s cabin that night.
It was a restless night for both of us. We each entertained our
private thoughts as to whether our tracking ability was sufficient
to enable us to recover this deer with such a scant trail to
follow. I reprimanded myself for having made a poor shot. I
realized I hadn’t compensated enough for the fact that I was
shooting at a sharp downward angle.
Finally it was morning. We were back on the trail at dawn.
We started at the last droplet of blood we’d marked and began
searching in two directions. After 45 minutes of fruitless searching,
it dawned on us that perhaps the deer had backtracked on
own trail. So we began working backwards from the last
got. And there we picked up the trail again. The doe had
indeed doubled back for a few yards, then taken an abrupt
turn and headed for the big woods.

Now our problem was compounded by the autumn leaves
which carpeted the forest floor. Every leaf bore red markings,
and every red mark looked like a blood spot. The blood was
dried by now and only by carefully picking through the leaves
on hands and knees were we able to find the pinpoints of
blood. It must have been quite a sight, both of us on hands and
knees examining leaf after leaf and muttering to ourselves.
The search led up to a tiny brook, about three feet wide,
which trickled through the woods. Knowing that wounded
deer often seek sanctuary in water, we thought perhaps we’d
hit the jackpot. Ken tied his handkerchief to the bush beside the
blood we’d found. Then he went downstream and I went
upstream. We were looking for one of two things: blood to
indicate which way the deer had gone, or the deer itself,
bedded in brush near the brook or even lying in the water as
wounded deer sometimes will do. We spent an hour in this
search and scored a fat zero.

We returned to the handkerchief and stood talking. We were
tired and discouraged, feeling we’d reached an impasse, yet
neither of us quite had the heart to suggest to the other that
maybe our quest would have to end here. We stood on the
bank of the little brook and scanned the woods on the other
side almost as if by a sheer exercise of will we could call forth
the clue we needed so badly.

And then that clue seemed to leap right out at me Across the
water, starting down in the woods a short way, was a barely
perceptible trail, made by something having walked heavily
there, scuffing up the leaves as it went. I nudged Ken’s arm and
pointed to it. His eyes widened, he nodded and wordlessly we
hopped across the brook and followed the trail. There was no
blood, but the trail of ruffed-up leaves was easy to follow.
When the trail began to zigzag we deduced that she was looking
for a place to lie down. Soon we spied a rock with a spot of
blood on it the size of a half dollar. From here there was a
steady blood trail. We found a log she had crossed, smearing
blood all over it. She was zigzagging badly now; surely she
would be lying close by. However, the blood trail went on for
another thirty-five yards, right up to the edge of a marshy area,
and there the water washed out the blood sign.

“Ken, what are we going to do now?” I wailed. I gazed in
absolute frustration at the marsh. We wouldn’t be able to find
a blood trail in that.
“I don’t think she would go through there, Shirley. A
wounded deer will follow the easiest route and that is too tough
for her to slog through. Let’s go back to that last blood spot and
search to the right and left,” Ken counseled.

TRAIL ENDS IN SUCCESS
Ken was right. She’d taken a sharp right turn, walked along
the edge of the marsh, then crossed the very corner of it. But
once on the other side we could find no blood. So we marked
the place and again began our two-directional searching.
Twenty minutes or so had passed when Ken called to me.
Something in his tone of voice told me he’d found her. And so
he had!

Ken told me that as he went in ever-widening circles his eyes
fell on a large patch of mountain laurel about forty yards distant.
A hunch told him he’d better check it out.
The doe had bedded down, then died in that laurel patch.
She was still warm, apparently having died sometime in the
early morning. My arrow had hit low behind the front leg,
slicing into_stomach and intestines.

I was jubilant at recovering this deer. We congratulated
each other on this tracking job, happy not to have left a
wounded animal unrecovered. We suddenly realized how hot
and hungry and tired we were. All told, we’d been tracking a
little over seven hours. But we weren’t finished yet. We cleaned,
and tagged her and carried her to the Scout, picking up all our
tissues as we backtracked.

Ken was happy for me about this deer. But the fact of my
now having bagged two deer with a bow sort of picked away at
his male vanity. So Friday, the last day of archery season, he
drove to Barclay, hiked into “my” pine tree and made a quick-
killing lung shot on a doe that came to the apple tree.
So we had fulfilled our goal. We’d each gotten a deer with
the bow in the same season. It was all most satisfying.

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