Archive for April, 2008

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Published by spacetechy on 18 Apr 2008

The New Science of Scent

To the hunter, the snort of a deer downwind and the flagging tail tell the ancient story yet again. Since the dawn of primal hunters, deer have been smelling us, foiling us as frustrated hunters trying to overcome our alarming array of odors. Even though the act seems as simple as the primitive response that causes bucks to flee with one small sniff, it’s actually an interesting scientific process. And harnessing the true science of scent from Ice Age to Space Age can make any deer hunter incredibly more effective.

What is scent?

 

First, we need to identify that mysterious something we cannot see, touch, or usually smell that creates such sudden spooking of deer. At the risk of igniting our universal dislike for chemistry class years ago, the secret hinges on two simple words – molecular biochemistry. Don’t fear. This understanding doesn’t have to be as complicated as splitting atoms. Just a few key concepts are all we need to comprehend the culprits floating in the air.

Even Ice Age hunters probably figured out that scent is simply an outpouring airborne biochemical compounds that have broken free from their source as clusters of molecules. Okay, though the scientific terms escaped them, they understood the raw concept. It’s kind of like seeing breath plumes on a frosty morning where thousands of tiny molecule clusters float away on the thermals from their source, tumbling in a slow state of decay as they break apart further, carrying a million messages to creatures with scent receptors that evolved over eons to avoid predators.

So just what in the heck are these biochemical molecules spooking deer? Unfortunately, the list in man’s modern world is too vast to even begin identifying. But the root is an array of chemical reactions caused by organic compounds and enzymes catalyzing and undergoing molecular changes such as oxidation and temperature that break apart their molecular bonds. It’s akin to a water evaporating. As molecular bonds break down on the surface, individual molecules break free and float away. For an odor to leave its source and become a scent it needs to become lipophilic, or generally electrically neutral and nonpolar, plus small enough in molecular weight (< 300 Da) to become volatile or airborne. This is the point where fragrant molecules escape from their fluid or solid source into the thin air. In our scent-rich world, this process causes the liberation of a vast mixture of molecular aromatics in the form of alcohols, aliphatic organics, organosulphurs, aldehydes, fatty acids, terpenoids, benzenoids, and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into “smellable” odors. More odors are generated by the biosynthesis of these chemicals interacting with one another. Alright, enough chemistry torture. Suffice it to say that it’s those darn little volatile molecules floating off us and our stuff that’s messing us up.

ID The Sources

 

Now that we understand the general biochemistry and molecular science of scent, how do we deal with the complex problem of our bodies and our modern world liberating all these VOCs into the woods while were hunting? Ah-ha, that is the savvy hunter’s quest in understanding the science of scent that can effectively turn blind luck into calculated success.

Let’s begin by classifying the two main types of scent that typically ruin a hunt. They are direct scent “emitted” from the hunter and their gear, and indirect scent that a hunter “disperses” throughout the woods during the overall act of hunting. At first glance, one would conclude that direct scent is the worse culprit in ruining that chance at a big buck. But a closer look at all the causes and cures gives us an important glimpse beyond the simple source.

Causes – Your Body and Your Gear

 

Depending on the hunter, their gear, and their personal environment, the list of direct scent can be downright staggering. Nonetheless, a summary would include the obvious odors of the hunter’s body and breath. Not so obvious are various forms of odor-generating bacteria, natural hair oils producing scent, millions of dead skin cells liberating odors, hygiene products for the body and hair pouring out VOCs, and organic chemicals emitted from skin, ears, sweat, nose and other “shadowy” places on the human body. Dang it, too bad you need that body to take you hunting.

As if that small list from the body wasn’t haunting enough, consider the endless possibilities of odors on a hunter’s gear. Boots alone emit odors of rubber, leather, manufacturing chemicals, waterproofing, floor products, mildew, and virtually everything the hunter has walked past or stepped in – from cow pies to gas station odors. Beside boots, most hunters wear hats loaded with the scent of repeated wearing with the hunt-spoiling aromas of fabric manufacturing chemicals, human hair, hair products, sweat, more bacteria, and dead skin cells. The same goes for a hunter’s clothing worn underneath their camowear. Even a grunt call or rattling antler is loaded with hand oils, breath bacteria, and everything a hunter has touched with lips, gloved or bare hands. So is it any wonder that simply putting on a single layer of scent-control camowear consistently fails to keep our vast array of VOC’s from reaching a deer’s nose? Naw, not really if you think about it.

To make matters worse, every time we walk through the woods, brush against twigs or grass, touch brush, hang a treestand, climb a tree, use a pull-up rope, and lean against a tree, we leave an invisible trail of indirect odors from all the sources noted above. And although those odor molecules are invisible to us, they aren’t invisible to the nose of any mature whitetail, especially big bucks. Yes, we know you’re careful, but every time you enter a stand, you lay down another telltale trail of indirect VOCs that a deer’s nose uses to unravel your ambush. In fact, some of the top trophy whitetail hunters in America admit that it’s their lingering indirect scent that prevents them from scoring more than anything else on a big buck they’re after. That’s also why so many hunters have tagged their best bucks that first time they hunted a new stand. It makes perfect scent-sense.

The Cautions and Cures

 

Though the challenges of eliminating or controlling all this scent seems overwhelming, it can be effectively done and perhaps easier than you thought – especially with the help of today’s technology.

The first scent generating item on you list to control is your body. It may be a bother to shower right before you go hunting every time, but it is one of the most significant things you can do to knock down your direct human scent. It may sound strange but be sure to scrub parts of your body that produce the most odor, such as places you might not consider like in and behind your ears. It’s natural for us to think we don’t stink, but just rub a finger behind your ear sometime and take a good sniff. Your hair, eyebrows, around the nose and neck are also important odor rich spots. Fortunately, your choice of scent-free soaps, deodorants, and a whole new wave of personal scent cover products abound in today’s hunting market. Just a word of caution however before dousing your body with various sprays or lotions that are designed to eliminate or mask your human odor. The reason that more medications are available today as patches to absorb through your skin is that your body readily absorbs stuff put on your skin. And some doctors will tell you that if it isn’t safe to drink, you should think twice about covering your body with it. If you’re unsure, don’t hesitate to ask your family doctor. Or, with today’s Internet realm of research, do a little digging yourself, or simply ask the manufacturer. A safer solution that has worked for years is a dusting of baking soda to neutralize the bacteria and acids that form odors. For your breath, try one of the baking soda toothpastes. And be sure to brush your tongue as far back as you can without gagging.

Okay, now that you’re standing there naked, you better put some clothes on before heading out into the frosty darkness. Basically, treat your under garments and clothing the same as you would your body. Unlike your body however, fabric has a very nasty habit of absorbing a multitude of contaminating odors because the woven fibers act as a molecular sieve to collect all those lipophilic VOCs. Avoid using clothes dryer products and dryers that use scented fabric softeners. These products will generate aromatic VOCs for days on end. That’s one of their selling points.

Also, beware of where you store your clothing – even your underwear. Now before you think I’m paranoid, consider the last time you took clean clothes from a dresser drawer or closet. If you took a big whiff, you might detect a faint hint at what a deer could smell easily – cooking smells, mold, pet scent, and a host of environmental “drawer or closet” odors. And before you say, “No way!” keep in mind that your olfactory senses are naturally “calibrated” to your living environment. Just ask a stranger to smell your closet. Or better yet, smell the drawers or closet of some stranger (okay, relatives) and you’ll smell all kinds of odors that elude their noses because everyone’s nose becomes calibrated to neutral (undetectable) for base odors in their living environment.

 

 

 

 

Technology to the Rescue

Storage

– Just when you thought you might go crazy with all this scent stuff, ta-da, today’s technology comes to the rescue. Besides the products that help keep your body from smelling, new innovations are now appearing for scent-free storage. Both hard and soft storage containers are now available for keeping your clean clothes odor free. Though primarily designed for camo outerwear and boots, the rule of thumb is that if you plan on wearing it hunting, even underneath carbon-lined camo, be smart and keep your under layers stored in an odor free environment.

Find Scent Gold in Silver

– Now that your body and undergarments are odor free, consider tapping into the new wealth of odor control offered in today’s generation of silver-lined hunting garments. Silver ions (Ag+) work as antimicrobial agents toxic to odor generating bacteria on the human body. Ions pass from the silver-lined fibers to inhibit the bacteria’s ability to reproduce and form stinky gases. All the way from underwear to outerwear, manufacturers offer a wide range of silver-lined garments for today’s scent-savvy hunter.

Activated Carbon-Lined Suits –

After nearly two decades on the market, most trophy whitetail hunters today insist on wearing activated carbon-lined outerwear in the form of Scent-Lok products or their licensees to absorb odors. Though its effectiveness might be debatable in some circles, the vast majority of knowledgeable deer hunters today agree that it’s a key component in their battle to control the vast world of scent.

Ozone Machines

– Most recently, electronics have entered the arena of odor control with the appearance of some electronic devices that claim to kill odors using the accelerated process of oxidation. Organic compounds or odors that accumulate on hunter’s clothing, boots and gear can theoretically be oxidized by saturation with O3 (ozone and clustered ozone molecules) to the point that the VOCs become non-detectable OCs. Though ozone-generating technology was discovered way back in the 1840’s, some companies are now promoting the technology to kill a hunter’s odors. One portable ozone device in fact has even been introduced to generate a plume of ozone around the hunter in the field, supposedly neutralizing VOCs coming from the hunter in the stand.

Thanks NASA

– But perhaps the most revolutionary electronic device yet to appear in the war against odor control came from outer space. State-of-the-art technology developed in cooperation with NASA to keep astronauts and spacecraft from getting stinky in extended space travel, is now available in a device for hunters called the Xterminator (www.xterminator.us). This innovative machine uses patented technology to shred VOC molecules into their base elements, which destroys odors on anything within the effective range of the machine. The size of a six-pack, this device turns a hunter’s closet into an odor decontamination chamber by emitting a unique combination of four synergistic technologies. Despite the apparent complexity of the science, the bottom line is that it literally tears apart the molecular bonds of organic compounds into their base atomic elements, destroying odor-producing molecules on everything a hunter wears, uses or carries into the woods. As you might expect for outer space scientists, this gizmo also effectively kills a wide range of bacteria that cause odors. Watch out whitetails.

So next time you head for the woods, think twice about the new science of today’s innovations in scent and how it can make or break your chances of tagging that trophy buck. Some old timers might think it isn’t “fair” to use any technology to fool the nose of the whitetail, let alone use a space-age device that decontaminates odors on everything you own with the flip of a switch. Nonetheless, the whitetail remains the most finely attuned big game to roam the planet, and revolutionary stuff from outer space probably isn’t enough for the smartest ones to consistently elude the majority of hunters.

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Published by Martin Archery on 17 Apr 2008

Martin Archery Arrowtrade Article

             One of the oldest bow manufacturers has been quietly embracing one of the newest riser construction techniques to provide a better value while it boosts its share of the bow market.  With the aid of many long-time employees, three generations of Martins are leading the design, manufacture and marketing of bows that employ modular risers as a way to sharply reduce manufacturing costs.  From the $399 Bengal that Vice President Terry Martin first told me about in mid 2006 to the $599 Firecat.
 I remember quizzing Terry about how the joints would be formed and finished when the vice-president and lead designer first called me about the Bengal. Rather than wait for the rest of the 2007 line to be introduced, Martin was releasing the Bengal early to gain some fall 2006 sales with a mid-priced 32-inch model that boasted a ball-bearing mounted M-Pro single cam, a Vibration Escape Kit, and fully laminated Coreflex limbs. Terry, who also heads marketing, wanted to talk about how Martin Pro Shooter Laura Francese preferred the Bengal to longer competition models and how Martin ads would use her fresh-faced beauty to attract attention to the value-packed new bow.

 Martin is reporting a 25 percent increase in sales for 2007, in large part because of the Bengal and the Cheetah and is now making three more models: the Firecat, Moab, and Leopard.
 Terry Martin heads the diverse bow design team at Martin Archery but he credits son Ryan and its other members for a lot of the inspiration and effort that’s reflected in the 2007 and 2008 models. In addition to Scott Landwehr and Ryan Martin, the team includes head machinist Aaron Hamilton, 3-D computer modeling pro Jake Richmond and graphic artist Ken Melhus. Terry attends some of the bi-weekly meetings early in the year but then prefers to track the progress through the meeting notes and a master spreadsheet that charts where each new or redesigned product is at in the process that takes it from good idea to good seller for Martin dealers.
 I knew one of the reasons Terry preferred to work from a home office: Pain from a decades old auto crash in front of the plant meant he often had to work from a prone position. Terry’s Pinto was rear-ended by a semi on busy Hwy. 12 in front of the Martin plant and the neck injury never got the surgical attention it should have. When I visited Terry at his home, he showed me how he would use reclining office chairs to look up at computer screens above him so his neck would be fully supported. Now that a spacer had been inserted between the neck vertebrae in a recent operation, he looked and sounded stronger than he has for years.
 Terry Martin may continue to spend most of his time at his home office, for a few other reasons.  He prefers giving the design team its head and then occasionally redirecting the efforts. Once in a while he simply says “No, don’t pursue that it’s been tried before” from the perspective of someone with a lot of years in the archery industry who is working to complete a book on the history of the compound. Second, Terry’s large home is also the nerve center for ArcheryTalk.com and its related sites, the archeryhistory.com and archerychat.com that together generate more than 20 million hits per month for about 140 banner advertisers. Terry showed me the logo Ken Melhus had just developed for a new ArcheryTalkTV site where hunting shows can be downloaded for viewing whenever the consumer wants, which could be important to the industry now one of the outdoor networks has folded. Terry and Ken devote part of their time to the internet company, while its three other employees work out of offices in Terry’s home. About 20 volunteer moderators work out of their own homes, Terry noted, to police the busy sites for objectionable language and images and to try to keep people from posting false information to gain an advantage over another brand.

 Here’s a third reason why Terry may often be found in his home office. It’s important for the future of this family owned business to allow its third generation, represented by Ryan Martin, to hone his management skills. Early that day I’d been talking with Gail Martin, who with wife Eva founded Martin Archery 57 years ago to make bowstrings and arrows. We were talking about the just-announced sale of BowTech to Savage Sports Corporation, maker of the Savage Arms line of firearms. Gail didn’t seem too worried about additional resources being available to BowTech, noting past involvement by firearms firms in the archery industry hadn’t worked out so well.
 When I teased him that he was jealous Savage had come courting that Oregon bow builder instead of Martin Archery, the founder told me in all seriousness. “We probably get at least one or two inquiries per week from people wanting to buy Martin Archery. Often it’s an investment group and they tell you exactly how much money they have behind them. I probably would have sold it a few years ago, but we have grandchildren involved in the business, like Ryan and he’s doing a really good job. He’s learned a lot in the past few years and he’s really enthusiastic, he’s working on something new all the time.”
 Martin also has a lot of loyal employees to think of, Gail said, including many with 20 years of service and two he could name at the Yakima plant that have more than 40 years with the firm. Between the Yakima operation where the compound limbs are laminated and the traditional bows are built, and the Walla Walla headquarters, Martin has about 125 employees.  This includes Terry’s brother Dan, who is his frequent hunting partner, Gail noted, showing me the deer he and Dan had arrowed on one of three recent Oregon hunts. “I got that deer just a few days after my 84th birthday. I had cataract surgery three years ago and it’s really made a difference. We’ve got a whole group in Yakima that go to the traditional shoots and I’m fortunate that I can still shoot and keep up to them.”

 Gail and wife Eva still work most days at the plant, unless they’re on a trip. Eva oversees the accounting department and Gail is involved with designing traditional bows like the carbon-reinforced Bamboo Viper and with designing some of the accessories. Gail also insists Martin continue to put long-term goals over short-term profits, evident in areas like its approach to building compound bow limbs.
 When Martin switched from building limbs laminated of fiberglass and wood to limbs ground from blanks of Gordon Glass, Gail said there were appearance and breakage concerns as cut fibers lift ed. Rather than laminate one side or the other, or just use that thin layer of unidirectional glass on models where the stresses seemed to require it, Martin began laminating all compound limbs, both sides. In the Yakima plant plates of contoured fiberglass are bonded to thin laminations using special adhesive and large presses, then the laminated plates are cut to width for the limbs. “We’re probably one of the few that do that all on all limbs, laminate both sides,” Gail said. “I believe you should build the best product you can, and price it accordingly. It costs a company a lot of money if you get returns and have to replace limbs, and dealers don’t want that headache, they want something reliable.”
 Ryan Martin knows what dealers want in a bow, because his role has expanded to have him work with the sales reps and to personally call on large accounts and service a territory of his own. Two weeks before I visited, Ryan and Scott Landwehr had been in Minneapolis to preview the 2008 line for the William B. Gartland sales rep group. A week before my visit Ryan presented the 2008 line to the buyers for Sportsman’s Warehouse, and visited Jake’s Archery and retailers in the Salt Lake City area. After I left Martin to head for home, Ryan would take a late flight to Reno, so he could go over products and programs with the Wild West Marketing Group. “Then next week I’m on the road. I have a really small territory, nothing like our reps do, and I don’t collect a commission. I do it to try to get the experience of what our reps are up against. I go into the dealers, shake their hands, see what they’ve got to work with and who they’re competing with.”
 Martin is asking all its Pro Series retailers to renew their contracts this year, which prohibits them from selling online or in most cases from shipping a bow to a customer. In turn Martin provides support for store shooters, a dealer kit that includes decals and certificates, a protected territory and some very attractive pricing.
 “The Pro Series has a Minimum Advertised Price and a Suggested Retail Price,” Ryan noted. The best prices to dealers are what are referred to as the COD prices: It’s what you buy at when you pay by COD or credit card. The net 60 price, meaning payment is due 60 days from invoicing, is a step up from the COD price. Ryan pointed out Martin calculates its MAP 30 to 35 percent above the net 60 price, instead of basing it off the lowest possible price. Yet Pro Series dealers automatically pay the COD price, giving them a larger profit margin. Or they can choose the option of being billed at the net 60 price, and being given until fall to pay the invoice. “If they take us up on our best pricing, they’ll be getting 40 percent margin even when they sell bows at the lowest advertised price,” he said.


 Those Pro Series dealers will also be getting Martin’s most advanced products. Ryan’s familiarity with the design and manufacturing process was apparent as we talked about the unusual limb mounting system you’ll see on the Firecat and Moab, two bows that are limited to Pro Series dealers. “We’ve been asked by our customers for a few years for a limb cup that rotated, as opposed to a fixed one. It never made sense for us to rotate the entire end of the cup and have a large side load on the limb bolt and have there be play between the limb cup and the riser. For us it was always more important to have the limbs exactly aligned, whether they were buying a basic Martin bow to go hunting with or they were getting ready to compete in Vegas.”
 Martin’s design team realized people were getting used to seeing limb cups where the sides had been machined away, and it went a step farther to develop a Roto  Limb Cup which has no end cup at all. The bow weight is adjusted by a limb bolt that still goes through a rotating barrel bolt to allow a full 15 pounds of adjustment. It’s aligned on that bolt and about three inches further back, where stainless steel pins aligning the limb rotate on hidden components. It’s as precise as the system Martin has been using on models like the Bengal, Ryan said, looks cleaner and contributes to the light 3.6 pound mass weight of the new Firecat. 
 The Firecat and Moab are built on identical risers, which sport trim new grips and a new sound-dampening riser plate, both molded from the same vibration dampening material the company has been using in its riser mounted Vibration Escape Modules. “One of the problems with our older Thermal II grip was it was kind of thick out the back,” Ryan admitted. “On our new bows we were going for a thinner, sleeker feel.
This material can be molded very thin, as we do for our new arrow shelf. But we didn’t want that polymer to be what the shooter was pressing their hand against: We wanted something really solid with good thermal properties.” The design team settled on black leather for the back of the grip, combining it with a molded portion that wraps the front and sides. Ryan got the inspiration for the attractive bars on the molded portion of the new grip from the grill on his BMW dual sport motorcycle.
 While risers are identical on the Firecat and MOAB, feel and performance of the bows are radically different. The CAT Cam used on the Firecat incorporates Cam Assisted Timing, and is a hybrid system developed with technology licensed from Rex Darlington of Darton Archery. It produces an aggressive force draw curve and helps the bow generate advertised speeds of 335 fps despite its generous 7 inch brace height. The Firecat was a breakthrough model for Martin in the mid-90s, Ken Melhus reminded me when I sat down with him and Jake Richmond, and so that was the perfect name for a new speed bow that has been in the works since the 2007 ATA Show.
 PSE’s success in attracting interest with the very fast X Force on the Atlanta show floor is part of what convinced Martin the market was keen for a new speed bow, Jake said. “We wanted it to be in the 340 fps range. The 2008 Bengal shoots 315 fps, so you’re talking 25 fps faster with a Firecat. There are a lot of fast bows out there but where I think we’re going to gain sales is with a price point of $599.”
 While the Firecat is exactly what a lot of bowhunters will want
in 2008, Jake said he personally prefers shooting the MOAB. That bow uses the company’s M-Pro single cam and is set up for a much softer draw cycle. “I’d say drawing a 70 pound MOAB feels comparable to drawing a 60 pound Firecat. But then Scott Landwehr loves the Firecat, he’s been shooting one for months.”
 “If you can get a bow that is fast enough it will get a lot of ‘street cred’” Ken added. “A lot of people will come into a Martin dealer and ask ‘what’s the fastest bow, but they don’t necessarily want the fastest bow after they draw it back. With a MOAB, the dealer can say ‘We’ll, here’s a bow with the same specifications that’s easier to work with.’” It’s also easier to afford. Because Martin is fully paid up on the single cam patent, it can price the MOAB at $479.

 That’s also why you’ll see a miniature M-Pro single cam on the new and unique Tiger kid’s bow, one designed with minimal letoff so you can shoot it anywhere from 14 to 22 inches in draw length. That bow started with Ryan and Jake sketching on a blank sheet of paper, then progressed to two dimensional drawings in the Illustrator program Ryan prefers for it’s free flowing capabilities. He loaded the two-dimensional design for a molded shoot-through riser with graphic elements like miniature VEMs provided by Ken Melhus, then turned the file over to Jake.
 Jake works in Solid Works, a 3-D modeling program, and generated files that could be rotated and viewed from every direction. When everybody on the design team was happy with the Tiger’s design, Jake e-mailed it to a vendor who formed parts using the Stereo Lithography process that hardens resin with laser beams. (If this had been an adult bow with metal riser and components, head machinist Aaron Hamilton would have taken Jake’s Solid Works file and reworked it into the computer files that drive the CNC machines for Martin and its vendors.)
 The SLA parts are what Martin’s staff used to assemble the first prototypes to assure that everything fit the way it was supposed to after the film dip was applied. Ken then used the SLA bow to get photos for the 2008 catalog, many weeks before the tool would be ready so a vendor could start injection molding the shoot-through risers of glass filled nylon.
 We could draw the bow assembled from its SLA components in Ryan’s office, because the little Tiger only will be offered in 10 and 20 pound draw weights. But for a little bow, it can make a big impact on Martin’s bottom line. “We sell tons of kids bows, but since someone makes them for us, it doesn’t help Martin that much,” Ryan confided. “Our reps said there was a huge need for a bow of this type, and I worked with our R&D team to make sure it looks as much like dad’s bow as possible. We modeled it after our Slayer.”
 “Normally bows of this size are all limb and very little riser,” Ryan continued. They’re made that way to reduce cost and help stiffen the molded riser, which even so may curve toward the sight window after it comes out of the mold and is strung. The shoot-through riser stays straight, works for right and left handers and like a full-capture rest it solves the problem of kids pinching the arrow so it falls off the rest. That problem was fresh in Ryan’s mind because he’d just taught three youngsters to shoot before the Tiger project was launched and in every case they had a tendency to grab the string and force the arrow off the rest. It’s a little slower to load the arrow from the rear, he acknowledged, but the packaging should be able to communicate other advantages of the shoot-through design, including full fletching clearance. “The bows we’re competing with have  you shooting off the shelf,” he noted.
Ryan said the Tiger youth bow is already opening doors for Martin with independent retailers and chains that aren’t carrying the adult bows now. He was at two retailers the week before who liked the light weight, the smooth shot and the price points of the adult line, but we’re not ready to commit to another bow line. Both retailers signed up with Martin specifically to order the Tiger, he said. “So if a customer asks about one of our hunting bows they’ll be able to say, ‘sure, we can order them in’ and then they may start stocking some. It gets our foot in the door.”
 Martin’s got some more “door openers” in the 2008 line. Ryan talked about seeing how target faces are often displayed stacked flat on shelves, if they’re not hidden behind the counter. Often they’re not even priced because the retailer doesn’t want to put a tag on each one and just counts on the customer asking for them.
 When Martin took the step of transferring its full color animal targets from film to digital files recently, it looked again at this product people were taking for granted. “We looked at how posters are displayed in stores, and decide to roll the targets into packs. You’ll order either a small game set or a large game set, and we’ll include a sight-in target face.  Since it’s not a flat package now, they’ll get four target pins as well. We sell a lot of target pins to retailers, but we sell them in the hundreds and the individual consumer just wants four.” By repackaging its targets and bundling them with the pins, Ryan said Martin has caught the attention of retailers large and small with the new target sets.

 Feedback from retailers is behind another change for 2008, which should boost sales of accessories for what’s often thought of as a “bow” company. “They don’t want to put a sight or quiver in from Martin because they feel the Martin name on it keyholes into one bow brand,” Ryan said. “They say they like our accessories but the Martin name kills it for any other bow owner. So our Wild Man brand was born.” The name suggested by Terry Martin is being used to re-brand some popular accessories and it’s going on a new bow carrier and new Round-A-Bout Stabilizer. The stabilizer has the same material Martin uses in the VEMs, those riser-mounted vibration killers that Martin holds the patent on.
 Before I left his office, Ryan showed me another better idea from Martin. The company enjoyed strong sales for its complete bow packages that come with the bow set up with accessories and with the arrows, release and quiver in the top of the hard shell case. The sets come in a large cardboard box with a full-color photo showing the bow and accessories.
Martin found there’s just room at the curved corner of the case to include a Rinehart Field Target and since the box goes as “oversize” anyway, there’s no additional charge for the added weight. There are field points in the package and by eliminating the broadheads Martin could cover the cost of including the target. “The whole idea of these kits is that someone could buy one, or get it as a gift, and have everything they’d need to go shooting right now,” Ryan said. “The dealer can pop open the case, put a price tag in the middle of it, and it’s all displayed just like it is on the package. The customer will get a really good bow and in a few months if they want a different rest, need more than four arrows or are ready to buy broadheads for hunting season, they’ll be back in the store.”
 A dealer can’t ask for more than that.

2 votes, average: 3.00 out of 52 votes, average: 3.00 out of 52 votes, average: 3.00 out of 52 votes, average: 3.00 out of 52 votes, average: 3.00 out of 5 (2 votes, average: 3.00 out of 5)
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Published by csinclair on 15 Apr 2008

Eat, Sleep, Archery – the pay off is … accuracy?

I sincerely feel that all of my archery practice as of late is really starting to pay off. It is becoming very obvious in how my arrows are grouping tightly in two’s and threes, however, I’m still slightly high and to the right it seems, no matter how I tune my sight up to the arrows, which I find odd..?,

*Can anyone help with an explanation of why this may be? I can hit the gold if I compensate slightly low, left, but if I change my sight to that position, I always end up with tight groups slightly high and to the right again, maybe it’s in my release?

I’ve been trying to shoot every day now that the nice weather is back and I’m really feeling good about my shooting, ‘all’ of my arrows are in a pretty tight group now, which they never were before.

I joined my provincial archery association today, (the OAA),  so that I can shoot in 3D tournaments this summer to prepare myself a little more for bow hunting next year, which is very exciting end result of all my hard work, dedication to shooting every day, proper diet and fitness training and all the reading that I’ve been doing to try and get ready for it.

Another good thing that happenned today is that my friend who I shoot with is starting to get noticably better, and really seems to enjoy archery, and his daughter who is 10 years old has also become interested and is shooting well now too, soon enough I may have enough participants to start a club, which is a perfect solution for us seeing as there are none in our area, why not?

2 votes, average: 4.00 out of 52 votes, average: 4.00 out of 52 votes, average: 4.00 out of 52 votes, average: 4.00 out of 52 votes, average: 4.00 out of 5 (2 votes, average: 4.00 out of 5)
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Published by djohns13 on 15 Apr 2008

Trying to Impress Dad

 It was a cold, dreary November afternoon as my Mom and I drove to meet my dad.  It was deer season and my dad had begrudgingly agreed to take a break from hunting to spend some time with family.  You see, deer season was HIS time, a two and a half week period each year that he absolutely lived for.  He usually left home the night before opening day, popped back in for a quick Thanksgiving dinner, and then was gone again.  We didn’t see him again until he took his one allotted buck or the season ended, whichever came first.  There weren’t many deer during those days so the hunting was hard and often frustrating.  Most seasons’ successes were not measured in actually harvesting a deer but more in how many were seen during the season.  Success percentage rates were in the single digits during those times, and the rural communities would be abuzz with news of the harvest of trophy bucks.  Consistently harvesting whitetails in those days was a sure way to assure you folk hero status around town.  For many, it was also a way to ensure that the family was well fed during the long cold Indiana winters.  Hearing the news that Dad had gotten a deer was cause for joyous celebration around my house.  I knew Dad would be the talk of the town and I knew that Mom would have a big worry lifted off of her shoulders once the freezer was full of deer meat.

I was too young to remember the occasion for this particular visit but it involved having dinner with the entire family and I was very excited to see everyone most of all my dad.  I was still young enough to not be aware of his imperfections and flaws, I only saw him as the greatest man in the world, one that I was going to grow up to be just like.  One of these days I hoped I would grow up to be a great outdoorsman just like he was.

As we pulled into the area where his truck was parked I noticed him loading something into the truck bed camper.  Later I found that after hunting deer unsuccessfully with his bow in the morning, he had switched over to his trusty twelve gauge shotgun and had limited out rabbit hunting.  Five beautiful rabbits were lying on the floor of the camper and boy was I impressed with my dad’s hunting ability.

Somehow I talked my way into being able to ride in the camper on the way to my grandparents’ house.  Just me, the rabbits, Dad’s archery equipment and the long road ahead of us.  The whole trip I dreamed of how I was the mighty hunter who had victoriously bagged the rabbits and was able to feed my village.  I would return home a hero as everyone in the village feasted and congratulated me on my great hunting skills.  They would acknowledge that I was a great hunter like my father and maybe even he would be impressed by my harvest.  The fantasies went on and on during the trip as I acted out the hunt in its various forms.  In my mind, it was the most successful hunting expedition ever; that is until the truck stopped and my dad opened the camper door.  There in plain sight were five horribly mutilated rabbits and the camper floor cut to pieces where the “great hunter” had repeatedly bagged his game by stabbing them with his dad’s arrows!  To this day I can’t truly understand what made me do that but apparently Dad found it at least a little humorous as my punishment was minimal.  I don’t think I impressed him though because every time he recounted the tale he could hardly finish because he was laughing so hard!

3 votes, average: 4.33 out of 53 votes, average: 4.33 out of 53 votes, average: 4.33 out of 53 votes, average: 4.33 out of 53 votes, average: 4.33 out of 5 (3 votes, average: 4.33 out of 5)
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Published by djohns13 on 15 Apr 2008

How I Found the Woods inside Detroit International Airport

“Excuse me sir, do you deer hunt?”

“Uh hmm, excuse me sir, do you deer hunt?”

The second time around woke me up from reading a deer hunting article in Outdoor Life magazine.  I looked up to see a well-built rugged looking young man with a load of outdoor looking straight at me.  “Uh yes, well no, I mean I used to and I would like to again” I stuttered.

“Well, if you want to, what’s stopping you?”

“That’s a good question and unfortunately there’s no short answer to it,” I answered.

“Hey, we’re stuck in the Detroit airport on the day before Thanksgiving and we’re not going anywhere soon.  Give me the long version.”

And so I began.   I grew up in a blue collar hunting household in Indiana where the biggest holiday of the year was opening day of shotgun deer season.  I hunted mushrooms, mammals and birds, fished like it was going out of style, trapped furbearers and even harvested wild ginseng.  I guess it came natural with my Cherokee indian lineage.  I picked up a bow when I was about 12 years old and fell in love with it.  For a couple of years, it seemed to have grown roots into my hands as I hardly ever let it go.  I even won a state-level championship for my age group and couldn’t ever imagine not having archery be the focal point of my life.

Then I discovered girls.  To be more precise, I found the wrong girl.  In trying to please her, I strayed far from my outdoor roots.  My father wasn’t about to butt into my business but I knew it hurt him that I was nowhere to be found during hunting season.  We fished together on Father’s Day each year but that was it for me.  It was always in the back of my mind, and I even dreamed about being outdoors, but I could seem to fnd a way to get there.  As a result, with each year my discontent grew.

Flash forward a few years and I find myself with a new girl, the absolute right girl for me, with a house and a career and a baby on the way.  Everything was going very well, except that I still wasn’t out in the wild.  Occasionally we would do some hiking but there was little time for anything else.  My discontent had been replaced by happiness with a simmering desire to get reconnected with the woods as soon as possible.  Life was good for the most part, then the bottom fell out.  My father died of cancer just a few months too early to see his first grandchild be born, and I had my own brush with mortality.  As I recovered, my son was born to have problems of his own.  He would spend considerable amounts of time in and out of hospitals and treatment centers.  There was so much going on and so much grieving to do, that I didn’t have time to miss the woods even though I needed it more than ever.

Flash forward again several years and my life has been rebounded nicely.  I am healthy, my son’s health is improving, I now have three kids with a big house and my career is booming.  There are only two downsides.  First, I am still not in the woods as much as I want and second, I am stuck in the Detroit Airport trying unsuccessfully to get home for Thanksgiving dinner with the family.

And now standing before me is my hunting/trapping/fishing/outdoor guardian angel and neither of us have a clue how much he will impact my family’s life.

He listens patiently to all the reasons why I am not in the woods and then hits me with the truth bomb.  “You need to be outdoors with your kids.  They are growing up fast you know.”  A profound statement from a guy still too young to legally drink.  He proceeds to tell me his story, which is that he is nineteen years old and trying to make a connecting flight to hook up with his dad for a whitetail hunt in Minnesota.  He is particularly excited about this because since his mom and dad got divorced the relationship with his dad hasn’t been good.  It seems the only time they get along is when they are hunting or fishing together and he misses all of the good times.  His words were giving me flashbacks of myself and my dad, as well as thoughts of me and my oldest son and our struggling relationship.  He mentioned that being in the woods seemed to provide solutions to problems in the rest of his life, and boy did I ever need to come up with some solutions myself.  He had just finished a hunt in Ohio and harvested a really nice buck but this upcoming hunt was really important to him because it was with his dad.  Man, how I wished that my dad was still around to go hunting with again.

We talked for a a few more hours about family and all aspects of deer hunting and then he leaned over and said, “Get back into deer hunting.  You need it and your kids need it too.”  As if on cue, the voice over the intercom announced that his flight was now ready for board and he jumped up to leave knowing he was going to make the hunt he so desparately wanted.  I leaned back in my chair not knowing if I was going to make my holiday dinner, but definitely knowing that I was going to get my kids up in a deer stand as soon as possible.

Flash forward one day and I am sitting at home enjoying a great turkey dinner rattling on about this great kid I met in the airport and how I had decided that the kids were getting new bows for Christmas so they could take up the sport that had been so much a part of my life.  They did get their bows for Christmas and so did I thanks to a great wife who heard every word of what I had said that day.

Flash forward to present day and all three of my kids have sat in the tree stand with me.  My middle son even called in the deer that I harvested with a bow three years ago.  My daughter is actively involved in 4-H shooting sports and my oldest son is starting to fall in love with trap shooting.  And to top it all off, today on my lunch hour I stuck wooden stakes in the ground marking where my new food plot is going to be planted in a few weeks.  About twenty yards from the edge of the plot in a big tree is a buddy stand where me and the kids are going to spend some quality time this fall.

It is hard to imagine things getting much better.

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Published by Gear Junky on 14 Apr 2008

Gear Junky: Hardcore Hunter Must-Haves, volume I

I love hunting. I love hunting like Jared loves Subway, like Mannings love endorsements, like Hillary loves taxes. I love hunting so much that I require a weekly hunting fix. That’s problematic, however, since fall refuses to come more than once a year. Other guys are able to scratch that itch with weekend fishing trips, but fishing strikes me as being kind of like the PGA tour – it’s available every weekend and usually keeps you entertained, but never builds to a yearly crescendo. Hunting progresses more like the NFL, the “Superbowl” of all outdoor activities. Like the Superbowl, my yearly big-game hunting adventure usually doesn’t live up to my expectations. But even when it’s bad, it’s still awfully good.

So naturally, I spend eleven months out of the year obsessing over the details of hunting season. I’ve become a gear junky, much to the chagrin of my wife, who tries her best to resist the temptation to tally up the piles of receipts from Sportsman’s Warehouse, Cabela’s, and Paypal that accumulate in my not-so-secret Danner boots box on the top shelf in the hunting closet. You may be thinking, “Hold on, aren’t you in like your eighth year of college? How can you possibly afford long hunting trips, let alone the latest gear?” Well, I’d like to say that I have a profitable side-business or online revenue stream, but the truth is, I just got lucky and found a sugar momma. Until I finish school and they call me Doctor, it’s my wife’s hard-earned cash I’m spending. Suffice it to say, I’m required to be as budget-minded as possible. So my recommendations are targeted towards people like myself who want the best gear for the best value. The Archery Talk community is a natural fit.

Before I get to my first set of hardcore hunter must-owns, here’s a few things to keep in mind when reading my recommendations:

1) These are recommendations, not reviews…and there’s a big difference. I can’t stand the way gear is reviewed in outdoor magazines. Inevitably, the magazine editor’s are given a new product by an eager manufacturer for review, and the editors either try it out for a few weeks, or (worse yet) give it to a subscriber to evaluate. What sort of credibility does that leave the review? Nobody wants to knock a product they received for free, and very few products are given a realistic amount of abuse before the review goes to print. Also, a review of the latest 2008 backpack by a specific manufacturer isn’t very valuable in and of itself. When I’m in the market for a backpack, I don’t care about one specific model of one specific brand in one specific year. Instead, I want to find the best backpack from any manufacturer from any year, in my given price range for my specific needs. A gear recommendation can do just that, if the author’s criteria and price range are comparable to the shopper’s. That’s what I’ll do here; instead of reviewing the latest gear, I’ll identify the best gear.

2) I am not brand loyal. I want the best gear for my hard-earned dollar (um, my wife’s hard-earned dollar) and I’ll go with whomever best meets that need. Loyalty is great in other realms of life, but not for consumers. Manufacturers need to know that if they slip and lose their competitive edge at all, we’ll take our business elsewhere. It’s good for the manufacturer and the consumer when competition thrives, and too much brand loyalty takes a company’s focus off of innovation and places it on achieving name-brand recognition. Fanboys have become too common and don’t give unbiased recommendations, so I’ll try my darndest to avoid being a fanboy…unless we happen to discuss Major League Baseball, in which case, Go Mariners! and Die, Redsox Nation, die flopping in the dirt like a gut-shot ground squirrel!

Only joking. Sort of.

3) I’m open to other great ideas. If you know about something that beats the heck out of one my must-haves, let me know and I’ll give it a chance. I’m always looking to improve my own gear, and I’d love to provide the best recommendations around, even if one of my favorite products gets the bump. Use the comments to our mutual benefit (for a better description of Mutual Benefit, please google “Supermodel weds Texas Billionaire”).

4) My focus is on light-weight, durable, cost-effective, useful, and innovative gear for the backcountry. What meets that criteria? The supermodel mentioned above would rate fairly well in all categories except cost-effective, but close is no cigar, so supermodels do not receive my recommendation. I live and hunt out West, and when you’re chasing mountain mulies or rutting bulls out of a one-man camp, your life depends on your equipment. Hunting whitetails deep in the forest is a similar game, I assume…but if you walk from your front door to your tree stand, some of what I’ll blog about won’t apply. Also, there are thousands of great posts around here about archery equipment, so my focus will be on other gear for bowhunting.

With all that said, here’s my first installment of Must-Own recommendations for other Archery Talk gear junkies. Hope you find this helpful…or entertaining, if nothing else.

Must-Own Camp Stove: The Jetboil

Lightweight/Compact: 9

Durability: 8

Cost-Effectiveness: 8 ($75 online)

Usefulness: 9

Innovation: 10

Like most of us, I often don’t return to camp until an hour or more after dark, and only two things are on my mind: food and sleep, the sooner the better. About ten years ago, dehydrated food manufacturers finally responded to consumer demand and began producing one-step freeze-dried meals that were actually tasty. I understand your reluctance to accept tasty and freeze-dried in the same sentence, since they sound about as compatible as Jessica Simpson and Harvard graduate. But believe me, some of the best meals I’ve had on the road were prepared in those little zippered pouches. The product only requires that you add boiling water, then re-seal and let stand for a few minutes while it cooks your dinner for you. I eat the meal right out of the package, so the only dinnerware needed is a fork. When done, I just seal the empty pouch back up, with no mess and no smell to attract bears or wandering mountain hippies.

How much does a full stomach and all that peace of mind cost? About six bucks for most brands. Mountain House is available everywhere, and has some great varieties. The desserts are fantastic, by the way, and although they aren’t cheap (around $4), they sure beat another lousy candy bar.

Where does the Jetboil enter the picture, you ask? The Jetboil, as Matlock would deduce just before the final commercial break, is the one responsible for the boiling. And how! I’ve clocked it firing sixteen ounces of glacier run-off to a boil in less than ninety seconds. And it wasn’t even trying. My kitchen stove can’t come close to matching that speed, and the story just begins there. As you can see in the photo, the Jetboil utilizes a specialized coil that maximizes heat transfer between the stove and attachable cup while reducing fuel demand. It’s lightning fast and efficient…two or three small isobutane cannisters (a few bucks each, available everywhere) will get you through most hunting seasons. And the stove and cannister fit inside the 1.0 liter companion cup, so the entire system (stove, cup, sipper lid, measuring cup, fuel cannister) takes up only slightly more space than a Gatorade bottle while weighing only 19 oz. That’s pretty impressive for a unit that can serve as a mug, pot, bowl (top ramen lovers can pour their $0.14 packages right in), and even coffee maker (with optional coffee press for those who don’t mind the less-than-stealthy breath). And the best part? The cup is wrapped in a neoprene sleeve so you can hold it firmly, no matter how hot it gets (even while the stove is on). No more metal pot grabber! Combine all of this with a slick little ignitor that works every time at the push of a button, and you have a great piece of gear, all for $75. No matter how light I want my pack to be, the Jetboil always makes the trip.

Must-Own Hunting Shelter: Outdoor Research “Alpine” Bivy

Lightweight/Compact: 8

Durability: 8

Cost-Effectiveness: 6 ($199 online)

Usefulness: 10

Innovation: 8

If you are anything like me (and you have my wife’s deepest sympathies if you are), you’ve spent a fair amount of time wondering what in Sam Hill a bivy sack is, but you have been too afraid to ask. Well, ever since Al Gore invented the internet (tee hee!) we curious types now have a venue for seeking answers without having to ask questions, which spares our fragile egos. Bivy sacks, I have since discovered, are one-man shelters that the mountaineering community developed to surpass the shortcomings of the good ol’ one-man tent. Those of you who have set up camp in a storm already know that a tent can turn into a liability; they blow over, collapse, don’t keep out ground water, and take time to set up. A bivy, on the other hand, succeeds where tents fail.

September bowhunting usually provides good weather, so I prefer to sleep under the stars wearing nothing but my crusty, er, trusty long john’s and a sleeping bag. I own an outstanding two-man tent, but I like to pack as light as possible in the backcountry, and late summer weather usually doesn’t pin you down for more than a day at a time, so a tent really isn’t necessary. But if a thunderstorm or blizzard strikes, a bivy is a life saver. And Outdoor Research’s Alpine Bivy is the best of the bunch for a hunter’s needs.

The Alpine is made out of triple-layer GORE-TEX so it’s waterproof, lightweight and breathable. It fits over your sleeping bag and sleeping pad like a sock, keeping your bedding safe from rain, ground water, and dew. What really sets it apart is one cleverly placed tent pole that arches above the shoulder area. The design lifts the fabric just enough to ditch that claustrophobic feeling that other models are known for, and it allows you to do a little reading or change your clothes without restriction. I slip my bedding into the Alpine even when there’s no chance of rain, because it’s mesh bug shield allows me to see the stars without giving blood. When hunting in the rain, there’s just enough room inside to stuff your pack and wet clothes to dry via body heat overnight. That scenario may be less than ideal, but it’s good option to have if you need it. If a prolonged storm does pin you down, a lightweight tarp (like the kind most of us already own to place under our tents) can be strung a couple feet above for a makeshift camp (thanks to Cameron Hanes for that tip). And the most unexpected benefit I’ve had is on early hunts when my sleeping bag is just too warm – instead of baking inside my bedding, I lay on top of it, and the bivy provides just enough insulation to keep the chill off while my sore muscles enjoy the extra padding beneath me. Because the Alpine is breathable, my wretched mountain-breath doesn’t turn to condensation overnight, so the interior stays fresh and dry.

It ain’t cheap, but very few products that compress to the size of a small loaf of bread can offer so many advantages to the backcountry archer.

Must Have Backpack: Jim Horn Signature Series “Canadian” by Blacks Creek

Lightweight/Compact: 7

Durability: 9

Cost-Effectiveness: 8 ($169)

Usefulness: 8

Innovation: 8

Yes, there are bigger and costlier packs out there, but if you want bang for your buck, this bad boy has it all. I met the designers at a trade show and was thoroughly impressed with their knowledge…they understand how the human body bears weight, and they have created a pack that partners perfectly with biomechanics. The entire line of Jim Horn signature series packs are outstanding, but I feel that the Canadian is the best for all-around hunting and backpacking purposes. Here are some pics and specs from their website:

Specifications:

  • Weight: 6.8 lbs
  • Dimensions: 22″H x 12″W x 11″D
  • Capacity: 2200 cubic inches (expands to 3850)
  • H20 compabitle
  • Carries bow and rifle
  • Spotting scope pocket
  • Orange safety flap
  • Adjustable torso (XS-XL)
  • Mossy Oak Breakup or Realtree Max 1
  • All heavy stress areas reinforced and bar tacked
  • Breathable mesh back
  • 13 pockets
  • Internal frame: high-tech H-frame

Now, that list may look pretty typical, but don’t be fooled. To begin, the concept that motivated the design was the internal H-frame, a lightweight innovation that provides the perfect balance of comfort and strength (the same features that I look for in a truck, hiking boot, and toilet seat). Basically, this pack can haul your meat with the best of them, replacing that annoying prerequisite trip back to the rig to retrieve an external frame once your game is down. The H-frame is surprisingly strong, and the pack is surprisingly expandable. It may not be ideal for elk, but I don’t care – I’d rather have a pack that is great for hiking and hunting elk (and spend a little more time boning and quartering) than have a pack that is perfect for hauling elk but less proficient at helping me kill one.

And man, does it have features – the spotting scope compartment, the integrated bow carrier, the integrated rifle carrier, the fantastic pocket design, the hydration pouch, the durable, quiet fabric and zippers…Santa must have read my list. Don’t get me wrong, most other high-end packs include those features, but none will fit you any better, and none will beat the price. The belt and shoulder harness are fully adjustable for most sizes, and they sell an expansion kit for guys over 6’3″ and 220lbs. (I’m 6’2″/205, and the pack fit great once I set it on the “top rung” on the standard shoulder harness).

I should take a moment to soapbox about two common misconceptions about backpacks. First, the weight of the load doesn’t matter nearly as much as how the weight of the load is distributed, despite what we’ve all heard. There are people out there who tell us that a day pack should be small and light. Not true. A pack that weighs seven pounds empty, yet fits the length and width of your torso perfectly between the hips and shoulders, will feel much lighter than a so-called “day pack” that weighs two or three pounds but isn’t long enough. The second misconception, one that I once believed, is that “a perfect pack should not touch your back, but instead should be an inch or two away for ventilation.” It’s true that none of us enjoy the feeling you get when you take off your pack to find that your back is soaked and ready to freeze with the slightest wind. But the reality is that you’re going to sweat one way or another, and it’s better to purchase quality clothing that wicks moisture away from the skin rather than rely on your pack to ventilate your back. Why? Because every inch that your pack moves away from your spine increases the load exponentially. You want the weight as close to you as possible (this can be demonstrated by placing a dumbbell in the main compartment of your backpack next to your body: note the perceived weight, then remove it, stuff a couple of inflated balloons into the main compartment, and place the dumbbell in an outer pocket with the balloons between your back and the dumbbell. The actual weight in the pack doesn’t change, but the difference in load on your spine is unbelievable). So avoid the manufacturers whose packs are too small or those that include ventilation systems. Like getting a wet kiss from your thickly-mustached great aunt, they mean well, but aren’t doing you any favors.

The Canadian pack distributes weight perfectly. And perhaps its best feature is its endless supply of compression straps, which maintain a solid, close-in load. The pack comes with a free DVD demonstrating how to use all of its features, with extra emphasis on utilizing compression straps. You can tell from the video that these guys will take care of their customers and stand by their product…buy with confidence knowing that the Canadian will handle six days worth of supplies and haul out your game, and still serve as the perfect day-pack to boot.

3 votes, average: 3.67 out of 53 votes, average: 3.67 out of 53 votes, average: 3.67 out of 53 votes, average: 3.67 out of 53 votes, average: 3.67 out of 5 (3 votes, average: 3.67 out of 5)
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Published by djohns13 on 14 Apr 2008

Deer Stand Elevation and Impact on Shooting

I saw the dejected look on his face and knew the morning hunt hadn’t gone the way he wanted.  “What happened” I asked the young hunter.

“I can’t believe I missed the biggest buck I have ever had in my sights”, he bemoaned.  “And it was only a 25 yard shot.  How did I shoot under him from ONLY 25 yards?”

“Well, I don’t know but I can say I know your pain.  Tell me exactly how it happened.”

He started by telling me how he had gotten into his stand quietly and on time, and how the morning had seemed to be off to a perfect start.  Shortly after daybreak three young does had moved past his stand totally unaware of his presence, and although he was tempted to take one, he held off waiting for Mr. Big to catch up to them.  Within just a few moments, he heard heavy leaf crunching coming from the same direction the previous does had come from.  A glimpse of brown through the brush confirmed that another deer was moving his way.  Slowly he stood and got in shooting position in case the deer was a buck.  As the deer moved between pockets of cover, he could see antler, and a lot of it.  As he had been trained, he knew to look away from the rack and start to focus on his breathing and concentrate on setting up for the shot.  The ten pointer advanced up the trail and behind a clump of trees.  Immediately, my young friend drew and got set for the most important shot of his young deer hunting career.  The big buck stepped out from the trees and paused while trying to pinpoint the scent of the does.  The hunter picked a spot behind the left shoulder, took a deep breath and gently squeezed the release trigger.  The flight path looked straight and true as it flew toward the deer.  Just as it appeared ready to deliver a lethal blow to the buck, it arced downward and flew just under the deer’s chest, burying in the ground behind the animal.  The buck didn’t wait to figure out what had happened as it bounded away through the forest.

“And that’s how I missed a 25 yard cupcake shot”, he sighed.

“Wait a second dude,” I questioned, “how are you sure it was 25 yards?”

“Because earlier in the morning I used the rangefinder from up in the stand and it said 30 yards.”

“Huh?”, I said, “you just said it was a 25 yard shot.”

“Right, but you have to factor in the height of the tree stand.  It was 30 yards from my spot in the stand so it must have been only 25 in horizontal distance.  Duh dude.”

“Duh is right dude, grab your stuff and let’s head to the truck.  You are in desperate need of a math lesson,” I said in a way that did little to hide my irritation.

Over the course of my life up in a tree, I have seen similar situations play out many times.  Unfortunately, it seemed to happen to me way too often in the past.  I kept chalking it up to “buck fever” or some other cause when it really came down to not understanding the mathematical impact of sitting in a tree.  After a particularly rough day where I undershot a nice nine pointer three different times (yes, I missed three times as painful as it is to admit), I decided to figure out what was going wrong.  The nine pointer was thirty seven yards away according to my rangefinder, so I assumed thirty two yards of horizontal distance, aimed with my thirty yard pin and missed underneath him by 4-6 inches.  Sitting backhome replaying the misses over and over, I began to question the whole yardage component.   The next morning, I was standing at the base of my tree rangefinding a stick stuck in the ground where the buck had stood the day before.  Instead of the thirty two yards I had guesstimated, the rangefinder showed 36.5 yards.  What the heck!  First I missed a great buck and now my rangefinder is busted too.  Unfortunately, a tape measure proved that the rangefinder was fine and it was just me that was screwed up.  In my screwed up haze, however, lights bulbs starting going off and I began to understand some things that had only been mysteries before.

Suddenly I was sitting back in Algebra class learning the Pythagorean theorem where a sqaured plus b squared equalled c squared.  Back then I wondered how in the heck I would ever use this in “real life” but now I could see the direct application.  By knowing how high my stand was in the tree and the rangefinder distance from my stand to the target, I could precisely calculate the horizontal distance from the base of the tree to the target.  Below is a table showing the “real” yardage based upon common tree stand heights.

Stand Height Distance from Deer Stand to Target in Yards:
in feet:      10      15      20      25      30      35      40      45      50
10      9.43    14.62    19.72    24.78    29.81    34.84    39.86    44.88    49.89
12.5      9.09    14.41    19.56    24.65    29.71    34.75    39.78    44.81    49.83
15      8.66    14.14    19.36    24.49    29.58    34.64    39.69    44.72    49.75
17.5      8.12    13.82    19.13    24.31    29.43    34.51    39.57    44.62    49.66
20      7.45    13.44    18.86    24.09    29.25    34.36    39.44    44.50    49.55
22.5      6.61    12.99    18.54    23.85    29.05    34.19    39.29    44.37    49.43
25      5.53    12.47    18.18    23.57    28.82    33.99    39.12    44.22    49.30

As you can see, the impact of sitting up in the tree stand decreases the further you are from the target, and really only comes into play at short distances with high tree stand placement.  In fact, given the flat shooting trajectories of modern equipment it might not be relevant at all.

Now when I sit in my favorite tree stand next fall and the nine pointer, now a couple of years larger, steps out into my shooting lane, there will be one less variable to deal with.  Maybe both myself and my young hunting friend will be heading to the truck with smiles on our faces.

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Published by Waldo53 on 13 Apr 2008

The Power of the Arrow

I believe in the pure, unforgiving power of the flight of the arrow. SsssssThwack!   That is that sweet sound an arrow makes when it leaves a finely tuned, precision machined, accumulation of metal and synthetic fibers, gives it’s will over to physics, and finds its destiny.  I am the god of this world.  I control its destiny.  I am the omnipotent master of the demands placed on the flight of the arrow.  I can command it to kill, or command it to pursue the elusive “X”.  I decide when the journey to perfection will begin, and when it will end.  

To my delight and consternation, I have discovered that I am not the all powerful god I thought I was.  I have allowed the flight of the arrow to have power over me.  It can fill my heart and break my heart, ease my mind and drive me insane, and it does it all simultaneously.  It is a refuge I seek when the storms of life rage, and it is a tangled web of impossible challenges I am compelled to explore. The power of the flight of the arrow over my life does not reside in the successful passage to its own destiny, but in the journeys and revelations it has given me as I try to lord over it.  

The journey inside one’s self is one you don’t take lightly or often enough.  There are some things along the way I don’t want to see, and so I tend to avoid going on that trip.  The arrow demands that I take that one way passage, and I know my self better because the truth of the arrow points out my weaknesses and strengths. Flaws in preparation, intellect, concentration, emotional control, self awareness, and ethics are revealed with each shot.  Each time I draw back the bow I embark on an inward expedition designed to reveal more truth, and build up those areas discovered to be deficient the last time I bumped and bruised myself against the walls of ego and perfection.

The flight of the arrow demands mastering the physics and physiology of the shot.  I take my own fantastic voyage into the bones, ligaments and muscles of my body to ascertain whether a shot hits its mark or maims.  I can see my own heartbeat pulse through the arrow as it awaits its launch at full draw. I delight in the transformations of chemical, heat, kinetic and potential energies, as the violent machine is controlled then loosed.  My engineer’s mind revels in a world filled with permutations of deflection, angular acceleration, torque, axle to axle, brace height, tiller, cams, idlers, spine, draw length, and aerodynamics, knowing that there is a perfect synergy between arrow, bow, and archer out there somewhere. The arrow relentlessly reveals my proximity to that nebulous target.

Finally, when the arrow is called upon to fulfill its original destiny – killing – it reveals its ultimate power in my life by taking me closer to my God.  The arrow is my companion as I stealthily share my tree with a falcon, and together we see, feel, and hear nature come alive at daybreak.  The arrow allows me to witness a host of God’s creatures go about their life unaware of my intrusion into their world, and then once discovered, reach an unspoken truce with a skunk only a couple of feet away.  The bow is the only thing that seems out of place as I sit camouflaged, hugged by the roots of a 100 year old oak tree, and in tandem with God, resolve all the problems in my small world, and find my place in His.

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Published by Mead on 13 Apr 2008

Take a Kid Hunting

     I woke up early the other day and as I rolled out of bed many thoughts of early season bowhunting adventures raced through my mind. I quickly ate some breakfast and headed out to pick up my Dad. When I stepped outside I was greeted with a cool, refreshing fall breeze. I fired up my truck and began the drive across town to his place.

     I recalled many of our early season hunts and knew that soon enough we would have yet another memory to store away. My father probably never realized that when he introduced me to bowhunting 23 years earlier that he would gain so much more than a son who enjoyed the same hobby as he did. He would gain a best friend, a friendship that goes so much deeper than a typical father and son relationship.

     After I picked up Dad we headed to our parcel of land for the morning hunt. I decided to go to a favorite spot that I hadn’t hunted in two years. I found a nice tree, latched my climbing treestand to it and made my way to a perch about 15 feet off the ground.

     After I finally settled in, the woods came alive with wildlife. I watched squirrels and chipmunks dashing through the leaves as they gathered nuts for the winter months. I could faintly hear geese honking and knew their annual trek south was in its beginning stages.

     Suddenly, I caught a glimpse of movement in the brush: it was a small buck, feeding on acorns as he made his way toward my stand. I was content to just watch him. He fed through the area surrounding my treestand for about a half-hour. As he rummaged through the leaves with his nose I heard a stick crack behind me. I glanced over my shoulder and could see a larger buck coming up the hill, heading right for me.

     As he closed the distance the other buck in front of me trotted down the hill. I watched closely as they both were now directly beneath me. The smaller buck sniffed his larger counterpart’s nose and then started circling him. His hair stood up on his neck and he pinned his ears straight back against his head. I knew a fight was brewing.

     After completing two circles around the larger buck the smaller one lunged forward. They cracked their antlers together, pushed and shoved and then broke apart. Within a few seconds they were locked together.

     Deciding to take the larger buck, I slowly drew my bow. Their hooves were dug into the moss, but neither one of them appeared to be gaining any apparent advantage. My sight pin quickly settled and the arrow found its mark. The bucks separated and dashed away in opposite directions. The smaller buck thought he had won the battle. He ran a short distance up the hill and gazed at his fallen foe about 60 yards away. Satisfied with his apparent victory, although he couldn’t quite figure it out, he eventually wandered off.

     As I climbed down the tree I gazed into the powder blue sky and quietly whispered a simple thank you to my father. Without introducing me to bowhunting 23 years earlier I never would have witnessed what had just taken place in front of me. I would also never have been able to share the experience an hour later with my Dad, my best friend.

     As we all get ready for the fall hunting seasons, remember to take a kid hunting if you have a chance. Who knows, it could change a kid’s life forever. Thank you, Dad, for taking me early season bowhunting all those years ago. And thank you for still taking me and more than anything for becoming my best friend and the person I have shared every outdoor moment with since that first fall day.

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Published by Super 91 on 12 Apr 2008

Slick Trick Ohio buck!

My first Ohio bowhunting experience

What a hunt!!!! Well, I got the call from Philip Crandall on Wednesday, October 26th, 2005. He said I hope you are healed up from your surgery cause we are headed to Ohio on Sunday October 30th. So if you want to go, the train leaves about 2:00pm in the afternoon, just after church. I asked this Sunday? He said yep, so I started making my plans. As you may not know, I had just had my tonsils out October 12th, which was only 2 weeks prior. And any of us old folks who have gone through that surgery know it is rough!! So anyway I had healed pretty decent, enough to go on the trip I felt so I started going over my gear to make sure I had everything I needed and everything was up to par.

I spent the next two evening’s gluing up shafts and spin testing my new broadheads, the Slick Trick magnum head. Awesome head by the way, one I will be using for a while. Once I had my gear in order I packed, and started getting it stacked up in the garage. Finally it was all together and I was just waiting for Sunday afternoon with great anticipation. I felt absolutely great about all my gear, and knew it was all in order.

Now to back up a bit, I knew we were going to be riding 4-wheelers a lot up there, and had a practically brand new Arctic Cat 400 camo limited edition I had bought in the spring of the year. I liked the machine a lot, but it was made for one person. I had hauled my best friend Scott King up the mountain behind his house a time or two, and found that even though we were the best of friends, we invaded each other’s “personal space” quite frequently on the ride. It was just downright uncomfortable, and I don’t want to hit the woods feeling like that. I want to enjoy myself. So I set out to find the best side-by-side machine that was on the market. I like to cruise the web, so I googled a few searches and started coming up with a number of tried and true machines. But one machine seemed to really get the awesome reviews. As a matter of fact, the only negative feedback was on the ’04 machines that had a gas cap problem, and a noise problem under the bed. So far they have fixed that in ’06.

So once I had checked out all the machines I could, and read several thousand reviews and articles, I decided on a Yamaha Rhino 660 4×4 camo. Now let me tell you, I am brand loyal. Once I find a brand that really does well, it is very hard for me to switch. I love Hondas, but they don’t make a side-be-side. I have never been a big Yamaha fan, but let me tell you, that has certainly changed! I went to the local dealer, made the trade and picked out a few accessories. This was Wednesday afternoon and the same time I got the call from Philip. I came back on Thursday, signed the paperwork and loaded the machine. It fit my little 5×10 tilt trailer perfect!

I headed to the house, picked up my wife and kids, and we went to my folk’s place to give it a test ride. Once I had scared the shorts off my wife, and gave the kids all a quick ride, we loaded up and headed for the house. This machine was smooth!!

Well Saturday rolled around and I had planned a quick hunt up on the mountain behind Scott’s house. Scott was ready to go, so when I got there we loaded up the two Tree Lounges, two bow cases, and a couple of kitchen sinks…J We jumped in and headed up the same trail we had taken with the AC 400. Man, were we surprised!!!!! I could not believe how tight it turned, and how quick we went up the mountain. Compared to the AC 400, this thing ROCKED!! It made turns where we had to stop and back up and maneuver around things with the AC 400. Not that the AC 400 was a bad machine, but this thing was pure comfort and power, with the ride of a Cadillac. We were certainly impressed, even with all the great reviews, which normally makes me a bit biased when I try a new product. But to say the least, it was awesome!!

Now back to the main story…..

Sunday afternoon came, and we finally had the Rhino loaded on Phil’s trailer along with his Big Bear, and all the gear stashed in the crew cab Ford truck he loves to drive. It’s got that big V10 and we zipped right up over all the mountains on the trip with ease. We went and grabbed some gas at Kroger, then a quick stop at Burger King and we were on our way!! We all were excited about the trip, and jabbered amongst ourselves about how big a deer we were all going to harvest.

I guess I had better explain who all is in this truck, and who all will be in this story. First off, Philip Crandall invited me on this trip. I hunt with his son Paul, who is one of the best young ethical hunters I have ever met. Also along is Chip Ulmer, who I have known for years and hunted with in Co before. And myself, Bob Bowers. We all live in SW Virginia. Now we are going to Adams Co. Ohio, which borders Scotio Co. We will be in the little town of Otway, and staying with Mike Freels and his wife Betty, and their son Michael. All are just wonderful folks. They had beds made up and fed us like we were family. Man, that chili was awesome!! Everything was great.

After a stop for Starbucks coffee, one stop for fuel, and one stop at Wal-Mart to buy our license and a few things we needed, we arrived just about midnight. It was cold and crisp there, so we unloaded the gear into the house, and got the Rhino and the Big Bear off the trailer. We ate a bite of chili, talked and discussed the game plan for the next day, and then hit the sack.

3:00am I hear “Bleaaaaaaaaat!!! Bleeeeeaaaaaaat!!!!” and then “Hey!! Time to get up!!” so I jump up and grab my stuff and head for the shower. Michael was using his bleat in heat can as a wake up call….J We all get ready, and I head out to fire up the Rhino. I have my stand and bow loaded, and I get it warmed up. Once I step back inside to see if we are ready to go, Mike tells me that I am going to have to take the spare 4-wheeler cause he doesn’t think the Rhino will make it up where we are going. My heart sank as I was ready to ride my new machine, and already it could not be used. So I load my stuff on the 4-wheeler, and we head to the flat to hunt. Once on the trail, I said to myself “my Rhino would have made this trip easy!!” and was a little disappointed that I didn’t at least try it. But when you go with someone else, and they know the terrain, you go with their advice. Once the morning hunt was over, I decided that from now on I was going to try the Rhino, and if it didn’t go where were headed, I needed to know it wouldn’t make it. I didn’t spend the money to leave it sitting in the yard while I rode the spare machine. So that is just what I did.

Well, that morning was crisp at about 30 degrees, but my new thermals and new wool socks really made the difference. They put me in a nice white oak on a flat, and I parked the 4-wheeler just above me and climbed the tree and got settled in. About 6:10am, I hear a deer feeding on the falling acorns just above me. It mills around just in front of me, and I think that if he waits and eats long enough, it will get light enough for me to see to shoot and I might have a chance at this deer. But once he came around the bend and got close, he spotted the 4-wheeler and bolted right under my stand and out of sight. I feel like it was buck due the size of his body, but I couldn’t see any headgear so I really don’t know. That was the only deer I saw that morning, and once the guys came back down the path, I climbed down and we all headed back for lunch.

At lunch we all talked about the deer we had seen, and our afternoon strategies. Once we all were full and had a game plan, we loaded up and headed out again. Now I was to hunt a nice little flat in front of a clear-cut, and right near a nice little grove of paw paws. I drove the Rhino with Paul to the base of the hill, and we split up and started to make the hike up. Once I got on the flat (Paul was headed up the hollow to a good spot waaaaay up on top, a good hike for a young fellow….J) and found a good tree to climb. I got to the tree I was going to climb, started taking my stand off my back and I see a deer below me jump up out of it’s bed, and run a few feet. She is a yearling doe, and she heads back to the clear-cut, always looking for me but never located me which is good. I climb the tree and settle in, and after about 45 minutes here she comes back with a nice mature doe in tow. They feed on acorns and mill about for 20-25 minutes, and finally move on down the flat. I really enjoyed watching them. Now just before dark 4 more deer come right out of the clear-cut and literally run down to the field. I never can see if they are bucks or does, as it is too dark and they are moving too fast. But I take note of where they came out, and the time. I climb down and pack my stuff up and head back to the Rhino. It was a warm evening, right in the lower 60’s with a slight SW breeze, and absolutely beautiful.

Now I have not mentioned Mr. Keith Rose. He is a friend of Mike’s, and he came along on the hunt as well. He had wanted to hunt above “Bud’s Bump”, which was hill that seemed to like to eat new 4-wheelers alive. Many had met its match there, and it had quite the reputation. So we were going to go on a scouting trip before the evening hunt on Monday, which we did. They were unsure once again of the Rhino, and so we all loaded up on 4-wheelers to go scout the top of the bump. Keith led the way, and once we got to the top and got on the flat, he stopped and said he had hunted near where we were once and thought it was a good spot. I agreed and pinned a tree I wanted to climb. I noticed there were scrapes and rubs about, and good trails and if the wind stayed like it was, it would be a good morning spot. We went on to the back, and found a ton of very large rubs back there. Paul pinned a tree and finally Keith pinned his. We were ready for the am hunt.

Monday night we all talked about the deer we had seen, and laughed and had a great time. I’ve never seen so much coffee consumed at one time. And between the ladybug infestation, and us laughing at each other, we had a grand time! At about 10:30pm, we all worked our way up to bed, and turned in. 3:00am was going to come early…..

I wake up before the alarm, and got up and grabbed my shower. It is supposed to rain today, and we all have our rain gear ready and are loaded and ready to go. Paul and I are going to take the Rhino over Bud’s Bump, and we are ready. Keith gives the thumbs up and leads the way. We zip up the road, and finally reach the testing point, the base of Bud’s Bump. I give Keith plenty of time to get a good head start, cause I don’t want to run over him (Ha! Ha!) and I make my move. I’m in 4-low with the diff. locked in, and the machine just about idles over top. Keith looks around and said “I see you made it, wow!” I get off at my tree, and Paul and Keith head on down the trail to theirs.

It is windy this morning, gusty and swirling. I am wondering if this spot is going to pan out. I start to second-guess myself, but I tell myself, “Go with your first impression and instincts”. So I stick with my original plan and decide to hunt this tree. But what I notice in the dark is that there are way too many small saplings around the base of this tree, so I go to work sawing them down. It took me 20-25 minutes, but I had the time and got the work done. It’s hard with a small saw. So I climb my tree, and get settled in.

The wind is rocking and I doze off in the Lounge for 10-15 minutes. As I wake up, I see it is starting to get a bit light, so I stand and stretch as I like to stand the first hour or so of the morning.

30 minutes later, I see a squirrel pass by my stand. I never heard him it’s so windy. I think to myself I am never going to hear a deer walking! But right at 6:55am, the wind lays down and I make a few bleats with my mouth, as I have left every single call I own in Virginia. At 7:00am, I hear the telltale crunch-crunch-crunch of a heavy-bodied deer coming my way. I look back the way I think a deer would travel in this wind, and sure enough I see the chocolate color hide moving my way. I know it’s a buck. He is by himself, and headed my way down the trail. I struggle to get my bow out of the holder, and finally it pops free. I bring it up and he is now at 50 yards and still coming strong. My heart quickens as he moves closer to my shooting lane. I know he is going to enter a spot that is wide open and 25 yards. When he reaches 35 yards, I go to full draw. I don’t have the peep to my eye, but the bow is full draw and slightly lowered to make it easier to hold. But wait!! What’s this? He is turning, coming STRAIGHT TO ME!!! He stops at 15 yards right across the 4-wheeler trail. He had noticed the saplings I had cut down and had come over to investigate. He looked right, then left, then right again, then right at my tree and bobbed his head straight up and looked me eyeball to eyeball. His eyes got big enough to see the whites, and I’m sure mine looked the same to him. Now I am not looking at headgear, I am concentrating on a spot, and he is offering me NONE! He is perfectly straight on to me. And I can’t move the bow up and the peep to my eye without a lot of movement. If I move the gig is up! He decided it was time to hit the high road, and I know it is now or never. He lifts his front left leg to go, and as he turns ever so slightly, I raise the bow all the way into shooting position, and fire the release. He is in mid-stride, and I had less than a split-second to get this shot off. It seemed so fluid to me. All one motion and I watched the Slick Trick broadhead being pushed by a Cabela’s SST shaft bury all the way to the fletching and STOP! OH NO! I hope my penetration was complete. He bolts almost the way he came, but headed just over the rise 30 yards away and I hear a huge crash just as he passes out of sight. I felt awesome about the shot placement, and all of a sudden the reality of the whole situation hits me. My first Ohio buck!!! And not a bad one either! I do a couple of fist clenches to the sky saying “YES!! YES!!! YES!!!” and then do a little jig in the stand. I thank God for my success once I calm down a bit, and pray he’s not far and expired quickly. After eating a few peanuts and waiting 30 minutes, which has to be what eternity feels like, I climb down, and pack up my stand and sit it by the trail and grab my bow. I go to where he was standing, and see blood not 2
feet behind where I shot. Excellent!

That means I got all the way through. 6-8 feet later I find the shaft with the end broken off right at the fletching.

I look the broadhead over, and it looks like brand new, except one blade is very slightly bent. Wow! A few more steps and I find the small end of my arrow, with blood almost to the nock. I start down the very adequate blood trail, and soon have to move to the side of the trail as there is so much blood that if I stay on the trail I am going to be covered in blood. 30 yards and I crest the knoll, and I don’t see the deer. I know he can’t be far! The woods appear to be wide open so I would have thought I could have seen him right away. Oh please don’t let him run far! One more step and from behind a bush and tree I see a white belly! Yes! There he is! Oh man, this is great. I walk over to the buck, and admire his size and majesty. He is a beautiful animal. I step back and take a pic of how he lay.

I take a few of him before I touch him. I move downwind to get a shot. PEEEEEWHEWWWWW!!!!! Good gracious, that has to be the smelliest deer I have ever killed! Oh man! I’m going to need a clothespin to be around this fellow. He is rank! His tarsal glands are black, as well the lower part of his rear legs. His neck is swelled, and he is in full rut. No wonder he came in to my sweet nothings!!

I take a few more pics, and tag him. I lay my bow across him, snap a few more pics and head up to get Paul and the Rhino.

It’s still early, and I don’t want to disturb Paul, so I go to the Rhino and whistle one quick blast, and wait. After a while I start the Rhino and head back to where my tree stand is. I didn’t know it, but Paul had been very frustrated as the wind was giving him grief and had already been busted twice that morning. He was on the ground and had just about reached the road when I took off down the trail. I dropped the case and came back and found him walking down the trail. We loaded his stuff, and I relayed the story to him as we drove back. Funny thing was, he was so mad he thought I had gotten mad with the wind and all and was just as frustrated as he was. When I told him I had indeed gotten a buck, he said “No really, you shot a buck, really?” After I told him the story, he got excited for me as well, and we dropped his stand and bow off and made our way down to the deer with the Rhino. He took lots of pics of me, and then we loaded “stinky boy” into the Rhino. What a nice little 8 pointer!

We get back to where we left the gear, and load up and come down Bud’s Bump and the first drop of rain hits us as we start back down the trail.

It’s just after 9:00am and we pull back into camp. It starts to rain a bit harder now, and soon the others are back at camp. They all congratulate me on my buck, and I tell the story. We load the buck on the empty trailer and head into town to check him in, get some ice and pizza. Got him checked in and headed back to camp. We enjoyed the pizza and swapped stories of the windy morning. Then we loaded the beast into the Rhino, and headed for the barn to cape and butcher him.

We pulled him up with the Rhino, and started the process. It went smooth and we saved the bones for Mike’s wolves he raises. Keith pulled out a knife he made that was just beautiful. He sure has talent in that area. Once we iced down the quarters, we headed back to camp. It was raining pretty hard by then. One note here. I did not field dress this deer, but waited to do it when I caped him out. What I wanted to see was how much bone the broadhead had traversed, and exactly where it had gone through. It entered the wide scapula blade of the shoulder, and then went between two ribs, into the right side lung, down through the front of the heart, out the side, and through the left lung low, then between the ribs on the left side. Completely through the deer, even though the arrow did not “pass through”. I was very pleased as I could not have made a much better shot on him, no matter how much time I had. I tend to make better “snap” shots than I do if I have to hold it on a spot for a long period of time.

Since the rain did not let up till late, we all did not hunt the evening, but did go out later to scout. We went on the trail that I had gone on the first day I was there. Paul drove the Rhino and zipped right on up, mud and all, no problems. As a matter of fact, some of the other guys were not keeping up on their 4-wheelers. It was fun. After a while we all headed back to camp, and Paul and I headed back early. We grabbed our gear (except all I had was a video camera) and we walked out in the long field across the road from Mike’s house. We walked ½ way down the field, and just about dark we hear the deer running down the ridge across the creek from the field. We retreat back the way we came so as not to spook the deer out of the area.

The next morning I decide we should try Bud’s Bump again, but we all have doubts that we will be able to make it up with the mud from all the rain. I say let’s try it, so we head out. Paul and I have Keith in tow and head up the Bump. I am slinging mud all the way up and 10 feet from the top the Rhino stops. I keep the gas going and Paul jumps out. I cut the tires left and right and it grabs traction and shoots over the top!! What a machine. I am beginning to think this machine will go anywhere! Keith decided to hunt the tree I was in when I killed my buck, and we go close to where he was the same day.

Paul and I drive on back, and park the Rhino back off the trail. We grab our gear and Paul had one of the tarsal glands and we made a drag. We drag the thing down the trail, and went too far. We came back to where we needed to go into the woods, and went in and picked out two trees about 20 yards apart. It was so foggy from all the rain, and it was dripping all morning just like it was raining. It finally cleared about 10:00am. I was freezing, and coming down with a fever. I don’t know why I was getting sick, but I sure felt it coming on. The morning was great though. Two young deer came in and milled around us for 20 minutes it seemed like. There was a doe and a button buck. The doe walked to the bottom of my tree and then spooked at the peanut hulls I had tossed on the ground. She only ran off several yards, and after a while of stomping and neck jerking, they settled back to their routine, but not as easy as they first were. They milled around in front of Paul’s stand for a while, then walked down the knoll a bit. Then here they came back. I videoed them the entire time, then decided I would fill my doe tag since there was not a shooter buck coming in to Paul. I set my camera down, and when I went to get my bow, the doe caught my movement and moved off to a little thicker area and blew once and left. It was fun watching these deer.

Soon Paul could hear a turkey coming. He had a call, so started to cluck, spit and purr a bit. This hen hollered and talked to Paul for 10 minutes. She finally couldn’t stand it and came running in. She got 25 yards in front of my camera, saw me videoing her, and bolted. It was fun. But I was getting chilled. Time crept on and finally at 10:45am, I see Paul start to pack up. I gladly descend the tree and pack up. We walk back to the Rhino, and load up and head over to Keith’s stand. He is all smiles. He tells us there has been deer around him all morning and he hasn’t had a day this good in the woods in a long time. He thinks there is a 140 class buck chasing a doe just out of range. They have crossed about 6 times he said. He seems to be really enjoying himself. So we ease on down the trail and back to camp.

Back at camp some of the guys saw a few deer, others nothing. I am feeling worse all the time, and I can feel the fever heating up. The only Tylenol they had was children’s, so I figure what I need by weight and eat 12 of the grape tabs. I decide I have to lay down and rest. I sweat it out for about 2 hours, and wake feeling much better, but not out of the woods yet. Oops! Didn’t mean that pun…J But I feel good enough to finish the last evenings hunt, so I head back to the paw paw patch on the flat, only this time I drive the Rhino to the base of the tree I want in, and unload my gear. I drive the beast around the bend, park it and get back to the tree. I climb the tree and get comfy, and just try to rest. I’m not feeling the best. I eat a pear off of Mike’s tree he gave me, and enjoy it. It’s was a little hard yet, but very tasty.

Just 20 minutes of good shooting light left, and I hear a deer coming out of the clear-cut into the woods. It’s a very nice doe. She feeds along and after 10-12 minutes, finally gets to 30 yards broadside. I am guessing that with the light I had better take the shot. I see that she is in an area I had lasered earlier and it showed 38-39 yards. I am very confident to 50 yards with my setup, although I normally shoot them less than 20 yards. But I feel good about everything so I draw and put the pin where I want and release. TWACK!!!! Missed her!!! I absolutely missed this deer, right over her back and the broadhead slammed into a rock and the entire arrow was completely trashed. She jumps off 20 yards and looks around, then feeds off toward the fields. I hear other deer moving through the clear-cut in front of me and see a few. It was an exciting evening and a great end to a great hunt, even if I did miss. I’m feeling so bad now that if I were to have shot her, I know I could not have field dressed her and butchered her. So maybe it was for the best.

This hunt was very new to me as I have never bow hunted in the rut and in these kind of conditions. It was a ton of fun, and the three lucky quarters I got at Starbucks really helped me score…..;) The cashier gave me back three quarters for my change. A 1977, 1987, and a 1997. Three lucky sevens. I saved them just for good luck. Guess they worked.

The trip back home was rough as I was fevered pretty badly. We were able to stop and get some orange juice and Tylenol and that helped. I slept a good bit while Philip drove. He did great and drove the entire way to my house. We unloaded the gear and they were off to their place. I was tired, sick, exhausted, but as satisfied as I have ever been. I really missed my wife and the kids, and glad I was able to talk with them on the phone several times during the hunt. Rhonda is such a great mom, and they made me a big “WECOME HOME DAD” greeting which they all signed. Now to butcher my deer which is on ice, and to take my head and cape to the Dwayne Parks, my taxidermist. COOL!!!

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