Archive for May, 2008

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

Why They Call It Hunting

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

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

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

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

Buck Fever

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

10 votes, average: 2.80 out of 510 votes, average: 2.80 out of 510 votes, average: 2.80 out of 510 votes, average: 2.80 out of 510 votes, average: 2.80 out of 5 (10 votes, average: 2.80 out of 5)
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Published by Evans 21 on 10 May 2008

One Last Time

The best bowhunting property belonged to my grandfather. I always was able to see deer, and had the best of time doing it.  My grand father took a bad fall in late August, 2007.  He was struggling to stay alive, and died on September 11, 2007. I thank God each day I was able to tell him i loved him beofre he went to meet God.  He had six children, so when he passed on, the property had to be put on the market because not all of the kids wanted to keep it.  I knew that I would only be able to finsih out that bowhunting season.  All of my freinds thought i was crazy because I spent every possible minute in my favorite deerstand.  I fought it out through snow, wind, rain, and below-zero temperatures. I had to harvest one last deer.  Yes, I had my chances.  I had two huge bucks walk under 30 yards of me, but somehow I missed.  It was a shot I was VERY confident in.  Oddly, one of these encounters was on Thanksgiving morning, and the other on Christmas morning.  Coincidence? I don’t think so.  Every time I crawled out of the deerstand at the end of the day, I knew I was one more day closer to the last time I would be able to go. That day finally arrived.  It was cold, around 5 below zero. I did everything the same as I had done before, but I cherished every moment of it.  I was able to see a few does, but I never had a shot. I was going home empty-handed. I got out and headed home.  I never knew how personal a peace of property could become. I’m not embarrassed to say that I was teary-eyed the whole way home.  Just because I wasn’t able to harvest a deer, I still deem the season successful, as I was able to enjoy the outdoors, just the way Grandpa would have liked it.  Everything will never be the same without Grandpa, but i know I have one more Angel looking out for me. Also on a side note, the deadline for articles is the same day as my grandpa’s birthday, May 19. He would have been 90.  I thank you for the opportunity to share my story with everyone.

25 votes, average: 3.04 out of 525 votes, average: 3.04 out of 525 votes, average: 3.04 out of 525 votes, average: 3.04 out of 525 votes, average: 3.04 out of 5 (25 votes, average: 3.04 out of 5)
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Published by cape buffalo on 10 May 2008

Dreams do come true!

Dreams do come true! As long as I’ve been hunting, my friend and I have always wanted to kill a buck with a droptine. Well it finally happened to me! One day last year while out bow hunting I saw three does acting crazy, running and jumping like rabbits. Then it happened… out walked a big buck with a droptine! I was so shaking -up I couldnt even think straight. Well the buck knew something was not right and he disapeared like a ghost. Over the next three weeks I hunted that deer hard and saw him one more time, and now it is November & I was in the woods well before daylight and as I sat their thinking where the buck could be. I saw a deer walking, but to my surprize it was the does I had always seen with him, but no buck this time. now it was around 1:30PM, so I started walking back to my truck, but on the way out I saw a deer on a ridge making scapes and walking toward me, so I stopped and watched as the deer came closer. I saw what I have waited a lifetime for walking right to me. And I drew my bow,but  I had no shot.The deer just kept walking right pass me into a large blown down tree that blocked my shot, and then it happened, at 10 yards the deer saw me, but it was too late at 10 yards I shot the arrow, It  hit the buck perfect as he ran off I sat down to think about what had just happened to me. As I calmed down I picked up a blood trail that the blind could have followed. after 150yards I found my dream buck and to my surprize he had kickers, three brow tines, double droptines and spilts plus mass. everthing you could want and more, and I thank god and my dad for a great deer and I know his off spring will be there for years to come and just maybe my son will take one this year. And, yes my son told me he wants one with 5 droptines on each side. And always remember dreams do come true!
12 votes, average: 2.83 out of 512 votes, average: 2.83 out of 512 votes, average: 2.83 out of 512 votes, average: 2.83 out of 512 votes, average: 2.83 out of 5 (12 votes, average: 2.83 out of 5)
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Published by HawaiiSportsman on 09 May 2008

If it weren’t for bad luck……………..


Have you ever had one of those hunting trips where nothing seems to go right? The kind that makes you wish you’d never gotten out of bed? Every time something else goes wrong you tell yourself “well it can’t get any worse than this.” You soon realize that it can, and it does. Before long you start to second guess yourself. If only I had worn my luck hat, if only I had hunting the stand on the other side of the field. Your not sure if you should curse at, or pray to the hunting gods. Some where along the way you lost your Mojo.

I’ve had my share bad luck, but I recently went through a slump that almost had me ready to hang up the bow. As in the lyrics of an old Eric Clapton song ‘if wasn’t for bad luck I wouldn’t have any luck at all’. That’s how I felt. I could not catch a break. But, I kept plugging away. Even my hunting buddies recognized my downward spiral. They would give me words of encouragement and even let me know they were glad they weren’t in my shoes! They were short on advise because it seemed as though I was doing all the right things. I would change up my hunting routine, change stand locations, have a positive attitute and all the other things needed to get my Mojo back.

I could easily write a short story describing the painful yet humorous events that chronicled the last several months of my life. But sometimes that old saying just fits, “I guess you had to be there”. Well, there was a video camera there. Over the past four years I have been filming hunting adventures for myself and friends. I have been airing them on a local community access channel for all the local hunters to enjoy. The response has been incredible. I’m not sure if it’s because there is no local hunting program in the state or it’s because of our local, oridinary guy approach. I guess you can judge for yourself. I humbly present Hawaii Sportsman TV. This program was specially edited just for the blog section. Enjoy and please feel free to leave feedback.












14 votes, average: 2.93 out of 514 votes, average: 2.93 out of 514 votes, average: 2.93 out of 514 votes, average: 2.93 out of 514 votes, average: 2.93 out of 5 (14 votes, average: 2.93 out of 5)
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Published by kent5252 on 09 May 2008

From the Gridiron to the Hardwoods

There have been times in my life when people have asked me why I hunt. To me, there has never been a question. However, I struggle to find the words. I am often inspired by writings that describe my emotions, because I have a difficult time identifying them myself. Hunting, to me, is all about quiet mornings, watching squirrells, sneaking through the woods undetected, sunrises, sunsets, the smell of gunpowder, waking up early to a fresh pot of coffee, preparing for a hunt with friends the night before, time well spent with family, the thrill of the chase, the thrill of the kill, being a part of nature, and ultimately realizing that there is a higher power who created this all for us. I have been very blessed in my life. I am currently a college student/football player. Throughout highschool I was fortunate enough to have a lot of success on the field. Because of that, I earned a full-scholarship to a division 1A school to continue with my playing career. Over the last four years, it has been a wild ride. I have played in some of the greatest venues that our country has to offer a college football player. Although the ride has been thrilling, I have missed spending weekends in my deer stand during the rut. Over the last four years, there have been times when I really struggled to make it out there, due to a lack of time.I think it has affected me to the core. People do not realize what a sacrifice college football has been. It is a 365 day-a-year committment. Just last fall, I was standing on the sidelines at Ohio Stadium. We were playing against the Buckeyes, who would eventually play in the national championship. That stadium packed over 100,000 people. It was overwhelming to say the least. Being from Ohio, I had dreamed about playing in that game for my whole life. I know this sounds crazy, but before the game even started, I was actually looking forward to getting home that night. The reason was that I knew I would be able to hunt the next morning. Some people will judge me for looking a gift horse in the mouth. That is just not the case. I love football, but hunting is my life. I need it. I cannot live without it. Being in nature is something like a drug to me, and it is my one and only addiction. I think that there is just something about traveling far away to play in front of large crowds like that. It overwhelms me to the point of irritation. School bothers me too. I don’t like being around a whole lot of people at once. When I’m around a lot of concrete and steel for too long, I feel frustrated. People at school do not understand me. On the weekends when they go out to party, I go home and prepare my gear for a morning hunt. While they play video games, I usually head out to the archery range or go fishing. My girlfriend is the only one here who really understands me. We have been together for 3 years. It has taken some getting used to on her part. She is not a hunter herself, but she knows why I go home every weekend. Hunting takes me far away from football and school. It is my time to be out in God’s country clear of any worries. I can really separate from everything out there. I leave it all behind me when I step out into the woods. This past semester, my mother suffered a life-threatening situation. She was diagnosed with cranial aneurysms. Two of them burst in her brain. It was the scariest time of my life. She is my best friend, and we really thought that we were going to lose her. Between the surgeries and events that took place, I spent as much time as possible in the woods. Hunting helped me to cope with a difficult situation. Everybody deals with things differently, and that is how I got through that period in time. Luckilly, she is alright now. During that period of time when things were chaotic though, the only time when I could feel okay was when I was out there by myself. When I have no choice but to be at school, and I have some down time, I like to spend it reading. Specifically, a lot of time is spent on Archery Talk reading articles, and learning about equipment or new hunting tactics. I also read books about Fred Bear, Chuck Adams, Saxton Pope, Art Young, Fred Eichler, Theodore Roosevelt, etc. I will read anything that I can get my hands on if it deals with hunting. It eases my mind about other things as well. I may be the only 22 year old guy who cannot wait to graduate, go to work somewhere, and buy a piece of property for myself. I dream big too. I would rather have a shack in the woods than a 3-million dollar castle in the city. Though that sounds somewhat cliche, I really mean that. Give me a log cabin with a few acres attached. Watch me live happily ever after. I don’t want a mansion on Lake Shore Drive. I don’t want a million dollars. I just want enough. I don’t care what I do for my job, as long as I can afford my dream of buying a little farm somewhere to kick my feet up. For the time being, I will continue to sneak home with every spare minute I have. After a long week of suffocation at school, I know I can come up for air on the weekends. In the modest words of the great Fred Bear: “On most days spent in the woods, I come home with an honestly earned feeling that something good has taken place. It makes no difference whether I got anything, it has to do with how the day was spent.”

8 votes, average: 2.63 out of 58 votes, average: 2.63 out of 58 votes, average: 2.63 out of 58 votes, average: 2.63 out of 58 votes, average: 2.63 out of 5 (8 votes, average: 2.63 out of 5)
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Published by Will.V on 09 May 2008

My First Draw on an Animal.

2007 Deer season was my first season of hunting any animal.  I got 3 weekends to hunt in our local park.
First weekend was the first weekend in October…95 degrees sitting in a tree being packed off by stand by mosquitoes. This was a bad first hunt for a guy!  By the time I got back that night, my back was covered in bites.  Second weekend (November) a small doe came in, but too far off to take a shot.  Pretty disheartening, really.
3rd weekend (January), I am sitting in a blind.  I get there about an 1 hour before sunrise and fall asleep in the chair.  I wake up just before dawn, but with enough light to see (and during legal shooting hours).  I awake about 2 minutes when 6 doe come barreling over the hill coming right for me.  I immediately crap myself and try to remember what I am supposed to do. Oh yeah!  The bow.  I slide off my chair and onto my knees, grab my bow and wait for my opening.  A couple smaller does are running around chasing each other.  Being the greedy guy I am, I am only watching the biggest doe here.  She was nice.  Probably 3 – 3 1/2 year old doe by my untrained eyes (she gets older/bigger every time I tell this story).  I decide that she is going to be the one to make me into a full fledged hunter.
By this time, I have 2 does at about 15 yards, 2 at 40 yards, and 1 at 20 yards.  But the one I have my eye on, the big one, is at 30 yards… and behind a tree.  I am trying to be patient and control my breathing.  I swear the 2 at 15 yards hear me and start to look my way.  I notice them staring at me and I decide to hold my breath.  Bad idea.  That just makes me start to breathe harder after I can’t hold it any longer.  Much to my surprise they go back to chasing each other again.  I decide to move a little to my left so I can get a better angle on my big doe when she steps out from the tree.  Then terror strikes.  When I start to move my knees to scoot over…I hear this awful sound that can only be described as velcro.  I slowly turn my head thinking my jacket is caught on something, but it wasn’t.  I try it again.  Again the nightmarish sound louder than a 12 guage.   I look up and thankfully none of the does notice.  I try it one more time, but this time very slowly. Sound is still there, but now I know where it is coming from.  My knees of my pants are stuck to the frozen ground.  Am I destined to fail at deer hunting?  I keep moving slowly, keeping the sound as quiet as possible, and eventually get them free.  I scoot over and am now looking through an opening in the blind.  Now sitting where I think I have the best shot, I see the doe start to move forward.  Game time, baby.  I lift my bow and draw back the shakiest draw I have ever made.  Breathing becomes even louder and faster, and I can’t believe they don’t hear me.  I have a decent shooting lane, except I have to shoot over this small branch about 5 feet in front of the blind.  Not a problem, I have been practicing since last winter and feel confident in my shooting ability.  I finally get to full draw.  She still isn’t out all the way.  Vitals are only halfway out from behind the tree, so I have to wait.  No problem, I have been practicing holding my draw since last winter and feel confident in my ablility.  About an hour later (probably 25 seconds, really) she is completely out from behind this tree.  Fantastic.  This is the moment I have worked for all season.  I pick my spot.  “Aim small, Miss small” as the elders in my hunting group always say.  No problem, I have been practicing since last winter and feel confident in my shooting ability.  I let her fly.
But I make a mistake.  A mistake I am sure many beginners make.  Something I have been practicing since last winter.  Something I felt confident about.  I got excited.  I “peeked”.  When the release let the arrow fly, I peeked over the bow to see where the arrow went.  I dropped my bow just enough to see.  I didn’t do what I practiced since last winter to do.  I didn’t follow through, by keeping the bow up.  The arrow came out below where I planned, and hit that small branch 5 feet in front of my blind.  It ricocheted off that branch and flew 2 feet in front of the big does face.  To my horror I saw all 6 doe look up, and run.  My heart drops into my boots and shoulders go limp.  Disappointment at it’s worst. 

But wow, what a rush!  I have never felt like that before.  Even missing the shot completely, the rush was indescribable.  Maybe this is what hunting is really about.  That was worth all the mosquito bites.  That was worth the sore butt from sitting 12 hours in a tree.  That rush was the most intense feeling I have ever felt.  And that was a doe!  I can not even fathom a big buck walking past my stand.  Even having completely missed my shot, the smile wrapped across my face is fantastic.  That rush has just made me a full fledged hunting addict.  My record 0 – 1.  But wait until next season.

8 votes, average: 2.88 out of 58 votes, average: 2.88 out of 58 votes, average: 2.88 out of 58 votes, average: 2.88 out of 58 votes, average: 2.88 out of 5 (8 votes, average: 2.88 out of 5)
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Published by r49740 on 09 May 2008

The Difference…

As the dawn of December 25th, 2007 began, so did the unknown of the events that would begin to unfold.  Much like so many others, my wife and I exchanged gifts with each other, shared a cup of coffee, and began to get ready.  Every year for Christmas morning, my family gathers at our house for my mom to make a huge breakfast.  This tradition goes back 36 years to when my parents first bought the house, and has continued since my wife and I bought it 3 years ago.  This year would change the tradition for every year to follow.

For the first time we would be going to my sister’s house for breakfast.  The atmosphere would be different.  The conversations would go from retelling the hunting stories of all the hunting pictures on the walls, to probably talking about general life.. life outside of hunting and archery.  As the 9:00 am hour approached, we climbed into our car and drove off.

As the breakfast table was cleared, the excitment started to build.  It was time to exchange gifts. Again, this year, it is different.  As each person takes there turn to give a gift to everyone else and watch them open, the nervousness and fear begins to set in… I’m next in line.  Just like everyone else, I typically give a gift that is unnecessary in cost, but one that still brings a smile. This year is different.

This year, I hand a card to every person at the same time.  In place of a gift that took away my savings, they all get a letter to read.  However, each letter is different.  Each letter is an explanation to why I love that person, what they have done in my life, and thanking them.  To follow was a discussion that most parents do not want to hear from their last born.  A discussion that I had been diagnosed a week earlier with cancer.  The hour to follow was a blur, but the ending comment that was made by my dad is one that will not be forgotten.   Since treatments are available at this time, he said, “There is a difference between having a house, and having a house on fire.  One gives you comfort, security and hope.  And we all still have those things”.

The significance of that comment would be greatly increased in just four short hours.  As my wife and I headed back home and pulled on to our street at 2:45 pm, we saw the fire department completing the task of putting out the flames of our home.  When we left in the morning, a candle that was forgotten to be put out had fallen over onto the carpet.  A home that had been in our family had just lost 3 complete rooms and the rest was destroyed from smoke damage. At 3:45, the fire department cleared the home and allowed my wife and I to enter for the first time.  As we walked around in complete disbelief and shock, we made our way to the basement. 

Even with everthing upstairs being ruined, everything in the basement was untouched.  My wife’s wedding dress in storage, our wedding album, my archery equipment.. all untouched.

As the days to follow unfolded with little sleep, black powder season opened in Ohio.  To get away from all the work and stress, I was convinced to go hunting with my dad, my dad’s long time friend, my brother in law, and my wife’s uncle.  As the darkness started to fade, so did my stress.  The woods started to fill me with hope, comfort, and excitement for things to come.  Shortly after day break, at about 9:30, the silence of the woods was broken.  I had just taken the biggest buck of my hunting career.

As our group stood around the deer taking pictures, and the hand shakes and high fives were given out, I saw it.  When I saw it, I finally knew exactly what it meant.  I looked into my dad’s eyes, the one who taught me to hunt, the one that got me excited about archery, the one that helped me develop my passion for the outdoors… he did it again.  He taught me another life lesson, and seeing myself surrounded by friends and family doing what I love to do, I realized..

“There is a difference between having a house, and having house on fire”.

14 votes, average: 3.14 out of 514 votes, average: 3.14 out of 514 votes, average: 3.14 out of 514 votes, average: 3.14 out of 514 votes, average: 3.14 out of 5 (14 votes, average: 3.14 out of 5)
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Published by LowTrunkOzz on 08 May 2008

What gets me out of bed in the morning

I don’t know about you, but come any hunting season I’m just like a kid the night before Christmas. I work as hard as I can during the “off” season (and according to my wife there is really no such thing) getting myself and my gear ready for whatever is coming up. This years spring turkey season was no different.

I hadn’t really been able to do the scouting that I wanted to, but after last year I knew of a couple of good spots to put the bead on some turkeys. Before season “drive-by’s” had given me a good idea that my hunch was correct and there were thunder chickens in my chosen areas. The only thing that was different about this particular morning was that I REALLY had to perform! I had found out that a person that was as enthusiastic as I lived not but an eight of a mile from my house! After the first few messages back and forth about who each other were, it was decided that I would take this new friend on a hunt.

The night before the big day was no different than any other high expectation, premature adrenaline rush, “man I HAVE TO see something nice” time that I’ve looked forward to before. It was sleepless, to say the least. At 4:30 that morning I was awake waiting for the alarm and then I was off like a bolt to get dressed, brush my teeth, and be out the door. Ron showed up and we decided it was surely a good day to bust a longbeard!

My initial thought was to hunt a bottom that is encompassed on three sides by a creek that has always been a good roosting spot. After last year, I was sure where we needed to set up and we made our way to it. The decoys were out, the stake out blind was up, a call was in my mouth, and it was looking to be a great day. My, was I wrong!! By daylight there was maybe the faintest of gobbles that could barely be heard over the grass growing and nothing else. As we sat there silently complaining of aching rear ends, Ron slowly turned to scan the area and whispered to me, “Nate, I think there’s a turkey in the tree behind me!”

“WHAT?” I ask, and then begin scanning the area behind me. “There’s one in the tree behind me, too!”

I couldn’t believe our fate. No toms were heard, but boy we sure fired the hens up! After flydown we quickly packed up and headed out to a few other properties that held about as much promise as my back yard and finally ended up at what was my “last ditch effort.” We got into the woods, threw out a couple yelps and finally heard that sound that says there are undeniably turkeys here, the grobbobbbole! So, like two confused clowns, we look at each other while I bumble with the hen decoy stuffed in the back of my vest until Ron comes to my rescue and gets it out unscathed. We sit down hurredly and I just so happen to pick the smallest, most uncomfortable tree around. We threw calls out sparingly as the gobblers got tight lipped. After about 20 minutes or so I catch the ever so slight movement of Ron telling me that there are two birds off to his side. And then it starts, my heart is in my throat and my fingers feel like they are going to explode! I can visibly see Ron start to shake ever so slightly as one of the toms made it’s way back to see where that sexy lady was that was talking so sweetly! I don’t think a turkey could have moved any slower!

Finally, after much contemplation, ol’ tom made his down to a pretty good shooting lane, from where I sat mind you, so I gave a little cluck. Man was he on to me! He ever so slowly made his way a little further all the while my mind is screaming “SSSSHHHHHOOOOOOTTTTT!!!”

BBBBOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMM! Wings out, head down! It was a good hit for sure! Before I can even think about what to do next I find myself trying to hold this big boy still so he doesn’t tear up his tail. That is what it’s all about! The late nights and early mornings, the sore backs and bottoms, the fight to find that one lonesome tom looking for love in all the wrong places. You can’t replace that feeling with anything man made! That’s what gets me out of bed in morning! 

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Published by tim9910 on 08 May 2008

Success for Beginning Bowhunters

For most hunters that decide to make the transition from barrels and bullets to strings and arrows, it can get off to a tricky start. I began hunting with my dad when I was young, probably 7 or 8 years old. I remember when I finally got to carry my own gun, a 20 gauge pump action with slugs. Back then, we were not allowed to harvest does in the county we hunted, so although seeing many deer I wasn’t able to close the deal. I got my first bow when I was 12, an old Bear Grizzly II from a pawn shop. I shot daily until I could shoot 3-4 inch groups at 30 yards, shooting barebow with fingers. When I was 13, on that same property I had hunted all those years, I set up a stand for my first bowhunting experience near a pond with a steep ridge to my back loaded with white oaks. That first morning, a nice 8 point came trotting towards me grunting lowly and checking the ground, as if there was a doe ready for his acquaintance. I was so excited about seeing a buck in the woods, I didn’t even raise my bow to shoot! I saw him again the next day, but this time he was right behind a doe and never came within 50 yards of my stand. Finally at 14 I harvested a doe with my bow and the rest is history, I have been hooked since that day.

Fast forward now about 15 years, a friend of mine has a better story. In 2006, Byron Howton, a friend and colleague of mine, started bowhunting. He bought a bow early in the year, practiced until he was sure about himself, and sought all the info he could gather from friends and more experienced bowhunters. He scouted a piece of public land, on Skiatook WMA, and found some good places to hang stands. Then, to my amazement, he harvested a legal doe in the first few weeks of the season. We were all happy for him, especially being his first bow kill and doing it on heavily pressured hunting ground. Then, rifle season rolled along, he took the week off work and bowhunted the entire time. On November 16, he and his wife Melissa took to the woods. She set up in a ground blind about 60 yards behind his treestand. They were on stand well before legal light, and the weather was calm and clear. It was a quiet morning, a few hours passed and Melissa decided to leave the confinement of the ground blind and still hunt a little. She hunts with a crossbow, so there is the advantage of being able to shoot without movement. After Byron saw her moving out further, he decided to give a couple soft grunts with his call. After the second or third grunt, a nice 8 point cleared the brush about 60 yards out. He was in no hurry, not like was seeking the call, but made the journey towards it anyway. After he got within 30 yards, Byron drew his Reflex bow, and settled the second pin behind the bucks shoulder. He released the arrow, but with the excitement, didn’t see the impact. But then he saw as the buck was running off, the quarter of his arrow shaft sticking out from the side of the deer. He waited about 20 minutes, then decided to get down and check for blood. He and his wife found the deer only 35 yards away, hit through both lungs. You can imagine the excitement now, two deer in his first season, one of which is a nice buck. I’m glad everybody is not the successful their first season, or there would be no place left to hunt!

No matter if it takes a week or 10 years, harvesting an animal with a bow is an experience to behold. I have forgotten deer taken with rifles, but remember every arrow flight that penetrated a kill zone. It’s always like slow motion for me, and the excitement never goes away. I still shake like a squirrels tail even when it’s a doe I just took. I guess if that ever went away, it wouldn’t be so addicting. If you are a beginning a bowhunter, and having bad luck like so many of us have had, don’t get discouraged. Use every moment in the stand as a learning experience. Remember where the deer came from, and where they went. What time they moved, the time of year and what the food sources were at the time. After you spend time and keep compiling this data, you’ll eventually put the pieces of the puzzle together. Success in the woods is not always harvesting animals, but seeing them in their natural state undisturbed. You can learn things in early bow season about deer that you never would have known if you weren’t out there, putting in your time. Not everyone is going to have a first season like my friends, but if you keep at it, eventually you will get something on the ground, and then start doing it consistently.

It’s even more of a challenge for an experienced hunter to teach children. They want results, and if they have multiple outings with no sign of deer, they can quickly become frustrated and bored. Reassuring them that success will come, and maybe mixing in a few squirrel hunts in between deer hunts will help. If they can get out in the woods and move around a little more, and bring home some squirrel for the pan, it can help to rekindle the drive to pursue more challenging game. The main thing is to find something positive about each outing. Something you see in the woods that may seem insignificant to you could spark a lot of interest in someone of lesser experience. A good example is as the sun goes down in a draw, feeling the rush of cooler air. Thermals are a complicated but interesting event that happens in the woods. Explaining what causes these and how they affect scent control and stand placement can be very educational to a beginning archer. At the same time though, don’t overload them with information and confuse them to the point of boredom again. There is a fine line between good hunting education and cramming for a final exam type of education.

Byron has been bitten by the bug now, and he has started to shoot 3D tournaments with us now. He has talked about hunting non-stop since Jan 15th, the end of our season in Oklahoma. He has also kept the fire burning in me, which usually dies about December, when I have spent so many hours in a stand I begin getting burned out. I didn’t harvest a single deer last year, but had several within a few yards of my stand. I count that as successful, I could have easily taken a couple of deer, but decided to let them walk for another year. That’s easier to do on private land, where they have a chance at making it. Only the good Lord knows what this October will bring us, but I know one thing for certain, my friends and I will be in a tree somewhere waiting to find out!

-Tim Hicks

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Published by robert muncie on 08 May 2008

The Dance of Excitement

My son recently turned six and for many months leading up to his birthday I debated as to if he was mature enough to receive his first gun. The answer ended up being yes. I then spent several weeks looking at new and used guns, trying to decide which route to go. I knew it would be a 22, I just didn’t know what gun it would be and then it came to me. My first gun was a 22 Remington Model 66, given to me by my grandfather on my fourth birthday, and the gun was still in perfect shape. The model 66 was made available in a black nylon stock and a nickel barrel and that’s what I had. The gun was light weight and still shot perfectly despite being over 40 years old. I made a call to my buddy Zach, who does some gunsmith work on the side, and he came over one evening to help break it down and double check that all the parts were in perfect working order. Well the gun checked out and we were good. My first gun would also be my son’s first gun. It came time for my son’s birthday and time for his big gift. He opened several other gifts and then stood quietly looking around, wandering why there hadn’t been one from good old dad. After about a minute I said are you looking for something and he just looked at me with that “you know I am” look so I trotted off to the bedroom and came back with a large package. His eyes became as big as saucers as he opened the large package. He knew what it was and he was elated with joy. I stood there just watching him look over his new rifle and I started to feel tears well up in my eyes and a joy I could not explain. I knew right then that this was going to be the start of a great hunting partnership. I would soon have a new hunting partner like no other I’d had before.

This got me wandering back some twenty six years ago to a time when I was 14 and in my second year as a deer hunter. The first year had not gone well. My father had done all he could to get me ready and when the weekend finally came, a cold front had come in and it had turned bitter cold. This made for many long sits on the ground and only one doe crossed my path. Back then your license only allowed you to shoot a buck so I had to let her walk. Now I’m 14 and have a year under my belt so I considered myself a veteran hunter.

We headed out for our trip that Friday night and got to our camp just before dark with the weather looking much better. Saturday turned out to be very uneventful and Saturday night brought much disappointment without any deer sightings. I sat in camp that evening with my father and we worked over where to hunt the next morning. He usually kept me near him for safety reasons, never more than a half mile at most. I decided that I wanted to hunt a place we ran across that day and told him my ideas for the following morning. He hesitated a bit and then finally agreed. This would put us over two miles apart and me over a mile from camp. I must admit I was a bit nervous but I really wanted a shot on a buck and felt my new found honey hole would deliver. Morning came and I headed out under clear skies and a cool crisp morning air.

About an hour after sun up I heard that wonderful sound of crunching leaves. I looked up across the ravine and saw two deer headed my way, a doe and a yearling. As I watch them I realized they were coming on a path that would lead them to within 10 feet of me and I’m on the ground. I gathered myself and shut down all my movement. As they approach I heard another sound from behind them and I peaked out the corner of my eye to see what looks to be a buck coming in 200 yards behind the doe and yearling. He was hot and apparently so was the doe some 15 feet in front of me. I remember being scared and shaking and hoping that the other two didn’t bust me as they moved past. Things went my way and they walked on. The buck was now 75 yards out and closing. I only needed a few more yards for my 12 gauge single shot slugster to be in range. He made up the distance quickly and a loud boom sounded as my 12 gauge barked out. He jumped and ran about 15 feet, stopped, then fell. I waiting about 10 minutes, mainly to stop the shaking, but that didn’t work. I finally made it to my feet and walked down the hill to where my prize awaited. There lay a 6 point buck that I now know scored about 75 inches but to me it was the trophy of a lifetime. He was a majestic animal with a large mid western buck body and a good solid rack. I had shot a buck, I couldn’t believe it. Reality soon set in though and I was faced with two problems. One I didn’t know how to field dress a deer and two there was no way I was going to get him up that hill and back the mile or so to camp. I figured that my dad would have heard the shot and would eventually make his way to me. So I laid my head on my deer and stretched out and started shaking again as I realized what I had done.

About 45 minutes passed and I could see what looked to be a man walking towards me but still a good 300 yards away. As he got to within a 100 yards I noticed it was my father and his pace was very quick. I whistled to him and heard a shout of “did you get one” I shouted back that I did and what happened next I’ll never forget. I heard a yell and then another and could see my father dancing on top of the hill. He took off down the hill dancing the whole way and yelling something about my boy and real deer hunter. My father was a very reserved man and I’d never seen anything like that out of him. I began to be concerned he had fallen out of a tree stand that morning and hit his head. Well he covered the distance between him and I in no time flat and came to a halt standing next to me and breathing very heavily. He looked down at the deer and back up at me and then grabbed me and gave me a big hug and a high five and we spent the next 10 minutes looking over the deer and talking of how it all came down and how I’d conquered the trophy buck. He had so much joy on his face and so much outward excitement and I just didn’t really understand why. I was the one that shot the deer not him and besides he had countless deer on the wall that would score well over 150 and several more in the garage. I really didn’t know how to take this from my father. I’d never seen him that excited about anything. The conversation and excitement continued as we drug the deer back to camp and again all the way home. I was more than happy to tell of my great hunt and kill but didn’t really understand why it was so important to him and why he had gotten so excited.

I’m 40 years old now and a lot of time has come and gone. Cancer took my father when I was 28 and not a day goes by that I don’t think of him. There is one thing that time has helped me to understand though and it took all these years to get there. I understand what he was thinking that day and where all the excitement was coming from. I was his boy, his son, and his hunting partner. I was all his pride wrapped up into one package. I now have my own boy, son, and hunting partner and it finally makes sense to me. I am starting to feel that same excitement that my father must have felt all those years ago. My son has a few years to go before he is ready to deer hunt but I’ll teach him and wait till that day comes. I only hope that he doesn’t think his father has gone crazy or taken a fall when it’s my time to do the dance of excitement.

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