Archive for May, 2008

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Published by Bow on 08 May 2008

Bike for Deer


            My year has three seasons:  hunting, cross country ski and mountain bike season.  But the more I enjoy each activity, the more I learn they are not mutually exclusive.

            Six years ago I started racing my mountain bike in NORBA (National Off-Road Bicycle Association) and EFTA (Eastern Fat Tire Association) cross country races.  I’m not very good, but fighting to stay out of last place helped me enter hunting season in shape for long walks and hard climbs.  It also helped me get permission for multiple hunting trips because I race throughout the New England area and I combine out of state races with long weekends away with my wife.  In the fall I found it much easier to say I was going to hunt bear in Maine one week and deer in New Hampshire another week after we had three summer vacations together.

            Eventually I realized that my mountain bike could help me hunt by doing more than just whipping me into shape.  So last summer instead of taking long road rides on my easy training days, I started riding slowly through the management areas that I hunt in the fall.  The mountain bike easily handled almost all the terrain and it was a great way to get through streams.  Suddenly the object of my slow rides changed from just resting for a race to searching for new places to hunt while resting for a race.  Every slow ride I zig zagged along dirt roads and narrow trails looking for transition areas, new places to put my stand and, most important, sign that deer had bedded, eaten or traveled near my route.  When I decided to scout the thick stuff it was easy to chain the bike to a tree and take off.

            I’d like to say I took a deer from one of the new spots I found, but I didn’t.  I did, however, learn that a mountain bike is not just a pre-season hunting tool.  In November it is an ideal transport to most of my stands and it will take you and your gear into thick woods farther, faster and with less scent than any other form of transportation.  In the same twenty minutes that another hunter could hike a mile into the woods, I could be two to two and a half miles from my truck with a set of wheels that might help me roll out a deer others pushed my way.  All a bike needs is solid ground and a trail or opening at least as wide as the handlebars.  If you doubt that, go on line and type “Mountain Bike Deer Hunt” into a search engine and see how many Outfitters and Lodges run summer mountain bike trips over the same terrain they hunt in the fall.

            In just one hunting season, I discovered many more advantages of a mountain bike.  The fat rubber tires cross open ground scent free.  There is no need to hike by headlamp or flashlight.  Several manufacturers make lights that clamp onto the handlebars and brightly light up a remote trail.  They are not the dim, bulky lamps that were around when I was a teenager.  Modern bike lights are designed for serious off road riding (and racing) and they use bright halogen bulbs and longer lasting batteries.

            Mountain bikes are modern beasts of burden, too.  Today it’s not uncommon to read about someone riding a bicycle cross country.  With the lightweight packs and racks, it’s easy to carry a tent, sleeping bag and enough food for a week on a bike.  Bike packs fit on the handlebars, under the cross bar, under the seat or over either wheel and they are as strong as backpacks.  Mountain bikes also have attachments for water bottles.  Most bikes carry two but some hold three bottles and there are insulated ones that will let you take cold drinks or hot soups as far as you want to go.  And your gun or bow will fit on a mountain bike with the same clamps used on ATV handlebars.

            Buying a Bike

            Today mountain bikes range in price from about $75 at the big discount stores to over $3,000 at the fancy bike shops. Fortunately the things that make bikes expensive are not the things a hunter needs.

            Frames are the biggest part of a bicycle and what they are made from will largely determine the price of the bike.  Steel frames are strong but heavy and they are used on the cheapest bikes.  Generally speaking, bikes get lighter and more expensive as the frames progress from steel to cro-moly (an alloy), to aluminum to carbon fiber.  Bike shops will tell you that the frame material is important in the transfer of energy from your foot to the chain, but unless you consistently find yourself getting to the deer stand fifteen seconds too late, you don’t need to spend an extra $200 to get a stiffer ride.

            I recommend starting your search by looking at bikes with good cro-moly or aluminum frames in the $300 to $500 range.  Manufacturers load the lower priced steel frames with the cheapest parts to keep the price low (usually for a discount store) so the bikes are noisier and more likely to develop problems.  The expensive aluminum or carbon fiber bikes are more than you need, and their fancy coatings may deter you from dragging them through the thick stuff.  After you’ve ridden a $300 to $500 bike, try some cheaper ones and some more expensive ones and see what works.  You may find everything you need for much less than $300, especially on line, but trying these mid range rides will give you an idea of what you like and some knowledge of the components that fit you best.

            Like all good hunting tools a mountain bike must fit the hunter, which means there is not one perfect bike for everybody out there.  Again, the frame is the most important part of the fit.  Better bikes come in sizes, usually ranging from about 17 to 22 inches.  This number is the frame size but not all manufacturers measure their frames the same way so not all 18 inch bikes will fit the same person.

            To see if the frame fits you, stand over the cross bar with the seat behind you.  There should be about two inches of clearance between the bar and your body, maybe a little more to account for thick clothes.

            Next, get on the seat, put one hand on a wall or a car and place your feet on the pedals.  Your leg should be slightly bent when the pedal is all the way down and you should still be able to raise or lower the seat.  Racers will tell you that tube angles are important, too.  I say test ride the bike.  If it feels good, and if it fits, it will hunt.

            To hunt best, you also have to consider pedals and shifting.  First the good news.  The best hunting pedals are the cheapest ones because competitive riders don’t want them.  Racers want clip in pedals or light weight alloy ones with cages for their shoes.  Hunters need big flat pedals they can pump with heavy boots.  If your dream ride doesn’t come with them, you’ll find them hanging up at most discount stores.

            Shifting is a little more complicated.  Today’s mountain bikes have up to 27 speeds.  They shift by inexpensive (and least reliable) thumb or index shifters, or much better grip shifts or rapid fire shifters.  Grip shifts turn on the inside of the hand grip and are the easiest to use with heavy gloves but for some reason, they are getting harder to find on mid range and expensive bikes.  The more a bike costs, the more likely it is to have rapid fire shifters, which are levers mounted at and under the handlebars.  One lever clicks the chain into a higher gear and the other drops it into a lower gear.  They work fine but they take a little practice and they are not as easy to work with gloves.  I’ve found that bike dealers will switch rapid fire with grip shifts to make a sale so try both and don’t be afraid to ask for whatever works best.

            The Down Side

            Mountain bikes are a great hunting tool but they aren’t perfect.  They can be noisy and they can smell, but with a little attention, they can still get you into the woods quieter and with less scent than your boots can.

            Bikes make most noise when they are out of tune, which usually means that something is loose.  All cables stretch, so after the first month of hard riding, shifting will get harder and noisier.  That’s why most bike shops offer a free first tune up when they sell a bike.  Once they tighten the stretched cables, the bike should be quiet again.  Of course, when you change gears the chain will move and the shifter may click.  This is easy to avoid by riding the last quarter mile in the same gear.  Just make sure it is the lowest gear you need to cover that terrain and you won’t have to shift or dismount.  If this doesn’t silence the bike, you can always push it the last quarter mile or chain it to a tree a few hundred yards from your stand.

            Bike chains need to be lubed and chain oil, like gun oil, can smell.  When I race I lube my chain every week.  When I hunt, I don’t lube it.  If you keep the chain clean, whatever lube was on it in the summer will get you through November.  If it does get too stiff, you can always hit it with a scent free gun oil.  And handlebars are nice places to hang scent pads.

            Finally, I learned the hard way what to carry beneath my seat.  In that small bag I keep a patch kit and a chain tool and I bolt a small air pump beside my water bottle.  In six years I’ve broken one chain (by trying to crank hard through a stream in a race) and I’ve gotten two flats.  Heavy duty tubes and proper tire pressure minimize that risk.

            So next year I hope to throw a deer over the cross bar and wheel it from a new area I found in July to the same old truck.  Will it happen?  Who knows.  But I’m sure my chances will be greater with the long distance scouting I’ll be doing on two wheels throughout one of my other favorite seasons.

4 votes, average: 3.75 out of 54 votes, average: 3.75 out of 54 votes, average: 3.75 out of 54 votes, average: 3.75 out of 54 votes, average: 3.75 out of 5 (4 votes, average: 3.75 out of 5)
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Published by Bow on 08 May 2008

Staying Warm Means Hunting Longer

            Fifteen years ago on a February day when the wind chill was about 50 degrees below zero I turned 40 on the side of New Hampshire’s Mount Washington.  Almost every winter of the next decade, I climbed (or tried to climb) the highest mountain in the Northeast and twice I was beaten back by weather that made 50 below feel like spring.  Through these winter ascents on a mountain with the highest recorded wind on earth, I’ve learned how to dress for long days in tree stands when the mercury plunges.


            Layering is an art.  Piling on clothes until you look like the Michelin Man might keep you warm but it could also get you a role in the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” commercial.  Whether climbing or hunting, three layers of clothing is the optimum combination for warmth, comfort and flexibility as long as the layers are the right material and the right fit.

            Many years ago my young son asked me a question that showed the science behind layering.  He came out of my bedroom holding a wool sweater and a cotton shirt and he asked why people say wool is warmer when they both feel the same.  The answer is that wool is not warmer than cotton.  In fact, no material is warmer than any other material.  Wrap thermometers inside your thickest down jacket and your thinnest cotton T-shirt and a half hour later they’ll both show room temperature.

            The science behind that youthful question is that certain materials keep you warmer than others by slowing the loss of the 98 degree heat your body produces.  Proper layering maximizes heat retention by utilizing different materials in each layer to trap heat and by limiting your body’s ability to sweat it away.

Base Layer

            The base layer is the layer against your skin and its primary role is to keep your skin dry to slow the loss of heat.  The purpose of sweating is to cool us off because sweat pulls heat from our skin faster than air does so to stay warm it’s important to stay dry by “wicking” sweat away as quickly as possible.

            First, forget the waffle pattern cotton longjohns your grandfather swore by.  Mountain climbers call cotton the death cloth because it absorbs sweat and actually increases heat loss by keeping water against your skin.  Seven years ago a new guy I took up Mount Washington wore his cotton briefs under his high tech underwear and mid way up the final headwall a sensitive part of his body chilled so much that the first thing he did when we got down was throw the briefs away.

            A good base layer should be a synthetic material such as polypropylene, thermax or comfortrel that fits snuggly against your skin.  These fabrics draw (wick) sweat from your skin to the far side of the fabric where it can evaporate without robbing your skin of heat.

            Although any polyester fabric can wick perspiration, the best synthetics are woven from hollow core fibers to help trap your body’s heat.  Like the hollow insulation in your sleeping bag, the hollow threads in base layers slow the transfer of your body heat by forcing it to travel through a layer of dead air.

            To understand how this works, picture a storm window with two layers of glass separated by an inch of air.  The heat from your home escapes quickly through the first solid pane of glass but the dead air is a poor conductor of heat and it slows the transfer to the outer pane.  To really appreciate how poorly air transfers heat, ask yourself how long you could hold your hand in boiling water, which is about 220 degrees.  The answer of course, is not at all.  Now consider how long you can reach into a 350 degree oven.  The answer is quite a while as long as you don’t touch anything solid.  That’s because it takes time for the dead air in the oven to transfer the much higher heat to your hand and it’s why eggs cook faster in boiling water than they would in a hotter oven.  Hollow fibers keep you warm on the same principle.

Middle Layer

            The second layer is your heat layer.  High tech long underwear slows heat loss by wicking sweat but the thick middle layer has to trap enough heat to keep you warm while letting you swing a rifle or hold a bow.

            While climbing, my middle layer is always a good polyester fleece.  Fleece cannot absorb water and a high quality fleece is lighter than any other material I’ve tried but will still retain more heat than heavier materials such as wool.  Less weight means more mobility and comfort. 

When hunting I’ll switch between fleece pullovers, insulated shirts and wool sweaters depending on how cold the morning is and how much I plan to move around.  One shortcoming I’ve found with fleece is that it’s never wind proof so if there’s a chance you’ll remove your outer layer on a windy day, you’re better off with another fabric.  I especially like insulated shirts because opening the buttons allows a lot of options to cool off as the temperature rises.  Wool shirts work the same way, I just don’t find them as comfortable.

Outer Layer

            Your outer layer is your defense against Mother Nature.  Like your base and mid-layers your outer layer helps trap your body’s heat, but it also has to stop the elements that can attack from outside.  Your outer coat has to withstand the harshest winds while repelling whatever the sky throws at you and still hold your body heat.  That’s the definition of fabrics like Goretex but many other fabrics, including tightly woven wool, offer protection from wind and rain.

            In the beginning I always wore a Goretex coat when climbing but in the past few seasons I switched to a heavy nylon jacket because it was more comfortable.  It works just as well at holding my heat in and the wind out but it’s too noisy for hunting.  My brother and I still argue about what’s the best fabric to climb in but even he has to admit that today there are many fabrics that are windproof, waterproof and warm.  If it’s quiet, too, it will be a good outer layer on stand.


            Choosing the proper materials for your base, mid and outer layer is not the end of the process.  To maximize heat retention you need to size the layers to optimize air’s insulating qualities.  The tighter your clothes fit the faster heat will transfer from one material to the next and the faster you will cool down, which is why thermal windows don’t touch and why down that lofts the highest keeps you warmest.  If your mid layer fits loosely over your base layer and your outer layer fits loosely over your mid layer, you’ve created two additional pockets of air that heat will have to pass through to get away.

            A few years ago I found this extra space was especially valuable in boots when I was forced to wear a pair a half size too large.  Since that day I’ve only bought hunting boots a half size larger than my dress shoes and my feet have stayed drier and warmer with a thermax liner and a wool sock inside an insulated boot, especially while walking.

            The style of your layers can also help regulate your body’s temperature.  A fleece top with at least a mid-length zipper allows you to vent excess heat while walking to a stand or if the temperature rises with the sun, which minimizes sweating, which also causes heat loss.  Today even base layers have buttons and zippers that let you regulate heat retention and wicking.

            Finally, through climbing and hunting I’ve learned that the reverse of my mother’s favorite winter lecture is true.  She always said to wear a hat because half of your body’s heat escapes through your head.  I have no idea if that figure is accurate, but I have found that removing my hat cools me off quickly.  Because I’m required to wear a blaze hat while walking to my stand I always have a thin baseball one in my pack to trade with the insulated one I wear on stand.  By switching back and forth, I stay legal and comfortable.

            A well planned three layer system keeps you warm and lets you cool off.  Just remember that all of your body feels cold so you may need glove liners to layer under heavy gloves or a balaclava to slip under a thick hat that might fit under a loose hood.  By opening, closing or removing layers you can stay comfortable to hunt harder and stay drier to spread less scent.

15 votes, average: 3.00 out of 515 votes, average: 3.00 out of 515 votes, average: 3.00 out of 515 votes, average: 3.00 out of 515 votes, average: 3.00 out of 5 (15 votes, average: 3.00 out of 5)
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Published by DuckBuckGoose on 07 May 2008

Hunting The Moonphase – Does it Really Make a Difference?

Some guys I know swear by hunting moon phase patterns. Others think it is an “old wives tale”.  Honestly I’m not sure where I stand on this argument yet, but after studying the theories around this a little more, there is some research to show that the various phases of the moon can have an effect on not only deer activity, but on deer mating behavior as well.  Perhaps for these reasons, or their own personal experience, I hear more and more hunters are talking about moon phase deer hunting and using it as another tool in their arsenal as they try to take that big buck.

Moonphase Calendar

If you’re not yet familiar with moon phase hunting, one of the most popular theories suggests that the female deer’s reproductive cycle is influenced by the different phases of the moon. This theory also says that a doe’s reproductive cycle peaks in the three or four days surrounding the second full moon after the autumnal equinox (which is either September 22nd or 23rd, depending on the year). Due to their instinctual drive to breed, bucks are also most active around this time, and will be more easily seen during daylight hours, as they are moving about looking for hot does. If you would like to check out what the moonphase will be when planning your dates for “deer camp” or days off this fall,  here are a couple of web sites that I found that you might find helpful:

I can’t promise you that hunting the moon phase will help you harvest a trophy buck this year.  But when it comes to hunting, it never hurts to try new things and keep learning.  And, if you look at the November 2008 calendar in the picture, it just might give you a good excuse to take off work on a Thursday in mid November.  Don’t try calling me that day, I’ll be in a treestand!

DuckBuckGoose – Cincinnati, Ohio – 5/7/08

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Published by MJKALLAL on 07 May 2008




L. Adam Madal


My first memories are the “whrrrrrisch” of hardened steel rhythmically drawn across a fine whetstone.  Dad would sit quietly at the family table, honing this knife on the evening before deer season’s opening day.  It was always his last act of preparation.  Sheer consistency kept the practice from ever seeming strange.  Maybe that’s why I’ve never thought to sharpen this blade anywhere but here in the dining room of my own home.  I remember climbing into my chair and waiting until my father began to speak.


Early-on, I learned the story of the knife.  It had become an icon long before being handed-down to me, so I’ve never really looked ‘at’ as much as ‘into’ it.  Now that my wife and I have a new family of our own, the blade reflects more than generations of hunting heritage.  I’m beginning to see, in its’ scarred satin finish, a hope that my children will cherish the outdoors as their ancestors have.


My paternal grandfather was the last of our line to pursue quarry from necessity.  Family lore relates his early years as having been a difficult time on the farm.  Wild game was a dietary staple.  As a young boy grandpa showed remarkable talent as a hunter, of whitetail deer especially.  His father recognized the blessing, and when a hard winter made difficult circumstances dire, the family’s savings were invested in a new Parker side-by-side 12 gauge.  This asset was put under the management of my grandfather.  He liked to joke about becoming a professional hunter before the age of 10.  Still, you could hear his satisfaction in literally ‘bringing home the bacon’-

“The farm never went broke.  We didn’t ever go hungry.”


There was nothing he couldn’t bring down.  The barn turned-into a makeshift butcher shop.  Craft of leather, fur and feather grew into a profitable cottage industry.  Though only a youngster, I like to believe my grandfather’s reputation contributed to the common nickname for that model shotgun:  “Old Reliable.”  When his father praised such rare ability, my grandfather was supposed to have simply shrugged and said-

“I made a choice.  If I miss a shot it just tempers my will for the next time I take aim.”


It was with great pride that my great grandfather secretly fabricated a heavy skinning blade out of a section of main leaf spring salvaged from the suspension in a neighbor’s expired tractor.  The metal was hammer-forged, flat ground and fitted with a base section of whitetail deer antler for a handle.  The drop point edge was given a frightening sharpness, and my great grandfather presented the finished product with characteristically plain words-

“I thank you for the choice that’s kept us from poverty and starvation.”

Grandpa was speechless, and this response was warmly embraced.


When my grandfather was found on the front porch, whetting his knife on a fine Arkansas stone, his father commented-

“I’ll wager a good working ‘cross that slab affords an edge any man could shave with.”

My grandfather recognized the gratification in his father’s eyes, replying-

“A special knife deserves the right stone.  I wouldn’t know about the shaving,” he said, returning his father’s well-pleased grin.

“Come on inside,” his father offered, and honing the knife was sanctified as one of few activities beyond dining for which the family table was used.


By the time my grandfather grew into a young man the farm had recovered.  But, an unsettling feeling that country life wasn’t for him had taken root in his mind.  He volunteered to fight in WW II, and grandpa once confided in me that he left home feeling sadness and relief.


My father’s upbringing was far removed from agriculture and livestock, but grandpa brought his wife and child back to the old homestead from time to time so they could visit kin and feel the soil of family history.  Dad and his grandfather often went on ‘expeditions’ in the surrounding woods during those visits.  On one such excursion dad heard how his father returned from combat a troubled man:


“Your father always had a keen sense of the world around him, but he came home with a far-away look that said he wasn’t all in one place, anymore.  He wouldn’t do much of anything, even deer hunt.  That sorely troubled me.  So, I fetched his knife and spiffed it up.  Then, I took a chunk of fieldstone, sat down at our family table and started taking the edge off the blade.  When your father walked in and saw this it stopped him, cold.  He slowly took his chair, and I told him:


“A man’s will is like a knife.  If he can shape his powers of decision on something right in his soul, something he values in this world, it’s easier to make clean cut choices and leave a good mark.


My great grandfather slid the implements across the table and waited.

“Your father stared right through his knife a good while.  When he took it up, he shook like a man caught in biting wind.  He honed that blade to a razor, packed up his gear and headed into the thick woods.  A few days later he came out with the most beautiful buck anybody in these parts ever saw, and he told me he didn’t figure to be a farmer.  The words stung a bit, but I could see he’d shaken loose the evil that had hold of him.  Alright, I said.  Take your knife and my blessing wherever you go.”

Grandpa became city-folk, but a rejuvenated love of the outdoors never left him, and the knife became his symbol of how hunting could heal a man’s spirit.


Dad once told me about the knife being passed-down to him on the night before his first deer season, wrapped in the same advice his grandfather had given my grandfather.  Dad accepted, tearfully-

“I hope we always hunt together, Pop!”

“I hope so, too,” my grandfather concurred.  “And, I hope that decision is always this easy.”


By all accounts my father’s adolescent years were happy ones, but when dad shipped-off for college the distance between he and his father stretched farther than the miles.  Arguments were common, and the persistent disagreement rubbed them both raw.  When my father declined to go deer hunting –“Sorry, Pop; gotta study,” a sacred bond was severed.


My father moved out the summer before his junior year, leaving all hunting gear behind.  He rented a place with his girlfriend.  They were married as the first leaves turned.  My grandfather insisted on a large chest style freezer as a wedding present, even though he knew the couple lacked means to fill the appliance.  After my father and his new bride departed from a Sunday dinner with dad’s parents later that fall, grandma confided the feminine intuition that their new daughter in law was most definitely pregnant.  Grandpa recalled-


“The icebox was intended to be something of a ‘Trojan Horse,’ and your mother’s condition triggered my plan of infiltration.  I invited your father to come deer hunting, but he protested that obligations to wife, school and work left no time for recreation.  I conceded to this reasoning and acknowledged his priorities were well ordered.  My previous solicitations of his company had been too blunt.  He was wary.”  Grandpa leered- “For my scheme to succeed, his guard would have to be lowered.”


My grandfather was confident of filling his tag, but he made arrangements to purchase additional venison.  Grandpa brought down a fat doe on opening day and personally delivered 256 total lbs. of boneless whitetail cuts.

When dad realized how much meat grandpa hauled-in, he sensed something was up-

“Must’ve been some deer, Pop,” dad said, giving my grandfather a suspicious grin.

Grandpa anticipated being apprehended, and the diversion succeeded-

“You should’ve seen her,” he said, grinning right back.

My father relaxed a little bit and let the cat out of the bag-

“I wish I could’ve, but we’re getting ready for a baby.”

Grandpa feigned astonishment while moving into position-

“Congratulations!  We have our differences, but I know you’ll make a great father.”


The affirmation effectively stunned my father.  Dad later told-

“Your grandfather said something about getting back home.  When I stuck out my hand for a shake, he pulled that old knife from inside his jacket and pressed the handle into my palm so fast I wasn’t sure what happened.  Before I could get words out he said-”

“Oh!  I found this in a cupboard out in the garage.  You may want to pass it on, someday.”


Dad shook his head, smiling in reflection on his father’s well-camouflaged plot-

“Then, he headed out, waving over his shoulder with one hand and closing the door behind him with the other.”


Dad looked at the knife for a moment, then chased his father down-

“Hey, Pop- hold on!  That meat sure trims a nice slice off our grocery bill.  Could we try and fit another deer in the freezer?  I mean, would you hunt with me?  I’m pretty rusty.”

Dad’s eyes never failed to well in remembering his father’s reply-

“I’ll help any way I can.”


Dad got a young buck with his father’s gentle guidance, and they hunted together each fall, thereafter.  Some discord persisted, but a truce was declared for deer season.  Wood and field became common ground where they’d reminisce over the past, deliver news of their lives, and share hopes for the future.  For my father, the knife glowed with the warmth of family ties re-forged in hunting.


I became most of what my father and grandfather held in common, and their mutual affection found its’ fullest expression in my education as a hunter.  Dad explained-

“Your grandpa may be the expert, but I’m your father.  He always asked permission to instruct you.  I admire and respect him- as a sportsman and a man.  So, I let him.”


Despite the years since, it’s probably fair to say I still don’t realize the profound influence of my first deer season.  Up to that threshold, taking life was something I contemplated with uneasy detachment.  Deer had become the essence of wild beauty for me.  I couldn’t imagine how killing a whitetail would offer satisfaction.  The forest, too, always seemed a little strange.  I learned a great about feral places, but I never felt part of them.  Of course, I viewed this as a personal failure.  I never told anyone.


My grandfather and I scouted on the afternoon before opening day, and we decided I’d hang a treestand in an old oak guarding a marshy clearing.  When grandpa asked if I shared his excitement in anticipation of my “-big day,” I knew he’d see through any denial-

“I’m scared to kill a deer,” I admitted.

Grandpa furrowed his brow, “Let’s whittle a bit.”


We broke limbs from a blow-down and sat on its’ bare trunk.  My grandfather drew the fixed-blade at his hip.  I pulled a folder dad had given me from my pocket and we silently commenced to piling long, elegantly curled shavings.


At length, grandpa complimented, “You handle a knife well.  That’s good to see.”

“I learned from the best,” I replied, smiling broadly and elbowing him in the ribs.

“Whether you hunt is up to you,” he said, “but a choice made out of fear or ignorance is poor judgment.”  Rolling a bead of sunlight up and down his knifes’ edge he mused, “A free will is only as good as the heart and mind wielding it.”  Grandpa stood, tucked his knife deftly and headed back to camp.


Later that evening I sat staring into the fire.  A folding chair on the other side of the flames groaned as dad eased into its’ canvas lap.  The sound of steel on stone summoned my attention.  It was time to confront my father.  I told dad about that afternoons’ conversation with grandpa.  Dad nodded thoughtfully, and never took his eyes off the task at hand as he said-


“I won’t argue why you should hunt, just let me let me say this:  Between birth and death, there’s a balance of competition and cooperation that I believe is the essence of life.  For me, hunting is a way of appreciating this harmony and renewing bonds with people in my life who I care about.

I didn’t look up from the flames or respond.  Dad wiped the edge clean, sheathed the knife and concluded-

 “Remember your great grandfather’s words, and sleep on what your grandfather and I said today.  I’ll hold onto the knife for you.”


I lay still in my sleeping bag that night, wrestling indecision and anxiety before a yearning I couldn’t define drove me from the tent, dressed and ready-

“Let’s see what it’s like to hunt.”

Grandpa’s eyes twinkled in the lamplight.  In hearty growl, my father exclaimed-

“Atta Boy!”

A rising wind prodded the darkness westward as we made our way through the woods.  I climbed up and settled into my treestand.  After a few parting words, they disappeared.  I was left groping for the meaning in their reassurances-

“Stay in the moment,” grandpa said softly, “Let things be what they are.”

“Dad whispered, “No matter what you decide after this morning, I’m proud of you for choosing to find your own answers.”


In a lull between gusts I heard a rustle, then the snort.  Gleaming tips of antlers stabbed through shadows at the field’s edge.  A brilliant vapor led him, drifting slowly.  He was young, strong… and upwind.  The buck casually rubbed an antler on a quivering sapling.  I reluctantly took an unsteady aim.


The rattle of tangling antlers echoed in the timber behind me.  I smiled to realize my elders were close by.  The buck lifted his head abruptly, moved assertively in my direction and began thrashing the underbrush.  His torso was perfectly exposed, but every part of me wavered.  My crosshairs swayed widely over his off-shoulder until I recognized only a well placed shot offered any insight.  The buck took one final step forward, and a firm resolve tightened my trigger finger- “Crack!”  The buck slumped, steadied and bolted.  Descending as carefully as a growing tremor allowed, I wondered whether anything in my light breakfast was the cause of wanting to throw-up.


I crossed the field slowly and stopped where shiny red globes bent the tall grass and lead into dense cover.  I glanced back at the oak silhouetted in receding darkness.  Then, standing in a new day’s light, I turned and began to follow a blood trail.

The crimson clues meandered to a wide game path beside a sparkling stream.  Shortly after the sun broke free of the horizon I rounded a scrub thicket to find the buck facing me.  We stared at each other.  In his eyes, I saw what I had been craving:  experience of this world beyond my safe and sterile ‘civilized’ existence.


The buck wouldn’t last long, but that didn’t take any fight out of him.  Blood flowing from nose and mouth, he braced himself and threw everything he had into full frontal assault.  I’ve never felt the desire to live so strongly as in that instant.  My rifle floated to eye level, and I fired.


Dad and grandpa arrived breathless-

“What’s all the racket?” dad gasped.

“He charged,” I murmured.

Grandpa sat down slowly on a weathered bolder, surveyed the area and erupted-

“What a fighter, ‘Raging against the dying of the light!’”

“…I’ll be damned.” my father quietly agreed.


My gaze held on the magnificence at my feet.  Dad asked-

“You alright, son?”

I looked up, grinning, “Yeah, but I’ll need one heck of a knife to dress this buck.”

“Welcome to our hunting legacy,” my father chuckled, handing me the knife.

“Thanks, dad.  Thank you, too, grandpa,” I replied, standing up as straight as I could.

“It’s a great gift to a man when he brings joy to his children, his grandchildren,” grandpa interjected.  “I thank you, both.”

“O.k.,” dad chided through his smile, “Enough congratulation, we have work to do.”


How many times in a person’s life can they honestly say they felt fulfilled where they were and whole in what they were doing?  When is anyone aware of nothing or in need of nothing beyond those precious moments?  To this point in my life, I haven’t had a handful of such experiences- defining and irreducible; likely unexplainable to anyone who hasn’t shared something of the same.


Since that first hunt, this knife has become my symbol of a visceral need to cut through the crap of modern society and reconnect with elemental nature, world without manmade rituals and artificial rhythm.  I discovered this desire in pursuit of a whitetail buck, and every fall I whet a knife to carve that impression a little deeper into myself and renew a hunting tradition in this world.


Now, the knife and I are ready to hunt, again.


It’s too bad my grandfather didn’t live to meet his great grandson, but dad will be here soon.  He’ll get a kick out of being called “Grandpa.”  We leave for deer camp in the morning, and I bet one night when we’re sitting around the campfire dad will ask what I intend to teach my boy about the outdoors.  I’ve thought about my answer-


“I’ll start by telling him the same stories I was told.  Eventually, I’d like to hand-down the knife, knowing he respects the responsibility and appreciates the value of hunting.”


“What will you say about his great grandfather?” dad will want to know.

“I’ll say the same thing I hope future generations say about you and me:  He knew what it meant to make a choice and hold to a commitment.  He was a good man and a damn fine hunter.”                                                                                                THE END

42 votes, average: 3.98 out of 542 votes, average: 3.98 out of 542 votes, average: 3.98 out of 542 votes, average: 3.98 out of 542 votes, average: 3.98 out of 5 (42 votes, average: 3.98 out of 5)
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Published by soularcher on 06 May 2008

Three Lessons

Three Lessons

By Joe Shuhay

(Soularcher on AT posts)


The first day had come, and I was up at 3:30 AM to eat, shower and dress.  Luckily my new spot was only 20 minutes away, and I could get in my stand at least an hour before daylight.  As daylight broke, the woods started to come alive with movement and sound.  I had spotted many doe and a small buck.  At about 10:00 AM a small doe came underneath my stand, and I let the Muzzy do its work, and work it did!  It was a very clean kill.  But this isn’t where the story ends…

The doe ran about 15 yards and fell.  While I waited for the animal to expire, I had noticed a very bad fray through the string serving right underneath my bottom cam!  It was obviously dangerous, and it had to be fixed.  I was lucky that I wasn’t hurt!  

LESSON #1:  Always inspect your bowstring and equipment well before the hunt.  This will give you time to swap strings and make repairs.  It will also save you from injury or a missed opportunity!

Instead of taking my Archery Research AR31 bow to the area expert, I took it to a local guy that ran a shop out of his house, to save money (a lot of money).  He was a very nice man, but I should’ve taken the hint when I entered his shop and saw that he specialized in traditional equipment (an art form in itself).  I returned that Friday afternoon for the bow, and $16.00 later I had a new string.  Sixteen Bucks!

I wanted to hunt the next day because I wouldn’t have another chance until the following weekend, and I knew there were a few nice buck cruising the area.  Needless to say, I didn’t get to shoot the bow before the hunt.  I know, I know…  I heard that little voice inside, but didn’t listen: “What if?  You didn’t shoot it, stretch the string, check it out…  Is this safe?”  Nope, I didn’t listen.   I was too worried about getting out the next day.

LESON #2:  Always inspect a repair or string installation when you get your bow back, and always shoot the bow and allow for string stretch.

I got out to my stand and opted to hunt the northern part of an oak flat, due to wind conditions, and I expected action.  There was still a little doubt in the back of my mind due to not shooting the bow the night before.  Any archer knows that reduced confidence in your form or equipment can definitely have a detrimental effect on your mindset for the hunt.  At about 9:30 AM, two doe came bursting from the laurel to my left at about 20 yards.  They stopped and then looked back.  That’s when I knew he was coming!  I waited, and saw a flicker, then a very wide eight came out into full view and paused sniffing the doe’s trail.  I drew and viewed the magnificent animal broadside at fifteen yards!  I pulled the trigger on my Scott release, the arrow flew, and…  Nothing…  Nothing!!!  I watched helplessly as the high-tined buck trotted away pursuing the doe.  I  climbed down and retrieved my arrow; it went right underneath the buck’s belly by at least a foot!

At noon I went home and shot at my target at 10 yards to troubleshoot the issue.  The arrow didn’t even make it to the target!  It was buried in the ground at about eight yards in front of me.  A closer inspection of my bow revealed that the string was not installed on the bottom cam properly which effected the whole setup.  

LESSON #3:  Pay the extra cash to get a job done by someone that knows the technology, or get the tools and learn to do it yourself, and you can rest easier in the knowledge that the job was done correctly (also refer to LESSON #2).

I don’t hold the bowsmith responsible, I knew full well that he had his specialty and, to his credit, he tried his best.  I hold my own impatience and thriftiness as the reasons that that hunt worked out the way it did.  Believe me when I say that I learned a difficult lesson that day.  The sign of a good hunter is the humility and willingness to learn and improve.



1 vote, average: 3.00 out of 51 vote, average: 3.00 out of 51 vote, average: 3.00 out of 51 vote, average: 3.00 out of 51 vote, average: 3.00 out of 5 (1 votes, average: 3.00 out of 5)
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Published by cmherrmann on 06 May 2008

Keeping Your Computer Safe on the Internet

First I want to start with some simple thing to keep your computer safe and sound while browsing the web and then I will suggest some things to keep all of you data safe.   Most of this information pertains to Windows XP since I believe that is what most people are using.

Windows has a built-in firewall, but I wouldn’t rely on it. It hides you on the Internet. That means you’re protected from incoming transmissions. But if you get malware on your machine, the Windows firewall won’t help you. It doesn’t block outgoing transmissions. The ones listed below are free and do a good job of blocking unwanted traffic in both directions.

Comondo Firewall Pro



Antivirus software is essential. Although a firewall is the first line of defense, a few bad eggs inevitably make it through. That’s when a good antivirus program saves the day.

Antivirus programs need frequent updates to be able to identify the latest threats. Most programs require paid subscriptions for these updates. But you can still find some that offer free updates.

AVG Anti-Virus

Avast Anti-Virus


Along with firewall and antivirus programs, anti-spyware is a security must-have. Spyware is a particularly unpredictable type of threat. It can trigger pop-ups or cause your computer to slow to a crawl.

Even worse, spyware can work in the background without noticeable symptoms. You should use a few anti-spyware programs to ensure that each possible threat is detected.

Spybot Search & Destroy

AVG Anti-Spyware


SpywareBlaster is an effective anti-spyware tool. Unlike most anti-spyware programs, it does not scan the hard drive for spyware. Its strategy instead is to prevent modifications of your files and settings. For example, it can block browser toolbars from installing themselves.

SpywareBlaster can be used to prevent changes to Windows’ HOSTS file. It also has a System Snapshot feature similar to Windows’ System Restore. SpywareBlaster will report any changes to your system since the last snapshot.

Now that we have the basics covered lets go a step further.  There are a lot of things that need to be updated on a PC besides the normal things like your Anti-Virus, Anti-Spyware, and Windows itself.   Many other programs need to be updated because of Security Problems.

Windows  Update  (You will need to use IE)

Microsoft Office Update   (You will need to use IE)

Next is a great program Secunia that will check for a lot of other programs that need to be updated like RealPlayer, iTunes, Flash Player, Java and many more.    Just click on the Start Now Button.

Any old versions of Java found can be removed in the Add Remove Program section of Control Pane.
If you use a combination of all of these Programs your PC will be fairly safe but nothing is 100%.   That is why I suggest that everyone who has any data on their PC that they would hate to loose, and that is all of us, do the following.    Go out and buy an External USB 2.0 Hard Drive with a capacity of somewhere between 120 and 500 gig.   Also buy a copy of a program called Norton Ghost, any version from 9 on up will work with Windows XP.  Norton Ghost will make an exact duplicate of your Hard Drive.   If your Hard Drive dies (all of them will sooner or later) or you get a virus, spyware, or delete an important document by mistake you can simply boot from the Ghost CD and restore your PC exactly as it was when you did the backup.   No reinstalling Windows, all of your programs and having all of your data gone forever.

Now it is important to do regular backups, I suggest weekly since it will only take about 30 minutes and most of it takes place with no user input, so you can start it and walk away.  This has saved my butt more than once!

If you follow these tip you will be relatively safe but as I said before nothing is 100% so make sure and do those backups to protect your data!

6 votes, average: 4.00 out of 56 votes, average: 4.00 out of 56 votes, average: 4.00 out of 56 votes, average: 4.00 out of 56 votes, average: 4.00 out of 5 (6 votes, average: 4.00 out of 5)
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Published by RightWing on 06 May 2008

Hunter’s Tips for Body Odor Control………..


   While sweat is often blamed for spooking game, it is really an oversight. Sweat is an odorless, colorless, natural secretion from our bodies. Perspiration is in fact not the cause of body odor. There are several kinds of bacteria that live on the skin’s surface, some of these bacteria feed on our perspiration. The byproduct from this bacterial feeding action is what we and other animals smell and indentify as body odor.

  To combat this phenomenon, one must destroy or reduce the culprit bacteria. Masking the odor is not a viable solution, it has been proven that whitetail deer can smell multiple odors at once and distinguish each of them individually. The process of applying so called “Cover scent” will do little, if any, good to fool a whitetail’s nose.

  Then the question still remains, how do I fight “Game Spooking” body odor? Luckily there are some practical, inexpensive and effective methods. Most of these products can be bought at any drug store or even a supermarket.  Here are five (5) methods that I will explain in detail; you will find them to be extremely effective with zero gimmicks.

*         Cleanse – Your body……..

*         Neutralize – Odor causing Bacteria…….

*         Maintain – Clean clothing/footwear…….

*         Mask – We’ll talk about this one…… 🙂

*         Play the wind – Enough said………


Cleanse- Wash often, showers are good, but soaking bathes are better. Several excellent unscented soaps are available to the general consumer (that’s right, not just for hunters) most of these are marked as “Hypo allergenic” and contain no fragrances. My personal favorite is “Dove” unscented bar soap, because it works well for the hunter, it’s inexpensive and is available almost everywhere.  You can usually find four bar packages of it for under $5.00


Neutralize- As I mentioned earlier in the article, bacteria feeding on our perspiration is the culprit in causing body odor. The best ways to reduce the amount of body odor lies in our ability to reduce or temporarily destroy the bacteria. Baking soda (Sodium Bicarbonate) applied during your shower/bath will change the PH on the skin’s surface creating a hostile living environment for the bacteria. Scrubbing down with a good antiseptic is even better. Beta-dine is my personal favorite because almost all hospital and doctor’s offices use it a surgical scrub and surgeons shower with it before an operation. If you are not familiar with Betadine, it is the reddish-orange liquid the doctors and nurses swab onto your arm before sticking you with a needle (bringing back memories now, Huh?). It does have and odor but will dissipate with rinse water and the smell will disappear real quickly (most water supplies contain Iodine anyway), so this is not a problem at all. Just follow the directions on the back of the bottle when using. I pour about a tablespoon full of the antiseptic on a washcloth then lather up real good. I then use another teaspoon in my hair as a shampoo. Rinse well with water afterward, to remove the Betadine and the residual dead bacteria, yeasts, molds and germs from your skin’s surface.

 This treatment will leave you bacteria free for about 6-8 hours. You can buy this antiseptic at most drug stores for around $10.00 a bottle and it will last you the entire season. Another possible brand to use is Hibbi-cleanse but it tends to cost more for a lesser quantity. You will find that having either of these two items beneficial for home first-aid duty as well.  While at the drug store check out alfalfa pills, they contain chlorophyll from plant leaves and will help to fight bad breath. Doctors also recommend them to diabetic patients to remove odor from urine. Personally, I usually just chew the leaves of one of several species of the wild mint family (wild spearmint, horsemint, wild peppermint etc) they are usually blooming during the early bow season and resemble nothing else in the woods, but to be safe before trying, research books of edible wild plants from your library and learn to recognize them. They are natural and leave your mouth with a minty mouthwash taste, plus the chlorophyll from the leaves will help to reduce mouth odor as well. I finish up this regimen with an application of unscented underarm deodorant. I like Arid unscented in either the solid or roll-on you can pick this up for around $1.00.


 Maintain- I keep a couple plastic totes with latches around to store my camo and layering clothes in. In this container clothing will stay dry and scent free, but there is a routine that I go though before any of my hunting clothes are ready for the plastic tote. I first run several empty loads of water through the washing machine to remove residual fragrances from standard detergents the family uses for general washing. When the washer is properly prepared I wash my camo in cold water (it keeps the colors from running and is great for washing camo in because it is usually not all that dirty anyway). I again use unscented products that are available at supermarket, just look for the brands marked hypo-allergenic (or unscented), my favorite brand is “ALL” unscented concentrated liquid, but there are many other adequate brands available. It works well in cold water cycles, has no odor, and it is fairly in-expensive too. I then, either hang them out to air dry (weather permitting) or place them in the dryer. My clothes dryer gets a similar treatment to that of the washer, I run a couple loads of wet, clean, and scent free, towels though to remove any odors that might be left behind from the general wash. Inside my plastic tote, I keep a small draw stringed cloth bag containing cedar chips; they give the clothes a natural scent and help to protect expensive wool camo from moths during long periods of storage.  In my hunting footwear I sprinkle a little bit of baking soda to help reduce bacterial growth. Before entering my treestand I apply a clothing neutralizer like the scent-a-way products as a final step.


Mask- I already mentioned earlier that I am not a big fan of food-type masking scents like acorn, sweet corn and grape. I also feel earth scents and fox urines are of little use for really helping to fool a deer’s nose. I have however found one masking scent that I believe is the “real deal” and has really surprised me over the years, it will provide you with some room for error while stand hunting. Skunk scent seems to overload the deer’s sense of smell. I have also discovered that they are not afraid of it; on contrary they are very curious of the skunk smell. Whitetail will often, for unknown reasons, seek out and investigate the source.  I place the skunk scent on cotton balls in three places around my stand. This method seems to triangulate the smell and makes it harder for deer to wind you regardless of the wind direction. Just place it at the base of three trees and let the morning and evening thermals do the rest. There are still a few sources of skunk scent available, but the best I have tried is the Bob Kirschner Deer lure company. Bob’s “Skunk Essence” it is harvested in Pennsylvania and has no equal for a masking scent. Bob’s skunk scent is so powerful that he will only package it in amber glass bottles then he seals it with wax. One bottle of this stuff will last you an entire season, though I personally buy enough for two seasons. I have used it for many years, while hunting whitetail both East and West of the Mississippi River. Trust me this is a cover scent that works.


Playing the wind- Being vigilant of predominate wind directions when picking a stand is a major “feather in the bowhunter’s cap”. I try to avoid areas where the terrain might cause the air to swirl. Research and try to gain a good understanding of thermals, this information is invaluable. As a rule of thumb try to hunt from higher locations in the morning when the heating air expands and rises, the opposite holds true for evening hunts, always try on hunt on lower ground in the afternoon as the air cools and settles back to the ground. Thermals are present even on calm days and can carry a hunter’s scent for great distances.


   All these things will help you this fall when trying to fool those wise old whitetails. Just remember me and this article while you are enjoying those fresh backstraps with friends and family members.

   Stay scent free and shoot straight………..


Written By Jason Wilborn     Monroe Tennessee

9 votes, average: 3.89 out of 59 votes, average: 3.89 out of 59 votes, average: 3.89 out of 59 votes, average: 3.89 out of 59 votes, average: 3.89 out of 5 (9 votes, average: 3.89 out of 5)
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Published by RightWing on 06 May 2008

Unlocking the Secrets of Secondary Food Sources…..



   During the early years of cutting my teeth on the riser of a hunting bow, I tasted success. Closure came in the form of a Tennessee spike-horn buck. He was taken down in all his glory one particularly beautiful autumn afternoon. The deer was oblivious to my presence while he busily munched honeysuckle. This previously overlooked food source laid close to the thicket he and other small bucks used as bedding cover.

  Later, as the gun season grew ever closer, a fat Kentucky doe fell to the romantic “Twang” of the bowstring. She had been meandering along the brushy property line of an old homestead I had gained permission to hunt. That day her appetite had lead her to, of all things, “Poke berries”.  This was not what most hunters considered typical deer forage.

  The short bow season that followed the ending of the rifle portion also provided numerous chances to refresh the family venison supply, and thus pad the freezer. The most notable of which, was a most appreciated young six point buck. I had watched this deer for the better part of the chilly, late season afternoon. The buck nibbled on lichens from wind fallen logs that littered the otherwise open forest floor.  A silent arrow quickly dispatched the buck and ended the productive evening hunt.

  You are probably wondering at this point, of what importance are these three separate and seemingly unrelated hunts? The fact that all three happened during a year that most considered to be a poor year for deer hunting. An unusually dry summer had caused an almost complete failure to cultivated crops; as a result, most farmers harvested the small remaining portions much earlier than in prior years. To compound an already less than desirable situation, the mast of the white oak was almost non-existent. 

   While most veterans of the deer woods elected to concentrate on watering holes and to enjoy the cooler air associated with moving water, I decided to go a different route. I felt the other end of the spectrum needed exploring. Thus, while others practiced with their bows and worked on shrinking those arrow groupings, I spent my available time in the local library. Numerous books on the subjects of woodland plants, wild flowers and tree identification soon made their way into my research regimen. I yearned for every morsel of literature pertaining to the subject of deer browse that I could find. The lessons learned about whitetail behavior in previous years coupled with the new knowledge gained, no doubt, tipped the scales in this bowhunter’s favor that fall. A good working knowledge of secondary food sources is most valuable to even the most casual bowhunter.

   So, you might ask, how can I apply this newly found food source knowledge to real world hunting scenarios?  The answer is simple and as old as mankind itself. Granted, the generations of hunters before us had to acquire woodsmanship skills becoming woods-wise, meanwhile developing their own personal “mental database” of deer-lore to be successful. Every encounter with our quarry can become a learning experience if one remains vigilant to the details of the encounter.

  Many volumes could be written on the subject of whitetail food sources, and we would probably still leave out pertinent facts on the matter. Due to regional flora diversity and a mind-boggling number of known browse/forage plants, I can only summarize. The following is just a few ways to utilize this food source  information in your quest to unlocking the secrets of your own whitetail diet database.

    First off, deer have a very wide ranging list of possible botanical delicacies. White Oak acorns are of course among the very top of this list, and if you chose to hunt solely over a ‘Hot’ stand of white oaks; you can almost be guaranteed some bow hunting action.  However, years like the one mentioned at the beginning of this article, occasionally come around. 2007 being one example, due to the occurrence of a late spring hard freeze, the white oak mast crop was all but wiped out in much of the Southeastern and Midwestern states. Red Oaks which acorns were almost unaffected were quickly consumed by deer and other competing wildlife. Here again, a personal knowledge of secondary food source plants became invaluable.  Woody browse and the remaining soft mast became the prime feed for whitetails.

  Often times a savvy hunter can just broadcast commercial plant food on existing food sources to create an instant hot zone. Fertilizer like a 10-10-10 mix hand tossed on stands of honeysuckle, multi-flora roses and blackberry brambles can lead to mid and late winter success. The same principles can be utilized with native soft vegetation like sweet clovers, vetches, kudzu and trefoils, as well as numerous legume and non-legume species.  Recently logged over tracts (even though aesthetically undesirable) can become deer magnets if garden lime is used to make the soil less acid so native plants get a chance to grab a foothold. This combined with the additional sunlight available from a treeless skyline allow these important plants to flourish. Even saplings with nutritious buds and twigs will benefit from such a treatment.  

  I encourage you to do your homework discovering and unlocking the secrets to secondary food sources.  All these ideas will help you harvest more game, however you might take caution before playing the stock market this fall, and I certainly wouldn’t buy shares in the “Freezer Wrap” industry; because you might find yourself getting in trouble for “Insider Trading”.



Written by Jason Wilborn       Monroe Tennessee




6 votes, average: 3.67 out of 56 votes, average: 3.67 out of 56 votes, average: 3.67 out of 56 votes, average: 3.67 out of 56 votes, average: 3.67 out of 5 (6 votes, average: 3.67 out of 5)
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Published by RightWing on 06 May 2008

Crack Open a Bowhunting Classic……….



   Bowseason is over for another year, leaving you with only memories and the culinary delights created from your hard earned venison. The holidays are past and you are settling in for two very cold months of winter weather. Now is the right time to start reading a classic deer hunting book. Many great hunting adventures can still be had, even though it is outside the season. Just open up a book and join the author while he/she leads you on a literary safari. A fine hunting novel can help you remember your own past experiences from deer camp as well. I love to get lost in and taken aback by a writer’s far reaching hunting trek.

   Bow hunting books come in all flavors, there are many “how-to” books, lots of books on getting started in the sport, and volumes of books are available on the subject of becoming more proficient with your bow. However hunting adventure books are what I like to open and read on those cold, cold evenings at home during the off-season. I yearn for the stories of legendary hunts of yester-year, the kind that make you wish you where born 50 years earlier, the kind that make you wish you could have tagged along for the ride. These are the kinds of books that I send hours each year searching for in stacks of used books and little backroom bookstore across the country, the kind that eBay search dreams are made of.

 Great Bowhunting authors are a rare breed indeed. Taking inspiration from their hunts and experiences and spinning them into an enticing yarn, painting a mental picture that places the reader right smack into the middle of the action. They are able to do this with such empowering excitement that you almost feel like you are there watching on. Books that pertain to the subject of hunting adventure are diverse in nature, taking place in a wide ranging variety of geographical locations and include numerous species of game as the quarry. Such books often contain the stories of varied locales from fly-in trips to the bitter cold far North to mountainous ranges of the wide open West. Unique stories are sometimes taken straight from the journals of famous hunters/archers, penciled-in while only using the low light glow from a crackling campfire. The blank white pages some begin to fill with details of the chase. More often then not, it is the details of their experiences that tickle our imagination and not just the hunt itself. Here the description of the camp, the detail of the lay of the land, and even the meals evoke the reader’s spirit. The best part of these unique tales is that they contain element that those of us that are accustom to the daily hustle & bustle seldom hear about. Items like horse saddles, pack frames, canoe paddles, and snow shoes litter the pages in this kind of adventure. Meals are composed of the spoils of the hunting group’s labor. Salmon cooked streamside, fresh backstrap cooking over hot coals, grouse or ptarmigan picked clean of it’s feathers broiling in a Dutch oven, or even a snowshoe hare taken with a well placed arrow might find it’s way to the stew pot. Any self-respecting camp cook would also have some black coffee to complement the meal as well.

   No matter if the quarry is caribou, moose, elk or high altitude mulies, we are still mesmerized by the arrow’s arching flight. We are taken back by the puffs of dust or slinging mud made by retreating hooves as they dig into the earth for a final fleeting run.  Our very souls are stirred by the author’s portrayal of early mourning mists on high mountain peaks, first snowfalls, brilliant sunsets and clear nights that you can see all the far reaches of the milky-way.  We read about great times spent with hunting companions whom we share the love of the hunt with, and about hardships shared along the journey. These outings can also be a solitary event, the lone hunter with his pack-frame loaded with meat, his trophy’s horns balanced at the top of the pack. Sweating and straining painfully as he proudly make his last trip back from the kill-site with his quartered out bull.

  You can probably see by now, one of my favorite non-hunting pursuits is the search for the next great book to add to my personal hunting library. Finding that little known, out of print or rare book is like getting that first glimpse of a trophy buck, and I enjoy it almost as much (I said almost).



Here are a few of my all time favorites, most but not all are written by bowhunters…… 


 T.S. Van Dyke       “The Stillhunter”

Gene Wensel          ”Come November”

Aldo Leopold         “Sand County Almanac “                    

Jerome Robinson   “In the Deer Woods”

George Mattis      “Whitetail”

Glen St. Charles   “Bows on the Little Delta”

Fred Bear             “Fred Bear’s Field Notes “

Dick Lattimir      “Hunt with Fred Bear”


   The preceding titles are of course only a few that are out there, but I will guarantee you will not be disappointed with any of this selection. Opening up and reading one of these hunting classics might inspire you to plan a distant hunt and create your own Bowhunting adventure.

   Who knows, someday everyone might be reading about your trips afield, with bow in hand. Maybe you will be chasing down a trophy bowkill or a glorious sunset.


Shoot Straight and Keep’em Sharp………..


Written by Jason Wilborn       Monroe Tennessee 

3 votes, average: 3.33 out of 53 votes, average: 3.33 out of 53 votes, average: 3.33 out of 53 votes, average: 3.33 out of 53 votes, average: 3.33 out of 5 (3 votes, average: 3.33 out of 5)
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Published by Mapes on 05 May 2008

The ten deadiest sins of bowhunting

In the eight years that ive been a bowhunter, never had i had such a memorable season than the 2007 whitetail season. Many years previous i had figured out exactly what NOT to do while in the stand, and i had figured out how not to screw up the perfect situation. Why was 2007 so different? I have no idea, but that year, i commited the 10 deadliest sins of bowhunting.

     It was one week before the bow hunting opener,and once again i found myself traveling to my soon to be stand location. The woods is my favorite place to be, and i tend to overdue it every year. Yes the relationship stuggles, but i make up for it with flowers and a trip to the movie theater. This was not unlike any other day, it smelled the same, looked the same and felt the same as always. But as soon as i stepped into the woodlot, i knew that i was about to screw up. That just made me want to go further, and thats exaclty what i did. I took, maybe, three more steps and i heard that all too familiar sound of breaking sticks and crunching leaves. The buck of a lifetime was making a break for the swamp in front of me, and it was all i could do to not faint at the sight of those bleached white horns. I immidiately turned around and walked out, got into my truck, and left tread marks in the soft mud. I had just made the first deadliest sin.  Entering the woods at the wrong time, and spooking the one animal i was after.

     A week later, October 1st, was my birthday. I was heading to the same spot i had spooked the buck out of the week before. “He wont remember me” i thought to myself. Well, i never got the chance to find out if he remembered me or not. My stand was hung beautifully along the edge of the thickest swamp i could find. Notice the “was” in the previous sentence. The tree was still there, yes, but something was missing.My tree steps, my stand, and even my screw in bow holder were all gone. Deadly sin number two, hang a sweet stand location, and dont lock it up. Yes, even on private land, it matters.

     October 2nd, deadliest sin number three was commited. Another potential sweet spot, hung on the edge of a food plot with thick woods on all sides. Mosquitos were flying everywhere this evening, and it was only 80 degrees, if not more. The swamp sits behind me, with no more than birds and squirrels making any noise. It was nearing dark, i figured i had at least an hour left before i had to leave the stand. I lit a cigarette, and sat down on the small seat of my hang on. Puff after puff i looked through the swamp, but nothing was visible to my eyes. My cigarette was flicked to the ground, and i swatted at the mosquitos buzzing around my head. “Snap, crunch crunch crunch.” That didnt sound so good. I looked slowly through the woods, and there it was. HORNS! Where they had come from, i dont know. But they certainly weren’t coming my way. The buck stopped long enough to give me the look that said, “busted”, and turned to slowly walk away. Deadliest sin number three, go out hunting on an 80 degree day with out any unscented bug spray and a tee shirt on.

     October 3rd, a cousin called and wanted to go hunting the next morning.”Sure”, i said, “come on down, ive got a good stand for you to hunt.” I waited for a few hours, and he finally arrived.  He asked about his stand site, and i informed him about the funnel he would be hunting, that sat beautifully between two corn fields. He got real excited, and asked to go shoot bows. I got out my brand new X-Force, not even a month old yet. Her camo glistened in the light, and her sights sat brightly in my peep site. Shot after shot, i was consistently grouping arrows within an inch of each other. “Can i shoot your bow?” he asked. I handed it too him, and he made the unfortunate attempt to draw it back, without the one most important thing that stood between the hunter and the hunted. The 300 grain Radial X-Weave tipped with a 100 grain field point. Halfway drawn, he started to strain, but he got it to full draw, only to have the string slip out of his fingers. The unforgiving snap of the bowstring was like a shot through the heart. Her cams snapped forward, and the cables wound up and got kinked with the string. Sixty dollars and one week later, i was again shooting my beautiful hunting partner.Deadly sin number four, buy a new bow and let a kid, who can’t even climb a stand without breaking something, try to draw it back.

     The morning of October 20th was a very cool, frosty morning. The sting of the fresh air filled my lungs as the frost broke away under my feet. I walked into the open field, and knew that something was moving. Didn’t phase me, so i kept walking. I stopped at the bottom edge of the field, and looked up at the sky. The stars were bright, and one of them seemed to have a resemblence of an arrow. I followed it down through the sky, and then to the ground in front of me. There, not fifty yards away, stood a beautiful buck. His horns stood out in the moonlight, and his body swayed as he ran farther and farther away. I continued onto my stand, only after kicking myself once or swice.Deadliest sin number five, see something in the field in front of you and continue to walk one foot in front of the other, without paying it the slightest glance.

       I was in my stand within ten minutes, and my bow was seated gingerly between my palm and fingers. I looked around, checked my watch, and then looked again. I knew i just scared a good deer, but you can’t change the past. Just then i heard a grunt, and here came a small buck. He walked directly towards me, where a small four point was standing below me, but i never knew he was there. The four point turned and hauled donkey through the swamp. The other buck, a five point, came to twenty yards, and i drew my bow. He stopped and looked staight at me, but my pin floated gently over his vitals. “Thwack!” went the bow, and the rage broadhead flew right over his back. He ran off, and turned around again. My bow again was drawn, same pin on his vitals, and again i released. This arrow flew true, through both lungs, and out the other side. The buck kicked his hind legs and ran off into the woods. I took a deep breath, and waited for twenty minutes. Upon climbing down, i found the first arrow. It was ten yards from my tree, and i shot my twenty yard pin. The other was laced in light red, bubbly blood. Deadliest sin number six, misjudge an easy shot at a good deer, and shoot over it’s back.

5 point

     Two weeks later, i was in the woods again. This time i was in a different spot that i had hung three days earlier, with rubs all around. It was a chilly afternoon, but the wind was calm and my nerves were settling after a long days work. My stand was comfy, and my butt sank into the soft foam. After a while, it started to get uncomfortable because i sank through the foam to the hard seat below. It was almost dark, so i figured id get down and head home. I hit the bottom of the stand, and picked up my bow. When i started walking, I was abrubtly halted by the sound of a grunt. A doe ran by me, within thirty yards, plainly visible in the remaining daylight. But, the doe is not the one that made the grunt. There he was, the same buck i spooked a week before season, heading straight at me, at the base of my tree, with nothing more than a sore butt ready to kill him with. He ran right by me without even shooting me a glance, and was gone into the woods, still grunting with every step. Deadliest sin number seven, get out of your stand too early just to scare the buck of a lifetime away, again.

     My hunting buddy called me on the radio not more than five minutes later. “There is a giant buck with two does right below me right now!” Well, why he had to call me to tell me i didn’t know, but i started to walk towards him. He called again and said that he had just shot at the huge ten point, twelve yards away.I was on my way to his stand, excited already. We had both seen nice bucks tonight, and he even shot at the one he saw. Deadliest sin number eight, let your buddy, that can’t hit a brick wall, sit one of your best stands. Add deadliest sin number seven to sin number eight, and its a sure plan for defeat.

      It was not a week later, and my twin brothers were hunting with me. I sat one in the funnel between the corn fields, and decided where to put the other. “Well, i want to sit where you saw the big one,” he said. So i agreed, even though I didnt want to. The morning was slow, squirrels were running everywhere, and i even saw a turkey. Not a single deer passed me all morning, and it was starting to rain. I climbed down, and slowly walked through the puddles. They splashed beneath my feet as I though, “I sure hope one of them saw something.” Joey was down already, running to me through the field. “I saw a GIANT!” he exclaimed. Great, now i hoped he shot it. “It was like fifty yards away, and i dont feel comfortable shooting that far.” Well, that was a good idea. He walked me to where the buck stood, and i paced the ground towards the stand. The base of the tree was twenty six yards from where the buck stood, and his jaw hit the ground. “I could have shot him!?” Sure enough, he was sighted in to thirty yards, dead center everytime. Deadliest sin number nine, change your mind about where you are hunting on a given day, only to find out it was, again, the wrong decision.

     It was the end of the deer season, now January 2008. I had finally comitted deadliest sin number ten. Commit the first nine sins all in one season, wish that you hadn’t, and be tired of hunting. One day after season, you now look forward to doing it all over again next year.

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