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Published by KurtD on 14 Jul 2011

Arrow Manufacturers Dream by Ted Nugent


By Ted Nugent

My absolute favorite hunting is treestand time with my bow and arrow. This style of bowhunting is certainly the most universally used, and conclusively proven to be the most effective in bagging big game. Whether strategizing a killer ambush site where trails converge from bedding to agriculture feed grounds or to water, or maybe watching vigil over some scattered grain or commercial food attractant, or a natural or man-made scrape, these lofty perches provide a wonderful bird’s-eye view of always spectacular wild ground that cleanses the soul.

The sights, sounds and smells of these wild places remain the ultimate attractant to this old bowhunter, but it is the elevated view that always brings the most sightings of all sorts of critters that turns my crank the hardest. I love watching everything from my elevated vantage position, and am forever turned on by the simple sightings of songbirds, nongame animals, and ultimately critters for which the season is on.

It is from treestands that I have bow bagged grouse, woodcock, quail, dove, rabbits, squirrels, pheasants, gophers, groundhogs, coons, possums, skunks, badger, armadillos, muskrats, mink, bobcat, coyote, red and gray fox, feral dogs and cats, snakes, turkey, deer, elk, bear, buffalo, probably forty plus species of African and exotic big game from around the world, and every encounter and every kill has been phenomenally exciting. I can’t wait for more.

Since I was a little bow with my longbow and cedar arrows, the ubiquitous limbrat has always lured me into the woods. Fox squirrels, reds, blacks and grays, have provided me with the most launched arrows and the ultimate lessons in archery marksmanship. You either aim small, miss small or no squirrel fricassee for you.

I remember shooting squirrels out of big old oak, hickory, elm and catalpa trees in the neighborhood, and no one ever complained. With only a very few arrows to my name, I did everything in my power to never lose or break my precious ammo supply, but shooting at such small, elusive targets was very challenging on all counts. In those days, we used steel blunts mostly on small game, so if you would miss the squirrel, at least the arrow wouldn’t stick way up there. If you missed clean and the arrow didn’t strike the tree, we learned to calculate the arch and range of our projectiles and do whatever we needed to do to find that valuable arrow. And we did.

On those occasions that we would break an arrow, as long as it was still at least fifteen or so inches long, we would whittle it to a point with our always handy dandy Boy Scout pocket knife, and just keep on shooting. With these now sharpened arrows, occasionally we found ourselves climbing like monkeys way up into the towering limbs to retrieve our precious shafts. But it was worth it, for we were in love with the mystical flight of the arrow, and quite honestly, this little Detroit whippersnapper simply could not get enough of it.

Now, the old WhackMaster doesn’t qualify any longer as a whippersnapper I suppose (though others would argue) but those pesky little russet balls of bushytailed fun still call my name throughout the year. But nowadays, my archery gear is a little different. Sure, the compound bow is a different animal in many ways, but I still have to practice like mad, I still have to employ every bit of stealth and archery discipline as any longbow or recurve shooter does, and ultimately I have to aim small and miss small. Bowhunting is bowhunting. Know that.

One thing that drives this old squirrel hunter nuts is the occasion when a big, fat, corn stealing limbrat tempts me hour after hour when I am deer hunting, knowing that if a shooter deer is nearby, no matter how silent my bow might be, a shot at a squirrel could very well alert an incoming deer to avoid my ambush. I believe that is one reason I have this little pent up vengeance for squirrels with my bow and arrow. They so tease me so often that I just have to whack them whenever I can.

One of my favorite things about my morning and afternoon bowhunting is the walk out in the morning and the walk to the stand in the afternoon. These are my squirrel bowhunting times and I often bag a bonus rodent or two for the grill.

I always have one or two arrows fitted with Judo heads for small game, and on this particular morning, I wish I had more. I had arrowed a pretty, fat doe, and was walking back to my 4 wheeler, eyes scanning for little critters to shoot. I had barely left my treestand when a rusty red squirrel actually scampered toward me. Standing in a grove of pine trees, my camo worked perfectly as the unsuspecting squirrel hopped within twenty feet of me. I drew back my already nocked arrow and let him have square in the noggin for an instant kill. I felt like I had just shot a trophy elk I was so happy.

With my little prize in my hand I continued toward my ATV when another fatty showed up at the base of a hickory tree. At twenty yards, he worked hard on a nut while I settled my pin on his ear and thwacked bushytail number two in less than five minutes. I was thrilled.

Next thing I knew, I heard the clattering of sharp claws on oak bark as two reds chased around and around in a territorial dispute. Well I am here to tell you, my next two shots with two bloody Judo tipped arrows again found their mark, in rather rapid succession I might add, to bring my rodent bag to four for the morning.

To say I was elated doesn’t even come close to my level of happiness. Unending flashes of a smiling young Nuge whizzed past my mind’s eye, and I felt rejuvenated and innocent again.

I cleaned and hung my pretty doe, then cleaned and hung my four squirrels, surely the happiest bowhunter alive in the world on a glorious fall hunting season day in America. And I didn’t even lose any arrows.

Communicate daily with Ted Nugent on his tednugent.com TalkBack. Celebrate squirrel hunting and unlimited American Dream fun with Uncle Ted at his electro campfire.


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Published by KurtD on 14 Jul 2011

The Best Hunting Season Of Your Life by Ted Nugent


By Ted Nugent

I know how we all scramble to take care of business and work hard providing for our families, hustling for optimal quality of life and the never ending American Dream of being the best, most productive that we can be. Salute to the producers so gungho dedicated to be in the asset column of America. Godbless you all. You truly are my BloodBrothers who make this country the greatest in the world. Ya all ROCK!

Being that as it may, there may be no better time than right now in America today that we desperately need to cleanse our souls and recharge our batteries while we celebrate our healing through nature hunting lifestyle.

Sometimes we wrap up a maniacal schedule to finish a project or job at hand, hauling ass to get to our sacred hunting grounds, scrambling to make it to our stand before the bewitching hour on Friday afternoon for a much needed, and dearly craved roustabout weekend of hunting. I know it and you know it.

I have found over a lifetime of outdoor cravings, that rushing around severely reduces the overall joy and pleasing effects of our outings. What I figured out many decades ago was that with but a deep breath and disciplined forethought of calendar preparation, advanced scheduling for extended hunting or fishing time is the only way to go.

I hear the harrumphing even now, but I assure you, smarter, more efficient choices can, and I am convinced, should be made. Undue stress ultimately will kill you. And it is all undue stress.

I have legions of buddies who figured out a long time ago that October and November and December are coming, and when they arrive is not the time to begin making plans. And remember who’s talking to you here; the ol MotorCity Madman that rocks like a rabid animal six nights a week, all summer long, writes books and articles for dozens of publications and websites, composes and records new killer American R&B&R&R masterpieces all year long, conducts literally 1000s of media interviews throughout the year, produces our Ted Nugent Spirit of the Wild TV and others, participates in dozens and dozens of charity activities year round, conducts speaking presentations around the country, takes care of business for a large family and dozens of employees, repairs fences, fills feeders, trains dogs, cuts firewood, changes oil, cuts the lawn, plants foodplots and trees, and even with this ridiculous workload, I still enjoy more than 250 days a year hunting, fishing and trapping. Then I hit the sack.

But mark my words; I do not scramble to get in my hunting time. I thoughtfully prioritize my daily, weekly, monthly, annual activities so that I am not beat to a pulp as I am climbing into my treestand.

First order of business is to always have all my hunting gear ready to rock. I shoot my bow every day anyway, so I am always in touch with its condition and preparedness. Same with my firearms. I shoot my main guns so often that I don’t have to set aside time to sight them in. I sight them in throughout the year.

My various boots, camo clothes, survival backpack, vidcam supplies and all possibly assorted gear is maintained in total readiness so time is not wasted regrouping for an outing. I admit that the smartest move of my life was when I determined at a very young age that I would live on killer hunting grounds. No extended travel for this ol WhackMaster to get to the hunt. On both my Texas and Michigan grounds I live smack dab in the epicenter of dream game habitat, so my greatest joy in life is that I am hunting as soon as I close the door behind me.

And I am not the only one who figured this out. Many of my farming and ranching hunting buddies performed such basic decisions and enjoy the same ultimate joys of homeground hunting fun. It can be done, and it is never too late in life to choose to do so. Huge change and a huge decision? Sure. Huge fun is always better than small fun. Think huge.

Little decisions can go a long way in upgrading your quality hunting time. Vacation time is always a compromise with family desires, but nothing spells happiness like vacation during the rut. Timing is everything.

And here’s the defining power move for my quality of life; I learned a long time ago the power of the word “NO”. If I were to accept even a tiny fraction of the offers to do thing and go places, my hunting time would be severely reduced. Unless it is for a charity event or something monumental, I simply decline to go places and do things instead of staying home and hunting. That’s how you do that.

The older we get, the more focused we should get. I have and it sure brings a great smile to my face, a full freezer of straps, and a calm, fulfilling sense of ease to my overall life. It is this hunting happiness that keeps my spirit fortified and better prepares me for my next high energy, ferocious rock-n-roll assault. I work hard, and I hunt hard, and both maximize the enjoyment and productivity of the other.

Try it. I think you will agree with me.

– Ted Nugent

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Published by archerchick on 08 Jul 2011

Turkey Grand Slam ~By Stan Chiras

June 1989


A Novice Tells How It’s Done

I had just started hunting these magnificent birds last year and already I was hopelessly
addicted. Most turkey hunters will tell you there is no cure, and their wives will agree! I was no exception. The desire to get the Grand Slam came as the result of simply wanting to do a lot of
gobbler chasing in my second season. It seemed reasonable to let that chase take me to
places where the different species of turkey called home. The problem then became
one of “how to” and “how to afford it all! ”


I could scratch out the time, for my occupation would let me mix travel and sales
calls, with frequent returns to my home base in Wyoming. I began calling friends,
trying to locate good spots to hunt. Being a bowhunter, I didn’t really want to lessen my
odds by hunting areas that the guns had pounded. I came up with some areas that sounded good and made me feel fairly confident of success. Nonetheless, I contacted some guides as back-ups, telling them that I wanted to first try hunting alone. My feelings are that if someone else locates and calls the bird for me, I am little more than a shooter and the essence of the hunt is lost. Besides, guides cost money and it would cost enough getting from one place to another.


I spent the winter planning. Every detail, from equipment to travel routes to photography was studied, pondered and finalized. My plan was to get licenses in seven states and try get my four birds from them. I spent countless hours crouched in my living room practicing sitting still, calling and even aiming at gobblers on videos I had rented!


My bow, a High Country Trophy Hunter, was tuned from wheel to wheel. I broke in
several spare strings and set up my Amacker Banjo sight to hit dead on from five to 25
yards. I shot day after day, until I could hit the fist-sized vitals of my turkey target every time
within that range. I was detemined to shoot 4 within 25 yards where my skill level would make
me confident of a clean kill.


Every morning, before leaving for work, I would step out the door and take one, and only
one shot. There are no warm-up shots at turkeys and I expected no follow-ups. If the shot
was true, my day was off to a great start. If it was errant, I felt like a toad. Eventually all my
arrows hit the mark, the result of practiced concentation and an awful lot of desire.


My bow was short enough that I could shoot while sitting, which greatly reduced
critical movement which had cost me shots at a couple gobblers during my first season.
That, coupled with 65 percent let-off made what I considered the ultimate turkey weapon. I
would be able to draw when my quarry’s vision was obstructed and hold for a long time if necessary.


The last thing I did was shoot the bow set at a shorter draw length than normal for me. The
bow came a little shy of my draw and quite by accident I learned it could help. Since I’m no
student of target archery, I hope it will suffice that with the slightly shorter draw I did
not suffer from any creep and it was very easy to find a consistent form. Whatever, I was
shootiing much better than I ever had before and that`s the way to start a hunt like this one.


A personal commitment was made as well: I would be more patient than I had ever
been my life in every circumstance I encountered. Secondly, I vowed to be persistant.
I would not quit until I dropped from exhaustion and there wasn’t a turkey season open in
the entire country. (It’s very interesting to note that three of the birds were taken on the
last day of the hunt after my hopes had been well dashed. I doubt I’ll ever give up early in
my life again!)


Conditioning is necessary because turkey hunting can be very strenuous, both physically
and mentally. There are times when you get on a gobbler in a hurry and cross ravines or penetrate thick hillsides as though they weren’t there. Other situations are stealth, either in stalking into an area to set up or sitting still for hours on end. Both as s lot easier to do if you’re in shape.


Still, other times will find the turkey hunter down and out and in need of a psychological lift. Perhaps the birds are not gobbling, or they come in silently and you muff the set-up. Sometimes they answer your every call for two hours and then simply walk off gobbling into the woods. At times like these, you have to find a way to make the most of the encounter. A hunter who tends to say “I almost got one in today and sure learned what I might want to do with the next one,” will find
himself ready to go the next morning. You can’t let those turkeys get you down! They’re
just teaching you a little humility.


Wyoming Merriam’s

My first bird dropped to my Zwickey-tipped XX75 within five minutes on opening day in the Black Hills of northeastern Wyoming. As I nestled into some brush I had scoured. three gobblers were calling to the hens and each other. (As I was to learn with all my subsequent hunts, it is often best to be there on the first day, when the birds are ready and not yet fully aware of the dangers afield.)

The Wyoming Merriam’s turkey responded quickly to my call. Two gobblers came in and I shot the second, a bird with a 9 1/2 inch beard that weighed 18 pounds. He took my first arrow at 22 yards through the vitals and caught a second well-placed shaft moments later as insurance. It proved to be unnecessary. He made it over a rise and into a draw before expiring. I took the quick, clean
kill as a good omen for the hunts to come.


The next weekend found me in Montana, searching for another gobbler and hoping my
luck would continue. I just shook my head in mild disbelief when my evening yelping
located a gobbler. A likely looking clearing would be my morning hide. Daybreak found
me nestled against a large cottonwood tree, hoping for the best.


Have you ever seen something in the semi-darkness and had your eyes play every trick in
the book on you? Well, there I was, waiting for the fun to begin, when a subtle “spitting”
sound caught my attention. I stared into the uncertain landscape, sure I heard a tom drumming.
It had to be a gobbler, but it was much too early for one to be on the ground and I had not heard anything fly down. I began to pick out a dark spot in front of me, at a range I couldn’t determine. In the low light the spot seemed to appear and disappear, than move. I would have to wait.


Meanwhile, the birds in the nearby trees began to gobble and my attention shifted to them. It seemed like mere minutes later when the object I had tried to make out on the ground was a clearly identifiable gobbler. He was strutting back and forth about twenty yards in front of me. I froze. Arrowing gobblers is far more complicated than getting one in range. Their eyes are
very sharp and detect the slightest thing out of place. Movement is simply impossible. Where a deer might just wait an extra second and even shrug off something if it doesn’t move again, a turkey just leaves. There are no second chances.


Let a turkey hear you and the scenario is the same. They teach you in a hurry that one mistake is all you get. The challenge is getting your bow to full draw, aiming and shooting before they know you are there. My mental conditioning was the most valuable asset for the hunt I had and discipline
was the key. If the bird could see me, or other birds could. there was no sense in doing anything. It would seem a shame to just let a gobbler walk off. but often it was all I could do.


Desperation attempts are a waste of time on turkeys. They only educate the birds to your
presence and lessen your chances of success for the next day. I waited for this bird to turn, facing dead away from me, when his fanned tail would effectively block him from seeing me. He
turned. I drew. I could hardly see the dual pins of my sight and a quick sighting on the brighter horizon enabled me to set in and make the shot. The arrow struck home, sending a solid “whack”
back to my ears. He turned again, stared directly at the source of the sound and caught
my next arrow squarely in the breast. My second bird was down.


A second Merriam’s with good technique; no mistakes so far on this venture! My shooting had been perfect. Both birds were done for the first arrows, but a second shaft conveniently laid next to me had struck home both times. Had they been really needed, they would have done the job. The practice and planning were paying off.


l thought of several setups for taking turkeys during the planning stages for this hunt. The trick is to get them in and be able to make the motion of the shot undetected. The easiest way to do this is to park yourself against a very large tree in a woods with lots of other trees in front of you. When the bird passes behind one you`ll have a chance to draw. When he steps out the shot is yours.


Another way to fool an old tom is to draw him past you with the aid of a decoy. Try to set yourself up facing away from the bird as you call, although the urge to turn and look him over can be almost cruel! If you call and the bird comes in, sights the decoy and then approaches it, a shot at a fanned bird facing away can be your reward.



Remember to anticipate the spot you expect the bird to be and then position yourself for that shot. Right handed archers will want the bird to the left of the way they are facing, nd the opposite is true for lefties. There is nothing more depressing than being unable to shoot because of body position.


Rio Grande

My Rio Grande bird had to be taken by another method. I was hunting a ranch in west Texas almost devoid of trees suitable for the turkey hunter to “fade” into. To make matters worse, the birds were concentrated in large flocks. Not once did I call in just one gobbler. Usually they came with hens, or jakes or even other gobblers but the number of birds was rarely under ten. That’s a lot of eyes to deal with! I had to resort to a makeshift blind.

I carried some camo netting for just such a predicament. After calling in bird after bird to amply let them wander off I decided that it was time. A ravine that was scattered with small cedars made a perfect location for my barrier. I draped the netting between the cedars and leaned boughs up against the whole affair. A huge gobbler that had already come in on three occasions in the previous five days was my target. I hoped my blind would let me get a shot at him on my last day.


My luck seemed to turn, because that was the only morning that I did not call a gobbler in. Perseverance would have to be the key: I decided to stay behind the netting for the entire day. That afternoon the gobbler showed up, all alone for the first time. He was history. I was sure of it.
The bum just ignored my calls. To this day it makes no sense. Eventually he wandered off into a brushy hillside. I was devastated. Since I was due to head for Florida in the morning it seemed the slam was over. I sat there and pondered my plight well into evening.

Almost miraculously, a group of six jakes came up behind me shortly before sunset. I
decided to take one, since a gobbler wasn’t likely to make an appearance. They came in
and circled my calling, offering me a head-on shot at the lead bird. The blind worked perfectly. If only I had used it earlier in the week. The arrow caught the bird off center by an
inch. But I celebrated too soon. The jake was nowhere to be found. I had to cancel my flight
to resume the search in the light of dawn. As luck would have it, I found the bird in the morning darkness while I was sneaking in to set up for another hunt (Texas allows you two spring birds so I was going to try for another before looking for the jake). Later I passed up a shot at two gobblers with medium-sized beards because I failed to recognize just what they were at first. I guarantee I will never do that again. Round tails are not jakes.



I gathered up my dog (who was patiently waiting in the car on all my hunts), the bird
and a bunch of gear and headed off to central Florida for what I expected to be a very tough
bird to get, the Osceola. I wasn’t disappointed, for not only were they tough to hunt, they were scarce as hen`s teeth. The practical problem of needing to make a living meant I would have to return home in only three days. It was difficult to feel confident with so little time to get to know the
area and find birds.

An important element for success on any hunt is scouting. I would rather spend three or
four days of a seven day hunt scouting, and hope my preparation would yield positive results later, than just plow in and hunt fret day one. The second night of my three precious days finally found me watching a long-bearded gobbler go to his roost. The next morning I sat against a pine tree next to the cypress swamp that held the gobbler. I almost wished this turkey wasn’t so impressive, for
not getting him would be like missing a Pope and Young buck. I said I almost wished it, mind you; I wasn’t complaining.


He gobbled in the heavy mist of morning, a mist that was really a fog. First two hens
came down and immediately wandered off. Soon he would follow. He had to, for I had no
time left. He landed exactly where he had taken off from the night before. My decoys
were placed next to the edge of some pines and I was motionless next to one of them. He
ignored my decoys and began to wander off. Knowing full well that this old boy had gotten
that magnificent beard by letting things come to him, I decided to purr and cluck very softly.
He gobbled and fanned. With the fog and this cautious Osceola gobbler and a hunter relying
on his instincts for what to do next, the moment was pure magic.


He hung around in front of me for a while and then just disappeared. A few purrs, ending with only slightly louder clucks carried out from my call. I kept it up for a minute or so, hoping my adversary would come back. Then my prayers were answered as he appeared off to my right, very near the spot he had flown down to. It was perfect for a left-handed shooter. I wouldn’t have to shift position at all to aim and shoot from the sitting position.


Things looked very good. He was interested and coming in slow and deliberate. The
fog had him wet and his fan looked pretty bad, but do you think I cared! He was the lord and
master of this little piece of paradise and I had been invited for the show.The gobbler got as close as 15 yards and must have decided that the decoys should have moved by now. I was sure he would leave. It was time to act. I had strung some camo netting around me, about six feet out, to break my outline. If he turned I would draw. He did, and so did I, except he had turned straight at
me. I froze and luckily he did not notice my movements through the fog. The net had done
its job.


It seemed like forever, but he turned away, with his fanned tail blocking me from his
sight. This time I got to full draw and came down on my target. He turned sideways and I
once again thanked my bow for its high let-off, as I had to wait for him to settle down
before letting the arrow f`ly. It struck with a solid whack, indicating a pretty good hit.
Then he surprised me and flew to the top of a nearby pine. He was history though, and I
knew it.


A short time later he came down, while I patiently waited in silence, not wanting to risk
spooking him into the thick cypress swamps nearby. His beard was over ll inches and he was
a true trophy. Now the heat was really on. With one bird to go there was no turning back and my confidence level was soaring. An urgent pressure to succeed was overshadowing my thoughts.

Eastern Turkey

Earlier I spoke of the planning that went into this venture. It is one of the most important factors for success, for you simply can’t get them where you can’t find them. Unfortunately, I hadn’t given enough thought to the order I was hunting the different species. I should have started with the eastern, gone after the Florida next and the other later. The reason? It’s easy for me to say now: The eastern turkey get the most pressure and react quickly, making things very tough for the
hunter, especially the bowhunter. I haven’t said much about my calling because it isn’t that good. I rely primarily on a box call and stick to a limited vocabulary of yelps, clucks, purrs, cackles and Cutts. Since I feel a little inexperienced I tend to call less often and more softly, hoping to convince a bird with the coy approach. Turkey hunters have told me a lot of things about calling and it seems many different approaches work. I think the secret lies with the birds themselves, for some days they come in like hungry wolves and other times they plan the classic “you come to me” game.

A quick trip to the Black Hills of South Dakota, since I had a tag to left to fill there. I wanted to sharpen my calling and hunting skills before going after the much respected eastern gobblers.
as with the other two Merriam’s, I found a bird the first evening out and setup in a likely opening the next morning. A whole bunch of birds came in, including five gobblers and quite a few jakes. They strutted about in front of me, offering no chance to draw with all those alert eyes on call. My only recourse was to wait for them to leave and hope a gobbler would be among the last to go, thus offering me a shot


The last bird was fanned out and strutting across to my right. When he crossed behind a large cottonwood, one of several in front of me, I came to full draw. He stepped out and the arrow smacked home , hitting him in the wing butt. After waiting a while, I crept up a small rise, expecting to see him on the other side. What I saw was a red head and a blur of feathers as he rocketed off to some distant brush. I was baffled. The arrow had hit just where it was supposed to so he should
have been down. I decided to wait a while longer and sneak up on the brush.

When a hungry coyote showed up and I decided to pass up the shot, it turned into a
godsend. The canine hit the turkey’s trail and immediately raced off to fetch the bird. I figured
it would be easy to follow and make the coyote give it up. But it didn’t go quite that
way. The gobbler came bursting out of the thicket and flew up to a treetop about a quarter
mile away. Now all I had to do was to wait for the bird to expire.

After awhile I decided that he wasn’t coming down so a stalk was in order. Luckily, the
wind picked up making the bird face into it just to hold on. It also covered the sound of my
approach. I had never shot up in a tree before and decided to simply aim dead center, hoping it would be good. The arrow centered the gobbler and he was mine.


On To The East

I got busy trying to locate birds in New York, and acting on a tip from Charles Alsheimer, called in a super gobbler. I didn’t get the bird but felt extremely good about having
called up my first eastern. Charlie later showed me a thing or two about cackling and
purring on a diaphragm which helped me make major strides in my calling. Unfortunately, hordes of hunters moved into the area that weekend and the birds went silent. I decided it would take a few days to calm things down and headed off to a farm in West Virginia, about six hours away, to try anew. I had learned a lot about these birds. They
are the ultimate survivors, fleeing at the slightest miscue. Their eyes are absolutely
unforgiving, their ears superb and their gobbles were incredibly enchanting.


Several days of rain had put a damper on my spirits, although I kept at it every day until the noon stopping time dictated by law. Somehow the last day of the hunt snuck up and promised to be the first clear day of the week. It was now or never. A tom had gobbled
just before noon the day before in a beautiful little hollow, but refused to come to my pleadings. I would try to take him. I found it was best on all my hunts to try to set my tactics for the morning the night before and then just spend the night dreaming about the wonderful
things to come.


I was beginning to feel like the real master of myself, more than I ever had in my life. My
mind was full of constant rumblings about the value of planning, practice, patience and perseverance (my four P’s). I slipped into position an extra hour early, as I had done on the two previous last day hunts. I was going to kill that bird, I was positive. If only one had gobbled that morning . . .


I called three times that morning, from my hide nestled in the corner of the hollow. Since
moving was not part of the day’s program, I settled in on my Komfort Turkey pad for the
long haul, which passed all too quickly. The season would end at noon. At 10:53 my last
soft yelps of the morning broke the still air. Again, nothing.


If you had been there you would know the feeling I cannot describe as a bird came from
under a shady tree, just across the hollow from one very shaken turkey hunter. He
strode into the bright sunlight and stared directly into the woods that held me. This was
one of the infamous ‘”silent gobblers” we have all heard so much about.
He dropped into a depression and I grabbed the bow I had foolishly put down an
hour earlier. As it turned out, I could have eaten lunch during the amount of time it took
him to reappear. Fighting the urge to rise up a little and peak to confirm his whereabouts became a difficult task, but I held firm. He appeared, still looking at my location.


He began to scratch about and feed in the closely cropped pasture, practically in my
lap. He noticed my decoys which I had partially concealed in some bushes off to the uphill
side of my hide. I was six or seven yards into the dark forest and it felt safe. Yet he continued to scratch about, glancing at the decoys from time to time. There was no strutting,
only feeding stares. The whole time he was facing directly at this archer and offered abslutely no chance for a shot. I kept telling myself that my Grand Slam was right in front of
me and all I had to do was wait for the right moment.


He was about 20 yards out. The shot should be a piece of cake. I glanced down to
make sure the arrow was on the rest and nothing was going to get in my way when I pulled
up. Much to my dismay, I noticed some debris on the sight and there was nothing that could be done about it. I would have to ignore it when it came time to aim.

When he finally turned away and put his head down to feed I acted smoothly and
quickly. I arrived at full draw and decided to wait for him to go through a cycle of checking
the area for danger as he had been doing between each series of scratches. He seemed to
take forever to drop that periscope (as I had come to call their heads in frustration many
times before) and I once again thanked High Country for that let-off. The pin was cluttered
with leaf matter that made aiming less than ideal.

After 26 days of hunting and a string of success, I began to crack. Pressure had been
an integral part of the challenge all along. It made the hunts very serious matters and
added to the enjoyment. But now I couldn’t stop the pin from circling the bird. To top it
off, he took a step forward and it seemed like he would just walk away and I would be frozen there, like a fool. I was screaming at myself to
get it done.


The arrow struck the bird, who was quartering away, dead center. The force of the 75
pound bow drove him several yards across the field. I’m not sure I remember releasing too
well. It just happened regardless of what was going on in my worn-out mind. I’d like to
think that all the practice had paid off. The gobbler flopped down the ravine and
into the woods. He was done though, for I had seen the strike. I slowly made my way over to the edge of the woods and spotted the magnificent creature. It was clear that he was expiring and, as with any game animal I have ever taken, I backed off to let him spend his last moments in peace. He never knew what hit him and my presence would only add terror to his end. I was happy and sad in a way that I can’t describe but I think a lot of you know
what I’m talking about.


It was over. I fell to the ground and just lay there, thinking. My eastern wild turkey was a
few yards away in the West Virginia woods. I didn’t have to get up at 3:30 a.m. tomorrow
and I wasn’t sure I liked that for the sunrise had become a special time filled with anticipation
that each day would be better than the last. I guess they had been.


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Published by archerchick on 08 Jul 2011

Muskox with a Bow~By David Richey

Bowhunting World
Febraury 1990

Muskox with a Bow~ By David Richey

The bull was big… and close Ikey Nanegoak, my Inuit guide,
had spotted the muskox bull two miles away across the frozen
tundra of the Northwest Territories. Even at that distance the
animal looked massive.

We parked the snowmobile two miles away and began a methodical
stalk through the frozen rock formations to a boulder only 20 yards from
the unsuspecting bull. The animal was close enough for a bow shot but
we first had to size up its horns and boss to see if it would make
the Pope and Young club record books. The bull’s right horn was massive
We green scored the right side, including the bony boss, at over 65 inches.
Now if the bull would only turn and give us a peek at the left side.

Five minutes later the bull swiveled around the paw at a new patch of snow
for the lichens below, and the left horn was a bitter pill to swallow. It was
broken off eight inches back from the tip, and badly broomed like the horns of a full curl
bighorn ram.

“Too bad,” Ikey said as we started figuring deduction points. “If both horns would have
been equal that would be a new world record muskox.”

My muskox hunt had begun the day before with a grueling sled ride behind Nanegoak’s.
Yamaha snowmobile on a 90-mile journey across frozen Queen Maude Gulf to an
isolated trappers shack at one end of Victoria Island. The island, north of the northwestern
mainland portion of the Northwest Territories (NWT), is one of several NWT islands that
support good muskox herds.

My experience with winter is in Michigan is heavy snow and occasional temperatures
that plunge to zero. It couldn’t prepare me for an April hunt on an Arctic island where the
thermometer often registers 70 degrees below zero.

Snow squeaked underfoot and my nostril hairs froze instantly in the minus 40-degree
temperature as our snowmobile and sled skidded to a halt on Queen Maude Gulf. We’d
just begun my muskox hunt, and four hours after departing from Cambridge Bay on Victoria
Island, we had troubles.

It wasn’t serious yet, but anytime hunters have problems in cold weather, the complexion of
the hunt can change in a moments notice. A whiteout had washed across the barren Gulf, and
robbed us of all visible landmarks and our sense of direction. It was impossible to see the faint
snowmobile track leading across the gulf toward the island shack we would use as our hunt

Conditions can rapidly change in
the arctic, and seconds later the whiteout had
disappeared and was replaced by bright sun-
“Hurry. We go fast, and find the snowmobile track,”
Nanegoak urged.
I didn’t need further encouragement. The
idea of being stranded on the ice when the
bottom fell out of the thermometer is enough
to get anyone moving quickly, despite the
bulky caribou skin parka, skin pants and
We found the old trapping shack two hours
later and just before daylight passed into the
nothingness of an arctic night. The all-white
arctic rock ledge holding the trappers shack
stood out like a sore thumb in the landscape,
but the bone-chilling cold made it look as inviting
as a palace in the tropics.
Nanegoak and l unload food and survival
gear — including an emergency radio -— from
the 24-foot sled that had beat my backside
nearly raw over 90 miles of frozen Queen
Maude Gulf and Victoria Island`s wind-swept
island rock. The sled had pounded its way
over pressure ridges and rocks, and the snow-
mobile had broken a ski en route to our island

A quick supper, some quiet conversation
and an hour of listening to Inuits talking on the
radio provided our evening entertainment.
Eight hours of deathlike sleep rallied me
around for the next day ’s hunt.
The day dawned clear, cold and bright, and
with a cherry-red sunrise gave high expectations
of seeing my first muskox. Nanegoak,
from Bathurst Inlet, was making breakfast as I
scratched rime from the tiny window for a
look at the barren landscape.
An arctic white fox was nosing around
near camp, and with two quick shots my cam-
era recorded his image on film. We quickly
ate our breakfast of bacon, eggs, toast and tea,
and began the hour-long process of getting
ready to hunt.

It’s not easy donning caribou skin parkas
and mukluks over other clothing. The skin
garments were tight fitting, and my antics of
pulling on this highly effective Eskimo garb
reminded me of an old lady pulling on her
“Today, all I want is to see a muskox,” I
said. “Just get me close enough to a few animals
so I can see what they look like. I want to
gauge just how long the chest hair is, and the
exact location of the heart and lungs in that
massive chest.
“If we find a trophy animal today I’ll hunt
tomorrow. I’d like a rubberneck tour of the
island to see its wildlife and landscape. I don’t
want my hunt to end the first day.” Nanegoak
speaks excellent English, and he promised a
tour that would show me white fox, Peary caribou and muskox.
My butt bounced against the hard wood
seat of the sled as Nanegoak’s snowmobile
pulled me along at 15 miles per hour. Several
white foxes scuttled away through nearby
rockpiles, and Peaiy caribou bounded over
the frozen landscape like youngsters hopping
down a sidewalk on Pogo sticks.

Two hours later I saw what I’d traveled
thousands of air miles to see — muskox.
Nanegoak spotted the first herd nearly two
miles away, and they looked like black lumps
of coal against the snow-covered island rock.
“We’ll stalk closer for a better look,” he
said. “We can get to within 100 yards, and
you can study the animals before you start

“Maybe one of the bulls will meet your
requirements. If there’s a big bull in that herd
we can come back tomorrow and stalk him
again. He probably won’t be too far away unless
some wolves move in and chase them
The stalk went without incident, and
brought us to the close-up vantage point described at the beginning of the story.
“Much of the time muskox horns are
nearly identical Nanegoak said after we discovered
the broomed left horn. “He’s the
largest muskox I’ve ever seen. He’s big, but
with the deduction points he probably wouldn’t
score 100 points. Let’s look for another herd, and maybe we can find something
rnore symmetrical.

Muskox are considered an arctic oddity. It
is neither an ox nor does it exude musk.
Rather, it is a close relative to the bison.
We studied the bull for several minutes. As
an ethical bowhunter, and one concerned with
making a clean kill, it was my wish to determine
the depth of the chest and the length of
the chest hair. An arrow shot too low would
sirnply cut hair from the brisket and allow the
animal to get away. Or, even worse, an arrow
improperly placed may wound the muskox.

We finally left the muskox and walked for
a half-mile before talking. Nanegoak proceeded
to explain the Inuit’s position in guidng muskox
hunters on the arctic islands.
“Muskox thrive on many arctic islands
and in some parts of the mainland Northwest
Territories,” he said. “‘They grow long hair
which offers insulation from extreme cold,
and that hairy pelt enables them to survive
temperatures that can drop to minus 70 degrees.

“These animals are an important food
source for the Eskimo people. Robes are
made from hides, and the meat is eaten. We
treat trophy bulls with respect and these animals
are the only ones we allow sportsmen to
hunt. For our purposes we prefer to eat cows,
calfs and immature muskox bulls.”

Nanegoak said paying hunters may only
take the hide, head, horns and 50 pounds of
meat from their kill. The Eskimo people use
the rest of the meat leaving nothing to waste.
My April hunt, just before the muskox
season ended, came as winter was ending its
six-month grip on the arctic. Even so, Victoria
Island’s evening temperatures plummeted
to minus 40 degrees and only reached IO degrees
below zero during the day.

Our sole consolation that evening was the
trappers cabin. It was snug and warm, heated
by a propane cookstove and a kerosene heater.
The sun had lost its feeble hold on the day’s
warmth, and as it plunged out of sight the temperature
dropped 20 degrees in as many minutes.
Dawn breaks like thunder in the arctic.
The sun popped over the eastern horizon of
Queen Maude Gulf, and one minute it was
dark and the next the world was bathed in
bright sunshine.

“Ready to go hunting?” Nanegoak asked
as the breakfast pancakes, eggs and sausage
were shoveled down. “Today we’ll find other
muskox, locate a big bull and try to get close
enough for a shot. If we have any luck we’ll be
back by dark with a fine trophy bull.”
I wiggled into my parka, pants and mukluks after
dressing in wool pants and a down
jacket. A wool stocking cap kept my ears and
head warm. I was ready.

Nanegoak was warming the snowmobile
as I double checked my Oneida Screaming
Eagle bow. I chose the bow for this hunt be-
cause it is less apt to freeze and snap in the
bitter cold temperatures. Wood bows with
wood or fiberglass limbs may shatter when
used in very cold weather.

The bow performed flawlessly, and I
screwed Game Tracker Terminator Double
Cut broadheads to my 2217 Easton shafts.
Now, all I had to do was to stay warm until we
spotted a muskox herd.
We cruised the seemingly barren island
until we found the muskox. Northwest Territories
law forbids getting closer than two
miles to muskox by snowmobile. If we spotted
some animals we’d have to stalk on foot to
within bow range.

We would ride for 10 minutes, approach
the top of a hill and park just below the crest.
Ikey and I would sneak up to the ridge and
glass for muskox. Two hours passed before
we spotted a muskox herd.

“No big bulls in that herd,” Nanegoak
said after glassing the animals. “There are 14
small bulls, cows and yearlings but nothing of
trophy size. Let’s go back to the snowmobile
and try another area.”
The sharp-eyed Inuit spotted another herd
three hours later. He pulled the snowmobile
and sled to a halt below a windswept ridge,
and studied the herd intently before giving me
a thumbs-up sign.

‘“There’s one big bull in that herd,” Nanegoak said.
“The big one is with a smaller bull,
and they are 200 yards from 12 other muskox.
Get ready, and we’ll go on foot from here.
Stay low, and we’ll follow this ridge line until
we reach that rock pile. Then we’ll move to-
ward the animals, and you’d better pray that
another rock outcropping is there to provide
cover. Grab your bow, and let’s go.”

He led me on a slow stalk toward the herd.
It was easy for the first mile but then we had to
crouch low and run from boulder to boulder to
reach a shallow depression that offered good
cover. It gave us cover for another half-mile.
Nanegoak suggested we rest for a moment
behind a huge boulder while he crawled to the
top of a ridge to check the big bull. He wiggled
through three inches of snow to glass the
muskox, and several minutes later was back
wearing a broad grin,
“We’re still a half-mile from the bull and
he’s big,” the guide said. “His horns will
score at least 100 Pope and Young points, and
perhaps a bit more.

That was great news. The minimum score
to enter a muskox in the prestigious Pope and
Young scoring competition is 65 points. Any
animal over 90 points is a trophy to be proud
of, and a bull that scores above 100 points is
exceptional .

We began a rock to rock stalk that took 30
minutes before we crawled within 50 yards of
the big bull. Now the big and the small bull
were only 100 yards from the herd as they
slowly fed toward that direction.
We had run out of cover. We stalked as
close as we could without moving into the
open, and now the bull was close, but still too
far away for a bow shot.
“Can you hit him from here?” Nanegoak
asked as he apparently read my mind. “It’s a
long bow shot but it may be tough getting

I practice shooting my bow year-round,
but most of my shots are at 30 yards or less.
I’m competent at that range but never practice
at 50 yards simply because I prefer getting
closer or not taking a shot.

“It`s too far,” I said. “We either have to get
closer or find another bull in an area where we
can stalk to within 30 yards.”
For me, the thrill of the hunt lies in the
stalk and knowing a good shot can be made.
Wounding a big game animal is a sin, and the
thought of a 50-yard shot was something I
wasn’t prepared to try.
Nanegoak thought about the problem before his fact lit up.
“Old Eskimo trick,” he said. “We’ll walk
slowly and as close as possible until the
muskox turn, and then we stop. I’ll move
slowly across in front of them, and as they
watch me, you move closer. Just move slow
and quiet, and move only when they stare in
my direction.”
We moved slowly out from cover, and I felt
as exposed as a nudist in church. We began
walking toward the two bulls, and when they
sensed our movement their heads turned our

We stopped and stood motionless for 30
seconds. Nanegoak began walking slowly
across in front of the bulls, and they looked
his way. My mukluks made little sound as I
eased forward, a step at a time, in a completely
exposed stalk.
The guide would move, and the bulls
would face the moving man. Then it was my
turn, and soon I sensed that slow movements
didn’t disturb the animals. I sneaked to within
30 yards before determining that it was time to
draw and shoot.

My Screaming Eagle came to full draw,
and the 30—yard pin snugged down low behind
the front shoulder of the big bull.
It was a good hit, and 20 seconds later the
bull lurched off on a short run. It staggered
and fell after running only 50 yards. The Double
Cut broadhead had done a good job of
cutting through thick hair and hide, and the
bull was dead within 30 seconds of the hit.
It was a thrilling hunt. The kill was anticlimatic
compared to the unique open-ground
stalk, spending several days with my young
Inuit guide, and learning more about myself
and the land I hunted.

Make no mistake about it: Muskox hunting
is not for the faint hearted. The weather
during an arctic winter is brutally cold, and
all bowhunting equipment must function
properly. And one costly mistake can jeopradize
the life of a careless hunter.

However, in this day and age it is a hunt
where sportsmen have an excellent chance of
scoring on a Pope and Young record-book animal.
The animals are majestic in their all-
white environment, and both the hunt and the
terrain is fascinating.

Now, my 100 6/ 8-inch record-book
muskox is mounted life size. It reminds me of
a wild and free land, and the stark beauty of
the arctic environment is forever etched in my
This trip proved that Canada ’s wild North-
west Territories offers great bow hunting
action . . . even in the dead of winter. Perhaps
one day I will return, and relive one of the
most memorable hunts of my career.

EDITOR ’S NOTE: David Richey has been
a fulltime outdoor writer-photographer for
more than 21 years, and this article was based ‘
on a hunt he made in April 1988. It was his
seventh trip to the Northwest Territories.

Richey is the staff outdoor columnist for
The Detroit News, Michigan’s largest daily
newspaper and the fifth largest in North
America. He rates his midwinter arctic experience
as one of the finest in his many years of
traveling around the world in search of magazine articles.
He and his wife, a well-known fish and
wild game cook, live on a 100 percent diet of
fish and game taken on their trips. >>—>


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Published by archerchick on 08 Jul 2011

Adventures in Antelope~ By Rick Sapp

June 1989

Adventures in Antelope ~ By Rick Sapp


At the moment, momma and the kids were relaxing by an indoor heated
pool at a plush motel in the Black Hills which, according to the Black Hills
Chamber of Commerce, is one of America‘s top family vacation destinations. They were
going to see Mount Rushmore and Bear Country U.S.A. and Devil ’s Tower. They
would pay to watch “incredible trained animals operate the Bewitched Village” at the
Reptile Gardens near Rapid City. If they really got lucky, the Ghosts of Deadwood Gulch
Wax Museum wouldn’t have closed for the season and, of course, everyone was excited
about the dino dogs and bronto-burgers served at the Flintstones “original” Bedrock


Not dad, though. Dad was sitting in a hole in the ground, in the dark. Dad was shivering
because the wind was blowing 40 miles an hour and because it was raining and, occasionally,
hailing. Dad, dressed for temperatures in the 70s when the chill factor was in the
20s, was catching his death of cold. No “Family Approved Attractions” for dad. Instead, dad
was having fun! He was bowhunting antelope. I was an incredibly lucky man. Oh, not
lucky to miss the dino dogs or the 20-minute Rushmore blasting movie at Rushmore-Borglum
Story with mom and the kids, not really. I was lucky because in the most miserable weather
I could imagine for September in Wyoming, with pale yellow smoke belching out of Yellowstone Park 250 miles northwest and filtering eerily through my blind, a fine pronghorn antelope buck was walking into my shooting lane on Frank and Elaine Moore’s Spearhead Ranch.


Unquestionably, the opportunity to bow-hunt pronghorns is an adventure that should
involve the entire family. You can drop your spouse (wife or husband) and children in the
Black Hills where they can enjoy some of the most spectacular tourist sights since the
invention of neon and plastic and, just 100 miles farther west, you will find some of the finest
pronghorn hunting in the U.S. Everyone will be happy and you’ll be a hero. Now, it isn’t
very often you have that chance, is it?


Bowhunting Antelope


Antelope are open country grazers and September is an ideal month to bowhunt them
in Wyoming. Because they water several times during the day, alone or in groups, the
most productive way to bowhunt these prairie speedsters is by ambush at a waterhole. They
can be stalked, but because their vision is eight times more acute than a human’s, stalking t
hem is tough and usually requires longer range accuracy than most bowhunters can


Ambushing antelope requires discipline and endurance. If you are hunting from an
open ground blind or sitting above a watering tank strapped to a windmill, you’ll need to be
extremely careful with your movements – from early in the morning until dark. In this
respect, bowhunting antelope is like bow-hunting whitetails. You can not predict when
they will come to water, but they do come, every day, and that fact is consolation for
endless hours alone in a blind.



Make your hours in a blind comfortable. Take a book, lunch and a full water bottle.
Don’t forget a pee bottle and a roll of toilet tissue, either. Take a bag of hard candy or
chewing gum. If the blind is open, you’ll need protection from the sun and wind. Because
the prairie is glaringly bright through midday, you’ll be glad you remembered polarized
sun glasses such as the popular sportsmens’ glasses made by Bushnell. On the high
prairies, the wind is a continual companion and you’ll need a lip balm like Chap Stick or
Overcast 15 Sunscreen. And, if you have hacked your blind out of the hard prairie,
you’ll want a cushion like a Therm-a-Seat to ease the pain on your backside. Although
designed more for protection during cold weather, the beauty of the Therm-a-Seat is
that the multiple thorns, stickers and prairie cactus can’t destroy it, because the foam seat
is puncture-proof.


The same gear you use bowhunting whitetails is fine for antelope. A full-grown buck
antelope weighs less than 100 pounds. Remember, though, that a blind is a restrictive
shooting environment, so whatever you hunt with, arrange it in the blind so that you can
come to full draw quietly, with a minimum of visible movement and with total clearance for
your bow and arrow.


When antelope come in to a water hole or cattle feed station, they’re alert with their eyes
and ears – but not their nose. I’ve never had a problem with human odor when bowhunting
antelope from ground blinds; either I’m buried in the ground and surrounded with aromatic sage
or they’ve seen my movement from hundreds of yards and refuse to come in. Generally, antelope will study a water hole from 100 yards to a quarter mile away, watching for danger before they come in. Then, it will be at a run. If you’re dozing, you’ll open your eyes to find the prairie goats already in your shooting lane. Don`t rush! They will probably put their heads down once or twice
only to jerk them back up suddenly and look around. When they do put them down for good, they’ll take a long drink. Draw then, relax and take your shot.


I drew the “Grandpa Blind” the night before the hunt began on the Spearhead Ranch.
Frank oriented us to the blinds and the hunting procedures and then Elaine filled us with
barbecue chicken, home-made biscuits, potatoes and spinach salad. The weather looked
threatening, but after a year of drought, Frank admitted he was torn between praying for rain
and realizing that rain and wind made the bowhunting difficult, even in his fully-enclosed blinds.


Monday, I was lucky. I had antelope at the blind several times: bucks, with horns above
their ears and black cheek patches; does, with the characteristic, tiny twisted horns only a
few inches in height; and fawns. It was the first day, so I waited, just enjoying the show.
What were mom and the kids doing while I was hunched over in this incredibly lousy
weather? Sleeping in. An omelette, pancake and bacon breakfast. A dip in the covered,
heated pool. Video games. A warm nap and on and on.


Tuesday, I was lucky again. I put on every stitch of clothing I had brought except Monday’s underwear: a reversible Fieldline camo jacket, one side quiet cloth and the other a
nylon shell, helped protect me from the chill wind blowing through the cracks in the blind.
A Bob Fratzke Winona Camo knit sweater and a light pair of 100 percent polypropylene
long underwear from Kenyon Products in Rhode Island helped my body retain heat during
a long day.

Antelope moved to the blind’s water and cattle feed late in the day. At 4:45 p.m., eight
does and fawns wandered in, fed, watered and moved away. At 5:30, nine does and fawns
and one good buck, his horns well above his ears, appeared. I eased into position and
waited. From a kneeling position, the shot was slightly uphill. As the buck moved from
feed to water, through the crowd of antelope, I drew, aimed and released. The 2317 Easton
shaft tipped with the 125-grain, three-blade Terminator Double Cut broadhead, propelled
by my 67-pound American Timberwolf cam bow, speared the buck in mid-stride, crushing
its left shoulder and projecting out the opposite side. It ran 100 yards and piled up.



As the adrenaline subsided and my heart dropped down out of my throat, I wondered
what mom and the kids were doing. Were they gawking at the “mechanical cowboy band and eight-foot jackalope” at Wall Drug, an hour east of the Black Hills? Were they listening to
“PeeWee Van Family” present an original mountain and country music show, “hillbilly-
style,” at the Mountain Music Show three miles north of Custer? Heck, I still had time to
join them, maybe even on the 400-foot-long twister slide at Rushmore Waterslide Park
where, “The water’s heated and the fun is non-stop.”


“Hey, wait for me kids! Guess what I did in Wyoming. I was in this hunting blind on the
Spearhead Ranch, see, looking for a big buck antelope and one day …. ”


Moore’s View


I was lucky to have a big black-horned buck walk into my shooting lane the second day of my antelope hunt at Frank and Elaine Moore’s Spearhead Ranch in Converse County, Wyoming, 100 miles west of the Black Hills. It gave this Mid-Westemer time to tour the ranch and ask owner Frank
Moore a few questions which evenings in the bunkhouse might not have allowed.


Frank, how did you and Elaine get started on the Spearhead Ranch?

My great granddad came to Wyoming as a cowpuncher on a trail drive a century ago and got work on the Ogalalla Ranch. In those days, the big spreads were owned by cattle barons who lived in England. For them, having a ranch in Wyoming was like having a cabin in the mountains would be for us. After a couple tough winters, though, they lost a lot of money. When they sold out, my great granddad ended up with the Ogalalla and it’s come down through the family ever since. Daddy bought the Spearhead, adjacent to the Ogalalla, in ’72 and Elaine and I sold a farm near Douglas and moved up to operate it. The Spearhead and the Ogalalla are about 40,000 acres each. By “big ranch” standards, the Spearhead’s not that big…but it’s still a big ranch.


For bowhunters who’ve never been to Eastern Wyoming, how would you describe
the landscape where they’ll be bowhunting antelope?

It’s rolling grassland, good short grass prairie; probably some of the best grass country
in the state. The Spearhead is predominantly covered with native gamma grass and
sage. It doesn’t look like a lot of feed out there, because ’88 was very dry, but this is
good grass with lots of punch to it. It’s really good feed. Aside from having huntable populations of antelope, elk, turkey, whitetails and muleys, we run 2,500 sheep and 450 cows. According to the Game & Fish people, antelope and sheep feed on different things, but it’s basically the same: gamma grass – and sage in the winter.


How did you get started outfitting bow-hunters?

Elaine and I started guiding hunters as a personal business, a way to make a little extra
income. In ’78, we had our first bowhunters on the ranch and the season went pretty well,
even with a lot of mistakes on our part. Pretty soon, though, we started making a little bit of
a name. With ranching being as poor a business as it has been the last couple years, a lot of
people are turning to hunting for income. When I got into the outfitting business, people looked
at me like I was crazy, but now there are a bunch doing it. It has turned into another source of income for the ranch. Bowhunting got into my blood in a hurry. In ’80, I killed my first deer with a bow and was hooked. I shoot a Bear recurve, because I need something mechanically simple that I
can throw in the back of the truck, something that can stand some abuse and won’t end up
tearing up before I need it.


How do hunting and ranching get along?

Not real well. Better now that I’ve gotten support from the family, though. Fall is a busy
time of year on a ranch. I have to work hard before and after hunting season to make up for
it. It’s just something you have to work around. There’s a certain amount of conflict between outfitting and my own hunting. I can fit the business into the ranch, but when I try to I
fit my own bowhunting time in, too, something has to give. Somebody has to take up the
slack for me. Outfitting hunters is a lot of work. People try to figure out the kind of money you’re
making and they think you’re really hauling it in, but it’s not a business to get rich on. For
me, because I already have the ranch and ranching covers most of my overhead expenses, outfitting is a good source of income. Still, it takes a lot of work year round trying to
stay on top of things. Annually, it’s probably a quarter of my time.


What ’s the future of bowhunting out here?

It’s getting bigger all the time. Game & Fish really struggles to manage antelope populations. They can’t control winter weather and if they don’t control the hunting kill, they end up with a lot of antelope, but no trophies. Because I take does off every year and strictly control the hunting, I’ve still got antelope on my place that’ll go 16 inches. I’d say the herd quality is as good now as it has
ever been. The reason I can maintain good herd quality is that bowhunters won’t take the cream of
the crop. They just can’t do it. They’ll take a lot of antelope and they’ll take nice ones, but
they can’t shoot them at long range. So, I have good success with bowhunters and still have
quality, year after year.


I do have to take some gun hunters, though. I’d like to just take bowhunters, but I
can’t get enough kill to maintain herd balance. With 2,000 antelope on the ranch, I
should take 150 to 200 every year. I don’t have any problem at all with rifle hunters,
but as a rule, bowhunters are more serious. They’re out there to hunt, not just have
a good time. They’re serious about their hunting, because they have to be. Rifle hunters
know they’re going to get something. We’ve been 100 percent with rifle hunters…it’s not
a problem. It’s just a matter of what they want. That’s almost secondary to rifle
hunters, though. They’re there to have some fun and BS and get away from home.


Tell me about your facilities. Your bunkhouse is two heavy-duty 24×60 foot trailers joined at the middle. It has a kitchen and dining room, toilets for men and women, complete shower and bath facilities, separate rooms for every two to four hunters and even a washer and dryer.


Our bunkhouse is a wilderness oil field camp. It came out of Canada. It’s designed for
a crew to live in way back in the woods, when they have to stay until they get a job completed.
It’s built heavy duty so oil field roughnecks can’t tear it up. Roughnecks are a pretty
hard bunch and they don’t take good care of things. That’s why it’s got the funny doors like
you see on walk-in coolers. The bunkhouse can handle 27 hunters at a time, but the ranch itself can easily handle 30. Years ago, when the law allowed open hunting, it wouldn’t be unusual to have over 100 hunters out there. To be able to provide the kind of service I think you should provide, l2
is the most I can take and still get to know people, provide a hunt they feel is a quality experience and not just a commercial operation that’s only running people through to get their money.


Frank, my blind was triangular. It measured eight feet to a side and the plywood
walls were sunk in the ground three feet. With the awful weather we’ve had this
week, I was glad it was covered, too. And it wasn’t a problem sitting still for a couple
days when I could sit in a bucket seat out of a car. How did you learn to build such
terrific blinds?


We started with pit blinds. Although they were hard to dig, they worked well; but they
don’t work for just anybody. You’ve got to be a dedicated hunter and willing to sit still, because
you just can’t make a pit blind concealed enough for someone who hasn’t bowhunted
much. Then we went to blinds made from hay bales. They were naturals and they held your
scent in, but they were hard to build. It took about a pickup load of hay per blind and, as a
rule, you lost half the hay. You lost more than half the feed value of the hay while it was just
sitting there exposed to the sun, too. And hay bale blinds deteriorate pretty fast. People get
excited and knock the sides down when they get something, or cattle knock them down.


So, I wanted to go to something easier to work with and something more permanent.
After a lot of trial and error, we eventually went to solid wall panels and then buried
them. They had looked bad when they were totally above ground. So, it was trial and
error. And a bowhunter here a couple years ago suggested the bucket seats – $5 from a
junk yard in Casper! These blinds are easier to maintain and a lot more comfortable than
anything else I know of.


You have 10 years in the business of outfitting bowhunters. What should a bow-hunter ask when he books a hunt here or elsewhere?


l’d say, just talk for a while about the general hunting situation and get a feel for the
outfitter to see if you like and trust the person first. Then ask about the quality and about the
distance of shots. Ask about the percentage of people getting shots, not about the percentage
of kills, because kills depend on the quality of bowhunter you’ve got in a blind. Get some references and then call them. Find out if the outfitter is telling the truth, if he’s honest. That’s really all you’re booking the hunt on. If he doesn’t tell you the truth, you’re going to get a bad hunt. To me, that’s the most important thing.


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Published by archerchick on 07 Jul 2011

Quebec Bear and Bull ~ By Roy Goodwin

February 28, 1990

Story & Photos By Roy Goodwin

Standing face to face with a 300 pound black bear at 20 yards
had my heart pounding like Indian drums. I had come to full draw
as he walked into the little clearing just above me on the riverbank.
He knew we were there and stared at me with those beady little eyes
as he closed the distance from 25 to 20 yards. I couldn’t move, I could
only wait for him to turn away to leave and then hope to slip my arrow
in behind his front shoulder. He didn’t move. The seconds ticked off like
hours as I held my 70 pound Ben Pearson Renegade bow at full draw.

The bear kept staring into my eyes while smelling the cool fall air for a
hint of what I was.

The idea of bowhunting black bear by stalking them on the ground had been
formulated the year before. I was hunting at the Delay River North Camp in the
northwest portion of Quebec with my long time hunting partner, Ray Moulton.
We were guests of Bob Foulkrod, US marketing manager of this bowhunter-only
camp, specializing in trophy caribou. Bob accompanies all hunters at his camp
and, as prior clients from his Ontario bear camp, he had asked us up for what
was to be the first year at this new operation.

Aside from hunting, we were to video tape
the camp and the animals to make a video for
Bob’s promotional use at future shows and
conventions. The prior hunt was great. We
took two Pope and Young caribou each and
shot hours of great wildlife video. While
there, we also noticed a sizeable population of
black bear.
Hardly a day went by when bear weren’t
spotted feeding on the blueberry-covered hill-
sides that bordered the river valley. It didn’t
take a lot of convincing to get me to book a
bear/caribou combination hunt for the following year.

To give me plenty of opportunity to take a
bear on the ground, I booked a full 10 day
hunt rather than the five days customarily
booked for caribou. Having been on eight
bear hunts, I was well aware of all the things
that could go wrong. I wanted to allow myself
every opportunity to take a bear — and if possible
a record book bear! In the previous hunts
I had taken one mature bear, but it didn’t
make the minimum score for entry into the
Pope and Young record book. I really wanted
this hunt to end differently.

During the year between hunts, Ray and I
formed a video production company and purchased
all new 3/4-inch broadcast quality
video gear. We also released our first video
production, Caribou Experience, from the
source footage taken at B0b’s camp during
our first trip there. While we had captured
hundreds of trophy caribou on tape, the production
lacked the arrow strike kill shots so
important to the marketability of a hunting
video. It was a simple task to convince Ray to
join me for the second trip. With all our new
gear we would attempt to produce the ultimate
caribou video. We felt confident, based on
last year’s experience, that we could fill our
caribou tags easily within a few days. We
would then film other hunters in camp and
concentrate on finding me a trophy bear.
Plans made and gear packed, we were finally
on our way.

From our homes in central Massachusetts,
it took about six hours to drive to Montreal.
There we met a commercial flight that hopped
its way north to Scheffersville. Once at the
Scheffersville airport we were picked up by a
van and driven across town to Squaw Lake.
It’s here that most float plane traffic for
hunters and fishermen for the entire region
Once at Squaw Lake our baggage was
loaded onto skid racks and weighed in preparation
for loading into the float plane. Every
load is carefully planned. If the plane has extra
carrying capacity with hunters and gear
aboard, then that weight is added with camp

The only form of transportation in this region
is by expensive float plane, so no wasted
space can be afforded. While the loads were
readied, we busied ourselves purchasing licenses
and tags as well as grabbing a hot meal
at the cafeteria. Finally we boarded the Beaver float
plane for the last leg of our long journey.
Two hours later we landed at camp.

As the Beaver banked the last time to set up
for landing in the river in front of camp, I
couldn’t help feeling I was coming home. The
first year’s hunt, camp, and most importantly
the guides and cook were so great I’d hated
leaving — coming back gave me a warm feeling
inside. Having heard the planes approach
we were greeted by the full welcoming party.
Bob, the guides and the out-going hunters
were all on the floating dock anxiously awaiting our arrival.

Warm greetings, unloading. hunting re-
ports, and reloading out of the way, the plane
taxied to mid-river and took off. The hunt was
about to begin. We scurried to get our gear
stowed in the guest tent, dressed in our camo
gear, and put our archery and camera gear
Soon we were loaded and headed up-
stream with Bob at the controls of our
freighter canoe. We accomplished a little
filming that first afternoon, but no shots were
attempted as we felt we had plenty of time and
no large wall hangers cooperated. The day
ended with a fine meal and formulation of a
game plan for the following morning. So that
Bob could concentrate on the caribou hunters
in camp who had but four days left, it was
decided that Ray and I would hunt bear the
next day.

After an early breakfast we loaded our
gear into a canoe for the day ’s journey. Several
bear had been spotted downstream in the past
week including one large one. Rosier, a new
guide in camp, would be our chauffeur.
As we glided slowly downstream we continually
glassed both banks of the river. The
heavily forested river bottom rapidly gives
way to rising tundra hillsides in all directions.
It ’s on these hillsides that the greatest delicacy
for black bear can be found — blueberries!
The ground is literally covered with them.
And, the combination of the blueberries,
cover, and the river, acts as a magnet to bear.
Within a few short miles we spotted a huge
bear. Checking the wind, we decided to motor
well downstream of the bear’s location to
start our stalk. It would be quiet a hike with all
the camera gear through heavy timber, a small
bog and finally up a steep hillside. We hiked
about seven miles that day, saw three bear,
shot a little film and got three days worth of
exercise -— but no bear.

The next morning we decided to limit the
hiking by taking a stand on some caribou trails
at the rivers edge. From here we were in position
to film several other hunters and hope-
fully hundreds of passing caribou. It worked!
We got two arrow strike kills on film, and
filmed several hundred animals. Toward the
end of the day we also spotted a huge black
bear on the opposite bank of the river coming
down a game trail to water. The next morning
we would try for this bear.

Day four started early as we headed up-
stream before 7 a.m. We wanted to get into a
good position to glass the riverbank area
where the bear was spotted the night before.
Shortly after eight o’clock the bear ambled
into view, then proceeded to the river. He
drank. bathed, and relaxed at the waters edge
for quite some time before retreating into the
timbered fringes of the river valley. Bob decided
to go for the bear while Ray and I filmed
from across the river. Bob’s plan was to quietly
get into position downwind of the bear’s
trail and wait. When the bear went down to
drink from the river, Bob would stalk toward
his trail and ambush him on his return trip. It
worked like a charm, and the scenario was all
recorded on video tape, including three arrow
strikes and the bears expiration at full stride.
To minimize the disturbance of the migrating
caribou, Bob hauled his bear downstream
closer to camp for pictures and field dressing.

It was during the field dressing that I happened
to spot a big bear working his way to-
ward us. He was walking up-wind, but was
too far away to be effected by our scent. We
decided to cut inland and stalk around him to
get the wind in our favor. This bear would be
mine if I was lucky.
After stalking for a half-hour, I was staring
down the bear at 20 yards. The bear kept
smelling the air trying to decided what I was,
while I stayed at full draw and Ray filmed
away. I wanted the bear to turn to leave before
shooting, but he was in no hurry. After the
longest 45 seconds of my life, I decided to try
a frontal shot. I’ve helped skin out many bear
and realized this was not as good an angle as
broadside, but there would be no choice. Besides,
the bear was several feet above me and
only 20 yards away, How far could he go after
a Thunderhead 125 tipped aluminum shaft
had passed through him lengthwise? Fifty
yards. We bagged two nice bear in one day
with bow and arrow, stalked and killed on the
ground, and filmed it all on broadcast quality
video. We celebrated heavily that night!

For the remainder of our trip we filmed
thousands of caribou — including some nice
trophies harvested with stick and string. But
the big bull I had returned for had eluded me.
Finally, on the last day of the hunt a wide-
racked old bull passed my blind at 10 yards.
He didn’t have the double shovels and back
points I was looking for, but had as high and
wide a rack as I’d seen.

Again, the Thunderhead did its job. Passing
through both lungs the arrow continued
out the other side of the bull about 30 yards.
The bull barely made 12 yards proving the
effectiveness of a properly placed shot. The
bull turned out to be a fine trophy green scoring
over 395 Pope and Young points.
Once again we hated to leave this place.
The hunting was the best, both in quantity of
game sighted and quality of trophies harvested.
Good food, good friends, good fishing and good
weather put the icing on the
cake. Yes, I’ll miss this camp until I return

Editors Note: Bob Foulkrod no longer guides
at the Delay River Camp, but hunts can still be
booked there through Bob Foulkrod’s Bow-
hunting Adventures. He can be contacted at
R.D. 1, Box 140, Troy, PA 16947.
Delay River Outfitters can also be contacted directly.
Address inquiries to J.A.
Layden, President, Delay River Outfitters,
P.O. Box 7217, Charlesbourg, Quebec, Canada GIG SE5.


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Published by archerchick on 07 Jul 2011

Mark Of The Whitetail – By Steve Brockmann

Bowhunting World
February 1990

Mark Of The Whitetail By Steve Brockmann

Almost everyone enjoys seeing deer while stumbling around the outdoors
even if they’re not hunting. But, while an encounter with wild deer is almost
universally a valued experience, for the deer hunter such an encounter is
the primary objective.


For those specifically searching for deer, the quest can be frustrating. Deer
often avoid humans, so finding them may be difficult. This is especially true
of whitetail deer, which in general inhabit heavy cover, and are usually warier
than western mule deer.

Whitetails do leave a number of signs in their passing, however, and the careful
student of the outdoors can often tell a great deal about the deer in the area from
these signs. Correct interpretations of deer sign often lead to a direct encounter
with this elusive species.

Signs left by the whitetail include droppings, tracks, trails, rubs, scrapes, beds,
browse marks, hair and shed antlers. Each can tell something about the local deer
but the best understanding always comes when all possible sources of information
are considered.

Droppings are perhaps the most commonly encountered , and most easily recognized
deer sign. Researchers have used fecal pellets to to determine diets, habitat use patterns
and population sizes. Bowhunters can determine many of the same things, though perhaps on a rougher scale, by observing the consistancy and location, and abundance of deer droppings
they encounter in the field.


The most common form of dropping is the pellet. These cylinders range from about one-half to
over an inch in length and from about one-quarter to one-half inch in diameter. This is the deer dropping most of us are familiar with, but it is not the only type. Pellets are produced whenever deer are eating dry vegetation or browse (twigs, buds and leaves of woody species rather than grasses and forbs). Across most of the whitetail’s range, this means late summer through early spring.

The other form of deer dropping is produced when deer have been eating succulent green forage.
These are globular masses of indefinate shape. Sometimes they resemble blobs of mud, while at other times they appear more like a segmented mass of many small blobs. For the lack of a more
universal term, these soft droppings are sometimes referred to as “plops”. Plops may be up to two inches in diameter and are usually green when fresh and black or dark brown when older. They are most commonly produced during spring and early summer, when new growth is abundant.
Where palatable plants occur near banks, lakes or bogs, deer may produce plops throughout the summer and into the fall.

The distribution of droppings can be a clue to the habitat use patterns and distribution of the deer.
Successful interpretation lies on a general knowledge of deer habits, however. Whitetail deer usually bed in heavy cover during the day, and move to open areas, such as meadows, agricultural fields or timber cuts during the night. In some cases ,shrub patches or dense stands of trees are the preferred feeding sites.


Deer usually defecate upon rising in the evening, and droppings are often deposited in a distinct pile. If you can find an area of dense brush with many such piles, chances are you have found a
frequently used bedding area. Look nearby for beds, where the vegetation has been flattened by
deer lying down.


A relatively open, but timbered, ridge may be used as a travel corridor between the bedding area and feeding area. These corridors can sometimes be identified by the large number of deer pellets scattered along them. Deer often void while on the move, so droppings may be spread out, rather than in small groups. in some regions, bedding areas are immediately adjacent to feeding areas
so distinct travel corridors may not exist.


Feeding areas will also usually contain deer droppings, but these are likely to be scattered at a much lower density than in either bedding areas or travel corridors.


Areas with abundant droppings usually hold more deer than those that with fewer droppings, but one can be fooled. In the northern portion f the whitetail’s range, deer frequently concentrate in relatively small areas during the most severe weather. These wintering areas often hold high densities of deer pellets, but very few deer during most of the year. Whitetails usually select stands of mature evergreens for winter habitat, so large concentrations of deer pellets in a stand of large old pines, firs or cedars may tip you off to a winter yard.


Shed antlers which are usually dropped in early winter, are another clue as to the location of winter ranges, and can give a good idea of the size of the bucks in the area. In most areas, the largest antlers are usually found shed on the winter ranges rather than on the heads of hunters-harvested animals.


On winter ranges, deer are most likely to be encountered during winter, of course. It is important to realize, though, that deer coping with deep snow are often walking a fine line between starvation
and survival, and that running from humans can represent a critical drain of the deer’s limited energy. Wintering areas are usually best avoided during the time that deer are using them.


The age of droppings can be very helpful in deciphering the routine of the local deer, but this is often difficult to determine. Very fresh droppings are wet, warm, and often steaming. Within a day
they often have adried outer coat, but are usually soft easily crushed and moist inside. Many factors including temperature, precipitation, eposure and deer diet affect the rate at which pellets
dry. In moist areas, pellets may decompose within weeks, while in drier areas they may last for many years.


Because whitetails habitually follow the same routes, and because deer often travel in groups, whitetail habitat is usually laced with a network of trails. Researchers have found that larger deer populations make more trails than do smaller deer populations, given similar habitat. Thus an area with lots of trails usually has lots of deer. But comparing the number of deer trails in two areas of habitat types will not necessarily provide a reliable comparison of the relative sizes of the deer populations.



Some trails connect food or water to bedding cover. Others lead to fence crossings or through heavy cover. Many of the trails are used only after dark, especially wide trails in open habitat. Chances are best of seeing deer where many trails funnel together, for example where a broken fence makes crossing easier, or where a narrow strip of cover connects two forrested areas. These areas can be very productive for the bowhunter who can slip into such an area and wait patiently down-wind, perhaps in a tree stand.


Low fence wires, especially those marked with tufts of deer hair, often reveal where deer cross from one pasture to another. These sites should be noted by those trying to determine travel routes of deer in a given area, as they may provide another good opportunity to ambush a buck.


Deer tracks are frequently encountered, and, depending on the circumstances, one may be able to tell where the deer was coming from from or going to, how fast it was going, what it was doing, how long ago it was there, and perhaps the sex and six=ze of the deer.


Tracks may be found in snow, soil, or vegetation. By far the easiest to identify are those tracks left in fresh snow. If the snow is very recent, there is little doubt about how long ago
the deer was there, and there will usually be a clear record of where the deer came from and where it was going. Tracks can be followed forward, in an attempt to find the deer that
made the track, or they can be followed backwards, to find out what the deer has been
to. Some hunters have developed tracking to a fine art, and several books have been written on the subject.


Careful tracking and persistence has led many hunters to fine bucks, but the technique is not usually an easy shortcut to a trophy, especially for the hunter. The tricks a whitetail can pull to throw a pursuer from his track are legendary; From mixing with other deer tracks, to walking in streams, to constantly circling downwind to check for followers, a wary whitetail is a challenge for any tracker.


For the bowhunter interested in learning about deer, but wishing to avoid direct harassment of the deer, backtracking can be rewarding and often more enlightening than forward tracking. It allows one to interpret the behavior of undisturbed deer something that is difficult to do when one is forward tracking. It is also an effective way to learn the location of local feeding areas, bedding areas, and travel routes between the two.


Whether forward-tracking or backtracking, the process is the same find a track and follow it for as long as possible, The interpretations made along the way can help you determine what the deer was doing when it was there. Gait is an obvious attribute one can determine about a track. Short, staggered strides indicate that the deer was walking slowly. It
may have been hiding, watching, and sneaking, or it may have been feeding through an
area. Nipped buds and twigs can help make a case for feeding. By noting which species are
most heavily browsed, and which not browsed, one can learn a great deal about food preferences in the area.


Longer strides laid out along a straighter course indicate a deer moving along with a
destination in mind. Such movements are common when deer travel between feeding
areas and bedding areas. A buck in search of receptive does during the breeding season
also moves along at a good pace, so keep this in mind if tracks are found during the November rut.


When frightened, whitetails run in long bounds, which have distinctive marks. Tracks
of all four feet register together, with distances of up to 20 feet separating each landing
mark. Snow or dirt is often thrown forward from the force of the landing and push-off of
each bound. Sometimes backtracking will reveal what scared the deer. A car, coyote, dog
or human is often the cause. If the track is very fresh, you may well have frightened the
deer yourself.


As with droppings, aging very fresh tracks is not difficult. Tracks in snow will usually
freeze overnight, so check for a think glaze of ice in the track if a track looks crisp and fresh. In some conditions, tracks may appear new for several days, but truly fresh tracks will almost always have loose snow in the hoof print itself or along the drag marks left in
front of or behind the print. After a few hours in sunlight, or a few minutes in strong wind,
some tracks may be obliterated. In these cases, it is best to reserve judgement on the
age of the track until they are followed into a sheltered site.


If the edges are melted out and indistinct, or an icy glaze has formed on the tracks in the
shade, they are likely a day or more old. Fresh tracks in fluffy, powdery snow may be very
indistinct, and might appear to be very old at first glance. Again, however, the snow filling
the tracks will be loose and fluffy rather than either frozen solid or wet and slushy. Knowledge of how long since the last snow, and of weather conditions since then, can be helpful in determining the age of a track.


Obviously, small deer make small tracks and large deer make large tracks. The tracks
of fawns are relatively easy to distinguish, and the medium-sized deer traveling with them
are usually does, though small bucks could be among the does and fawns. During the November rut, bucks of any size may be traveling with the does and fawns.


Like fawn tracks, those of the biggest bucks are not particularly difficult to identify,
though it may take a bit more experience to know what qualifies as a truly large track. In
very heavily hunted populations, few or no bucks reach trophy size, so the largest tracks
may well be those of the oldest does. Bucks continue to grow for several years after the
age at which does reach full size, however, and bucks are almost invariably larger than
females of similar age. In populations where some of the bucks are able to survive to a ripe
old age the biggest tracks are usually made by big bucks.


A number of other clues can be used to separate tracks of bucks from those of does.
These clues become especially important when trying to decide if a moderate-sized
track was made by an adult doe or by a young to moderate-aged buck. No one sign is fully
fool-proof, and each has been contested by experienced hunters. A combination of factors, however, can usually be relied upon to reveal the sex of the deer.


In shallow snow (under about one inch) bucks tend to drag their feet, while does tend
to lift theirs. In deeper snow, all deer show drag marks, so this cannot be relied upon in
all cases. Probably the next most reliable sign is the pattern of urination revealed in the
snow. Bucks usually leave a small, neat hole with crisp edges, where a steady stream has
entered the snow. Does, by contrast, tend to leave more of a puddle. During the rut, bucks
may dribble urine along their track, rather than stopping to relieve themselves.


Individual tracks of a buck also tend to be staggered from side to side and pointed outwards, rather than in a straight line, like those of a doe. Some authors claim that bucks will walk around dense brush patches and trees, to avoid tangling their antlers, while does will wiggle their way through or against such obstacles. My experience has been somewhat different on this matter, as I have tracked bucks through very dense brush patches. In fact, bucks have frequently been noted to use the most dense tangles of cover to a much greater extent than do the females.


If you find a bed along the track you are following, you may be able to make out where the deer laid its head when it slept. Occasionally an antler will leave an impression in the snow here, which will give you solid evidence as to the sex of the deer. Similarly, you may be able to detect antler marks in the snow where the deer has fed, if the snow is fairly deep.


One final bit of evidence, which pops up with a fair degree of regularity along a buck’s trail, especially during the rut, is the rub. If a lone set of tracks leads to a sapling which has had bark or branches stripped, and that material is lying on top of the snow, accept that as
final proof that you have found a buck’s trail.


Rubs are created by bucks as they scrape their antlers on small trees. This is done in late summer to remove the velvet from the fully grown antlers, but the activity continues through the rut. Scent glands in the skin of the forehead are thought to produce a personal odor, so rubs become a business card, of sorts, for individual bucks. Be aware of rubs , even when you’re not following a trail in the snow. These indicate that a buck has passed through the area, and may be living nearby.


Some very successful hunters maintain that individual bucks mark their consistently used travel routes by a series of rubs. These marked routes are usually found downwind of major deer trails, and are located in heavy cover. Observing a buck in such an area is
often difficult because these routes are hidden and may be used only under cover of darkness.

Scrapes are another sign left by bucks only, and have fascinated hunters and researchers for years. Scrapes are triangular impressions in the soil, pawed out by the buck during the rut. Again, a personal odor is deposited, this time from the interdigital glands found between the toes of the front foot.


The scrape apparently serves as a meeting place for bucks, who are ready and willing to breed through much of the fall, and the does, who come into heat for only 24 hours at a time. If not bred, the doe will recycle and come into heat between 21 and 30 days later, but this happens only two or three times per year for each doe. When her time comes, each doe
must seek out a suitable buck. This is most easily done, apparently, by leaving a message
on the buck’s answering machine: she urinates in his scrape. When the buck checks back later he will notice the message and search out the doe, who is usually nearby.


These scrapes, then, are an important sign to the deer herd, and should be noticed by the
bowhunter interested in learning about whitetails in the area. Scrapes are usually from one
to three feet in diameter, and consist of a shallow fan-shaped depression of bare soil from
which all leaves, needles, and other litter have been removed. Scrapes are often found along edges between brushy areas and mature timber, or along field edges. Often a series of small scrapes, each approximately 100 yards or more apart, will lead to a larger, more active “primary” or “hub” scrape. This primary scrape will usually be under an over-
hanging branch, which will be licked, nuzzled, and rubbed by several of the bucks in
an area.


For the hunter, the primary scrape is the best sign of all to find, for it means that one or
more mature bucks are in the area, and probably will return. The trick becomes approaching the scrape and waiting patiently, undetected. Scrapes are usually checked from downwind, so hunters are often detected as they wait. Stands situated well downwind of scrapes have proven to be the most reliable.


The approach to the stand must be planned carefully if one expects a reasonable shot at a
calm animal. If the wind carries your scent through the cover he is hiding in as you walk
to your stand, you likely will never see him at the scrape. The scents associated with your
boots and pants alone are enough to alert a whitetail if he encounters them on his way in.
He will probably either sneak off quietly, maybe without your even knowing, or perhaps he’ll snort, raise his tail, turn, and break into graceful, but heartbreaking, bounds.


The route to the stand should be planned to minimize the chances of winds carrying your
scent to the deer (think about the locations of feeding and bedding areas). A cover scent,
applied to pant legs (from the knee down) and boots (the toe and the sole are the most critical) can help hide the entry trail from deer that cross it in their wanderings. A lure made from the urine of estrus does can even bring a rutting buck to your stand, right along the path you followed.


Scrapes are perhaps the ultimate sign to the hunter, and a fascinating phenomenon for
others, but those illiterate in the more basic language of droppings, tracks, and rubs will
likely find few scrapes, and may use the scrapes they do find inappropriately. Once
daily movement patterns of the local deer are worked out, likely places for scrapes can be
predicted, and logical strategies can be plotted.


As experiences in an area accumulate, more of the details of the deer population can
be filled in. Conjecture can be replaced by observation, and familiarity will replace
confusion. One emotion that probably will not disappear is a near constant amazement at the survival capacity of the whitetail, and a respect for the resourcefulness of a species that
continues to expand its range in the face of increasing human populations and the pressures they place on the environment. >>—>

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Published by archerchick on 06 Jul 2011

Boone & Crockett Buck ~ By Tad E. Crawford

Bowhunting World
June 1989

Boone & Crockett Buck
By Tad E. Crawford

Normally, I try not to let my deer
hunting success result from pure,
unadulterated luck. Somehow, I’m
not very proud of a trophy unearned. The hunt
of 1987 might have been a series of lucky coincidences,
all right, but I have to say, I also
worked to bring home that trophy.
The best pre-season dreamer would not
have conjured up the series of fantastic coincidences
surrounding my taking of that fabulous animal.

After all, just what are the
chances of finding both sheds, 20 yards apart,
from a Boone and Crockett whitetail? What
about the prospects of bowshooting that same
whitetail just one month later — and from an
evening ground blind five yards away! And
how about the likelihood of recovering this
huge deer, hit and lost the day before Thanks-
giving, after three days of small game hunters
and their dogs combing the area?

Now, it’s no secret we bowhunters are ever
stalking ways to improve the chances of taking
a true trophy whitetail. One of the most important
keys is patience and, as I see it, pa-
tience is twofold. First, a trophy whitetail
hunter ought to have a patient and loving wife
like my Cathy. She has to be patient with me
hunting every day in November. She must patiently
explain to all of my taxidermy customers why I could
take such a long vacation- before I had finished their
trophies. (I pity the guy whose wife can’t love him enough not
to nag when deer season starts and he is out
doing the thing he loves most.)

The second type of patience comes in
when spending time in the field and on stand,
evaluating actions and reactions of whitetails.
This is an important time: more is involved
here than just killing a deer. Even when
you’ve done your pre-season and in-season
scouting, you still have to be able to see what
you’re looking at. Interpretation of sign — or
perhaps the sudden lack of it — is very important
for success.

I estimated I had logged some 300 hours
“air time” —— time actually spent in tree
stands — when I tagged the big one. Many
was the day I spent all day, daylight to dark,
without coming down to ground level.

As I bask in my victory of last year, I can
afford to think back to all those missed shots
and opportunities at really big bucks. I do not
have a lot of record racks on my wall, but the
experience gained over the years helped me to
harvest this deer. I guess a guy has to hunt
where the big bucks are before he gets a
chance to bust one.

Northeastern Ohio has produced some
fine whitetails. Dense, overgrown strip
mines, moderate cultivation, and suburbs
provide good trophy habitat. Somehow the
deer I harvested managed to elude hunters,
poachers, cars, and who knows what for several
years. Good health and good fortune allowed him
to grow to outstanding proportions
and horn development.

Up until that year sightings of a huge buck
had been sketchy. Some said the last time he’d
been seen was three years before. Was he still
around? Then, in October, my friend Dave .
Unkefer and his weimaraner found both sheds
of a tremendous whitetail. Well, now, I mean
to tell you, these were nice horns! I rough
scored these 13-point typical sheds at about

183 Boone and Crockett points. So, the big
one was still at large.
Throughout the month of November we
found fresh. extra-large, three-inch tracks and
many large rubs on hardwood trees six to ten
inches in diameter. Then, the rut appeared to
pass and even button bucks were observed
chasing does in heat. Believe me, that’s depressing.

But the big tracks persisted. Dave and another
hunting buddy, Steve Slatzer, tracked
some very large bucks after a fresh snow. Was
the 13-pointer among them?

With snow still on the ground, the three of
us checked out a hidden cornfield we knew of.
Bingo! Buck Heaven! We kicked out six big
bucks- this cornfield was hot enough to pop.
At least a dozen good scrapes surrounding it
were rototilled.

The deer were pounding this field so well,
I couldn’t resist locking up my Amacker portable
in an adjacent oak. Covered with Camo
Leaves, it looked great, just like an old squirrels
next. I was ready.

On Monday morning, I climbed up into
that oak, which was to be my daytime home
for the next three days. But by Wednesday, the
only game I had seen were two fox squirrels,
one red squirrel, and a crossbow hunter. All
sign had grown cold — I figured we had left
too much scent when scouting — and my
thoughts drifted to a newly planted winter
wheat field about a half mile away. The deer
had to be somewhere.

It was noon and I decided to check it out.
More mindful this time of leaving too much
scent, I approached into the wind and checked
only the nearest edge of the bare dirt for
tracks. Large tracks were everywhere —-
large, fresh tracks. I resisted the temptation to
scout the edges for the best approach trails,
afraid to show any more presence than necessary.
It was possible that my target animal was
bedded on the adjoining hillside overlooking
this field, so I stayed in the shadows as much
as possible.

A tree stand was out of the question. No
large trees existed, and besides, this was November 25th,
and all of the leaves had fallen.
Little cover existed anywhere, so I quickly
gathered some light-colored weeds and constructed
a ground blind.
Once settled in, I felt good and things
seemed right. I spent the next five hours sit-
ting on a cold, bare patch of earth behind the
blind, but the balmy, sunny afternoon was
comforting. And I did not rise once for any
reason. I napped, ate a late snack of Kool-Aid
and granola bars and listened t0 the semi-
trucks rolling down a nearby highway. I had
not slept long when I was awakened by the
distress call of my bladder. I whisked out my
porta—potty, a hot water bottle I carry in the
field to keep my stands free from the scent of
human urine. Then, I settled back behind my

I dozed until the five o’clock whistle blew
at a distant coal mine. I peeked out through
the pokeberry weeds to see two deer feeding
intently in the wheat field about 80 yards
away. Both heads were down and, because of a
slight depression in the ground where they
stood, no antlers could be seen. The deer on
the left raised its head first, a nice “skinhead”
doe. The deer on my right seemed larger and
-holy cow! What a buck!

Now he was looking in my direction. The spread of his horns
was well beyond his ear tips. As he looked at
the doe, I counted at least six or seven points
on his left antler. At that moment, I thought I
was probably looking at the 13-point Boone
and Crockett deer of last year’s sheds. What a
privilege to be able to watch such an animal,
undisturbed, at close range and in such good
light. If only I had had some video gear.
I don’t remember getting nervous about
shooting that deer — excited, yes, but not nervous.

All I could think of was that darkness
would soon engulf us and I would have to
leave the stand, possibly spooking them. I
watched and waited.
Twenty minutes went by like 20 seconds.
The doe quit eating and slowly walked past
my blind at about six or eight yards to my left.
The wind was just right, still in my favor. Now
it was Mr. Big’s time to move. Slowly closing
the distance, he stopped about 40 yards out.
I was still glassing him when he started grunting
low, sustained grunts. He put his head
down and started walking directly at my blind.
I chucked the binoculars and grabbed the bow,

If the truth were known, I think I was now
in a state of acute hypertension. I was talking
to myself, “The one thing you can’t do is
move quickly. Get that bow up. Wait for the
right moment to draw. Yeah, the bow is up,
and oh, *?%@$, there he is! ”

Standing broadside, only five yards away,
he just happened to stop in the two foot shooting
lane I had cleared earlier. “OK, easy does
it. Make the draw. Center the pin on that
shoulder. Smooth release and — ” What a
temptation to snap shoot. “He’s too close.
Any moment he’ll be gone.”

I talked myself into completing the draw.
Like a homing pigeon, the pin centered on the
shoulder and instantly the arrow was on its
way. A solid thunk sent the deer bolting in the
direction he and the doe were headed. I re-
member thinking, “No way could I have
messed up that shot. Had to be a perfect lung
hit. Probably find the arrow laying on the
ground from a pass through — great blood
trail. Quick recovery.” Soon I would discover
just how wrong my wishful thinking was.

You readers will now have to pardon an
interruption for a commercial. As you wait to
read what happened to the trophy buck, this
is, after all, my golden opportunity to tell you
about Camo Leaves, a product I invented and
manufacture. Camo Leaves are artificial foliage
that attach to your clothing and equipment
with Velcro. Camo leaves are designed to
break up the human silhouette and provide
better three-dimensional contrast. Picture me
— my suit, headnet, bowlimbs, gloves, all
covered with little Camo Leaves. With Camo
Leaves your prize buck — just like my prize
buck — may never know you ’re there, never
notice your draw, never think of a slight movement
as anything more than the movement of
leaves attached to branches, fluttering in the
breeze. Camo Leaves concealed me from a
buck at eye level less than five yards away!

And now, about that buck my Camo Leaves
and I took.
I waited a few minutes in the blind, my
heart racing like a runaway freight train. Sud-
denly it was raining — pouring, the first time
since I’d been hunting this year. Of all the
luck. I ran as fast as I could to a field about a
half mile away where I caught Steve making
his way back to the truck. All but out of

breath, I blurted out, “I just hit the big one! ”
Steve said he would call Cathy to tell her l
would be home late and that he would return
with a better tracking light.
I returned to the site to search for the blood
trail in the pouring rain. Three hours of
searching turned up nothing. The rain had
done a job and I was more than a little dejected
as we sloshed the mile and a half back to the

It rained all night, but at break of day we
began again in earnest, confident we would
walk right up on my deer. We found the fletch
end of my arrow almost immediately. It had
only penetrated about seven inches when the
shaft broke off.
I remember grumbling about poor penetration
when I spotted something. “Steve.
look there, a rifle! ” There lay an old 22-caliber
lever-action Marlin 39A, very rusted.

The wood stock was so rotted, it fell off in my
hands. The strangest fact of all was that the,
hammer was cocked. I didn’t know what to
look for first, deer parts. or people parts! l
figured the rifle had been there for 20 or more
years and it could wait a little longer to tell is
story. I opted for deer parts.

For three days Steve and I searched. The
few short hours of sleep I had gotten in the last
two nights began to wear heavy on me. We
were both tired from combing every briar
patch and swamp in a half-mile arc around the
hit location. I just knew that deer was hit too
badly to survive. Still, we came home empty
handed. We had been dodging rabbit hunters
and beagles for two days after Thanksgiving. I
was afraid someone had found my buck, but I
had to keep looking. Gun season would start on
Monday, an added threat that someone else
would find that deer.

Things were looking a little hopeless that
evening as I prayed to the “Great Guide” in
the big deer camp in the sky. “Lord,” I said,
“I expect you to deliver that deer to me Ill
how. I’ve worked hard. I know he’s there. Just
show me the way.”

Saturday morning came early. The
weather finally broke. As I looked into the
clearing sky, I was wishing I had a bird’s eye
view of that hunting area. Then it hit me,
could get a bird ’s eye view from a helicopter!

In an hour I had found a pilot at a local
airport and we were up. The initial thrill of
my first chopper flight faded as we circled my
hunting area for an hour and a half. I was almost
glad to hear the pilot say we would have
to head back for gas. I was getting airsick —
and heart sick. I still had seen no sign of my
buck. The pilot suggested we fly back over the
area my deer had come from, since it was on
the way back.

The pilot spotted him first. “‘Wow!” he
said. “Now I know why you rented a chopper!
is looks like an elk. Got to be the biggest
deer I’ve ever seen.”
Yep, there he was, lying in a briar patch,
only 75 yards from some guy’s back door. Of
course, I hadn’t looked in people’s backyards
for the deer. The pilot wanted to set down
right there, but I was afraid this guy would not
appreciate being awakened on Saturday morning
by a helicopter landing in his yard. We
flew off and flew back — this time in my Subaru
— and I can’t say which flew faster. New
land speed records were set that day.
It appeared my trophy buck had run about a quarter
mile from where I hit him, apparently
dying relatively soon. The Terminator double—cut
broadhead had just missed the heart,
puncturing one lung.

I tagged him immediately. We took hero
shots of me and the deer and then we salvaged
as much as possible. Somewhere in between
the photos and the excitement, I managed to
give thanks and take some measurements.
His rack now officially scores 207 Boone
and Crockett non-typical points and has 18
points over one inch in length. He was a rare
animal in that he could pass as a typical at 171
4/8 or as a non-typical.
If you count all the ring-hangers, the buck
is a 28-pointer. The inside spread is 25 inches
and the outside spread is 27 inches with 27-
inch main beams. The deer’s gross score is
214 3/8 and he has 18 2/8 inches of non-typical tine.
His girth at chest was about 52 1/2 inches
and his jaw aged him at about six-and-a-half
years old. The pads on his feet were three-
and-a-half inches long. Field-dressed weight
was 342 pounds.

For all you statisticians, my bow is a Darton 1000MX box, set at 59 pounds. I shot an
Easton XX75 Camo Hunter arrow, size 2213, and, of course, I used the best camouflage I
know — Camo Leaves. They just had to have made the difference.
Now, I will ask you again, just what are the prospects of all these
remarkable coincidences happening to one guy? Once in a life-
time? Once in two lifetimes? What are the
chances? >>—->
Editor’s Note: Camo Leaves are available
direct from the author at Camo Leaves, 6645
Cleveland Ave. S., East Sparta, OH 44626.
Under license from him they are also being
marketed nationally by The Game Tracker


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Published by archerchick on 06 Jul 2011

Elk Hunting’s Agony & Ecstasy ~By Patrick Meitin

Bowhunting World
February 1990
By Patrick Meitin

“What time is it!” I jumped from my sleeping bag and threw on my
clothes. It was opening morning of elk season in southwestern New Mexico
and the alarm clock had not gone off. With a lot of panicked rush we zoomed
out of camp on the four-wheeler, clutching precious bows and daypacks for
dear life. A line of silver began to crack in the eastern horizon. We zipped
around corners, bounced over rocks, and just in the nick of time arrived on
the mountain we would hunt. We were off to a hectic start, but I was elk hunting
and I could have cared less.

I started up a canyon that I knew had elk in the past. I heard a faint bugle at the
head of the canyon and pressed hard to reach it. The forest was damp and quiet, as
a soft mist fell from the low, fog-like clouds. Upon reaching the head of the canyon
I again heard the bugle, but much closer this time. Wooeeeeeeeock! Bugles began to
sound from all directions, at least five of them – mostly bad. Damn, I wasn’t alone.
It looked as if my surefire spot had been discovered. “There is at least one real bull
up here, maybe I can find him before the crowd does.”

I slowly approached the saddle at the head of the canyon I had been following noticing
the three sets of fresh elk tracks in the rain soaked ground. I heard a faint click of hoof
against rock and dropped to the ground beside a well worn game trail. I grabbed an
arrow from my Catquiver and felt the razor sharp edge of the Zwicky that tipped it, and
quietly nocked it. The two beasts rounded the spruce tree—–horses!

The riders stopped to chat a while, noting
all the “elk bugles” they had been hearing.
They seemed real proud with their logic of
bugling from horseback, saying, “The elk will
think it is another bull walking toward them.”
My somewhat sarcastic response, “More
likely you will get shot.”

That was it. I shifted my pack for a better
ride, looked skyward hoping it wouldn’t rain,
and made a beeline for parts roadless and remote.
Five miles later I sat huddled under a
tight branched pinion tree singing, “Rain,
rain go away . . .” It must have been about two
in the afternoon before the cat and dog rain
finally subsided.

I began to stillhunt down a thickly covered
ridge and really started to get into the sign. It
looked like a hundred bulls had gone on a tree
thrashing rampage. I caught movement
through a hole in the thick brush and froze in
my tracks. A yearling elk calf walked into an
opening only 20 yards away.

As I stood motionless, mostly in the open,
several cows began to filter out of the brush a
little farther than the calf. I knew there had to l
be a bull with the herd. A deep, throaty bugle
not far away confirmed my suspicions. It began to
rain again, I slowly reached around and
slipped an arrow from my quiver. Just then a
small 4×5 bull walked out to join the calf. I
didn’t want him. I had decided long before the
hunt, having killed two nice bulls previously, I
wanted at least a 300-inch class Pope and
Young bull.

The wind began to swirl a bit and I anticipated
that it was about to betray me. No
sooner had the thought crossed my mind
when the small bull and the calf grew nervous
and began to tiptoe to my left. The farther
cows sensed something was up and also grew
fidgety. The elk began to move away through
the thick brush. The deep bugle again
sounded from the trees behind the now moving elk
and I readied myself, hoping it would
be a trophy bull. I glimpsed a set of dark,
heavy beamed antlers moving toward the
opening — he was big enough. I drew my

The elk filtered down the ridge. The bull
walked quickly through the opening and offered
only a split second of shooting time. I
got my pin on his chest, panning the bow with
the moving animal. A tree jumped in the way.
He entered another opening. Just as my pin
found its place he disappeared again. I would
not see the bull again. I let my bow down,
exasperated and frustrated. “It’s only the first
day, calm down He was a good bull — about
three—forty, but it was not his day to go. I
walked down to a saddle and found a place to
get out of the rain. I fell asleep against the dry
side of an ancient juniper tree, waiting for the
rain to cease.

Suddenly my eyes were wide open, “What
was that?” A bull was bugling in the canyon
below. I glanced around and saw elk everywhere
I looked, mostly cows. I glassed all of
them, but none of them was the trophy bull I
was looking for. I still hadn’t seen the emphatic
bugling bull sol stalked down to take a
better look. The bull continued to bugle, making
him easy to home in on. When I sensed
that I was very close I let out a short, high
pitched bugle through my cupped hands. The
bull answered before the first echo sounded
from my own bugle. I grunted as best I could
through cupped hands, and waited. Crunching
rocks and snapping twigs prompted me to
nock an arrow.

As the 6×6 bull walked into the open at 30
yards. my pin settled behind the mud speckled shoulder.
I let the string down slowly and
looked a little harder at the bull’s rack. He
would go around two-eighty. It was only the
first day of the hunt, with several more days to
come, and it would be a long haul out of here
with 100-pound packs of elk steaks. I would
let him pass.

I watched the bull lose interest and turn to .
walk away, his ego inflated by having run off
the brave intruder. I noticed for the first time
that it was getting late in the evening. I drew a
deep breath and turned to walk toward the

I reached the four-wheeler around midnight,
glad to see it still there. Perry Harper,
my long time hunting partner and kamikaze
driver, dragged himself in just behind me. He
was also glad to see the four-wheeler. He too
had bee lined to the rough stuff. He had passed
up a nice 6×6 bull during the day, but having
bagged a 314-inch Pope and Young bull the
past season he was looking for bigger things.
We loaded up and zipped back to camp. Oh,
the dry sanctuary of the tent — dry clothes —
dry socks!

The alarm sounded early the following
morning. Our hunting party gathered in Perry ’s
camp trailer to compare notes and decide
where to hunt. Steven Tisdale, a college
friend on his first elk hunt hadn’t seen much
game the day before. When I told him he
could have anything that I passed up, he was
more than happy to come along with me. Arriving
at the end of the cow trail “road” after
dropping Perry off, we shut down the engine
and sat back to wait for shooting light. Soon
the sunlight began to creep up the valley. We
pushed the doors shut quietly and went forth.
It was cold and crisp alter the nightime clearoff,
the frost whispered quietly as we walked
through the knee-deep grass. Following a
barbed wire fence, we approached “the perfect
elk meadow,” a name that had come to
mind the first time I had seen it two seasons
before. I rounded a huge, ground hugging cedar
and stopped suddenly. I couldn’t believe
my eyes — a huge 7×7 bull walked tranquilly
across the meadow with his small harem of
cows. I excitedly waved Steven over to take a

We huddled behind the cedar admiring the
majestic bull. A squirt of talcum powder from
a small bottle drifted back into my face. The
bull brought his head back and grunted deeply
without bugling, then lowered his head to rake
the ground with his horns. I adjusted the diaphragm
in my mouth, pressed my lips against
my grunt tube and let out my best bugle, followed
by five, throaty grunts. The bull
stopped, turned our way, and screamed at the
top of his lungs. I grunted at the enraged bull
and waited. The bull trotted toward us bugling
his head off. “He’s coming in.”

I shakily nocked an arrow, and looked up
to see the bull still coming our way. The wapati
reached the barbed wire fence 80 yards
ahead and walked behind a screening tree. I
seized the opportunity to move closer. The bull
hopped the fence without touching even a
hair. He continued past at a 90-degree angle,
caring the cedar I was using to hide myself.
I drew my bow. “This is too easy,” I thought.

The bull stopped for an instant as the string
slipped from my calf skin tab. At 50 yards the
bull had time to begin walking again, before
the arrow struck. I was in horror, as the arrow
met the elk after one long step. The arrow
disappeared into the bulls liver area. He was
hit, but was it good enough?

The bull spun and ran through the fence he
had jumped earlier and across the open
meadow. then vanished from sight. As we
watched, a small 6×6 walked into view across
the grassy meadow from a line of trees that
jutted into the open.

We watched the 6×6 through binoculars
for a short time, not believing how many elk
we were seeing already, not even 500 yards
from the truck. The small bull walked to one
of the ponderosas at the tip of the peninsula of
trees and stood beneath it’s boughs. We
turned away to start our stalk, wasting no time
in getting into the area.

We removed our shoes, and proceded.
Cold feet silent against the cutting ground, we
drew closer, feeling every twig and pebble.
Soon we were close and the chilled western
breeze still holding steady. Steven nocked an
arrow and drew a few deep breaths. He held
up the crossed fingers of his left hand and
smiled. then drifted ahead with me shadowing

The bull rounded a tree 60 yards out, and
froze in his tracks at the sight of the two lumps
of moving brush. Steven slowly drew his bow
and anchored. “Sixty yards — 60 yards,” I
hissed quietly. Steven held his bow drawn for
what seemed a long time, then slowly let it
down. “Too far,” he whispered.
I cow talked very quietly to the bull but he
was no pushover. The curious bull let out a
loud bark and waited for a reaction. Pushing
the diaphragm to the front of my mouth I
barked back at him. He took a few steps toward
us then stamped his feet and let out another
ear piercing bark, This went on for at
least 10 minutes before the bull turned and
trotted away. Steven said, “If he had been 10
yards closer I would have shot. I just kept
thinking we already had one bull hit, we
didn’t need me to wound another. We still
have four days of hunting left.” That was a
hard decision for a guy on his first elk hunt.

After taking a short nap, we took up the
trail of my elk. We found one good puddle of
blood were he had entered the trees but from
there the drops were small and infrequent. We
followed mostly hoof prints in the soil when
we lost the blood. As we found even the slightest
sign it was marked so it could be referenced
if we lost the trail. We began to End less
blood sign and the ground had become rockier —
we were making very little headway.
The elks trail ended at the edge of a rim-rock
bordered canyon.

Steven and I split up to search for the bull.
I searched until the sinking sun forced me to
retreat to the truck. I was disgusted. I guess if
you hunt long enough, one day the odds will
catch up with you ~ and you will loose an
animal. Should I have taken the long shot? I
might have been able to call him closer — he
was interested enough. Why couldn’t I have
hit him better? I felt sorry for the magnificent
animal. and wished I had never seen him. I
tore my tag from my license — my hunt was
over. Sleep would be difficult tonight.

At first light the following morning Perry
and I returned to where the trail had been lost,
hoping that fresh eyes and bodies could better
follow the trail. I couldn’t believe how easy
the trail seemed after the day before. In a matter
of hours we trailed the bull to where it had
fallen. I was thankful that I had found the bull
in time to salvage the meat.

If that valiant warrior had gone to waste I
would never have forgiven myself. I still felt
hollow inside from the circumstances of the
kill, but remembered that nature is often
much crueler.

As Perry and I field dressed my bull we
heard a distant bugle. After we had gotten it
dressed and into the shade we walked in that
direction. We skirted a high rim hoping to
glass the countryside below. Finding nothing,
we sat down to eat our lunch. For no reason at
all I pulled a diaphragm from my pocket and
bugled defiantly to the valley below. Three
bulls answered me. Wide-eyed, Perry
squeaked, “Can you believe that! ”

We stalked down the mountain side toward
the closest bull, moving very slowly as we
went. After a few hundred yards Perry
dropped to the ground and nocked an arrow.

He could see elk legs a short distance down
the hill.
I bugled again adding a few deep grunts on
the end. Perry joined me with a variety of cow
calls. The forest became eerily quiet. I saw
the bull for the first time sauntering uphill at-
tempting to find his opponent.

At 25 yards the bull threw his head back to
bugle. Perry drew his bow. The bull took a
few steps forward and stopped again, broad-
side, in the open. Perry ‘s arrow shot forward
just as the bull stopped. The bright yellow
vanes spun in suspension, then stopped suddenly
as the arrow landed in the bull’s side.
The hit was good, and the bull lunged down
the hill with the Delta Zwicky-tipped wood
slicing through both lobes of his lungs.

After a short, easy trailing job we found
the bull down for good, he had gone only 90
yards. Now the work would begin. I left Perry
with his bull and returned to mine to start the
long work of whittling elk into manageable
pieces. I returned to the truck in the darkness
noticing, as I approached, that everyone was
gathered around Steven listening to his tale.
Seeing me, he excitedly continued, after filling
in a few details.

“l hid behind a cedar tree and waited,”
Steve was saying. “The bull kept coming —
straight for me. When the bull went out of
sight I tiptoed around the edge of the tree I was
hiding behind and drew my bow. The bull
walked through a gap at 40 yards. I couldn’t
get my pin on him soon enough so I waited. l
swung my bow to the next gap and put my pin
where I thought the bull would be when he
walked through. He walked through the gap
and my pin crossed his shoulder. I let the arrow fly.
The arrow hit him low in the chest
The bull whirled and limped out of sight the
way it had come. I trailed him a while, but
couldn’t find any blood so I just went the direction he
had gone — it was getting dark.”
I interrupted, “Think he’s hit good. Let’s
go back and see if we can trail him with a

Steven smiled widely, “I found him, he`s
dead! ” A handshake was in order.
With three bulls down, the following
morning was torturous work. Boning out
quarters, caping out hides, sawing antlers and
packing meat. But despite the sore muscles,
aching feet and sweat, I wouldn’t have traded
it for the world. As the last load of elk steaks
stumbled into sight under the light of the
moon and a blanket of stars, we would stop to
tally our rack scores. Steven’s 6×6 bull just
missed Pope and Young minimums at 256 5/8
inches. Perry’s heavy beamed 7×7, including
the “devil” points over his brow tines, taped
out at 295 5/8. My 7×7, after 15 inches of
deductions, scored a tidy 337. Not bad for a
bunch of flatland bowhunters!

AUTHOR ’S NOTE: New Mexico elk hunting
is at its best and getting better every season.
Elk populations are up in nearly all management
units and spreading into new areas each
year. Several areas have been opened for the
first time ever. Good elk hunting spots include
the Gila National Forest, units 13, 15A, 15B,
16A, 16B, 16C, 16D, and unit 17; Pecos Wilderness
areas, units 44 and 45; North central,
units 50, 52 and 4; and finally the San Pedro
Park area located in unit 6.
New season dates have been adjusted to
allow hunting during the peak of the rutting
period. Proposed season dates for the 1989
season are September 7-20. Resident license
fees run $38, while nonresident license fees
are $213. For more information contact, New
Mexico Department of Game and Fish, State
Capitol, Santa Fe, NM 87503. <—<<

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Published by archerchick on 06 Jul 2011

Baiting Up Black Bear – By Otis “Toad” Smith

February 28, 1990

By Otis “Toad” Smith

When it comes to baiting up a bear, you
can throw some meat into the woods on
a hope and a prayer, or you can plan and
design a functional bear bait.
Bear hunters who are consistently successful at baiting up bear
lay out a well planned bait –
one that will get a bear to feed on a regular basis, one that
will give the hunter the knowledge of which direction the
bear will come from and will force a bear to expose himself broadside to the hunter.

When a bear bait is laid out it must be set up to take
advantage of the prevailing wind direction. In the area that
I bait bear I can usually expect to have a wind coming
from the west. This being the case, my set tree is always
located southeast of the bait, and the trail I use to get to the
bait must also come from the southeast.

It pays to set up an extra bait or two for a south or an
east wind. but only hunt the baits that have the wind to
your advantage. It’s better to not hunt than it is to spook a
bear from a bait, because once you spook a bear it might
be days before he will venture back onto the bait or he may
turn into a night feeder.

For this article, we are going to assume that you have
done your scouting and have located an area that has bear.
We are going to also assume that you have picked out the
site for your bait and that you know which direction the
prevailing winds are coming from.

The accompanying illustration shows how I prefer to
set up a bear bait. The illustration indicates the prevailing
wind direction and shows the set tree located on the down
wind side of the bait. A bait setup like this illustration
would allow hunting with any wind direction except south
or southeast.

You will see in the illustration that a barricade is built
around the bait. It works best to place the bait at the base
of a tree and use the tree as a anchor point for the barricade.
Barricades are a useful tool because they prevent a
bear from approaching a bait from the rear. A barricade
will force a bear to expose himself broadside as he comes
around to feed.

To construct a barricade, use poles that measure two to
three inches in diameter. Either nail down or tie one end of
the pole to the tree, and rest the other end on the ground.
Build the barricade at least five or six feet high and if you
use nails, make sure you pull the nails when you’re finished hunting.

The illustration shows three cut trails coming into the
bait. When the bait is first established it works well to lay
some scent trails out into the bush. The scent trails are
dual fold: By laying a good scent trail, hopefully the bear
will find the bait faster and it will train the bear to come to
the bait on a designated trail.

Make sure you consider the wind direction when laying
out the scent trail. When done properly, the bear will
approach the bait upwind of the set tree.

Bear are like people, they will always take
the easy way, so make it convenient for them.
Cut the trail the last 50 to 75 yards as it approaches
the bait. Trim and cut the trail so it is
an easy route to the bait. Bear will naturally
use the cut trails every time. In essence you
will be training the bear to use the same route
each time they come to the bait. The hunter
has a distinct advantage if he knows where the
bear will approach from.

Ingredients to make a strong sweet smelling
scent can be purchased from most any
grocery store. All that is needed are small
bottles of concentrated mapleline and annise.
Mix two bottles of the mapleline into a gallon
of water along the two cups of brown sugar.
Then mix two bottles of annise in a gallon of
water. One-gallon plastic milk jugs work well
for this because of the built in handle.

Once you have the jugs mixed, punch
some sprinkle holes in the jug lids. With a jug
in each hand, walk away from the bait sprinkling
the two scents as you go. Spread the
scent for a quarter of a mile out into the bush,
then turn around and sprinkle your way back
to the bait on the same trail. Lay three trails,
in three directions from the bait. Hopefully a
passing bear will stumble onto one of the
scent trails and follow it to the bait.

Another handy item for spreading scent
are plastic spray bottles like those you use to
wash a car windshield. Carry two of the spray
bottles one filled with annise the other with
the mapleline. At the bait, spray the entire
area. Set the bottle nozzles so they will shoot
a stream, and shoot the stream as high as possible
into the surrounding trees. Lay as much
scent around the bait as you can, the riper the
smell the quicker you will get a hit.

Every bear hunter will have his own special
combination of bait that he feels is best.
What it all boils down to is cost and availability.
When you are baiting a string of baits it
can get expensive. Two of the best attractors
on a bait are beaver and venison, but neither
one is very feasable. Unless you have access
to large quantities of beaver carcass and large
volume freezer space it is out of the question
for the average hunter. The same goes for venison,
so you’ll need to find a suitable substitute.

The answer is beef. Beef trimmings are
available at a reasonable cost from locker
plants or large grocery stores. The main base
of your bait should be fresh beef, bear like it
fresh. Its a good idea to offer more than just
beef on a bait. Bear are like humans, foods
that appeal to one bear may not interest another,
so give them a mix.

A bushel of oats mixed with a gallon of
molasses and four pounds of brown sugar
makes a tasty and sweet smelling addition to a
bait. It never hurts to throw on some windfall
apples, sweet corn or pastries if they are available to you.

Once a bear is working the bait,
he will tell you what he does and does not like.
On the first baiting use about 50 pounds of
bait. Once the bear begins to work the bait,
then really load it up. Put on enough bait to
hold the bear there until your return baiting

Trails To Bait And Tree
You will notice in the illustration that the
hunter uses a trail coming from the south to
get to the bait. The purpose of this is to prevent
the hunters scent from blowing towards
any bear near the bait. Once you have the bait
established, refrain from walking down the
cut bear trails. Go directly to and from the
bait on your own trail.

Never walk from the bait to the set tree,
approach the set tree as the illustration shows.
If you walk from the bait to the set tree, bear
will get in the habit of doing the same thing as
they are quite curious. Its best to keep the bear
on the cut trails and around the bait. Even if a
bear comes to the bait on your trail, he will
still offer a broadside shot as he walks by.
Cut shooting lanes from the set tree to the
bait and to the trails leading to the bait. Pile
the brush that you cut from the shooting lanes
between the set tree and the bait to discourage
the bear from going to the set tree. It is alright
for the bear to go to the set tree, but when it
does this it leaves the hunter in a poor shooting
position. It also discourages the bear from
coming in behind you. It is best to keep the
bear in front of you where you are controlling
him and his movements.

Shooting Position
Bear are tough animals for an arrow to
penetrate. They are muscular and are protected
by layers of fat and thick hair.
If you put a sharp arrow through a bear’s
lung, he will die fast, even faster than a deer
and he generally won’t run as far. Bear do not
bleed heavily on the outside because their fat
and thick hair seals the blood inside the animal.
So, it is very important to cut a large
entrance hole and a large exit hole to insure
good bleeding.

Tree stand height plays a large roll in arrow
penetration. The lower you are to the
ground, the better your chances are for total
penetration and the larger target you will
have. If you get too high in a tree your target
becomes smaller and much harder to penetrate.

I think that a tree stand should not be more
than six or seven feet above the ground and
should be between 15 and 20 yards from the
bait. The stand should be far enough from the
bait to minimize body movement noise, yet
close enough to give you a high confidence

It does not matter what kind of bow you
shoot, be it a compound, recurve or long bow.
As long as the bow can deliver a heavy arrow
to the target with enough force to gain total
penetration. Penetration is the name of the
game when it comes to bear and arrow speed
means very little. Concentrate on your ability
to deliver a heavy arrow accurately. I’m not
saying that you can’t kill a bear with a light,
fast arrow, but that you can kill a bear much
more efficiently with a heavy arrow.

The bear hunting technique that I have described
and illustrated in this article is by no
means the only way to bear hunt. It’s just one
of many bowhunting bear techniques that con-
tinue to provide the bowhunter with a challenging
experience that he or she can appreciate and enjoy. >–>


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